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    Canonfire :: View topic - Further Considerations of Greyhawk Canon, Or Not
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    Further Considerations of Greyhawk Canon, Or Not
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:13 am  
    Further Considerations of Greyhawk Canon, Or Not

    Before I begin, I would like to make clear that what follows is not intended as an attack on any individual named or unnamed. Of those specifically identified, I have great respect for their contributions to this site and in the Greychats. Smile I think I can say the same of most everyone. Smile What follows is also purely my opinion and others will have their own opinions of just as much worth.

    The Role of Canon

    Canon, I think, it integral to consideration of Greyhawk but how it is integral is, I think, less certain.

    In one view, rarely expressed in these terms, Canon is a litmus test for developing Greyhawk. All development must avoid conflict with Canon, must be in accord with Canon and must naturally develop from and harmonize with Canon. Canon is a creative straightjacket in this scenario. Its primary purpose is to limit and say “no.” It more often will say what is not appropriate, often summed up colloquially as “That’s not canon,” or “That’s not what canon says; canon says X.” I will call this Canon Right, for shorthand.

    In another thread, Dethand has well defined what may be called Canon Middle.

    Dethand wrote:

    What canon means to me at least is a starting point, a base point to begin making GH your own. While looking at older things sometimes falls into nostalgic fancies, it is also a good way to come up with new ideas and using past adventures and text to help expand GH as it grows. Canon should not be a straight jacket but a sort of 'point zero' that can be called to as a reference so any DM can then point out "In my campaign.." discussions as where their interpretation differs or redirects certain key events or rules.


    In this formulation, Canon is where you start - “point zero.” You then move on from Canon, creating something that may or may not “fit” within a Canon framework. While a far more palatable, to me, use of Canon, the difficulty is the need to start from Canon, which means you must be aware of Canon, of which in strictest definition, there is a lot. The result is not a straightjacket but a leash. Such a leash may prove troublesome if one does not have ready access to Canon materials, for without such access, one cannot begin at “point zero.” If you are unaware of Canon, you cannot even begin.

    I am a firm advocate of what I will call Canon Left. You do not even consider Canon as you begin your creative work. As you begin to think about creating something in Greyhawk, your only thought should be, IMO, - is this a neat idea that is interesting and potentially fun? Canon is not even a consideration initially. Once you have fleshed out your idea, after the fact, you look at Canon to determine if you are changing what is commonly understood of the setting to such a degree that you need to make some modifications to your creation so it will “fit,” at least loosely, within Greyhawk as it will be recognized as more than a name. You do not need huge access to or knowledge of Canon sources to utilize Canon Left. Initially, Canon is not a concern. Thereafter, you need only the most basic Canon sources; the LGG will do. Finally, others can assist you with a Canon critique if you so desire one. There is no straightjacket and no leash. Maximum freedom of design, and a design whose first considerations are interest and fun, are the emphasis. Adherence to Canon is an afterthought.

    Canon As Not Necessary Common Ground

    While it is commonly said that Canon Right must be adhered to, or Canon Middle in a pinch, because there must be a common basis or understanding upon which discussion can take place, I think this argument is overblown and over sold. A meaningful discussion of Greyhawk need not be founded solely in Canon. Greyhawk is the setting for a game whose most notable feature is imagination. There is no Canon of the imagination. So long as Canon is in the mix, people will be able to figure each other out and have a meaningful discussion.

    Canon As a Put-Down or Self-Promotion

    Now. The tricky part.

    I get a sense that some people have pretensions of intellectual grandeur with respect to Canon. They like the feeling of being intelligent that can come from a mastery of the trivia that is Canon. I don’t think they are being malicious. Some, I think, take it a bit further and like the feeling of superiority that comes from a superior mastery of the trivia that is Canon. I don’t think they are being malicious, either, but they are definitely advancing now a more personal agenda in how they approach what is a game intended to be fun and imaginative - not a trivia contest.

    Value in Imagination and Creativity, Not Canon as a Collection of Facts

    Now. The trickiest part.

    Some people, I believe with no bad intent, exacerbate the potentially problematic nature of Canon. This comes down to how one “speaks,” particularly if one speaks declaratively, and with whether one provides references or sources for their work when they choose to speak in the declarative.

    I will take for my negative example the Sheldomar Timeline Part I put together by Samwise and Gary Holian (Psmedger).

    First, I want to say it is a great work that I very much like and I respect the effort that went into it and the end result. I also like and respect both Sam and Gary.

