D&D 5E D&D Lore Changes: Multiversal Focus & Fey Goblins of Prehistory

WotC's Jeremy Crawford revealed a couple of the lore changes in Monsters of the Multiverse.
  • The big shift is toward the multiverse as the game's main perspective rather than a specific setting. The game is shifting towards a multiversal focus, with a variety of worlds and settings.
  • Universe-spanning mythical story beats, such as deep lore on goblinoids going back to 1st Edition, and the gods they had before Maglubiyet. Prior to Magulbiyet unifying them, goblinoids were folk of the feywild in keeping with 'real-world' folklore.
  • Changelings aren't just Eberron, but they've been everywhere -- you just don't necessarily know it. Their origin is also in the realm of the fey.

 
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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Chaosmancer

Legend
The more I think about the Multiverse, and the more people complain about doing it this way or that way, the more I think that we really need to consider the multiverse in a different way.

Many people seem to be picturing the Multiverse like a web of Prime Realities, with single solid Outer Planes floating around the web. Gods like Bane or Gruumsh or Pelor are outside of this web, and are active on the Multiverse scale.

However, as has been discussed many, many times, this causes all sorts of issues. It flattens settings, it robs entities of power and importance and generally just causes a mess.


So... why not picture a different theory? What if instead of a web and the Outer Planes being separated from that web, what if the Multiverse was more of a matter of mirrors stacked on top of each other. Inside each mirror is a Prime and Outer Planes, which is unique to that mirror.

So, sure, in the Forgotten Realms The Nine Hells enacted plan A which was super involved and did a lot of bad things. But, in Greyhawk, which also has a Nine Hells and an Asmodeus and all that... Plan A never happened, because they are part of a different mirror.

Can you travel between mirrors? Sure, takes high level magic and a lot of power, but you can. Entities like Gods and Demon Lords and Dragons can contact each of these mirrors and find echoes of themselves who may be similar or may be different. But if there was a common starting point for all these mirrors... it doesn't even have to matter. Because each mirror is self-contained. Eberron was created by the Three Primal Wyrms. This is true and nothing existed in Eberron until that point and the Three Primal Wyrms don't even have to have been from somewhere else. There was a void, the Wyrms appeared and created within that void, and everything in Eberron stays the same.

To my mind, this only leaves two potential hiccups.

1) Overgods. I don't care about them, but supposedly they work at a "higher level", which people want to be beyond the setting and putting them in a Multiversal sense. I... don't think that is necessary. The only Overgod who really matters is Ao and he only matters to the Forgotten Realms, and I don't think anything needs to change with this model to address Ao being a fact of his own Mirror.

2) Sigil. People want different things out of sigil. I think it is fine existing as a city between places, but it could also exist as self-mirrored. After all, the none of you can include any details of the Setting of Zorkathia in your versions of Sigil. You have no access to that place. Unless you make up your own, which would make a mirror, which could be in your mirror of Sigil, but won't be in mine.

Additionally, it could allow for some wacky concepts. Maybe there is a meeting every century between the various Lolths in Sigil. You may find that silly... so it won't exist in your version.

But it seems to me that the biggest issue is when people try and have gods and powers ACTING beyond their setting. Asmodeus in the Forgotten Realms being aware of Theros doesn't change anything in either setting. It is only when that leads to him making plans to do something in Theros, or when people start saying that because Asmodeus is aware of Theros therefore the Nixborn rules don't work, and in actuality Theros's lore is wrong, that we have a problem.

But if the settings are just... looking and reflecting each other, then we can have a set-up where that doesn't happen.
 

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Hussar

Legend
@Chaosmancer - that is certainly the way I wish they would go with D&D. Each setting is, more or less, distinct, but, you can find elements from one setting echoed in another. It would certainly smooth over a lot of the conflicting lore between settings. Takhisis can be both Tiamat - lord of the first layer of Hell, and Takhisis, Queen of the Abyss, for example.
 

@Chaosmancer - that is certainly the way I wish they would go with D&D. Each setting is, more or less, distinct, but, you can find elements from one setting echoed in another. It would certainly smooth over a lot of the conflicting lore between settings. Takhisis can be both Tiamat - lord of the first layer of Hell, and Takhisis, Queen of the Abyss, for example.
That seems unlikely, both for tradition and business reasons. No reason it can't work that way for your own campaign though!
 

