Mike Mearls is pitching to a TCG audience, NOT
the D&D gamers he should be pitching to.
If you want to drive better role-players away from the game Mike, by all means, keep pitching the TCG mechanics of players' character builds, and less about tying the elements of the game that matter together. Stop trying to lure Magic players to D&D. If they get how the game is to be played, they normally don't want to invest the time to actually do it. D&D suffers with built-in shortcuts meant to show how TCG players can "win" at the game.
5e touted 3 pillars of D&D: Combat, Role-play AND Exploration. D&D has always been an abstract combat system (I strongly hesitate to ever call it a system for "simulation"; it has never been, nor supposed to be a simulation of real-life. (Fantasy, remember?)), so we don't have to worry over combat rules for D&D now. That part is. Good. It does not need any more tweaks or bennies for the players (new character "builds").
Unfortunately, some players' idea of role-play is Shakespeare in the Park
, and that is too much to delve into. No edition of D&D ever had any extensive "rules" on how to role-play, whether it be thinking logically in-character, telling DMs how to quickly improv an impromptu "scene" with NPCs, or acting tips for players so they can stay in-character throughout the game....
But the game doesn't need
that, it needs to leave some stuff alone to allow players to use their imaginations to fill in those blanks on their own, and even my players chafe at the tedious idea of recording the logistics of an adventuring party's supplies that are needed for extensive exploration into the Mythic Underworld or unexplored jungles of Chult.
I want good character creation rules (not builds) that lead to good role-play and immersion into a campaign world, whether that world is the Forgotten Realms or Greyhawk, or a home-brewed creation, but specifically geared towards the 3 pillars of discovering, exploring, and sometimes conquering the unknown. 5e does a great job at this already with Backgrounds and the existing races & classes. The subsequent releases of more classes and sub-classes is enticing, but ultimately it dilutes the campaign, rather than making it a richer world; not to mention that many of these new classes/sub-classes are an arms race making the characters at the table that much more powerful and makes the DMs job harder to challenge them with CR equivalent monsters and encounters.
More monster rules means that much more work for the lone DM at the table, so lets not escalate the arms race any further. Empower DMs to say NO
to players that want to introduce exotic races and classes that simply do not belong in a campaign. How much different would Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" campaign would be changed if tiefling warlocks were allowed? It would be interesting to some, but not all DMs would approve of such a game-changer, and I suspect that players that really wanted an immersive experience in Tolkien's "LotR" campaign would not appreciate a character that upsets the innate balance inherent in the campaign as created in the first place.
But I want better tools to help the DM foster a gaming environment that is conductive to campaign immersion for players. The last few editions have really enticed players to the game by offering "stronger builds" for their characters, and this has turned into an arms race of a table full of powerful characters vs. a lone DM struggling to create challenges for those players with monsters and rules that make it far too easy for the players to "win".
Players that win too often, or too much don't feel challenged, and they lose interest and move back to games that supports the ideology of player v. player, which D&D is NOT
TCG players build decks. Role-players CREATE characters. The DM creates (non-player) characters, and some DMs even create settings that have just as much personality as any table full of player characters. Start using language that role-players identify with.
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
was a step in the right direction with game design, but the book still lacked tools that DMs rely on. A booklet of encounter tables and other tools are for sale at DM's Guild for $8.00. Thanks. Now I have to pay again for the very tools that I expected to see in the book in the first place.
I'm not on twitter, so I hope this post somehow reaches Mike's screen. Mike Mearls, is all this build-up pointing towards edition 6???
Because with all the great things WotC has released for 5e, I don't see why another edition would be needed this soon. IMO there is more interest weekly - or daily in my home campaign. If I get any more new players, I'll need a bigger apartment to host. I can't ask new players to help with rent however, because I imagine they're spending money on the core rulebooks for 5e.