Over on OD&D Discussion, member Azafuse summarized the D&D Next live chat that took place yesterday. A full transcript is posted here.
To quote Azafuse (with some editing for compactness):
- Playtest pack focuses on core rules & has 5 pregens (fighter, 2 clerics, wizard, rogue) + Caves of Chaos adventure + CoC bestiary + DM/Player rules; monsters have short stat block in adventure, extended stats/fluff in bestiary
- Pregen characters have Themes & Backgrounds, which give at-will powers; Themes give Skills & Backgrounds give Feats
- Classic four races (halfling, human, elf, dwarf); future options for sub-races
- Rules are made to give any class the chance to shine
- Cleric "domains"; one playtest is classic (mace + armor), the other more mystic
- Fighters have maneuvers (alternative to feats but with more options)
- Wizards have cantrips (at-will useful in and off combat) but also vancian magic
- Spell point & power systems differentiate sorcerer, warlock & wizard
- Rogues have "schemes" (distinguishing features)
- No Prestige Classes for the moment
I can't say that any of the above sounds very encouraging. They've gotten pretty far from the statements back in January about "the idea to create an edition of Dungeons & Dragons that encompasses all previous editions". They also seem to have great fear of not having enough "options" even in the core.
They continue to use the Caves of Chaos from B2 as they playtesting scenario. If you are new to this blog, Gygax wrote B2 in 1979 specifically as an introductory module for the Holmes Basic Set (replacing B1).
See pt II linked below for a pic of what the cover of this scenario may look like. This "Fifth Column" post talks more about the earlier playtest, and mentions some of the Caves features: "rim of the ravine", "tribe of kobolds", "complex full of orcs", ogre, higher level caves being more difficult. Sounds like the Caves we know. Looks like they were using the original maps too.
See also:5E Caves of Chaos, pt I - pt II