D&D 5E The Debate of "Canon" in D&D 5E

Mercurius

Legend
Sean Connery's Bond is held up as something to aspire to. He's the good guy. He still is held up as a good guy. If we were insisting on "canon" the way some folks do, he'd be seen in far, far different light. Yet, heck, we're seeing all sorts of resistance to later era Bonds specifically because of the differences to earlier Bonds.
I don't know if he is held up as something to aspire to, as far as our own behavior, but possibly in terms of his acting and combination of humor and badassery. Meaning, I can see why Bond candidates will always be measured against Connery, because he was the first Bond and established the character and, of course, he's Sean Connery. But I don't think anyone is thinking he's to be aspired to in terms of his early 60s style misogyny. But in terms of the way he inhabited the character? Absolutely.

Bond is a fictional character, larger than life. He doesn't have to embody every quality that we might want kids to aspire to, otherwise we'd be left with...Levar Burton as James Bond! I love Levar Burton, but he'd make a terrible Bond.

Now the brilliance of Daniel Craig's Bond is that he kind of brought the character to completion. He wasn't as sleezy as past Bonds (especially Connery and Moore), but in a way he was more flawed, more conflicted, and far more complex. In a way, there was a sense that he wasn't happy with who he was, while self-assuredness has always been unassailable in past Bonds. Though he also always stayed the course for what he believed to be true. I mean, that's the brilliance of Craig's Bond: he was, in some sense, an "anti-Bond" but still very much Bond. I do love Connery and Moore for what they were, but Craig's Bond was far more interesting, if you just look at them purely as film characters.

But more to the point: The Bond franchise is richer for having all three, and even the other actors, the "lesser trio," if you will. In a way, Craig finished what Timothy Dalton started, after the Brosnan run showed us just how outdated and vapid a by-the-book Bond was in the modern era (That great Judi Dench line about him being a dinosaur of the Cold War still echoes). It will be interesting to see where they go from here. They can't go back to Connery or Moore; they did Dalton-to-Craig and hopefully won't try to remake that; and they tried a central casting approach with Brosnan, which proved to be flat and added nothing to the Bond legacy. So where to go with the character, while still keeping James Bond Bondsian? Should be interesting to see how it unfolds.
 

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Hussar

Legend
3E was no big surprise when you look at late 2E.

Right here right now though I suspect the playerbase wouldn't want a super crunchy D&D and evolution not revolution.

If 6E is to different to 5E the risk of it being rejected increases significantly. More attention to role playing seems to be the direction it's heading.
So a system that is completely incompatible, after nearly 30 years of backwards compatible systems, that completely rewrites the game from the ground up, changes huge swaths of canon, and is, according to critics anyway, a complete departure from D&D was "no big surprise"?

See, this right here is exactly what I mean. You liked the changes in 3e, so, it's perfectly okay to make massive, sweeping changes. But, you didn't like 4e's changes, so, change is bad.

Now, I do agree that 6e should probably hew pretty close to 5e, for the simple fact that 5e still has so many fans. Then again, we won't actually see a 6e for probably another ten or fifteen years, depending on how the gaming population continues to hold, so, I'm not making any predictions.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So a system that is completely incompatible, after nearly 30 years of backwards compatible systems, that completely rewrites the game from the ground up, changes huge swaths of canon, and is, according to critics anyway, a complete departure from D&D was "no big surprise"?

See, this right here is exactly what I mean. You liked the changes in 3e, so, it's perfectly okay to make massive, sweeping changes. But, you didn't like 4e's changes, so, change is bad.

Now, I do agree that 6e should probably hew pretty close to 5e, for the simple fact that 5e still has so many fans. Then again, we won't actually see a 6e for probably another ten or fifteen years, depending on how the gaming population continues to hold, so, I'm not making any predictions.

I'm not a big 3E fan. Prefer 2E, B/X and 5E.

At the time it wasn't a big surprise no because of Dragon magazine and late 2E product.

4E elements of it was in 3E but yeah slight departure.
 

Hussar

Legend
I'm not a big 3E fan. Prefer 2E, B/X and 5E.

At the time it wasn't a big surprise no because of Dragon magazine and late 2E product.

