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.


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."

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Yeeeeaaaah, I'm not inclined to trust that source...or much of anybody involved in the situation.

The point isn't exactly how bad the situation is, bit that Mearls waded into inappropriate territory in a free-wheeling public manner. He ought not to have engaged, and really for him the consequences are pretty light.
its all speculation. Mearls might have wanted to move positions for totally unrelated reasons too guys.

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Right but Zak said he got that email address elsewhere and not from Mike Mearls. And as far as I know Hill never said she shared it only with Mike. Indeed as you say she was a loud critic of Zak and I think she shared it with many people (but I do not know that and if someone has something to the contrary please post it). Now Zak is a scoundrel to be sure, but where is the evidence it came from Mike Mearls other than Hill making that accusation with, as far as I can tell, no evidence other than simply making the accusation?

I think this is the third time this topic has come up where someone asked for this evidence, and the third time people have kinda shrugged, claimed it's truth because the accusation was made, and then moved on as if it was true because the accusation was made and "they heard" it was supported or "they think they saw evidence long ago which they can no longer find" that it was true.

The only email I've ever seen is the one Corrosive posted. And I think it's perfectly fine that people object to it. But it's also not nearly as bad as the allegation he shared emails and names of accusers with Zak. That later accusation - doesn't it need real support to feel secure that it's OK to spread that allegation around?

Avoid twitter at all costs. Can't get in trouble that way.

One screw up or out of context comment and you're boned.

the Jester

Not too far down the Twitter thread is a reply from Jacob “Gnome” Randolph about it that makes a lot of accusations. It’s not evidence per se, but I’m not sure you’re going to find any direct evidence on the internet for this. It’s going to be “he said, she said” and you’ll just need to make your mind up as to who you believe.

I don't know who that guy is. Is he one of the ones Zack harassed?


Crusty Old Meatwad (he/him)

The best I could see in the Twitter thread is from Jacob "Gnome" Randolph accusing Mearls of doing that with the emails of one of his co-authors. I've spent enough time going back down the rabbit hole again, so I'm not going to spend any more time looking. Ultimately who you choose to believe is up to you. Based on what I remember reading last time and this time I know who I believe in this. If you need more concrete evidence you can find it yourself, although I'm not sure you're going to find hard evidence on something like this posted online.

Yes, I think we're all clear people have accused him of it. But...based on what? No evidence at all that I can find has ever been presented that shows that happened. Not only that, but I've never even seen someone say they saw the evidence but for reasons won't present it. I've only ever seen people speculate on what "must have" happened.

I mean, if there is evidence out there, why hasn't it come out? If an email was forwarded, why have we not seen that? Or baring that, why won't anyone even claim they saw the evidence?

Everyone has said for years now that whole "I am not going to go down the rabbit hole you go find it" but I've never seen anyone from the beginning be willing to present evidence. It's always been that "no I am not going to show any evidence to anyone" answer, then and now. How is that the basis of assumptions where people claim essentially "everyone knows" that happened?


I think Mearls made big, serious mistakes in handling the interactions around Zak S and some other public issues. Here, the punishment seems to fit the crime: not handling public interactions anymore.

It's too bad, since I enjoyed a lot of his design talk, but he was out of his depth with that sort of thing.

Given how we learned years later that the EnWorld article "Harassment at Paizocon" wa
Probably! But social media shenanigans also probably mean WotC doesn't want him being a face anymore.

Doubtful. On the Magic the Gathering side, Hasbro and WOTC have tolerated MaRo turning their product line into a representation of MaRo's political beliefs. WOTC, with his leadership being part of it, has cut off shops for having the "Wrong" politics, radically altered the culture/lore of the game to fit their beliefs, encouraged an environment of intolerance in public play that alienates customers, and a variety of other events (Theresa, GenCon, etc).

In fact, the direction he lead Magic the Gathering in is so polarized that WOTC recently walked back the novel lines and it's commonly believed that it was because it was so extreme that it jeopardized Hasbro's deal with Netflix for Mtg.

So if Hasbro's willing to tolerate all of that on the Mtg side, I sincerely doubt they care at all about Mearls and Zak on the D&D side, as public knowledge of that whole thing consists of some people on two forums and a reddit forum that combined don't add up to a single Mtg forum.


Oh man, you mean the guy who essentially stated that women are too dumb at math to play D&D and then clumsily blamed it on customers finally got his comeuppance?

🍻 I'll make sure to pour one out this weekend.

To each their own. I liked Essentials. My 3e group that tried 4e and hated it, hated the books, and hated the layout...they also liked Essentials.

I’ve had RPG designers that I am a fan of, but not one I’ve hated.
I forget products I don’t like.

Again, I am not on Twitter, I know nothing about this Affair d’ Zak......but Adam Koebel in the Twitter link was prominent in calling out Mike Mearls.

Adam “let’s role play a sexual assault...as a JOKE” Koebel.

Again, I am not on Twitter, I know nothing about this Affair d’ Zak......but Adam Koebel in the Twitter link was prominent in calling out Mike Mearls.

Adam “let’s role play a sexual assault...as a JOKE” Koebel.

Is that surprising to you? Often people are guilty of similar idiocy to that which they call out. This is a law of humanity dating back beyond history. But that doesn't mean they were wrong to call out the person in the first place, nor that the other person was not wrong. I mean, if I'm a police detective, and solve murders, and put a bunch of murderers in jail, and one day I commit a murder, and go to jail, people are totally entitled to laugh at the irony or poke fun at me, but they're not entitled to say "Well I guess those murderers weren't wrong after all!". Which appears to be your logic. If that's not your logic, I can't find any other logic between linking the two so perhaps you can elucidate?

As they say folks should let sleeping dogs lie. I wish Ray would do an interview there we could get a taste for his vision for D&D 5e, how he plans on putting his mark on D&D.

Yes, I'd be very interested to hear that. He's been playing D&D longer than I've been alive, I note, and created some stuff for it early on (including DL15, which was mentioned earlier in this thread in an unrelated discussion, I believe - it's basically an early Krynn sourcebook). Rather disappointingly he doesn't mention Torg or Underground, or working in a senior role at Mayfair games at all. In many ways that seems more relevant than the stuff he did mention.


Golden Procrastinator
I would like it if more older settings (such as Greyhawk and Mystara) could be opened on DM's Guild without waiting for some official book that may or may not be ever published.

I'd also love to have DM's Guild be opened to older editions, but I realize that this is extremely - to say the least - unlikely.

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