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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dave2008

Legend
Canon is official. Period.
But what is official? Typically I would say anything printed by WotC is "official" and therefor canon. Buy Crawford's quote here says only the core books are canon. Personally, I love the idea of everything since the core 3 being official books, but not canon.
 

dave2008

Legend
There's a long thread with 2K+ posts on it.

I remain convinced it's not an approach I like or want.
I don't know. I really like the idea that only the core 3 (PHB, MM, & DMG) are canon. Everything else is "official," but not canon. That seems to be what Crawford is saying here.

It means they can write any manor of lore they want, but it isn't canonical (kinda how it is actually represented in the books really).
 


Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Just looking over various definitions of canon*, I think the word refers more to what is "acceptable for a given purpose" rather than what is "official". And that jibes with this statement.
For the purposes that use IP for novels, crpgs, and other content, the canon is whatever WotC says it is.
And for purposes of our individual tables, canon is whatever players at those tables say it is.

* ETA: to clarify, I'm referring to uses of "canon" with respect to literature, which I think is closest to the case for gaming.
Canon in the definitions that apply to this situation means "Authoritative works." Only WotC has that authority necessary to create canon. DMs have authority over their games, but it's not the same. It's not canon.
 

a.everett1287

Explorer
Canon in the definitions that apply to this situation means "Authoritative works." Only WotC has that authority necessary to create canon. DMs have authority over their games, but it's not the same. It's not canon.
Could also be a sanctioned group of works.
Which this would be.
 

dave2008

Legend
Canon in the definitions that apply to this situation means "Authoritative works." Only WotC has that authority necessary to create canon. DMs have authority over their games, but it's not the same. It's not canon.
But isn't it interesting that all of their authoritative work is not considered canon. I think this really something that people are glossing over that should be discussed. The have "officially" claimed that everything after the PHB, MM, & DMG is not canon. That's big news and no one is talking about it (unless I missed it - I jumped in late:p)
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
But isn't it interesting that all of their authoritative work is not considered canon. I think this really something that people are glossing over that should be discussed. The have "officially" claimed that everything after the PHB, MM, & DMG is not canon. That's big news and no one is talking about it (unless I missed it - I jumped in late:p)
That's not exactly what they said. They said they don't have any public facing account of what is canon after those three books, not that there isn't anything other than those three that they consider to be canon internally. I would be surprised if they put out another FR book that contradicted things already put out in Sword Coast.

There's other canon, but they haven't told us about it.
 



Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So if you're fine with (any alignment), then why aren't you fine with simply not having that? Having no listed alignment at all is exactly the same as you, the DM, choosing whatever alignment you want.
Consistency. If demons, dragons, fey, etc. all have alignment, then so should humanoids, even if it's "any." And I didn't say I was fine with it. I said what I expected that's they would do.
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
Clarification?

"It can also be said that every campaign that’s ever been run in any of our published settings has its own canon. Your version of the Forgotten Realms has its own canon, which doesn’t make it any less valid than anyone else’s version. Elminster might be a lich in your Forgotten Realms campaign. Elminster might be a miniature giant space hamster in mine—both are acceptable and awesome."

So anything and everything we use or create is canon. So quite literally everything official, every novel, and every video game is canon(all that has ever been made officially is used by someone in a campaign) and everything official is simultaneously not canon, as it's has been ignored in some one personal campaign or another.

Some clarification. They made it worse. Now there's no such thing as canon as quite literally everything is both canon and not canon.

Canon = Continuity for the story you are telling.

If your group storms Dragonspear castle and kills the Avatar of Bane... then that is canon for your table, as long as you continue telling that story in those realms. And you don't need to say that Dragonspear castle was actually the home of a Vampire Lord. Or that it is the secret location of a portal to Dragon Heaven. Or that it was just a ruin full of goblins.

Canon is only as useful as determining what you need to be true for the story you are telling. No more. No Less.
 

Voadam

Legend
But isn't it interesting that all of their authoritative work is not considered canon. I think this really something that people are glossing over that should be discussed. The have "officially" claimed that everything after the PHB, MM, & DMG is not canon. That's big news and no one is talking about it (unless I missed it - I jumped in late:p)
Van Richten's Guide is not canon Ravenloft in 5e. :)

There is almost no canon Ravenloft in 5e, just snippets from the core 3. :(
 





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