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D&D 5E Content Warning Labels? Yeah or Nay?

I've largely been ignoring the line of discussion going on in this thread, but I’m just going to say it’s feeling a lot like hyperbole and slippery slope arguments are being used as an excuse to disregard the feelings of others based on a position of privilege.

I find such display of arguments extremely unhelpful to the discussion, and now bordering on the toxic. This thread is about how to best utilize and display content warnings when taking into account the experiences and feelings of others, and if your position is to not only argue against them (or take some hyperbolic position of having them everywhere or nowhere), but to also imply blaming others for taking away your fun, then I heard your position and considered it, and decided this discussion probably isn’t for you, and I’d kindly ask to stop derailing.

I want to be very clear it is my opinion that gamers who push the buttons of a sensitive topic they know a player has just to be edgy is harmful to our hobby, and has no place in it. As an indie publisher, I’m going to ensure none of my products endorse or support that. Players picking up DnD should not have the assumption they are giving implied consent to subject their PCs to grotesque or obscene content any more than a person watching a general thriller movie gives implies consent they are OK with watching SAW. That’s what content warnings are for
Real simple:

Content warning labels on all D&D canon: OK, so be it.
Censoring one word of the legacy content of D&D: Bad, very very bad.
 

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AcererakTriple6

Autistic DM (he/him)
Who is threatening to rewrite D&D???
No one. It's both a strawman and tilting at windmills to see content warning labels as anything more than something that could be helpful to other people, but if they aren't for you, that's perfectly fine and doesn't invalidate anyone else's experiences with it. Content Warning Labels are on the same level as Movie Ratings. Having a movie be "Rated PG-13" or "Rated R" based on the content in the movie isn't some condemnation of the movie, or harmful to people. It just helps people avoid movies that they probably don't want to see based on the rating.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Why do I get so riled up? Because I am not an idiot. I read every day more nonsense in the real world. It has been made clear not to talk real world politics here. But I see real world nonsense bleed more and more into my hobby, like a cancer, every day. We can dance around what the real issue all we like. We are not allowed to talk about it. But I grow more tired of the "tyranny of the minority", or the "tyranny of the weak" every day.
You might consider that it is you and your "traditions and roots" that are the minority in the hobby now.
Yet despite that, you've noted that your personal game hasn't been affected. So... yay! Right?

D&D has evolved, gamers are vastly more diverse now, and that's healthy for the hobby and everyone in it.
There is no "tyranny". You're perfectly free to play as you always have, with whomever will put up with you, on whatever terms your table decides. Meanwhile, everyone else will do it their way.
And everyone will continue to play happy!
Yay!
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I would rather have warning labels than have content be unavailable. This is mostly for older material on pdf I suppose . They were products of their time.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Why do I get so riled up? Because I am not an idiot. I read every day more nonsense in the real world. It has been made clear not to talk real world politics here. But I see real world nonsense bleed more and more into my hobby, like a cancer, every day. We can dance around what the real issue all we like. We are not allowed to talk about it. But I grow more tired of the "tyranny of the minority", or the "tyranny of the weak" every day.
You call it "tyranny of the minority", or the "tyranny of the weak", but really, it’s just empathy and consideration of others.

Think of it as one application of The Golden Rule (“treat others as you would like to be treated”). It’s a hallmark of most major world religions and ethical frameworks. It’s also a virtue to protect those who need protecting.

It’s not virtuous to insist others suffer for our convenience, or worse, enjoyment.

Games are meant to be fun. Content warnings allow gamers (or their legal guardians) of all ages to make informed choices about whether certain products would be appropriate or fun for them. Like the aforementioned movie ratings or explicit lyrics labels, there’s no guarantee that flagging the content will result in the content disappering.
 
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Galandris

Foggy Bottom Campaign Setting Fan
You might consider that it is you and your "traditions and roots" that are the minority in the hobby now.
Yet despite that, you've noted that your personal game hasn't been affected. So... yay! Right?

