Lighthouse System: Safety and Consent

The Lighthouse System has a section in the Guide the Game chapter on Safety and Consent. It will be included, in some form, in all products with potentially upsetting content. The following is a draft of that section. Any and all constructive, good-faith feedback is appreciated.

Part of your job as the guide is to be aware of what each player enjoys. That also means making sure that everyone is comfortable with the themes and events within the story. You have to know if there are topics that could upset them. It’s easy to be dismissive and say that it’s make-believe, or that people are too sensitive. You don’t have to agree. You don’t even have to understand. That’s not the issue here. The game is supposed to be fun for everyone participating. If you’re including subject matter that negatively impacts a player’s ability to have fun, you’re not doing your job.

There are a few ways to handle this. The first uses what game designer Ron Edwards referred to as lines and veils. Be up front about the type of content you plan to include in the story. If there will be dark themes, including sex, violence, gore, and abuse, tell the players. When there are lines that you will not cross, and won’t allow to be crossed within the game, make that clear as well. If there are subjects that will be discussed in a more vague and tasteful manner, those have a veil over them. Dial it back, using an Alfred Hitchcock style of implying things rather than describing them in graphic detail.

Safety and Consent

A number of tools exist that can help you at the table. Most notable are the X-Card and the O-Card. Take an index card, or a piece of paper, and draw a big X on it. On another, draw a big O. If something is making a player uncomfortable, they can point to the X, which is a signal for you to ease up. If they point to the O, it means they’re doing okay and you can keep going. After the game, you can discuss it with the player. Let them decide whether they want to talk about it with you privately or with the rest of the group. They can choose to not share at all, and you don’t have to press. All you need to know is that a specific topic makes them upset, so you can avoid it going forward.

The X-Card was created by John Stavropoulos and released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. You can read more about it at

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