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D&D General Do you care about lore?

Reynard

Legend
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...
The comparison to Marvel is good for, say, Forgotten Realms or another specific setting, but not really applicable to D&D in general. D&D isn't generic per se, it's kind of its own subgenre, but it is more of a general framework. There's no "continuity" in D&D.
 

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The comparison to Marvel is good for, say, Forgotten Realms or another specific setting, but not really applicable to D&D in general. D&D isn't generic per se, it's kind of its own subgenre, but it is more of a general framework. There's no "continuity" in D&D.
There used to be broad strokes continuity. 1st and 2nd edition, and to a lesser extent 3rd, had a roughly continuous story in its lore for all campaign settings. As time has gone on, more and more lore has been reinvented by new authors, sometimes for creative reasons, sometimes for business or even political reasons. And as the demographics of D&D change, this becomes acceptable and even welcomed by the fans WotC care about. Since I am no longer one of those fans, it does hurt a little. But there are still useful things in the new stuff, so I'm trying to look at the bright side.
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
Because, broadly speaking, you can change lore more without changing the core play experience.
Or can you? What constitutes the core play experience? And for whom? Is it just the mechanics? Or is play experience also bound up with the lore you play with?
 

Or can you? What constitutes the core play experience? And for whom? Is it just the mechanics? Or is play experience also bound up with the lore you play with?
The idea that anyone using a homebrew setting isn't playing DnD, even if they use all the core rules, is not well established in the community.

In other words, you can say it, that's now how the community uses the words.
 

Reynard

Legend
Or can you? What constitutes the core play experience? And for whom? Is it just the mechanics? Or is play experience also bound up with the lore you play with?
The play experience is certainly tied up with what lore you use -- or don't use -- while playing. But that doesn't change the game.

For example, let's talk about trolls. Trolls can only be finally killed by acid or fire damage. THIS IS NOT LORE (even if there is lore about trolls in the game). This is a game mechanic. If the trolls in your world can only be finally killed by electricity, for example, you have changed a game mechanic. it's impact on any "lore" in your world is incidental. But having made that change, you aren't suddenly not playing D&D. To assert otherwise is baffling in its pedantry.

I mean, it is probably a bad idea to head down the rabbit hole of "what is D&D" but I don't think it is a controversial statement to say that making tieflings the product of a union between a human and a fiend, not a true breeding race (just by way of example) does not make the game suddenly not-D&D.
 

Remathilis

Legend
Or can you? What constitutes the core play experience? And for whom? Is it just the mechanics? Or is play experience also bound up with the lore you play with?
I prefer the term "stock".

WotC sells a stock car. All WotC parts, all WotC design. They also sell official parts, upgrades, and accessories made explicitly to be compatible with thier stock. However, their is no reason why you can't take your stock car and fill it with custom and aftermarket parts. You can repaint it, replace the tires, even replace the engine if your brave enough.

I think the issue is that people use the term "D&D" to refer to a lot of things: out of the box stock, lightly modded, customized aftermarket, heavily rebuilt, and even other similar products (ie Pathfinder). Further, people disagree what stock should even look like; some people want a fully usable car requiring no modifications and others want a box of parts they can make a car or a bicycle or whatever out of it.
 


billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
The play experience is certainly tied up with what lore you use -- or don't use -- while playing. But that doesn't change the game.
Do you (and Umbran) get to declare that for people? Is that somehow less problematic than considering the lore part of the core play experience?
 

And as the demographics of D&D change, this becomes acceptable and even welcomed by the fans WotC care about. Since I am no longer one of those fans, it does hurt a little. But there are still useful things in the new stuff, so I'm trying to look at the bright side.
5e has been an intensely nostalgia-driven edition. Over half of the adventures are call backs to classic modules, and even PHBII and MMII type books are titled with the names of famous greyhawk and fr npcs. I mean, they're publishing 3 "classic" campaign settings in the next couple of years. So I don't think it's the case that wotc doesn't care about older players. Maybe they fail in their attempt to be all things to all people.
 

