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 Canon, and Things CMJ Wrote Down
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Temper
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 11:07 AM UTC (Read 4042 times)  
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So! I was reading the thread about everyone starting out as a rookie, and it got me thinking about Canon, and how people find out What's What.


And I realized, boy, I have no idea what's going on.

Which got me to thinking, do we actually have a Wiki page of Canon, for the Canon(okay I promise I'll stop with the unnecessary capitalizations)? The answer is, to the best of my knowledge, kind of. We have a list of "quests" and how to trigger them, we have the Stories Mister Stern Doesn't Know (which is fantastic, but at points seems to swerve off into player-written canon), but that seems remarkably sparse.


So I was wondering if anyone would be interested in collaborating to put together a wiki page of Things CMJ Wrote That Happened on the Island. This would be strictly canon as done by the dude in charge, and would hopefully serve as a list of things that, canonically, we can accept as true and valid. Because I suspect (and I'm not certain, since it's been so long since I've done any of the actual story arcs) that a great deal of canon is spread out all over, and while that encourages exploration and funtime adventures, it is not helpful for, say, looking up a fact to see if it fits with the canon. And I don't want to force canon down everyone's throat, this would just be a page for the people who want it, to have it. Because I know for sure I'd love to have it, and I also know for sure that gee, I'm really really bad at the Wiki and staying on track, and this kind of promises to be an undertaking(hence the sounding all you lovely people out on the helping me bit).

I mean, I like CMJ's writing, and I completely get why it's spread out over DKs and outposts and whatnot, but if there's canon facts I can't get at till I, say, meet the Dancer, well, that kinda puts the sucks to my roleplaying beforehand(this is just an example, I have no idea what is in the Dancer story arc) if I want to stick to canon.
So, instead of just occasionally vaguely suggesting to people on my Gmail that "Someone ought to get on this" I figured I'd try to get on this, and maybe try to get you guys on this too. And, to be frank, I am kind of trying to make a dirty joke about getting on it right now but it's 4 am and it is just not working out. Anyways, I'll just leave this possibly only half-coherent suggestion here for you all.

Consider it a gift.

But really, I would like to hear back about whether or not anyone else is interested, or if this is even a good idea or a terrible one. I have been, historically, known to have terrible ideas.


 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 12:09 PM UTC  
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I think it's a pretty good idea. Not surprising I agree with you since I suggested it after all in the last thread (exaggerated wink and grin).

Honestly, all someone has to do is start the darned thing and then we can all scribble all over it (as usual).

I was just waiting to see if Waves was gonna do it.

But if you don't feel like waiting, by all means, start one moo! And link to it here!

My only caution is I think it'd be wise to attempt to keep spoilers out of it, so someone reading the wiki on canon isn't having all their fun exploration and quest work sorta smushed up and scrapped before they get to it.

Big Grin

PS: Also probably be nice to have a link to OTHER story things in it? Have you seen Daughter of Chance Temper?

Also Temper, Dancer plot wasn't revealed/written till many of us had been playing for awhile, so I wouldn't let that get you down.

PPS: I was talking to someone else about what the wiki page might look like and in my head it was something like:

When is the Island Set?
The Future.

How do you know?
*excerpt of text from the NewHome museum about the computer* *or maybe a clip from the jungle monster flying monkeys* *or whatever*

Because this: is in the NewHome Museum, or in the jungle or whatever.

(Then people can go find the REST of the text or what have you if they like).

But you know, there's a zillion ways to do it. And as usual, we'll never all agree on it, so I figure, have at it. But I'm just another crazy person in this mad house. Anyone else agree? ;p

-Rose


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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Kew
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 12:58 PM UTC  
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Another thing: We know about when in the future it is from I Am the Watcher. The Watcher reports being 17(I think, I'd have to read it again) when the EMP bombings happened in 2075. I figure that puts us in the 2080s or so.

Linky


Wouldn't it be loverly?
 
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Anonymous: klein+a+tuin
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 01:26 PM UTC  


a great big question mark growing in my head. Not to stop anyone from anything surely nice but just to get things right: what you folks around here call "canon" - telling what is real in the world we play in - is based on tellings of ingame characters?

excuse me, but - that sounds funny.

Everything told ingame is... just told ingame. For sure an information given by the Watcher or Mr. Stern is nothing like "real" or "objective" (no matter who wrote it). It's a story ingame characters are told. Told by ingame characters. Based on the knowledge of ingame characters. Or their personal paranoia. Or their bad intentions. Or...

Most stories we're told are lies, at least partly. Especially those told by TV. On every island.

