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Canon vs. Non-Canon
By: Zambia Fury, CO-Editor

ANON: The dreaded "C" word! These five letters can strike fear into the hearts of happy-go-lucky role-players and be the cause of long hideous, never-ending debates. No, we are not talking about artillery, or jumping into the swimming pool with your arms wrapped around your knees yelling, "Bombs Away!" That's CANNON…two N's.
Canon is a rule or a special body of rules or principles generally established as valid and fundamental in a field or art or philosophy. So, if you are following this sequence of thought, NON-CANON should be the lack of rules, right? Unlikely! The debate on what is and what is not canon rages. Which sources should be acknowledged as canon? Officially sanctioned game guides and website resources are a dime a dozen, but who exactly deems these canon or non-cannon? There have been a few plausible configurations of what is acceptable. The most logical way to determine whether or not something is "canonical" is generally determined by the medium in which it was released. If your sim genus originated from a TV show, then all episodes that have been shown are canon to your game. Movies, books, and magazines are usually honored in the same way. Mass marketed fantasy role-playing games depend on guides and rulebooks for their canon stability. The problem is, when your genre is so popular that the franchise takes the liberty of licensing exaggerated, inaccurate legendary accounts, commentary or additional media interpretations of the author's work. How do you divide a line between canon and non-canon when there are so many sources? Can it be possible to do so? Let's see if we can sort this out.

Canon refers to events, characters or technology, which is considered to have inarguable existence within your game genre. For example, the statement "Superman's powers are compromised by kryptonite." is universally acknowledged as true. Usually items that are considered canon come from the original source, while non-canon material comes from adaptations or unofficial resources. When a specific bunch of characters and the realm in which they exist, become licensed and mass marketed, it becomes difficult to recognize the original from which your sim was derived. That's just the sanctioned media, and then there are all the unauthorized publications. An example of this would be Fan-Fiction. Fan-fic is never considered canon. However, just to confuse the issue, sometimes unofficial items or characterizations portrayed in Fan-fic or the like become so popular and influential that they are picked up and used by many different authors…..soon this detail surfaces in RPG arguments as being canon! Another huge source for RPG's is secondary media, such as video games, LARP's, and other mass media sponsored fantasy role-playing games. Oh boy, baffled yet? For sanity's sake, lets stick to mainstream medium for our definitions, Movies, TV and literature.

If your RPG is based on a Television program, then all details and information derived from that show is canon. If a "big screen" rendition results from that TV show, then this too may be considered canonical. Usually, the only spin-off publications from this TV show that fall into the canon category are authorized technical manuals and timelines. Included occasionally,

are episode reviews if published by someone who was licensed by the studio to organize the main details for informational purposes only. Too many of these compendiums contain editorial type remarks and qualify as non-canon. The major consensus regarding novels is that everyone does not have access to each series of books or articles written, so in the essence of fairness these resources are also considered non-canon. Ahha! you say….. but my sim's genre originated as a novel. RIGHT ON! As stated before, the rule of thumb is that the canonicity of a genre is directly related to its origin. In this case, a book or series of books is first consideration when debating the merits of information. All subsequent remakes of the original vehicle have to be considered on an individual basis in order to be deemed as canon.

If one wishes to get technical, you will probably find that the plot of your sim contains both canon and non-canon factors. The bulk of simming is based on a canon set of timelines, characters and technologies, however; thru inspirations and imaginations individual games flow into unfamiliar territories. After all, it would be nearly impossible, if not down right boring, to play a canon character in a canon game where the rules were explicitly canon. Might as well just read your lines and actions out of a book! There will always be headaches considering what canon or non-canon details can be allowed into your storyline. There are as many opinions on the matter as simmers and enviably someone will chime in to challenge your views. My suggestion is to politely smile at them and ask, Please, can't we all just get along?" Then shoot them with your CANNON!