D&D 5E 5e isn't a Golden Age of D&D Lorewise, it's Silver at best.

Hussar

Legend
Ok, let's see if I can put this into words.

Sorry, bit of a gaming story ahead and this might get a bit wordy. The PC's in my game found a skull of a read dragon (don't question it, just work with me here) and one of the players decided to Speak with the Dead on it. Ok, fair enough. He's showing interest in the setting and handing me a golden opportunity to do some setting exposition AND set up an adventure down the road? FANTASTIC. Now, as I didn't actually HAVE any of that information at hand, I begged him off, and then answered his questions during downtime between sessions, allowing me to do a bit of a dumpster dive into FR lore on the Wiki.

This resulted in me deciding that that was the skull of Acogflagblazen, a dragon that died centuries ago under what would become the Cloister of St. Ramedar. This is helpful to me because now I can tie the Candlekeep Mysteries adventure The Book of Inner Alchemy to the Cloister and drop some foreshadowing into the game and give the party a decent reason for going to the Cloister which will set the Book of Inner Alchemy adventure off. Cool beans.

So, since I actually OWN the Powers and Pantheons Forgotten Realms book where the Cloister is detailed, I dug into the bowels of my closet and pulled out my 2e book and read the four page description of the location. Fantastic stuff. TONS of history and detail. Loads of ideas. I can see why people really dig this stuff.

But, here's the kicker, something I didn't really recognize at the time, but, it stands out so much now, in that short, four page description, there are references to the rules found in three or four other books, without which you couldn't actually run several of the encounters, nor use a fair chunk of the material presented. And, note, these references are only to the book, no page numbers, no publication information. You're just supposed to go diving into those other books to find the material you need to use the information in this book.

Think about how much of a turn off that is to anyone who isn't deep into FR books? Never minding that the history presented is high level only and is a precis of the expanded lore of Tethyr and surrounding areas found in a number of other publications, each of which only presents part of the larger mass of information, none of which is properly cited or easy to find.

Golden age in the sense that so much material was created? I suppose. But, I now clearly remember why I would never touch FR material with a ten foot pool other than a couple of stand out exceptions. For me, an FR branding on the cover was pretty much an instant NOPE because I had seen this kind of thing far too often. Sorry, but, give me the modern Realms where I can easily search the wiki, and then maybe go dumpster diving into the lore if I need to.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
My point is that lore CAN be good.

If it is engaging gameable lore.

Too much of 2E and 3E lore felt like it was there to meet a word count. Shovelware.

What I mean is, I'm not opposed to lore, and the question isn't is lore good or bad.

But too much effort was put into writing about obscure details without asking "will enough people find this actually useful, and not merely mildly interesting?"
 

UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
I’m going with novels and video games being the secret to FR’s success myself. Especially Driz’zt. He hit the New York Times best seller list and by himself is a huge character, more popular than any other D&D character out there and more recognizable. There is a reason Hasbro went with him for their first D&D action figure. There is a reason Del Rey licensed to publish more Driz’zt novels. He sells and his novels bore the FR logo. This translates to sales for those who got into the game and wanted to play in the world Driz’zt was from.
This I agree, novels, games, and movies/TV are entertainment products in their own right, not just sources of lore. They produce lore in a digestible format.
Does it explain the initial success? I think what explains the initial success was Dragon Magazine’s hype machine and the fact it was a new setting and they were even then pushing it as AD&D’s new world that would be fully supported with a full range of novels and products that was not seen before in the game.
agreed
That boxed set is still a benchmark in gaming that I don’t think has been beat on how to present a game world and make people want to play in it from the cover to the maps and the writing style. The only thing that I feel comes close is the Critical Role Wildemount and new Tal’dorei books. Is it as beautiful as Planescape? No. Is it as unique as Dark Sun? No. Is it as operatic as Dragonlance? Nope. Is it innovative? Nope.
never bought the boxed sets but bought quite a bit of FR lore books in the 3.x era before (like @Hussar ) I found that there were of little practical use to me in running the game. The CR source books indicate the difference between Matt Mercer and WoTC. WoTC can generate any kind of product it likes but has to consider the ROI of that product. The book that generates to most return on investment is going to get produced. Matt Mercer probably had most of the Exandria books already written and fans invested in the setting and the lore. Doing something else from scratch would have been a greater investment of resources.
 


