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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

I think it is not time for a 5.5 or 6th ed yet. This phase hasn't ended yet. The need to know the reaction of the fandom with the future media titles, action-live productions, animation and videogames.

My opinion is the next project will be a new no-D&D d20 title. We don't know enough compatible or with the same leveling up. A d20 superheroes is a true challenge for the game designers with a conflict about power balance, coherence and gameplay. I guess we would see a future playtesting. Would do they dare to change any sacred cow?
 

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Mort

Adventurer
Supporter
I think it is not time for a 5.5 or 6th ed yet. This phase hasn't ended yet. The need to know the reaction of the fandom with the future media titles, action-live productions, animation and videogames.

My opinion is the next project will be a new no-D&D d20 title. We don't know enough compatible or with the same leveling up. A d20 superheroes is a true challenge for the game designers with a conflict about power balance, coherence and gameplay. I guess we would see a future playtesting. Would do they dare to change any sacred cow?
I just checked and the 5e PHB is #9 on Amazon in bestsellers in books - not hobby or games books but overall ALL books. Considering it's almost 6 years old, that's huge!

Certainly not the time to rock that boat!
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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.
Yeah, I don't know for sure either... but in the back of my brain I keep thinking I remember him having been moved over to the D&D video game side of things in the entirety... like the brand liason or something. Obviously he had that connection to Larian and BG3... but as you point out there hasn't been anything mentioned or seen about that since last summer, so maybe my memories are faulty and it was only that one connection and not an entire new job he had for all digital games? We haven't seen anything since then to confirm or refute my potential misremembering.

That's the thing about social media... it is exceedingly hard to have a presence online when you are a person of interest. Anything you post can and will be seen, even when meant to be for smaller circles or not taken seriously or not intended to be considered some sort of political comment or stance or just dumb comments from not thinking things through before posting. Any presence will have a potential response, so at some point a person might realize that it is no longer worth having that presence and they just step away altogether.
 
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lichhouse

Dreamer
Now that Ray has been formally introduced, maybe he’ll share a vision for where the line is going. I too loved Dungeoncraft from back in the idea (and still use the advice on secrets - funny how that one stuck). Welcome Ray! (How can there not be a top tier Marvel game with how popular MCU is... MSH 2020! Long live FASERIP)

Sad to hear Mearls is gone, he was sympathetic towards TSR era players and modes, and a tireless promoter of Greyhawk. Good luck out there, Mike.
 

Eyes of Nine

Everything's Fine
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.

View attachment 121498


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.

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."
This is good news for D&D.
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
Now that Ray has been formally introduced, maybe he’ll share a vision for where the line is going. I too loved Dungeoncraft from back in the idea (and still use the advice on secrets - funny how that one stuck). Welcome Ray! (How can there not be a top tier Marvel game with how popular MCU is... MSH 2020! Long live FASERIP)

Sad to hear Mearls is gone, he was sympathetic towards TSR era players and modes, and a tireless promoter of Greyhawk. Good luck out there, Mike.
Indeed. Mike Mearls has done an incredible job at pulling D&D back from the brink to the pack leader of the RPG hobby. His vision has returned me to the fold (from Pathfinder heresy) & and made D&D far more fun.

I suspect but have no insider knowledge that he is working on a secret project. I hope as others have said it is setting development. His own world. Dark Sun. Sigil and the Planes. All power to your elbow Mike. Thanks for 5e and Iron Heroes!
 

Maggan

Writer of The Bitter Reach
Thank you for your stewardship of D&D, Mike. Above all, 5e seems to me to be an edition that brought the fandom together, more or less, and for that, I think Mike deserves accolades, together with the people who also contributed to the game.

Looking forward to Ray's contributions.
 


gyor

Legend
Indeed. Mike Mearls has done an incredible job at pulling D&D back from the brink to the pack leader of the RPG hobby. His vision has returned me to the fold (from Pathfinder heresy) & and made D&D far more fun.

I suspect but have no insider knowledge that he is working on a secret project. I hope as others have said it is setting development. His own world. Dark Sun. Sigil and the Planes. All power to your elbow Mike. Thanks for 5e and Iron Heroes!
Honestly I think he's mechanics/lore guy for liencees between D&D/WotC and other companies like Larian Studios and Tuque Studios among others, so he is still involved with D&D, just not the TTRPG, but more stuff like CRPGs of various types. Maybe stuff like comic books too.
 


