Seize the GM
Seize the GM
Episode 50: Canon away

Main Topic

Every game comes packed with an amount of story or canon to choose from, use, or ignore.  We look at how much we each use and what the pros or cons are of the different levels of story or fluff behind our favorite gaming settings.  


Guard-a-Manger – I probably start with 90 to 95% of existing canon as the basis for the campaign.  Have the structure within which to improvise, more jazz than jam band, is preferable to me and allows for greater storytelling.  As campaigns progress, that number tends to decrease because the players actions will have a butterfly effect on the rest of the world. For me, knowing what the world already has in it makes it easier to use that in the campaign.


Joules –  I get basic cannon from the core rule book.  


Zen – I start closer to the core book only and after that I want my players to help to make the game ours. I feel like if we build things together then we make things unique. If a game has no real cannon then you get to build it with the players and make all of it yours. But if the players love the canon then do what they want. Since in the end it is collaborative in nature.


Pros of High Canon– The established framework usually has story ideas falling off of it in droves.  There is a structure in which the players fit or conflict with to create a dynamic for the ongoing campaign. The more printed material for inspiration, the easier it is to expand the scope of the campaign without unbalancing it.


Cons of High Canon – Some worlds are so full and developed, there is little left to discover. Players may have trouble separating meta knowledge from character knowledge of the world or setting. Players and GMs may feel overly tied to maintaining the canon or being shackled to other peoples stories.


Pros of Low Canon– Unbridled freedom to do whatever you want.  If you or your players decide that you want to see what’s over that hill, it is entirely up to you to do so.  Nobody will tell you that you got it wrong! Easier to make a collaborative world wholecloth in the whitespace with the players.


Cons of Low Canon– It is a significant ask on the GM to be able to populate the world, the history, and the entire campaign on the fly. It is easy to get stumped about what is over the next hill or have a conflicting set of answers between sessions. It can be repetitive if the GM is stressed or strained.


Stat Blocks



Dr. Seamus Grats was at one time the world’s leading volcanologist. While out researching a new volcano that seemed to grow overnight he was lost. The research team that was with him was very excited by this new find. They set up a base camp not to far from the site. They had the backing to have all the latest toys. Once there they started to do the initial groundwork that might help to figure out why they erupt sometimes with no warning.

While out at the site on the third day something happened. All the equipment stopped feeding the information that would have told them something was wrong very wrong. The lava tube they were near just poured lava like something from a movie not at all like it was suppose to move. The entire team was presumed dead.

While everyone in team was covered by the lava flow something happened to the Dr. His suit did not save him for long, which is what the other doctors monitoring the situation wanted. As the lava started to eat the suit a strange thing started to happen to Grats. He started to fuse at a cellular level with this lava that is something more than just lava. He changed in both body and mind. The process gave birth to the creature we call Krakatoa today or Living Lava.



The Last Farewell

To quote a great and sonorous sage, war never changes.  From soldiers meeting on the field of battle to flying aces dogfighting in the skies.  And since war never changes, there are those who will never say be able to say goodbye.  And from this sadness and longing, the last farewell was born.


No one knows the true nature of the last farewell.  Divine, Mystical, Psychological? It seems to fit and defy all of them.  Maybe Death sees value and allows it. Maybe the strength of the human soul will not be denied its final desire.  


The last farewell has been described many ways.  A pocket dimension. A psychic link. Standing before the gates of heaven.  


A heartbeat before the last breath seems to be eternity.  And in that eternity, the last farewell manifests. It allows the dying to say goodbye to one person.  The one who they love the most. A boy dying on the fields of Halidon Hill cries for his mother. Wanting to be held one last time.  As his final breath leaves his body, he sees his mother and feels her arms around him. She whispers as tears fall from her eyes, “I love you, son.”  “I love you, ma,” he whispers back. And he is gone.


His mother, miles away wakes up.  Fresh tears on her face. And she knows what happened.  She was allowed to say goodbye, and kiss her son before he died.  And unlike most dreams, it will never fade from memory. She will remember it all with perfect clarity.  And she whispers a small prayer of thanks. So she tells her friends and family about her experience. And the story of the phenomenon of the Last Farewell grows.


The Last Farewell is the last bit of grace for the dying and for the one that they love and who loves them in return.  This shread of grace has prevented angry spirits and reduced the darkness that surround battlegrounds. It has occasionally prevented hatred from festering.  And it has changed mankind slowly over the centuries.

Because if war never changes, then it is mankind who must change.



The Captain’s Stained Shield

Sometimes it takes an epic sacrifice, a valiant but ill fated action to create a lasting legacy in this world.  Stories and legends build the power around the items passed down from generation to generation. You can scarcely believe your eyes when you stumble on this shield … this bastion of the older era.  It’s design fits everything you’ve heard. The slight embossment, the odd battered edge misshapen by a powerful blow, and the very aura about it bring it all to mind and the stories wash over you.

It was another age, one lost to history and to dreams of the immortals.  It was the fall of the first human empire and the last stronghold’s final stand.  The captain of the guard stood true, and ensured that the messages of their loss would make it to the crown.  The captain of the guard stood firm and heard the hooves of the horses thunder away from the fort. The captain of the guard stood.  Alone.

The captain stood long enough, and longer than any thought, but it was a foregone conclusion that this captain would fall.  The story isn’t that the captain stood and that the captain fell, but that his shield and armor surface every generation. They find their way into the hands of new wielders, from humans to dwarves, to titans, and to kobolds.  They find their way into the hands of those who would protect their kith and kin. This is the Captain’s Stained Shield, but where is the armor and what will you be facing that calls to this legendary item?



Kirk   noun \ ˈkirk , ˈkərk \


Definition of kirk
1 chiefly Scotland : church
2 capitalized : the national church of Scotland as distinguished from the Church of England or the Episcopal Church in Scotland


Origin and Etymology of kirk
Middle English (northern dialect), from Old Norse kirkja, from Old English cirice —


First Known Use: before 12th century


Popularity: Bottom 30% of words


Closing remarks

Zendead- Unplug and spend a night doing something with your family.


Joules-West of Loathing


Guard-a-Manger- Star Wars Rebels – An example of taking canon in a respectful but new direction.


Music is courtesy of The Enigma TNG you can find his music on YouTube or on Bandcamp


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Zendead- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Joules- Email, Twitter, Facebook

Nulloperations-Email, Twitter, Facebook

Guard-a-manger- Email, Twitter


And Thanks to Merriam-Webster for our Lexicon segment

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