UngainlyTitan

Legend
Supporter
Digestible maybe. But not very usable or practical.
I am not sure I agree. I do not believe that lore books are all that useable. I have found that I do not remember lore imparted from lore books at least not better than that from novels or games and and if I want the name of npc's in Yartar a wiki is much better than trying to remember which lore book or module had that information.
 

I am not sure I agree. I do not believe that lore books are all that useable. I have found that I do not remember lore imparted from lore books at least not better than that from novels or games and and if I want the name of npc's in Yartar a wiki is much better than trying to remember which lore book or module had that information.
Yeah, I can't be doing with walls of text and piles of useless statistics. There is nothing like a video game to give you the feel of a setting.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I find it really interesting how much of this discussion focused on setting lore, and not monster lore. Because for me... man, it is a complicated bag.

On one hand, the 5e Hag lore about WHY they eat babies is golden and has inspired me many times. And there are a lot of times I'll watch a video that deep dives old lore on monsters from 2e, because I want to see if anyone ever answered the questions I have about monster X, or I get to learn about a monster I've never heard of.

But on the other hand... much of the time it is garbage I just want to ignore, or wish I'd never learned.

For example, I saw a video pop up about Ettercaps, and honestly I've used Ettercaps a few times, but other than "weird fey monster spiders" I've never thought much about them. So I turned on the video and was hoping for some good lore. There wasn't any.

What there was was their origin story. According to whatever source it was, Ettercaps exist because Druids turned into spiders (just like they turn into other animals) and they started acting like spiders (just like they act like other animals) but this was a problem, because spiders are cannibalistic (Not sure if this is actually true, but it doesn't matter).

And so the Druid's would engage in cannibalism, which offended the Gods of Nature because it was against Nature, and so they cursed the Druid's to be Were-spiders, which became Ettercaps.

The entire time I was listening to this origin (which went in a lot more depth) do you know what I was thinking? "How stupid are those gods? Cannibalism is EVERYWHERE in nature. Why the heck is cannibalism against nature? The entire point was that it was NATURAL for spiders to be cannibals, are spiders just super evil not nature creatures?"

Now, on one hand, I do get where the lore came from. Lolth was big, the spiders from LoTR are "destroying" the forest and are evil. The idea that spiders are evil was a big thing. But from a modern perspective... that's stupid, they are spiders. They aren't evil.


And this is the thing I've run into more than once. Many, many times I'll find something cool, or something I'm interested in learning more about, and I'll look into what the old lore was... and it sucks. Sometimes, very rarely, it is cool, but even the cool stuff gets a little repetitive, because they have many of the same tropes showing up over and over again. Quaggoths and Lizardmen both had a "intelligence is bad" thread in their origins. Cannibalism shows up a lot. "The Mindflayers did it" shows up a lot. So many evil creatures have so much lore put into why they are stupid, crude and disgusting. No thank you, I don't need to know that you can smell Ettins from miles away because they refuse to bath, and so their skin is crusted with filth. That doesn't give me anything I can actually use.

So, to wrap this up, on one hand I do want more monster lore. There are things I want to know and explore about a lot of creatures, things I think are missing from many more. But also... a lot of the lore we have is terrible and I'd never want to use it. And asking for "more" lore seems like it risks getting that stupid stuff far more than anything actually good.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Insulting other members
Yeah, I can't be doing with walls of text and piles of useless statistics. There is nothing like a video game to give you the feel of a setting.
Remember, 5E is set in a youtube-age with a large influx of less hardcore gamers.

Text has historically been the by far most prevalent means of conveying information to the DM. I'm sure there were a few DMs that drew inspiration solely from AD&D Pools of Radiance or whatever, but that would have been the exception.

If you couldn't handle this, you simply weren't a D&D dungeon master.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I find it really interesting how much of this discussion focused on setting lore, and not monster lore. Because for me... man, it is a complicated bag.

On one hand, the 5e Hag lore about WHY they eat babies is golden and has inspired me many times. And there are a lot of times I'll watch a video that deep dives old lore on monsters from 2e, because I want to see if anyone ever answered the questions I have about monster X, or I get to learn about a monster I've never heard of.

But on the other hand... much of the time it is garbage I just want to ignore, or wish I'd never learned.

For example, I saw a video pop up about Ettercaps, and honestly I've used Ettercaps a few times, but other than "weird fey monster spiders" I've never thought much about them. So I turned on the video and was hoping for some good lore. There wasn't any.

