Taking Care of Each Other in a Shared Brain Space
The beauty of Tabletop Roleplaying Games (TTRPGs) is the shared imagination at the table. Whether experienced in person or through virtual means, the collective brainwave that the table creates is a gift. Through this space, players undergo various trials and experiences that are felt by each person individually. This shared headspace also exposes us to the inner workings of another player’s psyche. This can sometimes be challenging.Through the course of an adventure, players can face difficult encounters which may involve troubling content such as abuse of power, the use of force, and crimes or abuses of war. A session can quickly turn from a lazy afternoon culling predators from a family farm to darker content, especially as the party grows in power and their own self reflection. The improved introspection and heavier content load the players experience can be stressful, and that stress can carry over into the next session. (To read about such an experience during one of our play sessions, check out “Trauma at the Table” by Variant J)It is important that the table as a whole feels safe while collaborating on their collective story. This is true for each person involved, including the Game Master. There is a lot to consider when securing a safe table, and thankfully creators Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk have released the TTRPG Safety Toolkit. This is a no cost guide includes terminology and resources that can empower GMs and players to keep their sessions safe for everyone involved. It includes communication tools and topics of conversation that can be discussed prior to the start of play (commonly referred to as session zero), as well as during the course of a running adventure campaign. It tailors tools to be used before a session begins, during a play session and after or between sessions.Some of my favorite tips are giving your campaign a movie rating, talking about boundaries before and during the campaign as needed, building in breaks during play, and incorporating a debriefing after heavy content. Each of these allow for the players to know what to expect and to offload stressors before they reach a boiling point. By applying these and the other effective tools available within the TTRPG Safety Toolkit, you will increase communication amongst the table. This communication will ensure the table is working cooperatively, and will improve party morale both in and out of the game!
The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a resource co-curated by Kienna Shaw and Lauren Bryant-Monk. The TTRPG Safety Toolkit is a compilation of safety tools that have been designed by members of the tabletop roleplaying games community for use by players and GMs at the table. You can follow along on Twitter or find it at bit.ly/ttrpgsafetytoolkit.
UPDATE: Since this article was originally posted the TTRPG Safety Toolkit now has its own Twitter page for continued updates of this content.