PDA

View Full Version : Canon in a Star Wars game



Katana_Geldar
2009-08-25, 08:00 PM
This is something that I've addressed in my blog (http://gmgeldar.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/a-big-galaxy-far-far-away/) and others have as well (http://wrathofzombie.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/canon-problems-in-a-star-wars-campaign-part-one/), but I am interested in how other GMs running a Star Wars game try to avoid the almost inevitable Canon Lawyer.

The way I see it, the most important question to ask in a Star Wars game is not "What?" or "Where?" but "When?". As the era of campiagn dictates the style of play and how much freedom the GM has in creating things.

Please, I don't want to take this as a discussion of canon itself, as gamers we kinda have to accept everything fits together for the sake of clarity, even if it doesn't. I am just interested in how people deal with this.

AstralFire
2009-08-25, 08:05 PM
Heh, I made a thread about this a bit ago. My opening post then was:


I see this come up in relation to Star Wars a lot, but this isn't just a Star Wars question. Any work that has a strongly based history and you are running the game through an era whose outcome was already defined... how much do you care?

My general opinion is that whatever makes for a good story is what stays. I'll grab the most major points and use them as history/background - I mean, when I first start a game in a new setting, if I'm interested, I can spend a week or two just reading up information about them so I can find little subtleties to adopt.

But once the game is on, it's on. Major canon details I may have forgotten to include (if I am the DM) no longer matter unless a player built something around them. I will try and throw in references to the way the world is outside of the players, but if they do something that sufficiently tosses the world off-track, the world will react accordingly. I mean, to me that's sort of the major point of playing tabletop instead of an MMO or a CRPG.

And I let players know this in advance and expect them to understand and deal with that.

Mando Knight
2009-08-25, 08:07 PM
If you're playing in a universe with a given timeline, canon will die, unless the GM can see it coming and keep the group from interfering with canon, and can keep canon characters in character 100% of the time. Unfortunately, not even the characters are properly in character in canon, and there is not such GM that can do that all the time.

...And you've got PCs who have the potential of reaching Palpatine/Yoda/Grand Master Skywalker levels of power. I don't think anyone expects the characters to not mess with canon at that point.

Katana_Geldar
2009-08-25, 08:10 PM
Another good rule of thumb I have found is not to toss potential canon-breakers in to the game if you intend to keep the game within canon.

For example, if there's a chance that the players may try to kill Mace Windu/Anakin Skywalker/Ewok number 47, don't put the character in a situation where this may happen.

There's also the issue of arguing with the Canon Lawyer if you want to go against it, like refusing to kill a certain character (which I have done, and I invoked the argument of "don't let us fight him unless you intend us to kill him")

Kylarra
2009-08-25, 08:10 PM
I usually try to place characters in eras or areas that don't have a canon timeline that matters. Or just call it an AU and screw the canon. :smallyuk:

Katana_Geldar
2009-08-25, 08:11 PM
The first ideais what I usually do.

Alejandro
2009-08-25, 08:20 PM
I run a large and extensive Star Wars campaign set during the Rebellion period. I have written the majority of it such that it takes place apart from the "movie story" and the players occasionally get to witness or be part of a scene from the "movie story", such as visiting Echo Base (but not during its destruction.)

snoopy13a
2009-08-25, 08:39 PM
Tell the canon lawyer that Star Wars isn't real and you can do whatever you want. If they continue to argue, they can leave. Honestly, life is too short to argue with people who don't have imagination.

Seriously, did these people limit their playing with Star Wars toys as kids to reenacting scenes from the movies? :smalltongue:

Hawriel
2009-08-25, 09:10 PM
The galaxy is a big place. There is room for your big hero to do his/her thing while Luke and the gang do theirs.

As far as the time line is conserened my opinion is this...

There is only a ruff gestimat of time between major events with in the movies. In star wars it looks like maybe a day passed between Lea being rescued and the Death Star attacking Yaven. However logicly it could have (and partly had to) have been afew weeks. Between the end of Empire and the beginning of Jedi it could have been several months to a year. Then again who cares.

As long as your star wars game has four events happen; the disbanning of the senate, distruction of Aldaraan, and the distruction of both death stars, it doesnt matter what you do.

Every thing els that happens is specific to the characters of Han Luke and Lea. Its just their part, albiet a highly influential part, of the rebelion as a whole.

Every thing els is stucture. If you go EU then how the republic works and its relations to the remnant, Hapes, the Huts and the Corporate Secter matters. The only EU event that I think are important are the capturing of Corescont and Lukes recreation of the Jedi school.

