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."


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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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Keldryn

Adventurer
Star Wars has always had a priority approach to continuity, ever since Splinter in the Mind's Eye was totally ignored in favour of The Empire Strikes Back and the Christmas Special was ignored in favour of pretending that it never happened. Meanwhile those of us who were there 20 years ago remember that the Prequel Trilogy really didn't fit very well with the books, and George Lucas considered himself entirely unbound by anything that happened in any of the books. And then there's the Clone Wars vs The Clone Wars issues.
This. At best, the novels were the "official" continuation of the story... until they conflicted with what George wanted to do. And at the time that Heir to the Empire was published, Lucas wasn't making any films, period. He never even read most of them.

I recall that when Lucas was writing The Phantom Menace, he wanted to stick with Had Abbadon as the name for the capital planet, as that was what he had used in early drafts of Return of the Jedi. The licensing/publishing division managed to convince him to name it Coruscant, as that what had been used in Zahn's trilogy and later novels. One of the very few cases that I'm aware of where Lucas gave in on that sort of thing.

And once Lucas was actively working on The Clone Wars series, prequel-era books started getting stomped all over, left and right. He often borrowed concepts that he liked, but altered them or recontextualized them completely. Kind of like how the old "Legends" stories are mined for ideas now, in fact.

If you expected the Legends Continuity to be given pride of place rather than the core continuity to be based on visual media that far more people engaged with you simply weren't paying attention. Swearing at Disney for continuing in the footsteps of George Lucas is ... ironic.
That's the thing. The fate of the Expanded Universe was sealed the day that George Lucas decided that Lucasfilm would start working on Episode VII after all.

Regardless of who was going to actually be making the new films, there was absolutely zero chance that they would base it on the hundreds of novels and comics written over the previous two decades. If Lucas had decided not to retire and oversee the production of the sequel trilogy himself, the slate still would have been wiped clean. Many of those who are upset about it like to blame Disney, but it was guaranteed to happen whether Lucas sold his company to Disney (or anyone else) or not.
 

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Parmandur

Book-Friend
This. At best, the novels were the "official" continuation of the story... until they conflicted with what George wanted to do. And at the time that Heir to the Empire was published, Lucas wasn't making any films, period. He never even read most of them.

I recall that when Lucas was writing The Phantom Menace, he wanted to stick with Had Abbadon as the name for the capital planet, as that was what he had used in early drafts of Return of the Jedi. The licensing/publishing division managed to convince him to name it Coruscant, as that what had been used in Zahn's trilogy and later novels. One of the very few cases that I'm aware of where Lucas gave in on that sort of thing.

And once Lucas was actively working on The Clone Wars series, prequel-era books started getting stomped all over, left and right. He often borrowed concepts that he liked, but altered them or recontextualized them completely. Kind of like how the old "Legends" stories are mined for ideas now, in fact.


That's the thing. The fate of the Expanded Universe was sealed the day that George Lucas decided that Lucasfilm would start working on Episode VII after all.

Regardless of who was going to actually be making the new films, there was absolutely zero chance that they would base it on the hundreds of novels and comics written over the previous two decades. If Lucas had decided not to retire and oversee the production of the sequel trilogy himself, the slate still would have been wiped clean. Many of those who are upset about it like to blame Disney, but it was guaranteed to happen whether Lucas sold his company to Disney (or anyone else) or not.
Disney probably did way less stomping, and more integration of older material, than Lucas ever would have done.
 

Faolyn

(she/her)
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.
Most of D&D's material has been out of print for ages and will never be reprinted. Do you really think WotC is going to stop the sale of older edition .pdfs because of this? Or that people will stop writing wikis about the old lore or pirating the older books?
 


Dausuul

Legend
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!
As always, people rush to attribute to malice what can be perfectly well explained by incompetence--or at least grievous mistakes.

(Kennedy's mistakes consisted, first, of letting Johnson and Abrams helm their respective movies without forcing them to get on the same page about the overall story arc; and, second, letting Abrams do the finale. As Honest Trailers put it, Abrams never saw a landing he couldn't not stick. Lucas's mistakes consisted of not hiring somebody else to write his dialogue and direct his movies.)
 

RFB Dan

Podcast host, 6-edition DM, and guy with a pulse.
To be honest, I prefer a soft reboot take to bending over backwards to explain why all the iconic characters of the Realms survived a 100+ year time skip.

It would have been nice to just say this at the start of 5e, but that probably would have hurt initial sales of the game.
Wait, did they actually explain this?
 


RFB Dan

Podcast host, 6-edition DM, and guy with a pulse.
As always, people rush to attribute to malice what can be perfectly well explained by incompetence--or at least grievous mistakes.

(Kennedy's mistakes consisted, first, of letting Johnson and Abrams helm their respective movies without forcing them to get on the same page about the overall story arc; and, second, letting Abrams do the finale. As Honest Trailers put it, Abrams never saw a landing he couldn't not stick. Lucas's mistakes consisted of not hiring somebody else to write his dialogue and direct his movies.)
Yeah, even in the original trilogy there is dialogue that is dripping with cheese. I recall an interview with Carrie Fisher where, during the filming of the original back in 76, she snapped at Lucas saying "George, who the hell talks like this?"
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
As always, people rush to attribute to malice what can be perfectly well explained by incompetence--or at least grievous mistakes.

(Kennedy's mistakes consisted, first, of letting Johnson and Abrams helm their respective movies without forcing them to get on the same page about the overall story arc; and, second, letting Abrams do the finale. As Honest Trailers put it, Abrams never saw a landing he couldn't not stick. Lucas's mistakes consisted of not hiring somebody else to write his dialogue and direct his movies.)
Honestly, they aren't even that bad. Not super great, though Last Jedi had a lot going for it, but not bad like, say, Attack of the Clones.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

5e Freelancer
I admit I don't quite get this. So WotC are declaring that things that we all know never happened never happened?

What practical effect does this have?
BuUut It'S mOrE tHaN tHaT! They said that the things we know never happened didn't happen in the other place that had things that we know didn't happen in them! This is clearly an attack against my generation and them stealing MY CHILDHOOD!
/s
 

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