When mastering RPG I use such "informations" to lead or to confuse players - just as needed. No one ever considers them beeing (objectively) true or saying anything about the fictitous reality the game is based upon.

I'm beginning to get an idea about the confusion about the "canon". If I searched for informations about the play-world, I'd be looking for "facts" written _about_ this world. Not told _in_ it. If I found a "canon"-page in the wiki filled with ingame-stories I'd consider it the ideas of ingame chars about their world but not as reliable information about this world (part of some kind of ruleset).

You're saying the latter just doesn't exist?


 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 01:38 PM UTC  
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Well. I guess what most of us call canon is stuff that exists in the world outside of the PC's, written by CMJ.

Stern is an NPC. Rohit is an NPC. The Watcher is an NPC.

The things they tell us about the world we take to be truth. Including the Watcher's story on the front page.

And... interesting point. I don't think there is any 'factual' information outside of that.

Maybe that's good?

I always assumed Stern was honest. The Watcher was honest.

It never occurred to me that they might be lying.

That... changes things in an interesting way. Big Grin I'm glad you pointed it out.

But for now, unless CMJ provides us with a stand back and 'here's what it is' (which given our group ongoing conversation in this thread and elsewhere seems unlikely) all we have to go on for the world is what NPC's tell us.

I think? Anyone care to dispute that?

PS: Kew, is that watcher story a CMJ or a player written doc I forget (I love it either way).

-Rose


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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Docenspiel
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 02:06 PM UTC  
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Outside of the Museum, no, there isn't any page in the game that says This Stuff Happened. Because that would be boring. If the Museum had a Big Board of History loaded with a bunch of important dates, it'd be helpful and insightful but some might find it a slog to go through them all, especially when they just want to unlock the fetch quest.

Instead, CMJ puts his world-building in with his character writings. It makes it more interesting when we hear from Stern or the Watcher about past events and how they were personally affected. Doktor Improbable's film is more mentally engaging than a bunch of dates and occurrences. Also, if we had any reason to doubt CMJ's characters, then we'd have no canon. All the Museum exhibits are made by Stern.


For rent: one skull, in serious need of dusting.
 
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Anonymous: klein+a+tuin
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 03:08 PM UTC  


fine. And yes, it is the more interesting way to feed an idea of their world to the players.

But.
The thread before this (everyone's a...) called for a canon with an aim. Its a roleplaying problem between players. Maybe the oldest, surely the most fundamental. Like "Can the mage over there transport me to mars with a blink of his eye?" If You roleplay with that mage and he just says he does, how to decide whether it really happens or he'll just twinkle like crazy beeing the fool?
The ruleset does. Maybe written in a book, maybe represented by a master or maybe just existing as an agreement. The definition of the reality the game is placed in.
Waverly pointed out, that this agreement doesn't always work properly on II. The canon, representing some basic truth, should help with that, shouldn't it? Something Mr. Stern told - an NPC - could not.

The result is, only people who agree about some basics about "the world" can roleplay together, others get into trouble everytime they disagree whether "this works" or "that is just a nightmare".

I get an idea, that this confusion is something well planned... Wink


 
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Count Sessine
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:05 PM UTC  
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For CMJ, I believe the Island is two things. It is a quirky, funny, original online text roleplaying game, with players in it who play the game and write many stories with each other and occasionally even donate to put food on his table.

It is also a venue where he, as a writer, can tell his stories to an avidly interested audience.

These two sides to the Island are surprisingly compatible -- except... not always. Roleplayers, as people in this thread are explaining quite eloquently, need authenticated source material on which they can base their own stories. This has been in rather short supply because CMJ's stories are SF stories, and good SF storytelling generally involves dropping hints one by one, intriguing puzzle pieces which readers can gradually assemble into a world picture.

I've observed that as an SF storyteller, CMJ plays fair. What this means is: you can safely rely on any world-facts that CMJ's NPCs tell you -- or even imply -- unless he gives you very clear signals that you're talking to an unreliable narrator.

There is a caveat, however. A writer's imagination is not static. The world of Improbable Island has probably, well, evolved somewhat over the course of five years. When he realizes something new and cool about it, CMJ doesn't always have time to go back and adjust all the old text to be consistent. So, to resolve a conflict, I'd suggest letting the most recent version win.


 
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Temper
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:07 PM UTC  
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Oh, Klein, I love all the stories too, but they're extremely unhelpful as a setup for someone like me, who can't remember everything all the time, and likes to check things when I write, to make sure I'm not flagrantly going against something set up by CMJ's writing. Or at least, I like to know when I'm tossing something he's said straight out the window. As for characters lying, it is an interesting fact, but yes. I don't see the Island that way, and even if I did, it's still something CMJ wrote onto the Island.

