Funnily enough, Christopher Perkins goes into exactly this topic during his 'Storytime'1 speech at PAX South 2017.
Summary: Being exhausted and angry about broken air conditioning at WOTC led to them making up a list of silly liquids for the Alchemy Jug. Mayonnaise eventually was the only survivor of said list (while many others were too inappropriate to ...
The premise of your question is flawed because the system allows for non-combat XP.
Your question assumes that there is no non-combat XP in 5e, but this is not true. The DMG (pg 261) leaves the door open for awarding noncombat XP:
You decide whether to award experience to characters for overcoming challenges outside combat. If the adventurers complete a ...
The lycanthrope has been a standard monster since the game was invented.
From OD&D Monster Manual(1974, Monsters and Treasure) (Lycanthrope):
Only silver weapons or magical weapons/attacks affect Lycanthropes.
From 1e Monster Manual (1977) (Lycanthrope)
All are hit only by silver or +1 or better magic weapons
From 2e monstrous ...
D&D 5th edition was designed with something its designers call "bounded accuracy." A full description and analysis would require more text than is appropriate for this format, so I recommend a search of the topic on the wider internet.
To very briefly summarize bounded accuracy, all modifiers (and also target numbers, such as AC) in 5e are limited to a ...
It's a subtle nod to the fluff
From page 22 of the Eberron Campaign Setting:
Older warforged tend to be fighters or barbarians. The more recently created warforged, especially those less than five years old, are more inclined to try different class options.
Aarren d'Cannith created the first warforged 33 years before the present. They were mass-produced ...
I am not particularly fond of playing one game session and going up a level. That hardly qualifies as "earned," to my way of thinking. (E. Gary Gygax as Col_Pladoh on Dragonsfoot forum)
The above quote was posted 30+ years after the original rules were printed. It supports "designer intent" in this answer.
For a point closer in time to the ...
When the lead designer Jeremy Crawford was asked about this, he said, "It simply hasn't happened. Story drives our race design, not filling in an ability score spreadsheet."
The main reason was described by R.A. Salvatore in interviews. He describes how the complete overhaul and moving the setting by 100 years would ruin his characters; a 100-year old human is no longer a good fighter. He even states that after the decision was announced in a private meeting between the FR authors and WotC, Ed Greenwood was completely devastated....
It All Started With Gold Dragons
The first dragons able to change shape into human form were Gold Dragons. None of the others could. On pages 11-13 of Monsters and Treasures (OD&D, 1974, TSR) there were a total of six kinds of dragons: red, blue, white, black, green, and gold. The only metallic dragons in the game were described as "being a class unto ...
Mike Mearls stated on Twitter:
for sorcerer, we avoid more complex spells. Sorcerer magic is simpler, more direct
The spells you mentioned are more "utility" spells - they have an effect that is not immediate or that can be used in ways that might not seem apparent. Sorcerers have ...
The Inaugural Sage Advice Article.
This article, titled "Philosophy Behind Rules and Rulings," is written by Jeremy Crawford, and contains the following: (emphasis added)
The DM is key. Many unexpected things can happen in a D&D campaign, and no set of rules could reasonably account for every contingency. If the rules tried to do so, the game would ...
Pikes are very cumbersome
Jeremy Crawford confirms in this tweet that pikes are not meant to be included as they are too unwieldy. It makes sense: pikes were often twice or thrice as long as their wielder, and as such it would be impossible to swing it around as a part of a chain of attacks.
It should be noted that pikes were, in historical warfare, ...
According to Skip Williams, as quoted in RPG Hour: Third Edition D&D Sorcerers Fri. July 20, 2000*, there were three main reasons for the limited number of spells that sorcerers know:
The designers wanted the decision between sorcerer and wizard to be a 'hard choice'
The sorcerer is designed to appeal to a certain type of player, who ...
Improvised Weapon Rules handle this well.
To answer your first part: weapons don't have multiple damage types for simplicity sake, and because their damage type is based off of their original, primary function. However this doesn't stop you from adding things to the game and working with the DM. For example, forging a mace that has a spiked head, so that it ...
Bounded Accuracy is a key element of 5th Edition's design. In order to keep the lower level challenges relevant at higher levels, they've tightened the range of bonuses. This keeps a flatter curve and allows challenges to be relevant at a variety of levels.
