With all the talk of fourth edition rules improvements, I’ve been having some tangentially related thoughts.
Cinematic heroic things are often penalized or dissuaded by the D&D Rules. Standardly, the game seems kitted out for tough, mediaeval adventure: Attacks of Opportunity, limited actions per round and the risk of failure discourage players from attempting interesting actions. Stepping onto a table takes a move action and a DC15 Jump check. Punching someone for effect instead of just swinging a sword provokes an AoO and deals little damage. The rules as written discourage a lot of cool things.
You have to wonder if it’s not feasible to allow D&D to be played as a high-cinematics game, wherein certain realism drawbacks are curtailed in the interests of encouraging players to undertake interesting actions. Consider, perhaps, that stepping onto a table requires no action or skill check. Likewise, if a player wants to smash the table with his warhammer, why bother rolling for damage? These unusual, “secondary” actions are primarily made for reasons other than powerplay, and so any failure chance will only make a player look stupid for having fumbled an attempt at such a minor action.
Perhaps D&D could learn a thing or two from the Wushu roleplaying game, where interesting, heroic actions are actually more likely to succeed.