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D&D General Influence of official D&D lore on your home games?

How much influence does official D&D lore/canon have on your D&D home game/s?

  • None.

    Votes: 16 15.0%
  • Just a little.

    Votes: 44 41.1%
  • A fair bit.

    Votes: 34 31.8%
  • A lot.

    Votes: 14 13.1%
  • I stick to all official lore as closely as possible.

    Votes: 5 4.7%

  • Total voters
    107

J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
(This is just about home games, not official gaming contexts like AL and whatnot.)

Q: For your D&D games, how much is your table guided by the official lore?

Since different people play in different modes*, just choose a response that applies generally to your game/s or preference. Pick just one if you can (though the poll allows two, for those who need it).

And yes, the options are very vague, so you can decide for yourself what exactly constitutes "official" lore, and what degrees of "influence" mean. Feel free to leave a comment explaining your vote!


* By "modes" I just mean that different people play in different circumstances, like playing in one group versus in many groups; running short campaigns versus multi-decade campaigns; groups with high player turnover versus committed groups; and so forth.
 

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J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
I voted "Just a little."

If/when I use a published adventure, I'll more or less stick to what it says in that publication, but generally don't make any effort to stretch that lore so it consistently matches lore in another campaign or adventure. And for homebrewing, anything "official" typically doesn't enter into it at all-- at least not consciously.

If I played long intertwined campaigns, that might change, but for the short unrelated campaigns I prefer, this works great.
 


R_Chance

Adventurer
Little when I first started. Because there was none in 1974 :D A bit with 1E and 2E, but less after that. Mainly because I maintained the things I used from 1/2E through 3E and beyond. I still use the age categories for "races" from 1E for example. I have alignment languages for liturgical purposes, not daily communication. It's little things like that that are built into my campaign / world (I have used my own home brew setting from the beginning) that are pretty much permanent. I have built my world around some of the peculiarities of D&D and worked to explain them.
 
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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
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To summarize, I use the lore when it doesn't contradict the story or adventure I'm planning to tell. But if a player has a character concept that contradicts lore, then I'm changing that lore to make it work, it's not very important.
 


Just a little. I've been playing a long, long time, so there are elements of old lore that are embedded in the bedrock of my campaigns, some stuff I don't even remember lifting decades ago, and other stuff that I look at and say "nah, I've got it covered." But even then, I might repurpose a lot of the good stuff.

For instance, I think the return of Vecna and his eventual ascension to godhood were, frankly, kind of cheesy. He's not a god in my world. However, my setting does have a very nasty goddess of secrets, and I have lifted a lot of the stuff from New Vecna and given it to Kran, fleshing her out nicely. I do a lot of that with TSR/WotC gods and organizations.

Other stuff gets added as needed, if it serves a need. Stuff like the Serpent and the Weave have never come up in my game, so it's neither lore nor not at this point.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
So you use them...like a game??

Crazy.

I am indeed completely, incurably insane.

I'm also a prolific module user, and really enjoy adapting Pathfinder modules as they're are a ton of them and are very well-producted. That's led to me adapting certain lore from Pathfinder into my Forgotten Realms and Ravenloft games, just to make the modules work.

So for example, I took the last module from Extinction Curse, and stuck it in Lantan. So the wilderness around Lantan's city has these saurian-giants running around, which definitely is NOT canon.

1626480704785.png
 


I'm guessing this is one of those situations where ENWorld posters won't represent the overall broader D&D fan-base very well. I'm guessing the general D&D fan-base today, with the mega-adventures and Adventurer's League, will skew a lot more towards sticking to the official lore than we do here.

Personally, the option for "as close as possible" is philosophically correct for me, but since I hate the reinvention of lore with new editions, in practice it's more like "a lot".
 

Mercurius

Legend
Good question and I'm curious how the poll comes out, mainly because I'm always surprised with how seriously people take the lore, even to the point of being upset when something changes significantly, or the degree to which some want things to change to their liking. When I see that, I feel like I'm listening to a foreign language. It just doesn't figure into my mindset or approach, which is viewing the lore as a toolbox to pick and choose from.

I voted "a little." I almost voted "none" because I never feel beholden to the official lore and always build my settings from the ground up, but I do use the lore as a backup/default in rare instances, and as a source of inspiration (among many), so it does have a small influence.

