D&D General Do you care about lore?


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billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
(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.)
I very much disagree with that assertion. There are a lot of campaigns that people play (have always played) that don't involve particularly strong, distinctive lore unique to them - the lore in the game itself, particularly the Monster Manual, provides lore for the campaign. Specific campaigns may deviate from that lore, but having lore there in the first place gives all DMs a starting point - and for many, that's enough. And for a lot of people, having it be a common starting point is attractive because it means what they've learned about the game can be shared, discussed, or brought along to other tables without everyone wondering what they're talking about.
 

I very much disagree with that assertion. There are a lot of campaigns that people play (have always played) that don't involve particularly strong, distinctive lore unique to them - the lore in the game itself, particularly the Monster Manual, provides lore for the campaign. Specific campaigns may deviate from that lore, but having lore there in the first place gives all DMs a starting point - and for many, that's enough. And for a lot of people, having it be a common starting point is attractive because it means what they've learned about the game can be shared, discussed, or brought along to other tables without everyone wondering what they're talking about.
None of that invalidates the idea that the game isn't the lore.

It's essentially a mathematical or logical proof:

If Monster Manual lore isn't true in Eberron or Dark Sun, but the Monster Manual, Eberron and Dark Sun are all D&D, Monster Manual lore isn't required for it to be D&D.

Is it nice to have for some folks? Sure.

But is it required, essential or otherwise fundamental? Clearly not.
 

Reynard

Legend
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?
Perhaps the issue is conflating some terminology. By "game" we mean "the actual rules procedures that are D&D" and it seems maybe based on your statement above than by "game" you mean "campaign" or, more broadly, "the sitting down and rolling dice and talking in voices."
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
None of that invalidates the idea that the game isn't the lore.

Also...

Take a player from one setting. Hand them a character sheet, and sit them down in a session of another. Then say, "Roll for initiative." They will generally know what to do, and get through the entire event, without knowing lore. Ergo, the game is not the lore, as you can play ignorant of said lore.
 

cbwjm

Legend
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.
I think this is a good analogy. I remember when I got into 2e, I had the 3 core books only so there was pretty much no lore tied to any of the settings in my games. The planes weren't the great wheel, the gods were all different since I hadn't even heard of the greyhawk or the forgotten realms at that point and I was probably using real world mythology for ideas. So I had no real established lore to get in the way of playing, just the bare bones of DnD to let me create the worlds I wanted to.
 

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.
That is a very fair complaint. Yet, that is also what one of the pillars that makes D&D, well, D&D. A mash up of myths, timeframes, and setting designs.
 

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".
The cleric was a simple example. And to be truthful, if you can't sympathize for those players/DMs that use clerics as divine lore, and then suddenly that lore changes and it messes with their schemata, then I don't know what to say.

I understand your point - lore doesn't really matter. But, maybe, just maybe, there are tables where it matters a lot. Tables where great roleplaying or a memorable encounter happened because of lore.

There are two sides.
 

There's no "continuity" in D&D.
I don't understand this line of thinking.
D&D has been consistent with much of its lore for the past 20 or 25 years. It is one of the reasons it has been able to grow and expand. Because people learn little bits of lore and can attach themselves to it, even if it is ten years later.

There's a red dragon! (Guess what, it's evil!)
 


Remathilis

Legend
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".
I believe one of the Core design principles of 5e is "Specific Trumps General". This is as true of lore as is it of mechanics.
 

Perhaps the issue is conflating some terminology. By "game" we mean "the actual rules procedures that are D&D" and it seems maybe based on your statement above than by "game" you mean "campaign" or, more broadly, "the sitting down and rolling dice and talking in voices."
So the game equals rules, and lore is not attached, then there are certainly not nearly enough rules to cover the bases. I mean, where are the rules that cover nuclear explosions? How much damage does it do? What happens when I walk through fallout?

Lore is distinctly tied to the rules. It's tied to the weapon list. It is tied to magic items. It is tied to hit points. It is tied to feats. It is tied to magic. It is tied armor. It is tied to the rules on travel. It is tied to conditions. It is tied to just about everything.
 

Scribe

Hero
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.
YES.

The biggest issue with Battletech, was the poor quality control between the miniatures. I love that game, loved that setting (till they blew it up by progressing the timeline and doing a lot of weird stuff....) but if the miniatures had been better, I think it would have taken off.

The kickstarter looked pretty good recently.
 


Reynard

Legend
So the game equals rules, and lore is not attached, then there are certainly not nearly enough rules to cover the bases. I mean, where are the rules that cover nuclear explosions? How much damage does it do? What happens when I walk through fallout?

Lore is distinctly tied to the rules. It's tied to the weapon list. It is tied to magic items. It is tied to hit points. It is tied to feats. It is tied to magic. It is tied armor. It is tied to the rules on travel. It is tied to conditions. It is tied to just about everything.
Your bringing up nuclear explosions strongly suggests that the definition you are using for "lore" here is not what that word means. You seem to be talking about "design philosophy" which is an entirely different thing.
 

So the game equals rules, and lore is not attached, then there are certainly not nearly enough rules to cover the bases. I mean, where are the rules that cover nuclear explosions? How much damage does it do? What happens when I walk through fallout?
Level of simulation is a completely different dial. Tic-tac-toe is a game with only rules, no lore, but it's not required to simulate nuclear explosions. (Well, except when a kid figures out that the only square that matters is the central one, and adults have just been humoring them all along.)

Also, a nuclear explosion is probably all your dice in your bag, split between fire and radiant damage and then a necrotic after effect for radiant damage.
 

Level of simulation is a completely different dial. Tic-tac-toe is a game with only rules, no lore, but it's not required to simulate nuclear explosions. (Well, except when a kid figures out that the only square that matters is the central one, and adults have just been humoring them all along.)

Also, a nuclear explosion is probably all your dice in your bag, split between fire and radiant damage and then a necrotic after effect for radiant damage.
atomic damage would be better, why not add a whole damage type?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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 care for it very much. I may ignore portions and change other portions, but it provides me a strong basis to go from. Another reason is that I simply don't have the time to come up with all that lore on my own. I'm too busy to do that and create adventures.
 

I quite enjoy reading lore. Even for games or settings I have no intention of playing. How much official game lore makes it into my games depends entirely on how I feel about the specific bits of lore and the style of game I'm going for. I don't treat lore as some sacred cow that must stand no matter what. All bets are off once the PCs encounter the lore; by definition they're supposed to be changing it. Or at least trying to.

I have no problem with major changes (be it a retcon or a the lore going forward as time passes) to a setting's lore IF it's done well. A good example of how NOT to do it is Legend of the Five Rings leaving it's RPG lore to be decided by the results of their card game tournaments. This led to, among other things, the Crab Clan being fooled into allying with the Shadowlands. For those not across L5R lore: as it stood (and theoretically still stands) this is impossible.

As to the "what's lore, what's game mechanics" side of the thread...

Most games have lore baked into their rules sets. I'd say anything except the most generic rules sets must have at least some lore written into them. I'd say that in DND across the editions it's a fairly light baking in. Colour coded dragons and infinitely regenerating trolls and spell names can all be changed without any serious change to the game. Even changing the source of clerical magic wouldn't necessarily change the game play.

Towards the other end of the spectrum games like Exalted or Numenera or Call of Cthulu have systems especially designed to give a specific feeling of play. It would be difficult (maybe impossible) to divorce the rules sets entirely from the setting. Exalted has spells, charms, powers, and other stuff (so much stuff, my head just started spinning about half way through the rule book and I had to put it down and go have a little rest) that are all intimately tied to the lore. How much of this can you drop and still call your game Exalted? I dunno, but I think most of it's required. (Full disclosure, I've never managed to play Exalted so I'm guessing here.)

Call of Cthulu absolutely has to have a system to represent ploughing through musty tomes and learning things Humanity Was Not Meant To Know. You could change the mechanics from (is it still the percentile skill system?) to some different game mechanic, but you have to have something to do this or the game loses a central piece of the experience.

Level of simulation is a completely different dial. Tic-tac-toe is a game with only rules, no lore, but it's not required to simulate nuclear explosions. (Well, except when a kid figures out that the only square that matters is the central one, and adults have just been humoring them all along.)

Don't forget, tic-tac-toe can also be used to avert nuclear apocalypses.

 

Your bringing up nuclear explosions strongly suggests that the definition you are using for "lore" here is not what that word means. You seem to be talking about "design philosophy" which is an entirely different thing.
I disagree.
Here is lore: a body of traditions and knowledge on a subject or held by a particular group. Consistent lore is the reason D&D has grown in popularity. Lore is a cleric uses magic through divinity. Wizards can use transmutation. Specific monsters utilize specific traits. The level of technology. The cultures and traditions and appearance and abilities of various races. These are all tied to lore.
Put it this way: Lore is distinctly tied to setting (time and place). It is distinctly tied to inhabitants. Those two things, setting and inhabitants, help create a ruleset. The two are tied together.
Design Philosophy, while it could be tied to lore, is comprised of the elements and devices used to run the game. Do you want to use have wider variability? Use a d100. Do you want controlled outcomes? Use a d4. Do you want long, more "fantasy real" combats? Institute the design of combat math. Do you want short combats? Institute the philosophy of zero combat math. That is design philosophy, and it can adhere (and in my opinion) should attach itself to lore. But it doesn't always do so. And that is fine - to each his own.
 

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