Hussar

Legend
That seems unlikely, both for tradition and business reasons. No reason it can't work that way for your own campaign though!
Yeah, I know. One can always with. I mean, heck, they kinda/sorta tried to go that way with 4e's cosmology and keep settings distinct and it didn't go well.

I like planar stuff. I want to use it. It's got some cool ideas. But, I know that I basically have to do so much of the work myself, i might as well just not bother actually buying anything to make me life easier. :(

Heck, it's so hard to get even a single group on the same page WRT a given plane. I tried doing a Feywild adventure a short time ago. My basic inspiration for Feywild is Alice in Wonderland or Kafka. The Feywild is WEIRD. One of my players though was assuming that the Feywild was all Fey court, Summer Queen and that sort of thing, and another player was assuming Grimm Fairy Tales.

The disconnect between the three of us just totally blew the adventure apart and it failed really hard. Resulted in a fairly lengthy conversation about assumptions on all our parts.

So, when people talk about a single presentation of the multiverse, it just really rubs me the wrong way. It's not something I'm interested in.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
they kinda/sorta tried to go that way with 4e's cosmology and keep settings distinct and it didn't go well.
I mean, we have no way of knowing if soemthing like that went over well or not. It was barely a chirp in the great cacophony of the edition wars, and assuming that it played any meaningful role in that division would be baseless speculation.

What we do know is that the team loves Planescape, so we get that.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
That seems unlikely, both for tradition and business reasons. No reason it can't work that way for your own campaign though!

I'm not going to try and touch the traditional reasons, but what do you mean by business reasons?

I don't see anything in setting up the multiverse so that multiple different things are true at the same time is somehow bad for business. This is pretty much how 90% of all other multiverses work. DnD is one of the few exceptions where they try and have this set up where there is this established "truth" that supersedes the multiverse.
 

JEB

Legend
I mean, we have no way of knowing if soemthing like that went over well or not. It was barely a chirp in the great cacophony of the edition wars, and assuming that it played any meaningful role in that division would be baseless speculation.
I mean, there's no question that 4E changing the default cosmology turned some people off - I didn't have to dig for very long to find blogs, forum posts, etc. with folks complaining about the 4E cosmology on release, listing the new cosmology among other controversial changes, or being happy to see the Great Wheel return in 5E.

Now, I doubt it was the deal-breaker for 4E anti-fans, considering other significant changes, but it was certainly among the grievances.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I mean, there's no question that 4E changing the default cosmology turned some people off - I didn't have to dig for very long to find blogs, forum posts, etc. with folks complaining about the 4E cosmology on release, listing the new cosmology among other controversial changes, or being happy to see the Great Wheel return in 5E.

Now, I doubt it was the deal-breaker for 4E anti-fans, considering other significant changes, but it was certainly among the grievances.
Everything has detractors. Bounded Accuracy has blog posts and forum posts complaining about it.
 

1) Once again, I'm referring to the removal of most lore into a separate book, and expecting buyers to get two books instead of one for the same amount of content, or leaving the core book less broadly appealing than it had been previously. I'm not talking about raising the cover price of individual books and I never was.
Again, you don't get the same content in two books as you got in one before. You get two books worth of content sorted differently.
And even then, the hobby is cheap compared to most other hobbies or having a pet or playing computer as the buy in and maintanance cost is very low.
If you are worried about the cost, share it with all the people you play with.

If however youbinsist on your own book, that is not because you want to play it but because you are a collector.
 

Everything has detractors. Bounded Accuracy has blog posts and forum posts complaining about it.
But they are wrong. ;)
Edit: the smiley should convey that this is not meant seriously. Because it is preference, there is no right or wrong.
Below I just write about my experience.

Having played 4e, with scaling accuracy and defense, we have seen that it makes "sandbox" adventures problematic, because even little deviations from character level makes monsters way too easy or hard.

What you can discuss is the grade of bounded accuracy, where I would favour +2 to 8 or maybe +3 to 9 instead of +2 to 6.
 
