How should "lore" be handled, dnd rules with a setting?

cavetroll

Explorer

I agree with Barber’s assessment 100%. If anyone asks me why I’m dissatisfied with 5e lore I’m just gonna link this article.

Hopefully as the next edition gets closer Wizards will want to hire on world builders worth a damn. Paizo is full of talented writers who would love a pay raise, Wizards should give them some competitive offers.

Reading the above article I kind of get the issues described. But I'm not really following the big picture of what you need to do with lore per se.

So say FR never existed and no campaign existing, and you were tasked with organizing and creating a strategy for a setting that goes with your new "D&D rules" so people can use a prexisting world.

What are your do's and don'ts ? FR had to be recalibrated with each new edition, obviously thats a big problem. Timelines - should the time stay the same? Should each adventure change setting or not? What is important to build for your lore that makes the setting feel less generic (which people seem to complain about FR).
 

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Lore needs to provide interesting and relevant hooks for adventure writing and character building. It needs to inspire me and give me ideas I can use. And that's it.

Lore does not need to be deep. I would rather have a location write up give me three relevant things that inspire me to make a cool character concept or write an interesting adventure than a 10,000 year history that has nothing to do with what is going on there now. The recent Eberron stuff is a pretty good at focusing on lore that can be directly used in the game (bullet points on "interesting things about [place]" or "characters from [place]") as opposed to an encyclopedic backstory.

Lore does not need an evolving "metaplot." Write a cool setting then leave it up to individual DM's to figure out where the story goes from there. See the SCAG write up on Neverwinter as an example of how metaplot kills cool ideas: there was a chasm that was spitting out monsters...but it closed; there were orcs menacing the city....by they moved on; the dwarven city of Gauntylgrim is lost and....oh, wait someone found and restored it; Lord Neverember might be a usurper ....but nah, turns out he is cool. It is a laundry list of story hooks that are past their expiration dates.

Lore does not need to be consistent. I know this is sacrilege to some, but if something is cool I really don't care if it contradicts a thing Ed Greenwood said in the 80's. Obviously you don't want to keep reinventing the wheel, but I would rather the focus be on making the best setting possible rather than on consistency for its own sake.

I know other people will feel differently and respect that view. But the linked article strait up argues "WotC should do lore the way I want and people can just ignore all the info dump they don't want" as opposed to "I'm just going to ignore the stuff that I don't think fits the cannon and not get worked up about it." The article also attributes "threadbare" setting books to bad writing as opposed to making a reasonable choice in what WotC is presenting. Again, I get your preference, but not catering to it does not make something objectively bad, and claiming otherwise just hurts your credibility.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
What is the purpose of Lore in a game? Nothing more and nothing less than providing a backdrop for adventure. This article doesn't seem to get that.

It meanders off into dropping support for worlds, ignoring publishing realities and the grave and acknowledged business mistake of splitting the fanbase between too many settings so that each only had a fraction of the selling power as the core.

But worse, it makes the incorrect assumption that "more developed" lore is the only right call. Look at some competing products out there. The default setting for 13th Age is intentionally painted only with a broad brush to allow room to make it your own. Worse yet preponderance of lore is a barrier to entry for new players and even a larger one for new DMs.
 

aramis erak

Legend
While I agree that Wizards doesn't appear to know how to use the lore, especially not the mega-load that is FR, I think the amount of lore in the existing 5E materials is actually quite good... enough to be used, not enough to hog-tie GMs.
 

cavetroll

Explorer
While I agree that Wizards doesn't appear to know how to use the lore, especially not the mega-load that is FR, I think the amount of lore in the existing 5E materials is actually quite good... enough to be used, not enough to hog-tie GMs.
So when you say 5e are you referring to anything in the core books or you talking about the adventurers they published and the people, places, that it referred to? Since 5e is supposed to be pretty generic right?

Do you think the 13th age had sufficient "lore" in its core book, or do you think it needed more, like the original Forgotten Realms campaign set?
 

Hussar

Legend
There is always a conflict within the fandom of those that like to read D&D books and those that want something to use at the table.

That was never more apparent as during the 4e edition wars. 4e material was designed to be used. Practicality was the primary focus. So, you had the dungeon delve format - which reads like crap but is FANTASTIC at the table. You had the reworked setting elements where areas were first and foremost meant as places for adventure to happen, not as world building.

And people had very, very strong feelings about this.

So, in 5e, they've taken a much softer approach. Scaled WAY back on the "everything must be easy to use at the table" - so now we get modules that are written in the very familiar style of 3e and earlier works, even though I can't imagine actually trying to run a 200 page module at a live table. The amount of page flipping must be insane. ((I play on Virtual Tabletop, so, everything is a CTRL F away.))

But, all that aside, one needs to remember that the publishing rate is unbelievably slow compared to earlier editions. Only 1e has a publishing rate this slow, and even then, 1e cranked out lots of modules and other stuff pretty regularly in the later half of the edition.

Think about it this way. We've got what, 30 5e hardcover books. Total? That's less than what we got in 3 years of 3.5e . A whole lot less. So, of course there's going to be a lot less lore. There's simply a whole lot less 5e stuff.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
But worse, it makes the incorrect assumption that "more developed" lore is the only right call. Look at some competing products out there. The default setting for 13th Age is intentionally painted only with a broad brush to allow room to make it your own.
Even better IMO - for the default setting of 13th Age they purposefully lay out conflicting lore ideas and invite individual tables to tune them to their own playstyle and narrative needs. The Emperor might be a heroic figure at one table, a nasty villain at another, and yet you can still use the supplements they write that use the Dragon Empire as a backdrop because they're written on the assumption that everyone will be taking the lore their own ways.

Worse yet preponderance of lore is a barrier to entry for new players and even a larger one for new DMs.
Yes. IMO lore is meant to inspire, not tie your hands. Too much lore in a setting - and too much devotion to it - makes the game homework for the players instead of a fun diversion.

5e is more popular than any edition of D&D before it. The light touch on lore is, I think, actually one small part of why. Extensive lore can act as a barrier to keep out players who aren't "serious" enough to dive into the lore and read all the books and immerse themselves in a game world. A lighter touch to lore is like having lighter mechanics - it makes the game easier for new players to attain a level of mastery in the game that makes them comfortable with playing.
 

Lore is intrinsically tied to setting. D&D has so much lore (and so many new players or players that don't know a lot of lore), that it doesn't matter what they choose to apply. 4e times are not the present time.

Basically, lore is everything, yet also nothing.
 

aramis erak

Legend
So when you say 5e are you referring to anything in the core books or you talking about the adventurers they published and the people, places, that it referred to? Since 5e is supposed to be pretty generic right?

Do you think the 13th age had sufficient "lore" in its core book, or do you think it needed more, like the original Forgotten Realms campaign set?
Only official WOTC developed materials in print. No 3PP materials, no prior editions' materials. SCAG, the 4 hardcover adventures I've run set in the Sword Coast.

I've not read 13th Age to compare. (I've skimmed the rulebook briefly.)

AS for 5E genericity? It's a genre engine, not a universal. There is a lot of setting strongly implied in the PHB, and it's not enough to be a singular setting, but enough to allow two rules focused GMs to run essentially the same setting. And, for 5E, that collection of hidden setting elements is mostly in the character gen chapters. Especially Races and Backgrounds. There are emergent properties elsewhere, too, especially the mapping suggestions and magic items.
 

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