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

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.
I believe 4E there was at least one reference to the final Paizo era Dungeon Magazine adventure path, Savage Tide, having occurred some time in the last century.

EDIT: Found it in the 4E Demonomicon:

A little over a century ago, Demogorgon executed a plan to unleash a savage tide of chaos and death across the mortal world. Had his plot succeeded, the Prince of Demons would have undergone an apotheosis, transforming himself into something akin to a god. Demogorgon's plans were ultimately foiled by a party of mortal heroes. With a host of archfey and rival demon lords, the heroes led an invasion into Abysm and slew Demogorgon in a desperate final battle. Though numerous other demon lords had long coveted the mantle of Prince of Demons, the mortal who struck the killing blow claimed that title in the end.
It then goes on to say that Demogorgon eventually was reformed by the Abyss itself, defeated his mortal usurper, and gave that mortal to his ally Dagon. So if anybody played through the end of that adventure path and had their character take the title Prince of Demons upon Demogorgon's death, apparently Dagon has your character now.
 
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Alzrius

The EN World kitten
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".
For another instance of this, at the end of For Duty & Deity (affiliate link) it says, "The official FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign assumes that Waukeen is freed from her imprisonment and that she regains her rightful place in the Faerûnian pantheon. If the PCs failed in their attempt to rescue her (see below), another group of heroes assembled by the Holycoin successfully frees Waukeen from captivity."
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
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.

Sure, but it generally doesn't meaningfully matter to the adventure being played. It can't, because if it did then it would be part of a series.

Let's take what is, to my knowledge, the most connected two adventures currently in 5e. Rise of Tiamat and Storm King's Thunder. Storm King's Thunder has the Ordning broken because the giant's didn't act to stop Tiamat's rise. But, the adventure is fairly clear that the Small Folk don't really know this, and frankly the entire adventure can work without this being true. You don't need Rise of Tiamat to have happened, or the people and towns attacked and destroyed to have been destroyed to play Storm King's Thunder.

And this is my point. By the time you are playing Wild Beyond the Witchlight is the Mad Mage Halaster dead? He is fought and killed in Dungeon of the Mad Mage, correct? That came out before Witchlight so he is clearly dead... except, what if your table has never played Mad Mage? Is he still dead? If I want to play Mad Mage after Wild Beyond the Witchlight, do I have to explain that Halaster was killed, but has been revived?

No. I don't. Because in the reality I'm playing in, those events didn't happen in that order. Enforcing that via a "shared universe" is impractical at best.

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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.

But if you are playing in the Forgotten Realms and I'm playing in the Forgotten Realms... aren't there two Forgotten Realms?

This is why I proposed the model I did. Because every table makes its own reality, its own mirror. We all do this, constantly. In my version of setting X this isn't true and instead it is this, and that is just as "real" and "true" as your version of setting X where it is true.

And this has been the model WoTC has been working under for decades, but people keep trying to claim some sort of far more bespoke version of realities where there is only one Forgotten Realms and only one Dark Sun, despite all the problems that inevitably causes.

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I believe 4E there was at least one reference to the final Paizo era Dungeon Magazine adventure path, Savage Tide, having occurred some time in the last century.

EDIT: Found it in the 4E Demonomicon:


It then goes on to say that Demogorgon eventually was reformed by the Abyss itself, defeated his mortal usurper, and gave that mortal to his ally Dagon. So if anybody played through the end of that adventure path and had their character take the title Prince of Demons upon Demogorgon's death, apparently Dagon has your character now.


For another instance of this, at the end of For Duty & Deity (affiliate link) it says, "The official FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign assumes that Waukeen is freed from her imprisonment and that she regains her rightful place in the Faerûnian pantheon. If the PCs failed in their attempt to rescue her (see below), another group of heroes assembled by the Holycoin successfully frees Waukeen from captivity."

Both of these kind of prove my larger point though.

Who was the Mortal who slew Demogorgon and took the title Prince of Demons? None of us can say. Any answer we give is equally true, but wouldn't that person and his companions be the biggest deal, people as famous as Driz'zt or Elminster or Silverhand? Wouldn't the mortal heroes who rescued a Goddess be saints revered by the church of Waukeen for rescuing the Goddess? Yet... they don't exist. Look at any sourcebook talking about Waukeen since that adventure, and none of them name these heroes, if they even mention them at all. 5e Forgotten Realms was Canonically following the 4e Realms and Savage Tide... yet 5e never mentions Demogorgon being killed and a mere mortal taking his title. None of those archfey who helped fight are listed has having "once fought Demogorgon and helped slay him"

So, yes, they reference, they hint, they give easter eggs sometimes... but it never actually matters. The Ten Towns are in the same state right now that they were in before Rime of the Frostmaiden. If they do more than mention "a few years ago the Goddess Auril threatened the region" in any future adventure that isn't a direct sequel to RoF then I'd be stunned. Because to do more than that, means they have to declare canonical endings. And there is no value in that.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
Sure, but it generally doesn't meaningfully matter to the adventure being played. It can't, because if it did then it would be part of a series.

