Ugh! Please just no.

For various reasons, some people have difficulty handling specific themes, situations, or individual details which arise during role-playing games. I can easily accept how this sort of occurrence might come up either with advance warning or unexpectedly during the course of play, suddenly turning someone's experience from light and enjoyable to awkward or anxiety-inducing.

The issue has been discussed for years within various RPG communities, with different solutions proposed. But in recent months a few specific posts (by Cass Kat, Emmy Allen & Scrap Princess) have helped me sort out a few thoughts on the subject.

There are three main "tools" I'm aware of that have been used in the past to help people avoid or deal with these situations are:

The X Card - Literally a card with an X which is displayed when an uncomfortable or problem situation arises.  This is a cue to stop play and discuss or and work through or bypass the elements causing a problem.  The primary p…

Paragons & Pantheons

Disclaimer: Any views indicated here are from my own amateurish lay study of the subjects. Please consult an appropriate theologian or appropriate lore source for more accurate information on real-world religious and cultural beliefs and practices.

On Twitter Kiel Chenier asked:

One thing I struggle to do in #dnd5e is use gods effectively.
Gods and pantheons never really interested me. Chalk it up to growing up around abusive zealots. As a consequence I often use fantasy religion as an evil force in my rpg writing, which feels limiting now.
How fix?

In response Erik Jensesn suggested:
Hang out with some people of faith (who you get along with) who don't have those same scars and chat about how their religious practice intersects their daily living.

As someone "of faith" who has been largely insulated throughout my early life from abusive zealots, this is something I've struggled with myself over the years, at least in the way that D&D clearic-type-magic works.  It pr…

Tales of the Space Princess - AP Report: Space Port Hassle

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Starship Yesterday I finally got around to running a session of John Stater's Tales of the Space Princess for my wife, daughter (10) and son (8). Although my son lost interest about a third of the way through (sitting still was not going well), in other regards it was probably among the best games I'd ever run. My wife laughed probably the hardest I've heard in a quite awhile.

Player characters had been generated months in advance.  They included:
Chednaa Human Psychic (Wife)Star Llama a Llamoid Alien Scoundrel (Daughter)Fire the Freeze or Freeze the Fire a sentient, chair-sized, burning block of ice, also a Star Warrior (Son) The scenario itself was created as an afterthought to a pirate base raid adventure I'd written notes for earlier.  But after detailing how the pirate scenario would run, I realized it might be best to have an earlier scenario to establish some key setting details and background.  Which led me to more hasti…

Space Opera RPGs - Compiled List

Due to discussion on a recent G+ thread, I felt a compulsion to wrack my brains and hard drive to piece together a list of every "Space Opera" role-playing game I could think of. Whether or not many folks find it useful in the long run, I feel some lingering urge has been exorcised through the process.

Games indicated here tend to include one or more of the following elements:

Significant part of the action takes place in space.Regular interstellar travel aboard space ships is a key feature.Travel, politics, exploration, war, and/or trade between different planets a key feature.Aliens play a significant part. Link to the list itself follows:
Space Opera RPGs List

Full Parsec Five - A Minimal d6 / Miso-Six setting

Awhile back now, Ann (of DIY & Dragons) and I were chatting about Traveller RPG character creation, specifically the fact that players can roll a result that ends in character death during creation. Traditionally, at that point one starts the character creation process over again.

But what if, we speculated, you did not start with a new living character?  What if rolling death merely changed the focus of the game? A series of adventures with undead astronauts in a dark secondary universe took place?

We were both intrigued by the idea, but (to me at least) it seemed like the sort of thing that could take a lot of work and an entire setting to flesh out. And, at the time, due to other commitments, didn't find much time to pursue it further.

But every now and then I'd jot down a couple notes about the sort of elements one might find in such a basement-universe setting. The results gradually became influenced probably less by Traveller and more other favorite space opera and …

Orcs, Evil, etc. (Part 2)

(continued from Part 1)

. . . but that was Tolkien's world.

There does seem a strong trend in the current era of trying to humanize the Other. In a lot of senses I think this is a good impulse. I suspect that viewing other living creatures (and people in particular) as having more than just a material value, makes one take a greater interest in creating and maintaining beneficial institutions. Empathizing with those not like oneself and feeling some bond of fellowship is both important in society and provides interesting narrative opportunities.

In the real world I feel we need to love and respect other humans, even treat animals well. But I always feel a little cautious about ascribing such human traits to non-humans.  In the real world I think many folks make a distinction:
Human: Intelligent. Capable of culture, self-reflection, empathy and caring. Is inherently worthy of some measure of respect.Animal: Less intelligent. Culture? Self-reflection? Empathy? Maybe worthy of affecti…

Orcs, Evil, etc. (Part 1)

Emmy Allen's posting about Orcs, Violence and Evil, got me thinking about this issue again.
So the following is probably less a response, and more a bunch of rambling thoughts inspired by it. Also, though I've read Lord of the Rings again recently, her Tolkien lore rating (and your own, dear reader) may be higher than mine, so with a grain of salt:

Big "E" Evil as Emmy's post characterizes it is a rare thing innate to certain alien non-person entities: a monomania or existential necessity for specific innately destructive or corrupting concepts, similar to other beings of alien mindset or more akin to elemental forces. I find this idea interesting, and have enjoyed stories where this was the case in the past. But reading the post gave me an urge to do a more in-depth compare and contrast of the idea against how evil and personhood appear in the Lord of the Rings trilogy itself.

Few of the powerful supernatural beings in LotR quite start out as monomaniacal alien/d…