This is a new thread created response to a subtopic being discussed in Hey! Templars. Did you ever thought rejuvenate or add new blood for help? about how do we, as a fan community, move forward with trying to get past all the inconsistencies in Athasian lore and canon?
“Canon” refers to a collection of rules or texts that are considered to be authoritative.
Without a unified effort in creating and maintaining an overarching story arc from the beginning, and because so many “official” publications were written, edited, and published by various people and entities, as well as having transitioned through four (mechanically different) editions, the Dark Sun campaign setting has always suffered by having a fractured, tangled, controversial, and sometimes contradictory metaplot.
I don’t think there is anything that can be done to reconcile this, and I don’t think an errata is the answer because an errata very unceremoniously erases all the work anyone who has ever put into developing the Dark Sun world and lumps it into a pile called “errors.” I do, however, agree that in moving forward having a single reference point to which new material begins and is presented, and eventually is adopted into a game setting metaplot, would make a substantial difference.
That being stated, I have to argue there are precepts regarding Athas and the entire Dark Sun campaign setting that have always been undeniably the standard for what is and what is not canon:
- The world is a desert.
- Life is brutal and savage.
- Metal is scarce.
- Arcane magic defiles the world.
- Tyrannical sorcerer-monarchs rule the City-States.
- The Gods are silent. Athas is a world without deities.
- Fierce monsters roam the land.
- Familiar races are not what you’d expect.
- Athas is a world of Planar isolation.
As far as distinguishing new lore for both metaplot and mechanics, a similar fantasy franchise has already blazed the trail in having created an “Expanded Universe,” to which any material that was not canon was simply placed under, kept separate, and clearly labelled.
Perhaps not as optional sourcebooks, but as supplements, I am in strong favor of having an “Expanded Athas” for anything that deviates away from the canonical truths. Remember, that which is canon is the story, and everything else is just a story.
I don’t have a good name for what these supplements of an “Expanded Athas” might be called, but perhaps it is most fitting to keep with the theme of the original “Wanderer’s Journal”? Something along “Dark Sun: Legends & Lore,” or “The Annals.”