Let's take what is, to my knowledge, the most connected two adventures currently in 5e. Rise of Tiamat and Storm King's Thunder. Storm King's Thunder has the Ordning broken because the giant's didn't act to stop Tiamat's rise. But, the adventure is fairly clear that the Small Folk don't really know this, and frankly the entire adventure can work without this being true. You don't need Rise of Tiamat to have happened, or the people and towns attacked and destroyed to have been destroyed to play Storm King's Thunder.

And this is my point. By the time you are playing Wild Beyond the Witchlight is the Mad Mage Halaster dead? He is fought and killed in Dungeon of the Mad Mage, correct? That came out before Witchlight so he is clearly dead... except, what if your table has never played Mad Mage? Is he still dead? If I want to play Mad Mage after Wild Beyond the Witchlight, do I have to explain that Halaster was killed, but has been revived?
The 5e adventures do seem to be written without much care as to order of play, and as we all know, the WotC staff have said that they don't have much of a player-facing canon anymore. However, this has not always been the case throughout the editions. In earlier editions, what happened in the adventures could have major impacts in the actual setting. Examples: the series of Ravenloft adventures that led up to the Grand Conjunction; the Planescape Faction War adventure. I didn't read or use any of those adventures, and it was quite startling to see the changes that became official because of them.

Of course, considering that most of these adventures are for roughly the same level-range, I assume that they expect that most groups will be starting new PCs for each adventure, and relatively few groups will be continuing with the same characters.

But if you are playing in the Forgotten Realms and I'm playing in the Forgotten Realms... aren't there two Forgotten Realms?
In reality, yes. In terms of what gets produced and sold, no. They have a canon (you can read the extensive timeline on the FR wiki, if you feel like it), and will continue to produce material for that canon, whether or not you or anyone else use it, deviate from it, or ignore it entirely. Until they decide to retcon it, at least.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
. 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.
Just to note, the Brimstone Angels books are really good and give a lot of context to the culture of Tymanther Dragonborn in Faerun, among other things. The third book, The Adversary, is also the 3rd book of the Sundering series.

The finale, The Devil You Know, came out in 2015. By all accounts the whole series is great.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
Mtg planes are trek style multiverse universes, more or less. Great Wherl is just one more, in that model.
This is just wrong, on every level.
MtG planes are usually solar system sized, some are bigger, kind of like some planes could be multi-galactic in size like in Lords of Gossamer.

They most certainly are not universes, in that they are 44 billion light years in size.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
This is just wrong, on every level.
MtG planes are usually solar system sized, some are bigger, kind of like some planes could be multi-galactic in size like in Lords of Gossamer.

They most certainly are not universes, in that they are 44 billion light years in size.
A universe doesn’t have to be any particular size.
 


doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
There is a base assumption that goes with universe, i.e. size; and it is likely why MtG refers to them as planes.
Ok, that’s irrelevant to the point I was making. Did you have an actual disagreement with the point, or is this just a exercise in pedantry?
 


This is just wrong, on every level.
MtG planes are usually solar system sized, some are bigger, kind of like some planes could be multi-galactic in size like in Lords of Gossamer.

They most certainly are not universes, in that they are 44 billion light years in size.
There is no reason why a universe should be any particular size. They each have their own physical laws. And the only known D&D universe that is anything like 44 billion light years is the one that contains Ed Greenwood's kitchen.
There is a base assumption that goes with universe, i.e. size; and it is likely why MtG refers to them as planes.
MtG calls them planes because it coped the terminology from D&D, back when they where still owned by different companies. And D&D copied the terminology from fantasy fiction, especially Moorcock.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I obviously disagree with the point.
And it has nothing to do with being pedantic.
But nothing you’ve said expresses any disagreement with the point, which is that each MTG plane is it’s own contained “space” rather than being part of a cosmology in the way that the planes of the great wheel are.

You don’t need a Planeswalker to go from Sigil to the City of Brass and then to Waterdeep, you can build ships that do the trick, and it’s all one cosmology.

Whether “universe” assumes a certain size (it doesn’t) is irrelevant. The MtG planes are more like alternate universes that each have thier own variations on the rules of nature and magic, and each is fully its own thing.
 

Rogerd1

Explorer
There is no reason why a universe should be any particular size. They each have their own physical laws. And the only known D&D universe that is anything like 44 billion light years is the one that contains Ed Greenwood's kitchen.
Esper Genesis would cover this.
But nothing you’ve said expresses any disagreement with the point, which is that each MTG plane is it’s own contained “space” rather than being part of a cosmology in the way that the planes of the great wheel are.