Or can you? What constitutes the core play experience? And for whom? Is it just the mechanics? Or is play experience also bound up with the lore you play with?
If you're playing Dark Sun and I'm playing Eberron, their lore doesn't interact or impact each other. But we are both recognizably playing D&D.

D&D is not the lore.
 

I have said it before, but I'm saying it again: Everyone should download and listen to some episodes of Dimension 20, just so they can see how far D&D can get stretched and still be recognizably D&D.

New York City with a magical otherworld sixth borough? Still D&D.

An idyllic 1950s that never was with magical motorcycle gangs? Still D&D.

Even if you don't agree that's possible -- maybe especially if you don't -- go listen to the podcast (I think it may also be on YouTube) and see. D&D is not a setting. D&D isn't even the standard monsters in the Monster Manual.

There's a value in having a shared experience -- it's great for people to swap stories about Phandalin or the Tomb of Horrors or meeting Meepo in the Sunless Citadel -- but you can strip D&D way down to its chassis and it's still D&D. Think of it like a car: You can enjoy a stock experience where you drive a car just as it was sold by the dealership, or you could go down to the chassis and turn it into a funny car or a hot rod -- but it's still a car, even if it no longer looks like the Honda Civic the dealership sold.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Or can you?

It would seem to me that the empirical evidence of over four decades of how we talk about and approach the game makes the answer to that question a resounding, "Yes!"

If you really want to set up some arbitrary lines in the sand for what is, or is not, D&D, that don't match the behavior of hundreds of thousands of players over multiple generations, you can do that. Have fun.
 


5e has been an intensely nostalgia-driven edition. Over half of the adventures are call backs to classic modules, and even PHBII and MMII type books are titled with the names of famous greyhawk and fr npcs. I mean, they're publishing 3 "classic" campaign settings in the next couple of years. So I don't think it's the case that wotc doesn't care about older players. Maybe they fail in their attempt to be all things to all people.
I would argue that 5e started out intensely nostalgia driven, but shortly after the popularity spiked and they started getting a lot more new fans, and especially in the last year or so as the social climate has changed, more and more the products have been pushing for the new folks instead, and the older generation of fans are being left behind if they don't like the direction they're going. Old IP usage has more to do with brand recognition than anything else.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I mean, they're publishing 3 "classic" campaign settings in the next couple of years. So I don't think it's the case that wotc doesn't care about older players.

I don't think it has much to do with older players. They are simply working with IP they already control - note how they're also doing a lot of work with Magic: the Gathering material. It is probably seen as easier, less resource-intensive, and/or lower risk to work with stuff they already own than to generate wholly new material.
 

Reynard

Legend
Do you (and Umbran) get to declare that for people? Is that somehow less problematic than considering the lore part of the core play experience?
Wait, are you saying that because I am disagreeing with a sweeping, indefensible statement you are making, I am somehow the one guilty of making a sweeping, indefensible statement?

Huh.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
It would seem to me that the empirical evidence of over four decades of how we talk about and approach the game makes the answer to that question a resounding, "Yes!"

If you really want to set up some arbitrary lines in the sand for what is, or is not, D&D, that don't match the behavior of hundreds of thousands of players over multiple generations, you can do that. Have fun.
I'm not the one setting up the lines.
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
If you're playing Dark Sun and I'm playing Eberron, their lore doesn't interact or impact each other. But we are both recognizably playing D&D.

D&D is not the lore.
But can you tell anybody who played Dark Sun or Eberron that lore wasn't a core play aspect of the campaigns they were playing? That the lore isn't core to defining why one is Dark Sun and the other Eberron?
 

But can you tell anybody who played Dark Sun or Eberron that lore wasn't a core play aspect of the campaigns they were playing? That the lore isn't core to defining why one is Dark Sun and the other Eberron?
The lore is in the setting. The lore is not the game. (Well, it shouldn't be. See my earlier gripes about the implicit setting assumptions in the Monster Manual, many of which fly in the face of both Eberron and Dark Sun.)
 

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