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Don's 'What is Traveller Canon' Hermeneutic[edit]


Marc Miller's reviewed this several times and actually did approve it. This probably opens more questions than it answers. A recent T5 discussion brought a few additions to the NOT CANON list.


I'm not speaking for Marc here; I'm drawing from personal experience and observation to infer basic facts to assist. If I do speak for Marc online, I'll preface the post with "Marc is asking..." or "Marc wants...", or something similar. Rob Eaglestone also does this. That doesn't mean Rob or I have any special status. If I was writing material for the Spinward Marches, I'd probably have Hans Rancke review it before giving it to Marc for review, because I trust his knowledge of things I've forgotten.

So, bearing all of that in mind, here's some simple facts about Traveller canon:

  1. It is, at any given moment, what Marc decides.
  2. Marc reserves the right to change his mind.
  3. The GURPS Traveller universe (GTU?) and the Official Traveller Universe overlap; exactly where they overlap is questionable, depending on who's asking the questions.
  4. The precedent of "mostly recently published source" applies, unless that newer source is wrong about something; it happens.
  5. Never, ever assume that current licensees are not canon; rather, current licensees are always canon, unless they print something wrong.
  6. Marc decides who is wrong.
  7. There's no order to the six rules above.

That's pretty much it.

Primary Sources[edit]

On an average day of research for Marc, I'll start [searching primary sources chronologically] with

  1. MGT (if possible), then
  2. GT (including IW), then
  3. TNE (because I have to, not because I want to), then
  4. MT, then
  5. CT materials.

Within those materials, the primary publisher is the first source, but any licensee could be a secondary source.

There are probably *golden* sources [e.g. GURPS Traveller: Sword Worlds], but nothing is perfect.

Generalized Research Model[edit]

Within the entire corpus of Traveller, when you're looking for data on your own (i.e. not for Marc), then the order is:

  1. Traveller5, then
  2. Mongoose Traveller, then
  3. GURPS: Traveller, then
  4. TNE, then
  5. MegaTraveller, then finally
  6. 'classic' Traveller.

As soon as you find what you're looking for, stop, you're done.

Secondary Sources [and Ideas That Marc Likes][edit]

Oh, and yes, 1248 goes in there somewhere. I wouldn't consider it a primary source, but definitely a secondary source. Heck, there's even a couple of Judges Guild items Marc mentions from time to time. Admittedly, I haven't dug much out of the JG/Group One/Paranoia Press materials for Marc, but I've got them to refer to. And even HIWG docs and fanzines COULD be a source if it's an idea that Marc likes. For example, I pay very close attention to HIWG docs written by Clay Bush on subjects. And I've got the TML and Xboat archives setup as searchable because they have clues to things I don't remember.

I cannot think of a single source that would be outright rejected with no consideration at all.

The Traveller Integrated Timeline isn't a source: it's a list of sources.

So, the moral is, don't throw rocks at other Traveller settings. We're all in the same tent, even if we imagine we're not.

Some things Marc has repeatedly said are NOT canon[edit]

  1. Anything under 100 tons jumping. 101-ton jump ships work, but 99-ton jump anythings simply don't.
  2. Almost all Aslan art has the hands and paws wrong. I've repeatedly had this explained to me, but I still don't picture it properly.
  3. There are only six major races, and they are all identified. Don't add another one.
  4. DGP's pre-Ancient Primordials/Sparklers - including some of the material in Knightfall. Come on, Joe Fugate only briefly mentioned them in his goodbye.
  5. Light sabers, ala Star Wars. This might be proof that Traveller and Star Wars have different physics foundations.
  6. Simultaneous FTL communication is never possible. No combination of psionics, science or magic can produce this in the OTU.

Scope of Canon by Publisher[edit]

|<---- Scope of Classic Traveller ---->| 
|         Traveller 5                  |           |     | 1248 |
----------------------------------------           |     |      |
|                                      |           |     |      |
|         Mongoose Traveller           |           |     |      |
|                                      |           |     |      |
----------------------------------------           |     |      |
|                                                  |     |      |
|         GURPS: Traveller                         |     |      |
|                                                  |     | HIWG |
|---------------------------------------           |     |      |
|   Clay Bush writings                 |           |     |      |
----------------------------------------           |     |      |
|               |                 |    |           |     |  PP  |
|   Classic     |  MegaTraveller  |    |           |  T  |  GO  |
|   Traveller   |                 |    |   GURPS   |  N  |  JG  |
|               -------------------    |           |  E  |      |
|                                      |           |     |      |

That final, open-ended column represents secondary sources, including 1248, HIWG, Paranoia Press, Group One, Judges Guild, et al. Things from which good ideas can come.


  1. CANON: One of the definitions of canon is: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works. The Traveller canon includes books published by Game Designers' Workshop, Imperium Games, BITS, Steve Jackson Games, QuikLink Interactive, Avenger Enterprises, ComStar Games, Greylock Publishing, and Mongoose Publishing among others.
  2. DEUTEROCANON: A number of other publishers, including Seeker Gaming Systems, Gamelords, FASA, produced their material under license. This material as is referred to deuterocanonical or second canon. These companies no longer produce for Traveller.
  3. APOCRYPHA: Some publishers' products, though approved for use with Traveller at one time, have been de-canonized and removed from this list: Judges Guild, Group One, and Paranoia Press.
    1. Traveller canon excludes articles published in Journal of the Travellers Aid Society, Challenge, and Travellers' Digest magazines, unless the articles have been re-published in another canon source.
  4. NON-CANON: See also Category:Non-canon


Library entries derived from a canon source are listed in these categories. Any library article not derived from a canon source is in the non-canon category. This includes work produced by other, licensed, Traveller publishers and fan produced works.

The categorization of an article as canon or not is usually irrelevant to gamers. Which articles are important to your game should be your decision. Canon is important to authors writing for a publisher to ensure they are within the boundaries set by previous authors.

Pages in category "Canon"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 18,329 total.

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