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Green check.png This page is an official policy on the Forgotten Realms Wiki. It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow. When editing this page, please ensure that your revision reflects consensus. When in doubt, discuss first on the talk page.
Purple question mark.gif It has been suggested that this policy be changed. Please see the talk page for further details, and to enter into the discussion regarding this suggested change.

The Canon policy outlines what lore and sources are accepted on the Forgotten Realms Wiki and how to resolve contradictions between them. For the purposes of this policy, "canon" is the term given to a piece of Realms- or D&D-related information that establishes its status as an official part of the Forgotten Realms fictional universe.

Description[]

There is no generally accepted, official, hard-and-fast set of rules given by TSR, Inc. (TSR) or Wizards of the Coast (WotC) for determining outright what is canon, so this policy provides guidelines for determining what is considered canon on this wiki, in accordance with authors' recommendations and fan consensus.

"Canon", according to Ed Greenwood, is any published source relating to the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.[citation needed] This means that if it is official or licensed published material, then it is official Realmslore. This would make video games and other licensed works canon, which would cause inherent problems such as contradictions in the lore and outcomes of decisions by players in the course of gameplay.

Some authors have disagreed with Ed's view. Richard Baker, for example, when asked about the Baldur's Gate series, claimed that canon in the Forgotten Realms is whatever you make of it. You can choose whether a particular work is canon or not.[citation needed] (Some fandoms know this as "personal canon".)

Most are more inclined to agree with Greenwood as he is the creator of the Forgotten Realms and, according to the original agreement between him and TSR, everything he writes and says regarding the Forgotten Realms is canon, unless or until superseded by published material from TSR or WotC.

In the case of the Baldur's Gate series, their popularity, coupled with sourcebooks, adventures, and several Dragon magazine articles, means that in the eyes of many fans it, as it appears in the game, is almost as much canon as the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

It wasn't until 5th-edition D&D that designers gave clear views on Forgotten Realms canon. Matthew Sernett said in a January 2018 interview "...so how we handle that [canon and continuity] now is... whatever's best?" and explained an approach of picking and choosing what's best for current needs. In a press briefing before D&D Live in July 2021, Jeremy Crawford said "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. Part of that is we don't want DMs to feel that in order to run the game, they need to read a certain set of novels. We want you to read them for the joy of reading them, but not as homework... When it comes to the RPG, what's important is each DM's story and the story they create with their players... 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." In a blog post a week later, Christopher Perkins explained this further, noting "...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." and "Every edition of the roleplaying game has its own canon as well. In other words, something that might have been treated as canonical in one edition is not necessarily canonical in another." In practice, this simply puts into words the practices and outcomes of each edition of D&D, which perforce focus on what each edition establishes. The canon is thus a flexible, localized concept. We also interpret their use of "canonical" to mean something is either present in a canon or relevant to a canon. Thus, a source that is not canonical is not necessarily removed from the greater canon, only not relevant to the current canon.

However, while this may be fine for D&D designers and Dungeon Masters, it is not helpful for a wiki endeavoring to document the entirety of the Forgotten Realms and in each edition with neutrality and completeness. Fortunately, the 5th designers invite fans to create their own canon. Therefore, this wiki must establish for itself what it considers canon to determine what is acceptable content, and has done so through the general consensus of its editors. What you personally consider canon, or even what a Realms author or employee of WotC considers canon, is not necessarily canon on this wiki.

Feel free to discuss articles marked as non-canon on their respective talk pages.

Origins[]

The original discussions relating to what is and what is not canon can be found on the talk page and at Forum:Revised canon policy. Further discussion should be carried out on the Talk page.

Contradiction[]

Despite fact checking and research at TSR and WotC, discrepancies in the canon exist. Documenting these discrepancies can be as much a part of writing for the wiki as documenting the Realms itself.

The article author is not at liberty to pick and choose which information should be included and which should be left out. We have created a hierarchy to determine which information should be given preference when a contradiction is discovered, but the less preferable information should not be excluded.

Hierarchy[]

The wiki uses a hierarchy to determine, if two sources contradict one another, which is preferred. See Help:Citing sources for more information on how to reference a given source.

