Am I too much of a fan?


I was recently browsing Gnome Stew when I by chance came across this article and it got me thinking. I have addressed at length the concepts of canon and gaming, but not in terms of fans and being…well, overly pedantic. How would you exactly deal with what they call “Das Ubergeek” at the table?

I can totally understand this guy’s point of view, I even gave it a name a little way back the canon lawyer, but only dealt with it a little bit in terms of the game and continuity. My solution, as is the solution for a lot of GMs, is to remove the problem completely by not taking the players anywhere near it. Building my own planet and events that can’t be wrong unless I contradict myself.

The source of a lot of outdated knowledge?

However, in terms of knowledge in the Star Wars franchise, the person with the most knowledge at the table is actually me (in most areas, the new Clone Wars series I am rather ignorant of though this is largely Channel 10’s fault). This is due to the EU novels I read, the time I have spent discussing and critiquing Star Wars (I was made a Lieutenant in the Canon Wars) and a funny little thing called the Star Wars Fact File which I am shortly going to pass on to a friend as it was once passed on to me.

So really, I am sitting behind the screen with the knowledge of events, characters et. al in my mind which make some sort of sense and order…and it feels rather limiting. I want my players to feel like the heroes of their own story, but in a galaxy where it seems as if the major events are handled by a comparative handful of people, it seems as if everything big is done and dusted.

I think this was the biggest struggle that I had, and still have with my games. I want to use canonical events as signposts, to keep the game within events that I don’t have to explain and at the same time make sure that the players do not seem like by-standers.

And this is one of the grypes that  Matthew J. Neagley has with playing a Star Wars game, but it seems to me as if his complaints are less about Star Wars and more about bad GMing. One example:

…when the GM dumps you on Garflagle, and expects “You’re on Garflagle” to not only suffice for description, but for you to immediately understand what that means about your current goals, because it was the setting of the third series of Jedi:Rebuked novels, then sighs and rolls their eyes like there’s something wrong with you because you don’t know about the secret catacombs beneath the city that their entire adventure revolved around, there’s a problem.

Now, even when I take my players to perhaps the most iconic planet in Star Wars, Tatooine, I still put in description and outline anything useful or interesting that I want the players to pay attention too. The simple reason is that this is not a message board, this is a story and even if it was completely my own and was writing it on paper, I’d give it some description. It’s just natural.

The same sort of situation could take place in any sort of story or roleplaying game. “You are in the Tomb of Horrors” or “you at Greyhawk Castle”.

Really, if I was in that situation, it the GM shored us up on a planet without much descrption and asked us to take it as-is, then maybe it’s time for the Gm to take a ride in the realms of canon. It’s not nice, but he kind of deserves it.

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~ by katanageldar on January 27, 2010.

3 Responses to “Am I too much of a fan?”

  1. Exactly! What I was going for when I wrote that article (and didn’t convey quite well enough) was that while the Cannon Lawyer (to use your, better, term) is a giant pain in the ass, they’re the problem (no matter which side of the table they’re on), not the game or setting, and there are approaches you can take to eliminate their impact (or just eliminate them). Many people made the 100% correct point you’re making, Someone with extensive setting knowledge can be a great benefit if that knowledge is used correctly.
    If you’re interested, order 66 podcast invited me on to discuss my article during episode 62, which you can find here http://feeds.feedburner.com/order66

  2. Yep, IMO Matt’s definitely highlighting poor GMing more than Star Wars being an inherently poor game — but there IS some kind of weird connection between the two. I too have had more than my share of bad Star Wars GMs.

    I’m glad you liked Matt’s article!

  3. [...] have mentioned it several times now: the best way to avoid canon conflicts is to take your game to an environment where this [...]

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