D&D 5e, Dungeons & Dragons

The Freedom of DnD 5e Canon

One of the things that I’ve struggled with for some time is this belief that I need to know everything about a setting to really “get” it. I’ve spent years reading into the lore of various settings in an attempt to understand where they’re going and to make my own campaigns closer to the “true” version of things.

Then Wizards of the Coast made a bold declaration in the article D&D Canon:

Our studio treats D&D in much the same way that Marvel Studios treats its properties. The current edition of the D&D roleplaying game has its own canon, as does every other expression of D&D. For example, what is canonical in fifth edition is not necessarily canonical in a novel, video game, movie, or comic book, and vice versa. This is true not only for lore but art as well.”


I really like this understanding of canon – especially when it comes to settings like Greyhawk, Eberron, or Dragonlance. It takes this mountain of lore and basically says that it’s exclusive to the medium it was published in. Each edition of the game has its own lore; as does each novel, comic, and movie too.

Later Perkins wrote:

The most important reason why we maintain our own continuity, separate from other expressions and earlier editions of D&D, is to lessen the burden on DMs. It’s not that we insist on creating everything ourselves; rather, we don’t want DMs or players to feel like they must read a novel, play a video game, or buy a third-edition sourcebook to enjoy our game and get the most out of our current line of products. We’re judicious about introducing certain types of new lore for this same reason: DMs and players should be able to use our content without having to keep up on some metaplot that stretches across novels, comics, and video games.”


Now this is manifestly different from the way that Disney does things, and yet its something that I think will serve the game well. In the past the publishers of D&D, both TSR and Wizards of the Coast, have attempted to tie in comics, novels, modules, video games, and setting books into a cohesive meta-plot that never quite worked. The fall of Myth Drannor and the War of the Lance are prime examples of these sort of meta-plots.

11 thoughts on “The Freedom of DnD 5e Canon”

  1. This is my something new for today. I’d noticed that the Wikis for D&D had Edition tabs on them. I hadn’t realised that the lore could differ across the editions. One of the reasons I started creating my Earth 6:13 setting was that I didn’t think I could catch up with 50 years of D+D content. Thanks Dragons. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Too much canon definitely deters me from wanting to run a setting and most likely has prevented me from running D&D settings other than Ravenloft. Recently, I’ve considered running an AD&D 2nd Ed. era Fogotten Realms or Dragonlance campaign, nonetheless. I would run them with GURPS, though.

    Liked by 1 person

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