4E elements of it was in 3E but yeah slight departure.
See, but here's the thing. The only difference is scale. I mean, 3e fractured the fanbase and led to a competing product - the OSR. Does that mean that 3e was "crap"? Well, no. So, at what point does the number of previous fans who don't adopt become a failure? 50+1%? 4e's failure is nowhere near as simple as it gets painted out to be.

But, anyway, while I do think that canon gatekeepers contributed to 4e's woes, there were so many other issues going on, it probably wouldn't have changed anything.

The funny thing is though, every single thing that people complained about 4e doing to canon, 5e has done. Changed the Realms considerably. Ravenloft gets a complete reboot, and, poof, canon doesn't really matter. One of the most successful RPG products ever produced. Pretty much every single monster in the 5e Monster Manual has new lore, largely divorced from previous lore (since when are kobolds slaves to dragons? Since when do dragons keep slaves?) but, because people LIKE 5e, all those lore changes don't matter.

No, you're going to have to bring up a much better argument to convince me that lore matters for anything other than a means to force particular tastes onto the group.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
See, but here's the thing. The only difference is scale. I mean, 3e fractured the fanbase and led to a competing product - the OSR. Does that mean that 3e was "crap"? Well, no. So, at what point does the number of previous fans who don't adopt become a failure? 50+1%? 4e's failure is nowhere near as simple as it gets painted out to be.

But, anyway, while I do think that canon gatekeepers contributed to 4e's woes, there were so many other issues going on, it probably wouldn't have changed anything.

The funny thing is though, every single thing that people complained about 4e doing to canon, 5e has done. Changed the Realms considerably. Ravenloft gets a complete reboot, and, poof, canon doesn't really matter. One of the most successful RPG products ever produced. Pretty much every single monster in the 5e Monster Manual has new lore, largely divorced from previous lore (since when are kobolds slaves to dragons? Since when do dragons keep slaves?) but, because people LIKE 5e, all those lore changes don't matter.

No, you're going to have to bring up a much better argument to convince me that lore matters for anything other than a means to force particular tastes onto the group.

I've been very consistent about 4E big problem was the playstyle/class design.

Everything else just conpunded that problem. They could have fixed everything else but that's the fatal don't go there crossing the Rubicon moment.
 

Mirtek

Hero
Canon is 100% about gatekeeping. Like I said, it's never, EVER the argument - "Oh, I like this change, but, they shouldn't do it because of canon". It is always "I don't like this change. This change is crap. And, the reason that it's crap is because of canon". It's a blunt weapon bad faith argument. See, because, "old and better" are also unrelated.
Then you missed all the "fighting" over at Candlekeep when 4e was at it's end and it was yet unclear what 5e would do. Retcon or just march forward and repair

A lot of people who hated what 4e did were still adamantly opposed to the idea of 5e maybe just doing a retcon.

They'd rather keep developments they hated than see the living metastory ever marching forward be destroyed.

I mean, 3e fractured the fanbase and led to a competing product - the OSR.
Did it? IIRC D20 was such a huge hit that for a time it seemed like "go D20 or go bust

Yes, there may have been some systems still trying to compete, including OSR, but they were a tiny niche. I wouldn't call 1% splintering off as fracturing


The funny thing about 3e and 4e is that the 'D&D as a story' had "won" over 'D&D as a game' during those periods.

Both editions made big changes to cosmology for example and during both editions 'D&D as a story' managed to tiptoe around them and still present a continues tale. No more Great Wheel? Well, just write the novels in a way that the outside of a planar location is hardly touched upon and then no one has to worry whether the divine realm that is visited during this novel is just a limited domain within one of the outer planes of the great wheel or a new entire plane in it's own right sitting on a tree
 
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How many people (by headcount, or by percent of audience) have to be in the group "I saw and liked the earlier movies but I didn't like this one" before it becomes the movie that has a problem, instead of the audience that has a problem?
More than liked the new movie, whether the fans of the new movie vie had watched the older one?
 