In brief, as a rule of thumb, the hierarchy is as follows:

  1. Official Forgotten Realms sources (sourcebooks, novels, adventures, articles)
  2. Ed Greenwood
  3. Core D&D sources
  4. Other D&D settings
  5. Licensed material (comics, video games)
  6. Online posts

These are explained in more detail below:

Realms sourcebooks
This includes sourcebooks, boxed sets, adventure modules, and other gaming-related products (not video games) relating to the Forgotten Realms universe. This includes the Forgotten Realms, Al-Qadim, Oriental Adventures (1st edition)/Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, and Maztica campaign settings. Base Forgotten Realms material takes priority over sources based in other continents, but there is no specific preference between Al-Qadim, Kara-Tur, and Maztica. See Category:Sourcebook citation templates.
Realms novels
This applies to both printed and digital novels and short stories set in the Forgotten Realms universe, provided they have been published by TSR, WotC, or can be demonstrated as being within Realms canon. See Category:Novel citation templates.
Realms-based magazines and online articles
This includes the Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron magazines and information from the WotC website written specifically about the Realms. This applies to both printed and online editions of the magazines. Where online information is concerned, only official articles are considered. This excludes Realms authors' work on non-Wizards websites, thus excluding their personal developments and unpublished material. See Category:Dragon citation templates, Category:Dungeon citation templates, and Category:Web citation templates.
Ed Greenwood
Everything Ed Greenwood writes and says regarding the Forgotten Realms is canon, unless or until superseded by published material from TSR or WotC. This includes his website columns, his responses at the Candlekeep forums and the So saith Ed compilations, his Twitter account @TheEdVerse, as well as convention seminars, interviews and so on. However, all material referenced to Ed Greenwood should be cited to a published or online source that readers can reasonably be expected to find and view for themselves to confirm. Off-the-cuff remarks, general discussion, and references to his personal Realms game are not considered valid.
Core D&D sourcebooks
Any official, core D&D source is considered canon in the Realms, with some caveats. For this wiki, core D&D material should be general in scope and applicable to the Realms, and ideally referenced within official and licensed Realms sources. For example, a core D&D spell would be considered canon, a core D&D monster with Realmslore attached is canon, but a core D&D adventure not set in the Realms would not. If that adventure includes an adaptation to the Realms, then it may be acceptable, with a {{canon}} to indicate it. Core D&D material that includes applications to the Realms or features material from the Realms are acceptable on this wiki. Primary Realms sources take precedence as normal.
Core D&D magazines and online articles
This includes Dragon, Dungeon, and Polyhedron magazine, and information from the WotC website written about core D&D products. The same caveats apply as for "Core D&D sourcebooks" above.
Other D&D settings
Other D&D settings are not allowed except where their source material makes reference to or crosses over with the Forgotten Realms, or where the Realms makes reference to or crosses over them. This primarily includes settings that cross over into other campaign settings, such as Planescape, Spelljammer, or Ravenloft, while others such as Dragonlance are possible. Information from other D&D settings should only be included if it is directly relevant to the Realms or necessary for clarity. These can include sourcebooks, novels, and video games. Links to other wikis and websites should be included for further information.
Realms comics
This includes comic books, graphic novels, and the like set in the Forgotten Realms, licensed by TSR or WotC to another publisher. This includes comic book adaptations of novels and so on. See Category:Comic citation templates.
Video games
This includes console games, PC/Mac games, and other forms of electronic entertainment, licensed by TSR or WotC to another publisher, and are generally considered to not be canon, owing to significant variations from the established setting. However, because of their popularity and importance, they are accepted on this wiki. These should be Realms-based games, and, rarely, games in other D&D settings that make reference to the Realms. Sourcebooks and novels that retell the events of video games supersede those video games. See Category:Game citation templates.
Online posts
Online posts cannot be considered canon unless made by a Realms designer or author and unless stated as such or resolving a discrepancy. These can generally be considered canon but might warrant discussion for individual cases. This does not include cases where they may simply be discussing ideas with fans, or posting their personal developments and unpublished material, though these may be linked to as interesting and relevant information in appendix notes. For citing the forums at the Candlekeep website, see {{Cite web/Candlekeep forum}}.

