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

At a media press briefing last week, WotC's Jeremey Crawford clarified what is and is 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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They can do whatever they like I suppose. I have not bought a novel since 4E. There's no real point if some future hack can just do whatever the hell they like invalidating them.

Haven't bought any Star Wars ones either since they burnt down legends. Same reason it's pointless. No point in investing in the characters if it doesn't matter.
So what matters to you in book is some nebulous canonicity and not whether it is a good story? Got it.

See, I was right when I implied that people don't read D&D novels for fun!
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So what matters to you in book is some nebulous canonicity and not whether it is a good story? Got it.

See, I was right when I implied people don't read D&D novel for fun!

Well that and they cut all the interesting authors.

RAS hasn't been good for years and he wasn't that great really. The other Drow authors were better imho.

Alright, I’m on page 13 and I just can’t wait another 10 pages to get this out:

The question no one seems to be asking (so far as I’ve read) is: canon to what exactly? It’s not like WotC has decreed that Salvatore’s novels No Longer Count. He can keep writing them, and I’m sure he’ll keep their continuity intact. It’s just that what happens in them doesn’t have to have an impact on the game, and vice versa. The two canons (inasmuch as a “game canon” can even be said to exist) can exist in parallel without new developments in one having to impact the other.

If they had suggested two canons that might not have been as bad, but they didn't.


It doesn't go away, but nothing new is added
The story is over
G1 ends with BEAST WARS and nothing new is added after, just various rehashes of the old
I mean, depends on continuity. Because there's Beast Machines of course, which gave us Strika and Obsidian, the best generals. Or the Japanese series where we've got Lio Convoy and Big Convoy (Big Convoy's a good figure). Or the 3H Wreckers comics that are a post Beast Machines thing. Or the Beast Wars: Uprising universe, which is a whole different thing and goes on for hundreds of years after

Or the post Japanese fiction where humans dig up time-travelling Ravage's head nad rebuild him into a car body, so he adjusts time and space and this eventually leads to the Binaltech universe, which also eventually leads to Smokescreen going slightly insane due to controlling 5 bodies at once and becoming a Decepticon, eventually teaming up with the pacifist Dreadwing (WHO'S GATTLING GUN IS ILLING) to stop the Transformer's eternal war by destroying them all. And then there's Prowl 2. And the Legends universe, which is an alternate universe created by the Zamojin and is a whole Thing.

How much of that is relevant to you if you want to run a Transformers campaign? Very little. Does it no longer exist if we aren't dealing with any of these specifics? No. Do you want a story where you're playing as 4 versions of Smokescreen and have to stop his jet body from going out of control? Completely fine! None of it is irrelevant. One Optimus Prime killed himself over a video game, the other sacrified himself against the Swarm who were unable to rebuild him and that lead to the Beast Wars: Uprising universe, another was killed by Megazarak the dimension-hopping emperor of the Destructicons, who left his corpse to rot on the shores of the Rust Sea where it was found by Unicron (And would eventually become Black Convoy of the Convoy Council once he was freed from Unicron's control). None of these didn't happen, they're just, not always relevant.

But I also never need to ever buy a new D&D book again because nothing else will add to that
My money is no longer wanted. WizCo has flipped me the bird and told me not to let the door hit my ass on the way out of the hobby
Do you want to read about this fun universe and explore the what-could-have-beens? Or do you only want to add on top of an ancient pillar and hope the thing doesn't collapse under its own weight?

Given this is something supposed to be played, with your characters being thrown into this situation and seeing how things develop (Spoiler: Throw any of my characters into Dragonlance and the answer is Kill the Gods and Shatter their Thrones), not an unbroken story continuing over time.

If you want a continued, unbroken story? Then I humbly introduce you to the world of fanfiction. Its where I go for my warm fuzzies of "What if the Animorphs universe wasn't as dark as it is" and "Why is this one particular ship on FFXIV not the highest"

Also, let's not forget that 4E's Dark Sun basically going "Ignore the books we're going back to this point" was incredibly well received.

Correction us, the settings fandom.
Its still there. They haven't wiped it out.

They're just not writing sequels to books written before a good percentage of the playerbase was born.

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.

If this is the case, they should have made that clear.


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.
I suspect a number of old Ravenloft fans, despite previews, assumed up until release that the 5E Ravenloft book would be a continuation/update, rather than a sweeping reboot. Warning old Dragonlance fans well ahead of time that a reboot is exactly what's in the works should be an interesting test of your theory.

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