Q: Is there a manual I can download?
A: Yes - Link and another Link.
Q: Are there any hints to the storyline quests? How do I find the black mace (etc)?
A: Yes - Official Walkthrough Guide and a discussion thread on the storylines.
Q: Is there a list of the changelogs for the patches?
A: Yes, see: Version 1.142 release thread and Version 1.141 release thread or this Patch List.
Q: Do I need to own 'Mount&Blade: Warband' to play 'Mount&Blade: With Fire & Sword'?
A: No. 'Mount & Blade: With Fire & Sword' is a standalone expansion, which means it can be bought and played, without Warband.
Q: If I buy the Steam version, will I be able to extract the CD Key and use the regular game client
A: This will probably be possible. There is no confirmation, as of yet but the chances are it'll be the same as Warband, in which case you won't have to play it in Steam, once you extract the CD Key.
Q: If I buy the non-Steam version, can I use it in Steam?
A: Again, it will probably be the same as Warband. This means you can't import it into steam and play it as a steam game (with achievements etc.). Though, you will be able to add it to your games list as a "non-Steam" game, meaning you can launch it from your Steam library and use the overlay (confirmed).
Q: Where can I buy it?
A: There is some release information here
Q: When is it released?
A: May 3rd 2011.
Q: Is it the same game that was released in Eastern Europe?
A: Quote from Mikail Yazbeck: "It was actually released twice over there. The most recent release is this new version of the game that’s been made in the Warband engine(which we’ve since polished even more for the international release). And the first release was inside of the Mount & Blade 1 engine and was released in between M&B 1 and M&B:Warband, but only in Eastern Europe. That older version of course didn’t have all the features that this version has, but was demanded enough for us(and by us I mean Sich Studios/Snowberry along with TaleWorlds) to want to remake it using the Warband engine and bring to an international audience."
Q: Is it basically just a mod? It looks like a mod.
A: It uses the Warband engine (with some alterations), so it will look like a mod. The difference is the professional level of work, the large amount of content with fully fleshed out singleplayer and multiplayer, which includes a new game mode dedicated to commanding. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide whether you want to buy the game or not.
Q: Will it have cooperative campaign?
A: No. Although, Battle Time is open source so could probably be easily modded into the game.