Adventures & Video Games[]

Adventure material and modules may appear in Realms and core D&D sourcebooks, online articles, and Dungeon magazines. Thus they are canon and acceptable on the wiki, as are video games. However, adventures and video games may feature branching storylines, random events, have unnamed protagonists (the PCs or players), no official conclusions, and may deviate from official lore for gameplay reasons. Thus, it is difficult to compile a definitive account of events in them. Therefore, only unchangeable information can be accepted, that is, fixed information and events. Notes can be included to explain possible outcomes. If a game has only possible conclusion or if sourcebooks or novels confirm an outcome of an adventure, then that outcome may be taken as correct. If a video game or adventure is novelized as a novel, then the version of events in that novel take precedence. Details in the video game or adventure then become supporting information.

Age[]

Age is a secondary factor in determining preference of information. If two sources contradict one another, the more recently published should be considered preferable. If a new novel contradicts an old sourcebook, the sourcebook should be preferred since it is higher in the hierarchy.

Editions[]

Equal preference is given to all editions of the game. Editors are not at liberty to prioritize one edition above another. The lore is generally unchanged from edition to edition, and contradictions arising in different editions should favor the newer edition, but care should be taken to make mention of all editions and reference each.

Where history is concerned, each edition has a different date, so the usual method is to list each piece of information in chronological order.

Realms-specific versus Generic D&D[]

Realms-specific sources (of any kind) should be preferred to generic D&D ones. Age is not a factor in this decision.

Sourced Versus Unsourced[]

As per Help:Citing sources, an unreferenced piece of information may never be taken in preference to a referenced one. It is not simply good enough to claim that a piece of information exists within a source. It must be referenced as accurately as possible so that readers may choose to check of their own accord and verify that it is the case.

Retcons[]

A specific retcon should always be considered to supersede any information in the source material, provided it is from a TSR or Wizards source.

Common Sense[]

Keep in mind that the above statements are simply guidelines and common sense must prevail. It is always possible for an obvious error in the canon to be published that will fall outside the guidelines set in place above, or a writer to be unaware of different information in a lesser-known source. In these situations, the preferred order of information should follow common sense. A clear error may be rejected, an unnecessary retcon can be reinterpreted, and a later source giving a much-abbreviated, mistaken summary of a past source may be disregarded in favor of the more complete past source. Significant secondary information may be included as an alternative version in the article.

Resolutions[]

In the case of discrepancies in the lore, all versions known to the article writer should be included in an article, with references and footnotes to explain the discrepancy, but preference should be given to one particular version. The guidelines for determining preference are provided above.

To handle discrepancies in an article, give emphasis to the preferred source but do not discredit the other sources. The preferred source may be discussed first, followed by the secondary sources as alternatives, or the secondary sources discussed before the preferred source is given as the final word. Emphasize these alternatives with simple statements like "It was believed..." or "Some sources said..." or "Reports suggested..." You may give dates to these that subtly illustrate the edition. However, avoid embellished statements like "Sages theorized that..." that invite the question of which sages where and when. If no change is known to occur in the setting, then do not say there was a change. Avoid statements like "It was revealed that..." which may imply a change or exposed secret where none exists.

Many sources have narrators like Volo, whether named or presumed, and works of fiction may be from the point of view of a character. In such cases, they may be treated as unreliable narrators and presumed to be mistaken when there is a discrepancy. However, they should generally be considered reliable as they would not be used as narrators otherwise.

A simple retcon accompanied by a leap in time such as the Spellplague and the century-long jump from 3.5 to 4th edition or the Second Sundering and the decade-long jump to 5th edition may itself be treated as unreliable. For example, if something is attributed to the Spellplague in 4th edition but was actually in place before it in 2nd edition, then it may be presumed the earlier information was forgotten or overlooked at the later time.

Ultimately, all alternatives should be presented, the sources specified, and the discrepancies made clear, for the reader to choose what they prefer.

Disputes[]

Should a dispute arise on what is preferable to what, as per the usual wiki policies on discussions, this should be conducted in a civil and productive manner. A general consensus should be reached before the order of preference is determined.

Removing or altering a valid, referenced piece of information is never an acceptable resolution to a discrepancy in the source material.

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