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D&D General Do you care about lore?

Xetheral

Three-Headed Sirrush
I don't care about the lore of published settings precisely because of the lack of continuity between editions. If I could count on there being continuity, I might have considered using a published setting for my campaigns. But I don't see any advantage to running games in a persistent setting if the lore is being changed each time they iterate the game rules.

That said, I love persistent settings, so I use a single homebrew campaign world for all my D&D campaigns. If a given iteration of the D&D rules doesn't play nicely with the lore of my homebrew world, I simply don't run games using that edition, and pick one that is more useful to me instead.
 

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I'm curious how you both address things like the multiple inconsistent versions of I6 (Ravenloft, House of Strahd, Expedition, Curse of Strahd) or blatantly contradictory things (like Tristan Hiregaards origin in the Black Box vs. Ravenloft Monster Compendium 2 vs. The Enemy Within, or the Lord of Necropolis novel)?
Most of the time I just choose whatever seems most appropriate for my own taste, but I believe I do have some criteria, usually picking the biggest authority (Ed has precedence on Realms matters, for instance), novels over modules and modules over monster entries, third-person accounts over first-person ones, and newer sources over older ones. In the end, though, how I feel about a specific choice is not so easy to rationalize. The only one of those that I have a hard time ignoring is the criteria of authority. If Keith Baker says something in Eberron happened in a given way, there's a 99% chance that I'll accept that as objectively true.
 

Reynard

Legend
This probably should have been a poll.
In my experience, polls threads do not invite as much discussion as those that ask questions and do not provide simple binary answer buttons. Plus, there are never enough respondents to make the poll statistically significant, so they serve little purpose.
 

Mercurius

Legend
But board games have lore.
Just barely, and mostly as background.

A little off topic, but I don't think that's true. It isn't lore that makes D&D different than board games or computer games. Those both have lore, too, sometimes a LOT of it. Magic: The Gathering has tons and tons of lore, for example.

What makes D&D (and all TTRPGs) different is agency, and you can agency with next to no lore beyond "this is a dungeon."
I didn't mention computer games, but the lore in board games--as I said to Morrus--is minimal, and mostly just "flair" for whatever the premise of the game is.

I would argue that board games and computer games have agency, and that the key difference--and what separates TTRPGs from the other two--is use of imagination, and how the lore (and other story elements) are interacted with. But that's all a bit off topic, as you said.
 

Reynard

Legend
Just barely, and mostly as background.


I didn't mention computer games, but the lore in board games--as I said to Morrus--is minimal, and mostly just "flair" for whatever the premise of the game is.

I would argue that board games and computer games have agency, and that the key difference--and what separates TTRPGs from the other two--is use of imagination, and how the lore (and other story elements) are interacted with. But that's all a bit off topic, as you said.
There is no agency in either board games or computer games because neither allows you to do anything that isn't already scripted into the resolution system. RPGs don't have that problem -- unless they are crappy railroads that everyone constantly complains about.

And I think it is a little extreme to just ignore all the effort put into lore for other kinds of games.
 

I think that lore is an important aspect of an RPG, making the world more than just a blank backdrop for the PCs. Settings in particular require lore, since the point is to save the DM time. Even generic lore is useful to provide new DMs some direction and ideas.

However, as I've gotten older I've gotten more cantankerous about lore*. I've seen quite a bit of lore change over the editions, and most of the changes have been detrimental IMO. Some of it has become downright stupid, and I just don't want to deal with it anymore. This is why I partially don't want a new Greyhawk setting book, because I fear they're going to just screw it up more (I pretty much keep to the Gygaxian timeline).


* get off my lawn!!!
 

Mercurius

Legend
There is no agency in either board games or computer games because neither allows you to do anything that isn't already scripted into the resolution system. RPGs don't have that problem -- unless they are crappy railroads that everyone constantly complains about.

And I think it is a little extreme to just ignore all the effort put into lore for other kinds of games.
It is a matter of degree: TTRPGs have more agency than computer games, which have more agency than board games. But I wouldn't say "no agency," although it depends on the game. There's agency in Monopoly, in Wrath of Ashardalon, Catan, etc - it is just less than a sandbox CRPG and far more less than a TTRPG.

As for the last, you're talking in extremes. I'm not "ignoring all the effort." I'm expressing the view that it lore is mostly cosmetic in board games. It is more style than substance. Nothing wrong with that, but it is orders of magnitude less than TTRPGs.
 

Iry

Hero
I will never let Lore restrain me from doing whatever is best for the Story, but I often find ways to tell great stories AND be true to the lore. Usually this is for my own personal satisfaction, but sometimes a player who is familiar with the lore gives me a big payout of surprise and delight when I bring something up from the lore and they notice. It can also give you interesting tidbits that can be used in game.

