Safety Tools

ECGMG is proud to employ the following resources at our gaming tables, in order to safeguard the well-being of our players as well as our Game Masters.

All images and descriptions belong to the creators.

Consent in Gaming

From Monte Cook Games:
"Mature or controversial elements can and should be a part of many RPGs. But how do you know what topics to include or leave out of your games?... Consent in Gaming gives you the strategies you need to make sure everyone at the table has a great experience, even when the game goes in a challenging direction."

TTRPG Safety Toolkit

Curated by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk
“Sometimes games have content or situations where a player or GM may feel stressed out, unsafe, or otherwise not having fun. Safety tools are a way for players and GMs to communicate and check-in before, during, and after a game in order to make sure everyone is still having fun, and to provide the right support when needed.”
(2020 ENnie Award Winner: Best Free Game / Product – Gold)

Consent in Gaming

From Monte Cook Games:

“Mature or controversial elements can and should be a part of many RPGs. But how do you know what topics to include or leave out of your games?… Consent in Gaming gives you the strategies you need to make sure everyone at the table has a great experience, even when the game goes in a challenging direction.”

TTRPG Safety Toolkit

Curated by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk

“Sometimes games have content or situations where a player or GM may feel stressed out, unsafe, or otherwise not having fun. Safety tools are a way for players and GMs to communicate and check-in before, during, and after a game in order to make sure everyone is still having fun, and to provide the right support when needed.”

(2020 ENnie Award Winner: Best Free Game / Product – Gold)

Why Safety Tools?

Since our Guild formed in 2019, we’ve seen many posts from widely-followed D&D groups that raise concerns about the overuse of safety tools. One group in particular opined that racism and misogyny (non-specified) were the only lines not to cross, but that everything else should be fair game in the name of “powerful” storytelling. The OP maintained that “players want that kind of experience of being pushed to the edge,” and expressed concern that naming more areas as off-limits will lead to a “fragile” gaming culture.

Emerald City Game Masters Guild wants to be crystal clear where we stand on this matter:

OTHER PEOPLE’S TRAUMA IS NOT YOUR PLAYGROUND.

D&D is an incredible game because of its power to immerse its players, make them feel deeply, and explore parts of themselves they may not have done so before. However. This makes the game a massive exercise in trust, and your players need to know they can trust their DM or GM not to push them somewhere they haven’t explored safely with a professional therapist. You, DM, are not their therapist. (And on the wild off-chance that you are qualified IRL, you would know how unethical it would be to wield those skills at the table.) Only in the event that your players have given you the green light to take them down certain paths is it safe to do so, and they must be given the ability to opt out of going any further down that path.

Not using safety tools to get your players’ consent to go down those roads is at best, irresponsible and reckless, and at worst, abusive — especially if your players are deemed “fragile” for revoking that consent.

It is absolutely possible to weave a compelling story at the table without using your players’ trauma and triggers to do so (our Game Masters and player community can present myriad examples). It’s also quite possible that your approach is less about what elements make a good story and more about your ability to wield that power over your players.

As our founder, Doug Johnson, puts it:
“For many ‘old-school gamers,’ boundaries = being boxed in or policed.
As a Game Master, your freedoms are not being infringed upon; they were never there in the first place. Your job is: players first, you second. If you think otherwise, you’re not a professional. We all have to abide by a certain set of standards, because if even 10% of us don’t abide by it, our ‘profession’ becomes moot. The subtext of safety tools is: trust your players to know themselves better than you do. Without trust, the game isn’t fun (or, it’s only fun for whomever has the most power).”

Finally: safety tools are there to protect GMs as well. There’s a human being behind all those NPC voices, with their own feelings and life experiences, and they deserve just as much care and respect.

Does an absence of safety tools at the gaming table automatically make that space unsafe? Not necessarily. But for groups of strangers playing together for the first time, these tools can act as both a safeguard and an accelerated trust-builder. And as a Guild, we believe that where there’s trust, there’s freedom. More freedom = more fun for everyone.

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