Dausuul

Legend
The funny thing is though, every single thing that people complained about 4e doing to canon, 5e has done. Changed the Realms considerably. Ravenloft gets a complete reboot, and, poof, canon doesn't really matter. One of the most successful RPG products ever produced. Pretty much every single monster in the 5e Monster Manual has new lore, largely divorced from previous lore (since when are kobolds slaves to dragons? Since when do dragons keep slaves?) but, because people LIKE 5e, all those lore changes don't matter.
There was a nontrivial amount of griping on these forums about the Ravenloft reboot. I think it's reasonable to say that the folks who cared about 4E's changes to canon, care in similar proportion about 5E's changes. We hear less of it because 5E has not made changes on the same sweeping scale--except in the sense of rolling back a lot of 4E's changes.

However, the overwhelming majority of players and DMs don't hang out on ENWorld, and I'm quite certain most of them don't give two coppers for official D&D canon. A lot of them barely even know it exists. Besides me, I think there's maybe one guy in my playgroup who could even describe the Great Wheel, let alone contrast it with the World Axis.
 
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About Ravenloft I suspect it is enough ambigous to suggest maybe it is not a true reboot but a sequel. Something has hapened, and Azalin has been the responsible (and maybe even with help by Vecna, because this has got his secret and mysterous reasons). Here there are then two layers, the old "core" but with some changes in the geography, and without the dark lords (most of time but special dates when unwaited visitors could visit for a little time). This could explain the repopulation of some domains punished hardly by the actions of certain dark lords.

And not even WotC themself are too sure about what will be the lore than oficially will keep enough time. Maybe a character dies because the action-live actor who played it was fired, or she becomes mother because the actress is pregnant in the real life.
 

teitan

Legend
Anytime a player came to me with canon I laughed and said... "canon starts with the date set down here and what happens at this table and those novels or sourcebooks are just ideas to be used as needed or wanted but rarely as written truth. This isn't Church". That was actually the first sentence in my 3.5 era FR campaign table rules document. The FRCS was where canon ended and began. If it wasn't in there, it wasn't canon. Even if what was in there came from a novel, the novel wasn't canon. What I found was that in 2e with metaplots and such it would often contradict my games and make the products more useless as time went by so the value for page count went down increasingly so I quit trying to make everything fit or use the lore from sourcebooks as is.
 

Aldarc

Legend
No, not hyperbolic in the least. That's what canon fans are. Gatekeepers who insist that things that they like must be carved in stone.
I do agree with most of the points and arguments you are making in this thread, but I'm less enthused about this one. IMHO, canon is less about having things carved in stone or gatekeeping, but, rather, about community (engagement), identity, and clarity.

It can be used for gatekeeping when applied to vetting people, but I don't think that everyone who has an opinion about in favor of the current canon or a disfavorable opinion of a new canon is necessarily a gatekeeper. I think that does a huge disservice to the multitude of people who take part in fan (or religious) communities and their reasons for that. I know a number of female fans of Star Wars, for example, were kinda miffed when Disney invalidated huge swaths of past EU female characters (e.g., Mara Jade), in whom they felt that they invested a lot of their own fan participation. Sure they got more new female characters out of it, but they also lost a fair number of characters that they personally liked.
 

Hussar

Legend
However, @Aldarc, there is a significant difference between some miffed fans and the fans for whom canon is an actual thing. They're not miffed about canon, they're miffed that they don't have a character that they liked and could identify with. They're not jumping up and down decrying how Star Wars is ruined for all time and has piddled on their childhoods because Mara Jade hasn't made it into the newer Star Wars stuff.
 

Aldarc

Legend
However, @Aldarc, there is a significant difference between some miffed fans and the fans for whom canon is an actual thing. They're not miffed about canon, they're miffed that they don't have a character that they liked and could identify with. They're not jumping up and down decrying how Star Wars is ruined for all time and has piddled on their childhoods because Mara Jade hasn't made it into the newer Star Wars stuff.
I’m not sure and I think your argument is still far too reductive of fandom but I’ve said my piece.
 


Hussar

Legend
I’m not sure and I think your argument is still far too reductive of fandom but I’ve said my piece.
Fair enough. Really, the vast majority of fandom is perfectly healthy and fine. Sure, they might not like this or that change, but, typically, fans roll with it and move on. What do Klingon's look like? or this or that sort of debate is healthy and no worries.

