WotC's Mike Mearls was involved with a Reddit AMA today. I've pulled out the juicier non-rules-specific questions.
Warforged & Kender in Unearthed Arcana Column?
-- "They are not in the DMG, but they will be made available. That material, along with a few other things, were squeezed out due to page count limits. However, the writing is done and we want to get it into your hands. You can imagine that Legends & Lore, as an article that talks about 5e design, isn't really needed anymore. It's possible that L&L goes away and a Uniquely Approachable new column with a similar, throwback name rolls out and focuses on hacking and modding the system, drawing on DMG stuff that we had to remove and then growing from there." [130 comments]
The "Living Rules System"
-- "This will start early next year. The process will begin with playtest surveys much like the ones we did for the core game, to allow us to see if the game has issues and if so where."
On the OGL
-- "No news yet, but we do plan to announce something within the next couple of months or so."
To another OGL question [Mike never says "OGL" though]
-- "Yes - we're working on plans right now to allow people to use the D&D system to create their own stuff."
... we do plan to announce something within the next couple of months or so.
- in response to a question about the OGL
On future plans/support
-- "We definitely have stuff planned for 2015! We are moving away from the monthly model, and you can expect fewer releases overall, but we want to avoid splat creep and system bloat. That decision is based on our personal preference plus data we collected via the playtest."
-- "We're definitely looking at PDFs, ebooks, and other digital platforms, but no news yet. The goal with anything along those lines will be grow D&D, not just sell ebooks to people who already play the game, so we're putting a lot of work into figuring out that side of the equation."
On digital tools
-- "We're evaluating plans for digital tools and publishing as I type this. Nothing to report yet, but when we have news we'll share it. I know it's frustrating to not hear, but we want to avoid making announcements that lead nowhere. In the long term, I think that's worse than delaying things today."
More on digital stuff
-- "We definitely want to do tools and ebooks. Right now, we're looking at platforms and technology. We want to take an approach similar to what we did with 5e - get to know what people are doing with the game, how they're doing it, and what value we can offer. It's not as simple as selling PDFs, in terms of finding a path that grows D&D and creates a big, upward shift in D&D's accessibility."
Digital again (people kept asking!)
-- "We want to produce both tools and ebooks - we're simply at the stage now of planning out how we want to do that in a way that grows D&D."
We're definitely looking at PDFs, ebooks, and other digital platforms, but no news yet.
On system bloat
-- "System bloat is a big concern. It's one of the things that forces us into a new edition and makes the game hard to get into. We're looking at keeping our new mechanics to a minimum and having clear guidelines on the best way to incorporate new material into your campaign."
On Battlesystem/mass combat
-- "Mass combat is not in the DMG - we decided that the system needed more playtesting. So, we'll be conducting open testing of that material and releasing it as part of Basic D&D once it is complete. There are rules for domains and managing a realm or business as part of the downtime system."
How expansions might be added
-- "Let's say we wanted to do psionics. We'd tie that to a campaign you can play, maybe one centered on mind flayers or a similar foe. The psionic sourcebook would be the player's companion to the DM's mind flayer campaign. The sourcebook would have all the info for creating psionic characters, along with world material for players who are creating characters for the mind flayer campaign. The player's book might also have a chapter written from an in-world perspective on psionics and psionic monsters, the kind of information that a character might have access to or have heard. You can expect us to do one or two such products a year, to give people enough time to play through a campaign without overwhelming them with new options."
-- "It's really a matter of time and resources, but the concept behind it is cool. SJ isn't at the front of the line, but it is in line."
On Forgotten Realms
-- "We definitely want to provide a broad update on the Realms, but nothing to report yet. Sorry!"
On other settings
-- "Planescape is definitely on the radar. It's a great setting on its own, plus its easy to link it to our other settings. That makes it a great direction to expand into. ... Eberron's definitely on the radar - my longest running 3e campaign was set there. A few of the rules options in the DMG speak to Eberron campaigns, plus we have the warforged designed already."
On transparency (in response to an accusation of lack of it)
-- "I don't agree with your premise - we opened up the development of our core system to an audience that is larger than the audience playing any other RPG on the market. We have over 600,000 followers on our Facebook page and post there regularly. The core team is active on Twitter and answers rules questions. Honestly, I think the better question is why do people think we're opaque after we spent two years conducting an incredibly open test driven by rigorously collected and analyzed data? I'm really not sure what else we can do."
On PHB/MM/DMG scheduling
-- "It was a hard lesson from 4e. Staggering the release allowed the same core team to work on every book. That improved consistency and solved a lot of quality control issues that plagued us in the past. Short-term pain for people starting campaigns, but worth it for the long term health of the game."
We want to adopt a plan that makes it possible for us to deliver new releases in multiple languages at the same time.
On translations into other languages
-- "We want to adopt a plan that makes it possible for us to deliver new releases in multiple languages at the same time. That requires a lot of work on our end, and also likely ties into digital publishing."
On video games
-- "Hopefully we'll have some cool 5e-based video games to announce in the near future."
On influences of previous editions
-- "3e is probably the most recognizable, due to its influence on the core rules, while 2e shines through in our approach to world and roleplay. 4e is embedded in a lot of the systems, while 1e is there in our approach to empowering DMs."
On 4th Edition support
-- "We'll keep the character builder and tools running as long as enough people subscribe, but we basically see 4e as a complete game at this point."
On 4E lessons
-- "Biggest issues we see from players - combats run too long and characters are too complex. 5e slimmed down baseline complexity and streamlined combat to overcome those two issues."
If you need every DM to run the game exactly the same, 5e is probably the wrong game for you. 5e is focuses on giving DMs the tools and flexibility to run the game they want.