Today's Neverwinter Campaign Setting excerpt is about racial variants, specifically gold and shield dwarves. Previous editions swamped us with sub-races, allowing you to cherry pick the elf, dwarf, or even orc whose ability score modifiers best match up with your class. Do not get me wrong I am used to players going with optimized race/class combinations, but I much prefer 4th Edition's removal of racial penalties and inclusion of racial feats to help push different concepts, instead of just making a shitload of slightly different races.
|See? If we go with gold dwarf we can be paladins without a Charisma penalty.|
|This isn't the actual picture, but|
it looks waaay cooler.
Other features include allowing you to use a light or heavy blade as an implement (you have to choose, which I like because it lets other races choose more thematic weapons), a bladesong encounter utility that gives you a big attack and damage bonus for a turn, spellbook, cantrips, suggestion, and magic missile. You still get to pick other spells, though another different mechanic is how the bladesinger handles encounter spells...in that they are treated as daily spells (of which you get none).
It is kind of one part wizard, one part swordmage, and one part monk. You get a lot of wizard features and spells, but you will spend most of your time carving up monsters in melee while simultaneously rolling out No Action magic with static damage and controller riders. For example, dancing fire causes a target to grant combat advantage, dazzling sunray imposes an attack penalty, and frost bite slows. While it sounds very striker-ish, the damage is based off of your Dexterity mod, scaling at levels 11 and 21, and I think it is balanced by the fact that you don't have daily spells, instead starting with two encounter spells that you can only use once per day.
There is other class features mentioned on the table, such as Arcane Strike and Steely Retort, but we'll have to wait and see what they do in future previews/after the book is released. Anyway, it looks really cool and I am glad to see WotC building a class that does what they want to do without sticking to previous class progression models.