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WotC's Secret Lore Book

Parmandur

Adventurer
So where was this supposed book of secret FR lore dating back over 40 odd years when WotC published the 4th edition FR campaign setting?

Oops! Did I actually hit the Submit Reply button here?? I'm sorry. :angel:
No, there is no such book: Mearls is talking about a plan conceived of within the past 7-8 years, while 5E was being made.
 

Jer

Explorer
The entire premise here is that somehow Wizards controls the lore in my game. While that happens when I play/run AL, there's not a snowball's chance in Avernus of that being the case for my own game.
No, the premise here is that Wizards controls the lore on their publication schedule. And that some people would like to have access to the spoilers.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
No, the premise here is that Wizards controls the lore on their publication schedule. And that some people would like to have access to the spoilers.
And, on top of that, have a metaphysical model to explain things like how Dragonlance and Eberron fit in with Greyhawk and Mystarra.
 

Aebir-Toril

Explorer
And, on top of that, have a metaphysical model to explain things like how Dragonlance and Eberron fit in with Greyhawk and Mystarra.
Wait, you mean that I might not have my theory of multi-dimensional crossdirectionality in planar spheres, as justified under Xhylorpcha's Law, verified or disproven by WotC?
 

Inchoroi

Explorer
The problem is that once you give away the secrets, they aren't secret any more. It is attractive and tantalizing while you don't know it, but once you do? Meh.

It is a document they use to create new, yet consistent, materials for us. No, don't publish that, because it will take away much of the "new" for us.
I'm actually fine with knowing all the secrets, because then I get to lead my characters through discovering them as well.
 

Psyzhran2357

Villager
And, on top of that, have a metaphysical model to explain things like how Dragonlance and Eberron fit in with Greyhawk and Mystarra.
Didn't they already explain this? Sort of?

IIRC, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Dragonlance are all in the Great Wheel as normal crystal spheres in the Material Plane. Eberron meanwhile is isolated in its own pocket dimension; it's crystal sphere cuts it off from everything except the Deep Ethereal, and its Orrery of 13 planes is contained within.

No clue for Mystara though.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
And, on top of that, have a metaphysical model to explain things like how Dragonlance and Eberron fit in with Greyhawk and Mystarra.
This is actually the point where I start to have an issue with the "secret bible". I'm actually just fine with there being a secret book of lore for FR or Dragonlance or Greyhawk or Eberron, etc. In fact, I think there really should be one for each setting. The problem is when someone thinks any of those books has any bearing on any of the others.

One of the really amazing things about AD&D was that it wasn't a unified setting. Yes, Gygax put lots of vague (very vague) lore in the core books and there was a published Greyhawk setting. But Orcus, the planes, Vecna, the Wind Dukes of Aqaa, and so much more were just inspirational building blocks to be interpreted and snapped into your own game. Is Orcus "alive", dead, risen as undead? Whichever suits your game. Krynn didn't need to share a cosmology with Greyhawk (even though there were attempts) because it was a different story that used the blocks differently. Dark Sun didn't have to explain why things worked different; they just did. Yeah, there were some attempts to explain how to jump from one world to another, like Greenwood's articles where Elminster, Mordenkainen, and Dalamar sat around smoking and drinking. But, they weren't particularly canon.

D&D isn't a unified setting. It's actually just the opposite. It's a meta-setting that supports multiple, unlinked settings. There shouldn't be any sort of official attempt to make it otherwise -- at least not in a definitive way. Planescape is fine. So is Spelljammer. Neither exist for me, though.

How does Eberron fit in with Greyhawk? It doesn't. They're two settings that use the same mechanical system to play. It's like if the same company owned the rights to do a Babylon 5 game and an Aliens game and chose to use the same mechanics. You could say that Aliens was a few centuries earlier and that the xenomorphs exist in B5. The system would make it a breeze to do so. But, it sure isn't inherent in anything with either setting.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Didn't they already explain this? Sort of?

IIRC, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Dragonlance are all in the Great Wheel as normal crystal spheres in the Material Plane. Eberron meanwhile is isolated in its own pocket dimension; it's crystal sphere cuts it off from everything except the Deep Ethereal, and its Orrery of 13 planes is contained within.

No clue for Mystara though.
Oh, for sure, they've talked about all of this for years, bits and pieces. What Mearls is saying is that they have a through Bible worked out for this to keep official releases coherent, but have no plans to push the Bible as a wholesale product, or even put it all out there as definitive.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
This is actually the point where I start to have an issue with the "secret bible". I'm actually just fine with there being a secret book of lore for FR or Dragonlance or Greyhawk or Eberron, etc. In fact, I think there really should be one for each setting. The problem is when someone thinks any of those books has any bearing on any of the others.

