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."


"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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Rotten DM
There's no such thing as "canon" in RPGs. There's only "canon in our game."
SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP. HOW DARE YOU BE LOGICAL. Don't you know some us nerds must have guidance about every little thing in our hope.
Why. Because I am Fan boy.
Why. Because if I know more lore than you, I level up in Nerd.
Why because what is official Lore gives us something to argue about when we not gaming.
Why because what is official Lore gives us something to argue about when we are gaming.
Why because official Lore was just Brent Spiner being shot from another angle.
Why. okay I am out of steam. But this dropped this morning and is not 12 hours old and has 22 pages.

I saw an interesting reply elsewhere on this topic:
I would MUCH rather that the published modules include some ancillary lore for the DM, so they can get what they would have gotten from the books

Like Out of the Abyss has Bruenor as King of Gauntlgrym, if you read the books that go along with Out of the Abyss (Archmage in particular) you know why. Rather than saying "Bruenor is just some dwarf with no backstory that you fill in yourself because we dont want you to feel like you need to read books" I much prefer "Bruenor is a legendary dwarf king, best friends with Drizzt Do'urden, the famous drow ranger, and father to Cattie Brie, archmage of Luskan and the host tower. More information about these characters and their role in the world recently can be found on page XXX"
There was also discussion about adventure books having sections that help DMs connect previously run published adventures to the current status of the campaign world. Something along the lines of "If you previously ran Out of the Abyss, here's how the events of that adventure might have influenced Icewind Dale while you run Rime of the Frost Maiden".

I like the former. The latter is kind of neat, but I can see why it would be impractical for WotC to implement versus something someone made for a DM's Guild product.


this dropped this morning and is not 12 hours old and has 22 pages.
Lore is love, baby!

Canonical lore often gets created piecemeal - “brick by brick,” so to speak. Sometimes the bricks form a foundation of wonderful shared-world camaraderie, and sometimes they form a wall that becomes insurmountable to latecomers.

I can’t control how inheritors of some of my favorite IP (Star Wars, Godzilla, Micronauts, Avengers & Defenders, Transformers, and D&D) view canon, or what they’ll do with those bricks. Will they build up? Build out? Tear down and re-use the “best” ones? I can only hope they mean well.

I’ll judge each new iteration as they come. And I’ll keep what I want. Hey - it turned out I love the new Ravenloft! Will I love the next “classic setting” release under Mr. Crawford? Maybe, maybe not….open mind, critical eye…

Geoff Thirlwell

Seriously though, it’s impossible to reconcile every official story due to contradictions. These weren’t intentional but just a side effect of the sheer volume of fiction and lack of overall coordination. Probably most here would agree that some elements of adventures or fiction were bad ideas and are best ignored. I‘m certain the real reason behind Crawford’s statement is that although they want to use these old settings, they don’t want to have to be beholden to elements that they feel may not be compatible with what a modern audience would accept. To be honest, I’d rather they create new settings rather than alienate people to whom the rich history of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance is important. I don’t want a new version Dragonlance that changes characters and cultures. If the Dragonlance canon is not acceptable to a modern audience and it’s impossible to change the focus of new stories away from elements they are unhappy with I’d rather the setting stay dead.

There's no such thing as "canon" in RPGs. There's only "canon in our game."

Obviously canon is a construct of fiction, the shared canon had value, a shared language and experience. It also made the storyline more immersive, compelling, and successful as well as consistant. That is now ashes.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Maybe read the article then
I did.

We still don't know if he said "oh, by the way, watch out for a FREAK OUT on ENWorld because we're about to delete everything that happened in a novel" or if he was answering a direct question about whether they feel constrained with future Dragonlance products based on some of the places the novels went, etc. The context this came up in matters.

Incidentally, are you able to be civil with anyone in your offline life, or is this you all the time?
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