D&D has evolved, gamers are vastly more diverse now, and that's healthy for the hobby and everyone in it.
There is no "tyranny". You're perfectly free to play as you always have, with whomever will put up with you, on whatever terms your table decides. Meanwhile, everyone else will do it their way.
And everyone will continue to play happy!
Yay!

I totally agree with you. TTRPG are a mainstream hobby. The term entered common usage, we do RPGs at job interviews and nobody wonders what sort of strange thing this will be, RPG videogames sells very well and certainly helped the hobby to get "mainstream acceptance". At this point, like any hobby (books, films, apparently songs in certain countries as I learned in this thread), it needs a way to help consumers to make an informed decision whether to buy, or to use, certain type of content. Is your table G or NC-17? That's a genuine concern and one content warning solve perfectly with no detriment to anyone (unless bizarre horror stories of book where content warning would be on every page, but I think it's hyperbole and never actually happened). It's just a warning and doesn't detract from anyone. It also helps content producers to keep producing content for a specific audience without fear of bad repercussion because of any potential mismatch between the expectation of the audience and the creative input of the author. I'd much prefer to be able to see Gustave Courbet's L'origine du monde (do not google it if you are sensitive to explicit nudity) rather than having the world deprived of such a masterpiece because poor Gustave would self-censor thinking "I might get banned from social media with this painting, I'd rather paint a kid-friendly cartoon cat". With a content warning, everyone gets what he wants and it maximizes the overall enjoyment of everyone while minimizing detriment to anyone. How can it not be the best thing to have?

On the other hand, the poster you're replying to was asked in this thread how he would deal with a player expressing concern about element X in his game, and from what I understood of his answer was that he'd say "Element X is staying, but you're free to leave, my narrative is most important to me" and he was mocked about that. I am guilty of it by association since I liked the post that mocked it, because it was funnily worded. So, while I agree that content warning are very good to help players know what a book entails and avoid it if it doesn't fit their particular preference and have absolutely zero negative impact on everyone else, so it's a considerate net positive, it's not totally exact to say "you're perfectly free to play as you always have with whomever will put up with you", since his behavior for selecting players is shamed at the same time. When someone is told "you're free to do X, but you'll be a [insert negative adjective] if you do", he's isn't perfectly free to do X, he's shamed out of doing X by implying a moral fault if he continues to do X. This shaming behaviour will of course have the negative effect of widening the gap between the two positions on the debate and doesn't help to reach the conclusion where "everyone will continue to play happy", which requires in this case (a) content warnings to be accepted by everyone (b) no implication of superiority either from the people who won't use them (eg. no "I am more mature than you") nor from the people who will use them (eg. no "I am more moral than you") in the discussion. Of course, everyone is free to think whatever he wants of someone who prefers to have less friends than removing a minor element of his storytelling, but I think these thoughts are better left unexpressed in order to reach a conclusive agreement in this thread on the specific topic of content warnings, which I feel can really easily be reached.
 
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Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Why do I get so riled up? Because I am not an idiot. I read every day more nonsense in the real world. It has been made clear not to talk real world politics here. But I see real world nonsense bleed more and more into my hobby, like a cancer, every day. We can dance around what the real issue all we like. We are not allowed to talk about it. But I grow more tired of the "tyranny of the minority", or the "tyranny of the weak" every day.
A nice collection of dogwhistles there. Changing one letter to avoid use of a term is a transparent attempt to skirt the rules here. Please do not post in this thread again, and consider a more suitable location (ie not here) for rants about your perceived issues with modern culture.
 

Honestly, it's the one thing that Palladium Books did right.

They did those warning labels and had a cool picture.

Not only did it get a lot of the Satanic Panic crowd off their back, but it also acted as branding.
 

Jahydin

Explorer
Honestly, it's the one thing that Palladium Books did right.

They did those warning labels and had a cool picture.

Not only did it get a lot of the Satanic Panic crowd off their back, but it also acted as branding.
Exactly what I was thinking!

I think the best "warnings" are simple, removed from the content (on front cover or first page only), and easily seen before purchase. This way you get the best of both worlds marketing wise: entices those that like that content, while also warning away those who would be offended. Parental Advisory labels are a great example of this.
 

