Canon Fodder



  • We've written quite a few stories. Some of those stories go off and do their own thing, but a lot of stories reference other stories and try to build up a semblance of continuity. This has always been a controversial topic, responsible for a lot of drama and overreactions; however, I feel that continuity used appropriately can help a story become greater than itself. The choices characters make in one tale can have consequences in future stories, so what your character does actually has meaning.

    We haven't always done a very good job at maintaining continuity. In fact, trying to resolve all of the conflicts from most of the early stories is an absolute mess. And even some of the newer stories create a completely different timeline from any of the existing stories. That's perfectly fine. Also, I know that technically only the game itself is official canon, and anything we write, gandreas is perfectly able and willing to ignore. That's fine too. It's also beyond this topic.

    This topic's scope is more specifically about the stories listed in this post, beginning with Echoes from the Past and running through the ongoing Out of Reflection, Into Reality*.

    If we rewind time a bit for a brief history lesson, sometime around 2004 a growing number of us wanted to establish a TS continuity. Many of the old stories were written for fun, without regard to whether or not they contradicted other stories. Some characters even seemed to undergo significant and incompatible changes between stories. Every time we tried to reconcile all of the alternate timelines in those original stories, it resulted in a big fight and a lot of hurt feelings. So, we decided to just start a new timeline that would be as consistent as possible with itself**. Thus was born the Echoes from the Past storyline.

    And the first thing we did in that story was break the "clean slate" by bringing in an older story for some additional background material. Next, the people that had invested a whole bunch of time into their characters wanted to bring a few chronicles into that timeline as well, so they could retain the character development they had painstakingly built over the years. Generally, those chronicles were easy to include, because they involved a handful of characters and Echoes started a number of years after Cythera ended (anyone remember exactly? The number has changed several times***), providing a big enough gap of time for all those events to happen without creating conflict.

    That leads me to this request. As more and more stories were written about the characters in our current run of team stories (which has been going for nine years, and counting - more if you count the chronicles), I've lost track of them all. There were a number of years where I even stopped following the stories for a while. So, I'm looking for input from the forumgoers that either have a better memory than I do or took better notes. I'd like to assemble a set of links to all of the material related to the current story timeline.

    What chronicles or other stories are part of this timeline's "canon"?

    ** It has been mostly successful, but there are still times when dramatic events happened that get forgotten in a follow-up story. See: the random giant dam that breaks in Shadow Games, the hordes of ruffian NPCs that get slaughtered constantly, friendly NPCs that get killed, etc. But, that's the nature of having an uncoordinated multi-year effort among a dozen writers.

    *** I believe we set DM to take place ten years after the game, but I've long since lost my notes on how much time passes between all of the proceeding stories.

    **** Apparently you can only have 16 links in a post now before things break. Now I'm worried about updating the Best of Cythera.



  • To start off, here's a list of the team stories officially in the current continuity:

    Land King Hall - for story (Oct 2000)*
    The Sorcery Tower (Jan 2002)
    Echoes from the Past (July 2004)
    Shadow Games (Feb 2005)
    Witch Hunt (Nov 2005)
    The Ruffian Encampment (Sep 2006)
    Yesterday's Dawn (Dec 2006)
    The Missing Sorceress (Jan 2007)
    For Whom The Bell Tolls (Mar 2007)
    The Tree of Life (Oct 2007)
    Terminated (Apr 2008)
    Dark Mirror (May 2009)
    Out of Reflection, Into Reality (August 2011)

    • We referenced the LKH story when we brought the villain back during For Whom the Bell Tolls, but I think that was a mistake. It wasn't really necessary (said villain didn't do much), and it introduced a bunch of contradictions. Not only did it break the end of the LKH story, but a lot of the characters then were fairly different from their incarnation in the other TSes listed. Then again, it's not too impossible, it's just an ugly fit.


