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Canon is shorthand for key concepts that keep Traveller and the OTU consistent. It is maintained by FFE, Marc Miller, and/or his designated appointee/s.
- The canon OTU timeline is defined by Don's Hermeneutic (which see).
- Official sector data is defined as that held by the Second Survey database. Travellermap.com has the most recently published version of this data.
- Key Traveller concepts are clearly laid out by essays in the Traveller 5th edition core rules. These essays typically consolidate, clarify, or correct previous attempts to understand these key concepts.
Canon was never intended to rule and track all existing publications, and each referee runs Traveller by his own rules, always.
Please also see Traveller Ethos.
Canon is the idea that published material should be consistent with other published material. It is a collection of key concepts about Traveller that should typically be followed. This is a standard for publishers, authors, and artists who want to maintain compatibility with Traveller. Therefore, it is only important if you need to be consistent with the Traveller rules or the OTU.
- Please also see Traveller Ethos.
- Please also see Traveller RPG Wiki.
The final rule on canon is Marc Miller.
Marc Miller follows the Traveller Ethos, and his vision of the game when determining whether something is canonical.
- When trying to understand a Traveller idea or concept, MWM prefers the least rule-bound, least restraining option available under most conditions.
- The Emperor will not be fenced in unless forced to do so.
- Some things may only be found as Niikiik Luur at the Galidumlar Dadaga.
- It's ok to try and make sense of publications in light of canon rules and the OTU. Be aware that publications may have conflicts and contradictions.
Traveller from the beginning encouraged experimentation with bending its rules. It also cautioned against upsetting the balanced toolsets and gameplay. Traveller's quick popularity resulted in a multitude of published materials between uncoordinated publishers. And sure enough, untested rules were created that, when taken to their logical conclusions, upset the balance of the game. This drove a need to clarify the key concepts in Traveller.
Content creators are not bound by canon, although they are bound by license, and are encouraged to stay within the canon. The OTU (and Traveller in general) grows as new material is published. Some items initially come into existence as canon items and are later de-canonized. Some de-canonized items have later been re-canonized. Changes within the OTU should ideally be coordinated through FFE, Marc Miller, and/or his designated appointee/s.
References use book abbreviations, a dot, and a page number. For example, T5B1.11 is Traveller5, Book 1, page 11. Items marked (OTU) are OTU- or Charted Space-specific. Items marked (F) are foundational concepts.
The item the speed of communication is limited to the speed of travel is the fundamental root of the entire game.
- Artificial persons (F): T5B1.15
- Charted Space (OTU): T5B2.10. Also the Second Survey database and Travellermap.com.
- Communication is limited to Transportation Speed (F): T5B1.14
- Computers: T5B2.245
- Cosmopolitan universe (F): T5B1.15
- Duty, Honor, Loyalty (F): T5B1.16
- Fusion power (F): T5B1.15
- The Galaxy (OTU): T5B3.8
- Gravity manipulation (F): T5B1.15
- Human-dominated universe (F): T5B1.16
- Humanity (OTU): T5B1.21
- Interstellar communities: T5B2.242
- Jump drive (F): T5B1.14
- No Prime Directive (F): T5B1.16
- Rich decision-making environment (F): T5B1.17
- Robots: T5B2.260
- Social science adds character and flavor (F): T5B1.15
- Star charts and systems: T5B2.12,16
- Starships: T5B2.30,101
- Starports: T5B2.23
- Technology levels and the lifespan of civilizations: T5B2.223,238
- Technology spectrum (F): T5B1.14
- Timeline (OTU): T5B1.11-13. Also, see The Traveller Integrated Timeline (which is also an index to OTU canon history).
- Wafers: T5B2.253,258
- Wheels within wheels (F): T5B1.16
Important Terms and Concepts
Traveller uses certain words and abbreviations in a unique manner, and in order to be able to properly understand the Traveller rules, players and referees should acquire some familiarity with these terms. -- Traveller5 Book 3 page 284.
Also called "Library Data". Mentioned here are two of the most useful repositories of library data.
'Important Terms and Concepts', Traveller5 Book 3 page 284+. This is seven pages of short entries describing Traveller terms, including some for the OTU, curated by Marc Miller.
Compiled library data: https://traveller5.net/library-data/. It is based on the excellent Imperial Encyclopedia from MegaTraveller. However, it also pulls in scattered but meaningful library data from the early CT adventures, JTAS, The Traveller Adventure, the CT Alien Modules, the Spinward Marches Campaign and so on. Its main goal is to consolidate classic Traveller library data so that a mad search through all one's collection is not necessary.
