I think we’ll see 5th edition D&D; in 2013, or 2012 if sales decline faster than expected. 5th edition will be the next iteration of 4th edition, as tightly related to it as 3.5 was to 3.0. This new edition will have no OGL or GSL.
When 6th edition rolls around (in, I dunno, 2016 or 2017), it will abandon the 4E structure entirely and go back to something closer to 1E. This will be accompanied by a huge nostalgia-based marketing campaign. Vancian magic, a PC assassin class, and half-orcs and gnomes as core races will return with great fanfare. The marketing message won’t bag on the 4E/5E era specifically, but will use the phrase “returning D&D; to its roots” so often that fans of the then current game will feel alienated. To further reinforce the message, there will be rewrites of classic modules like the GDQ series, Dragon Magazine will be relaunched in print form, and Skip Williams will return to write Sage Advice.
What happens after that? Answer hazy, try again later.
What, you don’t think they’ll be able to keep up the pace with PHB VI, due out in 2013? It will introduce the sublime power source, featuring classes such as the patternmaster (controller), soulreaper (striker), subtle shield (defender), and truename entityspeaker (leader). Over 400 new powers! It will also have 9 new races, including the majestic angelspawn, shapeshifting astralmorphs, and half-halfling half-tiefling hybrids know as thieflings.
How about they just support the best version of the game to date, 3.5?
4E isn't the latest edition of D&D; so much as the 1st edition of a whole new game.
The 2016 6e version will feature a unique marketing scheme.
Instead of three hardcover core books and a bunch of splats, the game will come in an easily affordable small boxed set, but the first set will only cover 1st to 3rd level characters. Another boxed set will come out shortly after than, then another, etc.
Spike Y Jones
my sarcasmometer exploded …