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.
I may be new to my role, but I’m not new to D&D. I played my first game back in 1977, and just a few months later I was standing in line outside my local hobby shop, waiting to purchase the brand-new Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. By the mid-’80s, I was putting myself through college designing D&D material. Dungeon Module I13 in Adventure Pack I was my first product; then came DL15, AC10, AC11, and far too many others to recall.
Since college, I’ve worked mostly in video games and technology but I never gave up my connection to D&D. Some of you may know me from the Dungeoncraft column I created for Dragon magazine in the late ’90s, or even for the work I did on Out of the Abyss a few years ago.
I accepted the role of Executive Producer not because it gives me a daily opportunity to work with an imaginative team to produce incredible products (although that’s really nice), but because it gives me a chance to give something back to the game that has given me so much. I know first-hand that Dungeons & Dragons can change lives. D&D helped me cope with a particularly stressful period in my childhood. More importantly, it helped me find others who shared my quirky interests; many of us who play D&D form our oldest and strongest friendships around the gaming table.
It’s also no exaggeration to say that D&D taught me many of the key lessons that made me a success later in life: there’s an unconventional solution to almost any problem; listen to what the numbers are telling you before you act; and yes, “never split the party.” It was Dungeons & Dragons that helped me truly understand how much more we can accomplish as a team than we’ll ever accomplish as individuals. Which brings me to our present, unpleasant circumstances.
As I write this, much of the world is on lockdown to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Here in Seattle, it’s been several weeks now since we’ve been able to pop by our local game stores or gather around a table with friends. During this time, the D&D team has been working hard, from our homes, to keep the new ideas and new products coming. Of course, we’re working to safeguard the D&D business, taking whatever steps we can to ensure that our partners and ourselves will be bringing you more Dungeons & Dragons for a long time to come.
But right now we’re more determined than ever to live up to the responsibility our fans have placed on us. We are acutely aware that we are the present caretakers of this spectacular game and, again, we know how much it means to so many of you. We know that Dungeons & Dragons is responsible, so often, for bringing friends together to exercise their imaginations, support each other, and generally forget their problems for a few precious moments.
For this reason, we’ve created the “Stay at Home. Play at Home.” initiative. As part of this initiative, we’re assembling a resource page full of tips and tricks to help make the transition to playing D&D virtually, and we’re releasing high-quality, free content every week to give you more to play with. We’re still working on a couple of other ideas and we hope to make some additional announcements about the initiative soon. You can learn more about Stay at Home. Play at Home. here, and read Wizards of the Coast’s response to the COVID crisis here.
And of course, this issue of Dragon+ contains even more resources to help us all keep connected and playing while “sheltering in place.”
I want to wrap this up by thanking our community for predictably stepping up to help others navigate this crisis. Every morning I read reports of D&D fans hosting charity games, working with libraries to host story hours for children, even using their 3D printers to make replacement parts for medical devices! As I said before, D&D fans know that working together as a team is often the only way to overcome adversity.
Never split the party!