Warlord healing was based on the idea that hit points are abstract and don't always represent physical wounds; under that premise, could there be a module for warlord style "martial healing?"
It is absolutely true that healing doesn’t always represent physical wounds, but a big challenge is that while that is stated up front, every edition of D&D treats taking hit points damage in different ways. If, say, an orc damages you with an axe, that might not represent the physical impact of an axe with your flesh. On the other hand, if a drow’s poisoned crossbow bolt deals damage, you still have to make the saving throw against the poison—clearly indicating a physical impact. It would cause a far higher degree of complexity than we want if we try to distinguish between physical and nonphysical wounds with two separate pools of resources and monster abilities that work only when dealing damage to one of those two; the abstraction of hit points works for D&D and keeps the game moving quickly.
Abstractions are necessary in all games, especially in D&D and other roleplaying games. That said, abstractions must also be couched in the right language and must produce results that make sense to the narrative. This is extremely true and very important when considering new players and casual players; it’s easier for a player to learn the rules if the game’s abstractions produce a narrative that they can visualize and understand. Any time a game makes players stop and say, “Wait, what just happened there?” or something similar, it creates confusion and interrupts the flow of play and makes the game harder to learn and intuit.
With regards to warlords and martial healing, however, I don't know that we need a rules module just to to use the abstraction in different ways that accomplish that goal. We're definitely experimenting with many different forms of healing, including "inspiring" healing similar to the 4E warlord's healing. However, we want to make sure it works in the larger context of the D&D world. For example, an unconscious character (reduced to 0 hit points) probably wouldn’t be able to benefit from verbal inspiration to keep fighting; without the ability to hear, there’s not much impact from a commander’s inspiring speech (yes, I know, the Hulk can shout Iron Man back to consciousness, but I think that clearly works better as a one-time scene than something that happens every session, even multiple times). So, any kind of inspiration-based hit point recovery probably has the requirement on it that the character be able to hear the person doing the inspiring, which likewise requires the target to be conscious. We might also bring the Charisma of the person doing the inspiring into account—either a Charisma requirement to be inspiring, or (more likely, if I had my guess) a bonus to the amount of hit points recovered based on his or her Charisma modifier. At that point, we’ve used our abstract mechanics to clearly explain what’s happening in the world.
As with all of my answers, keep in mind that this is something that we are still working on, still testing, and still figuring out the right place to put it in the game. Likewise, we are absolutely going to playtest such mechanics extensively, both publicly and with our more limited playtesters. It may be a while before those mechanics enter the public packet, but it is something we’re working on.
Is the warlord fighter build a way to give the fighter some measure of out-of-combat utility that it currently seems to be lacking?
No. Through ongoing revisions, we’ve been working on some new class features that we hope will round out the fighter more and that will play well with many different types of fighter—including the potential warlordesque fighter. These features are separate and intended to supplement the fighter, not fold in the warlord. These new feature might not make it into the next open playtest packet, because we want to iterate on the design a bit first.
I find this VERY encouraging. A tactical fighter that DOESN'T cannibalize the Warlord sounds terrific--and I'm very encouraged they're onboard with Martial Healing. I think the proposed "target must be able to hear you" requirement is a reasonable restriction that makes sense.