And you can download it here.
I started out hating these rules, but as I read on they kind of grew on me. I probably wouldn’t run 5e as written, but I’d certainly like to give it a try. I’m actually excited about D&D again (as opposed to just the OSR clones or Pathfinder’s Beginner Box).
The Short: If you’ve been pining away for an “Expert” edition of Pathfinder Beginner Box, you may want to give 5e Basic Rules a look: they go up to 20th level! However, it’s not a complete game, so you’ll have to do some conversion work if you want to get started right now.
The Good: Simplifies many ideas and mechanics in previous iterations of the game. Also introduces new concepts, such as Advantage/Disadvantage, which largely does away with fiddly lists of situational modifiers (a nice bonus in my view). The proficiency bonus system is easy to use and, even better, easy to tinker with for those who like to house rule (as I do).
The Bad: No monsters or magic items. I guess you get those with the Starter set, and then later when WotC starts releasing the hard backs. You can probably adapt 3e/PF monsters with minimal work, though they might be a tad underpowered (and no idea how many XP they’re supposed to give). Magic items may be harder given some of the new mechanics (though you can make up your own magic items and damn the “official” items, whenever they’re released).
The So-So: 5e also continues the trend of stat inflation, though perhaps not as bad as 4e. Finally, no guidance on how much XP to award. For example, no guidance on XP budgets for building encounters, how much treasure to give, etc. For me that’s not such a problem, but new DM’s could probably use the guidance, so they’ll have to buy the books to get it. Also, saving throws are now based on ability scores. In some sense this is probably a no brainer for the game, but it means that ability scores are now a must for every monster, thus ensuring a fairly large stat block. It also means you’ve now got six saving throws to deal with instead of three (or just one, in the case of Swords & Wizardry).
Overall, I’m pretty excited about 5e, at least the “Basic” version of it. However, it’s not a complete game, so you’ll have to do some work, or buy the Starter set, to get started. Even if you have no intention of ever running 5e it’s probably worth looking at if only to pilfer some neat house rules for your own campaign.