WotC Ray Winninger Steps Back From WotC

Former leader of the D&D team Ray Winninger has announced his departure from WotC, having "accomplished the ambitious goals we set". Dan Rawson was announced the new head of D&D earlier this month, leading many to speculate about Winninger's departure.

Ray_Winninger_at_MIX08_(2)_crop.jpg


"Sorry for the radio silence; I'm in the midst of a SORELY needed Long Rest. I have indeed left WotC, having accomplished the ambitious goals we set when I took over the D&D team.

Shepherding D&D was an honor and a privilege, but I'm looking forward to slowing down and getting back to a list of personal design projects. (Gamers, you haven't seen the last of me!) Most of all, I look forward to following D&D as a fan again.

Proud of the team I left behind; D&D is in very good hands: @JeremyECrawford, @ChrisPerkinsDnD, @DroidsForSale, @dtovar77, Liz Schuh, Kate Irwin, Trish Yochum, @aquelajames, @FWesSchneider, @MakenzieLaneDA, @amandahamon, Emi Tanji, Bree Heiss, @doctorcomics. @justicearman

@RPGRonLundeen, @BillBenham2, Rob Hawkey, Ben Petrisor, @Dan_Dillon_1, @EytanBernstein, Adrian Ng, Janica Carter, @chrislindsay, @TrystanFalcone, @mattchucole, Bob Jordan, @christulach, Natalie Egan, Hilary Ross, Carl Sibley. Thanks for being such great adventuring companions."
 
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The facts on the ground are that you can put homebrew stuff into D&D Beyond. There are no other facts on the ground about what WotC will or won't do; it's all speculation.

Oh, another good YouTuber, just so people don't think that I'm also giving into criticizing everyone: Sly Flourish/Lazy Dungeon/Michael Shea (who may have one or two more brands than he needs). He also has thoughtful discussions of things and he's not 100% sold on D&D Beyond being the future of D&D (he wants to see a space preserved for third party content as well), but he never runs around with his hair on fire and is happy to concede when he doesn't know something for certain or that he was wrong. That also makes him more credible in my eyes. (Plus, he gives really good DM advice, comparably to Matt Colville's, which I appreciate.)

Shea has spoken at length recently about his inability to legally incorporate 3rd party (Kobold press) options on dnd beyond. He's moved to paper character sheets for that group, but has noted the facility with which roll 20 users can incorporate 3rd party products vs dnd beyond users. So maybe you don't like the video in question, but again the salient point is that very popular third party creators struggle to make their products fit well with the existing dnd ecosystem. The more that people rely on digital tools (beyond + the new vtt), the more that 3rd party 5e products will struggle to find an audience (let alone non 5e games people might discover on drivethru). It's not doom and gloom; most people will be perfectly happy to stay within a functional walled garden (I write this surrounded by various apple products). But it is true that it makes other options more difficult to find and integrate.
 

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Staffan

Legend
None of this looks like facts on the ground from my perspective. All we have is the existing DNDBeyond (which plenty supports homebrew) and what they've said they plan to do (continue with hardcopy books simultaneous with digital). All the rest of what you're arguing looks like conjecture with a dose of pessimism.
D&D Beyond supports some homebrewing. You can add individual game elements like feats and spells, and even a subclass (though I'm not sure within what limits), but you couldn't do a houserule like "HD is based on race, not class" or add a whole new class.

It also generally doesn't work with third-party material unless you add the material in yourself – so no Tome of Beasts in D&D Beyond.
WotC gave us the D20 license and OGL, which counts for a lot in my book.
That was more of a mutually beneficial arrangement, at least in theory. Second or third-tier publishers get to make material for D&D and sell to the rather large D&D audience, while the existence of support material (particularly adventures) drives D&D sales.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I really want to buy the Dungeon Dudes some software so they can illustrate their videos with stuff they're talking about, which they're almost alone among successful D&D YouTubers in not doing, but their content is very solid. And it's probably because they're so Canadian, but they also seem like genuinely nice people who like each other, which is also nice to have in my media diet.

They're about the only D&D YouTubers I've subscribed to and go back to watch.

