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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."


"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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The novels were never supplemental.
Yup. They weren't in any of the franchises I mentioned either (Agents of Shield premiered under the hashtag #itsallconnected). Until they were. Until something caused them to have to choose. In Doctor Who, it was the TV movie that then the 05 revival. In Star Wars, it was the prequel and sequel trilogy. We don't know yet what is causing this, but I feel there is going to be a reason that we will know about soon.
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Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
Dark Sun 4e and Eberron represent my preferred model for all campaign settings. When a setting is published for a new edition of the D&D rules, start with the core ideas and history of the world and then re-imagine it and tweak for modern sensibilities (if necessary). Convoluted in-universe explanations for rules changes or additions have always rubbed me the wrong way. Unless you're converting editions mid-campaign, I fail to see the need for doing this anyway. I suspect that the number of campaigns which span multiple editions of D&D is a vanishingly small percentage of them.

A campaign setting is a game product first and foremost, and it should be designed to facilitate gameplay at the table. There's no reason why a line of fiction set in that world couldn't peacefully co-exist. The Avatar Trilogy set a terrible precedent, IMO.

Just another attempt at gatekeeping. I don't like their current offerings, therefore the creators hate and disrespect what came before, or they just pain don't understand it. (I understand it better than anyone, of course. Even the original creator, if I don't like what their new stuff.) Which, of course, leads very quickly to people who do like have less refined tastes than I do (or are mindless sheep, accepting whatever garbage has the official branding on it).

So yeah, very reminiscent of the whole Star Wars situation over the past few years. JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson aren't fans and hate Star Wars. So does Kathleen Kennedy (you know, a longtime close friend of Lucas whom he personally chose to take over the company when he retired). Rian Johnson hates Star Wars so much that he chose UCS film school just because that's where George Lucas went!

But Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau are the good guys. They're true fans and they're the ones keeping the true spirit of Star Wars alive and faithful to George Lucas' creative vision. But they're fighting Kathleen Kennedy and her evil corporate overlords at Disney every step of the way!

It's a ridiculous narrative.
Well, it's true that I largely dont care for Abrams' or Johnson's take on Star Wars, and feel Filoni and Favreau are doing a better job, I dont think the former two hate the franchise, and I dont think I know better than anyone else. I just happen to have preferences that line up with the people you're decrying. Hate doesn't enter into it, just distaste for things I dont like.

I would agree with this if D&D was as important as a multiverse for novels as it is for games. D&D is first and foremost an RPG. And all decisions involving this IP will always prioritize the RPG. The game is and always will be more important then the novels, even if some players could come to the game from the novels.

For the longest time the novels out sold the RPG elements, so for FR the RPG part wasn't top dog, the novels were.

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
No they hate the Katheleen Kennedy Star Wars, not a SW fan myself at all, I'm far from it, but even I know this.
Which one was Kathleen Kennedy again? I've heard the name, but I dont remember what her job is or what she's responsible for. I do recall people having an issue with her, but I dont know why.

Seriously. Not sarcasm.


Not your screen monkey (he/him)
So I don't get this. You have all the information. You own the books. You have access to the various fanpages and wikis. WotC isn't going to come over to your house and force you to use only Approved Materials when you read or run a game.

All this really means is that any new books are going to contain mostly new information or new takes on old info instead of just rehashes of the stuff that's already been printed in previous editions. Personally, the entire reason I bought VGR is because it was new stuff. I already have the 2e and 3x Ravenloft books so I don't need a 5e book reprinting that exact same information but with 5e mechanics.

So how exactly does this decision actually negatively affect you? You're not required to like or buy any new books they put out, of course, but how does it stop you from enjoying the stuff you already have? And, of course, you might just end up liking the new stuff if you give it a chance. If that's the case, it doesn't mean that you were wrong to also like the older stuff. It just means you have new stuff you like.
This argument comes up a lot with edition changes, shifting canon, and it's always pretty tone deaf. Yes, your own old materials are still available, but their existence on your shelves doesn't negate the fact that games are easier to recruit for or grow when compatible materials are in print where the newer players can buy them, spreading the hobby/game world/preferred continuity to more tables of friends. Once they are off the shelves, they're harder to get, harder to get materials are less likely to interest the new blood and spread.


I would be fine with a Dragonlance setting book taking place immediately after Legends. Much like what was done with Dark Sun back in the day. I am extremely skeptical we'll get that, however. It's far more likely they'll start from scratch before the War of the Lance so they can make more sweeping changes. That's why I'm glad the Draonlance Nexus put out their book before WotC had the chance. That, and the 3rd ed Draonlance books, are all I need.
If I were put in charge of reviving the Dragonlance setting, it would go something like this:
  1. A setting book for Ansalon on the eve of the War of the Lance (i.e., the beginning of Chronicles).
  2. An adventure path following the arc of Chronicles, rather like the original modules. It includes pregen characters for all of the Heroes of the Lance*; but you are free to swap them out and play your own.
  3. Nothing in the AP or the setting book contradicts Chronicles or Legends. If you play the AP using the pregens, you can re-enact Chronicles, and you could then go on to play a high-level homebrew campaign that re-enacts Legends.
  4. Any new novels, movies, TV shows, and so on treat Chronicles and Legends as canonical.
  5. Any new D&D materials may explore the past, or other places on Krynn, but they must stop no later than the first setting book. Anything beyond that belongs to the players and the DM. No new D&D book can ever tell you that your War of the Lance was wrong.
*Bonus points if Raistlin is a cheese build dipping warlock and putting the rest of his levels in wizard.

It was long before Kennedy. I distinctly remember living though the prequel era and "George Lucas r*p*d my childhood!" declarations from fans after Kid Anakin and Jar Jar graced the screen...
That's exactly why I don't get "Disney ruined Star Wars and Kathleen Kennedy hates Star Wars" narratives. The prequel trilogy was total trash, but presumably Lucas didn't hate Star Wars or lack understanding of what Star Wars is about!

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