Observation #1: Never thought I'd see the day when D&D news was reported in the NEW YORK TIMES, or FORBES (see below), or like venues. Like Tolkien's having become ubiquitous in our culture, it's a sign that D&D is now mainstream: so many millions of people grew up playing it that it's lost that weird scary outsider tinge that caused us all so much trouble back in the '80s.
Observation #2: My reservations about 4th edition -- which I tried to like but never cd warm to** -- turn out to have been pretty much universal. Having been given to understand from various quarters that I was a troglodyte if I didn't embrace 4e, it's surprising now to see in report after report that mine was the near-universal reaction, not the exception.
As for who'll be writing it, Wizards not only confirmed months of rumors that Monte Cook will be in charge of the project (a good choice!) but went ahead and announced the entire design team:
So it's Monte Cook as lead designer, with Bruce Cordell (yay, Bruce!***) and Rob Schwab (whose work I don't really know, having postdated my time at Wizards). Also glad to hear Miranda Horner is the editor: I don't think they cd have made a better choice.
As for what the game will be like, Mike Mearls (who replaced Bill Slavicsek as head of the rpg group) is saying that it'll be a universal system that's adaptable to any previous edition -- something that sounds good in a pie-in-the-sky sense as a goal but which it's difficult to see how it'd work in practice. I think rather than saying it'll taste like Coke and New Coke and Classic Coke all at the same time, he's suggesting it'll be bottles of carbonated caramel-colored water wh you add yr preferred favorings to. That's not too far off from what 1st edition AD&D (the most popular version of the game ever published) was: a core rule set which people heavily adapted with their own 'house rules'. Seeing how they try to actualize that will make for a fascinating next six months.
Now I need to get signed up for one of those playtests . . .
And keep an eye out for Ewalt's book.
*actually ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS' 5th edition, the fifth edition of D&D, by Troy Denning (the Black Box/Rules Cyclopedia set), having come out some twenty years ago.
**to the extent that I found myself giving up playing what'd been my favorite game for a quarter-century rather than play "4e", which just didn't feel like D&D. Compare similar reservations reported in the Forbes article about the 5 e announcement:
***one thing I'm particularly proud of in my twenty-year off & on again rpg editing career is that I edited Bruce's first published adventure, THE GATES OF FIRESTORM PEAK. His work was outstanding, even then.
Have to say though I'm sorry to see from this that Wizards still has a Development Team, since it's long been the greatest impediment to their releasing top-quality product. Perhaps its role has evolved since I was there
For more on the big news, cf. the following links. Thanks to Janice, who passed them along to me (along with the ones above), their having originally had been gathered by Miranda Horner: