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

Russ Morrissey


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Mirtek

Hero
Let's go with the notion that we actively oppose the Wall and tear it down. What happens then? Well, demons then invade the Fugue Plain, stealing souls for eternal torture that would rightfully have gone on to their just reward. Everyone seems to conveniently forget that the Wall actually serves a purpose and that purpose is not punishment. It's not that the Wall is a prison. It's protecting the souls of the dead on their journey into their afterlife. Those that refuse to have faith in this setting are bound to defend those who do.
Actually that's not the case. The wall is around the City of the Dead, not around the entire Fugue Plane. The souls of the faithful never enter the confines of the wall. They gather in groups on the field outside of the City of the Dead and are then picked up by collectors send by their deity.

Only the false and faithless even make it inside the confines of the wall and of those the faithless then become part of the wall.

Even demons just know better than trying to steal the faithful gathered to wait for pickup.
 

Hussar

Legend
Ok, let's drill down a bit. ((Yes, I realize that the whole Wall argument is WAYYY off topic, but, frankly, we've done the Canon thing into the ground and this is interesting to me. :D))

People have pointed to Theros as a good way of doing it. (sorry, did I spell that right?) That using the carrot is acceptable but not the stick. Which, basically, shoots in the foot any argument that forcing PC's to be religious is unacceptable. At the end of the day, it's the same thing - the players choose faith for their characters. Why you are doing it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. At the end of the day, you don't have an atheist character.

That you, (whoever you are) are okay with it because of the carrot approach, simply is a point of preference. I get that. But, that doesn't make the Wall bad and Theros' Piety rules good. It's simply a case of preference. Both are doing exactly the same thing - pushing players to create characters that have Faith/Piety. Because, in those games, in those settings, having Faith/Piety is important to play. It MATTERS.

If you remove the Wall from FR, as has been done, and tell players that it doesn't matter one whit whether your character has faith or not, then, well, faith isn't very important in that setting. If something is important in a game, then there must be mechanics or at the very least, lore, that reflects that. I'd argue that they probably didn't go far enough in FR. The Wall is there to make Faith important in the game. That's it's function in the game. If you play FR, the game is intended to have characters that are participating in this HUGE element - how many Faith's and Avatars books are there? - of the setting.

IOW, you can't complain about the Wall enforcing consequences of you playing a character without faith and at the same time not complain about Theros' Piety rules. There's no difference at the end of the day. They are both telling you, in no uncertain terms, that faith is important in this setting and you are expected, if you play in this setting, to engage in that.
 


I don't agree that I am mind-shatteringly dense. Nor that I am horrifically frightening.

The relationship between faith, conviction (religious or otherwise), life, freedom and suffering is one of the most basic topics of literary exploration. The Wall of the Faithless seems to me to express the same idea as Casablanca; and when compared to The Quiet American to be (i) crude but (ii) sitting in the same thematic space.

The idea that the FR "faithless" are stand-ins for real-world atheists strikes me as no different from the idea that FR's Orcs can't be a racist trope because they're not humans: it's treating the in-fiction as literal and ignoring the actual trope and theme that are at work.
You are vastly overestimating the level of literary prowess possessed by the authors of the Forgotten Realms. The only time the Wall of the Faithless was ever used to explore anything was in Mask of the Betrayer, but that just ends with the status quo. Everywhere else, it has just been treated as a thing that is, without any thematic weight given to it.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Atheism is not a religion, at least as per most conceptions of religion. It's not a belief in the supernatural. It's not a form of life oriented towards reconciliation with the world and/or salvation. It's not a tradition of ritual and belief associated with the sorts of things mentioned in the previous two sentences.

I'm not going to try and argue about what is or isn't atheism. I will point out this much, in Kaufman v. McCaughtry (2005) the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeaks held that Atheism counts in regards to the Constitutional First Amendment with Freedom of Religion. They further argued “The Supreme Court has said that a religion, for purposes of the First Amendment, is distinct from a ‘way of life,’ even if that way of life is inspired by philosophical beliefs or other secular concerns. A religion need not be based on a belief in the existence of a supreme being, (or beings, for polytheistic faiths) nor must it be a mainstream faith.”

This is a very thorny and complicated topic, but I think it is fair enough to say that since legally and constitutionally Atheism is close enough to a religion to be protected by the same rights, it is close enough to be discussed as a religion for our purposes.

There are people who lose families and communities because they are Communists. Or because they refuse to take up military service. Or for any number of reasons. That doesn't mean that George Orwell isn't allowed to write books attacking orthodox Communism or implying that those who won't take up arms against Fascism are shirkers.

Engaging with questions of conviction, allegiance, and what is or isn't valuable in life is at the core of what fiction is about!

There is a subtle difference however. Orwell was attacking the ideas and policies of orthodox Communism. The people who were killed and had their lives ruined for their beliefs. IF Orwell was writing that it was right and just to hate your brother because he believes in Communism, then I would criticize him for it. Yes, Fiction is about questions of conviction, allegiance and what is or isn't valuable, but at the end of the day, I default to Vonnegut's answer to the meaning of life. "Be Kind to each other."
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
I think it more like, 99.99% of Kelemvor's believers are human, so he ends up with those almost exclusively. Elves would have their own death beliefs involving their own gods and those gods would have dominion over them. However, some few elves do follow Kelemvor and that belief would put them under his sway, not that of the elven gods.

Non-applicable. The conversation was about the space between Cyric and Kelemvor, when "people didn't die"

No one was a worshiper of Kelemvor before he ascended to be a god. But, supposedly, with Cyric no longer being a god of death, no one was dying. Despite the fact that there are dozens of other death gods who were still active.
 

pemerton

Legend
I tend to separate the post from the post-ee. People can say dense and frightening things without themselves being those things. If you took it as me calling you those things, I apologize, as that was not my intention and it may have been unclear.
That's generous of you, but unnecessary. I'm not offended. I believe your views are sincere. So are mine. I hope it's clear that I intend you the respect you are due. I don't feel that you've treated me otherwise than with respect.

I'm not going to bring in the whole Orc discussion again. Atheism (disbelieving in god(s)) is atheism, whether or not it takes place in a fantasy world. For all intents and purposes, they're the same thing.
On this we disagree.

Doing serious criticism of FR is hard, because it's a fiction of little merit and no coherent conception of things underlying it. But nevertheless forging ahead, it presents a world of active and opposed divinities (and here I include all the archdevils, demon princes etc - I think the hair-splitting attempts to distinguish these being from gods are what I've just described them as) who are at the centre of all change and conflict. Mortal conflicts are proxies for, and/or manifestations of, these divine conflicts. In this world, to be "faithless" is to have refused to commit; to have not taken a side. To have disavowed the conflicts. The Wall is the fate of those who don't commit.

In the real world, the analogue of the faithless is not an atheist (at least as I see the world - there are probably people, not so many in Australia but more numerous in other parts of the world perhaps including yours, who see things differently) but someone who refuses to engage in the great questions of justice of our time. That's why I've mentioned the existentialists, and also George Orwell - or to give another example, last night I watched the second episode of Ken Burns's Hemingway series and it discussed Hemingway coming under the same sort of pressure to engage in the 30s, from Communists and other leftists, and from his third wife.

Whether I think such people - the disengaged - deserve the sort of fate for which The Wall is a metaphor is not something I'll post on a pubic forum (you're welcome to PM me if you wish) but I can certainly wrap my head around the idea that they do - ie the idea that disengagement is a type of wrong or even a betrayal of one's humanity.

Sorry, but I'm young. These references aren't doing anything for me. I've yet to see Casablanca or The Quiet American, so the comparisons will need further elaboration if you want me to get them.
Well, I don't want to spoil a great film or a great novel for you. But both stories feature protagonists whose self-conception is one of disengagement - Rick in the context of Vichy-ruled North Africa; Fowler in the context of French-ruled Vietnam - and both stories see the protagonist's self-conception put to the test. The Quiet American is more subtle than Casablanca; part of what makes Casablanca wonderful is its lack of subtlety - who has no tears when Rick allows the band to strike up the Marseillaise!
 
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Chaosmancer

Legend
To me it seems like a fairly clumsy treatment of some sort of instrumental argument for the use of coercive means - eg conscription of an army to fight a just war.

But either way, I don't think it's objectionable for fiction authors to explore such ideas. And in a fantasy context, using divinity and adherence to a patron deity as the symbolic vehicle for it seems a pretty natural choice.

Objectionable to explore? No.

