Wondering about how you can avoid triggers in your gameplay?
Here is a free comprehensive list you can use for your game!
It may have already happened to your RPG group, someone goes a little too far with a joke and somebody gets upset. Friction has started between the players and now everyone is uncomfortable. If only there was something that could have been done to avoid this situation.
Or maybe this hasn’t happened to you and you are already on the right track by starting out checking out this post for a trigger warning sheet ahead of time!
What Is a Trigger?
- (especially of something read, seen, or heard) distress (someone), typically as a result of feelings or memories associated with a particular traumatic experience.
“she started crying and told me that my news had really triggered her”
A more commonly used phrase is “trigger warning”, which is a statement intended to warn people of potentially distressing or traumatic content that may be talked about or shown. The purpose of a trigger warning is to allow people to opt out of watching or participating in content that may be triggering for them and to prepare themselves emotionally and mentally for the potentially difficult subject matter.
Trigger warnings are often used when the content being presented could potentially trigger symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or other mental health issues in individuals who have experienced trauma related to the content. Common examples include warnings for depictions of sexual violence, graphic violence, or other traumatic events. However, someone does not need to have experienced a traumatic event to be uncomfortable talking or taking part in this type of roleplay and limits can be set ahead of time.
A trigger is something that sets you off emotionally.
Why A Consent Form is a Good Idea
I want to share a personal story about this one. (Trigger warning, sexual assault, harm to animals)
My group had a guest DM one night, and a player had chosen a centaur as their character for the one shot. Everything was going fine until some drinks were had, and people were getting sloppy and trying to one-up each other with funny things.
There was a bathhouse that the centaur went into and wanted to get it on with the ladies, who were not really interested. The player kept pushing it, I eventually spoke up saying this was not super comfortable for me, which made me feel like a buzz kill but also didn’t really want to see this happening.
The centaur left the bathhouse and instead went to an animal pen and started mounting animals.
I immediately felt sick. As someone who had previously been sexually assaulted and who loves animals, this kind of gameplay was totally outside my comfort zone and was a hard line for me. I ended up excusing myself and going to cry in a room somewhere having flashbacks of my own trauma, while the rest of the table kept playing the game, totally oblivious to my distress.
There ended up being major friction between myself and that player for months. How could they have that kind of gameplay? What kind of sick person does that, why would they feel the need to act that out? They apologized a hundred times, but it didn’t really help. Eventually, we were able to work things out, but it took our strong previous friendship and honest remorse on their part.
If we had done a consent form ahead of time and everyone knew that sexual assault was not to be brought up, this entire situation could have been avoided.
I always insist on knowing what triggers are for people now ahead of time and built this list free for anyone to use so this situation doesn’t happen to anyone else.
The Free List
Here is the list in picture form and PDF form, there are some easy free PDF online fillers that can be used to help make things easier, or just print it out and call it a day!
Here is a preview:
And here is the free PDF download:
How to Talk to Your Players
Ideally, you can have this form sent out before your session 0 so that the group rules can be gone over on the day of.
Sometimes people don’t like to share their particular warnings because judgment can come from it, so having them fill it out as a group is not always great. Individually filled out and handed in to the game master, who can then state all the rules as a package is the best way to go.
When starting the group rules, state them as fact and irrefutable to play at the table,
here is an example:
“For this game, there will be absolutely no harm to children, gaslighting, or eating disorders brought up. We will all be careful around the subjects of racism and transphobia, everything else is fair game”
In conclusion, having a consent form is a great addition to any RPG whether it be DND, Pathfinders, Star Wars, Marvel, or any other game involving roleplay and group activities.
If you have a sweet story or ideas on how to implement it into your game, please comment below! We love to hear from you!