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doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
But they are wrong. ;)

Having played 4e, with scaling accuracy and defense, we have seen that it makes "sandbox" adventures problematic, because even little deviations from character level makes monsters way too easy or hard.

What you can discuss is the grade of bounded accuracy, where I would favour +2 to 8 or maybe +3 to 9 instead of +2 to 6.
I can discuss whatever I want, actually, but speaking to your point, that is all just preference, not some objective truth.

In fact, I found it much easier to run sandbox, and improvise encounters, in 4e compared to any edition of D&D or d20 based game I’ve run, including 5e. Scaling a monster’s numbers by level was trivially easy, reflavoring an enemy into one of a similar type, eg a hobgoblin into a human bandit captain, was basically no effort at all, and a few levels difference was generally fine until you got into high levels, where the general balance was less robust.

Would all that have been even easier if 4e had had a numerical scale similar to 5e? Maybe, maybe not, since it would have certainly come with other changes in design philosophy as well.

And of course, there is the issue that bounded accuracy means that only things you’re proficient in get better, ever. As well, BA means that the scaling of numbers mens that a large enough army could kill an ancient dragon. I like that, but not everyone does.

The point being, there are legitimate criticisms of bounded accuracy. It is not objectively better.
 


Maybe my smiley did not convey well enough, that I did not actually meant that you are objectively wrong. So I am sorry that you felt offended and I try to make myself more clear.

To your point. I hated reskinning (the way many people) a lot, as I hated the need for tweaking numbers senselessly.
I also hated that actual equipment for monsters did not effect AC etc, but was just cosmetics. That also did not telegraph well to players how difficult enemies actually were. If you just scale up and down to level, of course it does not matter, because players just expected even level foes all the time. But it was really not my preference that the world scaled directly around players and that players in that way felt they were expected to have a good friendly battle were they usually win.
If that is your preference or you were able to make 4e not feel like this to you and your fellow players, I envy you, but we failed miserably to make it work for us, although we tried.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
To your point. I hated reskinning (the way many people) a lot, as I hated the need for tweaking numbers senselessly.
I also hated that actual equipment for monsters did not effect AC etc, but was just cosmetics. That also did not telegraph well to players how difficult enemies actually were. If you just scale up and down to level, of course it does not matter, because players just expected even level foes all the time. But it was really not my preference that the world scaled directly around players and that players in that way felt they were expected to have a good friendly battle were they usually win.
If that is your preference or you were able to make 4e not feel like this to you and your fellow players, I envy you, but we failed miserably to make it work for us, although we tried.
What you describe is not what I'm talking about. No one I know ran 4e in a way where players could expect a "good friendly battle where they usually win" against "even level foes".

But you could take a monster stat block that was mostly appropriate to what you wanted, change the attack/ac math and HP with trivial ease, and have what you have described within the fiction represented in the mechanics. Whether that was an easy, moderate, hard, or deadly (or even impossible) fight depended on the fiction, not on what stat blocks were premade at a given level.

If you wanted Tiamat to be the end of campaign BBEG at level 30, great, use the premade stats. If you don't want the campaign to go into those levels and instead want to treat level 20 as the end of what mortals can even be, the math to treat Tiamat as if she had been built for that campaign assumption from the beginning was very easy.

Nowhere in any of that, my last post or this one, am I talking about scaling Tiamat from a level 30 encounter to a level 25 encounter so the PCs have an at-level encounter.

I'm talking about scaling the hobgoblin captain they didn't manage to kill 10 levels ago, having advanced in power just like the PCs have, or using that low heroic tier statblock with advanced math to represent a similar kind of character in the fiction without having to dig around and find a level 17 martial leader enemy with similar abilities to the level 6 martial leader enemy I am already familiar with.

You can dislike that whole dynamic all you want, but it is just as valid a preference to prefer it over 5e's monster dynamics.

And going back to the whole reason this came up, none of this has any impact whatsoever on the question of how well recieved the cosmology of 4e was, especially amongst people who hadn't decided to dislike 4e before taking the cosmology into account. When a thing is as divisive as 4e was, trying to tease out which things worked and which things didn't, without the kind of consumer data that wotc has access to, is a foolish endeavor. The simple fact is, none of us has anything meaningful to go on when discussing how well received the 4e cosmology was. We have our own perception of discussions about it, and that is genuinely it.
 


