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Admittedly, I haven’t read through this book in its entirety. As an elf and gods found, I mainly focused on chapter 2, as I had been hearing rumors about lore changes, and I wanted to read it for myself. And I am coming away with mixed feelings. There are some significant lore changes that override a lot of previous lore. I realize this book is not Faerun-specific, but they still changed a lot. Yes, I am one of *those* people who care about the lore of the setting. To me, it isn’t just fluff you can use with mechanics. It’s an established, rich world with a history and flavor.
One of the things I *did* like was that they made the elves springing from Corellon’s blood a fact, rather than a racial myth (though, considering its been part of the legend for so long, I kind of took it as fact, anyway). But the other Seldarine (including Lolth) also sprang from his blood, apparently. I found that part a little strange, and it gets rid of Araunshnee, but oh well. I’m also glad they used both male and female pronouns to describe Sehanine (and that they made her/him Corellon’s beloved again, rather than changing it to Angarradh like they did in 4e).
Elven souls (or spirits, as they were called in earlier editions) have long been reincarnated, because they are creatures of the natural world. However, some remained eternally in Arvandor, and Arvandor has always been a reward for the elves who pass on. Now, it is still a reward, but they are barred from being their eternally because of the treachery of the primal elves.
So, when elves reach old age, they undergo Transcendence, then pass onto Arvandor, where they may spend a decade or millennia, then are reincarnated again as an elf. This part isn’t too much of a change, but it is enough to make me notice. The true immortality of the soul, and how the elves can get glimpses of their past incarnations is poetic, but I don’t like that Arvandor has essentially become a pretty waystation or summer house between incarnations.
And the fate of the soul of a half-elf is uncertain. This is a change, as before, your afterlife was determined either by your patron deity, or the god that is best aligned with their moral and ethical outlook. Now, it seems like the fate of half-elves and elves who don’t worship the Seldarine (this is rare, as most elves do, but some have been known to worship others, like Silvanus or Mielikki) is uncertain. What?
They also got rid of the Descent—or rather, changed how it came about. There were no Crown Wars. Instead, the treachery happened before elves were mortal (when they were known as primal elves). They probably did this because MToF covers multiple settings, and they are trying to give the drow and elves of each setting the same origin story to simplify things, but it gets rid of some unique history.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Descent, but it has been in the lore so long, I would rather they had started making changes, rather than getting rid of it completely. So, the Descent of the Drow would still be part of history, but, thanks to the work of Eilistraee and Vhaeraun, things were beginning to change. But nope, that’s not the direction they took.
Speaking of Eilistraee and Vhaeraun, this is the change that bothers me the most: drow souls, as part of the curse due to the primal elves’ treachery, aren’t reincarnated, and it is not specified where they’re souls go. Do they not even go to Lolth, now?
I suppose one could assume that, by default, the “other planes” implies the realm of whatever god they identify with, but why not be more specific? Are the drow essentially intelligent zombies now, and their souls just go “poof”? And the uncertainty of Eilistraee’s followers, too. Why not just go to Eilistraee’s realm, like they used to? And since when was Vhaeraun mute?
I realize I’m probably overreacting, but I have been invested in this setting for years, and to see such a sudden, drastic change bothers me, and I’m tired of Vhaeraun and Eilistraee constantly being shoehorned into a corner and only dealt with when absolutely necessary.