Considerate play

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What is considerate play?

Considerate play is a step the Storyteller and players alike can take to ensure that everyone is having a good time while playing the game. It gives everyone the ability to safely voice their concerns, draw hardlines on topics they do not wish to have represented in the game, and overall enjoy their experience. It also gives them a way to immediately halt a scene when things are becoming too unsafe for them and allow them to take a moment to breathe. Players and Storytellers are not required to explain why certain topics might bother them and the following suggested techniques allow for that.

Why should it be used?

Vampires are predators and have been used as a metaphor for human predation since John Polidori's story The Vampyre was published in 1819. The World of Darkness in itself is a dark story that can encompass hard topics. Characters might seduce, bully, dominate, or otherwise downright force humans to do things against their will and without consent. Feeding itself can be akin to sexual assault, especially when considering the inherently sexual nature of the bite and the methods which the majority of vampires use to coerce their victims to bare their necks. When creating a table it's recommended to discuss the topics both the players and Storytellers are uncomfortable with. Setting hard lines down during session 0 to ensure everyone has a safe and enjoyable time while playing no matter the darkness of the game's content. Of course, in any game, players should not use this to get around antagonists. However, they can use this to set rules and boundaries about certain powers, dynamics, or other elements of play that while may exist in the canon of the game, they are uncomfortable being the victim of or simply witnessing.

Etiquette of player versus player

Traditional TTRPGs are usually player versus environment (PVE), however in a game built upon undead intrigue player characters may conflict with each other. Players may benefit from discussing in advance how to handle situations such as this by setting the guidelines of what they are comfortable with and what they are not between players. Questions if characters are allowed to do whatever they want to other characters within the coterie or if there are limits to what can and cannot be done is suggested. It's important to ensure what happens in-game between characters does not bleed into real life relationships and cause strain between players.[1]

Helpful techniques

Lines and Veils is one tool that can help know the boundaries of everyone playing. Before the game begins, the Storyteller should prepare two sheets of paper one titled Lines and another Veils. Lines are things that players do not wish to be touched on during the game and are intended to never happen or be mentioned. Veils are something that can happen during the game but will not be played out. Both Lines and Veils can be removed (with everyone's consent), moved from one group to the other, and additional ones added at any time. When the veils are met they should be addressed with a "fade to black". Fade to black is where rather than playing out the scene's duration, it is cut short. The events that occur during this scene should be agreed upon by all parties, but the details are not required. Players should consider requesting to fade to black when confronting a topic or situation that they are uncomfortable with.

It is useful to have a system in place when playing where players can express their opinions of the ongoing scenes, this is called the Stoplight System. This works by having three different paper circles on the table in the colors green, yellow, and red. Players can tap the papers or speak the color out loud to express their comfort levels. Green indicates the player is ok with the current scene and encourages it to become more intense. Yellow indicates that they are fine with its current level but do not wish for it to increase in intensity. Finally, red states that the scene is too intense and the player may need to tap out if the scene does not decrease in intensity. Storytellers can also ask if players are comfortable or would like to request more intensity by tapping the colors themselves repeatedly and waiting for a response in turn. In a similar fashion to the stoplight system, there is the X-card which is a piece of paper with an "X" drawn on it. If someone touches them during the game, that means they are requesting to halt the current action as it is making them uncomfortable in a bad way.

A technique from the LARP community known as the Ok Check-In is also another great tool to have. This system doesn't require papers or anything else other than a small hand sign. When a Storyteller or another player wishes to check in on someone, they make an OK symbol with their fingers. The person being checked in on will respond with a thumbs up if everything is great, a hand wiggle if they are so-so and a thumbs down if they are not good and/or wish the scene to stop. If anything other than a thumbs up is given, the scene should pause and/or be adjusted so the responder can take a moment to breathe.

Another useful technique that can be used, even if the other techniques are not, is to have debriefings after each session. Where the Storyteller and players can discuss the last session out-of-character and it is recommended to do so from the third person perspective instead of the first person. Here they can wind down, discuss and clarify things that happened and have a moment to breathe. It is recommended to have a debriefing, especially after a particularly intense session has just occurred.

The last and final technique to be mentioned is The Door is Always Open. In cases where a player needs to stop playing for any reason, they can do so after informing the Storyteller they are leaving. The session should be paused until the player returns or leaves the premises. Good reasons to leave a session early could be others ignoring the techniques everyone agreed to use, prior engagements, family or personal emergencies, feeling sick or panicked, discomforts being ignored after being discussed, out-of-character discomforts such as extended arguments or hostility, or simply feeling this isn't the experience that one signed up for. Storytellers should also remember that at any time they can stop a session, the Storyteller role takes on a lot of emotional labor, and if a group is unwilling or unable to acknowledge the toll it can take. It may be better for the storyteller to take a break or stop running the table entirely. [2]

Game concepts
Beginner's guide Vampire: The MasqueradeConsiderate playOfficial TTRPG sources
Character creation Merits and FlawsCoterie Backgrounds and MeritsLoresheetsPredator typesMortals and ghouls
Quick references Hunger systemResonanceHumanityIndex
Clans Banu HaqimBrujahGangrelCaitiffHecataLasombraMalkavianThe MinistryNosferatuRavnosSalubriToreadorTremereTzimisceVentrueThin-blood
Disciplines AnimalismAuspexBlood SorceryBlood Sorcery RitualsCelerityDominateFortitudeObfuscateOblivionOblivion CeremoniesPotencePresenceProteanThin-Blood Alchemy
Factions CamarillaAnarchCults
Antagonists Second InquisitionSabbat

References