Dancing Lights Press firmly believes in the importance of safety and consent tools. We have created this reference page for our website, and will be adding an appendix with useful information to our books as appropriate. The use of these tools is entirely optional, of course, but for tabletop roleplaying to be a collaborative creative experience, everyone needs to feel comfortable and supported.
Safety and Consent Tools
Below are popular safety tools you can use when telling stories with mature themes. Use whichever tools are most appropriate for your group. Be sure all players are familiar with the tools you include in your game and how they are used.
During Session Zero, player can express material they absolutely do not want to see (“lines”, as in “do not cross”) and material they’re okay with as long as it’s kept off-screen or not described in graphic detail (“veiled”).
Probably the best-known safety tool, it was created by John Stavropoulos for use during a session. Place a card with the letter X in the middle of the table. If a player taps the X, the gamemaster can tone down descriptions or skip over the rest of the scene.
The creation of Beau Sheldon, this is similar to the X-Card but with more options. Players can choose to pause, fast forward, rewind, or go frame-by-frame through a scene.
There are a number of variations on this. At any point the player or their character can get up and leave in the middle of the scene if something is upsetting them. No questions asked. The rest of the group can move on, and the player doesn’t need to explain unless they choose to do so.
Lu Quade developed this variation on the Rose and Thorn feedback technique. After the game, each player can award stars to the things they liked, and a wish for what they’d like to see (or not see) in future sessions.
Safety Tool Zero
Adopting tools is a discussion. The group must make decisions about tools as a whole. A single person pushing hard against their use should be considered a red flag. If someone at your table thinks that safety and consent tools are “stupid”, doesn’t feel that they’re necessary under any circumstances, or ridicules people that use or advocate for them, reconsider whether you want to play with them. We call this “Safety Tool Zero”.