My issue is that when canon gets invoked in a disagreement, as in, "We can't change X because of canon" it is always done in bad faith. It is never, ever, "We absolutely LOVE the new direction this IP is taking, but, please stop because you are changing canon". It is always, "I hate this. But, I can't simply come out and say that, because, well, other people apparently like it, so, I'll invoke canon and pretend that my argument isn't 100% grounded in my personal tastes."
 

Aldarc

Legend
Fair enough. Really, the vast majority of fandom is perfectly healthy and fine. Sure, they might not like this or that change, but, typically, fans roll with it and move on. What do Klingon's look like? or this or that sort of debate is healthy and no worries.

My issue is that when canon gets invoked in a disagreement, as in, "We can't change X because of canon" it is always done in bad faith. It is never, ever, "We absolutely LOVE the new direction this IP is taking, but, please stop because you are changing canon". It is always, "I hate this. But, I can't simply come out and say that, because, well, other people apparently like it, so, I'll invoke canon and pretend that my argument isn't 100% grounded in my personal tastes."
Canon in regards to D&D is pretty fascinating, particularly in the case of its settings, planes, or monster lore. There is a tension between the "canonicity" of the setting and its usability as a setting over time. WotC wants people to buy their books and be able to play with the toys the bought (i.e., all the character options). This includes things like the Dragonborn, Drow, and Tieflings. And as I am writing this an idea just popped into my head.

We can call it the "Dragonborn Canonicity Test." In other words, how do fans of a particular setting react (and why) to the idea of adding Dragonborn to the setting. Because, in general, I think that it potentially showcases how different fan groups often approach their respective settings. For example, adding Dragonborn to Eberron wasn't really all that big of a deal because of the setting's mantra: "If it exists in D&D, it has a place in Eberron" (3e ECSB) and "If it exists in the D&D world, then it has a place in Eberron" (4e EPG and ECG). Eberron exists to be useable for everything plus more. But what about other D&D settings (e.g., Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Ravenloft, etc)? I think we both know what that conversation looks like.
 

Hussar

Legend
Heh, it seems though, that Dragonborn, despite a lack of "canonicity" is pretty much the poster child for this sort of thing really. Since 5e released, Dragonborn are now in the top 5 most played races. Which, I think, speaks volumes towards how little most people care about canon in D&D settings.

If canon actually mattered, then we'd see a LOT more halfling PC's. :D 😉
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
Fair enough. Really, the vast majority of fandom is perfectly healthy and fine. Sure, they might not like this or that change, but, typically, fans roll with it and move on. What do Klingon's look like? or this or that sort of debate is healthy and no worries.

My issue is that when canon gets invoked in a disagreement, as in, "We can't change X because of canon" it is always done in bad faith. It is never, ever, "We absolutely LOVE the new direction this IP is taking, but, please stop because you are changing canon". It is always, "I hate this. But, I can't simply come out and say that, because, well, other people apparently like it, so, I'll invoke canon and pretend that my argument isn't 100% grounded in my personal tastes."
As I said earlier, why would you complain about something you like? If you like a change that violates canon, then canon probably doesn't mean that much to you. People complain about things they care about. That's not "gatekeeping", that's human nature.
 

As I said earlier, why would you complain about something you like? If you like a change that violates canon, then canon probably doesn't mean that much to you. People complain about things they care about. That's not "gatekeeping", that's human nature.
People do not engage in gatekeeping behaviour because the are Evil, they are gatekeepers BECAUSE THEY CARE. They care enough to try and keep people who do things differently out of their "thing". Gatekeeping is human nature. But some of use try to rise above our human nature and do better.
 

Micah Sweet

Legend
That
Heh, it seems though, that Dragonborn, despite a lack of "canonicity" is pretty much the poster child for this sort of thing really. Since 5e released, Dragonborn are now in the top 5 most played races. Which, I think, speaks volumes towards how little most people care about canon in D&D settings.

If canon actually mattered, then we'd see a LOT more halfling PC's. :D 😉
That I agree with. Most people dont care about canon, so WotC made a good decision for their bottom line by discarding it (as much as I hate it, I know people like me dont matter to WotC anymore). Of course, that also means I no longer treat WotC as any more important to 5e than Kobold Press or DMsGuild, but it's nice that there's a lot of content out there. 5e has been out long enough and enough stuff has been produced by various publishers that it no longer needs its IP holder.
 

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