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

Finally caught up, and it has been a ride.

Started reading this thread yesterday, but had to stop to go to a friend's place, who lives a little over an hour away. I've got a playlist of youtube videos I listen to sometimes, and I put it on as I drove. It played a video by MrRhexx on Orcs, part of his "what does 5th edition not tell you about..." series from... Nov 2020.

And, by some serendipity it applies pretty directly to this thread. See, MrRhexx does videos focusing on the old lore of Forgotten Realms, and the video, which was 45 minutes long, had one prevailing theme to it.

If you are playing any of the Forgotten Realms Adventure Paths, the Orcs in the Monster Manual and Volo's are the wrong orcs.

He focused on this a lot. Commenting consistently and repeatedly that the orcs in the 5e materials must be Grey Orcs, because they dress nicer, are nomadic and are very religious, but that every adventure published is in an area where Grey Orcs are never found, and that all the orcs in the game would be Mountain Orcs, and Mountain orcs are completely different. They are more bestial, less religious, ect ect. He even went on a bit of a tangent about how most people don't know what an orc looks like, and that half-orcs are just orcs, and that if you are a half-orc and you go to any of these places you'll be killed because you are an orc.


And, I'm sitting in my car, listening to this guy go on and on, and I'm thinking to myself... "What would this mean to a new DM or Player who went to this for information?" Now, MrRhexx is very clear in the fact that he is referring to older lore, and he cites his sources consistently. But, try and imagine if you can being a new DM and being told "Actually, the orcs the game gives you are the wrong orcs. Everything 5e has said about orcs applies to orcs that you have never met, and you've been confusing the two races this entire time. This is how you should have been running the orcs in the games you were running/playing"

For me, I can just roll my eyes at him, because I never use basically any of the old lore. And it has actually been a consistent thing with his channel for the past few videos I've watched, this constant barrage of just... frankly boring and pointless lore that does nothing to improve the game. There are gems, I've dug out a few but the vast majority of it is just... bad.

He's also where I learned a cool fact about Lizardfolk (they believe they are literally the divided form of one of their dieties, watched over by that deities partner) that was overwhelmed by utter crap (the reason that diety was divided is because they thought too much, and intelligence is a curse upon them that they try and actively reduce in their population). But this... fixation on the lore, on being told "this is the right way to do this. This is the truth" rubs me the wrong way. And I don't see the value in holding onto that so tightly.


I get a lot of people being upset that they feel like their story has ended. I'm always a bit melancholy to read the last book in a series, or to watch the final episode of a show. The longer running the harder it can hit me. However, I also think that a lot of people are... way to invested in liking the "correct" lore.

I've read a bit of fanfic, not much, but some, and I think that it highlights something. There is a show I generally enjoyed called Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It is a take on the "Magical Girl" genre of anime that takes a very dark turn and twist by focusing on the idea of children being given magical powers to fight monsters. It was pretty good. I know there are about four or five other series connected to it, bringing different lore and characters and building on the concepts

Then, about... seven months ago? I found a fan work called "The Golden Empire". This work is complete fanfiction. It is completely non-canon. I don't even know (because I only watched the original show) how many of the ideas in it are canon to the later shows and how much he just made up.

It is one of the best things I have read. It captures the dark, messed up ideas of the show perfectly, and places them not in a secret war between people and monsters, but in a Roman-style Empire ruled by immortal mages with children's bodies, who deal with some of the most terrifying and agonizing aspects of what their power means (I'm being vague about a single detail of the OG series, because it was a big twist that highlights the darkness, but it is played perfectly in this work.)

And, I've heard similar things about dozens of works. Actually, it was on a recommendation on some friends who were "bronies" that I checked out a fanfic set in the My Little Pony Universe that deals directly with the dangers of magic and how ultimate power corrupts and how you can try and fight against your own darker impulses to just... make people better by force. Again, this isn't the Canon. This isn't the "true fiction" but it is AMAZING and I've been eagerly waiting for about a year and a half for the author to get back to it.

Heck, I've got a story saved on my phone that takes the Jim Carrey Grinch (worst grinch ever) and puts him in an awkward position dealing with his Ex-boyfriend Tony the Tiger, and it is a really touching story about how people who have been traumatized with their past can try and pick up the pieces of their lives and move on.


None of it is Canon. None of it is the "true story" or the "right story" but that doesn't make it of any lesser worth or value. Heck, does anyone think Disney's animated Aladdin movie with Robin Williams is lesser just because it breaks with the Canon of Aladdin's mother being a key figure in the original tale?

