My countless hours spent on Social Media has led me to meet some wonderful people across the globe. While I was putting together my writing schedule for early 2021 my path crossed with Lonomy, a creator and DM from Australia. In December we had a chance to connect and talk about the social impact sharing the table can have, and how to smash the gates that bar new players from joining.
Berry (she/her): Who are you and what do you do?
Lonomy (he/him): I am Lonomy of Australia, an electronic music producer and very into TTRPGs. I enjoy set designed and worldbuilding, narrative building and system design, mostly in Roll 20. I want to create a world that feels fantastic but allows characters to explore real world concepts.
Berry: How have you grown through gaming?
Lonomy: I started with video gaming in the N64 era, watching others play Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. I came to my experiences being shaped by other people. I did not want to just be a hero, I wanted a place in the world. Now it is less about the adventure and more about how the community impacts that adventure.
In my small town, I offered to DM and I had 60 people interested! I now run two home games and get to design an experience for others to be the hero. I also run one shot games throughout the year. I want players to feel like they can make a choice and have an impact on the world and I love seeing others respond to the impact of those choices. It’s important to know what others are searching for. It can be therapeutic or simply a discussion. You can empower people through the games we play.
Berry: What is your experience with gatekeeping?
Lonomy: I recognize the privilege that comes from being a DM. My actions and words have an impact on others, even if I don’t want them to. As people, we are going to make mistakes that may be harmful to others and we need to address that, both implicit and explicit.
Implicit gatekeeping is about setting a culture that makes others feel like they can’t approach you, can’t bring concerns and don’t feel welcome at the table. Stuff like: how violent are the games and does that gate keep people? How much emphasis are we putting on the maths at the table and does that make people not want to play?
Explicit gatekeeping has to do with the usual culprits are things like: not allowing people of different ages, groups background at the table. Otherwise, it’s about specifically allowing or not allowing things at the table that will block others from gaining any experience of that fantasy. Not allowing certain actions, disincentivizing certain types of character creation and not allowing concerns to be addressed at the table.
Breaking down gatekeeping is making intentional decisions where people are allowed to be comfortable. I have to ask myself how do people see me as a GM/Leader? Do they feel that me or my table are unapproachable?
Flexibility can have a huge impact. I am asking others for their time to participate. It was really important for me to talk about the phones at the table rule. I needed to be aware of the fact that my players want both to enjoy the fantasy of the game but not feel the anxious dread of oncoming work/commitments. They needed to be able to play with their phones or have something to do on the side in order to feel comfortable at the table. The result meant that we could play more often and my players didn’t feel like they were putting the world off until I’d run my game. It really helped those with ADHD or OCD tendencies too.
It’s important that as the DM I know the expectations of my players and work to make it positive. Everyone has the right to be at the table. If we want people to learn and grow, they have to be given the opportunity to make the wrong choice and grow.
Berry: What does safety at the table look like to you?
Lonomy: It is 100% about setting expectations and boundaries. View it like a relationship with a really close friend. You must be willing to make changes as needed. Clear and upfront communication are paramount to safety at the table. Debriefing is important, to let players and DM be able to talk about what went wrong. If an unsafe situation does occur at the table, because of the relationship we’ve established we are able to talk about it. Always be open to making changes and I ensure my players understand that their concerns are worthy of addressing.
Berry: Is there a non-profit or charity you would like to spotlight?
Lonomy: Close the Gap branch of OxFam Australia. The Close the Gap campaign, which Oxfam helped to launch a decade ago, is testament to the Australian public’s overwhelming support for improving health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.