5E Forgotten Realms canon question

Does anyone know whether there are any rules regarding what is considered Forgotten Realms canon and what is not?

Specifically, I'm wondering if the Scales of War adventure path is canon, or if there are clues in past 5e products that might hint at an answer. Scales of War appeared in the online Dungeon magazine (issues #156-175) once the Paizo contract ended and ownership of the magazine went to Wizards of the Coast.

For comparison, in Dungeon #196 (Nov 2011) there is a Backdrop: Moonshae Isles article, and the information therein closely matches the Adventurer's League approved Moonshaes Regional Guide put out by Baldman Games in 2018. That's a pretty clear example of something from WotC's online Dungeon magazine being recognized as canonical in the Forgotten Realms.

The issue I'm wondering about with Scales of War is that while it starts in the independent setting of Elsir Vale (same pseudo-setting as Red Hand of Doom), it soon expands to planar locations that are part of the "Forgotten Realms verse" (e.g. Gloomwrought, Shra'kt'lor). Among these is Tu'narath which becomes occupied by Tiamat's forces. The adventure describes Vlaakith CLVII having been slain (presumably following up on events from The Lich Queen's Beloved in Dungeon #100), Tiamat breaking the pact with the githyanki, and Gith's spirit possessing Vlaakith's successor. I am trying to ascertain if this Vlaakith CLVII and Gith are the same as in the "Forgotten Realms verse" or if they are strictly "Elsir Vale" versions.

EDIT: Obviously, the importance of canon at an individual table is up to each group to decide. I understand that for many groups it's not going to be important. Not making any judgments about canonicity, just asking a question.
 
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gyor

Legend
APs are tricky because they have so many personal varibles, but they usually have one canon ending, for example BG: DiA has a canon ending which shapes BG3.

So I'd say yes, with provisions.
 

Khelon Testudo

Cleric of Stronmaus
According to the 3.5e Manual of the Planes, and the 5e Volo's, Vlaakith has no generation number because she's a lich, and immortal. So the adventure may not be canon.
 
According to the 3.5e Manual of the Planes, and the 5e Volo's, Vlaakith has no generation number because she's a lich, and immortal. So the adventure may not be canon.
The adventure may or may not be canon – that's what I'm trying to ascertain – but there's plenty of official sources where the generation number has been used...

2e A Guide to the Astral Plane, page 52:
The most recent queen of the githyanki is also the longest reigning sovereign the race has ever had. Queen Vlaakith CLVII is most commonly called the lich-queen by nongithyanki, for that’s exactly what she is.

3.5e Planar Handbook, page 148:
The current ruler, Queen Vlaakith CLVII, has reigned for well over a thousand years. Unlike all her predecessors, this Vlaakith is a lich. She has no heirs, and her elimination would lead to great turmoil among the githyanki.

4e The Plane Above: Secrets of the Astral Sea, page 96:
Known as the ghustil, these githyanki are gifted with the ability to channel power directly from Vlaakith CLVII, the ruler of the githyanki, and they can bend the nascent divine power in the Astral Sea to their will.
 

Scrivener of Doom

Adventurer
As Scales of War was not set in the Forgotten Realms, why would there be any debate as to whether it was or is FR canon?

Red Hand of Doom wasn't set in the Realms, either. Sure, the Elsir Vale bore some geographical similarities to an area in the Shining South but it was never explicitly set there not were FR trappings - such as FR deities - used.

So, neither are FR canon officially.
 
As Scales of War was not set in the Forgotten Realms, why would there be any debate as to whether it was or is FR canon?

Red Hand of Doom wasn't set in the Realms, either. Sure, the Elsir Vale bore some geographical similarities to an area in the Shining South but it was never explicitly set there not were FR trappings - such as FR deities - used.

So, neither are FR canon officially.
A couple things that make me wonder about its canonicity...
  • 5e assumes a shared multiverse between different campaign settings (as exemplified in the new Eberron book). This suggests that the Nine Hells are the Nine Hells; there is not a Nine Hells (Faerûn verse), a Nine Hells (Oerth verse), a Nine Hells (Krynn verse), etc. It's just the Nine Hells. Similarly with the Astral Plane and Tu'narath.
  • Robert Schwalb wrote Tyranny of Souls (Dungeon 168) in which Gith was "reborn." He also, years later, was a member of the 5e design team.
  • Githyanki are WotC IP. Red Hand of Doom lacked any WotC IP.
  • There are examples of articles from Dungeon magazine being considered canon.
 
Does anyone know whether there are any rules regarding what is considered Forgotten Realms canon and what is not?
While not an answer to your question just some comments on how I've approached the question over the years.

I used to run a Forgotten Realms campaign in the mid to late 1990's where another player knew the history of the Realms about as much as I did, the other players not so much, if at all. We read the sourcebooks, novels, articles in Dragon and kept up on the current events of the setting. When I would write an adventure/campaign I would try and stay as true to canon as possible. I found that I spent more time researching canon rather than writing the actual adventure. In all honesty it kind of detracted from the actual game. A few years later I ran another FR game with the same mindset to canon as before only this time my players had little to no knowledge of the setting and couldn't care less. This booged the game down and again adherence to canon was detrimental to the game. As the years went on I stopped reading the novels, disregarded the official canon timeline and just concentrated on writing cool adventures in the setting based on what my players wanted and their level of knowledge of the setting. The games were much better and much more organic.

