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Old May 31st, 2023, 08:52 AM
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PbP Safety Tools

Safety Tools

RPGs provide an escape from the problems we face in our day-to-day lives. Playing an RPG involves multiple people building a shared fantasy world and telling mutually enjoyable stories in that world.

Everyone has different life experiences and circumstances. If the shared fantasy hits too close to home for a player, it can dramatically reduce their capacity for escapism and enjoyability.

These Safety Tools are designed to improve gameplay experience by building mutual trust. They are nothing more than types of mature and open communication.

They're given game-style names to create a shared language for easier reference, much like an RPG rulebook explains that 3d6 means “three six-sided dice,” so that it can use the short-hand throughout the rest of the book and your group can save time through mutual understanding while playing.

When welcomed and used properly, Safety Tools can help a group of strangers on the internet get on the same page and equally share the fun of a Play-by-Post Roleplaying Game (PbP RPG).

Pre-play Safety Tools
-- Content Advisory
-- Lines & Veils

Mid-play Safety Tools
-- X-card
-- Flags

Post-play Safety Tool
-- Check-ins

The usage and definitions are still in progress. Please share your suggestions.

Content Advisory and Lines & Veils
This tool helps GMs and players make make a good match at the advertisement stage. Since we're primarily strangers and acquaintances, these pre-play tools are especially valuable for helping people find the gaming experience they're hoping for.

The Content Advisory should be a small section in the GM's first Games Seeking Players campaign advertisement post. A GM can use this space to communicate the topics and themes they plan to include in their upcoming campaign. Players can use this information to guide their decision about applying to the game. It would be impossible to cover every possible phobia or predict everything that may be a concern, but making a good-faith effort to include the matters you know may be upsetting can go a long way toward avoiding trouble down the road.

The Lines & Veils should be a small section of a player's character application in response to the Games Seeking Players advertisement. Players can use this space to describe topics they wish to not encounter explicit focus on (Veils) and topics they wish to avoid entirely (Lines). GMs can use this information to choose applicants that will be the best fit for their campaign and can adjust elements of their campaign to adapt to the needs of their players.

An example Line and example Veil:

Line: I'd like to avoid depictions of animal cruelty.

Veil: Can we keep any abortions or miscarriages in the background? I just don't want to read a description of it happening.

The accepted applicants' Lines & Veils should then be compiled and agreed to by the GM and all Players before the campaign begins. Any necessary clarifications can be respectfully discussed in the Out of Character thread or in Private Messages.

A campaign advertisement for an Underdark adventure likely won't be a good fit for a player with arachnophobia. If a GM hasn't announced they've planned their adventure to pass through the Underdark and an applicant requested a Line on spiders, it will be up to the GM to decide how to best proceed. Do you change your plans and avoid that element of the story or pass on that player's application? I strongly encourage inclusion and propose respectful and open communication as the best path to an equitable solution.

The reality is that not all campaigns are a good fit for all players. My hope is that these tools will help everyone start campaigns on a strong foundation of trust and understanding.

Sometimes a Player may find a topic or description unexpectedly upsetting or a Player or GM may forget one of the Lines and cross it. The X-card stops the action and gives everyone a chance to revise, rewind, fast-forward, or allow a Player's character to exit the scene.

If Player A's post describes something that causes player B to no longer feel safe, player B can post a big red X or say "Stop" in the In-Character or Out-of-Character threads and describe what is bothering them. The situation should be addressed by the group and a solution agreed upon.

Ways of resolving an X-card--

Script Change: the GM and Players agree to a revision to the effected posts to remove the upsetting content, then play proceeds with the revised canonical narrative.

Blurring: the GM and Players agree to diminish the presence of the upsetting content and move it to the background moving forward.

Character Exit: If Player agrees to the upsetting content taking place but doesn't wish to interact with it, the Player's character may exit the scene in a manner everyone agrees makes sense, and play will proceed in a manner that expedites the situation to get back to a point where the Player feels confident about their character re-entering the scene.

This is more of a roleplay aid than a Safety Tool. It is designed to encourage positive interactions, rather than avoid negative ones.

A Player may craft one or more Flags for their character. Each defines a way in which they would like other characters to interact with their PC. They can be included in a campaign player application, in their character sheet, or even included in an OOC section of in-character posts.

The idea is that Players can advertise how they'd like their characters to be interacted with, encouraging the GM and other Players to engage with them along rewarding paths of development. GMs can consider one Player engaging with another Player's Flag as a sign of good roleplay, and reward the behavior appropriately.

Example Flags:
"talk to me about gear"
"play silly word games with me"
"collaborate with me in combat"

Once a chapter or major section of the story is complete and a new one about to begin, consider pausing for a Check-in. This informal conversation should cover how everyone feels about the story, elements they enjoyed the most, and any causes for worry moving forward.

In addition to giving room for everyone to touch base, it also acts as a valuable GM tool to solicit feedback from players more purposefully than in the normal day-to-day OOC conversation.

Last edited by orcbane; May 31st, 2023 at 09:15 AM.
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