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

vecna00

Speculation Specialist Wizard
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.
Heck, Greenwood puts out Youtube videos with more lore every week or so!
 

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I wonder sometimes if those clinging so hard to letter of the law Canon are the same ones who can't actually get an adventure off the ground. Canonistas always struck me as embodiments of Analysis-Paralysis.
I think the best use of canon is to inspire adventures. If it doesn't do that, what is the point of it?

The worst canon actively closes off adventure ideas.

For example, the first Pathfinder book about the multiverse said there weren't any Air Dragons on the elemental plane of air - why would you want to say that? Paizo then brings out a Bestiary with an Air Dragon in it, and by canon you have nowhere to put them in Paizo's own setting.
 

Mannahnin

Scion of Murgen (He/Him)
It was, but the neat thing about it is that it was foreshadowed elements of 2e like priest spheres and spell schools having more impact on the type of wizard (in DLA it's the different robes, in 2e it was specialist schools).
Good points! I had forgotten about Priest spheres being introduced as a concept here.

The Wizards of High Sorcery were a neat concept for setting-specific specialist wizards grouped on a different basis than simply by specializing in a given school of magic. Although the whole chart for tracking the phases of the three moons and determining how they impacted your spellcasting at any given time, fiddly little bonuses and penalties, was a bit impractical.

Hey now! The thief-acrobat was a fun class.
I thought the concept was fun (heck, I read the Gord the Rogue books, and Gord is one), but in practice it's a silly class. You have to stop advancing in your core useful Thief skills (open locks, find and remove traps, as well as pick pockets and never gaining read magic) in order to gain tightrope walking, pole vaulting, some enhanced jumping skills, a bonus on unarmed combat rules no one used, a small chance of evading directed attacks IF you have initiative over the attacker, and some reduced falling damage. In essence, trading out things the party needs you to be able to do for a few things which will never come up or are mostly more suited for solo second-story work missions. OSE Advanced came up with a functional Acrobat class that actually functions in a party, and used a tiny fraction of the verbiage to do so.
 
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TiQuinn

Registered User
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.
Yeah, with Greenwood, if you want an answer to something, he’ll provide it as you say, which is totally consistent with a guy who’s been world building the setting since he was a kid. With Gygax, it’s almost like an archaeological dig. There’s few people left who know what the original campaign was like and people are trying to suss out clues as to what was actually part of his original campaign versus what has been published or discussed on message boards.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I thought the concept was fun (heck, I read the Gord the Rogue books, and Gord is one), but in practice it's a silly class. You have to stop advancing in your core useful Thief skills (open locks, find and remove traps, as well as pick pockets and never gaining read magic) in order to gain tightrope walking, pole vaulting, some enhanced jumping skills, a bonus on unarmed combat rules no one used, a small chance of evading directed attacks IF you have initiative over the attacker, and some reduced falling damage. In essence, trading out things the party needs you to be able to do for a few things which will never come up or are mostly more suited for solo second-story work missions. OSE Advanced came up with a functional Acrobat class that actually functions in a party, and used a tiny fraction of the verbiage to do so.

I referenced this earlier, but you developed it nicely.

The TA was a class that I wanted to love. I loved the concept, but the execution (as a pseudo-prestige class) was sorely lacking. I agree with everything you have stated, but I would add this...

UA was a significant power bump to a lot of classes (weapon specialization, spells, new rules, etc.)! And it introduced other classes that were insanely overpowered by 1e standards (the Cavalier, the Paladin as subclass of Cavalier, because, you know the Lawful Stupid Paladin clearly wasn't OP enough).

The TA, on the other hand, was, if anything, underpowered by 1e standards, by taking a class that was already hurting* and giving it a prestige option that took away the only good abilities of the class and replacing them with abilities that the party wouldn't need.

*Hurting because Gygax liked to take the Thief out behind the woodshed and beat it mercilessly with the Nerf Bat whenever he had spare time. I guess we all need a hobby?
 

Games Workshop handles canon in an interesting way. When they want to ignore lore that isn't convenient they just ignore it. They might do this by saying a particular faction was eaten by the Tyranid. They don't make in a point to repudiate the lore, they just ignore it in all future productions. When they want to make a change, they just tell their audience something was always a part of the lore even if it's a lie or they change their minds and suddenly bring something back that's been gone for decades.

Is anyone really going to be upset if dragonborn are suddenly in Greyhawk? That's a rhetorical question, of course someone is going to be upset. Does it matter if they're upset? I'm not sure the answer is yes.

We've seen how well that has gone with GW lately, its been a disaster and likely killed Henry Caville's Cinematic Warhammer plans.

Its a terrible approach, but you can get away with it for a time until key tipping points get reached. Then casuality breaks down so much your setting ends up incoherent, increasingly random, and it loses increasing amounts of hardcore fans, which are the engine that drives the hype.
 

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.

What about the Gord the Rogue novels.
 

Werthead

Explorer
We've seen how well that has gone with GW lately, its been a disaster and likely killed Henry Caville's Cinematic Warhammer plans.

