PathfinderWiki talk:Canon policy/Archive 1

From PathfinderWiki

Looks good, just a couple of points:

  • I like "chroniclers"... I wouldn't be opposed to going with it wiki-wide.
  • I'm going to ask this because I know it will come up: "What about the old Compleat Encounters? One of them is named 'Something Whispering Tyrant something something'... is it canon?" I think one of the Paizo crew said that these weren't going to be canon. Are they maybe a third tier source? At any rate, they should probably be mentioned specifically, so as to head off confusion

--Aeakett 23:42, 25 May 2009 (UTC)

Glad you like it. It took me a while to adapt the Memory Alpha version to our needs. In their case, they use the FAQ to answer specific questions like this. It could also be added as another line to the Non-valid sources section. -- yoda8myhead 11:54, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

Levels of Canon

Given the points made by yoda8myhead here, I'd like to propose the notion of tiered canonicity. In the event of an irreconcilable conflict among sources the lowest numbered tier would prevail. My proposed tiers are as follows:

Tier 0 (mouth of god)

  • Errata created by Paizo editorial staff

Tier 1 (incontrovertibly canon)

  • All Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes
  • All Pathfinder Chronicles volumes
  • All Pathfinder Modules volumes
  • All Pathfinder Companion volumes

Tier 2 (generally accepted as canon)

  • Web supplements released by Paizo
  • World clarification from a citable source such as permanent messageboard post or chat transcript
    • by a member of the Paizo editorial staff on any topic
    • or a freelance contributor in relation to a topic on which they are credited with having written

Tier 3 (technically apocryphal, but generally accepted)

  • All Pathfinder Society Organized Play scenarios & PFS Guide to Organized Play
  • All official Pathfinder fiction
  • J2
  • All licensed Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting material in non-Paizo sources

Tier 4 (apocrypha, bordering on heresy)

  • Citable statements from editorial staff or responsible authors regarding:
    • material that was removed from final manuscripts for space or other reasons.
    • their interpretations people, places, things or events in a published
  • Compleat Encounters


  1. It would be pretty easy to convince me to move the (so far notional) Pathfinder fiction up to tier 2.
  2. Nothing in tier 4 should be used as a primary source for an article. Furthermore any "fact" from one of these sources should be represented as suspect/of dubious origin/speculation/rumour in POV articles
  3. This whole idea of tiers boils down to: "Let's take detail from where we can, but let's also be ready to throw out half-baked stuff when something more official comes along."