You don’t need a Planeswalker to go from Sigil to the City of Brass and then to Waterdeep, you can build ships that do the trick, and it’s all one cosmology.

Whether “universe” assumes a certain size (it doesn’t) is irrelevant. The MtG planes are more like alternate universes that each have thier own variations on the rules of nature and magic, and each is fully its own thing.
1. It really does say I disagree with you, it could not be plainer.
2. Apart from they do not exist in MtG, only DnD.
3. It is not irrelevant at all. Most MtG planes are worlds, usually a solar system although some can be bigger. A solar system is not a universe. Never has been, and never will be. Terminology is quite important.
 

Esper Genesis would cover this.

1. It really does say I disagree with you, it could not be plainer.
2. Apart from they do not exist in MtG, only DnD.
3. It is not irrelevant at all. Most MtG planes are worlds, usually a solar system although some can be bigger. A solar system is not a universe. Never has been, and never will be. Terminology is quite important.
Esper Genesis has nothing to do with D&D apart from being based on the same ruleset. It's lore is irrelevant.

There is no barrier between D&D and MtG now. They are part of the same multiverse. See the Forgotten Realms MtG set.

The term "universe" tends not to be used at all in D&D. There are planes, and they are part of the multiverse. Some of those planes may contain what we would understand by a "universe" some of them might be smaller than a grain of sand.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
3. It is not irrelevant at all. Most MtG planes are worlds, usually a solar system although some can be bigger. A solar system is not a universe. Never has been, and never will be. Terminology is quite important.
If we're going to pedantic about terminology, the definition of the word "universe" can be found here. It has no size requirements—if the entirety of a plane of existence is only the size of a solar system (or smaller), it is still a universe.
 

Sure, but it generally doesn't meaningfully matter to the adventure being played. It can't, because if it did then it would be part of a series.

Let's take what is, to my knowledge, the most connected two adventures currently in 5e. Rise of Tiamat and Storm King's Thunder. Storm King's Thunder has the Ordning broken because the giant's didn't act to stop Tiamat's rise. But, the adventure is fairly clear that the Small Folk don't really know this, and frankly the entire adventure can work without this being true. You don't need Rise of Tiamat to have happened, or the people and towns attacked and destroyed to have been destroyed to play Storm King's Thunder.

And this is my point. By the time you are playing Wild Beyond the Witchlight is the Mad Mage Halaster dead? He is fought and killed in Dungeon of the Mad Mage, correct? That came out before Witchlight so he is clearly dead... except, what if your table has never played Mad Mage? Is he still dead? If I want to play Mad Mage after Wild Beyond the Witchlight, do I have to explain that Halaster was killed, but has been revived?

No. I don't. Because in the reality I'm playing in, those events didn't happen in that order. Enforcing that via a "shared universe" is impractical at best.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////



But if you are playing in the Forgotten Realms and I'm playing in the Forgotten Realms... aren't there two Forgotten Realms?

This is why I proposed the model I did. Because every table makes its own reality, its own mirror. We all do this, constantly. In my version of setting X this isn't true and instead it is this, and that is just as "real" and "true" as your version of setting X where it is true.

And this has been the model WoTC has been working under for decades, but people keep trying to claim some sort of far more bespoke version of realities where there is only one Forgotten Realms and only one Dark Sun, despite all the problems that inevitably causes.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////







Both of these kind of prove my larger point though.

Who was the Mortal who slew Demogorgon and took the title Prince of Demons? None of us can say. Any answer we give is equally true, but wouldn't that person and his companions be the biggest deal, people as famous as Driz'zt or Elminster or Silverhand? Wouldn't the mortal heroes who rescued a Goddess be saints revered by the church of Waukeen for rescuing the Goddess? Yet... they don't exist. Look at any sourcebook talking about Waukeen since that adventure, and none of them name these heroes, if they even mention them at all. 5e Forgotten Realms was Canonically following the 4e Realms and Savage Tide... yet 5e never mentions Demogorgon being killed and a mere mortal taking his title. None of those archfey who helped fight are listed has having "once fought Demogorgon and helped slay him"

So, yes, they reference, they hint, they give easter eggs sometimes... but it never actually matters. The Ten Towns are in the same state right now that they were in before Rime of the Frostmaiden. If they do more than mention "a few years ago the Goddess Auril threatened the region" in any future adventure that isn't a direct sequel to RoF then I'd be stunned. Because to do more than that, means they have to declare canonical endings. And there is no value in that.
My point is that you don't play in my campaign, and I don't play in your campaign, so the fact that our FRs are different is irrelevant. WotC provides a baseline setting, which is modified by every DM and player group, and that is the only world. In every spot where it is not contradicted by DM or PC action, the world is the same for everybody. That's always been true, and it doesn't require the confusion of WotC providing multiple versions of everything. We do that ourselves, and it only matters to each group, not to other groups and not to WotC.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Esper Genesis would cover this.