  • Hopefully this topic doesn't turn into a bad idea, I know it's a bit of a sensitive topic. My main purpose for posting this was so I could get an idea of what other authors felt were the defining stories for their characters. I have different ideas today than I did thirteen years ago, but there are some things that I have kept consistent as my character has evolved.



  • None of my chrons are canon. My novel and film script sort of are, but I'd need to write a slightly altered synopsis to match existing stories.

    As far as TSes go, canon starts for Katerei with Bell Tolls, and K and Iannah with Dark Mirror. Everything I've done with Alice is still canon. Pretend my other characters don't exist (seriously, I'll be happier that way.)



  • I haven't written any stories that are canon with the TSes.

    I like your summary of the history of TS continuity ^ ___^ I think it's very accurate.



  • My characters have always remained consistent, or grown organically, in any story they've been involved in, so I'd consider any of those stories to be part of their own personal canon - which doesn't preclude someone else opting their characters out.

    I'd include 'Requiem' in the list mainly as the introduction for Sideline, but change the bit where DesertFox turned him into a master swordsman. I only wanted him to be average in that respect, as his strengths are more focused in other directions. I think that was also the first story with the Shadows, which I consider to have good potential as a foe (I have very fond memories of that health-potion-explosion scene, which was a critical moment in the evolution of my understanding of what Sideline's character should be ^_^ ).

    I'd also include certain parts of the Tavern, for much the same reasons - intros for the Ronin, Brianna and the Scribe; even the weirdness with Mort's drinks has its place in my master plan.

    'Omen's Return' I could take or leave - it did show the beginning of Brianna's phobia of the Undine, but I have no plans to take that further. The only aspect I'd like to keep as canon is the part that shows how unstable, dangerous and debilitating her panther transformation can be.



  • Oh no I completely forgot about all the Taverns hides under a desk



  • I've always usually considered the tavern largely it's own entity, given the no-rules freeform nature of events there. There are some posts now and then which contained material directly relevant to one of the TSes, and I sort of included those posts as a "prologue" when I was generating word counts. They very easily could just be considered part of the stories themselves.

    I don't know what to do about the rest though. There are some character defining moments sprinkled throughout them for some people, but also a lot of random OoC chaos, so it's hard to take the tavern literally. Perhaps those defining events occurred, and the rest was a bunch of drunken storytelling?

    I haven't been able to finish reading through all the stories and attached chronicles yet. Do you remember when Requiem took place (relative to the stories)?

    I'm not familiar with Omen's Return (or if I was, I'm admittedly not anymore), but I do think there was some of that unstableness shown in Bell Tolls. Maybe not to the same level, I'll have to back and look.



  • @avatara_bot, on 24 November 2013 - 09:01 PM, said in Canon Fodder:

    I don't know what to do about the rest though. There are some character defining moments sprinkled throughout them for some people, but also a lot of random OoC chaos, so it's hard to take the tavern literally. Perhaps those defining events occurred, and the rest was a bunch of drunken storytelling?

    That's pretty much how I think of it. It was fairly structured at the time I started posting, but that was something of an anomaly.

    @avatara_bot, on 24 November 2013 - 09:01 PM, said in Canon Fodder:

    I haven't been able to finish reading through all the stories and attached chronicles yet. Do you remember when Requiem took place (relative to the stories)?

    I think it was after either 'Search for the Thieves' Cavern' or LKH, whichever came last - I'm pretty sure those were the first two TSs I took part in. 'Requiem' was my third, and also the first I started.

    @avatara_bot, on 24 November 2013 - 09:01 PM, said in Canon Fodder:

    I'm not familiar with Omen's Return (or if I was, I'm admittedly not anymore), but I do think there was some of that unstableness shown in Bell Tolls. Maybe not to the same level, I'll have to back and look.

    'OR' followed 'Bane', I think. I'd forgotten if Bri was even in 'Bell Tolls', I'll have to go take a look myself. I do recall an incident in Pnyx, which might be what you're referring to. I don't remember which story that was in, so it could have been 'Bell'.