    The problem, IMO, arises with how both of these worthies speak about the timeline. They speak like it is Canon when it is not. This was made plain in a Greychat a few weeks ago when, I believe it was, Kirt closely pressed Gary about some of the details in the timeline. Under close questioning, Gary advised that, in fact, some of the material was guesswork, informed guesswork, but guesswork - it was not Canon. However, with no specific references or sources provided for the Sheldomar Timeline Part I and whereas Sam speaks strongly in the declarative, while Gary is reserved in his speach, at times being almost laconic, one could easily get the impression that every entry in the Sheldomar Timeline Part I was gospel Canon that could be found in one Greyhawk source or another. It is not, and the false impression that it is Canon does a disservice, IMO, to Samwise’s great creative effort while fostering a Canon Rightist mentality. I do not believe Gary or Sam intended to sell a bill of goods to anyone but, through no fault of their own, it can get sold and people may be left feeling less confident of their abilities, intimidated or inferior, not because of Gary or Sam (!), but because of a Canon Right feeling that gets fostered.

    While I use Gary and Sam’s Sheldomar Timeline Part 1, because it is fresh in my memory and trust they understand I am not attacking them or their work, many, many other similar instances of a “Canon Rightist fostering” may be seen. If one means to be Canon Rightist because that is how they view Canon, that is a legitimate difference of opinion. What I am referring to, however, is an unintended over-regard for Canon in a Rightist way that, IMO, can foster an anti-creative atmosphere.

    I will take for a positive example Tamerlain’s Chronodex. I pressed Tamerlain as to whether every entry could be substantiated or whether it was informed guesswork. Tamerlain replied that every entry could be substantiated as Canon or was clearly marked as informed guesswork. The Chronodex is meticulously annotated with references and supposition is noted as such. You can check Tamerlain’s work. That Tamerlain does not speak as “authoritatively” as Gary or Sam only makes matters less off putting.

    To be clear, I am not saying Gary and Sam need to change, either in how they put things together or in how they comport themselves. I am saying that everyone else when dealing with unannotated or unreferenced documents, particularly when presented by individuals with strong personalities that express themselves declaratively, need to remember that what may appear to be Canon is likely not purely Canon. It is within every Greyhawkers ability to download for free Jason Zavoda’s Greyhawk reference document and Tamerlain’s Chronodex, which used together can fact-check practically any Greyhawk creation.

    The brilliance of the Sheldomar Timeline Part 1 is not that it is a pure expression of Canon but that it is a wonderfully creative work that makes very good use of Canon. The distinction I am drawing here, IMO, is important in the extreme and why I say Sam’s work is sold short if it is taken to be (just) Canon, for that would reduce’s Sam’s work to nothing more than a careful collection of factoids strung together in chronological order. In any event, it is not purely Canon but rather displays Sam’s creativity both within and outside Canon to good effect.

    Summarizing, don’t get caught up in thinking Canon = Good. Good = Good. And good is good, most often because it is imaginative, not because it is a pile of factoids from 56 Greyhawk products strung together. IMHO.

    Ad Hoc Canon Creation

    The first of two pet peeves related to this topic.

    First. Gary Holian. His name is on the cover of the LGG. He helped write it. He is a published Greyhawk author. He has also written some Dungeon/Dragon articles. Both the LGG and the articles Dungeon/Dragon articles are, IMO, Canon. I am a large supporter of the LGG’s Canon status and have no issues with the articles.

    The foregoing does not mean, however, that every word out of Gary’s mouth about Greyhawk is Canon or even informed guesswork with a sound basis in Canon. Gary, to his great credit, makes no such claim, but there are others I have witnessed who are engaged in what I can only describe as an unthinking hero-worship, wherein they all but abdicate their thoughts, opinions and imagination in preference to “What does Gary say?” Please. Get a room, if you are going to make such doe eyes at the guy.

    Gary Holian should be allowed to be human, which means an ability to speak off the cuff without having every word bronzed. I think maybe he is at times so laconic because he doesn’t want to be “caught out” so to speak by idolaters who, at times, swarm him like Third World children or tsunami victims desperate for clean water.

    I don’t want to “lose” Gary’s opinions but, far more important to me, I don’t want to lose the opinions of those who are unduly deferring to Gary or feel intimidated to speak their mind (through no fault of Gary’s but rather his sycophants).

    What Gary SAYS is not Canon. Get it published in Dungeon or Dragon and it will likely be accounted Canon. But there is no such thing as oral Canon or web-published Canon. Canon is not created ad hoc.

    A Penumbral Canon

    Lastly, our dear Uber-Editor of Dragon and Dungeon. Now, this guy actually does have the ability to create Canon by what he publishes (though his verbal declarations are as non-canon as anyone elses). So, those in need of a hero need to “lift up thine eyes.” Moses is over there. He’s the guy with the rock tablets.

    My problem with the Editor Roi is his Canon Rightism. This is like having Vladimir Putin standing up for “democracy” in the Ukraine.

