So, 5e is now officially in the works and has, as others have surmised, already had early bits playtested. This means pretty much every single one of my predictions for 5e was absolutely wrong. ;D
I gotta admit, I have no idea what the plan is here. Hiring Monte Cook looks kinda-sorta like an appeal to the 3e crowd, but that would be insane. Those folks are quite happy with Paizo and I know more than a few still feel burned by how 4e was marketed and designed. Does talk about making the game "as simple or complex as you please" mean a bifurcation of the game into D&D and AD&D again? And what are we to make of promises to keep the game's "action focused on combat, intrigue, and exploration as you desire"? One of the themes of this blog is how that sort of choice ought to be echoed in just about every design decision that follows.
Keeping in mind my awesome track record on predictions, here are mine for 5e:
Class-based, with Levels, Hit Points, d20s, and AC
I doubt that's even up for debate. These are considered the most basic attributes of D&D and I doubt the brand is so hurting that they'll touch any of these low-hanging sacred cows.
There Will be Boxed Sets
And there will be a "Basic" intro box sold in stores like Target or WalMart. There will also be coffee-table quality hard backs as well, though how strongly the two are linked remains to be seen.
There Will be a Strong Focus on Tactical Combat
Most folks think that's what D&D is. There will be lots of effort put into balancing combats, combat options, and giving everyone lots of choices in every round. This will continue to make the goal of faster combat elusive.
And hey, since it's my blog, I'm predicting Shields Shall be Splintered will be central to the new design! ;)
There Will be Some Flavor of Social Combat Mechanic
It will be much more rigorous and involved than 4e's lackluster skill challenges. There will likely be class-specific abilities for it as well, and every class will be able to bring something to the "fight," even Fighters. Like tactical combat, it will eat hours like they were potato chips.
Less Hardback, More Monthly
I'm still thinking we'll see something along the lines of Paizo's monthly Pathfinder adventures. It may even been a resurrected version of either DRAGON or DUNGEON magazines. I also think the plan, at first, will be to limit the number of hardbacks published to one or two a year after the original three come out.
This is Only the Beginning
Let the LOLs begin!
Best of luck to Mearls, Cook, and the rest of the team. I suspect they're gonna need it.