What is "canon" these days?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
phavoc
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What is "canon" these days?

Postby phavoc » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:04 pm

The term gets tossed around a lot. I'm sure somewhere there is a post that says "X is officially labeled as non-canonical by Mark Miller". Though I've never seen those posts myself, I'll also confess I've never tried to track any of them down.

From a version perspective we have two Classic Traveller versions, we have the interim Traveller Adventure stuff, then Megatraveller, Traveller-New Era, D20 Traveller, Traveller HERO, GURPS Traveller, Traveller 4, Traveller 5, Mongoose Traveller v1 and v2. Plus supplements and other stuff stuffed in between all of these.

Anyone who spends much time reading or participating in online discussions knows the term 'canonical' gets tossed around more than few times. So my questions to you are:

What do you consider Canonical?

Do you care if it's labeled heretical, err, non-canonical, by Miller, or do you take published material and use it as gospel when it's GOOD material?

Do you really care about canon?
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby AnotherDilbert » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:38 pm

phavoc wrote: What do you consider Canonical?
I believe the official definition is "whatever MWM feels like now".

phavoc wrote: Do you really care about canon?
No, I play my game just as I assume you all play your games.

But for the purposes of forum discussions I try to keep to canon and the OTU.

phavoc wrote: I'm sure somewhere there is a post that says "X is officially labeled as non-canonical by Mark Miller".
I don't think there is a written definition anywhere...
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby BigDogsRunning » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:50 pm

Good question.

AnotherDilbert has the right of it. (he got his entry in while I was formulating mine)

My opinion may not be popular in this forum, which is in large part self-selected for people who care about canon. But, I'm going to share it anyway.

This does come up over and over. Canon only really matters to people looking to publish something in the OTU setting. If you're a non-publishing Ref, or player, who is focused on "canon" I suggest that your efforts might be better spent working on your own game, or developing/running your character. Or, get a hobby like historically accurate aircraft or naval model building, and leave us RPG'ers alone. :D

Given all the inconsistencies from version to version, and where material that hasn't been covered in the current version is referred back to earlier versions, canon is meaningless for most players/ref's. Consistency is great, to help maintain immersion, but slavish adherence to canon is only fun for people for whom the rules are more important than the experience.

Ref's should be concerned with what works in their game world, and making their game fun for all involved.

Players should be more concerned with their Ref's rulings, not RAW. If I'm running a game and I violate "canon", I've usually got a reason even if it's just "cool factor".

I've always wondered why so much effort is spent debating what "canon" is. What was intention of a game designer who created a mechanic at 3am after a long day/week? Who knows? If they don't/can't clarify, then your only problem is figuring out what it means for your game, not trying to beat others into submission with your opinion. Unless you're an author, or game designer, in which case you should reach out to the determiner of canon, if the thing you're writing interfaces with the unclear thing someone else wrote.

I've long admired Marc Miller for what he's accomplished. But mostly for his thought that he would write some basic "rules" to help people with the basic structure for Sci-Fi roleplaying, and that people would take that and extend it in whatever direction they wanted for their own games. Canon, in this context, seems mostly important for people who don't want to do the work on their own game, they just want it packaged up for them, and everyone to accept that as the best idea. Bunch of Tribal loudmouths. (myself too-often included) :roll:

edited: for spelling

P.S. I'd love to see people put as much effort into extending/expanding how they've solved problems as they do on debating the nit-picky particulars of some obscure rule that most of us will never use. :)
Last edited by BigDogsRunning on Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
ShawnDriscoll
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:51 pm

HalC
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby HalC » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:08 pm

as others have mentioned, the only thing that canon is important for is largely "History". There's official history, and then there's everything else.

From day one, even if someone plays in an OTU - the game becomes its own "Parallel Universe" or "MTU". Marc can't know what happens in your universe, and at any given time, can authorize the publication of material that will directly contradict what you ran in your attempt at an OTU.

Which brings me to another point. Official. It is what ever company produces that Marc allows - and even if it directly contradicts what was written earlier, it has the benefit of being a "subsequent publication". So, Don's comments are to the point (I so wish he were still alive darn it!!!).

In the end? When there is conflict between sources and you as GM have to decide which way to go - if I am a guest at your table, I'd best appreciate the effort being made to run the campaign and any qualms or quibbles I might have are best reserved for a calm discussion AFTER the game is completed. If I can't take the game as presented, I can always vote with my feet.