One of the really amazing things about AD&D was that it wasn't a unified setting. Yes, Gygax put lots of vague (very vague) lore in the core books and there was a published Greyhawk setting. But Orcus, the planes, Vecna, the Wind Dukes of Aqaa, and so much more were just inspirational building blocks to be interpreted and snapped into your own game. Is Orcus "alive", dead, risen as undead? Whichever suits your game. Krynn didn't need to share a cosmology with Greyhawk (even though there were attempts) because it was a different story that used the blocks differently. Dark Sun didn't have to explain why things worked different; they just did. Yeah, there were some attempts to explain how to jump from one world to another, like Greenwood's articles where Elminster, Mordenkainen, and Dalamar sat around smoking and drinking. But, they weren't particularly canon.

D&D isn't a unified setting. It's actually just the opposite. It's a meta-setting that supports multiple, unlinked settings. There shouldn't be any sort of official attempt to make it otherwise -- at least not in a definitive way. Planescape is fine. So is Spelljammer. Neither exist for me, though.

How does Eberron fit in with Greyhawk? It doesn't. They're two settings that use the same mechanical system to play. It's like if the same company owned the rights to do a Babylon 5 game and an Aliens game and chose to use the same mechanics. You could say that Aliens was a few centuries earlier and that the xenomorphs exist in B5. The system would make it a breeze to do so. But, it sure isn't inherent in anything with either setting.
This is why, as I read it, Mearls is reluctant about productizing their "official" Unified Setting Theory. It's not a straightjacket for DMs, it's a tool for developers such as Larian.
 

Jer

Explorer
No clue for Mystara though.
Mystara exists in a completely separate multiverse where "Crystal Spheres" don't exist and an infinite number of Outer Planes do exist. Mystara exists in a solar system similar to our own, in a galaxy that may be the Milky Way because Mystara is very likely an Alternate Earth in a very Old School sense. The only way to travel between Mystara and what were once known as the "AD&D Worlds" is via a "reality shift" - a powerful magical effect that alters the very fabric of space and time and allows elves, dwarves and halflings to have character classes (unless the DM says otherwise, in which case it works however the DM says it does). Citations - The D&D Immortal Set and "Up, Away, and Beyond" in Dragon 160 by Bruce Heard.

Of course, later Mystara became an "AD&D World" itself and Mystaran characters showed up in Planescape and Ravenloft supplements, but that's how I continue to play it when I use Mystara. Also I do the same thing for Dark Sun and Eberron because the idea that these two worlds are somehow connected to the same Great Wheel cosmology of Planescape just breaks so much of my idea of what these worlds are about and adds nothing to the play experience in them that I refuse to accept it.
 

digitalelf

Explorer
D&D isn't a unified setting. It's actually just the opposite. It's a meta-setting that supports multiple, unlinked settings. There shouldn't be any sort of official attempt to make it otherwise -- at least not in a definitive way. Planescape is fine. So is Spelljammer. Neither exist for me, though.
Just because in the past D&D was not unified as a setting, does not mean it is to remain so forever. And that the changes TSR made to make it unified, "didn't count". It's fine that you don't make all of the settings unified, but officially, once Spelljammer and Planescape were released, like it or not, they became unified and connect. So yes, D&D IS a unified setting.

Individual DMs don't have to make it so, but that is up to each DM, and has absolutely no effect upon the fact that D&D became a unified setting in a very definitive way, back in 1989.
 
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Parmandur

Adventurer
Just because in the past D&D was not unified as a setting, does not mean it is to remain so forever. And that the changes TSR made to make it unified, "didn't count". It's fine that you don't make all of the settings unified, but officially, once Spelljammer and Planescape were released, like it or not, they became unified and connect. So yes, D&D IS a unified setting.

Individual DMs don't have to make it so, but that is up to each DM, and has absolutely no effect upon the fact that D&D became a unified setting in a very definitive way, back in 1989.
Indeed, while any table is free to make these things work however they want, everything being connected in D&D has been the default setting since I was a toddler. Playing with these settings *not* being connected is the house rule akin to mixing Alien with Babylon 5, not the other way around.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Mystara exists in a completely separate multiverse where "Crystal Spheres" don't exist and an infinite number of Outer Planes do exist. Mystara exists in a solar system similar to our own, in a galaxy that may be the Milky Way because Mystara is very likely an Alternate Earth in a very Old School sense. The only way to travel between Mystara and what were once known as the "AD&D Worlds" is via a "reality shift" - a powerful magical effect that alters the very fabric of space and time and allows elves, dwarves and halflings to have character classes (unless the DM says otherwise, in which case it works however the DM says it does). Citations - The D&D Immortal Set and "Up, Away, and Beyond" in Dragon 160 by Bruce Heard.

