D&D General WotC: Novels & Non-5E Lore Are Officially Not Canon

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At a media press briefing last week, WotC's Jeremey Crawford clarified what is and is not canon for D&D.

"For many years, we in the Dungeons & Dragons RPG studio have considered things like D&D novels, D&D video games, D&D comic books, as wonderful expressions of D&D storytelling and D&D lore, but they are not canonical for the D&D roleplaying game."


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"If you’re looking for what’s official in the D&D roleplaying game, it’s what appears in the products for the roleplaying game. Basically, our stance is that if it has not appeared in a book since 2014, we don’t consider it canonical for the games."

2014 is the year that D&D 5th Edition launched.

He goes on to say that WotC takes inspiration from past lore and sometimes adds them into official lore.

Over the past five decades of D&D, there have been hundreds of novels, more than five editions of the game, about a hundred video games, and various other items such as comic books, and more. None of this is canon. Crawford explains that this is because they "don’t want DMs to feel that in order to run the game, they need to read a certain set of novels."

He cites the Dragonlance adventures, specifically.
 

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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
 

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VelvetViolet

Adventurer
There is a canon? I was under the impression that every edition was a complete reboot of what little continuity did exist (and there were huge inconsistencies even within editions). D&D never had any kind of ongoing metaplot like certain other long-running RPGs do.

So saying that novels, video games, and old editions are non-canon is a rather nonsensical statement to make. There was never a cohesive coherent canon to begin with.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
No, they are saying that when they create RPG books full of suggestions and tools they are not scribing Holy Writ that must conform to every detail from 50 years of D&D product. They are making tools for DMs to construct a game.
 

So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
Literally any and every DM can and should 'reboot' whatever they like. This changes nothing in practice. Were they going to reprint all the setting lore from all editions otherwise?
 


VelvetViolet

Adventurer
So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
Have you actually read the lore? The baatezu backstory alone changes several times with every edition!

Literally any and every DM can 'reboot' whatever they like. This changes nothing in practice. Were they going to reprint all the setting lore from all editions otherwise?
What's even the point? You can just check a wiki now.
 

Reynard

Legend
No, they are saying that when they create RPG books full of suggestions and tools they are not scribing Holy Writ that must conform to every detail from 50 years of D&D product. They are making tools for DMs to construct a game.
I don't think that is what @wingsandsword is saying. I think they are fans of the setting and like many fans, they prefer that new material builds on old, rather than replaces or obviates it. I mean, I agree with you. I change stuff all the time. But I don't think it is necessary to ber derisive of people that do care about continuity.
 

I don’t understand why anyone would care.
So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
Hey, we found the one person who cares!
 

TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
The same stance has angried me in other type of medias/products (looking at you Disney). But this is reasonable.

As others have mentioned, in the end, only a fraction of what's in the books goes into our game, and much more comes from other inspiration. It's a joy to dig through older editions for ideas and them having a stance like that absolutely doesn't affect anything. If there's substantial staff changes with an hypothetical 6E in the future, I wouldn't be surprise if they say their edition is what's canon too.
 

Kurotowa

Legend
Good. A canon metaplot is a millstone around the neck. It's hard enough to manage for the franchises that are primarily intended to be narrative works, your Star Wars universe and Marvel Comics lines. For an RPG system? It's a curse.

An RPG needs to be providing gaming tools, and while that does include premade setting elements to both inspire and save effort, the primary focus needs to be on them being tools. Not some unholy mishmash where you're reading the game books for a story that's being delivered in the least effective narrative framework possible. That just turns every game into a Star Wars or Harry Potter game where you're playing in the shadow of the main story characters and wondering why they aren't showing up to help. I mean, isn't that one of the loudest complaints about the Forgotten Realms as it is?

I remember White Wolf's World of Darkness getting smothered by their own metaplot, back in the 90s. Lesson learned. I'm more than happy to treat any tie in game or novel as an example of a D&D campaign, just like the Actual Play stories I read in the internet, not a canon fact that I have to incorporate into my own.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
The same stance has angried me in other type of medias/products (looking at you Disney). But this is reasonable.

As others have mentioned, in the end, only a fraction of what's in the books goes into our game, and much more comes from other inspiration. It's a joy to dig through older editions for ideas and them having a stance like that absolutely doesn't affect anything. If there's substantial staff changes with an hypothetical 6E in the future, I wouldn't be surprise if they say their edition is what's canon too.
Separating RPG material and novels/games/films also frees the stories of the media tie-ins to be more free and not worry about the RPG materials status.
 

What's even the point? You can just check a wiki now.

Why even do that? A wiki might say that there's a village with an inn between town A and town B. If the DM says there isn't, the wiki is meaningless.

I want to know what, aside from guidelines for writers, people think 'setting canon' even means? Is there an expectation that a DM of a given setting has (and uses) encyclopedias of lore from prior editions, or rely on that more than their own campaign designs?
 

I totally get where they're coming from. Having to keep X number of iterations straight and decide which one they're going with, then have people getting mad when they make changes to the lore, has its difficulties. I get it that you don't want new DMs to feel bound to five editions of history. It's like when I tried to pick up the X-Men comic for the first time in decades, and found that everything was just too much to catch up on.

But at the same time, if they're still directing people to the 3e FR Campaign Setting, how does that fit into that statement? D&D has a rich tapestry of lore going back decades, and 5e has used that to make the current edition all the richer. Heck, just look at how many dragons from the old Wyrms of The North column have shown up?

I do wonder what the reason for making this announcement now is? The first new Dragonlance novel is coming at the end of the month, if Amazon's date is correct, though the timing could be incidental.

I'm still going to mine older editions' lore for use in my games, but certainly would defer to the most recent 5e information where possible.
 


am181d

Adventurer
I mean, I guess they want to keep their game materials consistent and that's fine. But Dragonlance canon is the Dragonlance novels. Drizz't canon is the RA Salvatore novels. And if I'm running something in one of the established campaign settings, MY GAME is canon and whatever it says in the sourcebooks is not.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
I don't think that is what @wingsandsword is saying. I think they are fans of the setting and like many fans, they prefer that new material builds on old, rather than replaces or obviates it. I mean, I agree with you. I change stuff all the time. But I don't think it is necessary to ber derisive of people that do care about continuity.
Not being derisive, just pointing out that this is not an attack on anyone, just WotC managing expectations appropriately.
 


TheAlkaizer

Game Designer
It's weird how people in this thread can't seem to figure out why some people like setting canon. They like it in RPGs for the same reason they like it in any other media: part of their enjoyment from the thing is based on its consistency and internal logic.
We understand that. But the reality is that whatever version of an official setting canon you run is very, very different from others because you don't build it from the same building blocks. Tabletop RPG settings are innately fragmented and granular. There's not a single book you can buy that will give you the definitive version with all the information you need to run your games. And there's plenty of other material that contradicts itself.
 

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