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Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol? 
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Evil Genius
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Post Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
TL;DR - in threads where OPs are intentionally disregarding canon to achieve a specific effect, folks are posting canon, often completely ignoring the OP's initial stated innovative intent. Can we have a tag that identifies "fanon threads" as such and perhaps obviate some of these posts?

So, Ravenloft last saw print as a campaign setting about a decade ago, not counting one-offs and spin-offs. In that time, the setting's fans have been left to their own devices to improvise or adapt their own fan canon, aka "fanon".

I wonder if it's possible to lay out guidelines for discussing fanon in these boards. Usually this crops up with a poster who wants to make a specific change to canon, or they want to achieve a certain plot/character/stylistic point and they're not sure (or are unconcerned with) whether it's supported by canon.

I've dabbled with alternative rulesets and tweaks to canon, usually where I identify something I specifically dislike about the setting's canonical details, and solicit advice for how to change it.

The problem crops up when these threads attract responses that just restate canon. Sometimes this is as simple as "canon says this". Other times there's a real element of dismissiveness, "canon says this, so your idea is worthless". Or "canon says this, so you can't make that change". I'll refrain from linking to any specific posts, especially as the posters could well have been unaware that this was what they were doing, but I can provide a couple of examples by PM if it's helpful.

These responses are not helpful, because the OP has already identified they are going to change canon and they're looking for ways to do it, not an nth restatement of what canon is. As somebody who's done a lot of tinkering with the campaign setting, it's pretty disheartening to post up a thread topic and receive responses that just restate something that's already known (and in fact specifically rejected as unsuitable for my campaign), or - worse still - try to "argue me out of" making the innovation in the first place.

Older posters may recall the WOTC boards used to have their canon-stringent posters who would be extremely loud about stating what canon is, and then pointing out all the ways your fanon is different. To its credit, the old WOTC boards also had an acronym label, like "PEACH", which more or less meant "this is my take on things, could you please give me your constructive feedback". I left shortly after I first saw these, but they seemed to attract a more constructive take on things.

Could FOS have a similar protocol? I could imagine a [FANON] type tag in the title of a new thread, with a little blurb saying "this thread has intentional departures from canon - please feel free to comment with ideas (canonical or not) to help the OP with their question!" or something like that.

I'm not advocating active moderation, but I think a friendly FAQ-type post could help head some of these off. I personally have found it immensely disheartening to post a thread asking for help with fanon, and then a number of posts implicitly (or less so) crop up saying "sorry, can't be done, it's in the book y'know". A simple line or two in the rules could work. Cite to canon by all means, but please be respectful of what the OP is trying to achieve and see if you can move that discussion forward.

I might try experimenting with a friendly appeal in my sig line for courtesy when dealing with fanon. And of course, there are plenty of fantastic posters who do assist OPs with fanon... many times by citing to an overlooked canonical source which could help them!

Just some thoughts that have been circulating for a bit.

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Mon Sep 15, 2014 5:56 pm
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Evil Genius
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Let me first say that I understand this is important to you, and I've seen occasions where you've reacted to such posts with obvious annoyance. I know you are well-versed in both the Ravenloft canon and the D&D rules and have decided that neither of them serve your needs as they stand. I know that you have taken thorough and well-thought out steps to find alternatives that better suit the game you wish to run. And I know that when you start a thread, that I shouldn't expect adherence to canon. Your game is inspired by the books and then goes off in very different directions.

But not everyone knows that.

Not everyone reads this board enough to recognize other posters. Not everyone knows that you know the canon and have chosen to ignore it. So where you see disdain for fanon, I see people perhaps legitimately trying to help and getting snarked back at in return. Perhaps they think that what they found in canon will serve your needs? Perhaps they just wish to share their experiences? Maybe they joined the thread late and are responding to what someone else wrote, having neglected to go back and read the OP? Perhaps they think there's some element in the canon that you haven't fully considered? Perhaps they know you only as the sometimes cross-dressing lawyer with a wacky family and a series of bizarre relationships and have missed your threads about god-fetuses and void dragons. I don't know, but I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt for the most part. Unlike a lot of other places on the net, we don't get a lot of people posting deliberately to shut others down or make them angry. At least, that's what I choose to believe.


Now, with that said, I don't think there's any specific thing that needs to be done. We already have a "no flaming" rule, which encompasses "insults, put-downs, unfair criticism, harrassment, and passing around naughty drawings" I'm not sure about the naughty drawings part, but the point is, if you think someone is insulting your fanon work or unfairly criticizing it, they are breaking the rules, and you should report them. But simply posting canon info in a non-canon thread is not necessarily flaming, nor against the rules.

