Chad Pytel

Founder, Developer, and COO at thoughtbot

This is part of my writing about D&D. View all

Safety & Inclusion

When we play D&D we’re working together to improvise a story and have fun. We want our role playing table, both virtually and in-person, to be a safe space for everyone so that we can all have fun.

We recognize that we can have fun and tell an interesting story without bringing in subjects that would make someone uncomfortable, and that each of us has different experiences, phobias, and backgrounds that may make a subject that is comfortable for one person be uncomfortable to someone else.

Therefore, when we play we steer clear of any topics, predetermined or otherwise, that make someone uncomfortable. While playing, if we stumble upon content which makes any player uncomfortable, even if it has not been predetermined, they are free to indicate as much, no further explanation is necessary, and we will immediately stop the current scene and move on.

This is the concept of Lines and Veils. Lines are subjects that are entirely excluded from our games and will not be crossed. Something that is veiled may take place within the campaign, but will not be directly role-played. We may also identify subjects that might be okay, but require discussion ahead of time. You can read more about Lines and Veils here.

I have several predetermined lines that are off-limits for all my campaigns:

D&D at Work

In addition, I will often play D&D with my colleagues at work. While our D&D sessions often happen outside of work hours, we are still colleagues and they take place in the context of a professional setting. We keep that in mind when we are playing with each other and in the sessions we design. Our sessions and all interactions with each other are governed by our Code of Conduct.

We have additional lines that are predetermined as off-limits for our work campaigns:

Adding To The List

When we play together, if you have something that you’d like to add to the above list, you are welcome to make sure everyone knows, or tell the me privately if you’re more comfortable doing that. I may also have everyone fill out a checklist to collect additional lines and veils in advance.

General Guidelines

More generally, the worlds in which our stories live are fantasy worlds where anything is possible and we do not need to be beholden to the status quo of our own world and its limitations. Unless otherwise explicitly stated

Safety Tools

In addition to the pre-established guidelines above, along with established Lines and Veils, during our sessions, anyone (including the DM) can say “pause for a second” any time during the game to break character and discuss the current situation out of character, including stating “I’m not comfortable with where this is going”. The phrase “pause for a second” interrupts anything else going on in the game. It’s used to break character and discuss or ask questions about anything going on in-game.

Players can leave the table or leave the game in a mature manner for any reason without being judged. This can apply to things as simple as restroom breaks, taking phone calls, or going to another room for an emotional cool-down. Everyone playing the game is an adult and deserves the respect to take care of their own needs.

Learning More

If you would like to learn more about these topics, here are some resources I can recommend: