D&D 5E WotC Explains 'Canon' In More Detail

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Recently, WotC's Jeremy Crawford indicated that only the D&D 5th Edition books were canonical for the roleplaying game. In a new blog article, Chris Perkins goes into more detail about how that works, and why.

This boils down to a few points:
  • Each edition of D&D has its own canon, as does each video game, novel series, or comic book line.
  • The goal is to ensure players don't feel they have to do research of 50 years of canon in order to play.
  • It's about remaining consistent.

If you’re not sure what else is canonical in fifth edition, let me give you a quick primer. Strahd von Zarovich canonically sleeps in a coffin (as vampires do), Menzoberranzan is canonically a subterranean drow city under Lolth’s sway (as it has always been), and Zariel is canonically the archduke of Avernus (at least for now). Conversely, anything that transpires during an Acquisitions Incorporated live game is not canonical in fifth edition because we treat it the same as any other home game (even when members of the D&D Studio are involved).


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Russ Morrissey

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Remathilis

Legend
I think people are over simplifying the statement. The setting books are obviously canon for that specific setting.
People are deliberately reading what they want into these statements; veiled threats, innuendo, literal and strict constructionist readings, dictionary definitions, debating the meaning of the word "is", etc. What do you expect of fans of a game notorious for rules lawyers?
 

Bolares

Hero
They give contradictory information. They say that only the core three are canon, right after they title the section "canon begins with the core three." Then they say, "If you not sure what else is canonical..." indicating that more is canon than the core three.
They say the core books are their public-facing information. It's what they present us and "require" us to know if we care about canon. That does not mean they don't have a company bible that dictates what's canon or not. They are just saying "the core books are all you need to know about 5e's canon", not "the core books are all there is in 5e canon" it may be confusing, but there is a difference
 

The three core books are the WotC canon.

However, the Forgotten Realms setting is the default setting for the three core books.

Players who are playing in a different setting, have their own canon for that setting. Namely, the setting guide. This setting content is split between the official WotC book, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and additional content that Baker and collaborators provide elsewhere.

Perkins doesnt explicitly mention the canonicity of Eberron, but he does mention how separate novels and separate gaming campaigns develop their own canon that is true for their own world. Eberron is in that category. The additional Eberron material comes from the games that Baker and others play.

No there is according to the blog posts now at at least 5 different Eberron canons, 3.5e Eberron canon, 4e Eberron canon, 5e Eberron canon, Novel Eberron Canon, and Video Game Eberron Canon. They took canon and shattered it to pieces without concidering the consquences.
 


The three core books are the WotC canon.

However, the Forgotten Realms setting is the default setting for the three core books. (That is the way it is, tho I wish core lacked a default setting, and focused on worldbuilding and examples from various other settings.)

Players who are playing in a different setting, have their own canon for that setting. Namely, the setting guide. For Eberron, this setting content is split between the official WotC book, Eberron: Rising from the Last War, and additional content that Baker and collaborators provide elsewhere.

Perkins doesnt explicitly mention the canonicity of Eberron, but he does mention how separate novels and separate gaming campaigns develop their own canon that is true for their own world. Eberron is in that category. The additional Eberron material comes from the games that Baker and others play.

There is no default setting for the core books, multiple settings are mentioned in the core books as examples.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
They give contradictory information. They say that only the core three are canon, right after they title the section "canon begins with the core three." Then they say, "If you not sure what else is canonical..." indicating that more is canon than the core three.
The "canon" for my setting, is nonidentical with the canon of WotC.

The WotC canon is PH, MM, DMG.

Each "expression" of D&D can develop its own canon (for narrative consistency, story planning, etcetera).

But there is only one WotC canon. And it is minimalist: only the three core books.
 






Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
The "canon" for my setting, is nonidentical with the canon of WotC.

The WotC canon is PH, MM, DMG.

Each "expression" of D&D can develop its own canon (for narrative consistency, story planning, etcetera).

But there is only one WotC canon. And it is minimalist: only the three core books.
Not according to the post by Perkins. He titles his section, "the canon BEGINS with the core three." which means that there is more after the core three that is canon. Then he says in the section after saying the core three are it, "If you want to know what ELSE is canon..." which also means that there is more to canon than the core three.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
The Realms is the "default setting" according to WotC, but as you note, there's really nothing that actually makes that so. The core three mention things from multiple editions, not just the Realms.
The assumption of needing gods is part of the core books defaulting to Forgotten Realms, as are race descriptions, spell descriptions, the multiverse with a Wheel, monster descriptions, etcetera. Forgotten Realms bakes into everything.
 

Bolares

Hero
Not according to the post by Perkins. He titles his section, "the canon BEGINS with the core three." which means that there is more after the core three that is canon. Then he says in the section after saying the core three are it, "If you want to know what ELSE is canon..." which also means that there is more to canon than the core three.
yeah, the core three are just public-facing information. It's the "all you need to know" section. Doesn't mean the rest is useless, just that it's not what they consider critical to the D&D experience.
 


Hussar

Legend
I do want to apologize for taking the low road. It's not nice and I should know better.

And, frankly, so should all of you. There's no need to make this personal and the mods will just lock up this thread. This is very much not cool.

Let's get back to arguing about the content, not the poster. If someone is posting something you find hyperbolic or insulting, ignore it and hit that report button. Again, I appologise for my own poor behavior here.
 

Remathilis

Legend
The Realms is the "default setting" according to WotC, but as you note, there's really nothing that actually makes that so. The core three mention things from multiple editions, not just the Realms.
"Default" here is doing a lot of heavy lifting. It's more like the sample setting than the default one; it's the setting that most closely resembles the core game so it gets used when they need examples or proper nouns. Outside of setting many of the modules there (excluding GoS, CoS, WbtWL, and large parts of BG:DiA) it's hasn't gotten much dedicated content added since SCAG. Xanathar, Tasha and Mordenkainen are more generic or multiverse based, even Volo is rather generic than Realmslore. AL isn't even FR exclusive as Eberron and Ravenloft now have campaigns there.

Multimedia wise, Faerun gets the lion share but in game they have done a great deal to keep everything from being all FR, all the time.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Not according to the post by Perkins. He titles his section, "the canon BEGINS with the core three." which means that there is more after the core three that is canon. Then he says in the section after saying the core three are it, "If you want to know what ELSE is canon..." which also means that there is more to canon than the core three.
There will be a D&D film. WotC requires it to at least conform to the WotC core-three canon. If it does, then WotC considers it an "expression" of official D&D.

The D&D film will develop content that forms its own "canon" that is only true for the film. This canon might conflict with other WotC products, and that is fine, as long as it stays true to the core-three canon.
 

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