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roleplay:dm:safety [2019-09-18 14:51]
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roleplay:dm:safety [2019-09-22 04:02] (current)
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 The #1 rule is this: Roleplaying games should be fun. If a topic comes up which is uncomfortable enough to a player, your game is no longer fun, and you may lose that player. Many people won't tell you what you did wrong. They'​ll just become flakey or stop showing up with no explanation. The #1 rule is this: Roleplaying games should be fun. If a topic comes up which is uncomfortable enough to a player, your game is no longer fun, and you may lose that player. Many people won't tell you what you did wrong. They'​ll just become flakey or stop showing up with no explanation.
  
-If you introduce, say, sexual assault into your game when a player has experienced it, you'​ve ​just lost (or at least hurt) a player. Make an entire adventure about spiders when a player is arachnophobic,​ and you've lost another. Or maybe a player just really dislikes a topic, but hasn't experienced any direct trauma. This is no different from running a series of murder mysteries for a group that hates mystery and prefers heroic fantasy adventure. +If you introduce, say, sexual assault into your game when a player has experienced it, you may have just lost (or at least hurt) a player. Make an entire adventure about spiders when a player is arachnophobic,​ and you've lost another. Or maybe a player just really dislikes a topic, but hasn't experienced any direct trauma.
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-Not everything is rape, fear or deep trauma. One time, I created a story I thought the players would enjoy, which put a PC through ​ hallucinations and temporary insanity. The affected player participated less and less, and eventually disappeared. It was only much later that the player admitted to me how uncomfortable and unhappy my story had made him. Does this mean he had some deep emotional scar from being mind-controlled in real life? No, but it does mean that, if I had asked beforehand whether he was okay with the story I was telling, I might not have lost a player.+
  
 +Being sensitive to your players'​ emotional needs is no different from being sensitive to their gaming preferences. If you run a long series of murder mysteries for a group that prefers high fantasy heroic adventure, you can also lose players.
  
 ====== Problematic Content ====== ====== Problematic Content ======
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 ==Compulsion== ==Compulsion==
 Players like to control their own characters, so taking over a PC as the GM should be used sparingly under any circumstances. But this can also make players uncomfortable and unhappy, so if it's going to last longer than a few minutes, make sure your players are okay with it. Players like to control their own characters, so taking over a PC as the GM should be used sparingly under any circumstances. But this can also make players uncomfortable and unhappy, so if it's going to last longer than a few minutes, make sure your players are okay with it.
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 +I ran into this one myself once. I created a story I thought the players would enjoy, which put a PC through ​ hallucinations and temporary insanity. The affected player participated less and less, and eventually disappeared. It was only much later that the player admitted to me how uncomfortable and unhappy my story had made him. Does this mean he had some deep emotional scar from being mind-controlled in real life? No, but it does mean that, if I had asked beforehand whether he was okay with the story I was telling, I might not have lost a player.
  
 ==Horror== ==Horror==
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 Same goes for sexism, religious persecution,​ homophobia, etc. These can all be important drivers of a story, but if one or more of your players isn't having fun with that story, then you're not succeeding as a GM. Same goes for sexism, religious persecution,​ homophobia, etc. These can all be important drivers of a story, but if one or more of your players isn't having fun with that story, then you're not succeeding as a GM.
  
-If you have a desire for realism, be careful. First, what you think is realistic for a genre may not be. The  relationships between sexes and races you're used to are modern phenomena. ​Study your historical period before you make assumptions. Second, excessive realism isn't always fun, nor is it always appropriate. Are you going to tell me that my character can fight a spell-casting,​ fire-breathing dragon with the Blessed Sword of Dragon Slaying forged by dwarves in the heart of Mount Everdeath, but can't go back to town and run a bar because she's a woman?+If you introduce these topics as part of a desire for realism, be careful. First, what you think is realistic for a genre may not be. The  relationships between sexes and races you're used to are modern phenomena. ​When creating any kind of historically-based fantasy, study your historical period before you make assumptions. Second, excessive realism isn't always fun, nor is it always appropriate. Are you going to tell me that my character can fight a spell-casting,​ fire-breathing dragon with the Blessed Sword of Dragon Slaying forged by dwarves in the heart of Mount Everdeath, but can't go back to town and run a bar because she's a woman?
  