Of course, later Mystara became an "AD&D World" itself and Mystaran characters showed up in Planescape and Ravenloft supplements, but that's how I continue to play it when I use Mystara. Also I do the same thing for Dark Sun and Eberron because the idea that these two worlds are somehow connected to the same Great Wheel cosmology of Planescape just breaks so much of my idea of what these worlds are about and adds nothing to the play experience in them that I refuse to accept it.
Indeed, there is no reason that you need to accept it, or ought to in any fashion. WotC, however, made the decision to honor the multiverse approach established in past editions...mainly from fan feedback during the playtest. People, on the statistical level, *like* things like the MCU or other gonzo interconnected multiverse approaches. WotC is obliged, ethically, to maximize shareholder value. Ergo, the default is the full multiverse, because they like money (though the DMG is at pains to note that an individual table can make whatever they want: doesn't bear on the publication schedule, however.
 

Mercule

Adventurer
Just because in the past D&D was not unified as a setting, does not mean it is to remain so forever. And that the changes TSR made to make it unified, "didn't count". It's fine that you don't make all of the settings unified, but officially, once Spelljammer and Planescape were released, like it or not, they became unified and connect. So yes, D&D IS a unified setting.

Individual DMs don't have to make it so, but that is up to each DM, and has absolutely no effect upon the fact that D&D became a unified setting in a very definitive way, back in 1989.
Maybe I wasn't clear. Obviously, WotC has the legal right to do what they want and they've made many moves to unify the settings. There is definitely some call for multi-verse spanning games within the larger D&D meta-setting and I can see why they'd want to cash in on it. That's why Planescape, for example, doesn't really bother me. It's not my thing and I appreciate that it's easy enough to ignore.

When 5E was released, about my only real issue with it (maybe two issues, depending on how you cut it) was that the Realms was the single core setting and that WotC was projecting an image that what was true for the Realms was true for all settings. For the last couple years, they seem to have pulled back from that stance and I really hope it continues. I think D&D is, and always has been, at its best when it offers itself as a toolbox for individual games to draw from and is weaker when it tries to provide a single "truth" about things. There are reasons I like Greyhawk and dislike the Realms. I don't want to play Greyhawk as the Realms with different geography. Eberron and Dark Sun are their own things and don't really play well with crystal spheres are links to Sigil. Trying to wedge those in doesn't add value to the properties.

Back when there was a lot of talk about a new D&D movie, my stance was consistent with this. The idea of a "D&D story" is silly. D&D is a game system. The brand has value in that regard. The Realms have plenty of stories worth telling. Krynn/Dragonlance have plenty of stories worth telling. Greyhawk has plenty of stories worth telling. So on and so forth. Any of those stories could in movies or books or video games. They could also be told using the D&D game system, but they would be just as meaningful, as stories, if told with Savage Worlds, Hero, or Fate.
 

Parmandur

Adventurer
Maybe I wasn't clear. Obviously, WotC has the legal right to do what they want and they've made many moves to unify the settings. There is definitely some call for multi-verse spanning games within the larger D&D meta-setting and I can see why they'd want to cash in on it. That's why Planescape, for example, doesn't really bother me. It's not my thing and I appreciate that it's easy enough to ignore.

When 5E was released, about my only real issue with it (maybe two issues, depending on how you cut it) was that the Realms was the single core setting and that WotC was projecting an image that what was true for the Realms was true for all settings. For the last couple years, they seem to have pulled back from that stance and I really hope it continues. I think D&D is, and always has been, at its best when it offers itself as a toolbox for individual games to draw from and is weaker when it tries to provide a single "truth" about things. There are reasons I like Greyhawk and dislike the Realms. I don't want to play Greyhawk as the Realms with different geography. Eberron and Dark Sun are their own things and don't really play well with crystal spheres are links to Sigil. Trying to wedge those in doesn't add value to the properties.

