X-Cards


  • Pitcrew

    Tabletop / convention gaming concept that's starting to work its way into the games themselves:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1SB0jsx34bWHZWbnNIVVuMjhDkrdFGo1_hSC2BWPlI3A/edit

    It's pretty interesting, and I wonder about ways to apply it in the hobby. We do it already with RP prefs in some ways and consent in other places, but this is a different-ish approach. Maybe.



  • @Sunny

    While curious what others have to say, I lean towards a no means no harassment policy on my games. Recent games I spell it out directly, if someone says no, drop it. Any further pursuit of whatever it is will not be tolerated. I don't know if having some X flag to raise would make it easier than saying no giving its text based environment, but curious. Like some xflag pc=reason (so that is sends a message anonymously to other PC, someone in the current scene is not comfortable with reason).

    Inversely, as there is a larger social group involved, if the rest of the group wants to continue, can the flag raiser be suggested that the scene may not be suitable given that more is planned?

    Or like warnings on a scene (or in a posted event), I start something and +scene/flag Rated R for violence, drug use, suicide, whatever?



  • I'm not entirely sure how I feel about it.

    What if I advertise up front 'This plot will have a lot of horror elements including gore, gun violence,......' (or similar)

    And midway through the plot, someone X-cards stuff that was advertised up front and is baked into the plot? That they agreed to?

    I mean the few times I've had to say 'hey I didn't realize this was going to trigger something for me, can we scale back how graphic it's being posed please?' (The most recent example I can think of, I had no way of knowing the scene was going to include that particular trigger at the outset) people were happy to oblige and I think by and far most people are.

    But I feel like adding on something that says 'the instant you use this everything that was going on noted by the card must stop and/or be negated' is almost like handing people a 'get out of jail free' when we already have, as stated, RP prefs,most STs do state what their plots include, and most people are happy to downplay how things are written.

    Because what if someone says 'character death' is their X card? Or 'losing'? Well you've baked in that it is applied no questions asked and we all know people out there who are.....wildly upset by losing in any way.

    I can see how this is a great concept for things like D&D Adventures or cons where you're going in blind to a scenario and/or gaming group. But for MUs were looking at a different environment.



  • @Sunny My tabletop group has used an X Card for a little over a year, now. Nobody's ever utilized it yet but it's a really, really nice guard-rail to have.

    The agreement there is that the group moves on to a new topic, though. Not that the person drawing the X Card does. I'm not real sure about how best to adapt it to larger gameplay. It would be cool to!

    An anonymous alert system could be interesting. IIII can't personally imagine rping explicit violence, drug use, suicide, sexual themes etc without already having confirmed those involved are comfortable with it.



  • I will say I've RPed drug use a fair bit but it's always a 'read the room' thing for sure. And I've generally been sure, for characters who have problems with drugs to put it in +finger (if the option is provided) that 'hey this is a thing it might come up let me know if it is an issue'

    Only once did that ever present an issue. I recall running into someone who tried demanding that I shouldn't be allowed to RP it, period, (whether around them or not) because they had a family member who had drug issues. Which, I sympathize, but while I'll gladly keep it off screen while playing with you I'm not gonna sanitize my whole char (or be pleased that they kept paging to preach/rant at me and another PC who was similar to mine) because you demanded it.

    Anyway. That I guess is my other concern. What would be the reach of such cards on a MU? Just in events? In any RP? Could someone use it against an entire PC concept?

    There are many things that work great in tabletop scenarios that just don't extend to MUs (and vice versa). I think this might maybe be one.


  • Pitcrew

    I am 100% in agreement that it would not / should not directly translate. I think the conversation is worth having, though. Thanks for the opinions / perspectives so far, folks! I find it a really interesting topic, especially to see where other people stand with comfort levels.


  • Pitcrew

    I vaguely recall us having a thread about this or a similar tabletop system maybe a year or two ago? I seem to remember it also being a decent conversation. I don't ever think it's a bad thing for people to discuss ways to enhance player comfort while also balancing matters with story integrity and the like. I'm generally great at digging up old threads, but I'm having trouble thinking of how to even start searching for that one.



  • @Roz said in X-Cards:

    I'm generally great at digging up old threads, but I'm having trouble thinking of how to even start searching for that one.

    This one? (I used 'trigger' as the search term.)



  • I have always said that MUSHing is more like improv than tabletop gaming, and continue to believe so.

    I don’t think games need a x-card; rather, it simply needs to remind players that they can always opt-out. Unlike tabletop games, there are seldom a single person telling the story for others; however, I think players need to be reminded that if another player mentions that they are uncomfortable with a line of RP, that you should stop, take stock, and figure out how to proceed collaboratively.

    That’s how improv works. And that’s how MUSHes work.


  • Pitcrew

    @Ganymede said in X-Cards:

    That’s how improv works. And that’s how MUSHes work.

    And, more generally, how decent people work.



  • @Ganymede said in X-Cards:

    remind players that they can always opt-out.

    Or in mushing terms: It is always okay to fade to black.

    I cannot stress “always” enough.



  • I've gone back and forth with some of my game designer, con GM, and RPG friends on this. Got a lot of friends who are fans of it. Me? Eh.

    I believe that the "X" card is in antithesis to good communication and the sort of cooperation gaming needs to inspire.

    I can understand the concept of people not wanting to make a fuss about content that doesn't make them uncomfortable, but ultimately I view the use of the X-card as a "sign of the times" in terms of negative social control mechanisms.

