Safety Mechanisms

Sometimes in a game, situations or topics come up that cause some (or all) of the players to feel uncomfortable, scared, or even to trigger memories of traumatic events.

To help avoid these situations and give players tools to address then when they occur we have several mechanisms that promote clear communication, safe and happy gaming.

Often the presence of a safety mechanism, even if it’s never used, puts players at ease, as they know that everyone in the game is supporting them having a good experience at the table.

If you choose to use one of these tools (or another), please let the players know at the beginning of the game. Each of them only requires a brief explanation, and will ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Here are a few tools we know about:


The X-Card is an tool (created by John Stavropoulos) that allows anyone in your game (including you) to edit out any content anyone is uncomfortable with if it is introduced mid-game. Since most RPGs are improvisational and we won’t know what will happen till it happens, it’s possible the game will go in a direction people don’t want. An X-Card is a simple tool to fix problems as they arise. More information on the X-Card can be found here.

Want to ask a question about the X-card? Contact John Stavropoulos on G+


We all have our limits and boundaries. Lines and veils are different ways to handle those boundaries in play.

  • A line is, well, a line — a hard limit, something we do not want to cross. Lines represent places we don’t want to go in our game.
  • A veil is a “pan away” or “fade to black” moment. When we veil something, we’re making it a part of the story, but keeping it out of the spotlight. Think of it as a way to still deal with certain themes while avoiding having to describe them in graphic detail.

More about using Lines and Veils here.

Want to ask a question about Lines and Veils? Contact Emily Care Boss on G+


Tools that originally came to us from Nordic Larp and are frequently used by larpers to signal when content is becoming uncomfortable or dangerous.

  • Cut – When someone says Cut, it signals that the roleplaying has ventured into territory that makes a player feel really uncomfortable and unsafe. When Cut is heard, all roleplaying must stop immediately and the game takes a short intermission as the facilitator and players involved work out how they can adjust the roleplaying session to make it safer and better for everyone.
  • Brake – When someone says Brake, it signals that the current situation is going in a direction that the player is not comfortable with. It is the responsibility of the other players present to change the direction and/or reduce the intensity of play.

Want to ask a question about Cut and Break? Contact Colin Fahrion on G+

The Door is Open

Having an open door policy means that at any time, for any reason, a player can leave the game, and that they will not be judged or punished for doing so. Lizzie Stark talks more about The Door is Open and other safety issues here.

Want to ask a question about The Door is Open? Contact Lizzie Stark on G+

More Tools

We hope that you read more about these tools and find one that works best for your GMing style. If there are other methods that you feel belong on this list, please let us know by emailing thewolf at bigbadcon dot com.

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