Ok I am reading The Hunted, a horror rpg, by Chris Bissette and whoa is the attitude of this paragraph on safety tools at the table a winner.

@jameschip I tend to steer clear of games that have those kinds of warnings. Or looking to explore that level of my psyche or that of my friends “for fun.”

@draft13 honestly I think this is a solid thing to include with any rpg. Loads of indie games include a section on this now, even seemingly harmless ones like For The Queen.

As a designer you can’t always guarantee that the people at the table playing your game will know each other well and safety mechanics allow everyone in any setting to set boundaries before something happens.

@draft13 to be honest I think it’s irresponsible of D&D to not include something like this as standard. There are enough horror stories to warrant them.

I myself sat down to a game in a local game store with a couple of people I knew a bit and the session started going down a bad road so I hard passed and left. Safety mechanics are supposed to avoid these situations.

@draft13 in fairness to this game it is a horror game so you have to be really careful with setting boundaries for content. But I think it’s a responsible thing to do in general, even if it’s just an X card.

@jameschip You are right; contextually it makes a lot of sense to have it for horror games. You are also right; any role-playing game should have standard language that describes what happens when "alternate" roles are assumed. Yet, I don't play with strangers, and I tend to run my games like Saturday morning cartoons (since I watched the D&D cartoon in the 80s as a kid). I don't allow evil characters and the party is always seen as a team of "good" trying to defeat "evil." I am probably boring.

@draft13 I dunno, sounds like a pretty fun game to me. You’re talking to the man that ran a DnD campaign set around running a bakery and delivering cakes.

@jameschip Personally speaking - probably because I'm an old fart in some ways - I don't really *get* safety mechanics as such. If people are dicks, or go down a road I don't like, I won't play with them any longer.

There are things that trigger me enough to make that decision, but, and I think that's a crucial point, I don't make other people responsible for that. They're my issues and preferences, and therefore my burden, not that of others.

And as with any other life situation...


... ultimately, all good relationships are based on good communication, so if I want to avoid some things in play, it's also my responsibility to communicate that appropriately. It's the responsibility of other players to respond in kind, and if they don't, well screw them, that's not my game any longer. And I'm fine with that.

@jameschip @draft13

I get an X card as a super generic mechanism for raising the issue without having to discuss the details. But I also don't *get* the X card, as it's just as simple as saying "could we just avoid <something>, I'm not comfortable with that".

Any half-decent person will say "sure", and not prod and poke. An X card seems like a demand for people to act decent (with or without wanting to), and doesn't really solve the underlying problem.

@jameschip @draft13

Which is, of course, that you've found yourself in a group of people that value whatever game element is contentious over the group of people they play with.

The best application I can think of is when a single player acts out in this way, but then you also *have* to discuss that, as the X card won't be enough, so why have it in the first place?

Plus, ultimately I consider enforcing halfway decent behaviour the responsibility of whoever organises the group.

@jameschip @draft13

None of which means I'm opposed to safety mechanisms, for what it's worth. I hope that's clear. It's more that I think they're a band-aid where a more meaningful solution is required, and the meaningful solution will inevitably incur a fair amount of work.

@jameschip @draft13

@jens @draft13 I mean, what you are talking about here is lines and veils.

Before the game people agree to lined and veiled content. Lines are a hard no to certain topics coming up and a veil is certain things can be in the game but kinda happens off screen so you don’t go into detail.

@jens @draft13 ultimately these mechanisms are all about communication and respect. It’s ok to just say “well lets all just respect each other” and just jump straight in but safety mechanics are there to facilitate these discussions in a meaningful and responsible way and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

It’s perfectly fine to just walk when content gets out of hand but part of the idea of these things is to avoid these situations in the first place so you don’t have to.

Sure! I understand that.

I've been playing RPGs since I was about 7, I think, so for somewhere around 35 years.

I think not once did I discuss lines or veils. And at the same time, I can guarantee that not once did the game, for an example that might trigger a lot of people, include rape.

I attribute that to the fact that almost everybody agrees that's just not a topic you play with.

@jameschip @draft13

I mean, I know there are people who think differently - who use RPGs to live out things they would not otherwise.

And I think that's largely fine for consenting adults. But I would guess that anyone doing that is aware enough that they're doing that to introduce the pre-game discussion.

And only if the people in your group happen to want to play such themes *and* happen to be unaware enough not to raise that, would you need mechanics for it.

That seems rare enough.

@jameschip @draft13

@jens @draft13 you would think, and yet here we are. They are common enough that safety tools exist.

I agree these thing are totally optional and should be covered by common sense, but I also think formalising and encouraging this kind of thing can only be positive in the long run.

@jens @draft13 even something as simple as content warnings can make a huge difference. Certainly when I was sat at a table and scenes of abuse suddenly became a part of the game.

A simple up front conversion about what we were to expect or were comfortable with would have avoided me having to walk.

The purpose is to formalise and popularise doing that instead of everyone assuming everyone will be ok until it comes up.


I think my point is that this is a *social* problem rather than a game problem. That is, it's about popularising this more than anything else.

Formalising it, well. I would say that's overshooting the target. Actually in much the same way that I wouldn't propose formalising an approach to anti-maskers, either. At best they're inconsiderate (in that they did not consider), at worst they're dicks, in either case we have plenty of social mechanisms for them.

@jameschip @draft13

@jens @jameschip Extremely fascinating discussion. I have a few thoughts: 1, for me a "game", shouldn't cross social boundaries, or if they do, they become something other than a game, and something I am not interested in. I do agree with Jens, its a social problem. Yet, I do think it can be largely mitigated by the game. And if "games" had some normalcy in knowing and staying within safe boundaries, I think that is a win. It ensures everyone at the table is on the same page.

@jens @jameschip While, not exactly the same, boardgame designs have the same issues. For instance, my wife hates games where people "zing" each other or "take that!" mechanics. And she wants me to tell her before we play a game together so we are on the same page. Food for thought for sure!

@draft13 @jens I think it’s a bit unfair to class games a that cross social boundaries as not games. I think when done well it can be quite a powerful thing but being gross for the sake of it is just lazy.

I think our tastes probably line up fairly evenly on these games. I like mine fairly light in tone.

I also agree that the problem is mostly social. I also think there are lots of people that don’t know how important these conversations are or are not prepared with the right tools...

@draft13 @jens To approach a conversation like this.

Ideally everyone would be able and prepared to have a frank conversation along these lines but there are people who don’t have the emotional or social toolbox to approach it well.

It also might help people who want or need to have these conversations have a bit more confidence in starting them at a table where others might not think they are needed without feeling like they are imposing or feeling othered.

Maybe the right kind of approach is not to include any kind of safety rules in the game. Instead, treat "safety when gaming" as a topic of its own, write some kind of manifesto for it with a bunch of examples on how to deal with these things. Then provide a standard paragraph with a link to the manifesto in every game you publish.

There's a similar concept in FOSS CoCs; hardly anyone (?) writes them themselves, but copies some well known example text.

There's also websites dedicated to e.g. providing the right environment at cons/conferences that get quoted or referenced a fair bit.

I would consider that a good balance between acknowledging it's a social problem and nothing to do with any particular game, whilst also stating it's something that needs to be considered. Finally, it allows for independent evolution of this.


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