Da roolz: http://media.wizards.com/downloads/dnd/DnDBasicRules.pdf
Welp, it's kinda a the same but with some kinda interesting, kinda fun tweaks. Its still 6 stats, AC, DC, and D20 based with + for being proficient or skilled in something. They simplified the skills, and didn't talk about feats in the basic set, so I can't comment on those. All in all, it feels like D&D meets AD&D. Sort of like 3rd ed, with a tiny bit of 4th ed mixed in, but distilled down to D&D (if any of that makes sense).
It's very D&D in that its mostly focused on combat for the system, nothing new there. I've seen plenty of arguments for/against making RP systems that facilitate non-combat systems and why they are good and bad. Some say leave the system for combat and let the players roleplay the rest, some say they want some system that rewards players that want to create and spend 'character points' on non-combat abilities. I don't know where I fall. I like having a system that I think creates dynamic action, be it combat or otherwise, and leaves the rest up to the players - this is sort of that kind of system, but without a lot of new things to add dynamic or interesting stuff (at least with the basic rules, which is expected).
I ran through the rules and found the following tweaks and changes:
- Inspiration: sort of like good role-playing points that can be given by the DM to the players that they can spend on little perks in the game, or given to other players as high-fives as well. The basic rules didn't get too into them.
- (dis)advantage: Probably the biggest change to the whole system, mechanically, and saying that's quite a stretch. When you have the advantage, you roll 2D20 and pick the higher, when you are disadvantaged you roll 2D20 and pick the lower. I can see working for advantage a huge part of the system and might add some speed to encounters, unless you have disadvantage in which case it could take forever...
- Background to characters: there are templates and some randomization within each template that sort of helps dictate your character vision and roleplaying choices. Like a D6 roll to determine a character flaw might result in "when given the choice between my friends and money, I will usually take the money". I like the idea and just quickly picking a choice from the 4 charts in each background really did give me a quick sense of what roleplaying that character might be like. It was simple and I like it.
- Spells use # slots by level (ex. Four 1st level spell slots) that can be used for any memorized spell from the appropriate level pool. So for example, I have Fly and Bigby's Crushing Hand memorized as my 2nd level spells and I have 4 2nd level spell slots - I can cast either one 4 times or any combination thereof; the spells are not 'burned' as I use them, just the slots. You get cantrips that can be cast as much as you want and at anytime, and you can cast lower level spells using higher level slots for greater affect (ie a 9th level fireball is more effective than an 8th level fireball, and 5th level is the basic level of the fireball spell).
- Proficiency is a + gained at a flat rate per level which is applied to things you are proficient in. So attacking with an axe, and you are proficient? You get a +2. Attacking with a sword and you are not proficient? You get a basic attack +0.
- Casters determine saving throws for their own spells, the formula being something like 8 + (proficiency) + (ability bonus).
- I don't think I see any negative modifiers, everything is a positive modifier throughout.
And that's about it for what's really different from what I remember 3rd and some of 4th ed being. There's a bunch of details on skills and some class abilities (like if a certain fighter has a shield next to a friend and that friend is attacked, then the attack is at a disadvantage), but nothing that is really new, just additional rule definitions.
I'd certainly play it because it's instantly familiar and easy to pickup and would allow us to get stuck right in without much overhead, confusion, or doubt. I sort of thought the same about DCC, but there is certainly some weirdness baked into that (admittedly AWESOME) rulebook with the Zocci dice and different, unique systems for each class. I think since it's SO familiar and SO simple (or at least simple because it is ingrained in each of us) it could easily be houseruled to allow for the fun stuff that I am looking for these days - interpretation and gradations on dice rolls a la Star Wars/WFRP 3rd ed.
I'm excited to hear what you guys think!
PS I didn't really read the whole thing. I skimmed it all, not the spells, or skills, or equipment, and where I noticed a change in language or rule name I read it.