If you haven't heard about 5th edition, go google it right now. I'll wait. We on the same page? Cool.
D&D Next is, basically, some playtesting that the developers of 5e are going through in order to figure out what we, as a playerbase, actually want. Leaving aside the obvious fact that the playerbase both hates and loves everything depending on who you ask, we've managed to get leaked some good information from sources unknown. The one I'll be talking about here is found at this link: http://trollishdelver.blogspot.com/2012/01/what-we-learnt-from-first-d-next.html
It's got a couple of interesting points that I'd like to chew over with you guys. I'll borrow the Trollish Delver's format, because it works as well as any.
- Iconic monsters will remain threats at higher levels
- Levelling won't be all about big bonuses
- Flexibility will be key to gameplay
- More advice will be given to DM's on how to run games
- Old-school randomness will make a comeback
- Characters will feel like individuals
- The art will be harken back to the good old days
1- Iconic Monsters Will Remain A Threat At Higher Levels
This seems good to me, but we'll have to wait and see. One of the benefits of playing a game like Labyrinth Lord or Swords and Wizardry is that the attack bonii, damage, and health were all tied to Hit Dice. It's elegant and easy. If you wanted a new monster, you just changed the Hit Dice and gave it some special abilities. Done and done. I understand that's not even remotely the way it's done now, but it's good to see they're getting back to that by offering a "quintessential orc creature that easily scales." Why they ever moved from that, I'll never know.
2- Levelling Won't Be All About Big Bonuses
From the sounds of it, levelling will give you more breadth instead of depth. I.E. as you level, you'll learn to do new things more than you learn to do the things you already do better. Sounds good to me, I guess. Maybe this'll help get rid of the fact that characters over, say, 6th level are already superhuman in their abilities by scaling that back some. Would be nice.
3- Flexibility Wil Be Key To Gameplay
I have no idea what this is supposed to mean and I can't even guess. Check the Trollish Delver article for what they had to say. Sounds like marketing bullshit to me, but we'll just have to wait and see.
4- More DM Advice
I don't know how to feel about this. More DM advice is good, but why bother to mention this? I feel like I'm missing part of the conversation
5- Old School Randomness
Again, I don't know how to take this. Random tables aren't hard to make yourself, but I guess it's nice that they seem to be moving away from the point-buy as a default. At least, from the tone of this. They might just be talking about giving you random monster encounters again. Hard to tell.
6- Characters That Feel Like Individuals
Taking away the copy-and-paste mentality from 4e where everything is ruthlessly balanced can only be a good thing. Looking at 4e powers made my eyes bleed. From what Monte Cook is saying, it sounds like substituting default abilities will be the main way to change up your character, which is cool. It was one of the things that I was sorry to see not be used in 3e prestige classes at all.
7- Old School Art
If there's no more Wayne Reynolds, I'll be a happy camper. It seems like D&D has some of the most uneven art in terms of quality, with a few gems here and there amidst a background of awful art. If this changes, it can only be for the better.
My verdict: Based on just this fairly insightful article, I'm quietly hopeful for something good to happen. I won't get too excited, because I've seen what WotC can do to dreams, but I'll keep my eyes open and ready for something decent.