So, when arguing "canon" or arguing anything else about Traveller - what we're really doing is celebrating the fact that Marc Miller gave us the gift of his imagination and that we still want to talk about it after how many years? How many of us STILL talk about the Scene from Conan the Barbarian with Arnie - where his opponent smashes his maul into a stone column, and looks befuddled as the whole thing cracks, and then collapses? (Heck, I don't think of that too often myself let alone write about it! - I'd rather think of the lithe supple form of <these thoughts have been censured and the thinker fined for thinking them>)

So - discussing TL thingies, logistical thingies, ascentics of Traveller thingies will often run into the issue of "Hey, but that's no longer approved by Marc, hence decanonized". Whether the person uses that fact or not for their campaigns is largely immaterial. If I wanted to create a game supplement that incorporates certain elements from TSC that Marc doesn't like, it won't pass his authorization process.

<shrug>
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby HalC » Sun Dec 30, 2018 9:11 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:51 pm
http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discus ... hp?t=35735 mentions what canon is defined as.
You naughty guy you. *teasing grin*

I had resolved to never return to CotI - yet, there I was, viewing an old post of Don's courtesy of your link.

On the good side, it brought back memories of Don and the respect I have for him. It is a shame that the classic starships forums he started largely ended up dying when he died. :(
phavoc
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby phavoc » Sun Dec 30, 2018 10:35 pm

phavoc wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:04 pm
What do you consider Canonical?

Do you care if it's labeled heretical, err, non-canonical, by Miller, or do you take published material and use it as gospel when it's GOOD material?

Do you really care about canon?
Here's my opinion:

(1) To be honest, I really don't give two craps what's officially canonical or not. I started on the LBB and have worked my way through multiple versions. If the material makes sense to me and fits within what I see to be Traveller, that's good enough for me. As AnotherDilbert pointed out, canon applies to the rules when it comes to debating on the forums. Though I'm the first to toss out canon when it's stupid or makes no sense.

(2) Nope, I don't care what mood Miller wakes up in to determine what is, or isn't in the Traveller canon on a specific day. I read the link ShawnDriscoll put up for COTI, and I think the reasoning is somewhat sound, but also it stinks. Why does it stink? Because it smacks of non-professionalism.

(3) Again, a big fat nope. I have found that citing 'canon' is usually a quick way to get hoisted upon your own petard because canon often contradicts itself. There seems to be such a hit or miss effort in regards to trying to make current rules build upon the base of the previous ones that I try to pick my way through the base and prune away the silliness as best I can.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Condottiere » Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:05 pm

I think it's come to the point where you have to pick and choose, especially if you disagree with significant aspects of it. You have what, seven different editions and variations?

Dungeons and Dragons can get away with discrepancies, because if you don't happen to like what's happening in one setting, you could alter it or move to another.

We're all sort of agreed as to what happens until 1115.

I've haven't read Agent of the Imperium, or really dug through Tee Five beyond spaceship design, but it feels like revisionism, kinda like Star Wars Special Editions.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby HalC » Mon Dec 31, 2018 2:36 am

Condottiere wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 11:05 pm
I've haven't read Agent of the Imperium, or really dug through Tee Five beyond spaceship design, but it feels like revisionism, kinda like Star Wars Special Editions.
A couple of comments on AotI and then I'll behave.

As a book itself, written about a universe the Writer envisioned, the book and story is fine. What some of the elements contained with the story do however, sort of feels like what happens when you watch Star Trek the original series, but by some series of events, missed the episode of "Mirror Mirror". Imagine what would happen if you missed the opening scenes of Mirror Mirror - and then joined the show in mid-show to see Spoke with a Goatee/Van Dyke beard, acting as he does in that episode and thinking "What the heck?!!!"

GURPS TRAVELLER: NOBLES took a stab at establishing some background material for use with Nobility in the Imperium. I looked at that buffet offering and thought (despite being a GURPS TRAVELLER fan mind you) "um, no."

Up until that time, there wasn't really any background information worth utilizing where it came to Nobles and the Third Imperium. Then T5 came out and spelled things out a bit differently. It almost single-handedly made much of GURPS NOBLES useless. In the end however, what it did do, was permit some semblence of rational organization on how the whole kit and kaboodle works. I like tying the level of nobility to the population of the world. Low population worlds with numbers less than what a colony needs to be self-sustaining don't merit the same level of representation in the Moot.

