From Traveller Wiki - Science-Fiction Adventure in the Far future
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Wiki Navy.png

Canon is the term used to designate what is "official" with in the OTU or Official Traveller Universe.

  • Canon designations are fluid, subjective, and change according to the needs of FFE, Marc Miller, and/or his designated appointee/s.
  • Canon designations have changed many times over the years and can be retconned or otherwise edited to meet the needs of the OTU.
  • That being said, even FFE and Marc Miller minimize changes to canon.
  • Due to the sheer volume of Traveller materials (...nearly 2,000 publications), the wiki cannot comprehensively track all canon designations. They change and sometimes often, although usually quite rarely.
  • Please also see Traveller Ethos for a related article.
  • Please don't take canon too seriously.

Description (Specifications)

Canon is a tricky and evolving thing. Some items initially come into existence as canon items and are later de-canonized. Some de-canonized items have even later been re-canonized. For referees and players, it doesn't matter whether or not a published work is considered canon.

However, the designation is useful for publishers, authors, and artists expanding or detailing the OTU. This is because, at least in theory, a 'canonical' work maintains setting consistency.

Individual referees, players, and fans are free to modify, edit, change, or otherwise enjoy any kind of Traveller to their heart's delight for personal use. Publishers are not bound by any concrete set of canon rules, although they are bound by license, and are encouraged to stay within the bounds of the OTU as set by Don's Hermeneutic. Changes within the OTU should ideally be coordinated through FFE, Marc Miller, and/or his designated appointee/s.

Don's 'What is Traveller Canon' Hermeneutic

Don's Hermeneutic is the primary tool used for determining canon in the OTU. Canon is set first and foremost by Marc Miller or his designated appointee/s.


Don in 2015 CE: Marc Miller has 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.


Don in 2015 CE: 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.

Don's Hermeneutic

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 or Lorenverse) and the Official Traveller Universe (OTU) 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

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.

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:

  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]

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.

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

  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 within Charted Space, 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, a la 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. There are no ansibles.

History & Background (Dossier)

As of 2019 CE, Traveller has over forty years of publications including nearly 2,000 published products with more coming out every year. Keeping track of what is and isn't "official" or canon just about amounts to a fool's errand. Fans have literally been arguing over these matters for DECADES. Groups like HIWG and the TML made a fine art of discussing and arguing over Traveller. In as much as a central source for canon designation exists, the Traveller RPG Wiki serves that function. The bottom line is that Traveller is a very big universe and Charted Space has almost unimaginably large bounds. There is room for almost anything within the OTU.

Don McKinney, who served as the central lynch pin of the Traveller community for many years volunteering countless hours, wrote it most aptly as thus:

"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."

Scope of Canon by Publisher

This is a rough graphical overview of Traveller canon in chart form:

                      LITERARY TRAVELLER CANON
| Scopes    |<---- Scope of Classic Traveller ---->|<----  Later Trav  ---->| 
| Canon     |         Primary Canon                |       Not Primary      |
| Timeline  |         -5 bya to 1115 TI            |       1116 to 1902+ TI |
| 2010's CE |         Traveller 5 (T5)             |       Galaxiad         |  
| 2010's CE |         New Traveller (MGT-2)        |                        |       
| 2010's CE |         Mongoose Traveller (MGT-2)   |           |     |      |         
| 2000's CE |         Mongoose Traveller (MGT-1)   |   GURPS   | TNE | 1248 |         
|           |                                      |           |     |      |
---------------------------------------------------|           |  T  |  S   |
| 2000's CE |         Traveller D20 (T20)          |           |  N  |  E   |         
---------------------------------------------------|           |  E  |  C   |          
|           |                                                  |     |  O   |        
| 2000's CE | GURPS: Traveller / Lorenverse / Imperium Eternal | TNE |  N   |
| 1990's CE |        (GT)                                      |     |  D   |
|           |---------------------------------------           |     |  A   |
| 1990's CE |   Marc Miller's Traveller (T4)       |           | TNE |  R   |
|           |---------------------------------------           |     |  Y   |
| 1990's CE |   Clay Bush Writing Corpus / HIWG    |           | TNE | HIWG |
---------------------------------------------------|           |------------|
| 1990's CE |               |                 |    |           |            |
| 1980's CE |   Classic     |  MegaTraveller  |    |   GURPS   |  C     GO  |
| 1970's CE |   Traveller   |      (MT)       |    |           |  T     JG  |
|           |   (CT)        -------------------    |           |        PP  | 

That final, open-ended column to the far right, labelled "Later Trav," represents secondary sources, including 1248, HIWG, Paranoia Press, Group One, Judges Guild, et al. Things from which good ideas can come.

Wiki Library Overview

Library entries derived from a canon source are listed in the below 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 and approved by FFE.

Canon Classifications

  1. CANON: One of the definitions of canon is: a sanctioned or accepted group or body of related works. Primary canon. Part of the OTU.
    1. Canon items may be paraphrased or otherwise modified from original form. The core content should not be modified although it can later be added to. Lightly modified or edited is the order of the day. This can be highly subjective.
    2. 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.
    3. Ironically, not everything designated canon is included in the OTU. Most of it is though.

  1. DEUTEROCANON: A number of other publishers, including Seeker Gaming Systems, Gamelords, FASA, produced their material under license. This material as is referred to as deuterocanonical or secondary canon.
    1. These companies no longer produce for Traveller.
    2. They may or may not be a part of the OTU.

  1. 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.
    1. 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.
    2. Some de-canonized items have later been re-canonized.
    3. Apocryphal items may be mostly de-canonized and yet still retain some canon elements included in the OTU. As a rough rule of thumb, the vast majority of apocryphal materials have been de-canonized and are not included in the OTU.

  1. NON-CANON: Not officially part of the OTU.
    1. Elements of it might still be unofficially included in the story line or even later canonized.
    2. Please also see Category:Non-canon.

Wiki Library Warning

The Traveller RPG Wiki is not considered a canonical source for any Traveller materials. If you, as an author or pedant, need to cite Traveller canon we encourage you to refer to the original primary source materials. When doing research for your game or writing project, please contact 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.

  1. Each article in the Library namespace should use either the LE (canon) or the LEN (non-canon) template.
  2. Each article in the Dictionary namespace should use either the DE (canon) or the DEN (non-canon) template.
  3. Articles not in the OTU or in an ATU and are not officially "in story" should use LEA (non-canon) or MET templates.
  4. 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.

The Category Templates are:

  • DE: Dictionary Entry Template, Canon
  • DEN: Non-Canon Dictionary Entry Template
  • LEA: Alternate TU Library Entry Template (ATU or IMTU)
    • Sometimes a LEN articles will be redesignated a LEA article when it has strayed too far from the OTU.
    • This can be a very 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 traveler 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.

Wiki Category Template Overview
...or Tag/s
Name Canon Class Format OTU Remarks
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.

References & Contributors (Sources)

This list of sources was used by the Traveller Wiki Editorial Team and individual contributors to compose this article. Copyrighted material is used under license from Far Future Enterprises or by permission of the author. The page history lists all of the contributions.