What there was was their origin story. According to whatever source it was, Ettercaps exist because Druids turned into spiders (just like they turn into other animals) and they started acting like spiders (just like they act like other animals) but this was a problem, because spiders are cannibalistic (Not sure if this is actually true, but it doesn't matter).

And so the Druid's would engage in cannibalism, which offended the Gods of Nature because it was against Nature, and so they cursed the Druid's to be Were-spiders, which became Ettercaps.

The entire time I was listening to this origin (which went in a lot more depth) do you know what I was thinking? "How stupid are those gods? Cannibalism is EVERYWHERE in nature. Why the heck is cannibalism against nature? The entire point was that it was NATURAL for spiders to be cannibals, are spiders just super evil not nature creatures?"

Now, on one hand, I do get where the lore came from. Lolth was big, the spiders from LoTR are "destroying" the forest and are evil. The idea that spiders are evil was a big thing. But from a modern perspective... that's stupid, they are spiders. They aren't evil.


And this is the thing I've run into more than once. Many, many times I'll find something cool, or something I'm interested in learning more about, and I'll look into what the old lore was... and it sucks. Sometimes, very rarely, it is cool, but even the cool stuff gets a little repetitive, because they have many of the same tropes showing up over and over again. Quaggoths and Lizardmen both had a "intelligence is bad" thread in their origins. Cannibalism shows up a lot. "The Mindflayers did it" shows up a lot. So many evil creatures have so much lore put into why they are stupid, crude and disgusting. No thank you, I don't need to know that you can smell Ettins from miles away because they refuse to bath, and so their skin is crusted with filth. That doesn't give me anything I can actually use.

So, to wrap this up, on one hand I do want more monster lore. There are things I want to know and explore about a lot of creatures, things I think are missing from many more. But also... a lot of the lore we have is terrible and I'd never want to use it. And asking for "more" lore seems like it risks getting that stupid stuff far more than anything actually good.
I could be off the mark here, but you do realize people want to be given suggestions as to why monsters are evil and monstrous?

They're not misunderstood, they're not mistreated, they don't do it for logical or forgivable reasons, they're not redeemable; they're simply ugly, horrible, smelly and in need of a good killin'
 


CapnZapp

Legend
I happen to be dyslexic. You think dyslexic people shouldn't be allowed to be dungeon masters?
This attempt at creating controversy and making me out to get you is completely fabricated. Please take your outrage and stick it somewhere else.

You wrote "walls of text and piles of useless statistics" which frankly is dismissive to the efforts of all those 2E and 3E authors, not giving any inkling towards any personal condition. I replied, providing an explanation why people wrote all those words and came up with all those numbers. Just crapping on their efforts and surfing to youtube or whatever just wasn't an option back then.

This is not about you.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
I could be off the mark here, but you do realize people want to be given suggestions as to why monsters are evil and monstrous?

They're not misunderstood, they're not mistreated, they don't do it for logical or forgivable reasons, they're not redeemable; they're simply ugly, horrible, smelly and in need of a good killin'

Whose a better villain, Lex Luthor, The Joker, or Hillbilly Bob the big ugly smelly guy?

I get that there should be some enemies like this, but... seriously, I think most under CR 8 humanoid monsters are disgusting or ugly in some manner. Trolls, orcs, gnolls, goblins, ogres, hill giants (which are frankly identical to ogres), ettins, cyclops, Fomorians, Bugbears, grimlocks, troglodytes, jackalwere, wererat, Meazel, ect ect ect

Honestly, take the Ogre, The Cyclops, The Ettin, the Hill Giant and the Troll. All of them are big and strong. All of them are ugly and stinky. The Troll is the most interesting one because it regenerates, lives in the most interesting environment (not a cave like all the others) and has variants. The Hill Giant and Ogre are identical looking except one is bigger and stronger. Cyclops are exactly like ogres only with one eye. Ettins are exactly like Ogres except two-heads. It just feels.... like if they tried to introduce another large sized, strong creature that is stupid, ugly and smelly, what would be the point, we've farmed that ground to death. There is nothing left here. Move on.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
This attempt at creating controversy and making me out to get you is completely fabricated. Please take your outrage and stick it somewhere else.

You wrote "walls of text and piles of useless statistics" which frankly is dismissive to the efforts of all those 2E and 3E authors, not giving any inkling towards any personal condition. I replied, providing an explanation why people wrote all those words and came up with all those numbers. Just crapping on their efforts and surfing to youtube or whatever just wasn't an option back then.