I imagine that this board will skew more towards the top side of the poll than the larger D&D community due to an older/more experienced demographic, but still should be interesting to see how it turns out.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
I voted just a little. I only use bits here and there, if I buy mods it's just to get ideas. I do use general lore for races an non-human races because it's familiar and I don't want to go to the hassle of reinventing the wheel. But I use my own world and cosmology which is nothing official.

On the other hand, elves, dwarves, halflings and so on stay pretty close to standard.
 

Good question and I'm curious how the poll comes out, mainly because I'm always surprised with how seriously people take the lore, even to the point of being upset when something changes significantly, or the degree to which some want things to change to their liking. When I see that, I feel like I'm listening to a foreign language. It just doesn't figure into my mindset or approach, which is viewing the lore as a toolbox to pick and choose from.
Out of curiosity, how do you feel about changes to other non-D&D shared IP?

I think it's the "shared" element that is really what's going on here. We were invited to enter and play in the same world as others, able to take our PCs (or DM additions) and have them continue in continuity forever...

And then when official lore changes it invalidates that sense of belonging, because we can no longer have both continuity and be a part of the shared world. Either we end our stories and retire our world so we can be on the same page as new players, or we stick with it and force new players who may want to join our game to decide whether they want to have a sense of belonging with just our group and our obsolete lore, or with the general body of new D&D players.

It is annoying to me to have to demand that choice of anyone I might invite to my game, but I am forced into it because of official lore changes.

It's understandable when limited appropriate changes are made to be more inclusive, and it's also fine to add new stuff (like new campaign settings). But many of the revisions are just done for the sake of creative alteration and disenfranchise those like me who prefer to maintain an older D&D continuity.

Now, one way around it would be to prominently support each edition's take as separate continuities that exist in alternate multiverses. That would mean acknowledging their existence and probably giving them names, (Faerun2, Oerth Prime?). We currently have plenty of adaptive sidebars in the text (like advice for setting adventures in different worlds), and there is no reason we couldn't have sidebars mentioning that sort of stuff also. So even if 5e's take is presented as the default, it might say something like "If you are playing in Oerth Prime, replace dragonborn NPCs with humans and half-orcs...In known multiverses other than the Dawn War and [5e default], tieflings have various fiendish origins, widely variable traits, and tend to be extremely rare on the Material Plane. You can represent this mechanically by applying the variations from SCAG and MToF as the defaults and have them represent a variety of origins, not just the ones specifically mentioned...In Planescape Alpha and Beta as well as [list of multiverses], Ravenloft is a demiplane that exists within the Deep Ethereal Plane, though it may have connections to the Plane of Shadow...". To clarify, I'm not saying that the entire list of changes from the different continuities should be described everywhere in new 5e books. Rather, the existence of these other multiverses should just be mentioned regularly when new takes on lore are presented in 5e books, with a few salient examples. So in the new dragon book, when presenting the First World, they could also mention in a sidebar other origin stories that may not be compatible and the multiverse continuities they are part of. They can even mention suggestions on how to put the First World into those continuties if you want to. If a revised set of core books came out, that should also be mentioned in them some of the introductory or campaign design chapters (similar stuff is already done in the 5e core books, but it would need to be expanded a bit to handle this). Alignment could be presented in that same manner, with the PHB not including it as part of character creation, but with brief notes about it existing in various forms in some multiverse, and then the different multiverse takes and their significance expanded in the DMG. This isn't hard, really just an expansion of what the core 5e books have already done, and would resolve my frustrations. As it is, the approach taken with most edition changes has been one of disenfranchisement and exclusion towards those already invested (socially and financially) in a shared world in service to individual designers' artistic visions. I would think in today's world, that would be at least considered slightly problematic, and hopefully it's just a matter of it not really having come to general consciousness yet.
 
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Out of curiosity, how do you feel about changes to other non-D&D shared IP?

I think it's the "shared" element that is really what's going on here. We were invited to enter and play in the same world as others, able to take our PCs (or DM additions) and have them continue in continuity forever...