I know the "I don't see it this way" bit is somewhat contentious. That is part of the reason why I want collaboration on this! That way, it gets filtered by more than one viewpoint, so it doesn't turn into "Things I Say CMJ Wrote."

I guess I should say that for the purposes, this isn't just a page about canon? It's also a page that tells us facts about CMJ's characters(although honestly this probably falls into the realm of canon too). They are, for better or worse, a part of the world and a part of its universe.

Anyways, even if there is nothing CMJ has specifically said about "How this universe works" beyond "Because Improbability, that's why," in writing about his characters and what is happening with them, and about the various places on the Island, things do fill themselves in a bit.


For instance, did you know that there's at the very least one car on the Island that isn't a Jungle Monster? Or at least, part of a car? It's right there in Squat Hole's flavor text. Yeah, I know that's probably a terrible example, but it is the first thing that sprang to mind.


 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:08 PM UTC  
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Well,

Yes and No Klein.

I've seen people do awesome things with 'crazy magic powers' applied to them outside of canon.

Memorably, a character with 'healing magic' tried to help the Jokeress Micha once.

It made her violently ill. Violently, awfully, terribly ill, and the sickness didn't pass till the 'magic user' took it back.

It was pretty damned funny.

So, if someone tries to transport you to Mars... there are endless ridiculous ways you could play that if you don't want to go to Mars.

Really, you're playing you, and if you don't want to go to Mars, you don't have to ask anyone else. You could turn green instead, or end up in a tree, or in another outpost, or nothing at all could happen.

Honestly, sometimes that's half the fun. Rolling with all the different interpretations. Maybe that's why I don't mind not having a 'centralized rule of canon' as much? I mean I DO mostly play with people who agree with me about the world, but it's fun doing random outpost stuff with whoever's around too.

Big Grin

When it comes to different definitions of 'agreed reality' watch R.P. Whistle in NewHome one day and you might see what I mean. Or Ebenezer for that matter. Ebenezer is pretty great.

You are Ebenezer you ARE don't DENY IT.

-Rose


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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Temper
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:15 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Count+Sessine

For CMJ, I believe the Island is two things. It is a quirky, funny, original online text roleplaying game, with players in it who play the game and write many stories with each other and occasionally even donate to put food on his table.

It is also a venue where he, as a writer, can tell his stories to an avidly interested audience.

These two sides to the Island are surprisingly compatible -- except... not always. Roleplayers, as people in this thread are explaining quite eloquently, need authenticated source material on which they can base their own stories. This has been in rather short supply because CMJ's stories are SF stories, and good SF storytelling generally involves dropping hints one by one, intriguing puzzle pieces which readers can gradually assemble into a world picture.

I've observed that as an SF storyteller, CMJ plays fair. What this means is: you can safely rely on any world-facts that CMJ's NPCs tell you -- or even imply -- unless he gives you very clear signals that you're talking to an unreliable narrator.

There is a caveat, however. A writer's imagination is not static. The world of Improbable Island has probably, well, evolved somewhat over the course of five years. When he realizes something new and cool about it, CMJ doesn't always have time to go back and adjust all the old text to be consistent. So, to resolve a conflict, I'd suggest letting the most recent version win.




Okay so this is EXACTLY why I want a Canon page. I like the stories, I'll say that all the time. But the page would be super helpful in organizing the separate hints somewhere they would be easy to find, and in a way that would hopefully require less "trying to find a copy of this storyline that I triggered half a year ago." That is always one of my biggest frustrations when roleplaying, I've found(I often try to bring bits and pieces from various monsters back into the outposts to use, and it's much, much better to have a list available than try to go FIND the one monster you're using to see if you've remembered the details of your encounter correctly). This also works for canon, and it works especially for me because, as I've said, I haven't triggered all the quests, and partially because I've been here for two/three/I don't remember how many years and I don't really remember the first few bits of the Watcher storyline.


 
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Count Sessine
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:28 PM UTC  
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I think it would be a great idea to assemble what's known about the world all in one place for reference. Over the years we've definitely been given a lot of clues.

And, hey... it could also be a place where CMJ could tell players cool stuff that he knows about the world, and wouldn't mind us knowing, but there's just no easy way to work it into a story.

It might be useful to include a section of questions -- which might or might not be answered from on high.


 
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Waverly
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:35 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Twosocks+Monkey



I was just waiting to see if Waves was gonna do it.



I don't generally like starting broad-spectrum wiki pages by myself, for the same reason as Temper- I never finish 'em! But if there's a few people interested, then I am so there.