--Aeakett 19:16, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

In that list, the main disagreement I have is PFS scenarios. I think that they should be tier 2.. they do go by editing by Josh, and they do get brought up in meetings to make sure that they do not conflict with plans for other products. I think that these should have the same level of canon as web supplements, as they can act as a introduction to the world. -Cpt kirstov 19:40, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
This is great work and having a clearly defined hierarchy should remove some of the chatter regarding discrepancies down the road since editors will be able to find the answer without bringing Admins into it.
  • I would agree with Cpt that PFS scenarios should be considered Tier 2. The Guide to PFS might be ok to leave at 3, since it presents rules and restrictions that are not indicative of the setting as a whole.
  • I think that Compleat Encounters should be listed as inadmissible as sources, even secondary ones. They were never made with the intention of using them in a cohesive game world and while they may have inspired some elements of the PCCS we see now, they never went through the editorial scrutiny that even the least canon sources from the first year of the setting did. Comments from the editors is assumed to be something that will at one day be documented, though I wouldn't have a problem excluding it altogether either. If they aren't clarifying or errata-ing something that is canon, then I think we have enough on our plate not to worry about including those details as well.
  • I am still of the mind that Guardians of Dragonfall should be considered as much canon as anything else. They have admitted it was slightly off what dragons ended up being in the CS and since, but nothing in it is directly contradictory to works published since. If we maintain a rule that among items of the same tier, the most recent product is considered correct (which I think we should, though setting it in stone may make clear errors seem more legitimate) then anything directly in conflict with J2 would trump it anyway.
  • I agree that fiction should be in tier 2.
This is an excellent opportunity for us to try out the policy revision rules which we are currently trying to establish here, so I will add the necessary templates to the main policy page and we will give it the two weeks to discuss and refine.
--yoda8myhead 21:18, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
To reply to your points:
  • I made scenarios t3 because you specifically said here that they had been mentioned as non-canon on the message boards. If that isn't the case then I agree that they should probably be moved up to t2. Re: PFS Guide, I'd keep it with the scenarios. I was surprised by the amount of fluff in there, and it is still my go-to source for the whole Chelish/Chelaxian thing.
  • I'll admit my bias on this one. I have a soft spot for the Compleat Encounters for some reason. I think I'm reading that you propose to eliminate t4 all together... is that the case? If so, I can understand that point. They are the sketchiest class of "source" after all.
  • So J2 to t1? I suppose I see your point. I put it down in t3 because it has been called out as a major oops, and it was kind of a toss-up between t2 and t3. I think my preference is still for t2, but that is a decision mostly based on emotion. I think I'd like to hear what others have to say on the topic.
  • Yeah... fiction. This is a hard one because there is no fiction yet. I'd support calling it t2 provisionally, until we see what what its actually like. Again, putting it at t3 was an emotional decision on my part. Having seen the state of fiction for TSR/WotC's Greyhawk products, I'm wary. On the other hand, I suspect that the folks at Paizo care WAY more about Pathfinder than TSR/WotC ever cared about Greyhawk.
--Aeakett 21:49, 14 July 2009 (UTC)
I have to hand it to you for using my own words against me. I'm a tough person to argue with, and that's often the only way to win. ;-)
After rereading my own, more thorough analysis of how to handle both J2 and PFS scenarios, I have to side with myself, and by proxy, with you for agreeing with the original me). In both instances, chronology of products is always taken into account as well. As I said above, I think a rule of thumb should be included that a newer product of the same tier always trumps an older discrepancy unless the new information is clearly outnumbered by multiple older sources that are in agreement. If this policy exists, then there's no reason to single J2 or PFS scenarios out by moving them to a lower tier because to date we know of few to no times that they have been openly refuted within an older product. Of course, a PFS scenario may come out next year that would have conflicting info with the CS, and under this rule would then supercede it, so perhaps we should leave those where they are. (And if this occurred and it actually was correcting or revising the CS, someone from Paizo could confirm this as a tier 0 statement and eliminate the whole ordeal.) But J2 will never be released again, so we needn't worry about it specifically.
As for fiction, I think that Paizo will do a better job with it than other companies have, mainly because of the size of the company. Remember that by the end of the month, we'll have seen 23 chapters of serialized fiction in the Pathfinder's Journal section of the APs by a dozen authors. In fact, we've pulled a lot of great world flavor from these, and I can't think of any instances when someone from Paizo confirmed errata on something from fiction. Sure, it's bound to happen eventually, and for that might need to stay at a slightly lower tier. It's again, only ever an issue when there's a discrepancy.
--yoda8myhead 00:01, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Not trying to argue or fight with you (but you knew that). Most conflict is born from misunderstanding, and I was just trying to make sure that you understood my reasoning.
So, to summarize: Fiction and PFS to t2, references to j2 and compleat encounters gone.--Aeakett 00:20, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
Just raised some of these questions to James Jacobs in the chat tonight. Transcript of the convo can be found at PathfinderWiki talk:Canon policy/chat071409. --yoda8myhead 06:21, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

(Resetting Indent)
From the transcript, it sounds as if we should push the CS and AP volumes up to Tier 0, or at least between Tiers 0 and 1; it's clear the developers see them as the front line products, and they should be the primary source of information as a result. It seems as if we'll have to address any conflicts between these sources on a case by case basis.

Complete Encounters should be excluded from the project completely, and I would think the rest of Tier 4 should be gone as well. I get the impression that fiction, in its current form, is part of the AP volumes and should rank as such. If additional sources of fiction are eventually written, it sounds as if they would belong in Tier 1 alongside the setting support product lines; I find this surprising, and would actually be in favor of leaving this aspect of the discussion until the time something is actually written. We can ask again at that time as to where the folks at Paizo believe it falls within the scheme of things.

