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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

Parmandur

Book-Friend
This actually gets to why I was asking the question in the first place. (I even had Star Wars, specifically, running through my mind at the time.)

Personally, I've always looked at D&D as a toolkit, as well as a broad genre unto itself. The official settings have always been nice conveniences for me to yoink inspiration from, but I've almost never really paid attention to the deeper lore, read only a handful of the books, didn't play the video games, etc, etc. So to me, D&D really isn't a place and a cast of NPCs; it's only a set of rules.

In recent years, I've sensed a push to codify the settings within the rules themselves, though maybe I'm wrong about that? It makes it marginally harder to "play D&D" in the manner of playing with Legos that happen to have some Star Wars pieces mixed in, and biases toward the manner of playing a specifically Star Wars game.

As a habitual game DIYer who started in the early 80s, it's not a huge deal for me, as I can just ignore and integrate as I desire. But it does make me wonder if it makes it more difficult to get new players interested in homebrewing worlds when they might be expecting certain things of D&D. ("What?? There is no 'Shangri La' on the map in the book! And what do you mean trolls are short? And not flammable??")

So it's really great to hear from people new to the hobby, like @King Babar , who's going all iconoclastic and building their own stuff. I'm glad the DIY ethos is alive and well, and I really hope that proves to hold for more casual gamers, too, as the hobby attracts more people.
The core books.emphasize the DIY angle pretty firmly, and actually if you look at Seyting books like Ravnica and Theros that depart from standard expectations heavily I'd say that WotC provides templates for how to depart from D&D norms at the same time that they provide a big picture to use at will.
 

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J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
The core books.emphasize the DIY angle pretty firmly, and actually if you look at Seyting books like Ravnica and Theros that depart from standard expectations heavily I'd say that WotC provides templates for how to depart from D&D norms at the same time that they provide a big picture to use at will.
Oh, absolutely! For DMs that level of guidance is certainly there, and quite good from what I've seen. For players, it seems all the creativity is geared toward character creation while advice for setting flexibility is somewhat less obvious. But I could certainly be misinterpreting that.

Mainly my thoughts on all this just pertain to the culture/attitude of casual gamers: What are they really doing, as opposed to what does it says can be done? But with the recent release of so many disparate setting themes, I'm gaining confidence that my concerns are misplaced.
 

schneeland

Explorer
Depends on campaign. Usually just a little (i.e. when we play D&D, we don't change fundamental assumptions about how magic works, etc.), but there were a handful of campaigns where a number of iconic places and people from the Realms appeared, so kind of naturally official lore was more important those. This was all during the 2e/3e times, though. None of the people I play(ed) with is particularly enthusiastic about the Realms post spell plague.
 


From none to just a little. It's more that I make fantasy settings that happen to be run using D&D, than that I make 'D&D settings.' Now there are certain built in assumptions in D&D that you kinda have to take into account when making your setting if you don't want to rewrite the rules completely. For example druids exist and a part of being a druid is that you can turn into animals. Wizards can learn spells from books, but they cannot learn healing spells. Stuff like that. But for example for my current setting I rewrote the races, refluffed a lot of monsters and changed rules for some, made my own gods, my own cosmology and metaphysics and changed the tech level. If it was just described without the mechanics, it probably wouldn't be particularly apparent that it is a D&D setting, though there are some recognisable elements a savvy observer might notice. So we're pretty close to none, though not at technical zero.

Now one other setting I've been musing about would be a modern fantasy setting that leans more heavily on the D&D tropes. Sure, the point would be to reinterpret and/or parody them, but to do that they still need to exist in a recognisable form. But it's unlikely that this setting will actually ever be finished or used; there are always many unfinished setting seeds bouncing in my head.
 
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Lord Mhoram

Adventurer
I tend to use a homebrewed world - I have my own pantheon, my own cosmology, my own planar structure (I have never had a plane of shadow, and I've never used Feywild once that idea came up). I don't use any NPCs. When I use modules, I'll reset them to fit my world.

However, the rules, classes, subclasses and such imply certain things about society, and what is in it - so those elements I will use; organizations (my version) mage schools and such. Named spells I keep named, but they are people that developed them a long time ago, and the person with that name will likely not be who the standard lore describes.
 

AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
I voted "a fair bit", as my homebrew world contains a ton of my own lore that differs completely from the rest of the D&D settings' lore, but there is also quite a few major aspects of my world that were inspired by other settings. For example, I use Eberron's take on the player races, where no race is universally evil or good, Exandria's take on having less deities and less overlapping deities, and Dark Sun's take on magic influencing the world around it (necromancy and evocation do so in harmful ways, while the other schools have less harmful effects in the long-term).

