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It's a Wrap!
Mike Mearls

I t was a long year, but a good year. If you’ll indulge me a bit, I’d like to take a moment to look back at 2013 and talk about where we’ve been. Let’s touch on some of the highlights in the world of Dungeons & Dragons over the past twelve months.

To start with, our playtest of D&D Next has blown all our expectations out of the water. I placed my bet on a hundred thousand people taking part in the playtest by the time we were done. In the end, we nearly doubled that number.

The Lords of Waterdeep iOS app grabbed the number-one slot in the iTunes app store. It had the highest average review rating of all iOS games for the month of November and was nominated as Game of the Year 2013 by Pocket Tactics. The board game’s appearance on the TableTop web series also exposed it to hundreds of thousands of new fans.

The live D&D game at PAX, featuring DM-to-the-stars Chris Perkins, once more filled the Paramount Theater in Seattle with several thousand gamers—while over a hundred thousand more watched online.

Thousands of people played in our events at Gen Con, creating a new high-water mark for D&D at the show. Our new digs in the gaming hall were pretty sweet. As well, the Sundering launch party (a.k.a A Night with D&D) was a great chance to mingle with gamers and devour a giant Drizzt-themed birthday cake.

The Big Bang Theory focused another episode on the game. About sixteen million people tuned in to watch it.

A band of intrepid D&D players, including a number of members of our R&D team, raised over $22,000 for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, taking part in a twenty-five-hour gaming marathon for the Extra Life fundraising campaign.

Working with the KRE-O construction toys team, we announced our plans to return D&D to the toy aisle for the first time since the 1980s. The first wave of products will hit stores starting in early in 2014.

We launched two new and very different types of adventures as part of D&D EncountersMurder in Baldur’s Gate and Legacy of the Crystal Shard—in which we gave fans the ability to play different editions and participate in the events of the Sundering. Through the Sundering Adventurer’s Chronicle Facebook app, players could even impact the future of the Forgotten Realms by reporting the outcomes of their game.

And most importantly, throughout the past twelve months, people all over the world gathered around tables, rolled dice, and played D&D.

The point of all this isn’t to brag—though I’ll admit there is some bragging here. But I’m also unbelievably impressed with what the D&D team has done this year. It’s been fun watching some of the projects I mentioned above start with a phone call or email, expand to a meeting or three, and end up with something exciting unleashed upon the world.

So, I’d like to take a step back and personally thank everyone on my team (all of whom do the hard work around here):

  • Thanks to Dan Gelon, Kate Irwin, and Jon Schindehette for their superhuman ability to manage D&D artwork, put up with the rest of R&D’s nitpicky comments, and keep our artists producing amazing work.

  • Thanks to Rodney Thompson, Rob Schwalb, and Bruce Cordell for soldiering on with their design work. It was no accident that we crushed our goals for positive feedback thresholds in our playtest surveys.

  • Thanks to Jeremy Crawford, Chris Sims, Peter Lee, and Scott Fitzgerald Gray for developing and editing our text, and making it so that people can play the game rather than wander lost through confusing rules.

  • Thanks to Chris Youngs, Ben Petrisor, and Tom Olson for helping to shepherd a great round of D&D video games to market, and for laying the groundwork for an even brighter future.

  • Thanks to Chris Perkins and Greg Bilsland for keeping us all on track, on our toes, and ever moving forward.

  • Thanks to Matt Sernett for being the guy who always has the answer for the latest bit of D&D trivia—or knows where to look for it.

  • Thanks to Nina Hess, Fleetwood Robbins, and James Wyatt for bringing the Sundering novels from the barest hint of a concept to six of the best books we’ve ever published.

And thanks to all of you—especially those of you who participated in the playtest—who helped make 2013 such a successful year for D&D. Onward and upward!

Mike Mearls
Mike Mearls is the senior manager for the D&D research and design team. He led the design for 5th Edition D&D. His other credits include the Castle Ravenloft board game, Monster Manual 3 for 4th Edition, and Player’s Handbook 2 for 3rd Edition.
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Looking forward to Next and all of the fun stuff that will come with it!
Posted By: Majius (2/3/2014 11:25:29 PM)


Been a fan of the game, and played off and on since the 80's. When my kids became old enough, 4e was out, and I bought all of the core material, and through amazon, used versions of the modules and a few boxed sets. I'm a subscriber, and am very disappointed by the lack of support for 4e. I can't find published material (like power cards) in stores, etc. Yet, anyone of us are but a few clicks away from a mass download for all of the material, with WTC getting zero proceeds! Like the movie industry, and the music industry, game publishers shouldn't be surprised to discover people choosing a route that levels the playing field regarding the amount of money that they have (or would normally) spend. Promote and support your material, give us a reason to spend our hard-earned money, or we will gravitate toward a game that does.
Posted By: senderoff (1/14/2014 11:52:16 AM)


Toys? Oh this could be fun!
Posted By: Pyrate_Jib (1/10/2014 10:29:32 AM)


And a hearty thank you to all the players invested in 4th edition who are telling Mr. Mearls just where he can stick the pat on the back he is giving himself. Frankly, I don't care how much work they've put into DnD next. We invested in their product and got short-changed and ignored because our legitimate complaints don't fit into the lovely, energetic start they are trying to get with the launch of their newest money scheme. I want a free copy of the 4th edition character generator or Wizards, you get not one farthing of my money from here on out. I will go out of my way to avoid your products. If you don't redress the fleecing and broken pledges of tech and product, you will start DnD next under a black cloud of bad will. Pthfnder proved that we don't need you to see our hobby grow and continue. The future of "our" game is good hands: the players'.
Posted By: TeacherSainted (1/10/2014 5:46:09 PM)


