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    Canon as Lingua Franca
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 05, 2004
    Posts: 1446

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    Thu Nov 04, 2004 7:54 am  
    Canon as Lingua Franca

    The note was made that reference to canon, if not adherence, is a necessary common point of reference for Greyhawk fans.

    I think this is true and untrue.

    It is true only as to BIG or defining canon issues. Smaller canon issues are not necessary for Greyhawkers to understand one another.

    For example, as long as we all know what the Scarlet Brotherhood is, I can speak about "Crimson Wizards," even "red" wizards, supporting Brotherhood agents and no one will get lost along the way.

    Unfortunately, with a hidebound view of canon we will never get to whether "Crimson Wizards" are an interesting addition to the Scarlet Brotherhood or a good or bad idea. We will dismiss the idea solely because there is no support for it in existing canon.

    How did existing canon come to be? Someone created canon that never existed before they did so. One guys name was Sargent. I don't think he lost anybody in translation, even if some didn't like what he did. He was understood.

    It is entirely false to say that canon must be adhered to in every detail for Greyhawkers to understand one another. Canon is simply what is, not what shall be or even what was. The Greyhawk Wars is canon only after Sargent. When Sargent wrote about various fading lands etc, he was moving beyond, even violating, the canon of the time. He was creating something new that became canon.

    Canon is not static. It is stagnant when people must begin and end almost every inquiry with a reference to canon.

    When playing CCGs it is advantageous to collect every card. When playing an RPG, it is not necessarily advantageous to obsess to an equal degree about collecting every canon factoid.

    Yet, here we go -

    Every proper noun written in a Greyhawk product cataloged.
    Every date mentioned in a Greyhawk product ploted on a timeline.
    Every city or town mentioned in a Greyhawk source plotted on a map.
    Every dragon, giant, wizard, lich etc. mentioned in a Greyhawk product identified and listed.

    No one sees this as obssessive or a bit extreme? And what will you do when every canon factoid is cataloged? Then what?

    For designers, canon is chiefly useful only in the large sense to maintain consistency. For fans, there is not even that consideration.

    Canon is not the lingua franca necessary for Greyhawkers to communicate effectively. As too often found, it is Greyhawkian onanism. Temporarily satisfying perhaps but ultimately a poor substitute for the real thing.


    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Oct 13, 2004
    Posts: 43
    From: St.Louis, Missouri USA

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    Thu Nov 04, 2004 9:32 am  

    I was one who asked for clarification in another thread. Omote was nice enough to reply. This thread started by GVD is also excellent. As a longtime "Hawker" and a relatively short time reader of this site, I appreciate a "clearer" definition to start a discussion on this subject.

    I agree with your general premise GVD. To me the definition of Canon is what is written in black and white in regards to history, geographic/political changes made, and major NPC eliminations/additions (whether you accept or like these changes or not is a different issue). What people added/changed in the world through these releases (i.e. Sargeant) become accepted Canon unless you wish, like GVD pointed out, your world to remain stagnant, which, also IMO, is of almost no enjoyment (thank you for your world GG, but it is obviously no longer exclusively yours). While ones reasons, events, and minor timeline portions can differ from Canon, the results should remain the same. You can make yourr campaign work without changing the major history, geography, politics or NPC as presented by those releases and still have your individuality.

    I know this has been not much more that a restatement of GVD's post, but it is nice to have confirmation of ones thoughts (being mine not GVD's) in writing.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Oct 14, 2003
    Posts: 586
    From: Rel Astra

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    Thu Nov 04, 2004 10:31 am  

    To me the definition of Canon is what is written in black and white in regards to history, geographic/political changes made, and major NPC eliminations/additions .

    you also need to add to the end of the above sentence...

    "as recognized by Greyhawk's intellectual property owner"

    For instance, in the beginning introduction to WGR1 it is stated that WGR1 is to "take the place of" WG7 and that WG7 should be ingored entirely for purposes of what really is and was. (or something to that effect)

    I'm at work right now, so I can not look up the exact quote, but the above is generally on point.
    Kneel before me, or you shall be KNELT!
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 28, 2004
    Posts: 84

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    Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:55 pm  

    Havent been here long and in all honesty only came across the notion of canon since I've been reading the posts here. The way I see it though canon is what you make of it. If you are the DM/GM, then canon is what you decide it is. We choose what we want to incorporate into our campaigns and what we do not. What LGG, WoTC, EGG or Sargent put forth as canon does not have to be adopted as such unless you want it to or you belong to a group such as LGG that defines canon for their players. One the best things about this game when I started was is that the rules were not really rules but guidelines for you to use or not use at your discretion. Dont like THACO dont use it. Dont like the fact that Iuz conquered HS then dont use it. Ivid is an animus in for one group and a degenerate human for another. So I become amazed when I read all these posts about what is canon and what is not. Use what you want and discard the rest and have fun. Guess thats my two cents worth, probably not even worth that much on a given day.

    Black Hand of Oblivion

    Joined: Feb 16, 2003
    Posts: 3812
    From: So. Cal

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    Sun Nov 07, 2004 7:27 pm  

    I think most canon issue arise from people who have made broad political changes or changes in major events in their own campaign worlds, only to find that a product printed after they have done this makes an entirely different change, which has now set of point of contention in that dm's campaign for all further published material. If this dm wants to use it, they either have to make major changes to the material or need to rectify the sitiuations in their own campaigns in some way so that it fits back in with the new material, which might be very difficult to explain away.

    Generally, if a dm stays away from massive events where kingdoms are wiped out or notable personages are killed off, then they will find a way to fit most further published canon material into their campaigns. Often this is can be just too constraining to many dm's.

    The two 10-year time span jumps instigated at "The Adventure Continues" and the LGG further complictes things, and was a very bad idea in my opinion. A few years maybe, but ten? That is a good way to irritate all of your long time campaign players out there. Now all of the new material is "so fresh, its from the future!" as in the lame pizza delivery commercial. No dm wants to feel compelled to Rip Van Winkle their campaign for ten years worth of game time just so that it will fit in with all of the latest CANON material being produced.

    I'd say GVD has a good take on canon material. Its all subjective or relative, but not all that important in the realm of Greyhawkers communicating to one another.
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