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Canon Discontinuity / Tabletop Games

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Canon Discontinuity in tabletop games.

  • The writers of Paranoia XP from Mongoose Publishing have declared the much-maligned Fifth Edition an "un-product", reflecting how the in-universe dystopia treats anyone it doesn't want around. The also-maligned Crash Era near the end of Second Edition also officially "never happened".
  • When White Wolf screwed up with the Old World of Darkness, they'd often try to correct the biggest disasters by destroying all involved and making sure they would not rise from the ashes. Examples:
    • Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand for Vampire: The Masquerade, which "revealed" that most vampires were possessed by evil spirits, and featured a "liberated" group called the True Black Hand that fought against them. By the time Third Edition came up, said group was wiped out entirely after it was revealed that they'd gotten everything wrong. The 20th anniversary edition brought them back in The Black Hand: A Guide to the Tal'Mahe'Ra, retconning out the evil spirit thing.
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    • Samuel Haight started off as a villainous NPC for Werewolf: The Apocalypse, a disgruntled Kinfolk who ended up killing five werewolves so that he could become one in a blasphemous ritual. This was good. Then he got his hands on an artifact that let him use Awakened magic. This was bad. Then he became a ghoul and started learning vampiric Disciplines. This was worse. Finally, a book came out devoted entirely to killing him, and the minute his soul arrived in the afterlife, it was taken and forged into an ashtray.
    • In first edition WOD, a vampire could make other vampires of both animals and werewolves. Second edition WOD plainly admits that the former ("vampire dogs") is stupid and the latter hybrid overpowered, so disallows both.
  • Over in the New World of Darkness on the other hand...
    • In Vampire: The Requiem 1e, vampires were Immune to Bullets (shooting damage downgrades to Bashing), but for some reason still took Lethal damage from swords, spears, etc. In 2e, having realised that this was part of the same absurdity that led to just about everyone in the OWoD toting katanas and swords all the time, all weapons damage was downgraded, making the Damned just generally Made of Iron.
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    • In Werewolf: The Forsaken 1e, werewolves were forbidden from mating with each other because, unlike in Werewolf: The Apocalypse, the result would not be a Metisnote , but an Unihar, a "spirit wolf" — an irredeemably evil spiritual Fetus Terrible that would do its damndest to kill all werewolves upon coming to term. Having realized the Unfortunate Implications of this, 2e quietly dropped them, and made it that a werewolf/werewolf coupling only produces a particularly strong wolfblood.
  • GURPS Traveller disavows the Rebellion (from MegaTraveller) and the Virus (from Traveller: The New Era), portraying itself as an "alternate history" from Traveller. Other Traveller products keep the Rebellion and ditch the Virus, or keep both (fans and players are similarly split; see Broken Base).
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Writers for TSR went so far as to mention explicitly in a reboot continuity guide for the World of Greyhawk campaign setting that Greyhawk Ruins was to be considered the official version of Castle Greyhawk and not the pretty dated and unfunny parody module Castle Greyhawk.
    • ALL of the Eberron Tie In Novels are considered non-canonical.
    • The Ravenloft novel Lord of the Necropolis has been sealed in the earth below canonicity with an Imprison spell for revealing the nature of the Dark Powers, which is a thing you are really, really not allowed to do.
    • Planescape:
      • The novel Pages of Pain was also rendered noncanon due to having large chunks of the story written from the perspective of the Lady of Pain, Sigil's enigmatic ruler, and revealing information about her history when one of the core tenents of the setting was that she has no canon backstory before she became ruler of the city and she never communicates directly with anyone.
      • The setting was officialy ended with the module Faction War, which ended with the Lady of Pain putting out a declaration that all factions were required to leave Sigil. Faction members could only stay if their renounced their faction. Half the factions were already dead by that point and many of the rest disbanded. In every 3rd, 4th, and 5th Edition book featuring references to Sigil, all 14 factions are still alive, well, and in Sigil. (Dragon Magazine's 3.5 edition Planescape material was an exception, referring to the factions regrouping elsewhere on the planes and former factioners in Sigil who still believed the same stuff but weren't organised about it.)
  • Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, and Warhammer 40,000:
    • Because no one's entirely sure if the Chaos God Malal is owned by Games Workshop or the comic book author who introduced him to the franchise, GW dropped all mention of him from their gamebooks to be on the safe side. He still gets a few references; for example there's a Chaos Space Marine warband called "Sons of Malice" that wears Malal's colors, the rulebook for the spinoff game Inquisitor includes a weapon very similar to the ones used by champions of Malal in the list of daemon weapons, and he appears in one of the short story collections GW released, though he is know as "Malice" there.
    • The Squats were space dwarfs that got stricken from the records, partly due to a shift towards a "more serious" direction, partly because their attempted army book became an absolute mess after pre-production. For a while it was established that they did exist, but had been entirely eaten by Tyranids. They now exist again as a type of abhuman. They don't have any models though, and are basically just relegated to a minor bit of background fluff. In 2022, they would officially be reintroduced as a fully fledged faction in the form of the Leagues of Votann, along with the added revelation that the term "Squat" is a pejorative one, and that they actually refer to themselves as "Kin".