Again, I get people are upset that the story is ending, but I've never understood the desire to cry out that the stories you've loved are now "worthless" because they are no longer Canon. If it was a good story, it is a good story. Canon has nothing to do with it. And all WoTC's announcement is is that they are not automatically counting everything as canon. Which is fine. If you really feel the need to divide "old canon" and "new canon" and hold up the version you believe to be the "true story" then go ahead. No one will stop you. But, what we will do, is that when you say that "Actually, Tiamat is the daughter of Asgorath and she was killed by Bahamut (who was pretending to be Marduk) which made her an Archfiend and then she did a terrible job working for Asmodeus, but since she was really trying he didn't punish her for being bad at her job, but then she got more power by eating Azharul which was possible because she had a fake home in heliopolis with this guy called the Listener but when he was found out she took over the mages who discovered her and used them to kill and eat that other dragon" we are going to nod and say "that was the old story. We are working on a new story."

And that isn't that bad of a thing

The simple solution is to use the rules from Tasha's along with the Orcs, mountain Orcs get bumps to strength and con, Grey Orcs get a bump to Wisdom and Strength done.
 

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Again, I get people are upset that the story is ending, but I've never understood the desire to cry out that the stories you've loved are now "worthless" because they are no longer Canon.
I see it the other way around. D&D has always operated on a nebulous quasi-canon, where things are generally true until something comes along and says otherwise. This works great since people can take it or leave it from one edition to the next.

But declaring a wiiiide swath of material to not be canon takes intentional effort to exclude and create boundaries.

Gatekeeping behavior is the real concern. So let's work on that, and not just take away the watercooler where gatekeepers sometimes hang out. :coffee:
 
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Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
I'm not convinced that the Gen-X demographic is unimportant to WotC . . . we're just not the only demographic being catered to anymore, so it sometimes feels like we're being left behind. Welcome to getting old, I suppose! And I'm also not convinced that the majority of Gen-X gamers are opposed to the changes announced in recent weeks (focus on diversity, removal of problematic elements, less focus on maintaining canon, shorter adventure chunks) . . . a lot of us are fully on board and celebrate the changes to the game.
At 55, I'm very much one of those Xers in favor, yup. (And also in favor of a general stance of "no, we're really not saying yes or no until a point where it's relevant, and maybe not even then, depending on how it'd be relevant".)

I feel personally attacked by this post!
That's absurd, I don't even know you. This is all generic area-denial effort; the specific targeting will have to wait until a substantial period of doxxing and tailored espionage.

:)
 

I see it the other way around. D&D has always operated on a nebulous quasi-canon, where things are generally true until something comes along and says otherwise. This works great since people can take it or leave it from one edition to the next.

But declaring a wiiiide swath of material to not be canon takes intentional effort to exclude and create boundaries.

Gatekeeping behavior is the real concern. So let's work on that, and not just take away the watercooler where gatekeepers sometimes hang out. :coffee:
On the other hand declaring a wiiiiide swathe of material to be canon creates a universe that's Piled High and Deep and is unapproachable for newbies. So declaring only the current canon to be canon and the rest to be a nebulous quasi-canon where things do not have to be true but can be unless someone comes along and says otherwise works great because it doesn't intimidate people but people can take things or leave them from one edition to the next.

And the watercooler is still around - it's just been moved slightly.
 


On the other hand declaring a wiiiiide swathe of material to be canon creates a universe that's Piled High and Deep and is unapproachable for newbies. So declaring only the current canon to be canon and the rest to be a nebulous quasi-canon where things do not have to be true but can be unless someone comes along and says otherwise works great because it doesn't intimidate people but people can take things or leave them from one edition to the next.

And the watercooler is still around - it's just been moved slightly.
Creating a difference between the two is completely unnecessary. Leave it all as quasi-canon. Establishing a difference creates a difference, and it's a difference used negatively and exclusionary most of the time.
 

Von Ether

Legend
As almost every franchise has discovered, canon is a mixed blessing. While it may keep the hard core fans coming back, it can become a serious creative hurdle to finding fresh ways to tell the same stories ... because after about 20 years - maybe even 10 years - you have pretty much wrung out everything you can in your multi-media franchise.

Best take a clue from Dr. Who, which reinvents itself every five years or so.
 

As almost every franchise has discovered, canon is a mixed blessing. While it may keep the hard core fans coming back, it can become a serious creative hurdle to finding fresh ways to tell the same stories ... because after about 20 years - maybe even 10 years - you have pretty much wrung out everything you can in your multi-media franchise.

Best take a clue from Dr. Who, which reinvents itself every five years or so.

They are no where near having wrung out every FR story, not eveb close.

Anyways, when they fired Matt Sarnett, the continuity editor, and stopped not just the FR novels, but MtGs, that was a sign of the beginning of the end in hind sight.
 



Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Finally caught up, and it has been a ride.

Started reading this thread yesterday, but had to stop to go to a friend's place, who lives a little over an hour away. I've got a playlist of youtube videos I listen to sometimes, and I put it on as I drove. It played a video by MrRhexx on Orcs, part of his "what does 5th edition not tell you about..." series from... Nov 2020.

/snip

And that isn't that bad of a thing
Yeah, I agree. IMO, it's not just "not that bad of a thing", it's a good thing (sorry for the weirdly-worded double-negative).

I like listening to MrRhexx's lore videos, but I've always found that it's spending 30 minutes to an hour and a half to get a few pieces of good lore. There's some good and really interesting bits of lore from previous editions (the Netheril, the Vestige of Karsus, the Dawn War, etc) but IMO, there's even more of bad, contradictory, and absolutely boring lore (the multiple origins of Asmodeus and Dragons, the difference between an Erinyes and a Succubus/Incubus, the shifting homes of the Gods, the many lives and deaths of Mystra/Mystryl, etc).

I shared in post 343 that, as a new player and DM for the Forgotten Realms, I felt compelled to learn as much as I could about the setting in order to run it, and, for the most part, it was just a waste of time and an added stress factor to the already overwhelming stress from learning to be a good DM.

Excessive lore does not help new players. Excessive lore that is still considered canon for the purpose of the world's lore does not help (and thus is a detriment to) new DMs.
 


Yeah, I agree. IMO, it's not just "not that bad of a thing", it's a good thing (sorry for the weirdly-worded double-negative).

I like listening to MrRhexx's lore videos, but I've always found that it's spending 30 minutes to an hour and a half to get a few pieces of good lore. There's some good and really interesting bits of lore from previous editions (the Netheril, the Vestige of Karsus, the Dawn War, etc) but IMO, there's even more of bad, contradictory, and absolutely boring lore (the multiple origins of Asmodeus and Dragons, the difference between an Erinyes and a Succubus/Incubus, the shifting homes of the Gods, the many lives and deaths of Mystra/Mystryl, etc).

I shared in post 343 that, as a new player and DM for the Forgotten Realms, I felt compelled to learn as much as I could about the setting in order to run it, and, for the most part, it was just a waste of time and an added stress factor to the already overwhelming stress from learning to be a good DM.

Excessive lore does not help new players. Excessive lore that is still considered canon for the purpose of the world's lore does not help (and thus is a detriment to) new DMs.

Why do new players need to be prioritized over long term loyal players and readers. Use a setting like Eberron instead for new players, that prefer less depth of lore.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
Why do new players need to be prioritized over long term loyal players and readers.
Youth are the future, dude. Sorry to be callous, but your generation's gonna die off eventually, and dead men (and women and non-binary people) buy no books, so prioritizing the younger players makes them more likely to also become long-term loyal players in the future, and thus, a more reliable steady-stream of income.
Use a setting like Eberron instead for new players, that prefer less depth of lore.
5e's default setting is the Forgotten Realms. All of the Forgotten Realms' base races are in the PHB. Eberron's are not. Thus, more money required to play a non-base setting. IMO, it's just way better to make the base setting more user-friendly.
 

Youth are the future, dude. Sorry to be callous, but your generation's gonna die off eventually, and dead men (and women and non-binary people) buy no books, so prioritizing the younger players makes them more likely to also become long-term loyal players in the future, and thus, a more reliable steady-stream of income.

5e's default setting is the Forgotten Realms. All of the Forgotten Realms' base races are in the PHB. Eberron's are not. Thus, more money required to play a non-base setting. IMO, it's just way better to make the base setting more user-friendly.

Then make sonething else the base setting.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Why do new players need to be prioritized over long term loyal players and readers. Use a setting like Eberron instead for new players, that prefer less depth of lore.
Because their are the overwhelming majority of current players and you are somewhat of a vestige?
I dont know your age, that is.

But your ''loyalty'' gains you noting. You not owed anything. WotC is a for profit company, they must go where the money goes. So having to choose (that's not what they are doing, but since you wont hear anything else...) between a massive wave of potential customers with money AND a few old players who longs for the books that havent been sold for decades...the choice is pretty clear.
 


MGibster

Legend
Why do new players need to be prioritized over long term loyal players and readers. Use a setting like Eberron instead for new players, that prefer less depth of lore.
Because newer players make up more of their customer base than long term loyal players do. So they can fish from the 40+ year old pool where I'm swimming and maybe catch a few fish or they can cast their line in the pool filled to the brim with 18-24 year olds. On the bright side, when it comes to mortgage ads, catheters, and Harley Davidson motorcycles I'm the more desirably demographic.
 

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