D&D General How Do You Feel About Established Lore

How Do You Feel About Lore? Choose the closest answer.

  • Published lore is extremely important; my home game uses D&D lore exclusively.

    Votes: 5 5.5%
  • The published lore is somewhat important; it sets certain expectations for my home game.

    Votes: 36 39.6%
  • The default D&D lore is fine I guess, I use some of it and write the rest myself.

    Votes: 32 35.2%
  • The published lore? I try to use as little of it as possible in favor of my own writing.

    Votes: 12 13.2%
  • Lore? What's that?

    Votes: 6 6.6%

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I used to care about lore but I found I could not remember half of it and my players did not care, so in general I don't care either. It is there to use as I get the opportunity and I am as likely to use NPC from a third edition book as more recent information. I care only in so far as the pcs interact with the lore and only lore established in a campaign is actually canonical.


Each of my campaigns uses a different adventure book and a different setting, so I almost always gather as much of the lore of the areas the adventures are set in as I can. That way I can throw in things as we go along that not only fit, but also have plot threads already connected to the adventures the characters are in. Why try and come up with my own NPCs or adventure areas and hooks when all this stuff has already been written for me by better writers in the past?


I have seemed to keep all the 5e campaigns to the Sword Coast region of FR, mainly waterdeep to Phandalin and like to have the lore. None of my players know more lore than me and if they did, they would not mind any changes. I feel free to keep and throw what I like to make the game run. I will check the web for newer material, but take the old 2e listed stuff to keep things moving. I did this when the PCs were traveling to Waterdeep and passed through Amphil and Rassalantar town. There is nothing new since 2e, so I just took some of the old maps and notable figures from 100 years ago, but nobody noticed.

Unless it is part of my actual campaign plot, the only time I will deviate from published lore is where it is contradicted by the actual author of the setting.
However, this is an Eberron game. I would probably feel differently about a more generic world like Greyhawk or Forgotten Realms.


Mod Squad
Staff member
So I ask you all: for the game you are currently running at your table, how important is the published lore?

Currently, at my table, I'm running The Wilds Beyond the Witchlight. I'm using the lore presented within that adventure. Lore beyond that, however, has been largely irrelevant. I didn't even specify what world they came from before entering the Witchlight Carnival - it simply didn't matter given that the adventure was going to remove them from that world quite quickly.
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Follower of the Way
I'm sort of somewhere in between options 2 and 3....if and only if we're talking about 4e D&D.

Lore from every other edition generally bores me and I rarely care much about any of it. I genuinely find almost all of 4e's lore exciting. 5e, of course, picked up a few bits and pieces of 4e lore, but often in ways that didn't sit well with me or felt shorn of important meaning or nuance.

Edit: That said, I'm not currently running D&D, so my answer is only applicable to a theoretical D&D game I would actually be running. I took a fair amount of inspiration from Al Qadim, but not much in the way of "lore" proper.


I use it when useful. I ignore everything about alignments and such; it's just not useful to storytelling. Other things are great building blocks, like the idea that beholders dream themselves into new existences. But mostly I ignore the "official lore." For instance, I currently set campaigns in Exandria and keep the lore that I like, but I feel in no way beholden to it and make major changes as suits me (for example, in my campaign Tiamat is not exactly a villainous character, nor is Bahamat exactly heroic).


I run Gygaxian Greyhawk, so I try very hard to hold to the lore in the Folio and Boxed Set. The early 1E adventures have some impact, but mostly because I'm trying to run them. Saltmarsh from Ghosts of Saltmarsh has been incorporated, with some changes. I try to incorporate things from Gygax's Dragon articles, but I don't have all of them, so it's hit or miss. When I need to make up a bit of minutia, such as a deity's holy symbol or currency, I might pull from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (which is full of things like this). Everything from 2E and the rest of 3E doesn't exist as far as I'm concerned, as well as everything from 5E that contradicts 1E lore.


B/X Known World
If I'm playing in an established world, I use the lore as it sets expectations at a baseline, that everyone who shares knowledge/interest in that 'shared world' can understand.

Not to say you cannot deviate from it, but if my Waterdeep is actually a hamlet, and players come in knowing what Waterdeep actually is, how is that helpful to anyone?
Exactly. The lore is the baseline we can use to meaningfully talk about an established setting. “It’s Dark Sun plus X, minus Y” is way easier than having to completely detail every bit and bob of the world.