But AotI just surprised the heck out of me. Wafer Technology was never part and parcel with Traveller in its early days. Its almost cyberpunk style interface makes it a new development that was introduced into the story and the ramifications that come of it. There are other aspects to it, including what seemed to be a personality overlay when someone uses a wafer with an Agent's memories imprinted upon it. Talk about a creep factor! ;)

In any event - AotI is like expecting a Star Trek show, and getting a Star Trek Star Wars fusion. Would I suggest you read it if you could do so - the answer is yes. Would I implement much of what is implied in the story? No. T5 was more useful to me as a gm than was AotI...
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Dec 31, 2018 3:13 am

Agent of the Imperium echoed a lot of what I was already doing in my Traveller sessions. So the book's story/setting made for a great Traveller Companion book. I use MgT1 about 90%, and T5 about 10% for my gaming. My other companion book is Space Viking.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby paltrysum » Mon Dec 31, 2018 7:06 am

phavoc wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:04 pm
What do you consider Canonical?

Do you care if it's labeled heretical, err, non-canonical, by Miller, or do you take published material and use it as gospel when it's GOOD material?

Do you really care about canon?
Everything in the sanctioned game books from the LBBs to the latest T5 or MgT2 is canon...until MWM says otherwise. E.g., GURPS Traveller was canon and now it isn’t. The LBBs, T5, MT, TNE, and MgT2 remain canonical.

As far as individual referees who like to use the canonical OTU are concerned, canon is a starting point. How much or little they adhere to it after they start their campaign is up to them.

I care about canon, but I don’t see it as an impediment. Finding ways to shoehorn it into my campaign is a source of great fun and entertainment for me.
My published Traveller adventures on DriveThruRPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse.php ... %20Griffen
Sigtrygg
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Sigtrygg » Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:50 am

What is canon these days? Pull up a chair and have a snack ready.

First decide what you actually mean by canon.

Contentious point 1 - Traveller is an rpg rules system for adventures in a sci-fi setting, the Third Imperium (and its history and future history) is a setting for the game.

Too many people conflate the two and say Traveller is the rules and setting - nope, you have to separate the two to make sense of 'canon'. Thus you have rules as written canon and you have setting canon.

Contentious point 2 - since GDW produced the first supplements that detailed the Third Imperium the setting has failed to use the rules as written to describe it. The Imperium setting has no jump torpedoes, trade lanes are replaced by x-boat links etc.

Rules canon is easy, it is what is written down. Is there errata for the broken stuff, is there a consensus on the vaguely worded stuff that requires clarification? Original CT is pretty errata free but some clarification would be helpful (dig through 77, 81, TTB and ST and you get a pretty complete rule system with options). Later editions of the game have pretty severe errata issues, from MegaTraveller that took three print runs to fix the typos to T5 where we are still waiting for a playable game.

Rules and setting do overlap, the rules broadly describe what is possible in the setting (not always), sometimes the setting changes because of rules changes and sometimes the rules change due to the setting - sort of.

In CT the revisions between 77 and 81 edition made the rules conform closer to the setting, in TTB the setting was actually part of the book. Rulebooks LBB:6 onwards were written for the setting. MegaTraveller tied the rules and setting completely together but due to design system requirements certain setting details changed, jump fuel being the main issue.
Then we got a 'waking up in the shower' moment. In the past there had been changes to rules that changed the setting and changes in the rules due to the setting, but TNE changed the setting and the rules.
TNE was a deliberate attempt by GDW to undo the damage that MegaTraveller had done to Traveller (Frank Chadwick and Dave Nilsen interviews confirm this point), they did it by blowing up the setting and moving forward to an era of discovery, challenge. conflict, rebuilding and hope, while also changing the setting technology once again with HEPlaR.

A stab was made to move the timeline backwards to reset everything once more with T4 and forward in time with the T20 TNNE 1248 stuff. Along the way we had the GT ATU which was written by authors who had a particular vision for how the Third Imperium setting should be.

Mongoose decided to go back to 1105 and reimage the classic era, with new rules came changes to the setting, and now MgT has been revised for a second edition the setting changes once again with HG2e retconning the letter drives out of existence - again. And all the while MWM and his inner circle tinker with T5...

Contentious point 3 - every edition of the rules has changed the setting, sometimes in subtle ways sometimes in paradigm shifting ways.


Canon is for authors - write a generic supplement/adventure and all you need are the rules. Write for the Third Imperium 1105 setting then do a bit of homework and then write it anyway, it'll give us something to discuss :)

I look forward to a Mongoose Traveller Third Imperium sourcebook that solves these issues for the MgT ATU, but they can never be solved for the extant OTU corpus.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Condottiere » Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:55 pm

Ambiance is more important, canon is consistency.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby steve98052 » Thu Jan 03, 2019 5:21 pm

ShawnDriscoll wrote:
Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:51 pm
http://www.travellerrpg.com/CotI/Discus ... hp?t=35735 mentions what canon is defined as.
Wow, per this the article I wrote for JTAS, about an encounter with a kid trying to scam a ride from Knorbes to Ruby, is canon.
phavoc
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby phavoc » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:44 pm

Congrats on being official (today at least. MM may change his mind tomorrow and you'll be uncool, err, uncanon like the rest of us! :)
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Old School » Thu Jan 03, 2019 8:51 pm

How could that NOT be cannon? People try to scam rides all the time.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby enpeze2 » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:36 am

I for my part ignore alot of the stuff in traveller books and still play the game very enthusiastically. Most of the traveller core elements (like space maps, space travel, psi etc.) I use without problem.


But there are a couple of elements which are not to my liking, like the
-unwieldly amount of planetary systems of the third imperium,
-the stepchild treatment of many techs,
-the lack of really "different" and plausible important alien races. (having dogs in space does nothing for me),
-the uniintuitive world names (Ishimshulgi or Afwahisa anyone?)
- the unrealistic background history of a small technologically backward earth nation which is able to win wars against an empire with thousands of star systems (Liechtenstein vs. USA!)
-the UPPs (no, I dont want to memorize their meaning. rpg are for fun and not for work, period)

alle these above points are not in MTU. My TU is much smaller with only a couple of hundred worlds, the background history is more plausible and the world names are classic easy to remember and are not forcing you to put a knot in your tongue in order to spell them and of course none of my players had ever any contact to those lousy (I dont want to say "oldfashioned" because even in those old days they were an imposition) UPPs.

So what is canon these days? I dont care. For official writers its maybe necessary to know the answer, but the gaming reality is much different. With a little bit of work, I and I am sure alot of others active trav GMs are tailoring the TU canon into something else, into a setting which a much better suited to their imagination of good background.

But my taking on the rules is different. I think that the current NuTrav rules are the best incarnation of traveller ever. Of course there are some points here (how about a point design system for chargen?) and there but my compliment to Mongoose. After the release of all these rather mixed products in their past, (I am looking at you MRQ!) I never thought that they can put out such well designed high quality material. I am glad that I was wrong. So I am using nearly all the rules of the corebook as written. Only Savage Worlds and CoC have the same adoration (some would say holyness :)) as NuTrav rulesystem in my collection.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Baldo » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:10 pm

enpeze2 wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:36 am
-the uniintuitive world names (Ishimshulgi or Afawahisa anyone?)
Huh? As a native speaker of Italian, I find "Ishimshulgi" and (especially) "Afawahisa" VERY easy to pronounce and/or remember. Who said you need space travel to encounter alien words? :lol:
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby Linwood » Fri Apr 19, 2019 6:23 pm

I think ultimately each GM must decide for themselves what will be part of their TU and what will not. I look at "canon" as more informative than normative - I mine those reservoirs of knowledge as needed but I don't feel particularly bound to strictly adhere to them if I don't think it fits with my current campaign. Other GMs doubtless have different takes on that, but in the end it's really all about what universe you're presenting for your players to run around. In the end it's probably more important that they're having fun than whether you're strictly adhering to "canonical" content.
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Re: What is "canon" these days?

Postby NOLATrav » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:47 am

After several meandering discussions at the table we've decided the current active canon consists of T5, Agent of the Imperium and MgT 2e.

Our game is 80% MgT 2e, 20% house rules and inspiration/kewl ideas from T5.

Bully for us, we hardly ever play in the OTU. But we love Mongoose for revitalizing the Marches and the Reach and for the amazing Drinax campaign. Alas we'll likely never play it, we've read all read it!

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