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PathfinderWiki:Canon policy

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This page is an official policy on the PathfinderWiki.
It has wide acceptance among editors and is considered a standard that all users should follow.

In accordance with policy, this page has been protected. You can suggest changes by following the revision procedure or discussing it on the talk page.

The goal of PathfinderWiki is to be a reliable, concise guide to all readers in its description of the Pathfinder campaign setting and associated material. Toward this end, it is necessary for us to restrict to some extent the type of information we accept. Ultimately, this will ensure that PathfinderWiki remains useful and authoritative for the widest possible range of fans.

This policy is not intended to mandate a single way of viewing the Pathfinder universe, and does not exist to promote any particular critical judgment on the various sourcebooks and fiction; it exists to permit an orderly cataloging of data into manageable categories with a minimum of conflict and a maximum amount of fidelity to the source material as written. With that in mind, chroniclers should at all times be tolerant and respectful of other viewpoints, opinions, and conclusions.

Summary of policy

Articles need to cite each resource used as the basis for their information. Generally, everything published in any Pathfinder sourcebook or fiction can be used as a resource for an article.

Information from non-production materials (such as Paizo's promotional blog) and creator clarification (such as errata or expansion from authors and editors on the Paizo messageboards or chat transcripts) are also considered valid resources, but should be cited as accurately as possible. More specific details and exceptions are below, and in our canon policy FAQ.

Article types

On PathfinderWiki, we differentiate between two types of articles:

  • Pathfinder setting articles or In-universe articles. These articles are written about subjects inside the Pathfinder campaign setting, using an "in-universe" point of view. Subjects can include events, objects, or anything mentioned in a sourcebook or novel. They must adhere strictly to the canon policy.
  • Pathfinder franchise articles. These articles are written from a "meta" or real life point of view, and are written about the Pathfinder franchise. Subjects can include articles about the publication of the books themselves, as well as articles about novels, sourcebooks, and other official materials, as well as pages about authors, editors, artists and publishers. These pages are not covered by the canon policy.

Citations

Pathfinder setting articles require that all statements of fact be supported by reference to identified source material that is a "valid resource". Failure to identify a referenced source, or use of a source that is not a valid resource, may result in removal or revision of the associated statement and/or article.

Pathfinder franchise articles should have citations as necessary, but the citations do not have to be to a valid resource.

Valid resources

Valid canon resources are organized into tiers, with Tier 0 being the most authoritative and Tier 4 the least. Published sources are preferred in all cases. Avoid citing sources that refer to works that have not yet been released, including official sources.

Errata and retcons are defined with examples in the "Defining canon changes" section.

Tier 0

  • Errata created by Paizo editorial staff

Tier 1

Tier 2

  • All Pathfinder Campaign Setting volumes, and their earlier Pathfinder Chronicles designation (including the Campaign Setting)
  • All Pathfinder Module volumes
  • All Pathfinder Player Companion volumes
  • All Pathfinder Society Scenarios (including retired scenarios)
  • All Pathfinder fiction, including, Pathfinder's Journal fiction within the Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes; Pathfinder Tales novels published by Paizo or by Tor Books; Pathfinder Tales web fiction; Pathfinder Tales short fiction
    • when resolving conflicts between works of fiction and sourcebooks, both of which are Tier 2 sources, take into account the possibility of, for instance, an unreliable narrator in the fiction; always explain the rationale when a sourcebook is considered of greater authority than a fiction source
  • All canon content in playtest materials, such as Pathfinder Playtest content

Tier 3

  • Web supplements released by Paizo
  • The Guide to Pathfinder Society Organized Play (note version number in citations)
  • Verifiable statements from Paizo editorial staff that correct or clarify specific canon setting details, with the exception of retcons, posted in citable sources such as:
    • permanent message board or blog posts on the Paizo website
    • transcribed or timestamped videos, podcasts, and livestreams

Tier 4

  • All licensed Pathfinder campaign setting material in non-Paizo sources including but not limited to:

Articles should not be created for subjects that are not included or referred to in an official Pathfinder source.

Errata and world clarifications from staff and writers should be cited as thoroughly as possible.

