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Do you feel that a well-developed “canonical” background is essential for Traveller gaming? Why, or why not?

“kafka” answers, in the November 2010 issue:

My take on canon is that it is important for it to be logically consistent yet not hamper sandbox play. The Imperial Campaign is often cited as too constraining because of its vast history. However, players usually only interact with a very small portion of that history.

Therefore, I liken Traveller canon to an impressionist painting where every dot on its own is a world of colour but only when you stand far enough back do you actually see the painting for all its beauty. Similarly, the pageant of the Imperial Campaign should frame certain assumptions but the only person who can have that perspective is the referee for it allows him or her to frame action within certain parameters or not.

The Players’ role is to have fun. I don’t think that it’s really fun to poke apart the setting. It is enough for the Referee to hopefully drop little bits and dribbles of canon to reward the old timers/grognards but never enough show the entire painting to the players.

Gamemastering, like painting, is an art form: the Referee, like the master artist, is never satisfied…and is always going back to improve her/his own game.