D&D General Do you care about lore?

I think core D&D has, frankly, too much default lore, with color-coded/alignment-locked dragons, Hell and the Abyss as two different evil dimensions at war with one another, etc.

I think most lore should be saved for settings. For the most part, there should be consistency in different editions of these settings, although places like Ravenloft or the planes or other highly mutable environments have much looser restrictions.

Truthfully, I think I (and most fans) will accept all sorts of changes, so long as they're an improvement. Planescape was a huge and sweeping set of changes to the 1E planes and Manual of the Planes. Most of it was additive, but there were also plenty of outright changes. Very few people, even back in the day, were outraged about Tarterus/Carceri being changed, because the changes were for the better.

If -- once people actually have access to the books -- the fans overall don't find the changes to be an improvement, then the designers screwed up, which I think even they'd agree with.

I think change is inevitable -- no one other than a hobbyist is going to publish a D&D setting in 2021 the same way it would have been published in 1978. The question is just whether those changes are well considered and both preserve what fans loved about the older setting while still making it appealing to the much larger potential audience of new fans.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
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?

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.
I both do and don't care, which is weird and seems contradictory.

One of my favorite settings is Eberron. In my Eberron campaign, I have researched a lot of the official lore and optional lore presented by Keith Baker on his blog. I broadly do follow the official lore, with a few tweaks and changes to minutia, but the "optional lore" is largely for inspiration. In my Eberron, Docents are created through capturing Quori spirits on the Material Plane inside of a complicated magical device (involving a hollow orb of a Siberys Dragonshard in the core of the Docent), a technology that was used during the Giant-Quori War in Xen'drik tens of thousands of years ago, and this secret was lost when the war ended (PCs can rediscover how to create Docents through exploring Xen'drik).

I'm not sure where I got that idea, but I know that I got at least part of it from the lore, someplace or another. I've even expanded this concept even more for if/when my players come across one of the only ways to learn this secret in Eberron (a 100,000 year-old Warforged Colossus created by the Giants' chief Artificers and Conjurers during the Giant-Quori War that's body is studded with hundreds of Docents, using its unique knowledge to allow the Quori trapped inside of the Docents to leave temporarily in Spirit-Form on the Material Plane, so this Warforged Colossus is surrounded by a cloud of incorporeal Quori).

Basically, I choose what lore I like and use it, I find cool parts of "optional/non-core lore" and take inspiration from them, and make up my own lore to fill the gaps when it's needed.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I think core D&D has, frankly, too much default lore, with color-coded/alignment-locked dragons, Hell and the Abyss as two different evil dimensions at war with one another, etc.
I have to agree with this. A ton of the Lower/Upper Planes are redundant, IMO. Frankly, all I need in my world is a Plane of Good, a Plane of Evil, a Plane of Law, a Plane of Chaos, the Inner Planes, the Material Planes, and the Far Realm, but I'm fine with some of the distinctions that actually do matter (Nine Hells and the Abyss being separate has always kind of made sense to me). I never understood what the purpose of Pandemonium, Acheron, Ysgard, the Beastlands, or Hades were (along with a ton of other planes). Why do we need a separate Upper Plane for war (Ysgard) and a Lower Plane of war (Acheron)? Why can't Pandemonioum just be a layer (set of layers) of the Abyss? Why in the Nine Hells do we need Hades when we already have a plane of (absolutely boring) Neutral Evil Fiends? Why aren't all Chaotic Evil Fiends "Demons" and why aren't all Lawful Evil Fiends "Devils"? What's the point of the Beastlands if it could just be included in the Feywild?

I also don't understand the point of having Positive and Negative Energy Planes, especially when they're largely uninhabited and death traps.

Core D&D is supposed to be stream-lined, with individual settings adding in distinctions. We don't need all of this lore that is largely useless (IMO) to be in the DMG, or PHB, or even in most Campaign Setting Books. Eberron: Rising from the Last War gave a simple, yet sweet, explanation of the planes of existence in the setting, leaving them to be covered more in-depth in a later product (Exploring Eberron). If it's not an essential part of the game, or even the specific setting that it is a part of, maybe they don't need to be listed.

Obviously there's nothing we can do about it in 5e, but whenever 6e comes, if they do surveys on this topic, I'm absolutely going to ask for less needlessly complex lore in the base game.
 
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By that definition, if I change the lore for my campaign, it's not D&D either -- which is so ridiculous on its face that it hardly bears further comment.
Why?
If you change enough of the rules you eventually stop playing DnD and start playing a home brew RPG
Why is lore different?

