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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 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...

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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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I see I'm very late to the party here, but generally this seems like a good policy, though I feel like it's not actually one they've been following since 2014, but rather have adopted more recently. Which is fine, of course.

It's certainly better to link canon to edition than to try and have trans-edition metaplots and so on, which is what the FR suffered from1E-5E.

It gives them room to manuever to ignore a lot of the dumb late-edition changes to Planescape, for example, if they want to do that, or bring in an updated Dark Sun that doesn't have the same Sorcerer-Kings and might have other setting/assumption changes - we just have to trust that they'll understand what's at the core of the setting.
ScreenRant has published an article suggesting that old D&D settings should be "retired". Overused Dungeons & Dragons Settings That Should Be Retired

[tosses grenade]
I mean, it seems like the article is too conceptually flawed to even get mad about, doesn't it?

Every D&D setting is "retired" the moment they stop publishing stuff for it, and "un-retired" the moment they start up again. The writer seem to think that WotC are continually "updating" D&D settings, but that's not how it works, and hasn't really ever been. It's hard to understand why the author even thinks that. It's not a video-gaming. It's not like they're putting out compatibility patches or something. There have been RPGs which kind of took that approach, but not D&D in the last two editions.

Here's how you retired Ravenloft - you stop publishing books for it - oh look they did, Ravenloft is retired!

The same is true for any setting. If you do it "one and done" like Eberron, well, it's retired. I'm not even sure publishing books technically set in a setting un-retires it even. I mean, Greyhawk has been "retired" since early 3E, and Saltmarsh for example, doesn't really change that.

It would be a completely reasonable concern if WotC operated in a way where every setting had to be "supported", and every book had detailed information for every D&D setting, but that simply isn't the case.

So anyway, basically everything that isn't the FR is "retired" at any given moment in D&D lol. At any moment they could come out with a new setting. And the WotC comments re: canon being edition-specific only make this even more obvious. There is very little GH "canon" in 5E, a ton of FR canon, pretty much no Planescape/Dark Sun canon, and so on. Maybe the underlying message is that WotC should stop promoting certain settings, but like, which? The only examples given are two that are unlikely to go away, and where it's more profitable for WotC to work on their problematic elements than stop using the settings.

All of the rest of the settings except Eberron, have, so far, been largely ignored by 5E.

Personally I'd say what I've said before, to both WotC and TSR - stop trying to make Greyhawk happen. It's been three decades since many people cared, and the only ones who do now are all over 40, and mostly define GH by what they don't want in it.
 
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In out of the Abyss drow items are destroyed if hit with direct sunlight. A good example the even though the novel isn't canon, a good idea came out of it and was cannonized in a D&D book.
I'm pretty sure it was always official, and came from the 2nd edition rules rather than a novel.

It happens in Baldur's Gate 2, which can suddenly leave the PC standing naked...
 

Bolares

Hero
I'm pretty sure it was always official, and came from the 2nd edition rules rather than a novel.

It happens in Baldur's Gate 2, which can suddenly leave the PC standing naked...
ah, okay then. I've started playing from 3e... Just assumed what the poster said was true.
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I wonder if there is a difference in how long time DC or Marvel comic book fans view this vs those that never were.
 

Every once in a while we get a thread that gets a bizarre level of activity. That is this thread.

We change the lore every time we play. The lore has been inconsistent and mismanaged the entire time. And people are up in arms because of an off hand comment that they're really only concerned with what they did recently? I just can't.
Quite. It's like, just putting an official stamp on how it's basically always worked.

The only real change here, is they're sort of officially opening the door to, in say, 6E, having major changes to the FR, but not bothering to do the Required Apocalypse that is traditional, lol, and to bringing back other old settings, but with changes, and not having to explain those changes.

That's just a good thing really. If the changes are dumb, too, this means a future edition could say "Oh those were dumb!" and ignore them. Rather than feeling the need to write hundreds or thousands of words to explain why and how the setting changed.
I wonder if there is a difference in how long time DC or Marvel comic book fans view this vs those that never were.
I dunno how "long time" long time is, but reading Marvel and DC since the early '90s, I think it's better to link canonicity to "edition" than to have ridiculous multiversal crossover events every time they want to make some changes to how they portray their universe. Some things don't need explaining.

I actually find the explanations, like the crossover events, more off-putting than the changes. Sure, by all means, write an article in Dragon+ or even explain in the foreword why, on a meta level, you made some of the changes, but I don't need an in-world explanation.
 

akr71

Hero
Can we draw the conversion back to WotC's declarion of war against FR fans?
There is no declaration of war. You are free to continue to enjoy Salvatore's novels. WotC just isn't going to automatically consider it canon in their books.

Edit: Though I expect this announcement (or off the cuff comment really) has more to do with how WotC handles future Dragonlance releases more than the Realms.
 
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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.
Hmm. So my break with WoTC and d&d is official and permanent. I have zero interest in whatever they're shovelling out these days. Enjoy!
 


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