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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Zardnaar

Legend
I wouldn’t call it a cash grab, so much as a recognition that the perception of disregard for continuity was one of the major sour spots for the audience they were trying to win back. But, yeah, definitely a deeply cynical move. Maybe that was more clear to me as a 4e fan.

Well as a 4E fan Nerath is gone burger and won't be coming back any time soon. Maybe in 10 years they will and remove Dragonborn.

See the problem now?
 

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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Well as a 4E fan Nerath is gone burger and won't be coming back any time soon. Maybe in 10 years they will and remove Dragonborn.
I’ve long since made peace with that, as you might be able to tell from my responses to people bemoaning that this means PoLand is no longer canon.
See the problem now?
Not really. I’ll cop to having thrown a bit of a tantrum when I first read about Mike Mearls’ take on Nentir Vale for Heroes of the Vale. I chalk it up to the fact that the slow-roll of info about it got me excited for updates to the setting and then seeing it was ret-cons got me down. But I had my fit, I pouted for a little while, and then I bucked up and accepted that Mearls’ Nentir Vale was never going to be my Nentir Vale. My Nentir Vale is still there if I want it, I didn’t need Mearls to give it to me again. This new take might at least bring some attention to the setting from folks who wouldn’t otherwise have even heard of it. And I could always mine it for bits I like and ignore the bits I don’t, just like I do with everything else in D&D.

I remember having quite an argument with someone on these forums about it at the time, and amusingly they used ravenloft and the changes to it in Curse of Strahd as a point of comparison. I didn’t appreciate what they were saying at the time, but in hindsight they were right. Who was that? I’ve got some forum archeology to do.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I’ve long since made peace with that, as you might be able to tell from my responses to people bemoaning that this means PoLand is no longer canon.

Not really. I’ll cop to having thrown a bit of a tantrum when I first read about Mike Mearls’ take on Nentir Vale for Heroes of the Vale. I chalk it up to the fact that the slow-roll of info about it got me excited for updates to the setting and then seeing it was ret-cons got me down. But I had my fit, I pouted for a little while, and then I bucked up and accepted that Mearls’ Nentir Vale was never going to be my Nentir Vale. My Nentir Vale is still there if I want it, I didn’t need Mearls to give it to me again. This new take might at least bring some attention to the setting from folks who wouldn’t otherwise have even heard of it. And I could always mine it for bits I like and ignore the bits I don’t, just like I do with everything else in D&D.

I remember having quite an argument with someone on these forums about it at the time, and amusingly they used ravenloft and the changes to it in Curse of Strahd as a point of comparison. I didn’t appreciate what they were saying at the time, but in hindsight they were right. Who was that? I’ve got some forum archeology to do.

Wonder how many people will use the new RL book. Curse if Strahd was popular but RL doesn't really have that much in it mechanics wise.

Would be interesting if they did redo an old setting with minimal changes and see how well it perfoms on Amazon.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I remember having quite an argument with someone on these forums about it at the time, and amusingly they used ravenloft and the changes to it in Curse of Strahd as a point of comparison. I didn’t appreciate what they were saying at the time, but in hindsight they were right. Who was that? I’ve got some forum archeology to do.
Well, I dug up the conversation with the intention of @ing the person I had been arguing with to apologize, but turns out I misremembered the details - my position was actually much more reasonable than I remember it having been, simply expressing mixed feelings rather than the “tantrum” I had thought I’d had. Memory is weird like that.
 


D&D is a GAME. It is not a STORY. The purpose of a campaign setting is for it to be somewhere for people to play D&D. It is not to tell an ongoing saga of pretend fantasyland.

WotC realised at the beginning of 5e that the only continuity that mattered was that of players' own campaigns. Which is why they never took a clear position on the 4e changes to FR. It didn't happen. Or it did happen. Whichever you went with in your own game.

There are some people who are interested in D&D for the STORY. They are not WotC customer base, because WotC are making a GAME not a STORY. People who misunderstand the purpose of D&D are a shouty minor irritation.
 

4E's "blow everything up" and 5E's "stitch it back together with duct tape" is an anomaly in D&D's history. Previous editions had retcons and in-story changes to settings over time, but generally didn't go beyond that.

Though the Forgotten Realms is an interesting case, here - they altered their cosmology in 3E, but the history of the setting carried on largely untouched (and the cosmology could be rationalized with the old). The Realms pushed on through 4E in much the same way, with some more radical changes to the planet and the World Axis replacing their homebrew cosmology, but it was still explained in-universe and in canon with what came before. Then 5E retconned the retcon and put them back in the Great Wheel for the first time since 2E... but (until now) carried on all the past history from 1E, 2E, 3E, and 4E.

This is one reason it seems likely that the announcement is about upcoming reboots to older settings, rather than meaning anything for the Realms.
The realms is really beyond fixing at this point in any way beyond an individual table making their own declarations about where history stops.
 


Hats off to the WotC RPG designers for putting their hands up to declare that the Forgotten Realms has them beat. They have neither the time, appetite or ability to deal with the published Realms and have taken the Mulligan. You have to admire honesty like that.
I think this declaration has more to do with impending Dragonlance than FR, but it's certainly about being straight with the customers with regards as what to expect from upcoming products. They saw how some folk responded to the Ravenloft changes*, and have set out their stall ahead of time.


*Which didn't hurt sales, so they know they could just ignore the shouty minority.
 

1) I dont for how long you've been on forum about D&D, but one thing's sure: there's no such things as a shared experience by most tables, yet alone to build a specific canon on said experience. Every day there's hundred of posts being made about a thousand little differences in how we play and how we understand this thing called D&D.

2) Having a backlog of 40 years of lore and NPC is often pointed as the MAJOR turn-off for most newcomers whishing to use a specific setting.

3) What you call ''canon'' never made the game more successful: it made it intimidating for newcomers and used as a cudgel by gatekeepers. And it sure as hell did not make the D&D lore consistent.

The above is what the designers of the Spellplague believed as well, it was their rationalization for the Spellplague, they learned they were wrong the hard way, the Sundering reversing, but not retconning much of the Spellplague changes, in the face of the angry backlash.
 

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