BenTheFerg

Explorer
Honestly I think he's mechanics/lore guy for liencees between D&D/WotC and other companies like Larian Studios and Tuque Studios among others, so he is still involved with D&D, just not the TTRPG, but more stuff like CRPGs of various types. Maybe stuff like comic books too.
I sincerely hope he is having a blast. Iron Heroes was a refreshing iteration of 3rd edition rules and I was excited when he got recruited to D&D. I knew he would turn things around. 🍻🍻🍻
 

teitan

Hero
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!
He helped design 4e so I don’t think he hated 4e. It seemed like the people involved in 4e have a special place for it and in the lead up to 5e were hypercritical as part of a “why didn’t this work” manner and explaining why in contrast to the more old school 5e design.
 

I also have got my suspects about secret projects. Why not, what would you do if you were WotC?

The 5.5 Ed will not be D&D but other name, maybe d20 Universal or something like this. I would bet WotC's dream is an Universal d20 to can sell TTRPGs of famous franchises from comics, videogames, Hasbro toys.

The prequel of the 5.5 could be a new Unearthed Arcana with optional rules, even sacrificing some sacred cows, and avalaibles in a new SRD, to be used by the 3PPs. (in the past I suggest some little changes in the list of abilities scores). Of course new rules have got the risk of causing new controversies about gameplay.

WotC could publish a new d20 Modern 2.0. but to find the right power balance with the high-tech and 100% compatible with D&D is a true challenge. The playtesting will be harder if the work is for a upcomping CRPG (no-D&D) videogame, and more with a public beta playtest. Lots of munchkins players may find any flaw.

I suggest to use Savage Coast/Red Steel as setting to try some ideas for this d20 Modern, for example firearms and mutants with superpowers.
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
He helped design 4e so I don’t think he hated 4e. It seemed like the people involved in 4e have a special place for it and in the lead up to 5e were hypercritical as part of a “why didn’t this work” manner and explaining why in contrast to the more old school 5e design.
He was brought it to try and fix 4e. Under his leadership I believe the 4e Essentials line emerged (4.5e?). And whilst he was engaged with that, 5e was brewing. WotC and Mearls knew that 4e had screwed their market share.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
If this WAS about the whole ... controversial incident ... then I wonder why WotC waited so long to announce that Mearls was being replaced.
 

BenTheFerg

Explorer
I also have got my suspects about secret projects. Why not, what would you do if you were WotC?

The 5.5 Ed will not be D&D but other name, maybe d20 Universal or something like this. I would bet WotC's dream is an Universal d20 to can sell TTRPGs of famous franchises from comics, videogames, Hasbro toys.

The prequel of the 5.5 could be a new Unearthed Arcana with optional rules, even sacrificing some sacred cows, and avalaibles in a new SRD, to be used by the 3PPs. (in the past I suggest some little changes in the list of abilities scores). Of course new rules have got the risk of causing new controversies about gameplay.

WotC could publish a new d20 Modern 2.0. but to find the right power balance with the high-tech and 100% compatible with D&D is a true challenge. The playtesting will be harder if the work is for a upcomping CRPG (no-D&D) videogame, and more with a public beta playtest. Lots of munchkins players may find any flaw.

I suggest to use Savage Coast/Red Steel as setting to try some ideas for this d20 Modern, for example firearms and mutants with superpowers.
Mike certainly has spoken before about a classless d20 5e modern system 🤞🏻
 

BMaC

Explorer
Ravnica, Eberron, Wildemount and only the smallest nod to Greyhawk. Everyone has their breaking point. Mearls reached his.
 

teitan

Hero
He was brought it to try and fix 4e. Under his leadership I believe the 4e Essentials line emerged (4.5e?). And whilst he was engaged with that, 5e was brewing. WotC and Mearls knew that 4e had screwed their market share.
No he was part of the 4e design team. Here are the credits for the PHB where he is part of the “Strike Team” and PHB development team. He wasn’t brought on to fix 4e, he was already there and A key contributor.
 

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teitan

Hero
If this WAS about the whole ... controversial incident ... then I wonder why WotC waited so long to announce that Mearls was being replaced.
Because it probably wasn’t and he was probably given a better opportunity and quietly shuffled into it. He led a team that turned an IP around into an extremely successful part of Hasbro’s business. If he were going to be let go over the rumors then it would have happened long before. There would have been a statement instead of a quiet shuffling.
 

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