Mostly for the tier lists and powergaming stuff.
 

D&D Beyond supports some homebrewing. You can add individual game elements like feats and spells, and even a subclass (though I'm not sure within what limits), but you couldn't do a houserule like "HD is based on race, not class" or add a whole new class.

It also generally doesn't work with third-party material unless you add the material in yourself – so no Tome of Beasts in D&D Beyond.

That was more of a mutually beneficial arrangement, at least in theory. Second or third-tier publishers get to make material for D&D and sell to the rather large D&D audience, while the existence of support material (particularly adventures) drives D&D sales.
It’s even worse than that, I can’t even find a way to stop “Common” being added as a default language, let alone any other sort of customisation that would fit my own home brew world.
 

I would cite Matt Colville before I'd cite almost anyone else, because he actually does the stuff, and he also approaches things with nuance, which is terrible for the algorithm. (Also, I find Matt's continual hair and facial hair changes fascinating. The guy has the most lively follicles I've ever seen.)
He's the bomb! :)
 

D&D makes less money than MtG but they have the same goal (500m by 2027). So whatever they're doing for MtG is on the table for D&D.

MtG is already at a billion, they have the same goal for D&D. Despite MtG making more money, D&D has greater cultural impact, it's vastly more well know, is the nature of the product that makes MtG more profitable, just it's just as profitable using D&D settings.
 

talien

Community Supporter
Around the time when D&D 5E launched, some of the team left WOTC to start their own companies. When the OGL was released later, they were one of the first to use it. This gave them both an exit strategy and an early advantage in the market. I'm always curious to see comments from folks who leave as to what they're doing next, as it often seems they plan to use their previous experience as a launchpad for their own business supporting the new edition of D&D, and then later, spin that success to other games and systems.
 

Shea has spoken at length recently about his inability to legally incorporate 3rd party (Kobold press) options on dnd beyond. He's moved to paper character sheets for that group, but has noted the facility with which roll 20 users can incorporate 3rd party products vs dnd beyond users. So maybe you don't like the video in question, but again the salient point is that very popular third party creators struggle to make their products fit well with the existing dnd ecosystem. The more that people rely on digital tools (beyond + the new vtt), the more that 3rd party 5e products will struggle to find an audience (let alone non 5e games people might discover on drivethru). It's not doom and gloom; most people will be perfectly happy to stay within a functional walled garden (I write this surrounded by various apple products). But it is true that it makes other options more difficult to find and integrate.
One thing that SlyFlourish ignores is that most of his trouble with not being able to get VTT stuff to work with third parties is that he made that choice.

He chooses to not use Shard, or Roll20, or Fantasy Grounds. He could use any of those and use third party stuff. Shard and Kobold Press have a strong partnership, but he prefers OwlBear Rodeo.

It's like the person who bought a Magnavox Odyssey complaining that Super Mario Brothers doesn't work
It’s even worse than that, I can’t even find a way to stop “Common” being added as a default language, let alone any other sort of customisation that would fit my own home brew world.
While you can't remove languages, if you don't add any during creation you can add custom languages directly on the sheet.
 

It's like the person who bought a Magnavox Odyssey complaining that Super Mario Brothers doesn't work
I don't know what made everyone go virtual (although I expect my story is not unique)
at the beginning of 2022 my 3 groups (1 group with slightly different break downs twice a week plus once per month more or less) stopped meeting in person feb or march, with the intent we would use roll20 for a week or 2 maybe a month then back to my place...
that was 2 1/2 years ago, and we have lost some players and gained some others, and 1 of us had a kid, and 1 of us got real sick (spoiler that is me) and as such even though we have considered meeting in person we have stopped even talking about it.

when we went virtual we had a HUGE swath of house rules that we can't even now with 2 years (and having paid for features and learned alot about roll20) use...

example things we can't use: escalation die, different die then d20 for skill checks (we were using 2d12 added together for super advantage) critical difference on monsters (can't make 19+ crit on npc/monsters, can't do tipple damage on monsters unless we do it manual each time)
example of things that are had but not impossible: special maneuvers (we took 4e and Bo9S ones) we CAN manually create attacks, and things but you can't port them from 1 sheet/game to another so have to manually do it each time.
New spells I have a dozen or so spells from 3rd party and previous editions and like the above it need to be man done each sheet
house ruled spells (see above)
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
D&D Beyond supports some homebrewing. You can add individual game elements like feats and spells, and even a subclass (though I'm not sure within what limits), but you couldn't do a houserule like "HD is based on race, not class" or add a whole new class.