  • Hmm, I think a TS timeline would be really cool. I have one (kind of) for when they were written , but I didn't realize there was so much writing out of chronological order.

    Chey- You didn't technically participate in LKH, you were in the immediate sequel "A New Story" which you revived after it had been abandoned for several months. It actually ended after Thieves' Cavern did, though it was started considerably before. I assumed LKH/ANS took place before Thieves Cavern, but like I mentioned above, I didn't realize so many stories were written out of order (had no idea Omen's Return followed Bane, for example).



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 25 November 2013 - 09:32 AM, said in Canon Fodder:

    Hmm, I think a TS timeline would be really cool. I have one (kind of) for when they were written , but I didn't realize there was so much writing out of chronological order.

    Yes, the timeline is currently a mess. Hopefully we can untangle one here. :)



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 25 November 2013 - 09:32 AM, said in Canon Fodder:

    Chey- You didn't technically participate in LKH, you were in the immediate sequel "A New Story" which you revived after it had been abandoned for several months. It actually ended after Thieves' Cavern did, though it was started considerably before. I assumed LKH/ANS took place before Thieves Cavern, but like I mentioned above, I didn't realize so many stories were written out of order (had no idea Omen's Return followed Bane, for example).

    Yeah, I wasn't sure about that one. I'm fairly certain I took part in two TSs before I started 'Requiem', though. The revival of 'ANS' was later still, I think, after someone took us to Lands' End volcano in another story and DF sicced a cave troll on me.

    (edit)Of course, I might be thinking of the Undead War in the Tavern as my first TS, since it pretty much followed the TS format at the time.(/edit)

    This post has been edited by cache22 : 25 November 2013 - 03:03 PM



  • @cache22_bot, on 25 November 2013 - 03:01 PM, said in Canon Fodder:

    DF sicced a cave troll on me.

    I assume you took him off your Christmas card list. ;)



  • @avatara_bot, on 23 November 2013 - 05:14 AM, said in Canon Fodder:

    I feel that continuity used appropriately can help a story become greater than itself. The choices characters make in one tale can have consequences in future stories, so what your character does actually has meaning.

    Eh. I'm fairly anti-canon. Why are aspects of your character developed in a previous story more important than aspects from their backstory? Retroactive continuity is best continuity!



  • (As a note of random trivia, for some time after I joined, I didn't realize that Echoes was the start of a new continuity. I thought all previous stories were canon due to the threads of continuity linking them.)

    Personally, I regard my chrons as canon for my characters, but, since I haven't written many and they only really concern my characters, they can easily be ignored for continuity. I did make use of a part of the Tempus Stone (introduced in the Thieves' Cavern TS) in one of them, but it's not necessarily anything of importance.

    Regarding the amount of time that has passed in story, I know that I have referenced seasonal changes once or twice since Echoes; unfortunately, I don't remember how often and I'm fairly certain that I did not do so in any regular pattern. Still, I'd guess probably around two to three years between Echoes and DM.



  • Yeah, at some point I'll go back and take a closer look at the stories to map out a timeline. I know I've taken notes about it on several occasions, but they weren't posted (or maybe they're buried in the TS OoC threads), so I no longer have access to them.

    @pallas-athene_bot, on 26 November 2013 - 09:37 AM, said in Canon Fodder:

    Eh. I'm fairly anti-canon. Why are aspects of your character developed in a previous story more important than aspects from their backstory? Retroactive continuity is best continuity!

    It's not necessarily just to fill out character backstory, but also to link their actions with the world around them. I don't know how many of the old stories you've read, but there was a lot of <major NPC died>, <city wiped out>, <someone searches for and obtains powerful artifact/title/whatever> and then the very next story would completely undo all that. It becomes a bit nonsensical to reference some events in a previous story and then completely negate others.