S'mon

Legend
On the other hand, the poster you're replying to was asked in this thread how he would deal with a player expressing concern about element X in his game, and from what I understood of his answer was that he'd say "Element X is staying, but you're free to leave, my narrative is most important to me" and he was mocked about that.

I think this is as usual an issue that shouldn't be treated in absolute terms. Everyone has their red lines. Not everyone should play in every game - I agree with the Geek Social Fallacies on that. OTOH sometimes reasonable compromise is possible. I'm not going to totally change a campaign premise to suit a player, but there's usually room to do more 'fade to black' on any particular stuff. Stuff can be implied without being explicit. I definitely take player feedback on what they're comfortable with, and try to deal with cross-cultural misunderstandings. I find player age group can be an issue, eg I recall a Baby Boomer player who had not seen Game of Thrones was offended by a nasty NPC who acted like one of the characters in that show. Younger players might not get my Gen X '80s-style tropes, either. I think it best behooves everyone, player and GM alike, to show some consideration and respect for the other people playing. The GM normally takes the lead, and IMO should run the campaign that excites them, that they want to run. But the GM can also ask themselves whether controversial content X is really necessary to the campaign premise, and if so, to what extent it can be used sensitively. And players should decide whether they will enjoy the campaign premise, or if it is best to sit it out. Recognising in the latter case that they are not being victimised or excluded. I have a player, a friend, who decided he didn't want to play in my new Odyssey of the Dragonlords campaign; it's important that I don't resent his decision and that he doesn't feel excluded - the themes just didn't appeal to him. So we do other stuff together.
 


Yaarel

Mind Mage
And, if we were speaking Middle English, you'd be 100% correct. However, since Middle English is a largely dead language that virtually no one actually uses, and "Fey" is the Modern English equivalent then, it is absolutely not wrong to use the Modern English term.

What is it lately with all these bizarre arguments trying to force dead languages back into use? If a use hasn't been used in FIVE HUNDRED years, it's time to let it go.
Today, both "fay" and "fey" are Modern English words.

"Fay" means fairy, the equivalent of Middle English, fairie.

"Fey" doesnt.

It is a matter of looking a word up in a dictionary.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I'm assuming you don't insist on similar for modern English via Spanish words with origins Arabic?
The names depend on the concepts.

A fairie is a specifically British concept, and should use a British word.

If it was the French concept of faie, the French term helps, or maybe the Latin term fata.

Similarly, a transliteration of an Arabic name, as close as possible, for a creature from an Arabic speaking culture.
 



Yaarel

Mind Mage
And what ruling council determines a proper transliteration?
When it comes to Arabic, it really is up to the author. I would ignore apostrophes in English. On the other hand, I expect every Arabic speaking nation will have an official transliteration system, which its citizens may or may not tend to use. I would look up the system from where the folkbelief comes.

At the same time, I would try to make it look pronounceable to an English speaker. For example, for the sacred text, I would spell it Quran, rather than Qur’an (with glottal character) or Koran (Anglicization).
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
If it was the French concept of faie, the French term helps
well, old French, because as of now it is no longer a word that is used btw, and it meant someone who deal in herboristery and nature magic, some kind of folk healer if you want, not the magic creature itself, though I guess a Fée could be a Faie also.

If you used Faie for a creature, most of us would think its some kind of construct make of pâté de foie (liver pâté) from Belgium and north of France. :p
 

MGibster

Legend
I really don't think it's a big deal... certainly not as big of a deal as internet commentary would have us believe. Will some buyers be put off? Sure. But i think the number is orders of magnitude lower than some folks are claiming. I feel like buyers are far, far more likely to be put off by the cover art or the page count.
I can honestly say I've never been put off by content warning in a book even when I thought it was silly.
Honestly, it's the one thing that Palladium Books did right.

They did those warning labels and had a cool picture.

Not only did it get a lot of the Satanic Panic crowd off their back, but it also acted as branding.
I always thought their warning was rather amusing. And no, I don't think it got a lot of the Satanic Panic crowd off their back. Most of that crowd was completely unaware of Palladium Games' existence.
 


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