Overall my point is do whatever makes you happy as a DM, know your players and write interesting and exciting adventures regardless of what canon states because you can always change what you want.
 
Yes. in 5e there is no "canon". It's up to the DM to decide what is and is not canon in their version of the FR.
Overall my point is do whatever makes you happy as a DM, know your players and write interesting and exciting adventures regardless of what canon states because you can always change what you want.
Couldn't agree more.

Didn't think a disclaimer would be necessary, but here it is: I also do freelance writing and have published a little to DMs Guild as a side gig. That's why I'm inquiring about canonicity.

For example, one of my projects has been to compile a bunch of stuff I designed for our Tomb of Annihilation campaign – material that I've shared with other DMs running the adventure & reportedly was very helpful – and put that into a product. Because that project involves Chult which is part of the Forgotten Realms, understanding FR canon has been an important part of that (e.g. writing "the island of Chult" would be a misleading faux paus because Chult is an archipelago).

This is not just idle thinking. I've done it before; for example, The Beast of Graenseskov started as a home adventure and then I sculpted it into a published product. In that instance it required reading up on some Ravenloft lore that I'd forgotten and walking that fine line of staying within the confines of Barovia while hinting that there might be more out there in the mists.
 
I also do freelance writing and have published a little to DMs Guild as a side gig. That's why I'm inquiring about canonicity.
This does change things. OTOH, with a settings so large like the Forgotten Realms or Star Wars and with so many writers theres bound to be minor inconsistencies here and there. As long as they arent glaring or purposefully contradictory Id be inclined to believe that most consumers would be willing to forgive it. Sometimes its those little things that adds to the mystique of the setting.
 

Slit518

Explorer
To answer your question, topic creator, you can ask Ed Greenwood on Twitter and he may have an answer for you. He is usually pretty good with that stuff. His Twitter handle is @TheEdVerse .
 

Eltab

Adventurer
understanding FR canon has been an important part of that (e.g. writing "the island of Chult" would be a misleading faux paus because Chult is an archipelago).
As a matter of fact, during the Spellplague era (4e), Chult was an island.
The rest of the time, Chult has been at the end of a peninsula.

That trivia dealt with, the important point: I concur with the suggestion you ask Ed Greenwood. It's his world and he might have some ideas knocking around that he hasn't put into print.
 
To answer your question, topic creator, you can ask Ed Greenwood on Twitter and he may have an answer for you. He is usually pretty good with that stuff. His Twitter handle is @TheEdVerse .
That trivia dealt with, the important point: I concur with the suggestion you ask Ed Greenwood. It's his world and he might have some ideas knocking around that he hasn't put into print.
Thanks for the tip guys. :) I have a Twitter account, but I'm not too well versed in Twitter etiquette (Twitterquette?). Is the proper way to pose question to create a message and then address that to TheEdVerse? Or do I post a tweet to my account with my question (making sure to keep it under 280 characters) and mention @TheEdVerse?
 

Al2O3

Explorer
Thanks for the tip guys. :) I have a Twitter account, but I'm not too well versed in Twitter etiquette (Twitterquette?). Is the proper way to pose question to create a message and then address that to TheEdVerse? Or do I post a tweet to my account with my question (making sure to keep it under 280 characters) and mention @TheEdVerse?
You start by mentioning the person you are asking the question. Then you pose the question. If you want examples, go to the profile of whoever you are asking and check their replies to others. That way you can see how they asked the questions.
 
You start by mentioning the person you are asking the question. Then you pose the question. If you want examples, go to the profile of whoever you are asking and check their replies to others. That way you can see how they asked the questions.
Thanks. I tweeted my question to Ed Greenwood and Robert Schwalb...
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
  • 5e assumes a shared multiverse between different campaign settings (as exemplified in the new Eberron book). This suggests that the Nine Hells are the Nine Hells; there is not a Nine Hells (Faerûn verse), a Nine Hells (Oerth verse), a Nine Hells (Krynn verse), etc. It's just the Nine Hells. Similarly with the Astral Plane and Tu'narath.
Actually, I would disagree with this assessment. As far as I can tell... there ARE multiple "Nine Hells". Every single thing in D&D in WotC's "multiverse" theory has infinite multiples of everything. It's due to the top-down meta perspective-- the "Nine Hells" that I use in my campaign is not the same "Nine Hells" that you might use in your campaign is not the same "Nine Hells" that are written about in Descent Into Avernus. Just like standard real-world multiverse theory... every one is just slightly different than each other because each of our games and each person who writes a new book changes things ever-so-slightly. There isn't one set "canon" because it isn't possible to make one.

So that being said... I think to determine whether anything in Scales of War is "official FR canon" (as much as any FR canon can be "official")... easiest and safest way to determine it is whether anything in the AP is directly related or mentioning anything in the Realms. If all you can come up with is that the AP mentions this thing over here as being in the cosmology, and that the Realms also uses that cosmology (and thus the transitive property suggests that if A is in B and C uses B, thus A is in C)... they you're probably barking up the wrong tree in my opinion.

But of course... if your tweet to Ed receives a different opinion, then go with whatever he says. ;)
 

dave2008

Legend
A couple things that make me wonder about its canonicity...
  • There are examples of articles from Dungeon magazine being considered canon.
I believe all articles in the 4e era of Dungeon and Dragon magazines were considered "canon," at least that is my recollection. So that would makes Scales of War Canon. Did they change anything regarding what happened in SoW in 5e? I don't think we have information on that at this time.
 

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