I see cannon events as enviornmental plot hooks, or ways to turn a plot on its head.

Fishy
2009-08-25, 09:24 PM
My philosophy of roleplaying in the Expanded Universe is that it's a game of pretend based on a series of fictional books based on a series of fictional movies. This didn't happen, we made it up.

Respect Canon in as much as it creates an interesting shared starting ground and makes the game better, ignore it when it doesn't.

Mark Hall
2009-08-26, 12:29 AM
Lay out, at the outset, what is canon or not, with the caveat that "Just because its canon, doesn't mean its true in this game."

TheThan
2009-08-26, 01:09 AM
Iíve gone so far as to tell people that any attempt to kill off the meta-plot characters (Luke, Leia, Han, etc) will be met with swift and brutal deaths at the hands of the very characters they were trying to kill. Even if they should succeed, they wonít and will be dead shortly thereafter.

Not only that I feel that any player that decides to do this is just being a douche and wonít be invited back again. You can have perfectly fine, entertaining and fun starwars games without introducing the meta-plot characters you know.

As for the cannon lawyers, as someone else said, there is plenty of room in the starwars galaxy for your characters to do, they donít need to go chasing the meta-plot characters to have a good time.

DMfromTheAbyss
2009-08-26, 01:27 AM
I go with just explaining what is and isn't canon off the bat as far as background. Then from the time the characters start play, what they do can affect, change or ruin any planned events, otherwise what's the point of them having free will.

Though if you have agreeable players in the right situations you CAN have them interact with metagame situations without problems.. but don't count on it.

GenericFighter
2009-08-26, 01:50 AM
Tell the canon lawyer that Star Wars isn't real...

Even though I don't know the player in question, I'm going to advise against this course of action.

Seriously, you can try to find out what they find to be the most 'sacrosanct' parts of the canon and ease back from it. Also, show off your canon knowledge so they know deviations are on purpose instead of 'mistakes' they have to 'correct'.

Gamgee
2009-08-26, 02:16 AM
I do my best to work with cannon, but I don't mind breaking some obscure and irrelevant thing or if the action demands something epic happen I allow it. I mean technically our characters aren't cannon so the cannon lawyer can eat that.

Jerthanis
2009-08-26, 02:44 AM
If they want to screw with canon, let them, jeez, they'll like getting away with messing something up if they went out of their way to do it. Provide realistic consequences (not rocks fall, everyone dies.) If they kill Mace Windu... rethink how Anakin's fall might play out. Would another, currently nameless Jedi Master play out the exact same way, or would something change? Never admonish your players for breaking canon in this case... congratulate them.

If you are playing with a group with a canon lawyer, and an NPC says something that flies in the face of canon information and someone calls you on it just fall back on, "Not everyone knows everything about what's really going on, this NPC might have false info, have misheard a rumor, or just doesn't know."

If you cause something non-canonical to happen mechanically, like Repulsorlift generators working as backup engines in zero gravity (they need a gravity well to push off of), then just BS an answer and pretend it was your plan all along. Alternatively, just change your description slightly. (What I mean by this is that the Repulsorlift Generators were rerouted to the attitude thrusters, giving them more punch, but they may burn out sooner, who knows?)

Uh... other than that all I can think of would be things like the locations people were in and at what times. Like, "Han Solo wasn't on Tatooine a month before hiring out to Obiwan, because he was busy with XYZ event", and in those cases I just say... I dunno, punch the offender in the jaw?

I may have run out of usable advice at this point.

sofawall
2009-08-26, 02:57 AM
Every time I see this thread, I read as Ganon in a Star Wars game, and get excited.

toturi
2009-08-26, 02:58 AM
I lock canon in at the time when we start the game. That is canon is canon up till campaign starts. Once the game starts, if they can and want to kill Palpatine, they can try and if the dice rolls their way, they succeed and the galaxy's history changes. That said, I tend to run only KOTOR era or Legacy, usually away from established canon history, so there is little effect to the official timeline.

But I had run a game that was set before the Clone Wars after the Phantom Menace. Anakin never turns to the Dark Side, Palpatine never becomes Emperor, the Clone Wars had a whole new undercurrent to it. The Jedi Council knew someone was the Sith and even Yoda couldn't pierce the Dark Side to divine the identity of the Sith. So enters our PCs who through intrigue, manipulation and other tactics, stymies or thwarts Darth Sidious' efforts while denying him their true identities, denying him the chance to turn Anakin to the Dark Side, while not "knowing" who the Sith Lord is. :smallbiggrin:

Hawriel
2009-08-26, 04:27 AM
Here is a fun way to deal with cannon in a game.