I'm not going to try and touch the traditional reasons, but what do you mean by business reasons?

I don't see anything in setting up the multiverse so that multiple different things are true at the same time is somehow bad for business. This is pretty much how 90% of all other multiverses work. DnD is one of the few exceptions where they try and have this set up where there is this established "truth" that supersedes the multiverse.
This is a shared universe, not really a multiverse (despite them using the name). What they want to create is more of an MCU pre-Loki and What If..., where characters and events can cross over, but they're aren't multiple versions of the Forgotten Realms. It's easier to understand, and a proven money maker if you put in the work. That's what I mean by business reasons.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
You are right. Wrong thread for such a discussion.
I knew what you meant, but that did not work for us. If it worked for you, that is absolutely great.
I never devalued your preference except in a bad joke, that went wrong, which I regret.

Edit: I edited my previous post to make it clear.
Okay, I don’t see any commonality between what I described and what you claimed about the 4e encounter design paradigm, but you’re right that it’s a discussion for another thread.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
This is a shared universe, not really a multiverse (despite them using the name). What they want to create is more of an MCU pre-Loki and What If..., where characters and events can cross over, but they're aren't multiple versions of the Forgotten Realms. It's easier to understand, and a proven money maker if you put in the work. That's what I mean by business reasons.

But... they don't want to do that. In fact in many ways they cannot possibly do that.

Let me ask you this question, who defeats Auril in Rime of the Frost Maiden?

You can say "the player characters" but that's a non-answer really. Those player characters could have included Throm the Dwarven Paladin of Berronar Truesilver, or Sh'lak the Twisted Reborn Warlock. Were they the same player characters that are the Heroes of Phandalin or are they the same player characters who run a brutal tyranny over Phandalin? Did they ever meet Strahd?

Just by releasing an adventure that can have multiple endings, which by their very nature RPG adventures MUST have many possible endings, they have abandoned a model that is a shared universe. Heck, I think there was a Forgotten Realms story called "Brimstone Angels". I've never read it. Events happen in that story, in the Forgotten Realms... but they don't affect the Forgotten Realms that is being published in Adventures in any meaningful way.

Now, they can only publish one version of the Forgotten Realms, and they could make a lot of money by focusing on that version, but that is a version that fits best in novels and movies and TV shows, not in how people will run the game at their tables.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
But... they don't want to do that. In fact in many ways they cannot possibly do that.

Let me ask you this question, who defeats Auril in Rime of the Frost Maiden?

You can say "the player characters" but that's a non-answer really. Those player characters could have included Throm the Dwarven Paladin of Berronar Truesilver, or Sh'lak the Twisted Reborn Warlock. Were they the same player characters that are the Heroes of Phandalin or are they the same player characters who run a brutal tyranny over Phandalin? Did they ever meet Strahd?

Just by releasing an adventure that can have multiple endings, which by their very nature RPG adventures MUST have many possible endings, they have abandoned a model that is a shared universe. Heck, I think there was a Forgotten Realms story called "Brimstone Angels". I've never read it. Events happen in that story, in the Forgotten Realms... but they don't affect the Forgotten Realms that is being published in Adventures in any meaningful way.

Now, they can only publish one version of the Forgotten Realms, and they could make a lot of money by focusing on that version, but that is a version that fits best in novels and movies and TV shows, not in how people will run the game at their tables.
But they've kind of been doing that for years. I can't tell you how many times I've read a gaming book and seen a reference to "some adventurers" having done something, when that something had been the focus of a previously-published adventure.
 

But they've kind of been doing that for years. I can't tell you how many times I've read a gaming book and seen a reference to "some adventurers" having done something, when that something had been the focus of a previously-published adventure.
Exactly. The only time I read one of those where the party lost was the explanation for House of Strahd (2e's version of the original Ravenloft adventure) in Domains of Dread, "Powerful heroes assault Castle Ravenloft and perish".

Every DM's campaign is it's own shared universe, but beyond PC actions, it's one universe. There's only one Forgotten Realms, and that's the one from the books modified by the DM and the PCs.
 

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