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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

Comments

Winninger has a pretty extensive RPG resume... prior to 1993. He doesn't seem to have done much modern design in the last twenty-five years apart from writing Dragon columns almost two decades ago.

But I suppose it's a managerial position.
 

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jgsugden

Hero
I for one hope his first order is getting us a PHB 5.5 edition.

Clarify the errata work in some of the UA options, but make it completely compatible with the monster manual so it works with old adventures........wait that's what they did with 4e.......oh well still s good idea.
… but unlikely. In the modern world, where people can read errata, they'll just revise the PHB as they go and release errata. 3.5 was a massive sea change for 3E - it is unlikely we'll get a one time big change for 5E. Just big additions to the ruleset.
 

darjr

I crit!
Congrats! I LOVE that he seems to have old school chops as well. Nice. I can’t wait to see where he takes things!


The PHB is ranked 9 out of all books on Amazon, right now, during a pandemic. I don’t think they’ll wan’t to kill that golden goose just yet.

I think Mearls played a large part for the older school style leanings of 5e. I give him a lot of credit for a lot of the things I love in 5e.
 
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Hurin88

Explorer
That's why I was never entirely fond of Mearls, but, in all honesty, I can't argue with his results.
I can. 5e is undoubtedly very successful financially, and I certainly can't argue about that. But I find the 5e rules to be vague (stealth, 'rulings not rules', etc.), underdeveloped (armor, weapons, theater of the mind combat), and simultaneously shallow but unnecessarily complicated. At least 4e tried to solve, systematically, some of the real problems that previous editions had (e.g. balancing short rest vs. long rest classes). That made Mearls' throwing 4e under the bus all the more difficult for me to take.

Not trying to start an edition war; 5e has clearly won it. Just wanted to say I remember Mearls throwing 4e under the bus, and it really annoyed me.
 
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jgsugden

Hero
I thought Mearls was working on BG3. Or am I confusing that rumor with someone or something else?
It is likely true, but there is no clear evidence of him being in communication with the BG 3 team since July of 2019 that I could find. He did, however, provide them with a lot of information and communication through July 2019 when references to him disappeared, or refered to things that would have taken place early in development most likely.
 

Sunsword

Adventurer
I don't know if Mearls' absence if really news. I remember at some point in the last year or two that he accepted a job involving licensing at WotC. Maybe Stranger Things and Rick & Morty were part of that? Maybe Gozilla for Magic was part of that too?

Ray is awesome and I'm a big fan of his. I doubt this will happen but I wonder if there is any hope of a 5E powered DC Starter or Line?
 

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).
Designers in a lot of industries have a tendency to come off this way, since they look deeply at the flaws of previous products and how well previous designers achieved their goals. So they tend to be hyper-critical of those older products.

For people who are using and like the old products, it comes off pretty harsh, whether it's a version of D&D, a previous iteration of a videogame or model of a car.

Given how much of 4E is in 5E, although often with different names, and how much game designers as a whole like 4E generally, I don't think anyone on the WotC team really hates 4E.
 
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EthanSental

Adventurer
Did he (mike) really dislike, hate is too strong of a word for a game, 4e since he tried to help make changes with the 4e essentials set? Heck Mike probably thiought, I’ve helped create a very successful game for over 4 years, what’s my next challenge to flex my creativity...hopefully he’s doing something he enjoys! Thanks Mike for being a part of 5e team!
 

Mearls weighing in on something as legally fraught as the Zak S situation and then arguably making it worse almost certainly (and rightly) freaked out the Hasbro legal team. That he still has a job with them is a win for him -- I've known people to get physically thrown out of companies I've worked for over far less.
 
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Congrats to Ray. I recall those articles from the magazines. When I scanned mine, and kept only the PDFs, those were some of the ones I kept.

And, whatever Mearls did or did not do, he clearly had a huge hand in 5e, so thanks to him for helping make the hobby even bigger.
 

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