Anyway, James of Kill the Wizard First gives us his second report from his scrutiny of the 4e PHB:
I think an important part of this is getting used to the idea that unlike 3e, where character capabilities changed massively over 20 levels, 4e characters really don’t. A 4e character has essentially the same capabilities at 5th and 25th level, with bigger numbers. And while the specifics of the numbers are problematic (an issue I will address in either the DMG or MM sections), the concept isn’t offensive to me, though I do find it less interesting.
He shares the good, the bad, and the decidedly bizarre:
Pro Tip: Mounted Combat. As mentioned previously, you can’t cast Fly until level 14, but you can buy a hippogryph and ride it around starting at level 5. Do the math.
One area he touches on is a specific pet-peeve of mine:
Guys, Diplomacy needs a system. Preferably one that doesn’t let you win the game.
Honestly, the Diplomacy skill is an evil poison, a sickness that turns what should be the best part of the game into something even more mind-numbing than the usual combat chant of: I swing, I miss, I swing, I miss, I swing, I hit, I do 6 damage, I swing, I miss...
It encourages players to say, "I use Diplomacy to convince him to give us the gem." And just that, roll the dice. How is this beneficial to an RPG? And how is this any sort of protection from jerk DMs? They'll just gimp the roll anyway, or twist the results. Strong rules might help out inexperienced DMs (though I'd say the jury is still out on that front) but they do nothing to protect you and your game from twits and jerks. Never, ever underestimate the endless, infinite power of human stupidity.