I'm uncomfortable with the "reconcile it fan-style" approach that was mentioned, and even though it was recommended I think we need to avoid it. It also seems clear that documenting conflicts, even when resolved, is the what would be preferred. Perhaps we could create a template to denote such cases, linking to the first section of the article's Talk Page where the conflict would be described in full. -- Heaven's Agent 16:55, 15 July 2009 (UTC)

Your suggestion of a "conflict" template is a sound one. I think our policy should be to use the information in the order if falls by tier, but denote that a conflict exists after that information. It could be as inconspicuous as a § after the ref tag that links to a "Conflicting sources" header in the talk page (or another symbol if that's preferred). Whatever it is, though, I'd rather it not be a box hovering at the top or bottom of the page, nor something that will break up the flow of an article's prose. As for where fiction will fall once the novel line launches (they did confirm is was on its way at PaizoCon) we can address that at that time. --yoda8myhead 23:04, 15 July 2009 (UTC)
OK, I've done an updated version of the tiers to reflect the discussion up to this point.
Tier 0
  • Errata created by Paizo editorial staff
Tier 1
  • All Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes
  • The Pathfinder Campaign Setting
Tier 2
  • All Pathfinder Chronicles volumes (excluding the campaign setting)
  • All Pathfinder Modules volumes
  • All Pathfinder Companion volumes
Tier 3
  • Web supplements released by Paizo
  • All Pathfinder Society Organized Play scenarios & PFS Guide to Organized Play
  • World clarification from a citable source such as permanent messageboard post or chat transcript
    • by a member of the Paizo editorial staff on any topic
    • or a freelance contributor in relation to a topic on which they are credited with having written
Tier 4
  • All licensed Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting material in non-Paizo sources
Also I like the idea of the of a small mark after a reference leading to a deeper discussion of the conflicting sources. I would like to make two suggestions though. First, might be a more appropriate mark, since it is already often understood to indicate a footnote. Second, I don't know if the talk page is the appropriate place to have the conflict information. My impression is that the talk page is a pretty informal place. To me, a sub-article might be better. Something like Article_with_a_bunch_of_conflicting_sources/Conflicting_sources. --Aeakett 14:25, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
The revised hierarchy looks good. I think we should clarify what "world clarification" is, though, because they could be Wes or James talking about their ideas for Vudra which may or may never see print. I wouldn't want us putting in "canon" that would then need to be completely weeded out when the real canon on a subject is released. I do think, however, that minor expansion or clarification of something already mentioned is ok, but we need to make that particular line item clearer. We should also put somewhere on the policy page directions for getting clarification on a case-by-case basis from James as he requested. Finally, I was just throwing § out there as a suggestion. A cross is also fine. Instead of going to the talk page or a subpage (which could get messy if there needs to be a conflict page on a subpage ie. main_page/subpage/conflict_page), we could simply have the template link internally to PAGENAME#Conflicting sources and have that section added after the References. This way everything is self-contained on the article itself, though it would break the POV rules, by putting publication POV stuff in an in-world POV article. --yoda8myhead 14:59, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I like as the symbol, as well as the idea of linking to a section of the article itself where the conflict can be explained. It may break the PoV, but a conflict does so by its nature anyway. I think taking the opportunity to explain such instances is more valuable than maintaining PoV throughout the article. I would recommend, however, such a section be added just before the references, after the rest of the article's body. I think the references should be maintained as the very last section of an article, and doing so would allow us to include all sources of conflicting information in the section.
I'm happy with the revised tier structure as well; nothing strikes me as being out of place, and it all looks in line with both the discussion here and the transcript Mark provided. It's impossible to provide a completely comprehensive framework for something like this, but this structure will give us a lot more to work from. I don't think there's any way to define "world clarification"; it's not necessarily going to take the same form each time its given, and probably something we're going to once again have to consider each time it appears. -- Heaven's Agent 15:17, 16 July 2009 (UTC)
I think we've all percolated on this one long enough. I've made the changes we discussed, and changed it from a proposal to a policy. --Aeakett 19:21, September 3, 2009 (UTC)