Invalid resources

The following resources are considered invalid and should not be referenced in any form in an in-world article:

  • Fan-made personalities, locations, deities, events, spells, items, or histories, including those in such publications as Wayfinder.
  • Fan fiction of any kind.
  • Fan reference works of any kind.
  • Mechanical content from playtests for any purposes, including infobox statistics and categorization. See the No crunch policy.

Conflicting sources

Valid sources are divided into tiers of authority, tier 0 being the most authoritative, and tier 4 being the least. In the case of an irreconcilable conflict between sources, the source from the most authoritative tier should be given preference (in the case of an intra-tier conflict, the most recently published source should be used, excepting extenuating circumstances or consensus to the contrary). However, in all cases is that valid sources should be construed so as not to be in conflict. The presumption should be that a conflict does not exist unless no other explanation is reasonable under the circumstances.

In the event of a conflict, the {{Conflict}} template should be used, and notes regarding the resolution of the conflict should be made on the article's talk subpage linked to by the dagger symbol created by the Conflict template (such as Talk:Absalom/Conflicts). After noting the conflict resolution, categorize the talk page appropriately:

Incorporating changes to canon

The Pathfinder campaign setting is a living and constantly evolving setting that changes in real time alongside new publications. Real-world events can also require changes to the setting, including retroactive changes to the setting's history, outside of this natural progression. Such changes can affect many articles on the wiki and require coordination and careful editing to retain consistency.

As part of PathfinderWiki's mission to compile official canon related to the Pathfinder campaign setting, we must balance documenting the setting's current state with retaining its history, including the parts of it that have been removed or changed over time.

Wiki visitors approach Pathfinder from multiple editions and for different reasons. To help visitors find information about canon subjects regardless of the edition or source that they are attempting to reference, never delete articles about canon subjects, and avoid moving entire articles out of the main namespace to other namespaces, such as Talk or Meta, in a manner that leaves only a redirect behind.

Deleting articles removes their history, which visitors researching past content about the campaign setting can use to reference it as it once existed without disrupting our work documenting the setting's current state. Moving entire articles out of the main namespace makes it harder for visitors to find and learn about the changes.

Defining canon changes

The wiki broadly classifies canon changes into three types:

  • Paizo rarely issues setting errata, in which Paizo staff have explicitly and precisely stated that some aspect of the setting was included by mistake and never should have been acknowledged as canon.
The decanonization of Guardians of Dragonfall and removal of Folca are errata. Paizo staff have clearly stated that all published content related to those subjects is either fully retracted or retroactively considered wholly non-canonical.
This is the rarest form of canon change. Setting errata is the most authoritative tier of canon source; per the canon conflict process, it can result in the removal of wiki content with a conflict indicator and explanation added to a conflict page. See "Handling canon changes" for additional guidance.
  • Paizo infrequently retcons, or retroactively modifies the continuity of, concepts in the campaign setting. Unlike errata, Paizo staff acknowledge in a retcon that a past aspect of setting canon was previously and intentionally part of canon, but have also retroactively changed or removed that aspect. A retcon represents a retroactive change or removal of acknowledged past canon, while errata represents a correction that can result in erasure.
The retroactive removal of the drow from the campaign setting as part of the Pathfinder Remaster is a retcon. Drow were allowed in Pathfinder canon only under a previous license, and after changing licenses Paizo have explicitly stated that drow cannot legally exist in the current canon state or history of the setting as they once did. Published canon works that used the drow under the prior license remain acknowledged as having intentionally, and not mistakenly or regretfully, been a past part of the setting canon.
Retcons can create canon conflicts and might include an in-universe justification for the retroactive change, but they do not require one. See "Handling canon changes" for details on resolving a retcon.
  • The Pathfinder campaign setting advances in real time alongside new publications, and newly published events can result in large-scale changes to the current state of canon. This is the most common type of canon change. For example, the renaming of Sargava to Vidrian is an in-universe change explained in published canon works through the Vidric revolution.
An in-universe change is generally not considered a conflict and should not result in the removal of content from the wiki. If such a change appears to create a canon conflict, we prefer attempting to explain the event from an in-universe point of view unless a Paizo staff member issues a correction or clarification (see "Valid sources") that resolves the conflict. If a canon subject, such as Sargava in this example, is no longer present in the current state of the setting as a result of an in-universe change, retain its article and reflect this change in it as part of the subject's background or history.

