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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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I suspect a much more significant change will be to shake up the morally absolute good/neutral/evil gods. Not that the "good" gods acted that way in any case.
I think if you just stopped describing the gods as good, neutral and evil, and simply described them as being allied groups of gods, that would be sufficient. After all, Olympus isn't organized along that sort of structure and everyone seems to grasp that mythology just fine. And, as you say, calling any of the gods of Krynn "good" was always something of a stretch.
 

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You might be over-explaining it.

Marvel had a similar issue for a while: its movies (the MCU) were all in continuity with each other (barring some minor discrepancies, like recast actors or most of the Incredible Hulk being forgotten) but the TV shows (Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, Daredevil and the Netflix, and Inhumans) were a separate continuity that referenced the MCU but were never referenced by the MCU. So, Phil Coulson could sit and talk about how he was stabbed by Loki and brought back to life, but the MCU movies never referenced Coulson becoming the Director of Shield (or in fact, was alive again). TV and movie lore was strictly a one-way street. (That, of course, changed with the advent of the Disney+ TV shows)

D&D is going to be similar; the sourcebooks are going to be mostly in continuity with each other, but the auxiliary materials (novels, games, etc.) can reference the sourcebooks continuity, but not be referenced BY the sourcebook continuity.

Right, yet I think this could be done even better. Even clearer. Even more awesomely. In a way that brings all the D&D fandoms together in a single meta-continuity, rather than shoving it all into ONE CANONICAL CONTINUITY (+step-sibling fuzzy non-canonical stuff which sorta didn't happen).

Why should I buy a D&D novel if it's viewed by WotC to be just a "wonderful expression." No. Its story happened (in an imaginal sense). It exists in it own "canonical" Official Timeline...the D&D Novel Timeline...Reality 5-N.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Right, yet I think this could be done even better. Even clearer. Even more awesomely. In a way that brings all the D&D fandoms together in a single meta-continuity, rather than shoving it all into ONE CANONICAL CONTINUITY (+step-sibling fuzzy non-canonical stuff which sorta didn't happen).

Why should I buy a D&D novel if it's viewed by WotC to be just a "wonderful expression." No. Its story happened (in an imaginal sense). It exists in it own "canonical" Official Timeline...the D&D Novel Timeline...Reality 5-N.
Even the "canon" RPG game books are presented as a cafeteria of options to be used or modified as desired. Table canon is prime, it's what matters.
 

You might be over-explaining it.

Marvel had a similar issue for a while: its movies (the MCU) were all in continuity with each other (barring some minor discrepancies, like recast actors or most of the Incredible Hulk being forgotten) but the TV shows (Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, Daredevil and the Netflix, and Inhumans) were a separate continuity that referenced the MCU but were never referenced by the MCU. So, Phil Coulson could sit and talk about how he was stabbed by Loki and brought back to life, but the MCU movies never referenced Coulson becoming the Director of Shield (or in fact, was alive again). TV and movie lore was strictly a one-way street. (That, of course, changed with the advent of the Disney+ TV shows)

D&D is going to be similar; the sourcebooks are going to be mostly in continuity with each other, but the auxiliary materials (novels, games, etc.) can reference the sourcebooks continuity, but not be referenced BY the sourcebook continuity.
think they're going more for a DC comics continuity where you have the Crisis/ Sundering and everything before may or may not have happened and lots of things are rebooted entirely
And we can look forward to them doing it all over again with 6th Ed when they erase the continuity again
 

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Yeah, referencing a Dragon magazine article that came out over 3 decades ago seems relevant. Thing is, there isn't a coherent "video game canon": Dark Alliance and Baldur's Gate 3 do not relate to each other, except in utilizing the Sword Coast as a background. There is no overarching canon to media tie-ins, just brand management on a PR level. there is no Grand Unified Theory to be found here.

Hence my original post's reference to multiple Video Game Timelines. Even if they're snippets of mutually exclusive continuity, they are distinct Timelines. Even one-shot games would be their own Timeline, if they conflict with other timelines. Transformers gives each instance of continuity a distinct in-game "universal stream" number. Even if it's just a throw-away sticker pack.

As for relevancy, obviously the existing RPG Studio isn't fully untangling the meta-continuity implications of the previous editions. It's just doing what Disney did, and shoved it all into a closet marked "Legends."

Bruce Heard, as BECMI Brand Manager (in an AD&D-centered company), was on the forefront of the question of how different editions of D&D co-exist from an in-game perspective. His article is a key reference (along with Bruce Cordell's edition-transforming paragraphs from Die Vecna Die!) for an Official approach to conceptual grasping the different Realities (edition-based "game universes").

Warduke and Ringlerun (c.1983) are being brought back. Why not bring back a clear, holistic meta-cosmology which at least acknowledges the continued existence of all the Official D&D Realities...not just ONE D&D 5E RPG STUDIO CANON.
 

Even the "canon" RPG game books are presented as a cafeteria of options to be used or modified as desired. Table canon is prime, it's what matters.
Of course, of course, of course. We could've just skipped this whole thread. And all said: "Nuff said."
Such convos always have the folks who helpfully state the obvious: "Well, in your game you can do whatever you want."
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Hence my original post's reference to multiple Video Game Timelines. Even if they're snippets of mutually exclusive continuity, they are distinct Timelines. Even one-shot games could be their own Timeline. Transformers gives each instance of continuity a distinct in-game "universal stream" number. Even if it's just a throw-away sticker pack.

As for relevancy, obviously the existing RPG Studio isn't fully untangling the meta-continuity implications of the previous editions. It's just doing what Disney did, and shoved that into a closet marked "Legends."

Bruce Heard, as BECMI Brand Manager (in an AD&D-centered company), was on the forefront of the question of how different editions of D&D co-exist from an in-game perspective. His article is a key reference (along with Bruce Cordell's edition-transforming paragraphs from Die Vecna Die!) for an Official approach to conceptual grasping the different Realities (edition-based "game universes").

Warduke and Ringlerun (c.1983) are being brought back. Why not bring back a clear, holistic meta-cosmology which at least acknowledges the continued existence of all the Official D&D Realities...not just ONE D&D 5E RPG STUDIO CANON.
Because it is easier to just focus on making RPG books.
 


Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
think they're going more for a DC comics continuity where you have the Crisis/ Sundering and everything before may or may not have happened and lots of things are rebooted entirely
And we can look forward to them doing it all over again with 6th Ed when they erase the continuity again
They did it in 3E and 4E, too. At this point, this has been the dominant model of D&D's officials worlds longer than it hasn't been.
 

Because it is easier to just focus on making RPG books.
Well, I save them a lot of time and research, by putting it together for them here:

WotC is free to take my concepts whole cloth. I just ask for attribution. And a penny.
That way these poor folks can just focus on making RPG books.

These things do matter. Disney lost a lot of people due to its heavyhanded+fuzzy-minded shoving of Story Group Canon overtop of the Star Wars Legends. If it had just recognized that the Story Group Canon was actually a distinct Universe (which it is!) and given it a proper in-universe name, and that the Legend Universe(s) still exist from an in-universe perspective, and that the Story Group characters could even have cross-overs with the Legend Universes, then all would've been well.

This is the approach Star Trek has taken, with the Kelvin Reality and Prime Reality.

I suggest that WotC take the latter approach, which has an even more complex precedent in the Transformers Omniverse.
 

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