    That said, I understand not everyone feels that way, and I also think sometimes it's nice to just tell a story without worrying about consistency with all of the "baggage" from previously written material. That's what stories like Blazing Trails and Rasmus are for. Just at the time, the pendulum was on the other side (where every story "reset" the world), and that's where the TS run starting with Echoes came from.

    I also can't say establishing a continuity completely solved all of those "problems" mentioned above, but I think they did help motivate toning a lot of it down, for better or worse. There are still a number of inconsistencies to untangle, but that's what you get with an open-ended freeform contribution spanning a decade.



  • It's all non-canon in the Cythera universe anyway, isn't it?

    TSes do provide a way to build consensus about characters' stories, and the characters' stories are ours to decide. If your character is guilt-ridden about being unable to prevent the sack of Cademia, that's interesting. It also makes it potentially rude to include your character in a story where other characters may assume its existence. That's true whether the sack of Cademia was part of your character's backstory or a previous TS.

    On the other hand, if my character was in Pnyx at the time, and it wasn't a significant event from the perspective of my character, I see no reason why the character's participation on the first TS should cause canon to infect the second. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have baggage from previous TSes, but I think it's better to apply a litmus test of "what mattered to the participants" rather than assuming that everything that happened is canon (which, taken literally, is a non-starter anyway).



  • Quote

    after someone took us to Lands' End volcano in another story and DF sicced a cave troll on me.

    That was The Quest for the Unknown Power , which was an awful story. I think it's my least favourite TS that I've read so far.

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    I'm fairly certain I took part in two TSs before I started 'Requiem', though. Of course, I might be thinking of the Undead War in the Tavern as my first TS, since it pretty much followed the TS format at the time.

    I think that must be it, unless I missed a story.

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    Eh. I'm fairly anti-canon.

    I think my opinion on this is fairly similar to Fiery's. I remember reading a boring rant on a Doctor Who wikipedia about how there can never be a Doctor Who "canon" because Doctor Who belongs to many different people. It was really boring, but it somewhat made sense. How can we define a canon, with so many different writers? Each writer will decide what is relevant to his own characters, and I think that works well enough for the purposes of TSes and chronicles. I don't really understand why the argument got so heated in the past : ****(

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    (As a note of random trivia, for some time after I joined, I didn't realize that Echoes was the start of a new continuity. I thought all previous stories were canon due to the threads of continuity linking them.)

    First of all, you were the main one linking threads of continuity between the old & new stories : ****P Secondly, I have to wonder how many people realized that Echoes was intended to start a new canon. Back in 2001 most of the writers seemed to think their stories formed a continuity. I don't really see what changed with Echoes.. But I haven't read all the stories yet.

    The way I see it is like this: The details of all the stories/chrons aren't canon, but can still be referenced later because we know something along those lines happened to those characters in the past. Maybe the TSes and Chronicles could be thought of as theatrical versions of real events?



  • Whatever continuity problems might exist here are nothing compared to Aeon Flux. Aeon died in every episode. I can only recall one that made any attempt to explain how she could still be alive to continue the fight next time around (basically, she got cloned, gave up the war, so the cloned killed her and took her place - but that was totally self contained in that episode, and had no bearing on every other time she died.)



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 03 December 2013 - 11:09 AM, said in Canon Fodder:

    I think my opinion on this is fairly similar to Fiery's. I remember reading a boring rant on a Doctor Who wikipedia about how there can never be a Doctor Who "canon" because Doctor Who belongs to many different people. It was really boring, but it somewhat made sense. How can we define a canon, with so many different writers? Each writer will decide what is relevant to his own characters, and I think that works well enough for the purposes of TSes and chronicles. I don't really understand why the argument got so heated in the past : ****(

    I don't think that a well-defined, rigid continuity is necessarily attainable, but a loose one would enable more consistent character growth and development. It could also lead to subplots culminating in future TSs.

    Also, you were reading a wiki? I thought you hated wiki.


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