+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 8 1 2 3 4 5 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 76

Thread: A window into how Chris Sims (formerly of Wizards of the Coast) views canon

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Bastion and Parts North
    Posts
    11,594

    Default A window into how Chris Sims (formerly of Wizards of the Coast) views canon

    I thought I'd share this editorial by Chris Sims, formerly of WotC, who comments on the nature of canon in D&D settings. Might start some discussion about the purpose or consequences of hard absolutes and the problem of using novels as game canon:

    http://critical-hits.com/2010/07/08/canon-fodder/

    Cheers,
    Cam
    Moderator | Member - Whitestone Council
    Visit Atlas Games for information about Gloom, Once Upon a Time, Ars Magica, Over the Edge, Feng Shui, and many other card games & RPGs!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Louisville
    Posts
    456

    Default

    I can't disagree more with his views on hard cannon from novels. A novel or series has a certain "Feel" to it that distinguishes it from other novels/series. Dragonlance feels different from the Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun. Take away hard cannon and they all become the same.

    OK.. someone will say that you can keep the outlines and "feel" but not bind yourself to the historical cannon. So where do you draw the line? Raistlin died before becoming a Black Robe? Elminster becomes a cleric eschewing magic? All that is fine... unless you want that certain "feel" in you campaign. When in the Realms, don't you kind of want to run into Drizzt or Elminster or one of the Sisters occasionally? In Dragonlance, don't you want to see Tanis or Tas or Goldmoon? Doing this in your home campaign is FUN! Hey, feel free to have a party of Drow bounty hunters out to kill Drizzt and bring his head back to Menzobarranzen (Did I come close to spelling that right?). But know also that the next group over was employed by Drizzt to help him destroy the City of the Drow. And in the NEXT group, Raislin's spirit must be stopped before he takes over Elminster's body! And on and on and on and on...

    The novels are simply the adventures of ANOTHER group. It is a rack to hang your hat and coat on that EVERYONE can use. Don't Fear the Cannon. Cheers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Burning in the Abyssal Fires of Lakeside CA.
    Posts
    1,871

    Default

    As a veteran darksun fan and a pretty hardcore dragonlance fan, I'v fought an unending battle with canon for a long time. I'v always been a fan of the cleansing war. The idea of it and the story is awesome. But the limitations are suffocating. Now, with 4e removing divine power, the walls are again begining to close in on me. Only now, I make my own windows, regardless of what the "official" word happens to be "this" edition.

    I'v also never liked how the novels steamroll DMs. Either you go by the canon, or the fandom community will boo you right out of the hobby. Which is one thing that instantly sold me on eberron. It was a "make this setting your own" game from the start and kept that philosophy in 4e. The novels tell you what could happen, if that's what you want. It gives you options and not commandments. In the end, the choice is up to you, making the game far more friendly to anyone not a die-hard setting master. And the die hard setting masters can STILL run their games exactly as they would have. The novels can still direct their game if they choose. But at least they have a choice, like the rest of us. Dictatorships are bad, Mmkay.

    Beyond kicking the creativity out of my d20s, there is also a matter of waste money. This is the biggest problem for me. Buying something you cannot use in a setting and if, like me, you give canon the bird and use it anyways, you have to endure the "that didn't happen! This isn't dragonlance! Go back to video games!" responses when trying to discuss HOW TO USE IT in that setting. (not something I'v encountered much on this site, thankfully)

    Point is, I support a complete disconnect between the novels and the game. I also support the eradication of absolutes as default setting standards. I'd like to sit down and play the war of the lance without having to hear how my tarmak warrior never killed verminaard or how there is no way in hell it was my thrikreen psion who threw the heartwood spear, wounding kalak during the liberation of tyr.

    When, in comparison, I can say that my warforged is Bulwark suffering from memory loss and I'm the new aberrant lord of house tarkanan, with an aberrant mark of death and not get stoned to death by eberron fans. Give ME the choice and stop telling me I'm doing it wrong because it doesn't fit your vision of what the game should be. (you, as in the hobby-as a whole)

    /endlongwindedpost.
    Long Live DragonLance and the Nexus!

    Currently playing: (4th edition)
    Lord SBD, 6th level Human Blackrobe Renegade Hunter (War Wizard)
    Haiden Janko, 6th level Human Cleric of Chemosh (Devoted Cleric)
    R.I.P Murdertrain. Retired 5th level Tarmak Rageblood Barbarian. Died before he ever got his warpaint. (killed by some BS homebrewed disease)

    Currently working on: (4th edition)
    Codex Neraka Volume 1 (heroic tier)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Stafford, UK
    Posts
    2,875

    Default

    For me canon has always been "all that has happened in the past." The "past" being, all the events prior to the beginning of a campaign. From that point on, the campaign goes where it goes. So I would say, "canon" is really a moot point for me; I agree with Chris Sims, especially regarding novels advancing a setting to which game material must conform.
    Last edited by Turambar; 07-08-2010 at 10:36 AM.
    It is the spirit of the game, not the letter of the rules, which is important. Never hold to the letter written, nor allow some barracks room lawyer to force quotations from the rule book upon you [...] YOU ARE CREATOR AND FINAL ARBITER.
    E. G. Gygax, Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Castle Eastwatch
    Posts
    15,516

    Default

    Reading it now. I find this quote about 2e Dark Sun interesting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Sims
    The whole second edition of the setting assumes the Prism Pentad novels have happened—have become part of the canon—and that the world has changed. A number of defining elements from the original setting are gone, because the novel protagonists removed them, usually bloodily. Allowing the novels to interfere with the game material did the fans no favors.
    (emphasis mine)

    You know, novels were there to support the game. And in Dragonlance's case, the novels surpassed the games. Sims almost seems to support the idea that game worlds shouldn't have novels.