    • By the third edition, the Star Child and attendant background elements introduced in Slaves to Darkness had been officially stricken, with a note in the corebook that the "Star Child cult" was a minor Tzeentchian cult that had been obliterated.
    • The Fimir, Games Workshop's first try at an original creation (rather than re-branded miniatures designed for other properties) got almost entirely excised from canon. Mechanically, a mix-up had given them medium creatures stats while they were built and priced as large creatures. Lore-wise, they were an all-male race that could only reproduce through... well, rape. In a brand that was going for teenage audiences. They've slowly been reintroduced through Forge World and references in the 8th edition Rulebook, but are substantially different and toned down from their original portrayal.
    • The Storm of Chaos campaign for 6th edition, after a number of things with the story progression didn't go as planned (Its lore was supposed to follow player input depending on battle results, but Archaon's Chaos hordes got trounced so badly in what was supposed to be their spotlight that Geedubs ignored the results to push their own story, angering the fanbase), was declared null and void and all references to it removed from the Warhammer canon (a Alternate Universe set after its conclusion is the setting for Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's second edition). Some of the events of Storm of Chaos were given Shout Outs in later official storylines and Warhammer: The End Times is considered its Spiritual Successor.
    • The High Elf character Eltharion the Grim was involved in a storyline in 6th edition where he was captured and blinded by Malekith, turning him from his classic griffin-riding Magic Knight incarnation into a Blind Weaponmaster character. This was undone by the 7th edition with no explanation, returning him to normal.
    • Due to the Kill 'Em All nature of the transition between Warhammer Fantasy and Age of Sigmar, several characters who were killed off in the former were eventually brought back in the latter. For example, the aforementioned Eltharion came back as a suit of Animated Armor, whereas Sigvald the Magnificent was resurrected as a Daemon Prince.
  • Magic: The Gathering. Karona meeting Yawgmoth, apparently still alive, in the Scourge novel has been retconned as having been an impostor. Or it could have been a Psychic Dream of the past.
  • Exalted:
    • Scroll of the Monk is a much-maligned product and Old Shame of writer Dean Shomshak. The Ink Monkeys have gone on record as saying it does not exist beyond an example of not reading the rules before making a book.
    • Zeal was widely panned before Errata Team Prime finally canned it.
    • Even the most vocal of the current writers and editors are of the opinion that the first 2-4 chapters of Manual of Exalted Power: Infernals should not be read, discussed beyond variations on "it's awful", or used in character backstories.
    • Third Edition is a complete reboot of the setting, and as such numerous aspects are set to be altered, if they return at all.
  • Shadowrun:
    • Many of the earlier novels. Before the 2nd Edition, when the game really found its voice, Shadowrun was portrayed very much as Dungeons & Dragons In The Future (!!!), with a heavy emphasis on bizarre creatures, cyborgs, mad science, and otherworldly spirits. This led to such things as characters somehow rising from the dead, invasions by Eldritch Abominations across the planes, and (especially) a dying corporate CEO having his brain implanted into a glorified tumor in a jar, communicating via Matrix hookup. Nothing is ever declared non-canonical, per se, but whenever a sourcebook finds itself having to cover material from this earlier era, the Shadowland commentators make a note to remark on just how utterly bizarre these events and creatures are, many thinking them to be just hoaxes or exaggerations.
    • In the novels, Dunkelzahn's death was a Heroic Sacrifice meant to help his agents prevent a premature invasion of Earth by the Horrors because of a side effect of the Great Ghost Dance. But in all subsequent sourcebooks, this aspect of the event is rarely touched upon, with Dunkelzahn's death being an assassination by unknown parties. One of the exceptions was in Harlequin's Back, where the players have to fix the aforementioned side effect, and the prologue implies that Dukelzahn is, on some level, the one setting it into motion. This still fits in the continuity of the game, technically, as only maybe two people know what really happened to Dunkelzahn (Harlequin is one of them, and even he's not entirely sure). As far as everyone else in the world is concerned, it really was an assassination by unknown parties.
  • This mixed with Our Lawyers Advised This Trope has brought about the final resolution to the Unseen debacle that has plagued Battletech since at least 1995. In June, 2015, Catalyst Game Labs began phasing in new designs for the iconic Unseen designs that cannot be legally used or shown note , ones that are evocative of the originals but different enough to be considered legally original works. Catalyst has officially stated that the original "Unseen" art is no longer canonical.
  • The third edition of Cyberpunk, called V3 or Cyberpunk 203X, leaned away from the series' traditional grit and genre tropes in favor of Post Cyber Punk, Science Fantasy, and themes of transhumanism. In addition, R. Talsorian Games couldn't afford to commission artwork to illustrate the corebook, instead using monochrome photos of action figures posed by the founder's wife overlaid with a hideous green tint. In 2020, a newer edition, Cyberpunk Red, was released to coincide with the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, and included RetCons to several key plot points of 203X.Namely...