    I am going to assume that what is said in a Greychat (not in a PM) may be fairly commented upon out side the Greychat. But I stand ready to be told this is not appropriate if that is the case. Certainly, what is published in Dragon and Dungeon, or otherwise, is fair game.

    The Editor Roi is, whether he wants it or not, a leadership figure in the world of Greyhawk fandom by dint of his position as one of the few facilitators of new Greyhawk material. At the very least, this allows him, whether he wants to consciously or not, to set a tone. From his comments and published work, with one exception, there is an overwhelming sense that Canon is the sine qua non of Greyhawk merit and relevance. He may not mean for this impression to be fostered but he does nothing to dispel the impression. Were one to consider submitting anything Greyhawk related to Dragon or Dungeon, one might well not do so out of concern that it would not be “canon enough.” I feel confident that I am unlikely to be the only person who feels a certain elitism in how Roi handles matters of Canon.

    I do not dislike Erik Mona. I respect him and his accomplishments. I respect and like some of his work, some of which is very creative, but then the best of that work has little of a Greyhawk context. What I dislike is the penumbra of elitist Canon Rightism that I find nearly tangibly radiating. No insult is intended for I separate the person from the action and the perceivable affects. What I would like to see, if I were Editor for day, is a Greyhawk adventure in Dungeon or Greyhawk article in Dragon that has no basis in existing Canon but which creates Canon all the same, with substantial contribution (or sole authorship) by Roi, as in the Istivin case. Just a suggestion and I won’t hang by my neck waiting.

    Well, that’s a nice rant. Started out as a further exploration of “canon” but kinda took off and got away from me. I need to get a life. Embarassed

    While there will no doubt be disagreement, I disclaim any intention to insult anybody or to deny the validity of anyone’s opinion, work or manner. Everything is my opinion and we know everyone’s got one. Now. If I were in charge . . . . But that would be like having Vladimir Putin standing up for “democracy” in the Ukraine. Happy But in a good way. Wink

    Respectfully (even if not reverently Cool )

    GVD Smile
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    GVD
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:18 am  

    Hmmm.

    Good post, GVD. I don’t agree with you on everything, but I see your point and where you’re coming from.

    I guess the question I’m left with isn’t “What is Canon?” but “Why is Canon?”

    Canon for GVD’s “Canon Right” keeps everyone on the same sheet of music, and is essential for the RPGA and Living Greyhawk. If everyone had their own tangents, the system would fail.

    Canon for GVD’s “Canon Middle”, which is where I would guess a lot people on these boards are at, is trickier but still workable. I think it still allows for some creativity, but if the timeline diverges from Canon, what difference does it make? When Canon material is released, do the “Canon Middle” folks have to scramble to update their campaign worlds as the “Canon Right” do?

    Canon for GVD’s “Canon Left” is difficult (at best) to apply. I started a Greyhawk campaign in 1981 with that little folio. I was “Canon Middle” up until just before the Greyhawk Wars materials were published. Now, without FtA and others, my Greyhawk has diverged significantly from Canon. Am I excommunicated from Canon? Must I scrap 24 years of history to be able to “return” to Canon?

    Canon, IMO, should be used as needed, specific to your campaign. If you need to stay true to Living Greyhawk, treat Canon as the PHB or DMG. If you use it as a touchstone, and your campaign doesn’t have major events outside of what Canon describes, take what you need from Canon. If you have strayed from Canon, and like what you have, take what you want from Canon, and discard what doesn’t apply.

    Great, now I'm "Canon Left". Embarassed Is that a bad thing? Cool
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:19 am  

    There are words for those who ignore canon. HERESY! Laughing

    While the woodpiles are many no one really has to worry about heresy, the key point is with your rather lengthy post is each DM/writer of GH material will make several choices in creating 'new' material based on their resources, time and ideas. It should be noted that no one will tell you that you cant play in GH anymore because you do or dont do something by the writ of any of the authors who have penned under the GH banner. Fear not canon, but rather use it for what it is ..a resource. Where one story ends another begins, keep this in mind and I think that most ideas for a rich and rewarding campaign will flow along with it.
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:35 am  
    GVD

    Interesting. Canon? I like Kanon. cannon is good. nonac is good. But only when you change it to your own purposes. After all, it is just a game. A game I love, but just a game.

    I wish I could see two politicians go at their subject matter with the intellectual acuity that is unleashed on canon on this site. I realize that this won't happen, because most politicians are not smart enough to attack any subject with such disection. But, one can dream.

    As to canon, my experiance in studying history is that it is rarely as straightforward as Greyhawk history. The Canon of Greyhawk is more clear due to the fact that it is make believe. And the longer it goes on, and the more popluar it becomes, it will become more like real history. The facts will become clouded, and debatable, and confused. And someone will revise it, so that it says something completely different.