Objectionable to say is the foundation of Good being possible? That's a bit more objectionable.
 

thundershot

Adventurer
I think the problem is terminology. I think people just want to keep continuity with previously established events in past lore as opposed to retcons.
 

Ok, let's drill down a bit. ((Yes, I realize that the whole Wall argument is WAYYY off topic, but, frankly, we've done the Canon thing into the ground and this is interesting to me. :D))

People have pointed to Theros as a good way of doing it. (sorry, did I spell that right?) That using the carrot is acceptable but not the stick. Which, basically, shoots in the foot any argument that forcing PC's to be religious is unacceptable. At the end of the day, it's the same thing - the players choose faith for their characters. Why you are doing it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. At the end of the day, you don't have an atheist character.

That you, (whoever you are) are okay with it because of the carrot approach, simply is a point of preference. I get that. But, that doesn't make the Wall bad and Theros' Piety rules good. It's simply a case of preference. Both are doing exactly the same thing - pushing players to create characters that have Faith/Piety. Because, in those games, in those settings, having Faith/Piety is important to play. It MATTERS.

If you remove the Wall from FR, as has been done, and tell players that it doesn't matter one whit whether your character has faith or not, then, well, faith isn't very important in that setting. If something is important in a game, then there must be mechanics or at the very least, lore, that reflects that. I'd argue that they probably didn't go far enough in FR. The Wall is there to make Faith important in the game. That's it's function in the game. If you play FR, the game is intended to have characters that are participating in this HUGE element - how many Faith's and Avatars books are there? - of the setting.

IOW, you can't complain about the Wall enforcing consequences of you playing a character without faith and at the same time not complain about Theros' Piety rules. There's no difference at the end of the day. They are both telling you, in no uncertain terms, that faith is important in this setting and you are expected, if you play in this setting, to engage in that.
A Bugatti Veyron and a Ford Pinto can both take you on a road trip from from Vancouver to Toronto, but I'd bet my life savings that the journey would be much more enjoyable and with way fewer technical problems in the Bugatti.

I understand the role you think the Wall of the Faithless plays as an out-of-setting tool. However, as I said in my previous reply to you I think it's a clumsy, heavy-handed, and I'd even say ineffective tool.
 

Scribe

Hero
In the real world, the analogue of the faithless is not an atheist (at least as I see the world - there are probably people, not so many in Australia but more numerous in other parts of the world perhaps including yours, who see things differently) but someone who refuses to engage in the great questions of justice of our time. That's why I've mentioned the existentialists, and also George Orwell - or to give another example, last night I watched the second episode of Ken Burns's Hemingway series and it discussed Hemingway coming under the same sort of pressure to engage in the 30s, from Communists and other leftists, and from his third wife.

Whether I think such people - the disengaged - deserve the sort of fate for which The Wall is a metaphor is not something I'll post on a pubic forum (you're welcome to PM me if you wish) but I can certainly wrap my head around the idea that they do - ie the idea that disengagement is a type of wrong or even a betrayal of one's humanity.
Now that, is spicy.
 

Ok, let's drill down a bit. ((Yes, I realize that the whole Wall argument is WAYYY off topic, but, frankly, we've done the Canon thing into the ground and this is interesting to me. :D))

People have pointed to Theros as a good way of doing it. (sorry, did I spell that right?) That using the carrot is acceptable but not the stick. Which, basically, shoots in the foot any argument that forcing PC's to be religious is unacceptable. At the end of the day, it's the same thing - the players choose faith for their characters. Why you are doing it doesn't really matter at the end of the day. At the end of the day, you don't have an atheist character.

That you, (whoever you are) are okay with it because of the carrot approach, simply is a point of preference. I get that. But, that doesn't make the Wall bad and Theros' Piety rules good. It's simply a case of preference. Both are doing exactly the same thing - pushing players to create characters that have Faith/Piety. Because, in those games, in those settings, having Faith/Piety is important to play. It MATTERS.

If you remove the Wall from FR, as has been done, and tell players that it doesn't matter one whit whether your character has faith or not, then, well, faith isn't very important in that setting. If something is important in a game, then there must be mechanics or at the very least, lore, that reflects that. I'd argue that they probably didn't go far enough in FR. The Wall is there to make Faith important in the game. That's it's function in the game. If you play FR, the game is intended to have characters that are participating in this HUGE element - how many Faith's and Avatars books are there? - of the setting.

