4th Ed: Tidbits from PAX
Just got back from PAX, where I managed to get some more info on 4th edition from one of the playtesters manning the Wizards booth. Note that this info may be inaccurate or subject to change.
Will the online D&D games be user-to-user or run off a central server?
Central server. (So if it crashes, you're out of luck.)
I know you're changing class abilities to be encounter-based instead of day-based, but what about the duration of buffs? Will you still have X min/lvl buffs?
Nope. Buff durations will be drastically modified.
What are you doing about Save or Lose spells?
We're trying to get away from mages that rely primarily on Save or Lose/Die spells. For example, we're basing most things around doing HP damage, then tying conditions to HP loss. We do not want characters dying from a single failed die roll.
For example, you drop below half HP, you become Bloodied. Then there are abilities you can only use while Bloodied, and abilities you can only use against Bloodied opponents. (Sounds like Fighters can get a Last Stand buff, while Rogues can unleash some nasty attacks against Bloodied enemies.)
So if you go up against a Beholder now, you don't have to make 2-4 saves each round to avoid dying?
Basically. The beholder is still nasty, but it isn't "I dropped your 14th-level fighter from full health to dead because you rolled a 1" nasty.
Do you still have to make a Fort save or Die if you take massive damage?
No. You may have to make a Fort save or suffer penalties for the rest of the day, but you will not die from massive damage unless it drops you to -10.