If you want to more clearly label your posts with a [FANON] tag, go ahead. It might serve as a helpful reminder of what you're doing and who you are, and what your stance on canon is. If you want to include a little blurb politely asking people not to quote canon at you, go ahead. (The board can't really do that automatically, unless you put it in your signature, which you're welcome to do, though most people probably skim over sigs and might miss it.) The moderators are ultimately in charge, but we do try to respect the OP's wishes as to what is on-topic for a thread. If you think someone is stinking up your thread, by all means, report it and we'll see what we can do. But always remember that the window scrolls down, and you don't have to respond to every comment, if it's not a helpful one to you. Always relevant xkcd: http://xkcd.com/386/

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Sure thing, thanks for the clarification!

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 2:43 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Definitely helpful to mark your topic but I think Bing is more bothered by it than most people. That might be his profession forcing him to pay more attention to detail. (Lawyer right? :)) I've seen some of his topics and my eyes glaze over with the amount of detail and work he puts into it. Amazing to tell you the truth. I'd just like to point out that most people come here to casually plan or help others with similar interests, I find myself wanting to stay closer to cannon than further away. I myself am not afraid to stray from that but I try and keep it close.... ish. Most of the time I would also assume that starting from cannon and then branching off from there is where an OP is starting from. :)

(my useless 2 cents...)

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:24 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
In all fairness I have gotten a bit frustrated as well with unhelpful answers, but my response was mostly to stop asking for input on the board. So I think HuManBing has a point, but I disagree with him on instituting formal forum policy - I think Gonzoron is right, and any change is going to have to come from making the tag ourselves and using it.

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 3:54 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
I had what alcoholics call a "moment of clarity".

I've been asking questions that focus on world-building, abstract, trope-independent, experimental aspects of RPGs.

The problem is, I've been asking them on a DnD setting-specific forum.

And then I've been wondering why there's a disconnect between the questions asked and the feedback provided.

Spot the fallacy!


D'oh! >_<

So the solution is simple: I'll flesh out the Big Questions* elsewhere, on a universal-themed forum like GURPS or TVTropes. And then, if I have a specific question about implementing that in Ravenloft, I can come and ask them here. It's probably easier for me to ask "Who are the academic leaders in the coastal nations?" than, say, "Help me rewrite a democratic revolution led by student malcontents"...

*e.g.
  • "What happens if you lock away a god in a vault?"
  • "How would an early democracy have failed in a currently-medieval land?"
  • "What suitable sci-fi elements fit well with the theme of shadow, for dragons and a rift?"


* ~ * ~ *


I sincerely apologize to anybody whom I've offended with my (misplaced) exasperation. I was basically posting here as though it were a general-literature or universal-worldbuilding forum, which it isn't and was probably never designed to be.

Also, if you've ever opened up one of my threads and wondered what the hell I was smoking, I should apologize to you too.

GURPS is a hell of a drug.

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
lol one of these days I will open up a book and see what the heck GURPS is all about. xD

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Tue Sep 16, 2014 5:54 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Isabella wrote:
In all fairness I have gotten a bit frustrated as well with unhelpful answers, but my response was mostly to stop asking for input on the board. So I think HuManBing has a point, but I disagree with him on instituting formal forum policy - I think Gonzoron is right, and any change is going to have to come from making the tag ourselves and using it.
OK, if it's not just Bing who's had this issue, then maybe it's a bigger problem than I've realized. I will endeavor to keep a more active eye on it. Again, though, there's a difference between unhelpful and dismissive. If someone offers something that doesn't help you while trying to help, please don't hold that against them. Just ignore it or give them a polite, "thanks, but that's not what I'm looking for because...". If they are actively discouraging your work or discouraging others from helping you, report them to the moderators.
HuManBing wrote:
So the solution is simple: I'll flesh out the Big Questions* elsewhere, on a universal-themed forum like GURPS or TVTropes. And then, if I have a specific question about implementing that in Ravenloft, I can come and ask them here.
To this point and Isabella's above, I'm concerned. The last thing we want to be doing is discouraging people from posting here. We are a small community, and the more people we have posting interesting stuff, the better. I'm confident that the people here are open to more things than just pure canon Ravenloft. The issue is framing the discussion properly. Remember that most people here are here because they love Ravenloft, and they will look at things through that lens. No one holds 100% to canon. It's impossible. But taken together, the canon is the common framework we have to work from, so the average forum dweller is going know the canon waaaaay better than they know your particular fanon. Sometimes it takes a while to explain what you've done and why, but unfortunately, that sometimes leads to "tl;dr". So there's a bit of a balancing act, but I think if you're straightforward in posts about what you're after, I expect the community will contribute with respect. (And if not, they face the wrath of the mods.)

