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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I disagree. "Official" is a nearly worthless distinction. It is a claim to authority that really has only the weight you give it.

To play in Kobold Press's Midgard you need to use the 5e DnD ruleset. Who is the official source for that game? Kobold Press, WoTC or the DM at the table who is deciding how things actually work? Practically, only one voice matters.
I don't know... It's very easy to say to your players "only official sources for character creation" and make them understand. Official in this discussion means "made by the owners of the IP". Sure we can deconstruct the word all we want, and in the table the DM is the boss, but that's not what we are talking about when we say official.

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In the cosmology map in the Players Handbook,

The ring around inner planes that the "spokes" of the Wheel connect to, is that supposed to be the Wall of the Faithless?

No. The wall was in the Realm of the Dead in Forgotten Realms. It circled the city of the dead in the divine domain of Kelemvor.

Not that it matters, but there it is

It’s quite clear.

No it isn't
And what are those?

Backlash, Stories without consistancy, and confusion.

At this point the thing I'm most likely to treat as none canon is Chris Perkins blog post on canon, because eventually someone will realize it was a mistake, perhaps when D&D is no longer trendy and they realized that alienated folks needlessly, and fix things.


Mind Mage
No, it's just that 5e FR plays by the core rules.

The PH explicitly lays out that the default setting is the multiverse. You're trying really hard to make it the Realms, but it isn't; the books state so clearly and in so many words, and there are tons of things drawn from or talking about other settings in the core.

And I don't even know how you can try to justify saying Mordenkainen is a part of the FR setting; that's just ridiculous.
If the core rules were truly setting neutral, then WotC products would stop trying to force Forgotten Realms "gods" into other settings, like Eberron.

For some settings, the setting canon needs to be, Forgotten Realms lacks existence of any kind.

Defacto, the Outer Planes include the Forgotten Realms "gods" according to WotC canon. Every setting is trapped by these heavy-handedness of this IP "gods", intruding into anything and everything, whether players like it or not.


No. Long running Forgotten Realms. With some changes to canon.

I am, though. Very rarely I will run a setting like Ravenloft for a campaign. 9 times out of 10, though, it's the Realms. I haven't had the time to build a homebrew setting in decades.

Yeah, saw the clarifications later.

Personally... I don't get it. You want the canon to be unchanging so you can choose to change it. It being mutable is a problem because then you have to go and decide what you are using and what you aren't.

Practically, there is no difference. The only difference is whether or not there is a feel of "being right" about what is included. Something I noted you care about when you responded to JEB with the idea that if they stuck the core books they wouldn't be "led astray".

Led astray? From what? There is no single road and a deep dangerous forest to be lost in if you step off the path. You can't possibly be "led astray" unless you think that there is some truth that you must adhere to. Which is a frankly odd position to take.


In the cosmology map in the Players Handbook,

The ring around inner planes that the "spokes" of the Wheel connect to, is that supposed to be the Wall of the Faithless?
No. It's apparently a physical wall either around a specific city on Oinos in the Grey Waste (Great Wheel) or around the Fugue Plane (World Tree).


Shirokinukatsukami fan
I mean it's like why bother with any lore at this point? Why write monster books? Here's some tools, make your own monsters and monster lore. Because any monster writeup they do is probably going to have contradictions in lore (and even artwork) when they make the next edition anyway.
This amuses me immensely. I've spent far too many hours poring over D&D monster books, and when you start looking closely the lack of consistency in the handling of monsters (and illustrations of monsters) even within an edition is remarkable. For example, the lamia smells like "perfume flowers" in the Monstrous Compendium but it does so only occasionally in its other 2nd Edition appearances and never in any other edition. Sure, that's only a tiny detail, but almost every monster I've looked at has some sort of similar inconsistency. And don't get me started on the consistency of plurals of monster names between or within editions.

I totally understand how someone might be upset that Wizards has now openly declared that it doesn't feel obliged to treat decades of D&D lore as binding when creating new material. But that shouldn't cause anyone to mistakenly think that WotC (or TSR before then) has even been particularly diligent about consistency and avoiding contradictions, particulaly when it comes to monsters. They have not. Now they are just being more honest about it.


Morkus from Orkus
If WotC decides to put out new material that directly contradicts the old material (which they haven't, yet, for the Realms),
Funny, it seems to me that Bladedancers changed from the Forgotten Realms book to Tasha's.
and if you have players who have read the books and wikis,
That's not an if.
and if they are rabid about only using the most accurate and latest version of the setting,
This is entirely irrelevant to anything that I've said.
and if you have players who will put up a fight when you say "in my game, X is true,"
This is also irrelevant to anything that I have said.
and if you haven't told the players "Hey, so did you hear about how in the latest book they wrote about this thing?
And this I already answered.
I don't like that thing, so it's not in my setting," then, and only then, you might have a problem.
So we have one change already, one that is already the case, two that are irrelevant, and the last one that I answered is the issue.
And in that case, the problem is with the lack of communication between you and the players. I've found that most players don't even read and memorized all the books, let alone the supplementary material.
No. Go back and re-read what I said. Communication is not the issue.


No. They aren't talking about personal games with those statements. Perkins said prior to that that everything in a personal game is canon, so there's no need to give advice like, "If you aren't sure what else is canon..." How could anyone be unsure what is canon in their game when 100% of it is canon? That can only be talking about WotC canon of some sort, not personal canon.

You certainly seem to be uncertain without an official declaration of what is canon.

But you also miss my point. I'm talking about the concept of multiple canons. Something that people seem to truly have a hard time imaging.

Is Eberron Canon to Theros? No. What is canon to Eberron? "If you aren't sure what else is canon..." is a reference to that. If you are uncertain of what all applies, the baseline is the Core Books. If you really need an official stamp of approval from someone else to give you "the truth" then you could assume the setting book for the setting is canon. But, if you decide it isn't canon for your game? Then that's fine too.


Default is just the default for encounters. Nowhere does it say it applies to the entire race outside of what PCs encounter.
"The alignment specified in a monster's stat block is the default." Nowhere does it say it applies to only an encounter, or that the alignment differs throughout the species.

Also, what does this even mean? That it doesn't matter if there's thousands of non-LG gold dragons out there because by default the PCs will ever only meet LG ones? That's absolutely ridiculous.

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