Recently Monte Cook Games released a brief PDF booklet for role-playing game enthusiasts titled Consent in Gaming by Sean K. Reynolds and Shanna Germain. The booklet is designed around the idea of providing not only your players, but the Game Masters (GMs) involved, with a clear set of topics that they can consent to having in the game. It’s something that I’ve been reticent in the past to recognize as a real problem because I had never experience it during my own games. As I began reading the booklet, though, it became clear to me that a lot of the things that I take for granted as being off limits in my games aren’t something that other people might realize were off the table (for example, I’m never going to have rape in my games unless it’s in a line like, “The Barbarians of Ur have raped and pillaged their way across the Forlorn Valley until the met the Wizards of Sawran. After tasting defeat there they’ve moved north, and far away from the Proud Tower towards the Obsidian Walls of Jericho“).
Playing role-playing games represents a cathartic release for me where I can have wild, violent fun or test my wits against some of the smartest and most creative cats I’ve ever met. It isn’t a place where I’m looking to be uncomfortable – or to make other people feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. This booklet helped me see that what I took for granted, that I’m playing with people of similar values, isn’t universally true.
So after reading the booklet and going over the RPG Consent Checklist (pg 13) I’ve found a solid baker’s dozen of topics that would be red lines for me that I never even considered having in my games. So before I begin running my Valley of the Three Forks campaign online I’m going to be using that checklist to make sure that everyone I’m playing with is on the same page as me for what is okay in these games before we start rolling dice.
Using the RPG Consent Checklist isn’t about being a snow flake, or about bowing down the social justice warriors. It’s about having respect for the people you’re sitting down at the table with and making sure that they know what they’re in for before they start wasting hours of their lives playing in a game that made them increasingly uncomfortable and unwelcome.
I’m going to be processing this PDF, and the additional resources they direct readers towards, for a few more days as there is a lot to unpack here. It’s certainly worth considering even if you don’t agree with all of the recommendations.