    Gaming groups should:

    • Communicate beforehand which topics aren't welcome in the gaming group (as to know which subject matter shouldn't be in the module at all)
    • Establish what kind of content the game is going to include, giving players who do not wish an opportunity to opt out prior to play (not every game is for you, and people are not REQUIRED to alter content preferred by the whole for a single player if they do not wish to.)
    • Communicate with each other mid-flight about content that crosses lines (because a gaming group that works on communicating with each while they play is healthy and should be encouraged)

    I think the 'X' card is more feasible for convention games (where your GM and fellow players are often strangers), but I've told my friends that I will never game with an 'X' card, even if it's a convention game that I'm running. It's not for any edgelord reason; there are a pretty reasonable number of topics that I simply won't touch in any of my games (at the very least I won't allow graphic depictions of, players to perform said actions of, or storylines focusing on them) and for good reason because those topics are just depressing.

    So why no X card/aversion to it?

    Because gaming is a social hobby, and when gaming becomes a hobby that one player can push a button and be socially entitled to wordlessly control the table, then the point of the hobby has been lost altogether.

    I think the X card sets a bad precedent. I think in some cases it negatively impacts communication, creates an environment of walking on eggshells, and in the "pie in the sky" best case scenario people will be ready and eager to adhere to the X card rule (because they love their friend), it can also result in fostering resentment due to never really communicating but living by the whims of the card.

    Human interaction isn't designed for an X-card, and I don't think gaming should ever be about GAME > COMMUNICATION.

    There are some harsh truths about gaming:

    1. Not every group is a good fit for you. That isn't always their burden.

    It's not something that I would ever do, but the reasonable part of me knows there's groups out there that wanna do the edgy stuff. In all fairness, I can't join in and hit the X card on content that's been their bread and butter up until I joined and deserve a course correction. Game is a bad fit. If by a chat they don't want to change course, then it's reasonable for me to opt out. Either way, hitting that X card is still going to result in a conversation about preferred content anyway.

    1. Open-Invite games SHOULD be upfront upon what content is allowed or present in the night of gaming, and regular groups should be establishing boundaries.

    Good GMs and players should post what kind of content to expect. This gives gamers an opportunity to assess whether or not the game is a good fit for them before joining. If the game lists potential content that's unacceptable to you? Best you can do is ask for details or ask if they can alter. Every gaming group should (on session 0) discuss no-go points before the game begins, which would establish what gets put in a content post on a game invite. V5 has a great section on this.

    Discussing these things builds comfort and communication.

    I'll stop it at 2, but my angle is pretty clear. It's 2am and I'm probably doing the broken record thing. All in all I'm simply not comfortable with any social situation where everyone gets a random button that'll shock some figurative "invisible fence dog collar" around my neck to snap me into whatever their preferred form of propriety is. Wanna talk and communicate? Great. If you prefer not to communicate and just wanna go with the figurative "invisible fence dog collar" option? Then you're not a good fit at my table.

    It's not a matter of triggering, but the expected social control mechanism that I dislike.

    (Edit: Jesus wtf that longer than it felt like)
    (Edit2: thatswhatshesaid)



  • Also:

    I agree that mushing kind of has X-card policies written into it, which is probably for the better given that most of the time this stuff isn't actual tabletop gaming, but creative writing with strangers. Strangers can be weird; doubly so with the anonymity factor.

    The x-card itself is more designed for in-person TT RPG/OTT games and convention games. It's been getting heavy use as a "fuck that" button in response to plenty of complaints of con GMs perving on female players or creeping on them through IC content.



  • I see what you’re saying, Ghost, but you are mixing apples and oranges.

    The x-card appears to be suggested for con-games, where there are plenty of strangers getting together for a session. You don’t really have that time to team-build and communicate the expectations. The x-card is a great policy for game stores that are trying to draw interest from newcomers. That’s where its strength lies.

    I concur that it is not a substitute for effective communication over time, but it is an excellent idea to draw in a new crowd.



  • @Ganymede Oh, I probably should have clarified that my game industry buddies out here (and a number of other) advocate for the use of X-Cards in both con games AND in-person coffee table RPG night games.

    V5 also mentioned the x-card as an option, IIRC.



  • I will say this in favor of the X card idea: I've asked my players what they wanted and didn't want to see. The words they used were almost the opposite of what they meant, and in their case they would not of used an X card option when I thought they would. The reverse will hold true: people may not know until it happens that something will affect them. Removing the barrier of explanation or prior (every topic ever discussed) consent means you keep peoples health in the fore.

    Online, there are many many more options, and at minimum, I think it fair to ask to alter content, or ask to be excused from the particulars, or completely if things go off the rails.


  • Pitcrew

    If you were to use something similar on game, if the concern is that one person might derail a whole scene were topics were disclosed in advance, why not tool it as something that a player can signal a no-harm-no-foul you guys are awesome but I need to exit (without worrying about offending the others)?

    I know that we have had FTB for years, but there can be some negative assumptions and comments that result (or people THINK that there will be, because of past experiences). I have said before I think most problems of discomfort and communication breakdowns tend to happen because people do not know how to exit quickly and graciously (or accept another's exit). Maybe this would help if adopted into the culture.



  • @mietze said in X-Cards:

    why not tool it as something that a player can signal a no-harm-no-foul you guys are awesome but I need to exit

    There's a pretty strong "RL First" mantra in the hobby. Simply saying "Hey guys I've gotta step out" works well.



  • We do already kinda have this as a 'page the GM' kind of thing, if someone wants to make a quiet exit without speaking up to all and sundry.

    p GM=This is hitting an RL limit for me due to <X>. I'd like an out this round, via <Reasonably Possible Y, ex: 'hears a noise outside to investigate and will meet up with the party later', 'is knocked out and carried home by the others', 'gets an emergency call from Bob and must go', etc.> if at all possible.


  • Pitcrew

    There are definitely other ways to do it, though as a potential new tool was being discussed, I thought I'd weigh in.


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