    Look at the news today. We didn't go to war in Iraq because the threat of WMD, but to promote freedom. Wink

    In the recent thread Running the Sentinel, Samwise weighed heavily on how things are in the Hold of the Sea Princes. Now, IMC we are using the Sheldomar Timeline I as Canon, at least as much as we use Canon. Sam and the whole crew have done an excellent job, and I a thrilled that they would spend their time to make such a work available.

    And I thought about arguing. About how he was wrong. And the timeline was a mess, and that I heard from a sailor there that the SB were actually really nice. And a Keoish marine has declared the Hold completely retaken and that our forces are in control.

    Not because any of it is true, but that is how the real world works. Canon is in effect, the History of Oerth, but one where someone speaking makes it so. I seem to remember some discussion of EGG making comments in an interview that totally contradicted current views of "canon," and have to be disregarded, or we are all talking about a dead world, with no monsters. If i am misremebering this , then what if he had?

    I guess the point is that this is a game. A fantasy world. It only is what we make it. "If a tree fell in the woods, and no one heard, did it still fall?" Not on Oerth.

    If you are taking Canon too seriously lighten up. If someone else is taking Canon too seriously, don't worry about them. They will probably end up with hemroids and varicose veins for their efforts.

    Finally, IMC, the giants in Geoff will be dealt with by my players, then the whole of the Flaness is going to organize to elimnate the SB. Hows that for Kannon? Wink
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:50 am  

    Quote:
    Fear not canon, but rather use it for what it is ..a resource


    That I think is the best way to deal with canon or supposed canon. Is there a right or wrong canon? Not in my opinion because like Dethand said it is a resource. Use what you will, discard what you dont like. I think even EGG said something similiar in the preamble of the 1e DMG. The battle over what is and what isnt canon is really unproductive as we each view it differently and always will. I dont see things like GVD or Anced_Math, Dethand, Abbysinlyn(cant remeber how to spell it right) or Erik Mona or for that matter Carl Sargent or EGG. Does that make my outlook on what is canon wrong? Well maybe to a few folks it will and to other it wont and yet a third group wont even care. But it comes down to what I think not others. Ok thats my two cents worth and with inflation maybe its not even worth that much.


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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:59 am  

    FirePower wrote:
    Quote:
    I started a Greyhawk campaign in 1981 with that little folio. I was “Canon Middle” up until just before the Greyhawk Wars materials were published. Now, without FtA and others, my Greyhawk has diverged significantly from Canon. Am I excommunicated from Canon? Must I scrap 24 years of history to be able to “return” to Canon?


    To paraphrase a common military saying: No plan survives contact with the enemy, I think can be rephrased as: No Canon survives contact with gameplay. With that alone many variations are going to occur across the gametables of the world as play meets canon in various GH campaigns. With that said each DM and group creates their own canon and that should NEVER be ignored or tossed aside to satisfy a need to adhere to mere textual information. Every GH game will vary given time and actual play and that is in at least my opinion why we play in the first place.

    No one can claim purity or absolute canonical adherence. Just enjoy the game and dont worry about robed figures with torches taking away your FtA boxed set. Wink
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:51 pm  

    It is ironic that Canon is both the pill and the pestilence.

    I find canon at its best develops Greyhawk and keeps it alive and vital. Unfortunately it can also become a creative straight-jacket, which could just as easily kill a campaign or railroad it in directions that deny players the right to determine their own future.

    I like canon......as a source of ideas with a developping thread, but equally it can be a real grind to find the whole setting's direction focus on outcomes dependant on singular events (which may not follow the path of your own creative development). I unashamedly say that I liked the early Greyhawk folio and boxed set because they laid out a good backdrop with adventuring ideas, and the accompanying modules were vague enough to allow for (and indeed encouraged) individual campaign variations. I only wish that this model were used more often, with an emphasis on adventure hooks and development, with lighter campaign detail leaving that element more under the control of the DM.

    That is of course a personal preference, and plenty of fans would probably prefer greater campaign development etc. I have no problem with this, provided any Greyhawk output does not seek to drive me in a particular direction. By all means release campaign crunch, tell me which King has been deposed etc. My campaign will follow what feels good. If I am obliged to set adventures around such premise then the material is of no use to me. To this end I do applaud recent Dungeon articles. Adventures, such as the Instivin arc do rely on certain assumptions such as the fall of Instivin, but can be adjusted to nearly any campaign with little work.
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:57 pm  

    Canon is not a straitjacket for DMs. Greyhawk has always been published with the "this is your campaign, o DM" attitude. Its one of the reasons why much of the material was hedged, undefined, or given alternative uses.

    The only place that 'canon' is authoritative and restrictive is in publishing. Those who are creating new material that goes in official publications need to be aware of what already exists. This is, no doubt, why Eric Mona is percieved as a canon rightist. He has to be, in his function as editor of official material.