 ==Violence== ==Violence==
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 ==Religion== ==Religion==
-Polytheistic religions are at the core of many RPGs. Anyone joining a D&​D ​game should expect that. However, there might be specific elements that religious players would rather do without -- devil-worship,​ pagan witchcraft ​or whatever. While these elements are unlikely to trigger PTSD or cause emotional damage, you should be sensitive if you have a particularly religious player. This is especially true when playing with children; you could easily lose all your players at once if you're DMing for your church youth group and the parents get wind of the demonic cult you've made all the PCs members of.+Polytheistic religions are at the core of many RPGs. Anyone joining a game like D&D should expect that. However, there might be specific elements that religious players would rather do without -- devil-worship,​ pagan witchcraft, Human sacrifice etc. While these elements are unlikely to trigger PTSD or cause emotional damage, you should be sensitive if you have a particularly religious player. This is especially true when playing with children; you could easily lose all your players at once if you're DMing for your church youth group and the parents get wind of the demonic cult you've made all the PCs members of.
  
  
 ====== But Watch Out ====== ====== But Watch Out ======
  
-Like with anything else, some people will take advantage. They'​ll see you as a weak GM for asking these kinds of questions, and try to manipulate your game by bringing up various trauma. Maybe they really did have traumatic experiences,​ but use them as an excuse to manipulate people. Be sensitive, but don't let it ruin your game. If you have a problem player, that player ​should leave regardless ​of his or her history.+Like with anything else, some people will take advantage. They'​ll see you as a weak GM for asking these kinds of questions, and try to manipulate your game by bringing up various trauma. Maybe they really did have traumatic experiences,​ but use them as an excuse to manipulate people. Be sensitive, but don't let it ruin your game. If you have a problem player, ​talk to that player. If nothing changes, it's completely within your right to kick the player out of the game. Trauma and mental illness are not excuses for being a jerk.
  
  
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 == Lines and Veils == == Lines and Veils ==
-This is another good way to start off a campaign. All players, in a discussion or anonymously,​ create lines and veils. Lines are topics which are not allowed in the game. Veils are things which can exist in the world, but should not be explicitly discussed or made into major parts of the story.+This is another good way to start off a campaign. All players, in a discussion or anonymously,​ create lines and veils. Lines are topics which are not allowed in the game. Veils are things which can exist in the world, but should not be explicitly discussed or made into major parts of the story. If there are so many lines that you feel the fun will be taken out of your story, talk about it, but for the most part, they'​re easy enough to accommodate.
  
 == The X Card == == The X Card ==
 This mechanic has appeared in many indy games. You put a card on the table with an X on it. When material comes up that makes a player uncomfortable,​ that player holds up the X card, and whatever just happened is struck from the game, as if it never happened. I think this can be an effective tool. On the other hand, if you've already agreed to include it in your game, there'​s a good chance the GM and players are already sensitive to each other'​s feelings. I can't say, since I've never personally had it come up in a game. This mechanic has appeared in many indy games. You put a card on the table with an X on it. When material comes up that makes a player uncomfortable,​ that player holds up the X card, and whatever just happened is struck from the game, as if it never happened. I think this can be an effective tool. On the other hand, if you've already agreed to include it in your game, there'​s a good chance the GM and players are already sensitive to each other'​s feelings. I can't say, since I've never personally had it come up in a game.
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 +== Continuous Feedback ==
 +Some newer games, particularly those designed to address topics like physical intimacy or mental illness, suggest an ongoing conversation about comfort levels -- after every scene (for a one-shot) or session (for a longer game), discuss how everyone is doing. This can be useful for particularly intense games, but I think it would be overkill for ordinary D&D. I also think it should only be used with mature players. When all you need to negate a topic or scene is a thumbs down from one player, it's easy to abuse the system.