D&D General Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and Canon: Stare Decisis in D&D


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Azzy

ᚳᚣᚾᛖᚹᚢᛚᚠ
UA contains mostly garbage. There are a few useful rules patches like the rules for spellbooks, and expanded rules in the magic items and some of the additional spells. But the classes and Comeliness and social classes and weapon specialization and the munchkined races and most of it are trash.
Hey now! The thief-acrobat was a fun class.
 

DrunkonDuty

he/him
I liked the random weather tables in Wilderness Survival Guide.

Sometimes I want to randomly decide what the weather is like because it feels more like a neutral decision, unbiased by what I am hoping for the adventure.

And other times I want to start my adventure (or novel or sceenplay) with "It was a drak and stormy night."
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Is it even possible to run FR or GH "truly by the canon"? The amount of official material is massive and scattered through many editions... wouldn't it require a lot of effort to study not just what is in current edition books but also what is in previous editions books and sort between what has been superseded afterwards and what has not, and therefore still applies?
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
Is it even possible to run FR or GH "truly by the canon"? The amount of official material is massive and scattered through many editions... wouldn't it require a lot of effort to study not just what is in current edition books but also what is in previous editions books and sort between what has been superseded afterwards and what has not, and therefore still applies?

Interesting question.

I think that FR has a community that is more interested in determining canon, simply because it has a lot more source material.

I think the GH community is more ... well, let's say that the debates are more about when they are arbitrarily drawing the line at canon, and also about creating a lot of fan material to use to fill in things that they find interesting.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Interesting question.

I think that FR has a community that is more interested in determining canon, simply because it has a lot more source material.

I think the GH community is more ... well, let's say that the debates are more about when they are arbitrarily drawing the line at canon, and also about creating a lot of fan material to use to fill in things that they find interesting.
IMO the teal difference maker is Ed Greenwood: one can still reach out to on social media and get a response with fresh new lore he makes up on the spot, and he still runs the Forgotten Realms with his friends and family. After Gygax left TSR, he wasn't involved with Greyhawk.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
IMO the teal difference maker is Ed Greenwood: one can still reach out to on social media and get a response with fresh new lore he makes up on the spot, and he still runs the Forgotten Realms with his friends and family. After Gygax left TSR, he wasn't involved with Greyhawk.

Fair. And, while this seems bizarre to say, Greenwood is actually ... more authoritative than Gygax in a certain way.

So the big issue in FR (as I understand it, I will defer to people that are really into it) is that FR as a corporate product is ... well, a little more than Greenwood's initial vision, especially as "FR" in the sense of "Faerun" has absorbed other settings.

But he is still considered an authority, to the extent that (especially with 'core FR' area) his views are listened to.

With Gygax, it's more complicated for two reasons-

First, "Greyhawk" as published, wasn't Gygax's home campaign. He did that on purpose. It referenced and integrated parts of it, but it was mostly created for the setting. Of course, as I wrote before, he like the Darlene map so much he moved his home campaign there.

Second, the ouster of Gygax from TSR created a truly bizarre schism. On the one hand, people weren't really trusting of any additional official GH canon.*

But at the same time, people were also ... kinda sorta not on board with Gygax's stuff after that either (after all, he killed off GH in his books, I mean, I think ... they weren't an easy read).


*I am simplifying- obviously, there are people that enjoy and are happy with some of the later products, and there is nothing wrong with that!
 

Werthead

Explorer
I would say that Forgotten Realms has an increasingly complex situation when it comes to authoritative statements. So Ed is the creator of the Realms, but he is not involved day-to-day on 5E Realms the way he was very heavily on 1-2E, somewhat heavily in 3E, and intermittently in 4E and the start of 5E (basically parachuted in to fix the Spellplague with the Second Sundering and effectively not consulted since, and not even getting an invite to the D&D movie set in the city and world he created, which still feels rough). And legally he has no power at all over the Realms. But, of course, WotC are generally happy to let him do his thing because they don't want to annoy fans and because 99.99% of the time it's not really an issue, he's just putting non-canon stuff out on DM's Guild like anyone else and if they want to do an official Thay sourcebook at some point that clashes with the Thay book he put out on DMG, they probably don't see that as a problem.

We've also had the division in 5E with the creative team at Wizards: Crawford seems to regard canon as something that gets in the way of DM and PC creativity and is loathe to do anything to expand it, whilst Perkins seems to be very happy to rely on prior canon when it generates new and fun adventure ideas, but also sees the logic in not overwhelming new players with tons of research. So the current 5E creative approach - very hands-off, not interested in generating tons of new lore - is at odds with Ed's approach, telling you on Twitter how Elminster canonically prefers his eggs, and there is some tension there (I think once Ed did contradict something Crawford said about each edition being its own canon, where he said that was incorrect and Crawford did not reply).

On top of that we also have Ed coming across recently as having some remorse over decisions made on the Realms by both WotC and TSR, so he's been talking a lot about his OG world map (which doesn't have Maztica, Zakhara, Kara-Tur etc on it, because they were created by other people a lot later), his original conception of places like Mulhorand and so on, which directly contradicts what has been published Realmslore for the past almost-forty years. So it's sometimes confusing if Ed is talking about his OG pre-publication, even pre-D&D Realms, or the 1E-3E version of the published Realms, or the current 5E situation.

It's also a tad confusing because Ed periodically raises this point that as per his contract with TSR in 1986 when he sold them the Realms, anything he says is automatically canon, but Ben Riggs in Slaying the Dragon, who had access to the contract, doesn't say that at all, and in fact clarified via Twitter that that stipulation does not exist in the documents. It may have been a gentleman's handshake agreement back in the day, but it does not appear to be a legal one. So that might become spicy if it ever becomes an issue.
 

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