And then when official lore changes it invalidates that sense of belonging, because we can no longer have both continuity and be a part of the shared world. Either we end our stories and retire our world so we can be on the same page as new players, or we stick with it and force new players who may want to join our game to decide whether they want to have a sense of belonging with just our group and our obsolete lore, or with the general body of new D&D players.

It is annoying to me to have to demand that choice of anyone I might invite to my game, but I am forced into it because of official lore changes.

It's understandable when limited appropriate changes are made to be more inclusive, and it's also fine to add new stuff (like new campaign settings). But many of the revisions are just done for the sake of creative alteration and disenfranchise those like me who prefer to maintain an older D&D continuity.

Now, one way around it would be to prominently support each edition's take as separate continuities that exist in alternate multiverses. That would mean acknowledging their existence and probably giving them names, (Faerun2, Oerth Prime?). We currently have plenty of adaptive sidebars in the text (like advice for setting adventures in different worlds), and there is no reason we couldn't have sidebars mentioning that sort of stuff also. So even if 5e's take is presented as the default, it might say something like "If you are playing in Oerth Prime, replace dragonborn NPCs with humans and half-orcs...In known multiverses other than the Dawn War and [5e default], tieflings have various fiendish origins, widely variable traits, and tend to be extremely rare on the Material Plane. You can represent this mechanically by applying the variations from SCAG and MToF as the defaults and have them represent a variety of origins, not just the ones specifically mentioned...In Planescape Alpha and Beta as well as [list of multiverses], Ravenloft is a demiplane that exists within the Deep Ethereal Plane, though it may have connections to the Plane of Shadow...". This isn't hard, and would resolve my frustrations. As it is, the approach taken with most edition changes has been one of disenfranchisement and exclusion towards those already invested (socially and financially) in a shared world in service to individual designers' artistic visions. I would think in today's worl, that would be at least considered slightly problematic, and hopefully it's just a matter of it not really having come to general consciousness yet.
It is a game and nothing stops you from using the version of the lore you like.
 

A big problem is the ever changing lore, especially between editions. By having "living" settings, a lot of offical lore can change without you being aware of it. The death of Orcus from Planescape was a big one for me, causing a lot of pre-internet arguments.
Little when I first started. Because there was none in 1974 :D A bit with 1E and 2E, but less after that. Mainly because I maintained the things I used from 1/2E through 3E and beyond. I still use the age categories for "races" from 1E for example. I have alignment languages for liturgical purposes, not daily communication. It's little things like that that are built into my campaign / world (I have used my own home brew setting from the beginning) that are pretty much permanent. I have built my world around some of the peculiarities of D&D and worked to explain them.
Same. I still use 75% of the lore from AD&D, and since I normally play Greyhawk, I used the original lore for that primarily. Nothing after Gygax is official, but I will periodically use things from the 3E Living Greyhawk Gazetteer to fill in gaps. It's actually a really good resource, but I can't use it fully, as I refuse to acknowledge the Greyhawk Wars.
 

I'm guessing this is one of those situations where ENWorld posters won't represent the overall broader D&D fan-base very well. I'm guessing the general D&D fan-base today, with the mega-adventures and Adventurer's League, will skew a lot more towards sticking to the official lore than we do here.
The last time WotC released a survey on the topic, about 60% of DMs surveyed said they homebrewed their campaign worlds.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I voted a fair bit, though in my current game it might be closer to just a little. Current game doesn't use much of the outer planes, instead I just have an upper plane and a lower place. elemental planes, feywild, and shadowfell are all there though. I'm not using any of the gods, I have dragonborn nations that also have large contingents of kobolds (the dragonborn's little cousins) living with them. I still follow most of the general lore for elves, dwarves, halflings, etc.

Other games, I've definitely used more of the lore, gods were DnD gods, nations were the setting nations, etc. Really does depend on the game, but the official lore does definitely have some influence, as a basis for my own creations if nothing else.
 


J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
The last time WotC released a survey on the topic, about 60% of DMs surveyed said they homebrewed their campaign worlds.
I'd be really interested to see how that number changes over time.
I'd also be curious to know what "homebrew" means for different DMs. Is it just a little fiddling around the edges of Forgotten Realms (at one extreme) or building a completely new setting, world, cosmology, etc, (at the other extreme)?
 

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