Have you read out your basic rules of conduct at your game recently? This should be done regularly, so New Players are aware, and Old Players are reminded.
Occult Summit 2019
The Occult Summit happened over the weekend of March 1st & 2nd, in St. Louis MO.
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Written by Anneke (with input and editing from other members of Marketing)
We are playing in the World of Darkness, so dark scenes can and will happen. Storytellers are the creators of this world, but at the same time they are the caretakers of their players safety, both physically and mentally. But first, let's define what a Dark or Difficult situation may be.
Television has a list of warnings they use:
A – used for programs with adult themes.
V – used for programs depicting violence;
L – used for programs coarse language;
S – used for programs depicting simulated sex scenes and/or references;
H – used for programs containing horror or supernatural themes;
D – used for programs with drug references and/or use;
N – used for programs containing nudity;
MP – used for programs containing medical procedures;
This is a good guide for determining if a scene may be Dark or Difficult. Wait, you say...that cuts out all our story-lines. Well...yes...it may. I'm not saying to not do difficult scenes, but to identify that such scenes may need a warning. Know your players, and what triggers they may have.
A – We are playing in world of darkness and generally most games require 18+ to play in the game. So this is less of a concern. However, if you have a game with minors, you should check with their guardian on these types of scenes that they may get involved in. DO NOT take the minor's word that they are okay with the situation, they are minors, you need to check with the guardian. You don't want the guardian later coming up to you angry because of what their minor went through.
V – Our game has an easy way to handle violence...we throw Chops (Rock/Scissor/Paper). We don't actually do violence towards each other, and generally just narrate what happens. When actually acting out or staging the violence, the players should be checking with each other for permission to touch each other, etc...
L – Some characters are going to curse, or say inappropriate things. Are they saying this around minors? Are they saying this in front of someone who may get offended on an OOC level? Words can hurt, and we are playing in a game that tends to be very verbal. Bleed can happen easily from hurtful words. I can't stress After Care enough. Make sure as a Storyteller that your players do After Care; at the end of the game, they go and talk to players and apologize for what their character may have said. Not just a general apology to the entire game, but also to individuals. As a storyteller, you also should do After Care for any scenes you ran as well.
S – As storytellers, we should not be describing sex scenes. Step back and give a Narration of what happens/the characters see. If a player gives consent for graphic depictions/narration, you should still think twice on doing this. These graphic scenes are best for private scenes between consenting players (and your Storytellers don't want them emailed to them either). As a storyteller, you must realize you're in a position of authority. Players, even when asked to give consent, may not feel comfortable saying no to a person in a position of authority.
H – We are playing supernaturals, but this is more about the Horror. We may be adults, but we come from different backgrounds and lives. As a Storyteller, you may not be aware of the Player's personal history, and how something may trigger them. Some people will have issues with an animal being tortured, others with child abuse, some people are terrified of clowns. Some players may want to explore their personal horror of something as a way to cope with trauma, but others will not be at that stage. No one is saying don't do such scenes, but maybe see about modifying them. If Steven King can turn Clowns into Spiders, you can do the same. This is a chance to get creative as a Storyteller, and keep your players safe and happy.
D – While we would think drug use and such is not a big deal, again, we don't know our players histories. There may be those recovering from drug abuse, or grew up in a family where drug use/abuse was a big deal and has left scars. Maybe a player is a recovering alcoholic. Describing negative situations could trigger past issues, while describing positive situations can be a temptation to someone recovering to slip back into old ways.
N – No one should be nude at game, but there characters that may costume a simulation of nudity. Yes, this can offend players. We are living a world where body image is a big concern for men and women, and often judgments on our bodies can hurt us more since our bodies are often beyond our ability to change. I was in a roleplay with a best friend, and we had an argument IC, we said horrible things to each other, but with the one word of calling my character 'Fat' it triggered me; I took that one word personally. Other people embrace the word, but they don't have my history. So again, After Care. Check with your players, did the argument or scene go okay, did you say anything that hurt them as a player?
MP – Last one is Medical procedures, and this goes down to a fear people have of doctors, dentist, blood, hospitals, etc... We don't know our players' histories. Their histories also can change. What was okay last game, may suddenly no longer be okay because during the week something happened in their lives. Things change, and this is why we have to be aware of all sorts of situations and adapt.
Having a Player Rep that is not a storyteller can be very helpful for your players. Players can bring their concerns or triggers to that person and it can be forwarded to the staff anonymously, providing some protection from retaliation for reporting. Having a player rep helps with these issues, serving basically as a game's HR department.
Some may say that players give their consent to things by the nature of signing into game, but no, that's not the case. The number 1 rule for all our games should be 'Have Fun!'. If the players are not having fun, then we are all doing something wrong. I often say, "It's a volunteer thing, you're not being paid to be here. If you're not having fun, go home." Do not be the jerk who says, "Well, they can't handle X situation, then they shouldn't be here." We come together for acceptance, for escapism, for a bit of fun. But in the end, we are humans, flawed humans who have histories and problems, and we can only strive to be and do better each day.
*Please note that while we should be aware of people's issues and be considerate and conscious about such, there is also the level that some of these people are not just flawed but 'broken stairs', see last's month newsletter for an article about 'Broken Stairs'.
Here's the tl;dr!
- HSTs, STs, Narrators, etc... are in positions of Authority, sometimes Consent is given due to the perceived authority.
- Player Reps are a Game’s HR department; make sure your game has one.
- Be adaptable, change the scene, be creative instead of cruel.
- We don't know what may upset or trigger a player, and that can change, and that's okay.
- AFTER CARE!
Countess Boniface Baine, a seer of great knowledge that transcends time, space, and species. Let Dear Dead Boni provide insight, entertainment, and some madness into your life or un-life.
Dear Dead Boni, I'm so fucking bored. Occasionally, I find joy in breaking things and messing with others. Sometimes I enjoy boning others but even now my interest is disappearing. Do you have any recommendations to get my groove back or should I just walk into the sun? -Stella
Stella-Mella, Seems like you need a pick me up. Walking into the sun is a bit too permanent. What you need is a Brujah or a Malkavian partner to take you on a ride and spark that deep desire of I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck and let your hair down. Think about it - if you are in either of those two clans, why not dip your toes into a little forbidden, and you know who can make you feel again… Tremere. They don’t have magic fingers for nothing. -Boni
Dear dead boni, I met this super gorgeous attractive dude at a nightclub and we had a few dates and drinks. I can't stop thinking about him and i am pretty sure i would die for him if he asked. He mentioned that for us to be together for eternity i would need to do something called creation rites. I know he is a bit religious but that sounds like one of those weird cults. Should i follow my heart and go through with this or should i try to forget him even if that feels impossibly painful? - confused but in love annie
Annie Love, Is he into blood play? Does he send tingles down your nether region? Does he make your panties twist until you explode? Your heart flutters and your mind blanks. Do you forget the world around you? Cults exist, and they have a fun way of crawling into your mind.
You’re in dangerous and exciting crossroads in your life. I am unsure if your heart beats or if it’s dead cold. If it beats, listen to it. If it’s dead cold, do you like your freedom?
Don’t let any man dictate your life, or give you ultimatums, no man is worth it. You are a beast, a black widow, eat his heart out, spit it out and stomp on it. If he loves you, he’ll love you as you are. -Boni
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