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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Wonderful, great to know that Arkhosia and the whole PoL setting is now officially non-existent!

My amusement knows no bounds. :cautious:
Honestly? I prefer it this way. To me the absolute worst thing about the Realms is how overdetailed it got. The Nentir Vale should never go that way, and I'd rather it the way it was than turned into something overdetailed that's as prescriptive as it is descriptive; WotC might have broken the character builder but can't ninja my books. A setting book might be nice but I don't really need one.

And the cosmology's going strong. The Realms may claim to use the Great Wheel in 5e (after not in either 3.X or 4e) - but its actual cosmology bears more resemblance to the World Axis with the Wheel itself replacing the Astral Sea and the Feywild, Shadowfell, and Elemental Chaos firmly in place. And the pantheon's doing fine over in Exandria.
 

Honestly? I prefer it this way. To me the absolute worst thing about the Realms is how overdetailed it got. The Nentir Vale should never go that way, and I'd rather it the way it was than turned into something overdetailed that's as prescriptive as it is descriptive; WotC might have broken the character builder but can't ninja my books. A setting book might be nice but I don't really need one.

And the cosmology's going strong. The Realms may claim to use the Great Wheel in 5e (after not in either 3.X or 4e) - but its actual cosmology bears more resemblance to the World Axis with the Wheel itself replacing the Astral Sea and the Feywild, Shadowfell, and Elemental Chaos firmly in place. And the pantheon's doing fine over in Exandria.

Its lore and history was the best thing about the Realms, its success compared to other settings show that.
 


Warpiglet-7

Cry havoc! And let slip the pigs of war!
So, in other words, WotC is telling longtime D&D fans they aren't welcome in 5e and that decades of learning lore isn't appreciated, in fact it's scorned?

Retroactively rebooting all of D&D lore, in all settings and core lore effective 7 years ago?

Telling Realms fans that the Sword Coast Adventurers Guide is the only canonical Realms book?

Is WotC actively trying to alienate dedicated longtime fans? The last time I felt WotC was doing this was when 4e came out.
Actively trying?

no. They have a new demographic they want to market to. Period.

some of us could go and die as far as they are concerned. We’re not their target. Just know that and purchase what you like.

for me it won’t be everything. Whatever. Honestly from the AD&D days, we have always made what we want anyway. Never felt beholden to someone else’s game/story!

it’s D&D! We need not be lemmings
 

For the record the last time WotC actively tried to alienate D&D fans was when 5e came out and Mike Mearls was making jokes about shouting hands back on, alienating 4e fans - and courted those valued members of the RPG community known for politeness and respect that are the RPG Pundit and Zack S to the point of including special thanks to them in the PHB. It wasn't "Lore isn't that valuable", it was "We're going to make edition warrior jokes that show either we don't have a clue how 4e works or we want to be seen as not having a clue because we're courting edition warriors".
 

Dire Bare

Legend
It's worth remembering that TSR's decision to tie the game so closely to other media - including novels and electronic games specifically - played a significant part in its demise (notably, Random House returned a HUGE amount of unsold stock - much of it novels - and SSI declined to renew their agreement to publish electronic games). Some really bad business on TSR's part regarding those tie-ins was also to blame, of course (notably a clause that allowed Random House to return unsold stock and a decision to artificially inflate the licensing fee for SSI) but the tie-ins themselves were part of the problem. The novels and games just weren't making much money in the end (1995-1996-ish) and they helped drag TSR down.
In my view, you are misreading the history of the game, and TSR. It wasn't the fact that novels were an important and integral part of the franchise that killed it, it was the terrible business decisions regarding the novels, the games, and just about everything . . . like the nature of the Random House deal you refer to.

The novels, at the time, were big business. Regularly cracking the NYT best sellers list, filling shelves at your local bookstore. This era has come to a close, of course, but I'm not convinced it's because D&D novels are no longer potential money-makers. My own armchair theorizing holds that shared world fiction in general exploded after Dragonlance revolutionized not just the D&D franchise, but fantasy/sci-fi novel publishing as well (in the 80s), and this carried genre publishing for at least a good decade and remained popular with fans for at least another. But massive shared world franchises seem to have diminished across the board . . . there's still plenty of it on bookstore shelves, of course, but not like the 80s and 90s . . . That, plus the D&D Team at Wizards shrinking and focusing on the game had them put novels aside, not because they didn't make money, but because they didn't have the bandwidth to do it right. The only survivors have been Salvatore's Drizzt novels, and now the upcoming new Dragonlance trilogy, both of which are now published out-of-house.

As D&D continues to explode in popularity, I wouldn't be surprised to see a new push for a line of D&D tie-in novels. Probably through another publisher partnering with WotC rather than in-house, and probably not to the extent we saw back in the day. The hurdle to overcome is that with any licensed property . . . any potential D&D novel has to go through the editorial process with the publisher, and also the approval process with WotC.

I wonder what would happen if the DMsGuild was opened up to fan-fiction?!?! We'd get a lot of dross certainly, but perhaps some good stuff . . . .
 

Dire Bare

Legend
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.
I agree that it's a ridiculous narrative . . . except that Dave Filoni and Jon Favreau ARE totally the good guys, jedi-knights even!! They don't work alone, of course, but they have their hands on some of the best modern Star Wars content out there . . .
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Supporter
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?

De-canonizing does not generally mean "it never happened". It means that when they make choices going forward, they will not be bound by that previous work. Future materials may, nor may not, make use of that old canon.

As a practical matter, it means that you cannot count on new product continuing old storylines, and that events, people, and organizations in that non-canon may or may not be referenced in the future.
 
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Dire Bare

Legend
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.
That may have been true in the past . . . but with practically the entire back catalog of D&D available in both ebook and POD formats on DMsGuild, it's never been more accessible! Who shops in a store anymore, am I right? :)
 

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