For example: Just looking at the entry for Strahd, you might never know he is proficient in heavy armor and martial weapons. You almost might never know he prefers to dual wield over sword & board, that he despises thieves and will go out of his way to torture them, that he is a brilliant tactician like they say in his entry, but he can also recklessly charge in when he thinks he has the advantage, or that he is prone to years and years of apathy between sudden flurries of activity. Heck, you might never know he has a Ring of Invisibility that even works against scent and sound, a Ring of Mind Shielding, and magical dagger (Ba'al Verzi) that ignores armor completely.

You don't need to know ANY of that to run Strahd, and your Strahd might be completely different, but I am pleased to know these things.
 
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Malmuria

Explorer
I use official lore as a starting point for generating ideas, but I always change or remove things. I think lore is best when it conveys the tone and atmosphere of a setting or world. The details don't matter to me as having a set of images and reference points in my head that I can use to make something up at the table. Art is as important as the lore itself for this reason (Planescape and Dark Sun were great examples of this, or Mork Borg recently). I also like Appendix Ns, or when RPGs include music/film/tv touchstones.

So it doesn't matter to me if the Dr. Frankenstein derivative is male or female; the Frankenstein reference point gives me a sense of the tone, characters, and central issues, and I can take it from there. If anything I'd like gameable lore ('here's d6 mad scientists, take it or leave it').
 

MGibster

Legend
This came up in one of the Ravenloft threads and I am just curious: do you care about official aka "canon" lore for D&D, either the implied setting or a specific campaign world? Does it bother you if that lore is changed with editions? Should a new version of a setting be "required" to not contradict a previous version?
Not really. I honestly couldn't tell you what the difference between Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms are because they're essentially the same to me. And with that statement I just know that somewhere a grognard is clutching his chest and doesn't know why. And for most D&D settings like Ravenloft or Dark Sun I'm fine with changes to the lore. Honestly, it's been so long since I've played some of them that I've largely forgotten the lore anyway.
 


MGibster

Legend
But board games have lore.
You ain't just whistling Dixie. Since 1986, Battletech alone had more than 100 novels published. And most of the game books were chocked full of lore. And of course there's the juggernaut that is Games Workshop and their Warhammer 40,000 line. I couldn't even begin to guess how many novels have been published and the last rule book I purchased was about half filled with lore.
 


Iry

Hero
You ain't just whistling Dixie. Since 1986, Battletech alone had more than 100 novels published. And most of the game books were chocked full of lore. And of course there's the juggernaut that is Games Workshop and their Warhammer 40,000 line. I couldn't even begin to guess how many novels have been published and the last rule book I purchased was about half filled with lore.
I'm sad Battletech doesn't come up more often. It has some amazing and deep lore, and the games are really fun too!
Same for Shadowrun. The game itself is a hot mess, but it has some of the most interesting lore I've read.
 
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MGibster

Legend
I'm sad Battletech doesn't come up more often. It has some amazing and deep lore, and the games are really fun too!
Same for Shadowrun. Man, that game is a hot mess, but the lore is genuinely impressive.
It does. And given how popular Battletech was during the 80s, 90s, and through the early 2000s I'm surprised that it hardly seems to be an afterthought for most people today. Seriously, back in 1999 if you had to guess whether which game would be around twenty years later, Warhammer 40k or Battletech, you would be forgiven for picking Battletech.

I will say that some lore changes in D&D would piss me off. If they printed another version of Ravenloft and made changes to Strahd that fundamentally changed the character I would be very, very unhappy.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
This came up in one of the Ravenloft threads and I am just curious: do you care about official aka "canon" lore for D&D, either the implied setting or a specific campaign world?
If a DM is using a specific setting, I assume it is because they want to use that setting, and that it's shorthand for the common understandings of that setting. So I will, as a player, heave to that lore. If we're playing in Eberron and I base character assumptions on The Last War or the Dragonmarked Houses and they aren't represented, I'd be put out.

I mention as a player, as a DM I almost exclusively run homebrew and give my players a lot of narrative say, including in the lore. (Oh, and I do are about that lore. :) )

As a side note, it's one of the reasons I'd never run FR with one particular group. It was a bunch of people who do read the novels and are very familiar with the Realms. They knew the lore of it much better than I and I would never be able to do justice to it being "The Realms" - it was much better to run homebrew or another world instead of constantly tripping them up with things they knew but were false in my Realms because I didn't.

Does it bother you if that lore is changed with editions? Should a new version of a setting be "required" to not contradict a previous version?
A bit of the opposite - if the mechanics change in such a way that no longer supports the old lore, we need to change that lore. If new things are added to the system, such as new common playable races, that weren't supported in setting lore thought should be given to if they need to be lore or excluded from the setting. (I have no problems settings modifying core assumptions, including like Dark Sun excluding races and classes and adding their own.)


For my part, I don't care much at all. Chances are I am going to change some stuff anyway if I am using a published setting and if I am homebrewing chances are the stuff in the Monster Manual or whatever isn't relevant in the first place. I don't read novel lines or pour over setting books, so I probably wouldn't notice most changes anyway.
If you run a published setting and change lore, please tell your players. I don't know why you mentioned the MM, that's not likely lore - change monsters around mechanically as you see fit. But if they go in with misleading lore assumptions because you told them "I'm running Dark Sun" but not "I'm running Dark Sun but the sorcerer kings have been defeated and arcane casting is culturally acceptable" then it's on you.
 