Traveller Timeline Canon Hermeneutic
Don's Hermeneutic is the priority-order system Don used when building his Integrated Timeline. Marc Miller approved of Don's approach, which in a nutshell was to treat the most current sources as definitive unless there's an obvious problem with it.
"Obvious problems" include upsetting the balance of gameplay (such as introducing jump torpedos), changing a fundamental (such as introducing an ansible), or changing an established OTU concept (such as changing the Droyne into mercenary space orcs with laser eyes).
Don in 2015
I'm not speaking for Marc here; I'm drawing from personal experience and observation to infer basic facts to assist. If I talk 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 were 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.
Don's Hermeneutic for Constructing the Offical Traveller Universe Timeline
So, bearing all of that in mind, here are some simple facts about the Traveller canon:
- It is, at any given moment, what Marc decides.
- Marc reserves the right to change his mind.
- The GURPS Traveller Universe (GTU or Lorenverse) and the Official Traveller Universe (OTU) overlap; exactly where they overlap is questionable, depending on who's asking the questions.
- The precedent of "mostly recently published source" applies, unless that newer source is wrong about something; it happens.
- Never, ever assume that current licensees are not canon; instead, they are always canon unless they print something wrong.
- Marc decides who is wrong.
- There's no order to the six rules above.
On an average day of research for Marc, I'll start [searching primary sources chronologically] with:
- MGT (if possible), then...
- GT (including IW), then...
- TNE (because I have to, not because I want to), then...
- MT, then...
- CT materials.
The primary publisher is the first source within those materials, but any licensee could be a secondary source.
- There are probably *golden* sources, but nothing is perfect.
Generalized Research Model
Within the entire literary corpus of Traveller, when you're looking for data on your own (i.e. not for Marc), then the order is:
- Traveller5, then...
- Mongoose Traveller, then...
- GURPS: Traveller, then...
- TNE, then...
- MegaTraveller, then finally...
- 'Classic' Traveller.
As soon as you find what you're looking for, stop; you're done.
Secondary Sources [and Ideas That Marc Likes]
Oh, and yes, 1248 goes in there somewhere. I wouldn't consider it a primary source, but 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 set up as searchable because they have clues to things I don't remember.
1. I cannot think of a single source that would be outright rejected with no consideration at all. 2. The Traveller Integrated Timeline isn't a source: it's a list of sources. 3. 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
- Anything under 100 tons jumping. 101-ton jump ships work, but 99-ton jump anythings don't.
- 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.
- There are only six major races within Charted Space, and they are all identified. Don't add another one.
- DGP's pre-Ancient Primordials/Sparklers - including some of the material in Knightfall. Come on, Joe Fugate only briefly mentioned them in his goodbye.
- Light sabres, a la Star Wars. This might be proof that Traveller and Star Wars have different physics foundations.
- Simultaneous FTL communication is never possible. No combination of psionics, science, or magic can produce this in the OTU. There are no ansibles.
History of the use of the term 'canon' in Traveller
The first uses of the term 'canon' for Traveller were in the late 1980s; online, the first sighting is on June 1991 of the Traveller Mailing List, in a post by Hans Rancke. It was used to equate published material in general as canon, regardless of source. After that first sighting, the term began to be used in reference to rule systems, the OTU, tech levels, equipment.
By 1994, the term had entered general usage. It was used in three different ways:
- It was used in discussions to correct (or bludgeon) a poster as if canon was binding on the referee and players.
- It was used in the context of a particular rules system, e.g. Classic Traveller canon, or MegaTraveller canon, or TNE canon, or T4 canon.
- It was also used in the current sense, as a "writers' Bible" to keep Traveller reasonably consistent.
Sector data was one of the earliest uses of canon arguments. Those arguments were resolved in 2006 when sector data was fixed.
Further evolution on the concept of canon is seen by 1996. This included discussions about how canon is defined, and what canon IS. The release of Traveller 4th edition contributed to this discussion.
I believe that the real reason why the Core subsector isn't 'according to canon' is because Marc Miller has his own view of 'canon' and it doesn't necessarily agree with everything that others (e.g. DGP) have published. Andy Lilly, 3 Oct 1996)
Don McKinney further refined what canon is, when he began his timeline project in October 1996. He was forced to rank material as he considered entries for inclusion.