This is not about you.

You are right, Youtube wasn't an option back then.

But this? "with a large influx of less hardcore gamers." This is equally dismissive and reeks of gatekeeping to me. Just because the information is being accessed differently doesn't make them less "hardcore" (Do you know how many DAYS of videos there are on DnD lore? Not hours, DAYS). Just because they have different priorities doesn't make them less "hardcore"

Frankly, the idea of "hardcore" vs "casual" gamers annoys the crap out of me. Just because you spent two hours reading all the lore you could get for Silverymoon doesn't make you more hardcore than the person who spent five hours drawing and designing their DnD character, because they are artistic instead of lore focused.

Some of my most troublesome players have been "hardcore" DnD players, and they were a pain in the neck to deal with compared to the "casuals" who weren't bugging me about this custom homebrew class that they can take that ties into the lore of city of blank and allows them when they take the yadda yadda yadda.
 

Hussar

Legend
Rolling this back around to the idea of golden age lore. It’s interesting to me that people would go to YouTube to learn lore. Very much not my bag. I just don’t learn that way and I’m endlessly frustrated by product developers who think a twenty minute YouTube video is a replacement for proper documentation that is SEARCHABLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

But in any case, I look at things like the Spell Plague combined with the real world rise of searchable wikis and whatnot as the primary reason I have finally started getting into FR. To me, for years I just bounced off the massive opaque bubble that was FR lore. Massive info dumps buried across multiple products with no indexes or proper references? Bugger that.

Now? Now I can actually dumpster dive into the lore, chasing down all sorts of stuff without faffing around with all this extraneous information that I will never use.

That’s golden age enough for me.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Rolling this back around to the idea of golden age lore. It’s interesting to me that people would go to YouTube to learn lore. Very much not my bag. I just don’t learn that way and I’m endlessly frustrated by product developers who think a twenty minute YouTube video is a replacement for proper documentation that is SEARCHABLE!!!!!!!!!!!

That's fair. For me, it is mostly so I can passively learn about new subjects while driving or grocery shopping. Then if I want to hit something deeper, I start using the wikis and search engines to find what I want.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Rolling this back around to the idea of golden age lore. It’s interesting to me that people would go to YouTube to learn lore. Very much not my bag. I just don’t learn that way and I’m endlessly frustrated by product developers who think a twenty minute YouTube video is a replacement for proper documentation that is SEARCHABLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry. I’ll get off my soapbox now.

But in any case, I look at things like the Spell Plague combined with the real world rise of searchable wikis and whatnot as the primary reason I have finally started getting into FR. To me, for years I just bounced off the massive opaque bubble that was FR lore. Massive info dumps buried across multiple products with no indexes or proper references? Bugger that.

Now? Now I can actually dumpster dive into the lore, chasing down all sorts of stuff without faffing around with all this extraneous information that I will never use.

That’s golden age enough for me.
To be fair to the OP, the intention was to talk about a golden age of production of new lore. But the situation you describe does explain why 5E simply cannot take a 2E style high-quantity approach: it would be competing directly with 2E stuff posted for free on fan wiki. Fool's errand.

But that doesn't mean what is being put out in books like Journeys Through the Radiant Citadel or what have you isn't still quality.
 

Hussar

Legend
Oh, absolutely. I mean, look at Candlekeep Mysteries. There's a TON of FR specific lore there. Lots of stuff to delve into. And, as an added bonus, it's actually in a usable form, rather than pages of info dump that I then have to figure out how to turn into an actual adventure.

I mentioned the Cloister of St. Ramedar as an example. The 2e writeup is thorough as heck, but, it's not an adventure. It's just the location and a couple of stat blocks. Sure there's a couple of adventure hooks, but, if I actually want to use it as a location for my adventure, I have to do almost all the actual work to make that into an adventure.

I much prefer they simply present us with complete adventures. Funny thing is, this totally isn't new. Greyhawk was presented almost entirely this way. Sure, you have the Boxed Set, but, 99% of the actual lore for Greyhawk comes from the adventures and monster books.

There's a reason Paizo's Adventure Path series are so popular. It hits both aspects so well. Well written, interesting adventures (hey, let's be fair, Paizo does set the standard for D&D adventures and has done so for a VERY long time) coupled to big chunks of setting lore. It's really the best of both worlds.
 


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