Handling canon changes

  • If errata has removed a previously canon subject from the Pathfinder campaign setting, the subject's main namespace article should very briefly identify what it was, link to a detailed description of the removed content and why it is no longer canon on its Meta page, and link to the last revision of the page prior to its canon removal. This documents the subject's removal, helps visitors who search the wiki for the subject learn about its removal, and helps editors identify links to that subject from other articles that should also be updated.
This serves a similar purpose as a main namespace disambiguation page: it helps readers find content relevant to the subject, even if that content primarily points out that the subject is no longer part of the setting.
  • When a retcon affects only part of an article, cite the change inline as a reference. The citation should briefly describe the reason for the change and link to either a relevant article about the reason for the change, such as Pathfinder Remaster or the article's Meta page, or should link to an official statement on the retcon. If this also creates a canon conflict, follow the process for handling a canon conflict and describe both the retcon and conflict on the article's conflict page. For an example of a template that assists with this, see {{Cite canon change/Drow}}.
  • If a retcon changes most or all of an article's content, describe the change on the article's Meta page, briefly summarize the change in the article's "References" section, and link to its Meta page description in this summary.
  • In the rare instances where a retcon invalidates or removes all of a subject's canon relevance:
  • Explain the change in detail on the article's Meta page, and include links to official sources that describe the nature and reasoning for the change.
  • Add the retconned badge to the subject's article, which categorizes the article as retconned content, adds a banner that notes the retcon and links to the Meta page explanation, and links to the article's last revision prior to the retcon. Logged-in users can optionally disable this banner in their user preferences.
  • Briefly summarize the retcon in the References section of the article and link to the detailed description on the Meta page.
  • Though not all retcons have an in-universe explanation, if one exists, prominently incorporate it into the article's lede or first section.
  • Edit any articles that link to the retconned subject to also reflect the change. This can be an inline retcon or might result in a canon conflict. If there is no canon explanation or replacement in the linked article's context and the course of action is unclear, raise a discussion on the subject on its Talk page or in our Discord.

Regarding dates

The Pathfinder campaign setting's Absalom Reckoning calendar approximately corresponds to our real-world calendar, with months occurring in the same order and in-world year sharing its last two digits with the real-world year.

For example, today's date is Sunday, 3 Pharast, 4724 AR; the estimated Absalom Reckoning date for a publication from June 2013 is Sarenith, 4713 AR. For the Imperial Calendar of Tian Xia, add 2,500 to the Absalom Reckoning year.

See also: {{Golariondate}} and {{Golariondate/holidays}}

When entering an Absalom Reckoning or Imperial Calendar date for an event where one isn't explicitly specified, always take into account the source's year of publication and cite the date as an estimate:

... in [[4715 AR]].<ref>{{Cite book/Occult Realms|666}} Year estimated from publication date.</ref>

Explicitly specified dates should always take precedence over estimates.

Deleting invalid articles in whole or in part

If a Pathfinder campaign setting article contains nothing but information cited to invalid resources, it may be listed in the Articles marked for deletion and thereafter deleted in accordance with the then-current deletion policy.

If an in-world article contains information cited to invalid resources, cites a valid resource that conflicts with another valid resource without clearly addressing the conflict, or contains excessive amounts of background or non-canon data, the issue should be noted on the article's individual talk page. After a reasonable period of time for discussion, the article may be revised to include only appropriate citations to valid resources, appropriate notations as to conflicts among valid resources, and/or reduced levels of background or non-canon data. Prior to such reasonable time, and except in cases of vandalism, obscenity, and similar reasons, an article should not be edited to simply delete and/or modify the text.

Categorization

Categories are metadata provided by the Mediawiki software and are designed and primarily used to help chroniclers and visitors discover related content on the wiki. They are not intended to reflect the current state of canon; the article content is. This can include adding categories reflecting the past state of a subject, such as older game mechanics or changes over time to that subject that result in a change in its categories.

Note that production errors, such as Old-Mage Jatembe's alignment misprint in Inner Sea Magic or the "buttery knife" in Adventurer's Armory, are exempt from this; superseded content can be categorized, but content that was never deemed correct should not be.

