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    What does canon mean?

    Canon in the context of roleplaying games refers to the material accepted as officially part of the game’s universe or storyline.

    This includes established characters, events, settings, and lore that make up the world of the game. Canon provides a consistent framework within which players can create their own stories and characters, ensuring that the game world remains cohesive and true to its original design.

    The concept of canon originates from literature and media, where it distinguishes between what is considered “official” in a story’s universe and what is not.

    In RPGs, canon ensures that the game world maintains internal consistency and aids in creating a shared understanding among players and game masters.

    Canon FAQs

    How does canon affect roleplaying games?

    Canon acts as a guideline for storytelling and character creation in roleplaying games. It helps maintain consistency in the game’s world and ensures that player actions and narratives align with the established universe.

    Can players create elements outside of canon?

    Yes, players can create elements outside of canon, known as “non-canon” or “fanon.” However, these elements may not be recognized as part of the official game world and might be restricted in official game sessions.

    Games may require applications for specific canon characters, as well as anything that falls outside of canon.

    How is canon established in a roleplaying game?

    Canon is typically established by the game’s creators or authors and is often found in the game’s rulebooks, sourcebooks, and official lore. It can be expanded or modified through official expansions, updates, and sequels.

    What happens if a player contradicts canon in a game?

    If a player contradicts canon, it is usually up to the game master (GM) or the group to decide whether to accept the deviation. Some groups may prefer strict adherence to canon, while others might allow for flexibility to enhance the storytelling experience.

    How can I find out what is considered canon in a specific game?

    To find out what is considered canon in a specific game, you should refer to the official rulebooks, sourcebooks, and other published materials by the game’s creators. Online forums and wikis dedicated to the game can also be helpful resources.

    How can I contribute to a game’s canon without overstepping?

    Start by familiarizing yourself with the existing canon and community guidelines. Then, introduce your ideas through in-game actions or storylines, aligning them with the established world while adding new dimensions.

    Can something non-canon become canon?

    Yes, with community acceptance and official acknowledgment, non-canon elements can transition into canon, enriching the game’s lore and universe.

    Myths about canon

    One common misconception is that canon is rigid and unchangeable, leading to a lack of creative freedom. However, canon often serves as a foundation, providing a framework within which players can explore and create. It ensures consistency but doesn’t necessarily limit imagination.

    Another misconception is that only original creators can establish canon. In collaborative games, canon can evolve through player contributions and community consensus, reflecting a dynamic storytelling environment.

    Canon examples

    1. In a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, the pantheon of gods and their relationships as described in the official rulebooks would be considered canon.
    2. In a Star Wars roleplaying game, the events and characters of the original trilogy movies are part of the game’s canon.
    3. In a play-by-post Harry Potter RPG, the spells, settings, and major events from the books would be considered canon.
    4. In a superhero MUSH, the backstories and powers of established comic book characters as described in the official game materials would be considered canon.

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    About the author

    Andruid is a writer, roleplayer, storyteller, and nerd who tries to live by Bill and Ted wisdom, i.e. "Be excellent to each other."