Yes, you'd have to use pencil and paper to play such a game. But, you'd have to use pen and paper for such a game if there was no D&D Beyond, so in terms of support, such a thing is not any worse off.

It also generally doesn't work with third-party material unless you add the material in yourself – so no Tome of Beasts in D&D Beyond.

Every single time I have thought to add third party content into D&D beyond, I've found that someone else had already implemented it and shared it, such that I didn't have to do manual entry.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
I don't know what made everyone go virtual (although I expect my story is not unique)
at the beginning of 2022 my 3 groups (1 group with slightly different break downs twice a week plus once per month more or less) stopped meeting in person feb or march, with the intent we would use roll20 for a week or 2 maybe a month then back to my place...
that was 2 1/2 years ago, and we have lost some players and gained some others, and 1 of us had a kid, and 1 of us got real sick (spoiler that is me) and as such even though we have considered meeting in person we have stopped even talking about it.

when we went virtual we had a HUGE swath of house rules that we can't even now with 2 years (and having paid for features and learned alot about roll20) use...

example things we can't use: escalation die, different die then d20 for skill checks (we were using 2d12 added together for super advantage) critical difference on monsters (can't make 19+ crit on npc/monsters, can't do tipple damage on monsters unless we do it manual each time)
example of things that are had but not impossible: special maneuvers (we took 4e and Bo9S ones) we CAN manually create attacks, and things but you can't port them from 1 sheet/game to another so have to manually do it each time.
New spells I have a dozen or so spells from 3rd party and previous editions and like the above it need to be man done each sheet
house ruled spells (see above)
You can do all that the same way you do in person. Use the VTT only for maps and communication. I really am baffled by this whole line of thinking. You don't have tools outside the VTT, why do you need them in the VTT?
 

But with the publishing schedule of 5e the amount of character-facing content would be about 1/5 or less, so say I'd be willing to pay 1/5th of the 4e price. But somehow I don't think $2 a month for everything they publish for the 2024 editon is in the cards.
Watching what WotC has done with M:tG I think we'll see more products fairly soon in 1 DnD's life cycle. Probably something about every 6 weeks. And WotC has already shown they could prioritize purchase directly through them. The Dragonlance Digital + Physical bundle gets you access to the material 2 weeks early.

It is what it is though. Hasbro has stockholders and they demand record profits.
I can stick with 5E if 1 DnD isn't my jam or make my own heartbreaker with the OGL.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Watching what WotC has done with M:tG I think we'll see more products fairly soon in 1 DnD's life cycle. Probably something about every 6 weeks. And WotC has already shown they could prioritize purchase directly through them. The Dragonlance Digital + Physical bundle gets you access to the material 2 weeks early.
Thanks, I haven't a lot of visibility on the current M:tG business side, that's valuable info.

It is what it is though. Hasbro has stockholders and they demand record profits.
I can stick with 5E if 1 DnD isn't my jam or make my own heartbreaker with the OGL.
To a degree. If I played solo, sure. But as it is I have plenty of other RPGs I'd like to try out that my groups aren't up for. So I'm pretty sure at least one group where I'm a player will want to change, at which point I'm purchasing it and it doesn't matter how many games I'm in.
 



Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
Random thoughts:
  • Maybe Ray just wanted to get 5e versions of Spelljammer, Planescape, and Dragonlance done, and after that he said "On to the next thing!"?
  • Homebrew and houserules are so common among groups (to varying degrees), I cannot imagine WotC making a digital tool that completely prevented a group from using same. The digital tool may not support/facilitate the houserule, but it won't get in the way.
  • Despite my current favor for online play (it's just easier to schedule and meet online for my group, who are busy and spread out geographically), I do not see it overtaking in-person gaming by and large anytime soon. Additionally, even folks who play online will still buy some physical books. I think the next decade or so we will see online play increase, as well as more folks crossing back and forth, being in digital and face-to-face games, moving comfortably between the two.
 