I agree that we don't want to spoil the actual quests, so I suggest two separate things: 1. Update the Quests catalogue, and keep it vague on plot specifics, and 2. Have a separate list of canon 'facts' that references which quest it's from, but doesn't copy its text. Something like this, maybe:

CANON FUN FACT #136: You're Infertile!

Wait, what? Yes, that's right- as far as we know, the entire male population of Contestants who hail from the Mainland had their junk retrofitted with a 'safety catch' prior to the EMP. It is a small device fitted into the scrotum that needs to be deactivated by taking pills in order for the man to become fertile again. However, after the EMP the pill-manufacturing machines were fried, and until the technology is repaired anyone fitted with this 'safety catch' is sterile. It's presumed that the surgical procedure to install the catch is irreversible, otherwise repairing the pill machines wouldn't be a problem.

So, is the human race doomed then? Not quite- we know that some pregnancy goes on in the outside world. This could be due to rich people buying stockpiles of the drug, or non-industrialized populations or minorities who were never fitted with the device. Any male children who were being carried before or after the EMP hit likely were born without having this device installed, but due to the timeline of the Island they're not 18 yet and thus not qualified to be Contestants.


Read the original in: The Dancer Quest, paragraph 14



This doesn't cover questions like "well, my character's a mutant with two scrotums, one of which is fertile! Yay, he can have kids!" There are always canon work-arounds to be had. But a format like this provides a good basis for character reference. If anyone wants/needs to read the original quest, that's why we have the Notebook! (Has CMJ done all of them yet though? If he hasn't, completing them would be really helpful.)


.
 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 07:51 PM UTC  
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Quote by: Waverly

Quote by: Twosocks+Monkey



I was just waiting to see if Waves was gonna do it.



I don't generally like starting broad-spectrum wiki pages by myself, for the same reason as Temper- I never finish 'em! But if there's a few people interested, then I am so there.



Started!!!!

-Rose


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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Anonymous: klein+a+tuin
 Saturday, June 01 2013 @ 08:19 PM UTC  


Quote by: Count+Sessine

I've observed that as an SF storyteller, CMJ plays fair. What this means is: you can safely rely on any world-facts that CMJ's NPCs tell you -- or even imply -- unless he gives you very clear signals that you're talking to an unreliable narrator.


Huh? Now that is far from everything I know about RPG. An NPC is a character with all a characters options. He's part of the story. There'd be nothing unfair at all in letting him lie or phantasize. In fact it's rather weird to think any character involved in a story himself might be able to give objective informations about it. Who could?
So any good NPC would only tell his or her story from his or her knowledge and viewpoint. Or not even that for good reasons.

For me the experience on and the story about II still only make sense as a TV-plot we're forced into Wink But i'd better draw back from this now for a while and watch, because you obviously have different ideas about that - and you know much better how it's meant to be.


 
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Temper
 Sunday, June 02 2013 @ 05:22 AM UTC  
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So I am totally in love with the fact that we've at least got a page started, but, well, I was thinking about updates to this whole sh-bang. And the Wiki is terrible for communicating WHILE updating, so I guess I am wondering if anyone else would be on board with starting a public-ish Gdoc, and then at intervals moving the information from there to the Wiki? I just feel like it would be easier to edit, and collaborate, and it wouldn't be quite so much a "Look we're working together but none of us are talking to each other," sort of situation.



ANYWAYS if it's a terrible idea, somebody tell me! Tell me quick! Because if you don't I will probably start a Gdoc and begin bunging it at everyone I know, with the instructions to bung it at everyone they know!


 
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Omega
 Sunday, June 02 2013 @ 06:01 AM UTC  
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It's a good idea, don't worry! Maybe also post it here too?


There are two secrets to success. The second one is to never reveal all your secrets.
 
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Anonymous: klein+a+tuin
 Sunday, June 02 2013 @ 06:15 AM UTC  


i hate google to know about the isle. they'll send commercial-bombs! Twisted Evil


 
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Twosocks Monkey
 Sunday, June 02 2013 @ 09:58 AM UTC  
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Klein,

Considering how many zillion gdocs reference the Island right now, I'm not worried about one more.

DO IT TEMPER!

(points at the link in her signature line as one of many)

Big Grin

-Rose


moooooooooo Visit and help me finish the monster list: goo.gl/rpBGe (Ya'll mostly know me as CLOG, fyi)
 
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Anonymous: klein+a+tuin
 Sunday, June 02 2013 @ 10:36 AM UTC  



Quote by: Twosocks+Monkey

I'm not worried about one more.


Hah! Just wait, the next one will be the one showing an advertising psychologist the backdoor to your brain. Make you buy suntan oil all winter long.


 
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