For those of you interested in the Wizards Legends and Lore column, Mike Mearls appears to have resumed his narrative duties.
There are a couple of interesting items (minor rant follows).
So he's running an office B/X campaign, the interesting part is at the end, "As I plan the campaign and (eventually) run adventures, I plan on making house rules, adopting rules from other editions, and shifting the rules to match how the game moves along [GG: all that sounds pretty good, who doesn't?]. In some ways, it's a reality check against the ideas I see proposed for the next iteration. Would I want them in my campaign?"
So what exactly does that mean? It's this type of cryptic language that irks people about these articles. Why would you need to run B/X as a baseline unless the Design Team has gone off in a different direction? That's just a strange statement and leaves us guessing.
The article is devoted to the save or die mechanic. Mearls makes TWO big mistakes here.
1) It appears his gut is telling him to leave it alone - but he's not listening to his gut. Instead, guess what, he makes it more complicated! Yes, lets give something else for the DM to track. Let's make save or die kick in at lower hit points! That is completely ridiculous. It doesn't matter at all whether you have 15 total hit points or 5 - save or die is save or die. Don't make the DMs life any more difficult than it already is. Why is the default position of game designers to make life more difficult for us? Just KEEP IT SIMPLE and rejoice in the gameplay freedom that emerges.
2) He overstates the case that save or die ends game nights or campaigns. He writes, "On the other hand, the save or die mechanic can be incredibly boring. With a few dice rolls, the evening could screech to a halt as the vagaries of luck wipe out the party. A save or die situation can also cause a cascade effect. Once the fighter drops, the rest of the party's inferior AC and saving throws can lead to a TPK."
It's this simple Mike, if you have the mechanic in the game (and you'd better) have the intestinal fortitude to stick it out. Don't dilute save or die for all the whiners out there. Also, since we art talking B/X D&D, TPKs are part of the story of the game that develops through play. Go and read The Big Book of the Dead. Hell, I had a player on Sunday night critical miss and kill himself - shit goes down when you play D&D. Don't try to make the game something it isn't (i.e. 4E) - embrace the suspense and dramatic mechanics like Save or Die. These are the things that make the D&D the unique game that it is. Don't reject your inheritance.