As most of us who frequent the message boards know, there are few topics more likely to spawn flame wars than Canon, Continuity, and Fan Fiction. Personally I am sick to death of all three of them. Nothing good ever seems to come from such discussions. The discussions invariably get locked when someone gets a bit too miffed while defending their position and fires off the most hurtful posts they can think of in defense of that position.
You may ask yourself, “Why are these things so bad?” The simple answer is that all three terms mean different things to different people. You have official canon and personal canon, official continuity and personal continuity, and every one has different views on exactly how to define fan fiction.
It’s a never ending circle. Yes a circle; you are free to call it a cycle or a phase if you so desire, but to me it is a circle. To me a circle implies that you revisit the same issue over and over and over again, never going anywhere, or learning from past experience. This is certainly true of discussions on Canon, Continuity, and Fan-Fiction
Canon sparks never ending debates in which one side will quote one source (often a 3rd edition product or novel as the official canon) as proof of their position, while the other side points to a different source (often a 2nd edition product or a novel); both official. The only difference is the edition of the game in which the subject was considered to be canon. In one edition the subject was considered canon, in the next it isn’t; many times a good reason isn’t even given except for a “dislike of the subject.”
The same is true with respect to continuity. In this case, 2nd edition continuity continually comes into conflict with 3rd edition continuity which is considered the official continuity. I agree that there should be an internal continuity, but don’t cram it down the fans’ throats. I have seen a lot of militant defenders of continuity; some supporting the 2nd edition continuity, and some supporting the 3rd edition continuity. Such discussions invariably end up turning ugly.
The company line (WotC’s that is) on fan fiction is “as long as we control it (i.e. it is hosted on our site) we’ll allow it.” My personal feeling is everything in table top RPGs can be construed as fan fiction including rules, classes, templates, characters, etc… A recent discussion on an article in the Lexicon soured me on the whole fan fiction subject.
An author took time out of her busy schedule to write an article for the Lexicon, which she is under no obligation to do, and she catches nothing but flak for it. Yes it may have read like the dreaded F-word, but we as fans should be thankful this writer loves the setting enough to do such kind things for us. Personally, because of the response she received for this article (and past novels), I would not blame her if she never wrote another thing for Dragonlance again. Why subject yourself to that kind of treatment?
Like I said, I am sick to death of these subjects. I wish all three topics would be forever stricken from the boards. I know that is unrealistic, because immediately we would lose at least half of the discussions currently being discussed. Someone would invariably ask, “What are we supposed to talk about now?” To that I say, there is plenty to talk about without engaging in these endless, pointless discussions of the three subjects who hence forth shall not be named.
As long as I am wishing, I may as well wish that even the mention of those subjects which shall not be named would be treated the same as posting profanity on the boards; in this case being censored. Yes, you still know what the post is about just by reading the rest of it, but at least the words would go away. Hell while I’m at it lets censor edition wars and 4th edition subjects too (4th Ed only until it is released, then talk all you like).
Since none of the above suggestions are viable or even realistic the best thing I can do, or suggest to everyone else who feels the same way, is to say “Opt Out”. What I mean by this is don’t allow yourself to get drawn into such discussions. Personally I am boycotting participating in any and all future topics on the three subjects which shall not be named. I have had the opportunity to reply to several threads currently being discussed, but I didn’t have the desire. If I see a thread in which a debate is going about the three subjects, I’m just going to do the best thing possible and not respond. I urge those sick of these subjects to do the same.