Unless you think every game that uses a d20 published by WizCo is "DnD"
Which is so ridiculous on its face that it hardly bears further comment

It isn't just that (although, full transparency, I don't actually care about their feelings or opinions that much). It's that I feel trying to build decades-long consistent lore is actively detrimental to the development of new, exciting stories. I don't see a win-win position here that can be staked out by the IP developer.
Cool
I don't much care about your feelings either
That doesn't mean I'm gonna actively campaign for something you like to be taken away (That would make me an naughty word at best and a sociopath at worst)

Building on decades-long lore isn't hard. Specially with wikis. And when said lore is all of five pages
It's not any harder than looking up a rule in a book or checking how a spell works. If the people paid to do that as their job can't do 5 minutes of research they need to find a new job
Specially when the difference between decades-long consistent lore and two-years consistent lore is minimal when you're looking at a wiki or a five PDFs. If they can't be bothered to look-up lore from ten or twenty years ago, how can they be trusted not contradict lore from a book last summer?

If the writers make things up all the time the lore stops mattering. You can skip the latest book because the new revision will just change anything anyway and there's no reason to keep up. And relearning everything just becomes a chose and its easier to just stick with the lore you already know
I got tired of trying to keep up with Spider-man's lore like a decade back so I stopped
If the lore of DnD changes every edition then MORDENKAINEN'S TOME OF FOES don't matter. It's not telling me the DnD lore, it's telling me that one author's lore
 

Why?
If you change enough of the rules you eventually stop playing DnD and start playing a home brew RPG
Why is lore different?

So--genuine question because I'm confused--in your opinion are homebrew settings not really "dnd"? Like, if someone were to make a homebrew setting and decide that Githzerai actually reside in the astral plane rather than in limbo, do those sort of changes make it feel less like "real dnd" for you?

Implied setting dnd lore is a quite weird phenomenon, because it's not really tied to any specific set of stories but has just been told through various rulebooks and modules. It's a pastiche of different fantasy subgenres and various real-world folklores and mythologies. Changing stuff never seems like a big deal, imo.
 

ph0rk

Friendship is Magic, and Magic is Heresy.
It really depends on the setting. Some settings I like, and I care about it there. Some I don't, or feel generic - I don't care as much about the lore there.

If Lord Soth were retconned to be a druid wearing a mask, Scooby Doo style, I don't think I'd like that very much.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Why?
If you change enough of the rules you eventually stop playing DnD and start playing a home brew RPG
Why is lore different?
As simply as I can put it?
Because it's still D&D. It's still the same system. It's still the same dice, still the same character sheets, still the same classes, backgrounds, races, and spells. Whether or not you call an Elf a "Smeerp" doesn't matter as long as they are functionally the same thing mechanically. If I rename Elves "Smeerps" and make them live underground instead of above ground, and make there only be one other plane of existence, that's still D&D. The mechanics are the same. The lore is just different. Lore is fluff. Mechanics are crunch. There's a fundamental difference between them that makes it so if you change enough mechanics, it's no longer the same system, but no amount of changing the lore will make it not be D&D (I mean, just look at Dark Sun, or Eberron, or Ravenloft. Way different lore from "Standard D&D", and they're still D&D).
Building on decades-long lore isn't hard. Specially with wikis. And when said lore is all of five pages
I recommend you go take a look at the Forgotten Realms Wiki. It's thousands of pages. I'm not going to waste hours to learn pointless bits of lore like "Which villain did Drizzt kill in the 17,683rd Drizzt book?" or "Which necromancer was apprenticed by the Netheril Wizard that became an undead Elder Brain?" I don't expect others to do that, either, as the FR is bloated and needs to be put out of its misery.
If the writers make things up all the time the lore stops mattering. You can skip the latest book because the new revision will just change anything anyway and there's no reason to keep up. And relearning everything just becomes a chose and its easier to just stick with the lore you already know
I got tired of trying to keep up with Spider-man's lore like a decade back so I stopped
If the lore of DnD changes every edition then MORDENKAINEN'S TOME OF FOES don't matter. It's not telling me the DnD lore, it's telling me that one author's lore
Hint:

D&D lore doesn't matter. You can ignore however much of it you like, and make up your own thing. I do it all the time. It's quite fun and lets me use my creativity a lot more than just reading through dozens of Wiki pages. I like lore when it's for inspiring my campaigns and worlds. I don't like lore as much when it's "you must know this much lore to play", especially with settings that have way more than their fair share of lore. Mordenkainen's lore doesn't matter if you don't use it. It only matters if you use it.

