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D&D General WotC: Novels & Non-5E Lore Are Officially 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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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Reynard

Legend
It is: I have seen people assert that there us a metaplot in 5E, because Baldur's Gate 3 builds off of elements from the Adventure, and one possible set of events from the end. They specifically feel the need to call out video games as non-canon in this event.
The only metaplot I have seen mentioned for 5E is whatever is going on with the obelisks littered throughout all the adventures.
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Probably for the best as far as Dragonlance is concerned. The original novels are remembered fondly, but haven't aged all that well, and then the series just went downhill from there as far as I'm concerned...

I'm curious as to why you think they'd retcon Rajaat. The Sorcerer Kings in the present day of Tyr, yeah maybe tone down the more gratuitous aspects of the whole slavery thing, but do people have issues with the Dark Sun backstory, and Rajaat specifically? And how much do you think they might change?
During the very long thread on Dark Sun I started up a lot of discussion was had about the Prism Pentad and while I recognized that a lot of it was poorly written I didn't actually understand the core of the anger toward it until later in the thread:

Dark Sun was interesting as a Mystery. WHAT happened to the world? Who are the Sorcerer Kings? What lead to this way of being and how do we explore it to try and fix it?

By keeping Rajaat and the other canon from the Prism Pentad, they lock themselves into a set of answers to the questions that are at the heart of the exploratory and inquisitive aspect of the setting. By discarding it, they free themselves, and our tables, to find the reasons and understanding all over again.

Or never find out in full. Like a Zombie movie without the tedious explanation of Zombies and how they came to be.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Indeed, pop quizzes to test whether someone was a "true fan" were a big part of the sexist backlash to the "fake gamer girl" era.

I've been playing since 1979, longer than most folks on this board or D&D gamers have been alive. You all count as "true fans" in my eyes, even if you talk smack about gnomes.
Gnomes are my wife's favorite race, actually.
 



grimslade

Doddering Old Git
Ok. Look Crawford is not saying anything new here. They could always change canon. They have changed canon many, many times. Spellplague FR shows how much they can change while 'respecting' canon. All Crawford is saying is what they have done all along. They change what they want and the stories are still good, just won't stop us from doing what we want.
Pirates Of The Caribbean Code GIF by Brian Benns
 

dave2008

Legend
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.
I think that is extremely overblown. I think they are just admitting for the first time that with each edition their is a change in the lore. The fact is the lore they present in 5e has a lot of ties to the past lore. It doesn't come from nowhere. They are just admitting that they are not beholden to previous lore. Which they never were and it had changed in every edition of the game as far as I can tell.
 
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D1Tremere

Adventurer
That's not the problem.

Going by what's on the first post, my issue is with them openly stating anything prior to 5e is not canon.

That's it.

Each table will do it's own thing.
Each game changes the setting at that table.
That's how it's supposed to work.

There is another stream however, where the novels 'happened' and the story existed. Where those characters exist and continue to exist with a history we can all share and recognize as having happened. Because it was canon.

Now? It's not.
That doesn't make any sense, unless I am just misunderstanding you. Just because there are 50 novels and 30 game supplements about Elminster that may or may not be consulted when a new novel gets written, that doesn't mean that those previous products cease to exist. Maybe they were false narratives, maybe the new book is not the real Elminster, maybe this is the Forgotten Realms from Universe 919 instead of 313. There are many ways to look at it, but the gist is that new cannon does not erase old cannon. It just decouples new stories from old baggage. You are free to control the narrative and experience for yourself.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
This reminds me when the recent Guide To Ravenloft came out and people were all upset that lore was changed, and James Lowder made a comment on FB about how that's totally cool cuz lore changes all the time, and someone responded with (and I'm paraphrasing), "That's just your opinion, what do you know?"

Yep...(if you don't know why that's a dumb thing to say, google James Lowder)
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
The James Bond movies are not in continuity with each other. Each time a new actor takes the role of Bond, everything is reset.
This wasn't always strictly true. There have been nods here and there such as Bond's obsession with going after Blofeld and Teresa Bond, which is based on holding some continuity between the George Lazenby and Roger Moore Bonds. I don't believe there's been any significant continuity other than supporting actors (Judy Dench, Desmond Llewelyn) crossing Bond actors since Moore.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Ok. Look Crawford is not saying anything new here. They could always change canon. They have changed canon many, many times. Spellplague FR shows how much they can change while 'respecting' canon. All Crawford is saying is what they have done all along. They change what they want and the stories are still good, just won't stop us from doing what we want.
Pirates Of The Caribbean Code GIF by Brian Benns

Exactly. Even the 5e's adventures are not considered canon: the Realms could have been facing a Dragon cult scheme, Elemental apocalypse and Fiendish rampage all at the same time, or none of this has happened, or just some of those adventures.
 

Sacrosanct

Legend
Publisher
Back on topic, this is a good thing. It avoids things like this:

DM, implementing a famous NPC into their game: "So and so appears in the game doing X and Z."
Player: "Um, no they don't. Back in this one novel from 1988, this happened to them, so no way that could happen."
 

So that FR novel the Lost Library of Cormanthor I read 25 years ago and cant remember even one single detail about is no longer canon? What a tragedy.

Seriously though this is a good thing if theyre actively writing single adventures and stories that are self contained in their own product. That story doesnt need to bleed into other future products. I havent paid attention to any canon lore past the 3E FRCS. I think I prefer it this way as I've taken to just writing my own adventures and stories for a long time now. I always thought that we as players and DMS knew to use what you want, modify or throw out the rest. I dont see this as any big revelation. I challenge anyone to read the 32 page timeline in the 2E FR Empire of the Shining Sea book and actually care about any of it. Another problem with canon for me has always been twofold, too hard to keep up with as a DM and it gave gave a false sense of how things should play out in game set in an official campaign setting because they read a few novels or setting books.
 

You can still share in your enjoyment of canon and linked together stories and the mythos of the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance by going back to those stories and books yourself.

Like come on, why are we getting so dramatic? You literally still have the books! You still have the stories! They're just over now, and will probably be reimagined.

Spider-Man and Superman and all other superheroes have been rebooted countless times. You still have your old canons to cherish. Its the same here. Its a new Forgotten Realms universe, with new ideas, for a new audience, based off old ideas. If that's too far for you, you still have books and COMMUNITIES (including this one!) to discuss that stuff at! Most of the original authors are still alive! You can still contact everyone involved with your favorite myths!
 

Bolares

Hero
Within the context of 'current setting' no, it's no longer canon, and is irrelevant.
... it's as relevant as people reading the books make them. When I read the Salvatore books, or the Dragonlance trilogy, I never new they were canon. It didn't matter. They were cool dnd books I could read.
 




Back on topic, this is a good thing. It avoids things like this:

DM, implementing a famous NPC into their game: "So and so appears in the game doing X and Z."
Player: "Um, no they don't. Back in this one novel from 1988, this happened to them, so no way that could happen."
I don't know how much that actually happens, but you can certainly find a lot of people complaining about it if you go back into the 3E-era posts on this board.
 

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