One thing that SlyFlourish ignores is that most of his trouble with not being able to get VTT stuff to work with third parties is that he made that choice.

He chooses to not use Shard, or Roll20, or Fantasy Grounds. He could use any of those and use third party stuff. Shard and Kobold Press have a strong partnership, but he prefers OwlBear Rodeo.

It's like the person who bought a Magnavox Odyssey complaining that Super Mario Brothers doesn't work

While you can't remove languages, if you don't add any during creation you can add custom languages directly on the sheet.
I know but I’ve still got the default staring at me there. It’s annoying and could be fixed by their programmers so easily. Roll20 has sheets that I can play around with almost however I want.
 

I don’t know why people are talking about imaginary subscriptions and micro transactions for the game that have not even been implied.

Like there is already a type of sub and micro transactions on D&D Beyond, but they are unobtrusive and for content sharing in the case of the sub, and for cosmetics in the case of the micros.

Like the biggest change I see coming in 2024 is the VTT being attached to the sub.
I'm a huge fan of the existing subscription service. I run my games out of D&D Beyond integrating the dice rolells into Roll20 with the Beyond20 Chrome extension, it works pretty smoothly. I pay $60 a year and my table of 6 players gets access to all the books I've bought without them having to pay. That's easily several hundred dollars our group has saved by not making each person buy Tasha's, MotM, or Xanathar's. There's other perks beyond the book sharing, but that's selling point enough at that price point imo.

I've yet to spend anything on the dice or character sheet pieces of flair but I don't see any issue with them being there for those who like them since no one else sees them.
 

Staffan

Legend
Yes, you'd have to use pencil and paper to play such a game. But, you'd have to use pen and paper for such a game if there was no D&D Beyond, so in terms of support, such a thing is not any worse off.
Sure. But there's a certain... well, insidiousness is not quite the right word, but close. I don't mean any malice on the part of Wizards, but compare these two situations.

1. You have a moderately complex game like D&D. It's a bit of a pain to keep track of everything with pen and paper and your own brainpower, but since that's what's available that's what you use. If there's something in it you don't like, changing that thing is not a huge additional burden over what you're already doing.

2. You have a moderately complex game like D&D. It's a bit of a pain to keep track of everything with pen and paper and your own brainpower, so you use available software to simplify the process which makes things much easier. But adding a thing is a bit of a hurdle, and changing core parts of the system becomes almost impossible.

It's very easy to fall for option 2 because it's easier in the short run, and thus cut oneself off from the ability to make large-scale house rules.

For example, let's say I'm running Princes of the Apocalypse, and my players manage to defeat the Prophet of Water and take their elemental weapon for themselves. I look at the abilities of the weapon, and see:
  • +1 trident, +1d8 cold damage on a hit.
  • Bearer can speak Aquan.
  • Bearer has resistance to cold.
  • Bearer can cast dominate monster (DC 17) once per day but only on water elementals.
  • If you're in the water node, you can create a water devastation orb 1/day.
  • You get the flaw of covetousness, and barnacles grow on your skin.


That's not exactly the most exciting thing in the world for a level 10+ party. So let's say you want to add some cool abilities, maybe casting tidal wave or something like that. In PnP D&D, you just say it and it is is done, but the process is significantly more involved on a VTT.

Every single time I have thought to add third party content into D&D beyond, I've found that someone else had already implemented it and shared it, such that I didn't have to do manual entry.
Quite possible. I haven't used it in a while, and at the time pre-made homebrew material was kind of scarce.
 

Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
That's not exactly the most exciting thing in the world for a level 10+ party. So let's say you want to add some cool abilities, maybe casting tidal wave or something like that. In PnP D&D, you just say it and it is is done, but the process is significantly more involved on a VTT.
For the two VTTs that I am familiar with (Foundry VTT and Roll20) it is pretty trivial to change, add, or remove abilities on magic items.
 

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