Its a terrible approach, but you can get away with it for a time until key tipping points get reached. Then casuality breaks down so much your setting ends up incoherent, increasingly random, and it loses increasing amounts of hardcore fans, which are the engine that drives the hype.
The loose approach to canon is also more valid for a science fiction setting spanning the entire galaxy of billions of star systems and millions of inhabited worlds, where you can have entire wars involving tens of billions of people raging across hundreds of systems, and it doesn't even register as a blip on the galactic map. A good example is that the current go-to guy for WH40K big event novels is Dan Abnett, and he notes he was so green on 40K lore when he started he created an entire sector of space (the Sabbat Worlds) and set everything there so he wouldn't be stepping on the toes of anyone else. He only gradually emerged from that area and did other stuff and just recently both started and finished the 60+ novel sequence about the core events of the backstory (The Horus Heresy).

That approach is not really viable for a planet-bound setting where major things are happening dozens or hundreds of miles away from one another, not tens of thousands of light-years.

For the 40K series, it looks like they ran into a serious mismatch between Amazon and Games Workshop. Amazon have a strict gender-blind and ethnicity-blind casting policy, it's very much built into their TV division ethos and I believe is a set part of their contract division. Apparently it can only be overridden for very serious dramas bound by historical accuracy. For adapted SF and fantasy works, it literally doesn't matter how the source material approached those issues, Amazon doesn't think it's relevant. Hence the very diverse casting for Rings of Power and Wheel of Time; that wasn't a problem per se but some people objected to it being done in an unexplained manner that was internally consistent (i.e. in the WoT novels the people of the remote, isolated and rural Two Rivers are described as being darker-skinned, say Mediterranean in appearance, causing the adopted, light-skinned main character to stand out; for the TV show they simply did blind casting resulting in a very mixed appearance of people for the village, with some people being paler than our lead and some people being very dark-skinned indeed).

For 40K the rumour - and it is unsubstantiated - is that this policy was being extended to the planned TV shows with an edict for female members of prominent, previously male-only factions in the lore (though not the reverse) and so on. It's alleged that Amazon rejected plans to include Sisters of Battle in the TV series and instead insisted that Custodes characters - included as they are Cavill's favourite faction - have female members among them (this was possibly a compromise after GW refused pointblank to include female Space Marines). GW gingerly suggested in recent new stories that there have always been female members of the organisation (one of the less-explored in fiction) but that was negatively received by the fanbase. Cavill reportedly just wanted to know why they couldn't use characters from established gender-blind factions (like the Imperial Guard) or female-only factions, which would allow representation/diversity without causing a needless controversy. That seems to have soured development of the project since Cavill, as he has said, values adherence to the source material very highly.

This is probably something that GW should have enshrined in their original contract with Amazon, and it's a bit odd they didn't, unless they realised that, given the current contraction of the market and the apparent enthusiasm of 40K fans at Amazon, no other TV channel or streaming service is likely to be interested in 40K projects, so they had to either agree or give up on the idea altogether.
 

MGibster

Legend
We've seen how well that has gone with GW lately, its been a disaster and likely killed Henry Caville's Cinematic Warhammer plans.
Admittedly I haven't been following Caville's cinemetic plans for Warhammer. I will say that the toxicity of Warhammer fans, at least online, is fairly severe. For the most part, given the continued popularity of Warhammer 40k, the sound and fury of online fans signifies nothing.
Its a terrible approach, but you can get away with it for a time until key tipping points get reached. Then casuality breaks down so much your setting ends up incoherent, increasingly random, and it loses increasing amounts of hardcore fans, which are the engine that drives the hype.
I think 40k has been slowly headed that way for a long time. When the lore was originally introduced in the 1980s, it primarily served as a thin veneer justifying why my little metal men were trying to murder your little metal men. The Imperium of Man is the most evil government to exist in all of human history. Their heroes, the Space Marines who are sometimes referred to as angels, are child soldiers who were gentically and surgicially altered, and brainwashed to the point they're no longer really human.

And that works just fine when the primary purpose of the lore is to drive the sale of models. But 40k setting has branced out into other media and GW is in the difficult position of trying to present representatives of the most vile, evil government in human history as the good guys. It's a tough row to hoe. They've painted themselves into a corner. Grim dark ridiculousness works in limited quantaties but it works less well for a franchise you want to attract a wide demographic to.
 

MGibster

Legend
GW gingerly suggested in recent new stories that there have always been female members of the organisation (one of the less-explored in fiction) but that was negatively received by the fanbase. Cavill reportedly just wanted to know why they couldn't use characters from established gender-blind factions (like the Imperial Guard) or female-only factions, which would allow representation/diversity without causing a needless controversy.
The introduction of female Custodes didn't bother me in the least. 40k lore changes often enough that something minor like that isn't worth getting my knickers in a twist. What bothered me was them telling me female Custodes had always existed. Don't try to gaslight me, GW. I don't like being lied to.
 

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