    At the same time, look at the mess we had to clean up with the Rise of Solamnia series. An author doesn't do his homework, and so the game had to adapt from how we knew it to a compromise. Granted, there were other factors involved too, such as how other authors portrayed the Sword Knights, but Rise of Solamnia was the big culprit.

    What do folks think about this?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Sims
    This is one reason why it’s insane to use novels as canon for any game setting. Another is that a roleplaying game is about interacting with an imaginary world as a potentially important imaginary person or as one who directs events set in that world. The game is not about merely consuming someone else’s narration or spectating at historic events. Further, as the number of novels increase, the canon becomes increasingly unwieldy until it’s overwhelming for normal players. Most people avoid playing cumbersome games. Enforcing novels as canon from an official position also, eventually, makes it a nightmare to design game material and write shared-world fiction for that setting.
    Last edited by Dragonhelm; 07-08-2010 at 10:44 AM.
    Trampas Whiteman
    ---DragonHelm--->



    Long Live the Lance!

    "Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Dragonlance Nexus!"
    -David "Big Mac" Shepheard

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    9,671

    Default

    Man, I don't know. I am a fan of canon, but not such that I wouldn't introduce neat new threats in a campaign. I am just afraid of when and if they finally do a Dragonlance 4th ed. set, they throw too much out the window to support the D&D cosmology. Very hesitant.
    -Dragonlance Nexus Social Media Manager-
    GM - ICRP: Star Wars - Dawn of Defiance

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Aalborg, Denmark
    Posts
    6,466

    Default

    I like how Paizo approaches canon in their Pathfinder Campaign Setting. Basically they've created a past and a present and have said on multiple occasions that they won't create a future. At least not a future that alters the overall setting.

    This means that the world becomes the players' playground. Sure, Paizo has provided their fans with ways to destroy the world or parts of it but that's all through adventure modules and their adventure paths, meaning that it's entirely up to the GMs and players how the future of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting looks. The conflicts are there (Mendev/Worldwound being an example) but it's the players who get to resolve or expand the conflicts.

    As for novels, Paizo have said that their novels won't influence the setting on a grand scale. They'll be self-contained stories about heroes and villains but they won't include cataclysms or any other massive events.

    Being the kind of campaign setting that Pathfinder is, it's highly unlikely that you'll see any absolutes in Golarion. Everything's possible if the GM wants it to be.

    I like that.
    Heine Kim Stick

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Posts
    9,671

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragonhelm View Post
    Reading it now. I find this quote about 2e Dark Sun interesting.



    (emphasis mine)

    You know, novels were there to support the game. And in Dragonlance's case, the novels surpassed the games. Sims almost seems to support the idea that game worlds shouldn't have novels.

    At the same time, look at the mess we had to clean up with the Rise of Solamnia series. An author doesn't do his homework, and so the game had to adapt from how we knew it to a compromise. Granted, there were other factors involved too, such as how other authors portrayed the Sword Knights, but Rise of Solamnia was the big culprit.

    What do folks think about this?
    I think the novels should be used as source material, but not necessarily set in stone. I do like Douglas Niles, but you are right, he made numerous mistakes that made adaptation in the game world a little difficult. Perhaps when using source history, they should make it as vague as possible, but leaving the main plot point end result as a guideline for the DM to use or throw out at his disposal.
    -Dragonlance Nexus Social Media Manager-
    GM - ICRP: Star Wars - Dawn of Defiance

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Castle Eastwatch
    Posts
    15,516

    Default

    Let me pose another question.

    Would Dragonlance still be around if not for the novels advancing the timeline? Would we recognize it without Margaret and Tracy guiding it back to its roots?
    Trampas Whiteman
    ---DragonHelm--->



    Long Live the Lance!

    "Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL Dragonlance Nexus!"
    -David "Big Mac" Shepheard

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Louisville
    Posts
    456

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke5150 View Post
    if, like me, you give canon the bird and use it anyways, you have to endure the "that didn't happen! This isn't dragonlance! Go back to video games!" responses when trying to discuss HOW TO USE IT in that setting. (not something I'v encountered much on this site, thankfully)
    First off, someone who says that is a toll and should be kicked out of the group... or at least made to run a game and endure the heckling themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duke5150 View Post
    Point is, I support a complete disconnect between the novels and the game. I also support the eradication of absolutes as default setting standards. I'd like to sit down and play the war of the lance without having to hear how my tarmak warrior never killed verminaard or how there is no way in hell it was my thrikreen psion who threw the heartwood spear, wounding kalak during the liberation of tyr.
    I'm going to ask you to clarify this because what I'm reaading is that you think it was a mistake for Weis and Hickman to write the Chronicles, Legends, and War of Souls. Completely disconnecting the novels from the games means NO novel/game tie ins. No Forgotten Realms or Eberron novels.... no Drizzt or Elminster... well on second thought.

+ Reply to Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts