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WotC Ray Winninger Is Head of D&D RPG Team; Mike Mearls No Longer Works on RPG

People have been wondering where Mike Mearls has gone for quite some time. It seems that he has not been working on the D&D tabletop RPG since some time last year, and the new head of the team and Executive Producer is Ray Winninger.

Winninger is an RPG industry veteran. Amongst other things, he was co-designer of DC Heroes and Torg, and wrote the Dungeoncraft column for Dragon Magazine. He has worked at a number of RPG companies including TSR, Mayfair Games, West End Games, and more.

Ray_Winninger_at_MIX08_2_crop.jpg



Winninger is Chris Perkins' and Jeremy Crawford's boss. And in further comments, Chris Perkins says that Mike Mearls has not been part of the tabletop RPG team since some time last year.


That explains why Mearls' Twitch shows, like Happy Fun Hour, have disappeared. Although he's made a couple of retweets since, his last tweet on Twitter was February 13th, 2019. He still works at WotC on the D&D brand in some capacity, but not the tabletop RPG itself (he did an interview about Baldur's Gate 3 on Polygon last year).

Ray Winninger introduces himself in the latest issue of Dragon+, WotC's online magazine. "My name is Ray Winninger and I’m the new Executive Producer in charge of the Dungeons & Dragons studio at Wizards of the Coast. In just a few months on the job, I’ve already been impressed by the skills and the passion of the designers, artists, editors, and production staff who bring you our terrific D&D products. They are a uniquely talented group, and it is an honor to work alongside them."
 
Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey




Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
He introduces/re-introduces himself (three cheers for the original Dungeoncraft!) in today's release of the online version of Dragon: Issue 31 cover
I absolutely loved Ray’s original Dungeoncraft articles about world building. They really inspired me. I still have a word doc of all of the articles that I copied, pasted and combined together from the D&D website many, many years ago.
 





Winniger seems like he'll do a good job here, so this makes me happy. Even putting aside the "incident", Mearls was involved in (which however you spin it, is pretty crummy, and I suspect damaged his relationships within WotC), I was always uncomfortable with him on 5E, since one of his early 5E-related articles (I don't know if it's still up, suspect not) basically threw 4E "under the bus" in a not horrible but kinda crummy and cheap-seeming (to me) way (I get that 4E insulted previous editions too, but that was dumb and trying to be funny/clever, and this was much more direct).

Also looks like Perkins and Crawford really like Winniger, which bodes well.
 




Olrox17

Hero
It came out during the whole Zak S and ROG Pundit issue. I think Mearls was trying to do the right thing, but totally went the wrong way about it.
Ok, I've read up on the incident. Looks like this Zak fellow is a real piece of work, but Mearls' involvement is suspect at best. Almost looks like he's being considered guilty by association by an angry mob, just my two cents. Anyway, I agree that this is most likely the reason for his reassignment, he probably resigned from his position willingly.

Winniger seems like he'll do a good job here, so this makes me happy. Even putting aside the "incident", Mearls was involved in (which however you spin it, is pretty crummy, and I suspect damaged his relationships within WotC), I was always uncomfortable with him on 5E, since one of his early 5E-related articles (I don't know if it's still up, suspect not) basically threw 4E "under the bus" in a not horrible but kinda crummy and cheap-seeming (to me) way (I get that 4E insulted previous editions too, but that was dumb and trying to be funny/clever, and this was much more direct).

Also looks like Perkins and Crawford really like Winniger, which bodes well.
Yeah, I remember. That's why I was never entirely fond of Mearls, but, in all honesty, I can't argue with his results.
 

Almost looks like he's being considered guilty by association by an angry mob, just my two cents.

Re: the incident, if you keep digging you'll find some comments directly from Mearls that show it was distinctly more than "guilt by association", sadly (at the least it was extremely poor judgement). Not going to dig that all up in a thread about Winniger though. There's another thread on this forum where I posted the links.

Yeah, I remember. That's why I was never entirely fond of Mearls, but, in all honesty, I can't argue with his results.

He was also in charge of 4E from 2009 onwards, and that didn't go so well, so I have to wonder how much of 5E's success is connected to him, and how much to all the other people who work on it, and WotC/Hasbro marketing, and to some degree of simple luck (Critical Role becoming "cool", 20-somethings getting bored of staring at their phone all day and wanting activities which were more face-to-face, and so on).

Have you readen his profile in wikipedia? He has got a good resume.

I hadn't and it's actually fascinating.


I assumed he was more recent (looking good for his age I guess!) and was more of a management type, but wow definitely not, he's one of the co-creators of Torg and he designed Underground, which was an incredibly daring RPG at the time, which I still think about from time to time (really super-cool too). He's also had a fairly senior role at Microsoft. So his resume is really remarkable, and covers all the ground.
 



Olaf the Stout

Adventurer
Ok, I've read up on the incident. Looks like this Zak fellow is a real piece of work, but Mearls' involvement is suspect at best. Almost looks like he's being considered guilty by association by an angry mob, just my two cents. Anyway, I agree that this is most likely the reason for his reassignment, he probably resigned from his position willingly.


Yeah, I remember. That's why I was never entirely fond of Mearls, but, in all honesty, I can't argue with his results.
I suggest reading some more about it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
His original Dungeoncraft was something I read religiously in Dragon mag, and some of those lessons I can still quote today - put a secret in everything you create, even if it has nothing to do with the campaign - while others I've internalized and just do.

Torg was fairly groundbreaking, including the cards. I remember in a game having the Martyr card and it opened up possibilities that I hadn't considered before. Breaking out of the early D&D "character success = player success" mindset.

I assumed he was more recent (looking good for his age I guess!)...

The image used here is the same one from the Wikipedia article, and was from 2008. Google isn't helping me find a more recent pic though.
 


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