That said I have a few comments on the book themselves. First up, obvious cut and paste jobs are not what I expect in a book I pay money for. The Dungeon Masters book has at least one of these where it refers to the monster section later in this book. This is obviously pasted from one of the Fast Play Rules books (which indeed had a monster section), while the Dungeon Masters book does not.
Now a Word about the Rules Compendium. I have seen a lot of good reviews about this book, but I really can't echo them. Having just bought the rest of the essentials line I now have 90% of what is in this book, and really I'm not going to pay again just to get a page each on Mounted Combat, Aquatic Combat and Disease.
What I would have like to change about Essentials
- Dump the Slayer build to make room for other stuff.
- Dump the Scout build, to make room for other stuff.
Now that we have some extra space in the Hero books add the following:
- Add a Paragon path to each race.
- Make the class paragon paths work based on Power Source. so that Fighter and Rouge can pick each others (and you end up with a slayer paragon path). Ditto for Cleric and Paladin, Wizard and Warlock, Ranger and Druid.
- Put in Skill based utility powers
- Each book should have 2 rather then one Epic Destines, one geared to Lawful Good and the other towards Unaligned characters.
- if we still have room left add some more feats.
Assuming you get both books this would end up with a subset that has 2 builds for each role. Each character now has a choice of three paragon paths (one based on race and two on class power source) And 4 epic destines. And with skill based utility powers has a range of options to choose from.
As somewhat of an old school player the idea of magic items that have no mystery about them rubbed me the wrong way. So my house rule here is that Arcane checks are required to work this out. The DC being based on the Items level. Say Easy to work out that it is definitely enchanted, Moderate to work out the basic bonus penalty. And Hard to work out each additional power the item has.
The biggest advantage of this is that it allows me to bring back the idea of cursed items. Which is really part of the fun, even if it just requires an application of a remove curse ritual now and then.