    What's published on fan sites or used in one's own campaign is not greyhawk 'fact'. What's published in official materials theoretically is (though some publications are so widely rejected in the fanbase, they may as well not be...).

    I highly doubt any canon rightist would come out and tell me I'm wrong in how I use material in my own campaign. I have no problem with Mr. Mona telling my such material is inaccurate if I submit it to him for publication.
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 6:44 pm  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Canon is not a straitjacket for DMs. Greyhawk has always been published with the "this is your campaign, o DM" attitude. Its one of the reasons why much of the material was hedged, undefined, or given alternative uses.

    The only place that 'canon' is authoritative and restrictive is in publishing. Those who are creating new material that goes in official publications need to be aware of what already exists. This is, no doubt, why Eric Mona is percieved as a canon rightist. He has to be, in his function as editor of official material.
    . . .
    I highly doubt any canon rightist would come out and tell me I'm wrong in how I use material in my own campaign. I have no problem with Mr. Mona telling my such material is inaccurate if I submit it to him for publication.


    Vormaerin develops a point I did not address head on - canon is necessary for development in published form. Perhaps, it comes as no surprise that I entirely disagree. Shocked Smile

    What "canon" did EGG follow when he first put pen to paper to create Greyhawk? Sorry. That's too easy.

    Try this. Its much better.

    What "canon" did Carl Sargent follow when he wrote Ivid the Undying (that just won a readers poll, I believe, as his best work)? The answer - almost none. Most of Ivid the Undying is made up out of whole cloth, taking little more than a few names and fewer details and greatly elaborating on them in ways previously unheard of.

    See. Someone has to write it from nothing at some point for it to become canon the later on. Canon is not a given. It is created as something new and only later is it regarded as established canon.

    If published material is limited by Canon Rightism, it will be ever more difficult to write groundbreaking material as the weight of canon grows heavier over time. This is the problem with enshrining canon in publishing. If you want innovation and significant development, canon must yield to material with no prior history or genisis in canon. If you are limited by canon, you will be increasingly figuring how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin, chasing your canonical tail, as it were.

    No. If Mona thinks all published Greyhawk material must be grounded in canon or must be harmonious with prexisting canon as a touchstone, I will this minute stand four square in opposition to him, for he is then a force of Greyhawk stagnation, his "development" being but a refinement of what is, rather than a breaking of new ground. He would then be an accountant in a design firm, not a designer. I have leveled this suspicion at him previously - that he acts like a canon obsessed fanboy and not a designer. He has yet to satisfy me that, when it comes to Greyhawk, he is much other than a pastiche writer.

    I like the LGG. I think Mona is a smart guy. I am waiting for him to show me a unique vision of Greyhawk that is his and his alone. Some have offered to elevate him to the level of Sargent or EGG - not in his wildest, wettest dream. They broke ground. They created unique, theretofore unseen, visions of Greyhawk. Mona has done no such thing. I wish he would, even in a small way, but he grows proud and defensive over Istivin. Its a wonderfully pedesterian piece of work but sure tis nothing unique or special, English. At best, it is passing clever in its canonical glory.

    No. Publication has a use for canon but it is Canon Left. First, come up with something cool. Then, work it into canon. To start with canon is to limit the creativity that is every outstanding designer's stock in trade.

    IMO. Cool

    GVD Smile
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    Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:26 pm  

    Exactly what existing material did he contradict without developing the rationale? Canon is not stasis. And Greyhawk is not the Forgotten Realms, where every rock and blade of grass is defined. If I write an article on the Rovers of the Barrens, I'm going to be creating a lot of material in the process. But I'll still be building on the existing material. I can't suddenly decide "well, I'd rather they were Suel instead of Flan tribesmen" or otherwise make changes to existing material without solid, well developed reasons.

    There are things that are defined and can not be sensibly changed. There are things that are defined, but could be altered with proper explanation (especially easy if you are advancing the timeline in the process). There are lots and lots of things are simply not defined.
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 1:17 am  

    In order to prevent confusion when reading articles or posts here on CF, and especially while chatting at GreyTalk chat, there's one important point to remember. Unless otherwise stated and cited, nothing is canon, per se.

    I've known the guys GVD refers to for some time online through the chat, and I can attest to the fact that they are quite attached to their version of the setting, and will gladly share "their canon" with anyone who asks. It's not some elitist plot to enforce some deviant version of Greyhawk on the masses, it's just the, often unintentional, pride (for lack of a better word for it) that diehard fans take in the work they've done to expand the setting.

    Remember, assume the preface "In my campaign..." before anything you read, and when in doubt, ask for a canon citation. And don't be scared off.
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 2:36 am  

    another really interesting thread guys.