For example, at low levels, a single Kobold or Goblin is dangerous to a single adventurer. As the ...
This appears to be a result of the races they selected and largely coincidental, not because of an intentional design choice that having a race with a +2 wis mod would be game breaking.
The two bits of evidence I'd point to is that though wisdom spell casting is special (in that Wis casters, namely Cleric and Druid, generally don't have spell books and have ...
Six saving throws instead of three is by design, intended to emphasize the ability scores, and new usages are likely to come up in future expansions.
Associating saving throws with ability scores makes the scores more relevant, or at least come up a lot more often.
It has been six saving throws since the first playtest rules.
Quoting the transcript of ...
The original reason was to differentiate the Fighting Man from the other classes as a combat specialist
The original Strength bonus to hit, solely available to Fighting Men (what we now call Fighters/Martials) was not introduced until the Greyhawk Supplement to OD&D (1 Feb 1975, TSR).
In the first combat system, the only original bonus "+ to hit&...
In these three Legend Lore articles Mike Mearls talks about the fact a major design goal of D&D 5e is to Unite the editions.Specifically allowing the core game to be modified to play similarly to one of the past editions of D&D.
Uniting the Editions
While not all mechanics were carried forward from past editions, vancian magic ...
For simplicity's sake.
I couldn't find a direct statement about opportunity attacks, but I did find the following comments:
Mike Mearls, from Amazing Stories Magazine, emphasis added:
What we found through the playtest process, though, was that people like quick fights. They like them a lot, it turns out. A battle is part of the game, a point of ...
The weapon list reduction reflects the overarching design goal to make the game simpler
It’s part of our overall move to make the game simpler.
The above quote by Jeremy Crawford is actually about a different feature of the game (how proficiency and proficiency bonuses fit into D&D 5e) from a 2014 interview, but it captures the D&D 5e design ...
In short, it was just too difficult to balance, so it was omitted
When asked over twitter, Mike Mearls responded:
Real headache to balance - tried a few designs, none worked well. Tabled for now.
But what does that mean?
Mearls doesn't really go into any detail, so it's difficult to say exactly what he means by "headache to balance". The only ...
Mike Mearls did answer this question in an Interview published on Forbes
We reprinted the Goliath, we introduced them about a year ago in an online supplement and they're actually pretty popular when we look at what people are playing. We wanted to move them into a print book so there's more of a reference for people to use.
According to Jeremy Crawford, warlocks, at least, were CHA-based in prior editions and the community preferred keeping them that way despite designer preference of making them INT-based in 5e.
@JeremyECrawford Why are Warlock Charisma casters, when their descriptions in the PHB screams Intelligence caster?
(@BringerFiction, 11:34 PM - 16 Dec 2016)
The short answer is that they didn't, exactly. The game is scaled for 4-6 player characters, with five being the convenient midpoint for the DM to easily scale up or down published adventure modules.
From the 4e DMG (p31):
This book provides rules and guidelines for running
a group of four to six player characters. If your group
varies from that ...
Is there any precedence for zombies or other undead seeing in the dark in other media?
Yes, in fact I would venture to say the vast majority of depictions of all kinds of undead have them operating just fine in the dark.
Why would undead require light to see? They either have:
No eyes (skeletons)
Rotted burst eyes (zombies)
Spirit eyes (all the ...
I emailed Avery Alder, the designer of The Quiet Year and they were very helpful in answering this:
The Frost Shepherds are left as an ominous unknown for a lot of
The first reason is that the game is supposed to be entirely focused
on the process and progress of a single year, and defining the Frost
Shepherds would shift the focus in ...
Quote from Christopher Perkins
Christopher Perkins @ChrisPerkinsDnD:
"Because that's how much they actually weigh."
Source: Sage Advice
Christopher Perkins is a game designer working for Wizards of the Coast. This quote was in response to a similar question about the weight of the maul and heavy crossbow. Wikipedia doesn't agree with him, but ...
The behavior you are describing is supported by the rules. It was not left out.
The training to perform the type of attack you are describing is granted by the Polearm Master (PHB, p. 168) feat, and does indeed deal 1d4 Bludgeoning damage as a Bonus Action. The only wrinkle is that officially this only applies to the Glaive, Halberd, and Quarterstaff. ...