I had assumed you meant "lore" in a more generic sense, in which case yes, I absolutely do care about lore--for a given game's setting, its lore is extremely important to me.

But the "official" lore of, say, the Forgotten Realms? Not that important to me. I'd much rather a DM set their own rules--even if those deviate--and then stick to them thereafter. That makes for a more interesting execution most of the time.

Now, I do really value certain pieces of lore very highly. 4e's overall default setting is really really good in general, but I fell in love with Arkhosia specifically and the Dragonborn race, so I often try to adapt them to other places.
 

jgsugden

Legend
It depends a bit. I like the Lore as a player, but as most of my games take place in my homebrew, it is only the things I've stolen thatmatter, and it isn't a huge deal of the lore for them changes.

When I play, I often play in games where the DM is using an established campaign world - often Faerun, Greyhawk, Eberron or Athas. When I'm in those games, I like knowing a bit about the setting so that I can weave things I know into my character's storylines. That allows me to creature story hooks to share with the DM. They don't all take them, but I like to be able to give them the option and see what they do with them.

However, the campaigns I enjoy most are with DMs that specialize their setting. They pick a time for their setting, get to know it and run games in that time within that setting. For a few DMs, that is the time of the FR Grey Box. For others, it is right after the Time of Troubles. MOst Eberron DMs use the default time period. Every real campaign I've played in Athas has started with a version of Freedom. For Greyhawk, the two DMs I know that prefer it each like different time frames, but they both specialize there. As a player, I get to enjoy the setting as they know it (in detail). However, I couldn't do that as a DM on a regular basis in the same setting .... running the same starting adventure over and over 15 times in 30 years would get boring. I kept the entire time frame of my homebrew moving forward for 20 years, although I finally reset it for a new group of players when I moved across the country.
 

Greg K

Adventurer
I only care about lore if running specific settings. Even then, I am a fan of most changes and additions in later editions. Therefore, the only lore that I care about with regards to settings is as follows
  • Greyhawk: The original foilo, original box set, Gary's lore in the rule books, Dragon Magazine, 1e Unearthed Arcana, followed by what Rob Kuntz has to add. I will also add info from the modules T1, G1-G3, D1- D3, S1-S2, S4, and his WG modules. I will also add the L1 and L2.
  • Forgotten Realms: The orignal boxed set, Greenwood's early Dragon Magazine articles, the FR series of regional supplements, and some of the FOR series of supplements for 2e
  • Al Qadim: The Land of Fate boxed set and any other 2e Al Qadim material by Jeff Grubb
  • Dark Sun:The original boxed set and anything else Dark Sun by Timothy Brown
  • Ravenloft: I6 and the Realm of Terror boxed set
  • Krynn; Material by Hickman and Weiss, Jeff Grubb, and Niles for 1e and 2e
  • Known World/ Mystara: I mostly care about the Gazeteer series material (and, maybe, material by Bruce Heard). Furthermore, Tortles and other anthropormorphic races do not exist.
Finally, I ignore anything about the "mulitverse" and anything introduced in Planescape (including Sigial and the Blood War) and/or Spelljammer lines does not exist.
 
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Kurotowa

Legend
This came up in one of the Ravenloft threads and I am just curious: do you care about official aka "canon" lore for D&D, either the implied setting or a specific campaign world? Does it bother you if that lore is changed with editions? Should a new version of a setting be "required" to not contradict a previous version?

It's all stories. Stories bend with every telling to suit the needs of the teller. Sometimes they want to change the ending, sometimes they want to change the moral, sometimes they just want to insert a dis track. Did you know there's a bit in Homer's Iliad where Zeus chews out Aphrodite for being a daft airhead who doesn't belong on the battlefield, and that's not because it fits her mythological profile but because she was the goddess of war in Sparta and Homer was writing for an audience that hated Spartans? He was re-writing mythology to slander a rival city's mascot. All stories have an agenda, every last one of them.

History is the Venn Diagram of where Facts and Interpretation overlap. Stories are sort of like that, but the Facts aren't facts, they're just what the storyteller declares to be true. Maybe they change their mind to bring back a popular character. Maybe it's a generation later and the stories have been passed to new hands. They change all the time, for reasons great and small, to keep them updated and alive and relevant. The moment a story becomes frozen it's dead, a fly trapped in amber, a fossil entered into the historical record that no longer serves a purpose besides being a window into how people used to think.

If I want the 2e version of a D&D setting, I can buy those books. If I want to continue the metaplot from back then, I can run that campaign. If I want an updated version of the setting that's more in line with 2021 cultural sensibilities and design mechanics, now WotC is offering to sell me that as well. That's great. If some people would rather stay in 1990, hey, that's their choice. But don't go complaining that the rest of the world isn't staying there with you. That's not how it works.
 

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