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
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 . . .
Oh yeah, don't get me wrong, they're definitely good guys. It's the vilification of "those who made stuff I didn't like" versus the franchise being saved by "those who made the stuff I liked" that gets to me. The Mandalorian is great, but it does regularly stray into Fan Service: The Series. It's safe and comfortable for anyone who grew up on the OT. There's a place for that, but I also want more content like The Last Jedi, which is by far my favorite of the Disney era.

Far too often, what "should be canon" ends up coming down to "if I liked it, it should be canon." Bringing it back to D&D, many fans seem to have no problem ignoring 4e changes to a setting's lore, but don't they dare change anything that was established in 2e!
 

JEB

Legend
Not many of the new fans care for FR despite it being the featured setting. FR didn't bring the new fans.
I don't think FR in and of itself brought a lot of new fans into 5E. But it would take some strong evidence to convince me that FR and its lore were actively turning fans away from 5E, especially since it was doing pretty well from the first. It seems to me that the old lore either didn't hurt, or was irrelevant to, new fans' interest. (In the meantime, the restoration of old lore brought some lapsed fans back.)

So again, since older-edition canon didn't seem to be an obstacle to 5E's success before, this seems to be a solution in search of a problem... or a pre-emptive solution to an anticipated problem. (In other words - big changes are coming.)

But, no, I havent seen ''most fans'' being convinced that their favorite settings have been modified beyond recognition in the last years.
I meant "most fans" who were bothered by the older edition material no longer being canon. I apologize for being unclear.
 

JEB

Legend
Personally, I doubt advance warning will do much to ameliorate the complaining, but at least WotC are trying.
No, I don't imagine it'll have much effect at all on making fans of the original franchise sad. They'll still be sad. But advance warning might have an interesting effect on sales, since Dragonlance fans who care about the canon might just skip it, knowing that there's nothing in it for them.

Or not, if legions of new fans offset any losses. Guess we'll see!
 

JEB

Legend
One can see this as meaning "older editions are no longer canon".

But another perspective is that the canon for classic D&D fans ended with 3E, and it's 5E that's now non-canon and meaningless to that story, much like 4E was before it for those fans. So if you bought 5E products before under the impression that it was part of the continuing story, now you know otherwise, and have a pretty legitimate reason to stop.

I can only hope whatever change Wizards has planned will be worth giving a segment of its market - however small - a reason to drop out. They could have just kept playing it coy and followed exactly the same strategy, but quietly, and likely kept that segment buying forever...
 

Azzy

ᚳᚣᚾᛖᚹᚢᛚᚠ
I got to page 27 and decided to skip the rest. Hoo boy! There's been some ridiculous assertions in this thread.

So, Crawford essentially said that they aren't beholden to novels and pre-5e setting material when creating new materiial for the game... Anyone that's read the 5e lore should have already guessed that. And this isn't something new, either. In every edition they've ignore or changed whatever they've wanted to regardless of its "canon status". Jeremy just said the quite part out loud.

As a Greyhawk fan, this isn't an issue for me—in the GH community we've always picked and chosen what is personal "canon". As a fan of the DL books, I'm all for ignoring anything past Legends (hell, even Legends is optional) and fixing problematic issues. As for FR, I tend to be more of a Greybox purist (the Time of Troubles made me not like the Realms from that point onward).

This changes nothing for me. I always default to 1e lore (except where I find something newer more interesting) for older sttings and most homebrew.
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
If the novels are being produced in part as a means of getting non-players interested in playing the game (which I've always thought was part of their purpose, even if unspoken), then the lore in the game should 100% match the lore in the books. This includes everything - history, "rules", geography, the lot of it.

It's far from obvious to me that this is the case, particularly since I can point at big obvious counter-examples: the Marvel and DC universes. They've got comics, live-action movies, animated movies, live-action TV shows, and animated TV shows which don't at all sync up, and yet they're widely popular. And I can sit somewhere folks are chatting about them and find that the public at large seems pretty okay with the whole concept of "this is one version, that's another, yonder is a third, and we don't expect them to line up". Having written game books and tie-in novels, I know that even when you've got a single brain - mine, in this case - handling related material in what amount to two different media, priorities diverge early and often. On big, long-time projects, much more so. And, well, it's not obvious to me as well that there are any substantial benefits to the general public in aiming for 100% congruence.

That kind of match-up is a very big deal to a very small part of the audience. More of it honestly doesn't care much.

Now for a digression, or at least for a tangency. John Rogers, creator and showrunner for Leverage, mentioned at one point that they get access to station-gathered viewer data, and how fascinating it was. Including the revelation that there was a small chunk of audience - 3%, if I'm remembering right - who never, ever understood the plot, or so they said. They never got what was up. And yet they were faithful viewers because...various reasons. They liked the actors, or the production style, or whatever, and so they tuned in week after week to watch this show they never understood but enjoyed.

I would never in a thousand years have thought to make up a demographic segment like that, and I'll bet no one else here would, either. The public is weird.
 

Can we not?

Really. Can we not? Because this thread isn't about Star Wars. See, up at the top, this is not the Star Wars forum? Not that you can't make a passing analogy, but let's not spend a bunch more time on it.

Can you please clarify if this is a request as a moderator or a normal board member?
 

Keldryn

Adventurer
The LEGO Star Wars animated shows are decidedly non-canon. But that doesn't make them any less enjoyable, and they are absolutely worth watching (if you find them funny and entertaining of course).

Likewise, the upcoming Star Wars Visions anime short films are also non-canon. They don't even have to fit into the existing timeline, period. From a certain point of view, one could say that the Star Wars setting is potentially re-imagined for each of the Visions short films.

I struggle to understand how the non-canon status of these would make them less enjoyable or nullify my investment in Star Wars -- and over the span of 44 years that amounts to 2500+ action figures set up in my basement.

I really liked the Dark Empire comics from the early 90s. I enjoyed reading them at the time, and I can still enjoy them now, even if they are no longer part of the official continuity. I don't get how they are suddenly "worthless" -- I got a lot of enjoyment out of them, and that's worth a lot

But Star Wars is a traditional media property primarily meant to be consumed. D&D has always been something where each group starts with the core and then makes it their own. How is an "official" status really that relevant?
 

mcmillan

Adventurer
So again, since older-edition canon didn't seem to be an obstacle to 5E's success before, this seems to be a solution in search of a problem... or a pre-emptive solution to an anticipated problem. (In other words - big changes are coming.)
The fact that this seems to be the approach they've been taking is why I find the reaction to be so over-the-top. They've already been treating new books coming out as mostly self-contained, with references to older material people might recognize but aren't required to know to run an adventure or use sourcebooks. This just seems to be confirming this as an intentional policy. I don't think we'd necessarily see the treatment of the Realms much different than what we've been seeing, but there's now a ready answer for if there's something that doesn't quite fit in the old structure, but makes sense for where they want to go. For example with the talk of new types of drow - rather than having to come up with an explanation of how they haven't shown up in any of the Realms history, can just say they haven't shown up in the parts we've focused on yet, and the fact that they're involving Salvatore in that change suggests they don't want to just throw out old history completely.
 

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