Back when there was a lot of talk about a new D&D movie, my stance was consistent with this. The idea of a "D&D story" is silly. D&D is a game system. The brand has value in that regard. The Realms have plenty of stories worth telling. Krynn/Dragonlance have plenty of stories worth telling. Greyhawk has plenty of stories worth telling. So on and so forth. Any of those stories could in movies or books or video games. They could also be told using the D&D game system, but they would be just as meaningful, as stories, if told with Savage Worlds, Hero, or Fate.
WotC tried the toolbox approach in 3.x, but have found people *like* the 2E style gonzo multiverse. It is easy enough tonignore or change at home, the DMG goes into detail about changing the baseline assumptions. But for their publishing strategy, they have a framework that's built out, that people can use. They haven't really changed the approach to the core setting (which is the Great Wheel multiverse) the whole edition so far, they've just enlarged the scope as more products are added to the framework.
 

DEFCON 1

Hero
One of the really amazing things about AD&D was that it wasn't a unified setting. Yes, Gygax put lots of vague (very vague) lore in the core books and there was a published Greyhawk setting. But Orcus, the planes, Vecna, the Wind Dukes of Aqaa, and so much more were just inspirational building blocks to be interpreted and snapped into your own game. Is Orcus "alive", dead, risen as undead? Whichever suits your game.

D&D isn't a unified setting. It's actually just the opposite. It's a meta-setting that supports multiple, unlinked settings.
If I had to guess though, this is what their "secret lore" is actually about... figuring out how lore figures like Orcus fit across ALL their settings. I mean Orcus *is* a lore figure in Greyhawk, as well as in the Realms. So what does that mean? Is the Orcus of one the same as the Orcus in the other? Are they two separate Orci? If Orcus was canonically removed as the Demon Lord of the Undead in one of their settings (say for instance they decided that Orcus was indeed destroyed permanently in something like Out of the Abyss)... would they not have Orcus still as a Demon Lord were they ever to do a new Greyhawk setting book?

Those are the questions that their "secret lore" is probably figuring out.

I mean to use an example right now that *is* currently happening and having to be figured out... Zariel is currently the Lord of the 1st level of the Nine Hells. This is different than who was the Lord of the 1st Level in editions past. If they at some point release a Greyhawk setting book, are they going to say Zariel is in fact the Lord of that setting (as she is right now in the Realms), or are they going to go back to whomever the Lord was when Greyhawk first came out (Tiamat or Bel or whomever?) Even if the timeline of Greyhawk doesn't get advanced from whenver the last Greyhawk setting product was released... do they go with Zariel anyway because in the D&D Multiverse, she is the Lord? Their "secret lore" book probably has made these decisions if or when they ever need to be printed in some subsequent product down the line.

It's these kinds of questions that you are right, have little to no impact on any one person's individual game, table, or setting, but I think it's still good that they've put in the time to think about it. Like for instance, who is "Ioun"? Why do they have stones named after them? Why do these stones appear in multitudes of settings, even ones that "theoretically" aren't connected in any way? Why does your game have Ioun Stones in them even if you want to say your game and table is completely different and separate from the idea of the "D&D Multiverse"? *Is* there in fact an answer? Or is there no answer and the "secret lore" book says it's just a quirk of reality?

They're interesting questions indeed. And even if we players don't give a rat's ass about the answers or would just ignore the answers WotC's decided for themselves in the "cosmic microwave background" of the D&D game were we to ever hear about what those answers are... the fact that they've made a choice at all tells us that the "lore of Dungeons & Dragons" does matter, and that D&D will always remain D&D at its core regardless of whatever game changes happen in subsequent editions in the future.
 
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digitalelf

Explorer
Maybe I wasn't clear.
Mercule said:
D&D isn't a unified setting. It's actually just the opposite. It's a meta-setting that supports multiple, unlinked settings.
These are pretty clear, definitive statements on your part. And they indeed seemed pretty clear as well as definitive to me when I responded to them, but okay. :erm:
 
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The Glen

Explorer
Didn't they already explain this? Sort of?

IIRC, Greyhawk, Forgotten Realms, and Dragonlance are all in the Great Wheel as normal crystal spheres in the Material Plane. Eberron meanwhile is isolated in its own pocket dimension; it's crystal sphere cuts it off from everything except the Deep Ethereal, and its Orrery of 13 planes is contained within.

No clue for Mystara though.
Mystara was stand alone until 2nd edition in the 90's. A dragon magazine put it in Spelljammer but it's Crystal Sphere has two major differences. It's a void so a ship's air bleeds out quickly. It's also very cold so you need to adjust for that. Other than that it follows normal rules for Ravenloft or Planescape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-9hN9yH6k8&t=87s
 

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