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D&D > Off Topic > Tabletop RPGOct 14, 2021 4:00 pm CT

What is Wizards of the Coast planning for its multiverse? Hints suggest the future of the game could be in the past

We’ve been hearing a lot about what’s coming for Dungeons and Dragons, and though we can’t say exactly what’s on the horizon for the game, we can make some informed guesses. Back in July, Jeremy Crawford told us that the only things currently considered canon for 5th Edition D&D are the things published as part of that edition of the game, meaning that Wizards of the Coast reserves the right to completely change or alter the canon storylines for anything from older editions that they publish today. That seems to suggest they might be thinking of revisiting old territory… but what, exactly?

Looking at upcoming and current content, we might be able to draw a few conclusions:

So, taken together, what does all of this mean?  What can we glean from the upcoming Fizban’s Treasury of Dragons and how it also seems to to be a remaking of  previous lore in places? What does it mean that we keep hearing about classic D&D settings?

D&D may be trying to consolidate its lore

For starters, I think we’re looking at a lore consolidation. Rather than having, as an example, the Dragonlance setting with Takhisis and Paladine who were never clearly established as being Tiamat and Bahamut (until Fizban’s comes out later this month), or wildly different cosmologies for Eberron, Faerun, Dark Sun’s Athas, and so on, Wizards of the Coast appears to be making an effort to establish what’s canon for all official published settings, and how they all fit together. I’m not sure if this is going to count for the various Magic the Gathering worlds like Theros or Ravnica, or the Critical Role Wildemount setting Wizards also published, but for settings like Eberron, Ravenloft, or the big ones like Faerun it seems pretty likely that Wizards is trying to consolidate and clarify existing lore.

And there’s a lot to be gleaned from upcoming content. We’re getting two new classic settings in 2022 (plus another getting what Wizards referred to as a “cameo” in the same year), and a third classic setting in 2023. All of those will be out by the time the 50th Anniversary Edition releases. Considering all of these teasers, I expect that the 50th Anniversary Edition may actually launch with multiple settings available for players to choose from, unified by the new focus on the Multiverse and a shared cosmology. I also believe, based on The Wild Beyond the Witchlight and Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft, that a lot of older D&D settings will be revamped and combined, like how Ravenloft was made a Domain of Dread in Shadowfell, and there are now corresponding Domains of Delight in the Feywild. It’s feasible that we’ll see Spelljammer’s magical ships exploring the cosmos married to Planescape and its expanded look of the Inner and Outer Planes of the old D&D cosmology.

There’s a lot of content available to draw from

Over the years there have been a lot of settings for Dungeons and Dragons players to explore, and it feels like the game is leaning into the idea that each of these settings might be utilized in one way or another — from full-fledged settings with sourcebooks to short cameos in other settings or adventures. Establishing that the only canon in 5e is published 5e books allows Wizards to essentially reboot any setting it’s introduced.

Events that drastically changed a setting — like the Spellplague of the Forgotten Realms or the death of the Sorcerer King of Tyr in Dark Sun — could simply be ignored in favor of new stories that take the settings in new directions. Or old settings could be put into a new framework, Like Ravenloft and the Shadowfell. The emphasis on the multiverse concept in books like Mordenkainen’s Monsters of the Multiverse and the latest Unearthed Arcana also seems to skew towards the idea of D&D embracing a wide and varied multiverse — and combining its large back catalogue of settings and worlds under that framework.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see a campaign module, similar to Descent into Avernus or the Rime of the Frostmaiden adventures, potentially taking place on a Spelljammer ship traveling from world to world, allowing players to visit all of these settings in digestible adventures that serve as introductions to different worlds in the multiverse. There have been so many editions of D&D and so many versions of some of these worlds, you could do a lot with this idea.

Of course, this is all speculation, but we’ve only got a few months before we see some of these books and start to get an idea of how much we’re keeping from those older settings. Maybe we’ll finally get to see Mystara’s Grand Duchy of Karameikos again!

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