If you like it, that's perfectly fine. However, it's not okay to say "You're no longer playing D&D if you change the lore", because that's gatekeeping and it's BS.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Unless you think every game that uses a d20 published by WizCo is "DnD"
Which is so ridiculous on its face that it hardly bears further comment
I think every game that's been published under the name "D&D" is D&D. I also think Pathfinder 1E is D&D, for all intents and purposes. The lineage is more important, to my mind, than the specific tropes or ruleset.

Cool
I don't much care about your feelings either
That doesn't mean I'm gonna actively campaign for something you like to be taken away (That would make me an naughty word at best and a sociopath at worst)
But if it gets you what you want, you should. Actively campaign for what you think will provide you with the most bang for your gaming buck. Any decision they make will be against someone's wishes, because groups of people have diametrically opposed desires for the game line. So advocate for you.

For me to get what I want, fans of long-term canonicity need to not get what they want. I've accepted that.



If the lore of DnD changes every edition then MORDENKAINEN'S TOME OF FOES don't matter. It's not telling me the DnD lore, it's telling me that one author's lore
Exactly! The consistency of the lore isn't supposed to be important! The books are there to provide you tools and inspiration for YOUR next game. There are plenty of properties out there that exist to feed those for hunger for depth of setting lore, D&D does not need to be (and should not be) one of them. D&D is supposed to be about providing tropes to serve as building blocks for your own game, not to provide a long-term running narrative through decades and multiple editions of sourcebooks.
 

I was pretty clear in what I was talking about in the OP. I meant lore as in the details. I don't think the details are fundamental to TTRPG play. You can enjoy a game with no particularly detailed lore, because the game is what's in front of the players, not necessarily what's under that.
Sorry. I didn't mean to have that come off as a harsh tone. You were clear. I just don't understand how lore and rulesets aren't graphed together. For some, it sounds like they aren't. Which seems somewhat of a foreign concept to me.

Here is one simple example: A cleric uses divine powers. Divine powers generally come from a deity. Remove all deities. Make the world agnostic. Where do those spells come from? I mean, sure you could make something up. It would take less than a minute. But then you have spell names to consider: augury, guardian of faith, prayer of healing, and scrying all come to mind. Again, sure, some don't care that a spell name is attached to lore. Then spell descriptions come into play. And holy symbols. On and on.

The point is, divinity is part of the ruleset. Same is true for much of the lore.

I get it. It is very easy for some to ignore. One campaign we had, everyone was human. They were able to take the stats of the other races, they were simply called cultures and didn't have the physical features. Some people don't care. But, others do, because they see the rule attachments. And if you change some parts of the lore, it is just like changing a part of the ruleset. Both views are valid.
 

Implied setting dnd lore is a quite weird phenomenon, because it's not really tied to any specific set of stories but has just been told through various rulebooks and modules. It's a pastiche of different fantasy subgenres and various real-world folklores and mythologies. Changing stuff never seems like a big deal, imo.
I am surprised to see this here. Of all the fantasy books, setting books, adventures, etc. published by WoTC, we should agree that there are thousands of pages of lore. And of that lore, probably about 90% of it has been consistent over the past 20 years.
 


I am surprised to see this here. Of all the fantasy books, setting books, adventures, etc. published by WoTC, we should agree that there are thousands of pages of lore. And of that lore, probably about 90% of it has been consistent over the past 20 years.
Lore for specific settings, especially settings that have fantasy novels, makes sense to me. It's the implicit-setting lore, like the kind you find in the monster manual, that I find a bit strange because it's world-building minus the world. I don't mean that it is strange in a bad way, just that because it is quasi-setting neutral I don't feel obliged in any way to adhere to it. Also, what I mean is that the lore itself is weird because it's a mash-up of so many different things.
 


Reynard

Legend
Sorry. I didn't mean to have that come off as a harsh tone. You were clear. I just don't understand how lore and rulesets aren't graphed together. For some, it sounds like they aren't. Which seems somewhat of a foreign concept to me.

Here is one simple example: A cleric uses divine powers. Divine powers generally come from a deity. Remove all deities. Make the world agnostic. Where do those spells come from? I mean, sure you could make something up. It would take less than a minute. But then you have spell names to consider: augury, guardian of faith, prayer of healing, and scrying all come to mind. Again, sure, some don't care that a spell name is attached to lore. Then spell descriptions come into play. And holy symbols. On and on.

The point is, divinity is part of the ruleset. Same is true for much of the lore.
Except that's not even true in all official D&D settings. There may be NO divinities in Eberron, and the equivalent in Dark Sun is very different. What is true about clerics is that they gain their powers from belief, and I don't think that is detailed enough to be called "lore".
 