Befor I met my friends they had characters that stomped around in Shadowdale alot. One of the things they did in a published modual for Shadowdale was burn down a very old well established inn. And thats why in his game its called the New Old Skull Inn. Which is owned by a retired adventerer. Who just happened to be one of the peaple that caused it to burn down.

Fixer
2009-08-26, 07:11 AM
I have just started a Star Wars game for some kids. I decided, long before I told them to make their characters, that Canon didn't exist. They weren't interested in meeting "Luke Skywalker" or "Obi-Wan Kenobi", they just want to run around and blow stuff up and get shiny things.

Now, I am creating a canon around them so they will get wrapped up into it. My 'campaign' is a mixture of all the settings, where Sith and Jedi are both in numbers (not great numbers so no large, formal temples for the public to go visit, just small enclaves), and the Senate is an ineffectual bureaucracy with no teeth. This opened the idea for various military factions (ones that resemble the Empire, or the Trade Federation, or the Von Zang or whatever they're called) to impose their own brand of military justice in certain sections of the universe, against the wills of the politicians.

bosssmiley
2009-08-26, 08:24 AM
This is something that I've addressed in my blog (http://gmgeldar.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/a-big-galaxy-far-far-away/) and others have as well (http://wrathofzombie.wordpress.com/2009/08/25/canon-problems-in-a-star-wars-campaign-part-one/), but I am interested in how other GMs running a Star Wars game try to avoid the almost inevitable Canon Lawyer.

My standard response is: "The Holy Trilogy, and only the Holy Trilogy, is canon here. All other Lucas* product is mere fanwank. Any questions?"

One man's canon is another man's millstone.

I've seen too many potentially good games ruined by carping from MERP, Star Wars/Trek, Traveller, WOD, WFRP, and D&D canonfappers. I'm no longer prepared to have some fat neckbearded cuckoo-in-the-nest wrecking our fun times. :smallmad:

Talya
2009-08-26, 11:21 AM
I don't read a lot of star wars EU, but even so, I cannot bring myself to play in an "alternate universe" type setting. Star Wars is Star Wars. As such, I prefer playing/dming in time periods or areas where we cannot interfere with Canon. If we do play in a well established timeline, a good DM can manipulate events in a way where the players choice of actions actually contribute to canon, causing it to occur, rather than disrupting it. That's a great feeling as a player when it becomes evident that "Without your escape about the shuttle Tiderian, the Rebellion would never have had access to the shuttle to use on Endor." (Excuse me if that's already been established in Canon, i was just using an example.)

I also don't like to play in settings where there is lots of established canon and I don't know it, so very little post RotJ stuff for me.

If one is really worried about canon, Wookieepedia is a great resource.

Thrawn183
2009-08-26, 11:49 AM
Original Trilogy plus the versions of jedi seen in the Timothy Zahn books. No pulling star destroyers out of orbit.

Talya
2009-08-26, 02:27 PM
Original Trilogy plus the versions of jedi seen in the Timothy Zahn books. No pulling star destroyers out of orbit.


Vader hints that feats such as this are possible in the OT.

"The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

You think he was just posturing?

Fixer
2009-08-26, 03:44 PM
You think he was just posturing?Gee, thanks Talya. Now I have this image of Vader doing pelvic thrusts.

snoopy13a
2009-08-26, 04:17 PM
Original Trilogy plus the versions of jedi seen in the Timothy Zahn books. No pulling star destroyers out of orbit.

Timothy Zahn invented the ultra powerful jedi theme. He had the emperor and C'both being able to control the minds of entire ship crews.

I'm still for not caring at all about canon. If someone wants a Star Wars universe where Chief Chirpa kills off the emperor and installs C3P0 as ruler of the galaxy then that's alright with me :smallbiggrin:

ColdSepp
2009-08-26, 04:18 PM
Timothy Zahn invented the ultra powerful jedi theme. He had the emperor and C'both being able to control the minds of entire ship crews.

I'm still for not caring at all about canon. If someone wants a Star Wars universe where Chief Chirpa kills off the emperor and installs C3P0 as ruler of the galaxy then that's alright with me :smallbiggrin:

Influencing more then controlling. And, Marvel Star Wars have similar and grander (and more ridiculous) stunts. At leasts Zahns where well written.

PLUN
2009-08-26, 04:27 PM
I'd love to play a game where I slap the white helms onto the players and let them generally mess with events to their leisure. Or be foiled at every turn by the arrogance of their co workers.

"An empty pod..."
"Open fire!"
"Ha! The typical emotional response of a mere Lieutenant. Hold your fire; there are no life signs aboard."

