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.

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