My setting has a single god of magic (the Yikare), while FR has a like 5 of them (and that's not even counting all of the Mystras/Mystryls that are dying and being reborn constantly). I have a single goddess of death, judgement/order, and fate (Queen Letherna of Ravens), one of undeath and secrets (Vecna), and one of souls and life (the Vistaesh). Then I have a goddess of the Seelie Fey and Summer (Summer Queen Tinaria), goddess of the Unseelie Fey, Fall, and darkness (Dusk Queen Umbra), god of Spring, hunting, and forests/wardens (King Oviran), god of history and primal nature (Ubtao), goddess of oceans and peace (Saint Labellia), god of winter and destiny (Icaernei, the Prince of Frost), a god of the Sun/Light, War/Glory, and the Heavens (Zayrel), and a god of fear/terror and rage (the Abomination). Just 12 deities to get the main stuff down, and most of them are inspired/stolen from other worlds' lore (Vecna, Raven Queen, the Fey Deities, Zariel, Ubtao), but I also have deities of my own creation (the Vistaesh, the Yikare, the Abomination)

My world also had a giant world-altering Catastrophe that changed the multiverse, killed a ton of people and deities, and had huge consequences (like Exandria, Krynn, Athas, and countless other worlds). My world's constructed golem race (the Golmeng and its 5 subraces) was originally created due to me wanting my world to have it's own version of the Warforged, as were my world's psionic race (the Felshen and their international psionic society) inspired by the Kalashtar (but very different, as the Felshen started out as flesh-golem people with alchemically-enhanced minds who were trained in the psionic arts by Gem Dragons, and then went to war against a society of magic-worshipping Goblinoids). My world's nation of Lantanea was also inspired by the magitek parts of Eberron, but leaning more into combining science with magic in the nation's technological innovations/inventions, instead of replacing science with magic. My world also has a plane of dreams, but it is very different from Dal Quor (it was created by an invasive Elder Evil from the Far Realm that uses the dream plane to spy on sleeping minds. The Elder Evil is a sun-sized eyeball, and it has aberration servants in the form of Dream Snatchers, Medium-sized giant hands with a second thumb where the pinky finger should be that grab dreamers that have escaped from their dream-hub and drag them back into it, and Dream-Watchers, Medium-sized giant eyeballs that can shoot stunning-eye rays and mind-blast people and act as scryers/spies for the Elder Evil).

My world was inspired by a ton of different sources, but most lore I just take bits and pieces of inspiration from. I only rarely rip something off completely, and only when I feel that it's the best way to accomplish the thing I have in mind.
 

TheSword

Legend
The last time WotC released a survey on the topic, about 60% of DMs surveyed said they homebrewed their campaign worlds.
It wasn’t clear though if those DMs had ever homebrewed a campaign world or if they only homebrew.

I play 80% official campaign settings but I do homebrew occasionally and certainly modify the existing campaigns. So I would say I fall into that group, but only nominally. It’s like the question have you ever DM’d is 95% yes on this site but it doesn’t mean all the time, or even most of the time.
 

TheSword

Legend
I voted ‘a fair bit.’

I try and stick to the campaign right up until I don’t. For instance I’ve moved the town of Diamond lake to the forgotten realms and I’m using the map and names of Daggerford, because thats what is appropriate for that area. But I don’t fundamentally change the adventure that all gets overlayed, replacing the FR lore. Waterdeep is a bit more fleshed out and the Free city not so much. So when they get there it will pretty much be Waterdeep as protrayed in Dragonheist, because I wouldn’t change it unless I need to.

I do see how people get annoyed when the lore gets mangled though (like the spell plagues’s clumsy effort to wipe out 20 years of lore, or the Prism Pentad’s destructive effects). Somewhere as detailed as the Forgotten Realms or Dark Sun can be enjoyed for the fiction in and of itself. It’s kinda like how you’d be annoyed if another writer came and wrote a crappy book in your favorite novel series that messed up several storylines, NPCs, and destroyed a load of things you liked for no good reason.
 

It wasn’t clear though if those DMs had ever homebrewed a campaign world or if they only homebrew.

I play 80% official campaign settings but I do homebrew occasionally and certainly modify the existing campaigns. So I would say I fall into that group, but only nominally. It’s like the question have you ever DM’d is 95% yes on this site but it doesn’t mean all the time, or even most of the time.
That's a good point. Despite how much I value official lore continuity, I homebrew a lot: entire worlds, pantheons, subraces, etc. It's just that when I create a D&D world, I figure out how it fits into the official multiverse, rather than making an entirely different multiverse for it. That can mean that its own cosmological views see the multiverse differently than it actually is (just like the Faerunians). I think the point where I get to "why am I playing this in D&D rather than with another RPG?" is if it won't fit into the official D&D multiverse.
 

