What does "modular" mean?

I've seen this word "modular" bandied about in reference to 5e, but what does it mean?

I mean, it could mean all sorts of things, but does it have a specific gaming definition I'm not familiar with?

I've already googled "grognard" and "vancian" in the last 40 hours.
Basically it means that rather than having a single set of rules, you have the Core Rules, and then extra bits you can add on to provide more functions.
It comes from this quote:
"The new edition is being conceived of as a modular, flexible system, easily customized to individual preferences. Just like a player makes his character, the Dungeon Master can make his ruleset. He might say ‘I’m going to run a military campaign, it’s going to be a lot of fighting’… so he’d use the combat chapter, drop in miniatures rules, and include the martial arts optional rules.” - Mike Mearls.

As far as we've determined from our careful investigations*, the game will consist of a smaller, simple rule base, with various optional bits to tack on based on what the party wants. Don't want miniatures and grid combat? Don't tack on the miniatures section. Want a deadlier game? Tack on the instant death traps and wound rules. And so on.

*Consisting mainly of baseless speculation and yelling at each other
Rhymes with Bruce
It comes from this quote:
"The new edition is being conceived of as a modular, flexible system, easily customized to individual preferences. Just like a player makes his character, the Dungeon Master can make his ruleset. He might say ‘I’m going to run a military campaign, it’s going to be a lot of fighting’… so he’d use the combat chapter, drop in miniatures rules, and include the martial arts optional rules.” - Mike Mearls.



This does sound inviting, but oh sooooo vague.
It comes from this quote:
"The new edition is being conceived of as a modular, flexible system, easily customized to individual preferences. Just like a player makes his character, the Dungeon Master can make his ruleset. He might say ‘I’m going to run a military campaign, it’s going to be a lot of fighting’… so he’d use the combat chapter, drop in miniatures rules, and include the martial arts optional rules.” - Mike Mearls.



This does sound inviting, but oh sooooo vague.



Hahaha, yeah, there's going to be a lot of that, especially before DDXP on the 26th. You should check out ENWorld's compilation page. It'll be the best source as real info comes out, but right now it's a good source for stuff like this: "...to create a rule set that enables players of all types and styles to play a D&D game together by taking the best of each edition and getting at the soul of what D&D is."
Rhymes with Bruce
I'm curious how the whole modular thing works myself.  I can see some very, very good possibilities, and I can see some complete suck storms. At this point, either extreme seems equally possible.
I've seen this word "modular" bandied about in reference to 5e, but what does it mean?

I mean, it could mean all sorts of things, but does it have a specific gaming definition I'm not familiar with?

I've already googled "grognard" and "vancian" in the last 40 hours.



I'm in the same boat. How can a system be simple yet have all of these optional rules, is it somekind of plug and play system?
Guess we wont know until WOTC goes into specifics. Anyway I guess it's a good idea since everyone has a different vision on what they like DnD to be, or a least aspire to be.

By the way it's a really good question, maybe Mike Mearls or Monte Cook will address this in more detail.
 
Basically what it means at this point is anyone's guess.

At the very least it should fit the definition of modular, if only in a simple way.

Beyond that ... wait and see.



What I want is strong yet simple core rules, followed up by modular expansions through racial and class options that provide the modular complexity.
Savage Worlds is one of my favorite systems, and is built like this. If D&D goes in that direction, I'll be in. 
I wonder how we'll be describing our games...
Mindscape Combat/ Social Intrigue/ Skill-Based
or
Miniatures Combat/ Epic Quest/ Powers-Based
or
Battlefield Combat/ Military Campaign/ Tactics-Based? 
Could be great and please alot of people, with the potential to make everyone happy, or could piss everyone off...
What I am HOPING it means is that it will have a very simple 'core' rules system but a lot of optional rules systems to add in parts of the game you like.  
I agree. This could be so cool if they build it with this in mind from the start. If you look at the other editions, it always felt like they didn't scale the system so it could be expanded or built upon without power creep. 4e was certainly better and they got many years out of it. Unfortunately, I think there were some things flawed about the system. It's close but needs some work.

I love the idea of a core and then all kinds of wonderful sub-rules, supplements, equipment, materials, etc.!!! It could be a game I play with my kids AND my friends who want hack and slash combat once a month AND the group who plays once a week with 100% role playing sessions AND so on and so on... 
Since modular usually implies a very, very simple core, I'm hoping for the minimalist approach myself.

The part I'm afraid of is: how much crap am I going to get stuck with in that very simple core?

If I don't like (just as an example) alignments or skills or AC or whatever, will I have anyway to wratchet that out? What is the "core" of D&D Next gonna be?   


Since modular usually implies a very, very simple core, I'm hoping for the minimalist approach myself.

The part I'm afraid of is: how much crap am I going to get stuck with in that very simple core?

If I don't like (just as an example) alignments or skills or AC or whatever, will I have anyway to wratchet that out? What is the "core" of D&D Next gonna be?   





Since this is supposed to be the Grand Unified All Things to All Gamers Editiontm My guess is a Core very simialr to 1e or 2e: Classes with predefined abilties, the basic six ability scores, some mechanism for comparing needing a particular number to hit a particular armor class, etc.  Then have 'modules' that add in innovations from other versions: the Skill system from 3e, powers ala 4e, etc.

Just a guess though.

I'm thinking it's gonna look at least a bit like "Monte Cook's World of Darkness."

Lots of modularity in that, theoretically at least. Especially with the magic system (which was amazing).