    Every campaign setting has its own identity and feel...I think that canon's main role is to provide simple guidelines to help promote that 'ambience'. But as many people have written already...it is just a guideline. You should see canon as a creative aide if anything...it gives me most of the groundwork I need meaning that I can devote more time to fine tuning the world of Greyhawk into a place my players can enjoy and feel a part of.

    Canon does have a role but I personally favour creativity over canon any day but at the same time I try and form my ideas into a way I feel belongs in my vision of Greyhawk.

    I personally would favour a kind of Canon Left-Left-Middle :o)

    Kind of on the topic I would like to touch on imagery of Greyhawk. I will post this in a seperate thread as I don't want to detract from the main conversation here.
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:25 am  

    Good Advice that I myself follow Despotrix.

    It is understandable that all the folks who have put so much of their time and effort into GH, either their personal campaigns or stuff that actually sees print, are going to be zealous about what they have done. That being said, nobody should get too offended if somebody thinks their version of things is utter crap. The comment probably comes from another zealot on the other side of the fence. The point is, don't take yourself too seriously, whoever you are. For every published GH writer, there are thousands of DM's and players both who have written material for their campaigns and are quite happy with it.

    As to canon material, the only real reason that this topic is such an issue with GH is that many people's campaigns have continued to flourish despite the lack of a continuous publication of GH material to use as a base. With the LGG now out-of-print, there is no real background for GH in print whatsoever. Fortunately the files for this and other products are still readily available for purchase, but the masses mostly just don't know this. And don't forget the new players that usually look for new D&D products in their stores and who will now be seeing nothing for GH other than a few sporadic references to it in various D&D books. This last issue is the one that concern's me the most.

    When a new sourcebook/boxed set is produced for GH, many people who are involved with LG and the development of the various aspects of GH outside of LG will want to be a part of it, and those that are not will be going over it with a fine-toothed comb. Regardless of how well written any new GH source material is, it cannot be written in such a way that it will satisfy all GH fans. That is the plain and simple truth, and people better start getting used to the idea. But as GVD said earlier, new canon material needs to be created at sometime. EGG & friends created the original; other authors expanded upon what EGG & friends did not have a chance to detail. All is canon. Any new source material, written by whomever and about whatever will draw from this previously published material, and this new material, which will undoubtedly never mesh with everyone’s' campaigns perfectly due to the lapse in published GH material, will be considered canon as well. That is just the way it will have to be.

    Canon is an important consideration for future GH projects. I look forward to a new version of GH, even if it doesn't exactly mesh with how things have turned out in my campaign. I don't expect it to be exactly like my campaign, or anybody else's for that matter. I expect the overall big picture to be very similar, but not even that will be exactly the same. To expect any more than this is simply unrealistic.

    To use the defined modes of canon, any newly published and offical GH material needs to be "canon middle", mainly for the sake of giving a general view of GH that pre-existing and ongoing campaigns can fit into better with minimal work, while also being easily presentable to the brand new GH enthusiast. Smack the GH N00B upside the head with reems of material presented in additional sourcebooks, but not with the core setting.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:36 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 11:33 am  

    I'm putting an issue of Dungeon to bed right now, so I don't have as long as I'd like to formulate a response to GVD's post. Grab me at this week's chat for a longer version.

    Basically, canon is useful to me because it forms the baseline of common understanding between all Greyhawk fans. A given fan might not accept the Greyhawk Wars as part of his personal campaign (which is well within his rights, of course), but he probably knows enough about the Wars that modifying an article that uses them in some way to fit his vision of the setting is easy enough.

    The further you venture from the established baseline, the more difficult it is for the largest number of people to use the material. It's pretty much as simple as that. The stuff I publish in Dungeon and Dragon must speak to as many Greyhawk fans (and hell, fans of the game in general) as possible. I think it goes without saying that the adventure or article must be interesting and creative independent of its canonical moorings, but that is a subjective matter of taste. GVD affords only passing praise to the Istivin article in Dungeon 117, whereas we've received several letters calling it one of the better things that we've published. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

    I'm much more likely to publish a great article with dodgy canon that can be changed to fit than I am to publish something with unimpeachable continuity but which is boring as hell. I'm am not likely to publish something that violates something else just because it's easier to do so, though.

    I don't recall rejecting any articles that showed promise simply because of an error in continuity. But then most of what I publish in Dungeon are simply adventures--the Greyhawk content is incidental, akin to an Easter egg for the long-suffering fans of our favorite setting.

    At some point, I may get a chance to present my "vision" for the setting. For now, I am an editor, and not a designer. I am not (generally) paid to simply print my own work.