I agree with you. The only reason to remove character generators from DDI is to force us to spend $200 plus dollars on a new core game. I just re-upped my subscription, but I'm going to download all of the prior issues of Dragon and Dungeon that I haven't bothered to download then call it. It's disappointing. There should be seamless subscription based PnP gameplay offered by this company, backwards compatibility and support for earlier editions, and an investment in the Comic/Hobby store community so we can actually walk into a store and find something that enriches gameplay.
Posted By: senderoff (1/14/2014 11:57:32 AM)


Never forget that DDI suscribers got treated like scum several times and were victims of the most hideous PR. I was thinking of giving 5e a chance at the beginning of 2013, but after what we got from WotC's "PR", there's no way I'm spending my money on that.
Posted By: OCAMPO (1/9/2014 4:47:06 AM)


What is next for DnD Insider?
Posted By: morandir62 (1/8/2014 11:20:17 AM)


That's a very interesting question. I canceled my subscription when new game material stopped coming out. I can't imagine getting a new one - what would I be paying for? - John
Posted By: Seanchai (1/8/2014 11:58:33 AM)


For me, Murder in Baldur's Gate may have saved DDN. It certainly kept me from wandering off to find a different game; in fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that MiBG is the best role-playing adventure ever published.
Posted By: pauldanielj2 (1/7/2014 4:08:36 PM)


Nothing about dropping support for 4E like a hot potato? I guess that was 2012. It is nice that the Sundering adventures allowed for play in the previous two versions, but I am still very disappointed that the 'current' version has had so little support over the last couple years. I run two 4E games, and most other gaming groups I know are running 4E. I hope some support for older versions continues for that quiet but large percent of us who will not plan to move to 5E. But my fear is the market will simply be fragmented again, just like it was when 3E was similarly dropped.
Posted By: The_Roc (1/7/2014 12:50:35 PM)


Agreed. And the only thing they are getting from us because of this behaviour is contempt towards 5e.
Posted By: OCAMPO (1/9/2014 4:39:42 AM)


Please don't make such a big deal out of the "players were able to have an impact on the Sundering" thing. Because it was just crowd-sourcing of a limited set of pre-determined choices that didn't really change anything. That hardly "impacted the future of the Forgotten Realms". Call a spade a spade, is all I'm asking.
Posted By: JoeyLast (1/6/2014 7:39:50 PM)


Articles like this are a great reminder of the big picture. I think it's healthy for us to take a step back once in a while and realize we aren't the only ones playing the game, that we're just a small part of the whole audience that drives DnD's success, that we share this game with a ton of folks with different tastes and sensibilities, and that along the way we're all going to have to sacrifice some preferences in order to enjoy a game that appeals to a wide enough demographic to keep tables filled with new and old gamers alike.

For a game that, at it's core, is about a bunch of friends with diverse ideals and experiences coming together and working as a team for the enjoyment of all, there sure is a lot of selfish and narrow feedback around here.
Posted By: Sebastrd (1/6/2014 6:40:20 PM)


And a hearty, heart-felt “Thank You!” to the entire team at Wizards of the Coast for putting up with us playtesters in 2013.

We can be a persnickety, rambunctious lot at times, but I’d like to think it is all for the betterment of the game.

Here’s to an even better 2014!
Posted By: E-Tallitnics (1/6/2014 3:40:27 PM)


And thanks to Mike Mearls for shepherding all the above resources to keep DandD alive and kicking in the midst of a very serious transition period for the game and the hobby. I really enjoyed the playtest (my group is currently nearly level 7 after about 7 months worth of sessions) and continue to use it regularly and I can't wait for the final rules. I've not been this excited about a new edition since I got my Red Box in 1984. Keep up the great work and don't sweat the haters in 2014. Oh, also, give us some details on the rumors about a new OGL. Thanks!
Posted By: mbeacom (1/6/2014 3:40:02 PM)


I wish a good 2014 year for you, I'll buy this shiny new thing this summer !
Posted By: Marendithas_the_Necro (1/6/2014 12:36:09 PM)


Good luck with getting 5e done well and on the shelves this summer. I will be checking it out for sure when I can hold a book or three in my hands. Honestly, I feel like I already have the rules (What with playtest packets, and older editions). But, it'll be the art and design that sells me or doesn't sell me, to be totally honest. A bold new campaign world would be nice too.

I just really wish you'd release your tablet games/'apps' for a real computer, i.e.: a PC. We don't all have ipads, lol. Nor do we all want to buy such an expensive toy.
Posted By: seti (1/6/2014 6:22:04 AM)


'14 is the year of horse in the Chinese Zodiac … but around here it's the year of the Dragon with the release of the new addition! Can't wait for more good times to roll in the new year.
Posted By: Sands666 (1/6/2014 5:20:28 AM)


Can't wait for 2014!
Posted By: PinkRose (1/6/2014 2:41:01 AM)


Congrats! It looks like a lot of the best accomplishments from 2013 position DnD for a potentially fantastic 2014... I wish you and the rest of the team continued success!
Posted By: BadMike (1/6/2014 1:14:04 AM)


Posted By: Etrigaen (1/6/2014 12:54:07 AM)



Good look back; it would be nice to see a bit forward next week though!
Posted By: Marandahir (1/6/2014 12:10:54 AM)



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