For example:

  • A fifth-level fighter who dies over the course of the canon's timeline does not lose its Category:Fighters and Category:Fighters of 5th level categories when it gains the Category:Deceased inhabitants category, even though that character ceases to exist as a fighter, because that character still exists in some canon works as a fifth-level fighter, and a visitor looking for fifth-level fighters should still be able to find an article on that character in Category:Fighters or Category:Fighters of 5th level. The fighter's {{Person}} infobox can still describe the character by class levels, but should include a deceased or destroyed date, year, or event as appropriate. Because class levels are crunch, they should not be included in the article's content.
  • A creature depicted as being CR 20 in an older source does not lose Category:CR 20 creatures when a newer source updates it to CR 24 and results in the addition of Category:CR 24 creatures, because that creature still exists as a CR 20 creature in some canon works and should be discoverable in either category. The infobox should state the current canonical state of the creature, so its infobox should display CR 24, not CR 20, and {{Conflict}} should be added to the CR value in the infobox to describe the change. Since the CR is crunch, it should not be included in the article's content.
  • A city that was a metropolis in a source published in 2016/4716 AR and was destroyed in a source published in 2017/4717 AR might gain Category:Ruins but should not lose Category:Metropolises, because that city still exists as a metropolis in some canon works and should still be discoverable in Category:Metropolises. Its infobox should depict the city's current inhabitants, if any, and its history should explain that the city once had a population large enough to be classified mechanically as a metropolis, citing the older source.

Note that mechanical content in playtest materials are invalid sources even for these purposes.

Frequently asked questions

Canon tier of Pathfinder RPG-line books

If a hardcover book in the Pathfinder RPG line suggests a specific result to the events of a Pathfinder Adventure Path, is that considered canon?
Yes, but only if that book is the Adventurer's Guide or newer.
The Adventurer's Guide marks a change in Paizo's policies, which now allow for Pathfinder campaign setting material to be included in Pathfinder RPG-line products that were previously setting-neutral, and for that material to also advance the setting's timeline. Among other conclusions, the results of this decision can include assuming that certain events from an adventure path take place with a specific canon result, or that characters did (or didn't) survive the adventure path.
As such, starting with the Adventurer's Guide these books are considered Tier 1 resources for setting canon, and because they are newer than the adventure paths that they reference, new or changed information about those adventure paths that appears in RPG-line books should reflect the current canon state of the setting on the wiki.
Pathfinder RPG-line books older than the Adventurer's Guide are not Tier 1 resources, and their contents do not necessarily reflect the canon setting. Creature statistics from Bestiary volumes remain the sole exception to this rule; bestiaries are still considered Tier 1 sources, but only for creature statistics.

Specific sources

What about the old Compleat Encounters? One of them is called The Vault of the Whispering Tyrant. Are they canon?
While some of these products refer to people, or places from the Pathfinder campaign setting, Paizo staff have stated here and here that they merely serve as inspiration for the current incarnation of Golarion. As such, these products shouldn't be used as source material for PathfinderWiki articles.
I heard that the information in Guardians of Dragonfall isn't valid any more... what's up with that?
It turns out that there was some miscommunication with the the author of that Pathfinder Module, which led to some material being included that didn't fit Paizo's vision of how dragons of Golarion should be portrayed. James Jacobs stated here and here that J2 shouldn't be taken as a source for information on Golarion.

Corrections and clarifications

Is everything said or written by a member of the Paizo staff about the campaign setting considered canon?
No. To quote James Jacobs about answers provided on the Paizo messageboards: "... keep in mind that answers provided via the boards here are not canon, since they're not printed and haven't gone through the same quality-control process that our printed words do."
PathfinderWiki acknowledges that venues like the Paizo messageboards provide fans with useful places to request corrections and clarifications about published canon works, but the wiki intentionally designates that only "verifiable statements from Paizo editorial staff that correct or clarify specific canon setting details" are canon, and that those details do not override any other published canon works.
Is a retcon a correction or clarification? Does a retcon create a canon conflict?
PathfinderWiki handles deliberate, intentional retroactive changes to canon continuity, also referred to retcons, differently from official statements correcting content errors or clarifying unintentional canon conflicts. Retcons are not part of the tiered canon source system because handling them often requires more subjective consideration than a tiered system with prescriptive outcomes can provide. They also benefit from more guidance on communicating those changes than resolving a canon conflict, and might require handling them uniquely and with consensus in order for the wiki to be made and remain internally consistent as a result of the change.