    I'm currently in the process of putting together a personal website that will include the various bits of Greyhawk material I've written to date, either for internet projects, unpublished products, or my own campaigns. At that point, interested parties will have a chance to review my work and will probably get a better overall view of my "take" on the setting. But a full treatment does not appear to be in the cards, at least at present.

    --Erik Mona
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 7:10 pm  

    iquander wrote:
    I'm currently in the process of putting together a personal website that will include the various bits of Greyhawk material I've written to date, either for internet projects, unpublished products, or my own campaigns. At that point, interested parties will have a chance to review my work and will probably get a better overall view of my "take" on the setting.


    That sounds great, Erik. Please keep us appraised of your progress :D
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    Wed Jan 26, 2005 9:20 pm  
    On Canon...

    This seems like a very old argument...

    I can understand GVD's frustrations, and I remember the heated "canon" debates we had on AOL back 10 years ago or more. I recall those who denied that any of Sargent's work was valid canon, yet defended the Gord novels to the bitter end...

    But I must agree with Iq, Cebrion and Despotrix. Canon is simply a baseline, and we don't all agree with what is or isn't canon.

    Your campaign can be whatever you want it to be. Be it with the wars or without, with the fiends or not, including LG or not.

    I've been away from GH and D&D for a few years and am just getting back into the swing of it. And I am OVERWHELMED at the amount of material the community has produced since 3E appeared. I don't have time to read it all, let alone absorb it. But when my next game starts, i will draw on it bit by bit, taking what I like, and discarding what I don't.

    Because I am the Dungeon Master - and in my game, what I say goes.

    Even if Mr. Mona thinks my Greyhawk is too dark (remember those debates Iq?)
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    Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:56 am  

    >>>
    Even if Mr. Mona thinks my Greyhawk is too dark (remember those debates Iq?)
    >>>

    Not really. Why is it too dark?

    --Erik
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    Thu Jan 27, 2005 6:41 pm  

    It was a long time ago...

    I was one of the people on AOL abd greytalk in the early days who REALLY LIKED FtA and the work of Sargent... I liked the brooding evil ascendant feel it gave to Greyhawk....
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    Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:32 am  

    When I first went online in mid 90s looking for Greyhawk material, I found more talk about 'canon' than anything: people defining what they wanted as canon, judging material versus what they perceived as canon, etc etc. There was virtually no player-created Greyhawk material online at all. It was puzzling and disappointing. It led me to think that all the energy of the online community was spent arguing about published material to define what they want as 'canon' rather than creating, recreating, borrowing, and transforming ideas for their own individual GH campaigns. It was a turn-off.

    I was hoping the online community, because it's so easy to publish online, would have elaborated Greyhawk as more of a Folk Process, without worrying about conformity to a perceived authority of commercially produced material. Instead, the constant use of the word canon signified an acceptance of an immutable top of a hierarchy-- a structure suggesting to players that Greyhawk is a top --> down pyramid, and that the validity of your own ideas, and your own campaign, were judged against conformity to this central system. Those are "strong" words, but too often, I got the sense that so much energy was spent searching, defining, and *especially* worrying about compliance with so-called canon, that it stunted, rather than encouraged the creative process.

    9 or so years later, I've come back online searching for Greyhawk ideas, and while I'm happy to find a bit more stuff, the whole "canon" thing looks like it's still going on :) But after all this time, maybe people are finally tired of confining themselves to wrangle over the top of the pyramid. It's refreshing that more voices say to "treat all material as idea fodder." Looks like there's more collaboration, too, which is great! But, hasn't anyone put up maps and adventures they made for their own GH campaigns from back-in-the-day? Is there a site I just haven't found yet that has that?

    > The further you venture from the established baseline, the more difficult it is for
    > the largest number of people to use the material. It's pretty much as simple as that

    It may be interesting that products trying to define events on a politically huge scale appear more difficult to incorporate than smaller scale ideas. Erik M later mentions that basic adventures are easy to use by everyone. I certainly understand and appreciate the usefulness of an (rather than "the") established baseline when producing commercial material. Having continuity to develop within, and off of, is very useful when you have to publish products that you wish to "play nicely" together; and I realize that is the intent.

    Speaking from ignorance of the commercially produced material (I only own the 83 box set), I guess I never felt that material itself was the main part of the problem, it's whether players elevate it as authority, and constrain themselves intellectually because of that perceived authority. At least, that's the feeling I always got following the "canon" discussions.
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    Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:00 pm  

    The whole thing is so complex that it basically comes down to "use what you like."

    Most Greyhawk fans accept the primacy of the 83 boxed set as the pure baseline for the campaign. Beyond that, it gets trickier.

    Some things are more accepted than others, even if the books in question have the same publishing pedigree. "Vale of the Mage" was an official Greyhawk product, but it was underwhelming and probably used as the "official" Valley of the Mage sourcebook by a small minority of Greyhawk fans.