RoughCoronet0

Dragon Lover
I voted a fair bit myself. I do like using a lot of the official lore for D&D, but that lore comes from bits and pieces from various editions and sources. 4e's Dawn Wars, 3e's dragon lore from the Draconomicon, 4e Dragonborn lore, Eberron concepts for magictek, Theros's piety system, various bits from different Dragon magazines and obscure bits of lore all around.

However, I love mixing things up as well. My pantheon is all my own making, as the gods abandoned what they thought was a ruined world after the Dawn Wars. The powerful god-like beings that were left behind took over the mantle of gods and work to keep the plane stable and keep the forces that govern the world running. There is no outer plane or inner plane, the Ethereal plane has been melded with parts of the Astral Sea and Elemental chaos and the god-like beings created their own demiplanes in the Ether to reside when they aren't physically walking on the material plane (because giant kaiju god creatures are awesome). I also have various monsters identical to their official counterparts and several that are very different and unique.
 


Malmuria

Adventurer
Playing with new players has made me realize how many dnd-isms are lodged in my brain. For example, I know not to mix extradimensional-space magic items, but the new player does not. There are other areas where my assumption is old and it doesn't work that way anymore in 5e, and this is always confusing (can you charm undead now? really?).

As a dm, I might take inspiration from this or that but I always change it.
 


J.Quondam

90% grunts. 10% thews.
Playing with new players has made me realize how many dnd-isms are lodged in my brain. For example, I know not to mix extradimensional-space magic items, but the new player does not. There are other areas where my assumption is old and it doesn't work that way anymore in 5e, and this is always confusing (can you charm undead now? really?).

As a dm, I might take inspiration from this or that but I always change it.

If I'm being completely honest with myself?
Yeah... I'd kinda LOVE to see the shock & confusion on the faces of new players when they try to double-up extradimensional containers.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
(can you charm undead now? really?).

As a dm, I might take inspiration from this or that but I always change it.

As far as I am concerned Monster abilities are generally unknown until you encounter them (though some knowledge skills could shed light ahead of time). If someone tried to tell me that undead are susceptible to charm (or stunning or unconsciousness) because that is what it is in the book - all I can do is shrug my shoulders and say, "Apparently, not these."
 

Norton

Explorer
I voted a fair bit mostly because FR lore is so quickly available and adds depth and flesh to my campaigns in an instant. I will change absolutely anything if it makes my homebrew narrative tidier, of course.

There's also a bit of me that thinks the players immersion is more intact if I stick close to established lore. It's like I owe it to them to stick to it as tightly as I can. I think more than a few feel they're playing "real D&D" if I do.
 

Puddles

Explorer
I was going to vote “a lot” because in my homebrew setting I use the Monster Manual for most creatures and I use the PHB for races with only a few minor tweaks (such as Tieflings not being inherently evil), but it seems from the responses in this thread that others associate ‘lore’ more with the history and mythology of the setting, such as the pantheon and the origin of the races, in which case I use virtually none of it.
 

jdrakeh

Adventurer
Just a little but that's because I stick to settings that are very lightly fleshed out (e.g. original Greyhawk folio, Pelinore as published in Imagine, Irilian from White Dwarf) or my own homebrew stuff.
 

pemerton

Legend
I was going to vote “a lot” because in my homebrew setting I use the Monster Manual for most creatures and I use the PHB for races with only a few minor tweaks (such as Tieflings not being inherently evil), but it seems from the responses in this thread that others associate ‘lore’ more with the history and mythology of the setting, such as the pantheon and the origin of the races, in which case I use virtually none of it.
I had in mind both the categories that you point to in making my self-assessment of "a fair bit". Eg when I included nagas in my GH-set BW game, adapted to BW terms from the AD&D MM, I think of that as a use of D&D lore.

Playing with new players has made me realize how many dnd-isms are lodged in my brain. For example, I know not to mix extradimensional-space magic items, but the new player does not.
Some of the most basic ones here, I think, are D&D-generated assumptions about architecture, and that it should matter and how it should matter. Everything from thinking about secret doors, to drawing and using maps, to concerns about ceiling height, etc. Whereas, for instance, we don't normally get or care about the style of pillars/columns (eg are the plinths square or rounded) nor do we normally talk about the colour or texture of surfaces.

I find a lot of discussions about RPGing are made complicated because some of these D&D-isms aren't noticed, by all the discussants, as being distinctive to D&D and allied RPGs. Which also means that, in a survey like this, they probably aren't being included as influences of D&D lore on home games.
 

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