Traveller has around 2,000 published products, with more coming out every year. Publishers have a vested, mutual interest in keeping consistent with one another. Canon for key issues benefits the game in the long run. However, canon for every issue is impossible.
Wiki Library Overview
Library entries derived from a canon source are listed below. 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 essential 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 and approved by FFE.
CANON: One of the definitions of canon is: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works. Primary canon. Part of the OTU.
- Canon items may be paraphrased or otherwise modified from their original form. The core content should not be modified, although you can add to it later. Lightly modified or edited is the order of the day. This can be highly subjective.
- 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.
- Ironically, not everything designated canon is included in the OTU. Most of it is, though.
DEUTEROCANON: A number of other publishers, including Seeker Gaming Systems, Gamelords, FASA, produced their material under license. This material is referred to as deuterocanonical or secondary canon.
- These companies no longer produce for Traveller.
- They may or may not be a part of the OTU.
APOCRYPHA: Some publishers' products, though approved for use with Traveller at one time, have been de-canonized and removed from the canon list: Judges Guild, Group One, and Paranoia Press. Tertiary canon.
- Traveller canon excludes periodical 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 or otherwise designated canon.
- Some de-canonized items have later been re-canonized.
- Apocryphal items may be mostly de-canonized yet retain some canon elements included in the OTU. As a rough rule of thumb, most apocryphal materials have been de-canonized and are not included in the OTU.
NON-CANON: Not officially part of the OTU.
- Elements of it might still be unofficially included in the storyline or even later canonized.
- Please also see Category:Non-canon.
Wiki Library Warning
The Traveller RPG Wiki is not considered a canonical source for any Traveller materials. As an author or pedant, if you need to cite the Traveller canon, we encourage you to refer to the original primary source materials. When researching your game or writing project, please get in touch with the Research Department or a Master AAB Librarian about your needs to ensure the articles are updated with appropriate sources and background information.
- Master AAB Librarian & Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
Wiki Category Templates
The Traveller RPG Wiki uses a set of categories marked at the bottom of each article. These help to make articles more accessible and searchable. The Category Templates insert a standard set of categories for each page depending upon the intended use.
- Each article in the Library namespace should use either the LE (canon) or the LEN (non-canon) template.
- Each article in the Dictionary namespace should use either the DE (canon) or the DEN (non-canon) template.
- Articles not in the OTU or in an ATU and are not officially "in story" should use LEA (non-canon) or MET templates.
- Some articles may mix canon and non-canon data or otherwise mix categories. These are usually marked both LE and LEN, although other combinations are possible. Whenever possible, inline citations are used to designate canon and non-canon sections.
- DE: Dictionary Entry Template, Canon
- DEN: Non-Canon Dictionary Entry Template
- LEA: Alternate TU Library Entry Template (ATU or IMTU)
- Sometimes LEN articles will be redesignated an LEA article when it has strayed too far from the OTU.
- This can be a subjective matter decided upon by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team.
- LE: Basic Library Entry Template, Canon
- LEN: Non-Canon Library Entry Template
- MET: Metastory: Articles about Traveller that are not "in-universe" and pertain to rules, authors, and such. May also include non-canon materials, although these are more typically organized under LEA.
Wiki Category Template Overview
Please note that some Traveller data may exist as both a dictionary entry and a library article. Other articles may mix canon, non-canon, and semi-canon elements.
|DE||Canon Dictionary||Yes||Canon||Dictionary||Yes||Published terminology and alien languages.|
|DEN||Noncanon Dictionary||No||Deuterocanon||Dictionary||Maybe||Not published terminology and alien languages. May or may not be OTU.|
|LE||Canon Library||Yes||Canon||Article||Yes||Official and canon AAB library articles.|
|LEA||Alternate Library||No||Apocrypha||Article||No||Fan-created or de-canonized materials. ATU or IMTU. Not OTU.|
|LEN||Noncanon Library||No||Deuterocanon||Article||Maybe||Not official, non-canon, and/or semi-canon AAB library articles. May or may not be OTU.|
|MET||Metastory||n/a||n/a||Article||n/a||Metastory, ludography, bibliography, community history, publishers, publications, periodicals, authors, artists, game terms, game mechanics, wiki mechanics, background, etc.|
- Traveller Wiki Editorial Team
- Author & Contributor: Robert Eaglestone