    Does that make it canonical? Good question. The answer is that it probably doesn't matter.

    From the Ashes, on the other hand, has lots of fans, as it is generally a high-quality product, with good writing and (generally) a good deal of respect for the setting. Therefore, more people accept From the Ashes as part of "their" Greyhawk than accept "Vale of the Mage."

    Ultimately, it's just a bunch of navel-gazing.

    --Erik
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    Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:18 pm  

    Quote:
    Ultimately, it's just a bunch of navel-gazing.


    Thanks Iquander. That statement had me cleaning off the keyboard again.
    Your right though it does ultimely come down to use what you like and canon be dammed. Off with canons head.. Move on and forget canon was ever mentioned Laughing ... Of course we know that will never happen because we would havent any thing to debate then Wink .


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    Sat Jan 29, 2005 8:27 am  

    EK
    Quote:
    But, hasn't anyone put up maps and adventures they made for their own GH campaigns from back-in-the-day? Is there a site I just haven't found yet that has that?


    lol, where do you think you are?

    Please follow these instructions and visit the Topics Page. When you tire of that after a few months, just click "more."

    Also, consider reading this Semi-FAQ.

    Sorry about the thread jack. Please return to your normally scheduled posting. Thank You.
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    Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:43 pm  

    > lol, where do you think you are?

    "Boy, is my face red!" Embarassed Thanks, Abysslin. I'd poked around previously, but didn't find the bulk until after my post.

    > it basically comes down to "use what you like."

    Couldn't agree more, which I why I never understood players and DMs worrying about the "c" word.

    > Does that make it canonical?

    My point of view has always been a puzzled "why even care?" Maybe the gaming culture has really changed a lot. But if it really boils down to use what you like, then the good question is only "Do I like it?"

    I don't mean to resurrect the horse to beat it, though. As Abysslin indirectly points out, there's a lot more player created material than there used to be, which is all I care about. Though, it looks like nobody makes adventure maps anymore Smile

    On a side note, I really like that topographical map of the Pomarj:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=434&mode=&order=0&thold=0

    I always thought oneof the most deceiving things about Greyhawk was just how big the map area really is, and how many nooks and crannies really exist to put in whatever the heck you want.
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    Sat Jan 29, 2005 8:13 pm  

    People care because its useful for establishing a baseline in conversations. You could have Ivid the Undying cured of madness and lead a great crusade to wipe Iuz out in your campaign. It might even make sense there ;p. But any conversation you are in about the Great Kingdom or its splinterstates thereafter will likely reveal that little of what you have done resonates with anyone else's campaign.

    This is, as stated, irrelevant within the context of your gaming. Canon is only a topic of discussion where there is substantial intercampaign comparisons/exchanges going on.

    Canon is one of those things you don't need to adhere to, but if you diverge from it significantly, you need to make that clear in your community discussions so others are aware of it. Otherwise, you'll cause pointless confusion in the discussions.
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    Mon Jan 31, 2005 6:52 am  

    As most of you can tell from my past posts, I am lifelong Hawker, but quite a newbie to sites like CF. My use of this site has become extensive as its use eases my home campaign's development. Like others my age, lack of time has confined my development of ideas to those that can most easily be applied. Hence the following....

    As everyone points out, canon is as you use it.

    The feeling I get is that most, newbie and toothless ones alike, are looking for something along the lines of FtA, maybe not in scale, but at least in direction. The Dungeon articles on Istivin, as well as the GH maps series (great work EM) are a good start / confirmation / addition to the clearing up / defining of "loose ends" in the LGG. But more importantly it only heightens the desire to see something "canon" to nudge along the timeline. That is what IMO drives threads like this. (I read more of the threads than I actually post). An "official" GH release would change threads like this back into ones similar to the refered to AOL debates over the "problems" with FtA, which, again IMO, would be more fun. The debates over such a release, would ironically, be the icing on the cake.

    Related is another crux that arises from the fact that some of us are sitting on campaigns that are into the mid 590's (596 to be exact) and trying to direct it so as to not have to mess with time jumping and/or the rewriting of history if a GH release should ever rear it head. I know that one can manipulate to fit however they wish, but, time constrants as we grow older conflict with desire and ease to do such a thing, and such a release would be highly used by our campaign as reading is less time consuming than writing. Besides, there is only so many times one can digress into lineal PCs and the starting of paralell campaigns, before ones campaign starts to feel burdonsome and rehashed.

    Continuity in a timeline breeds comfortability, security, and therefore happiness on so many levels.
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    Tue Feb 01, 2005 4:27 pm  

    I don't think the answer is a massive timeline shift, unless it also comes with a complete attempt at establishing a Greyhawk "line." That's too much work for a magazine article, imho.

    --Erik
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