Exactly! The consistency of the lore isn't supposed to be important! The books are there to provide you tools and inspiration for YOUR next game. There are plenty of properties out there that exist to feed those for hunger for depth of setting lore, D&D does not need to be (and should not be) one of them. D&D is supposed to be about providing tropes to serve as building blocks for your own game, not to provide a long-term running narrative through decades and multiple editions of sourcebooks.
Then why have consistent lore at all?
Just have a list of different lore options
Lots of different tropes that allow you to pick the origin of orcs or gnolls

Why even have lore at all then? Just publish the hard rules and save space. There'd be a couple dozen extra pages in the PH if they dumped the lore

I think every game that's been published under the name "D&D" is D&D. I also think Pathfinder 1E is D&D, for all intents and purposes. The lineage is more important, to my mind, than the specific tropes or ruleset.
Why stop at Pathfinder 1e. If it counts, then Pathfinder 2e should count as well
And so should 13th Age and Shadow of the Demon Lord. How are those not DnD?

D&D lore doesn't matter. You can ignore however much of it you like, and make up your own thing. I do it all the time. It's quite fun and lets me use my creativity a lot more than just reading through dozens of Wiki pages. I like lore when it's for inspiring my campaigns and worlds. I don't like lore as much when it's "you must know this much lore to play", especially with settings that have way more than their fair share of lore. Mordenkainen's lore doesn't matter if you don't use it. It only matters if you use it.

If you like it, that's perfectly fine. However, it's not okay to say "You're no longer playing D&D if you change the lore", because that's gatekeeping and it's BS.
I disagree
DnD is more than just a set of rules published by a company. Just like the Marvel Universe is not just "comics published by Marvel"
The legacy stories are as much DnD as the rules. A novel or a game tale about surving the TOMB OF HORRORS is as much DnD as a rulebook
 

So--genuine question because I'm confused--in your opinion are homebrew settings not really "dnd"? Like, if someone were to make a homebrew setting and decide that Githzerai actually reside in the astral plane rather than in limbo, do those sort of changes make it feel less like "real dnd" for you?

Implied setting dnd lore is a quite weird phenomenon, because it's not really tied to any specific set of stories but has just been told through various rulebooks and modules. It's a pastiche of different fantasy subgenres and various real-world folklores and mythologies. Changing stuff never seems like a big deal, imo.
There's some wiggle room and every campaign is of course different
You can change a lot. As much as the rules changed between 1st Ed and 5th Ed really

But if you're playing a game where you replaced the d20 with 3d6 and use wounds and vigor rather than hit points as you adventure in a post apocalyptical Earth that resembles the FALLOUT games with monsters being radioactive mutants are you still playing DnD? Or just an unpublished OGL game?
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I disagree
Which is within your rights, just as it's within mine to disagree and explain why.
DnD is more than just a set of rules published by a company. Just like the Marvel Universe is not just "comics published by Marvel"
The legacy stories are as much DnD as the rules. A novel or a game tale about surving the TOMB OF HORRORS is as much DnD as a rulebook
That's the "brand" of D&D, not the game. There's a difference between liking the shoes that Nike makes and liking Nike the brand. The same applies to D&D. The game doesn't depend on the lore as much as the brand does.
 

JEB

Legend
It's that I feel trying to build decades-long consistent lore is actively detrimental to the development of new, exciting stories. I don't see a win-win position here that can be staked out by the IP developer.
Marvel Comics tries to keep things broadly consistent with past events, and when changes do become necessary, they favor retcons and reinterpretations and additions to past lore, over simply rebooting from scratch. Even their most reboot-y event, 2015's Secret Wars, didn't delete any substantive portions of the past. And Marvel Comics seems to do fine. (They certainly seem to be doing better than DC Comics, which reboots so often now that repetitive reboots have become part of their lore...)

Until now, D&D 5E largely did this as well, and it's been the best-selling edition since the 1980s, and possibly the best-selling ever.

In short, while lore certainly can become a straitjacket, it's also totally possible to have a win-win position, where lore is respected but the IP still thrives. Though it's certainly harder than doing a reboot from scratch, of course...
 

delericho

Legend
I care about lore, but refuse to be trapped by it - if I don't like something, out it goes.

I expect I'd care a lot more about continuity if I were a FR fan. As it is, most of the settings I care about have been out of print for years, if not decades.

I don't have a particular problem with things being changed, per se. Indeed, some changes are essential, as there is an unfortunate amount of problematic material out there. But the devil is always in the details - changes for the better are welcome; changes for the worse, not so much. Where "better" and "worse" are defined according to my whims of the moment, of course. :)
 


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