IOW, you can't complain about the Wall enforcing consequences of you playing a character without faith and at the same time not complain about Theros' Piety rules. There's no difference at the end of the day. They are both telling you, in no uncertain terms, that faith is important in this setting and you are expected, if you play in this setting, to engage in that.
The difference is that in Theros good gods can actually exist. (Which is ironic, as Theros is based on the Greek mythology and Greek gods were total jerks.)

And in more general sense there is actually pretty significant difference between punishment and reward as a motivational methods and it's wild that you don't see that.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
The difference is that in Theros good gods can actually exist. (Which is ironic, as Theros is based on the Greek mythology and Greek gods were total jerks.)

And in more general sense there is actually pretty significant difference between punishment and reward as a motivational methods and it's wild that you don't see that.
Theros also has the Iconoclast . . . and doesn't have a system like the Wall of the Faithless that actively punishes non-theists.

That's why it isn't a problem, and FR's Wall of the Faithless is.
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Addition is not change. Change is the issue.

Gaining a new ability is change. If you are baking a cake, and I add strawberries, then I have changed the cake.

What visible in-fiction effect did the change have?

Why does that matter? It changed. Change is the issue, not visibility

Addition is not change.

Yes it is.

What monsters and how did they disappear? Was this a change or an addition?

They disappeared because they are no longer in printed material. For a short list let us go with

Gibberlings, Arumvoraxes, White Slaadi, Black Slaadi, Platinum Dragons, Fang Dragons, Iron Dragons, Purple Dragons (I can go on far too long about dragons), Corrupter of Fate Demon, Krinth, Hive Mothers, Brain Golems, Ethereal Filchers, Mohrg, Garngraths, Vitreous Drinkers, Vaath, Bone golem, Linnorms, Kolyarut, Zelekhut, Anhydrut, decatons, nonatons, octons, septons, hextons, quintons, quartons, tertians, and secundi.

I could keep going, but seriously, "Anything printed from 3.5 that isn't in 5e" is a massive list.

It's possible, but I'm not going to go out of my way to include it. If a player wanted to play one, I'd probably look for a way to ADD it to the existing lore, which is not a change to existing lore on Witherbloom.

Context. I'm talking about changes to existing lore, not additions to it.

Adding is changing.
 

The most well-known clerical abilities are those of healing. Several other classes in 5e also can cast healing spells, including bards (who can also raise you from the dead), some warlocks, and some sorcerers (who, according to the rules, don't have to be tied to a good creatures; at least the celestial warlock is tied to something from the upper planes). And that doesn't take magic items into account.
I would go further. The more evil deities (as well as demon lords and devils) are precisely the type of entities that aren’t likely to grant healing to their followers even if they could.

So what distinguishes a priest of Bane from a priest of Yeenoghu?
 

In regards to the Wall, don't forget the novel that introduced it pretty clearly hinted that it was The Big Evil Thing that you will destroy at the end of this trilogy

and then the author uh, got told "No you can't destroy this big evil thing you've set up for the purposes of being destroyed" because I guess metaplot, and its hung around as a bad stink ever since
 

Chaosmancer

Legend
Nope. That's your interpretation and is not supported by the text. A good and just being will not grant you a beatific afterlife if you choose not to acknowledge that being as a god. As a consequence of your lack of faith, demons will take you and devour you for eternity. The Wall was created to prevent demons from devouring your soul for all eternity and, eventually, you will be granted oblivion. Additionally, your refusal of faith directly weakens the gods, allowing forces of evil to gain more power.

Let's go with the notion that we actively oppose the Wall and tear it down. What happens then? Well, demons then invade the Fugue Plain, stealing souls for eternal torture that would rightfully have gone on to their just reward. Everyone seems to conveniently forget that the Wall actually serves a purpose and that purpose is not punishment. It's not that the Wall is a prison. It's protecting the souls of the dead on their journey into their afterlife. Those that refuse to have faith in this setting are bound to defend those who do.

And if I write a story where giving women rights means that demons corrupt and destroy the world, does that make it good and just to oppress women? You can say "yes in that context" but why did I create a story where that is the context?

Everything you wrote is just a justification, I can just as easily say that no, demons don't get access to souls in the Fugue Plane. Then your entire argument is null.
 

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