Sometimes situations or topics come up in games that cause 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 for safe and happy gaming. Even if these mechanisms are never used, it often puts players at ease to know that everyone in the game is committed to having a good experience at the table.
If a GM chooses to use one of these tools, please let the players know at the beginning of the game.
Here are a few safety mechanisms to consider:
Because of the improvisational nature of rpgs and larps, we don’t always know what will happen until it happens, and it’s possible that the game could go in a direction that would make people feel uncomfortable. The X-Card, created by John Stavropoulos, allows anyone (including the GM) to edit out content mid-game, and resolve issues 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 a hard limit, and indicates the 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 situation has ventured into territory that makes a player feel 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 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 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+.
Often it’s good to discuss with your group a “rating” for your game content, however sometimes people don’t know their boundaries yet. Maybe they do, and they just aren’t expecting to kick down the door and find something that really makes them scared, or uncomfortable. This is where Script Change, created by Brie Sheldon, comes in.
At any point during the game, if a player or game master (GM) finds that they are uncomfortable with the subject matter or actions happening in the game, they can call for a Script Change. To make things easier, the GM should write “Rewind,” “Fast Forward,” and “Pause” on individual index cards or print out the sample Script Change cards in the back. Brie talks more about script change here.
Want to ask a question about Script Change? Contact Brie Sheldon on G+.
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, let us know!