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Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:42 am
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
I can't speak for HuManBing, but my major complaint back then tended to be the "not in my Ravenloft!" responses that tended to come out at... well, many things, but they were aggravated by the 4e edition wars that sprung up on the board at that point. The "I don't think there should be demihumans in Ravenloft at all" in response to a thread on using demihumans, or the "this monster/pc class/pc race has no place in Ravenloft and *I* would never use it" in a thread about how to use said monster/pc class/pc race, etc, or the aforementioned "it's fine the way it is/cannon says you're wrong/*I* don't see the problem, so just leave it" responses.

The thing is, they're not being insulting, so there's no point in calling the mods - and I'm sure I've been guilty of similar behavior in the past - but that essentially means there's no redress for the situation. They're not doing anything wrong, so I can't complain about it, but the end result is a thread full of no meaningful contributions, assuming anyone bothers to reply at all. Put simply, when the bulk of the conversation is telling me not to do whatever I'm trying to do, my inclination is to ignore it... and then to not post again next time I have a query. Most the time people don't respond at all, so when the only responses are polite rejections or replies that miss the point, I come away with the impression that the community here doesn't really match my creative needs. And that's okay! But the best response to that seems to be to go somewhere else that does. I could spend my time and mental energy trying to wrangle the conversation back around, but frankly I've never managed to succeed at that when I try, and that's time and energy I could have spent working on the thing I asked about in the first place.

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Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:23 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Isabella wrote:
"I don't think there should be demihumans in Ravenloft at all" in response to a thread on using demihumans, or the "this monster/pc class/pc race has no place in Ravenloft and *I* would never use it" in a thread about how to use said monster/pc class/pc race, etc, or the aforementioned "it's fine the way it is/cannon says you're wrong/*I* don't see the problem, so just leave it" responses.

The thing is, they're not being insulting, so there's no point in calling the mods
See, I disagree there. There's another board I frequent that has a name for that behavior which the grandma rule prevents me from using here: thread$#!%%ing. If a thread is about how to use ___ in Ravenloft, the response, "I don't use ____ in Ravenloft because I feel it doesn't fit, but if you want to go ahead." is acceptable, "I don't use ___ in Ravenloft because I feel it doesn't fit, but here are some ways you might if you want to...." would be even better. "____ has no place in Ravenloft and *I* would never use it." is thread$#!%%ing, and should be reported, I think. It has nothing to do with fanon or canon. It's just blatantly rude.

Sharing ones own experience (or lack of experience with a particular issue) isn't the problem. It's the "your way of having fun is wrong" aspect that is the problem, and is actionable by the mods.

I understand your reluctance to spend your time fighting an uphill battle, but nothing bad can happen to you if you hit "report" and it doesn't take much time or effort. Always worth a try.

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Fri Sep 19, 2014 3:30 pm
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Post Re: Can we have a "fanon" tag or protocol?
Gonzoron of the FoS wrote:
Isabella wrote:
"I don't think there should be demihumans in Ravenloft at all" in response to a thread on using demihumans, or the "this monster/pc class/pc race has no place in Ravenloft and *I* would never use it" in a thread about how to use said monster/pc class/pc race, etc, or the aforementioned "it's fine the way it is/cannon says you're wrong/*I* don't see the problem, so just leave it" responses.

The thing is, they're not being insulting, so there's no point in calling the mods
See, I disagree there. There's another board I frequent that has a name for that behavior which the grandma rule prevents me from using here: thread$#!%%ing. If a thread is about how to use ___ in Ravenloft, the response, "I don't use ____ in Ravenloft because I feel it doesn't fit, but if you want to go ahead." is acceptable, "I don't use ___ in Ravenloft because I feel it doesn't fit, but here are some ways you might if you want to...." would be even better. "____ has no place in Ravenloft and *I* would never use it." is thread$#!%%ing, and should be reported, I think. It has nothing to do with fanon or canon. It's just blatantly rude.

Sharing ones own experience (or lack of experience with a particular issue) isn't the problem. It's the "your way of having fun is wrong" aspect that is the problem, and is actionable by the mods.

I understand your reluctance to spend your time fighting an uphill battle, but nothing bad can happen to you if you hit "report" and it doesn't take much time or effort. Always worth a try.



I find even if you get the opposite responses sometimes those can help you solidify your position and figure out why, sometimes they even see holes in your creative process that will help you patch it up. I definitely agree the comments you post are what on my Star Wars site consider "Spam" and we warn people who do non meaningful responses. :)

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Fri Sep 19, 2014 4:49 pm
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