1. It really does say I disagree with you, it could not be plainer.
Apparently I needed to be “plainer”. (It’s “more plain”, since we are being pedantic) Nothing in the post I referred to made specific counter-argument to the point I was making. I never said that you hadn’t said you disagreed. 🙄
2. Apart from they do not exist in MtG, only DnD.
What don’t, the planes of the Great Wheel? Ships? Clarity is quite important.

Of course, I never claimed that anything exists in MtG other than planeswalkers, so I’ve no idea what you’re even on about here.
3. It is not irrelevant at all. Most MtG planes are worlds, usually a solar system although some can be bigger. A solar system is not a universe. Never has been, and never will be. Terminology is quite important.
You are factually incorrect about what a universe is, as @Azzy pointed out upthread.

Ravnica is a universe. Innistrad is a universe. Each plane is objectively a universe, separated by a ineffable non-space.

Edit: If you’re going to pester me with pedantic needling about terminology that ignores the point of the post you’re replying to, at least do the minimum and come correct. 🤷‍♂️
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
If we're going to pedantic about terminology, the definition of the word "universe" can be found here. It has no size requirements—if the entirety of a plane of existence is only the size of a solar system (or smaller), it is still a universe.
This one is especially relevant to a discussion of multiversal cosmology. “a distinct field or province of thought or reality that forms a closed system or self-inclusive and independent organization.”
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
The 5e adventures do seem to be written without much care as to order of play, and as we all know, the WotC staff have said that they don't have much of a player-facing canon anymore. However, this has not always been the case throughout the editions. In earlier editions, what happened in the adventures could have major impacts in the actual setting. Examples: the series of Ravenloft adventures that led up to the Grand Conjunction; the Planescape Faction War adventure. I didn't read or use any of those adventures, and it was quite startling to see the changes that became official because of them.

Of course, considering that most of these adventures are for roughly the same level-range, I assume that they expect that most groups will be starting new PCs for each adventure, and relatively few groups will be continuing with the same characters.

So if your campaign had the Planescape faction war end with the overthrowing of the Lady of Pain, did that become official? If your campaign defeated the enemies and prevented the Grand Conjuction was that made official?

No. The outcomes that became official were the outcomes the writers planned to become official, just as they planned that Bane, Myrkul and Bhaal would become the Dead Three and take a different place in the Forgotten Realms. The affects of the PLanescape Faction War or the Ravenloft Grand Conjuction on future adventures would be identical to the writers simply time skipping and telling you about those events as backstory.

And, there is no value in telling the public who are playing these games "your version is a fake version, if you want the real version of events, this is what happened". WoTC has only ever provided a single possibility of events, but has always acknowledged (to my understanding) that EVERYONE'S game is an equally viable outcome. It is the only way when so many people are playing so many games that are so dissimilar.

In reality, yes. In terms of what gets produced and sold, no. They have a canon (you can read the extensive timeline on the FR wiki, if you feel like it), and will continue to produce material for that canon, whether or not you or anyone else use it, deviate from it, or ignore it entirely. Until they decide to retcon it, at least.

And that can be canon... for ONE Forgotten Realms. But WoTC has never taken the stance that the Forgotten realms they present is the only possible Forgotten Realms. And moving onto a "multiverse" approach, there is no reason not to acknowledge that even more heavily that they are producing for only one possible Forgotten Realms, not ALL possible Forgotten Realms.

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Just to note, the Brimstone Angels books are really good and give a lot of context to the culture of Tymanther Dragonborn in Faerun, among other things. The third book, The Adversary, is also the 3rd book of the Sundering series.

The finale, The Devil You Know, came out in 2015. By all accounts the whole series is great.

I have heard that they are quite good. I've just got a very large back log of things to read.

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My point is that you don't play in my campaign, and I don't play in your campaign, so the fact that our FRs are different is irrelevant. WotC provides a baseline setting, which is modified by every DM and player group, and that is the only world. In every spot where it is not contradicted by DM or PC action, the world is the same for everybody. That's always been true, and it doesn't require the confusion of WotC providing multiple versions of everything. We do that ourselves, and it only matters to each group, not to other groups and not to WotC.

And my point is just because WoTC has written and presented a single world does not mean it is the only possible world. Therefore, a model that includes a near infinite number of versions of the Forgotten Realms, and thus prevents the gnashing of teeth over things like goblin origins seems to be a far better model for a multiverse than one that presents only a single possible Forgotten Realms and runs face first into these issues time and time again.

You seem to somehow be under the mistaken impression that my proposed model requires WoTC to make multiple versions of the Forgotten Realms, but it doesn't. All it requires is for them to acknowledge that all versions of the Forgotten Realms are equally viable. Which, they have been doing for years.
 

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