I've always played in worlds of my own devising, so I don't care a whit about any established lore. I only buy books so I can find interesting mechanics that I can adapt to my own stuff.


Mind Mage
I adhere to mechanical rules closely.

At the same time, I consider worldbuilding to be Rules-As-Written, to make up whatever "lore" one wants.

I often look to the official lore for inspiration, often wish it was more versatile and less heavyhanded so it got in the way less often. But I feel free to do new lore wherever interesting and practicable.


I grew up on 1E and 2E lore, and still use a lot of it. However, the recent changes since 4E and modern movies like Fantastic Beasts have had me reconsidering some old lore that I had just assumed to be fact instead of one author's interpretation of a myth. It's let me strike out with my bits of lore for my homebrew and do some interesting takes on things. However, for published campaign worlds I tend to prefer sticking to the older lore rather than the new (especially Ravenloft, FR and Dark Sun).


For me, there are two axes to consider.

When I'm reading a setting, I like to see the lore. And while I am open to seeing changes, they have to be changes that I like - with 5e's changes to both Spelljammer and Ravenloft falling into the "do not want" category.

When I'm running a setting, I'll generally default to what the setting lore says, but reserve the license to change any or all of it - and to do so either deliberately or apathy.


I can’t endorse any of the voting options.

I LOVE D&D lore. It’s a great big pile of ideas, and some of it inspires me/us, and gets incorporated into a game. The rest of the lore resides in Schrödinger’s box, its status uncertain until needed.

Charles Lowry

I borrow heavily from existing campaign worlds and reskin them to fit in my homebrew. I redrew a Sword Coast map, but rename locations and add the Lightning Rail lines. We wanted to play something akin to Eberron's magic is technology, but also the original idea of Xanathar. Ultimately, mix it all in, take notes to maintain some internal consistency.


I am currently running a 5E conversion of the Pathfinder 1E Iron Gods adventure path, and while I haven't intentionally contradicted any existing lore, I have not made an effort to embrace and utilize it either. I should make more an effort, just to give the game a more concrete identity beyond "Dungeons and Deathbots" but, frankly, that was why I picked it anyway. I am not a lore person, but I feel like I should try and be at least a little bit more of a lore person sometimes.

I'm running a Pathfinder campaign set in Golarion, but since it's mostly aquatic I've had to design my own underwater region for the adventures to take place in. (The only official lore I'm aware of that might have been detailed enough is in the Ruins of Azlant adventure path, and one of my players has previously run that.)

I'm also taking the opportunity to adapt various underwater adventures I own, none of which were set in Golarion - e.g. War Rafts of Kron (Known World/Mystara), Sea Devils Trilogy (not really part of a setting) and Sunken Pyramid (Lonely Coast, kind-of) - so I had to change the lore to fit the world (and the campaign). I'm also about to start Feast of Dust, which is a Golarion adventure but I'm changing it from a desert adventure to an underwater adventure.

On the other hand, the nearby land is taken pretty much straight from the Dragon Empire Gazetteer (the city of Goka in particular), the included organisations such as the Pathfinder Society are true to the lore, and I ran the Ruby Phoenix Tournament adventure (also Golarion) pretty much as written.

So I went for "I use some of it and write the rest myself".

If I ever get the chance to run an Eberron game then I will stick much more closely to the established lore (or Keith Baker's own version of it, anyway), but even then I'll change some things to better suit my own preferences. (I'm sure if I ran through my list of proposed changes everybody here would prefer the official version!) Of course, Eberron is a special case in that key mysteries of the setting don't have an official answer anyway.


(he, him)
I can’t endorse any of the voting options.
Nor me. I use D&D lore in a variety of ways.

My homebrew world contains a lot of elements that were inspired by existing D&D lore, but which do not now much resemble their original inspirations. OTOH, if I am running an adventure set in Greyhawk or the Realms I try to stick as closely as I reasonably can the the established setting lore, unless I have a jolly good reason not to (possible reasons might include racist, mysoginistic, or other wise problematic elements; ret-cons and contradictions, in which case I go with whichever version I prefer; and elements I simply do not know about or have forgotten).

Anything pre 4th edition I'll take a look at and see if it inspires anything creative in my brain. If not, I'm likely to ignore whatever bit of fluff I'm looking at. But I skipped 4th entirely and have barely skimmed the surface of 5th so I am unfamiliar with any of the fluff from those eras.

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