Canon can be fun when taken with a generous pinch of salt.

Dixieboy
2009-08-26, 04:41 PM
Tell the canon lawyer that Star Wars isn't real and you can do whatever you want. If they continue to argue, they can leave. Honestly, life is too short to argue with people who don't have imagination.

Seriously, did these people limit their playing with Star Wars toys as kids to reenacting scenes from the movies? :smalltongue:DID NOT, I also enacted scenes from the books!

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-08-26, 07:38 PM
Well, considering I'm the resident Star Wars fan of the group, I don't really have this problem. :smallbiggrin: In general, I try to ensure the players only tangentially interact with canon, which works out fairly well.

The best way to ensure canon doesn't get broken is to persuade/lead/ask/etc. the players to cause canon--for instance, how do you think Vader found out where the Tantive IV was going? That silver protocol droid at the start of Ep. IV (U-3PO) was a traitor and told the Empire, of course. But who reprogrammed him...? That's never told, so if the PCs were to, oh, grab a silver protocol droid and plant him on the ship themselves, canon is preserved.

Katana_Geldar
2009-08-26, 07:40 PM
While playing within canon can be restricting, it does save a GM a bit of bother in creating a believable enviroment. Even for an era like the Clone Wars.

Think about it. You either make up a planet or use a planet that has hardly anything written about. Populate it with NPCs and obscure canon NPCs, make the players the heroes and there you go.

I've managed to do it, just needed to find my own space (http://gmgeldar.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/a-big-galaxy-far-far-away-part-3/)

It's a big galaxy.

And if you don't want PCs to kill Luke Skywalker when they meet him, put him in a place where it would be stupid or against their favour to do so. Like if he was their CO or something.

Talya
2009-08-26, 11:01 PM
The best way to ensure canon doesn't get broken is to persuade/lead/ask/etc. the players to cause canon--for instance, how do you think Vader found out where the Tantive IV was going? That silver protocol droid at the start of Ep. IV (U-3PO) was a traitor and told the Empire, of course. But who reprogrammed him...? That's never told, so if the PCs were to, oh, grab a silver protocol droid and plant him on the ship themselves, canon is preserved.

You were Ninja'd!


a good DM can manipulate events in a way where the players choice of actions actually contribute to canon, causing it to occur, rather than disrupting it. That's a great feeling as a player when it becomes evident that "Without your escape about the shuttle Tiderian, the Rebellion would never have had access to the shuttle to use on Endor." (Excuse me if that's already been established in Canon, i was just using an example.)

chiasaur11
2009-08-26, 11:41 PM
I'd love to play a game where I slap the white helms onto the players and let them generally mess with events to their leisure. Or be foiled at every turn by the arrogance of their co workers.

"An empty pod..."
"Open fire!"
"Ha! The typical emotional response of a mere Lieutenant. Hold your fire; there are no life signs aboard."

Canon can be fun when taken with a generous pinch of salt.

"Yeah, there's no reason for us to pursue that. Why don't we all take a break, stretch our legs... No reason not to recover after taking out the rebel scum, after all."

"See? That's the kind of thinking we like Mr.... Do I know who you are?"

"No sir, but I know who you are. Way I figure, that puts me at the advantage."

Mark Hall
2009-08-27, 12:04 AM
"Yeah, there's no reason for us to pursue that. Why don't we all take a break, stretch our legs... No reason not to recover after taking out the rebel scum, after all."

"See? That's the kind of thinking we like Mr.... Do I know who you are?"

"No sir, but I know who you are. Way I figure, that puts me at the advantage."

Is your storm trooper wearing a brown coat?

chiasaur11
2009-08-27, 12:32 AM
Is your storm trooper wearing a brown coat?

No.

Hasn't since he was a kid. Deal with a Skywalker.


(Ah, Tag and Bink. How I love thee.)

Fixer
2009-08-27, 06:47 AM
One of my players in the SWS game I am running hasn't even watched any of the movies. (He saw part of Ep 3, once.) I think the other boys are now giving him a crash course in Star Wars. His parents don't let him out much.

PairO'Dice Lost
2009-08-27, 07:29 AM
You were Ninja'd!

Well, not quite. His suggestion was to manipulate things behind the scenes; that one game, I actually came out and said "Alrighty guys, the new player is also a Star Wars fan, so instead of the two of us trying to out-nerd each other, why don't you guys put that knowledge to good use and play the master manipulators for once?"

Katana_Geldar
2009-08-27, 07:05 PM
And we sort of posted at the same time, so I didn't see what he said.