How to avoid RPG dumpster fires like the Far Verona controversy

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I don't deny that it might be possible to "trigger" someone at some point. But then again, I don't disagree that the real and more serious problem is that it was crass and distasteful. And so far as I can tell, no one was actually "triggered" by this incident - they found it crass and distasteful.

You're not correct. The statement put out by the player who was the target of the exchange shows the scene hit her VERY hard - not that it was just crass and distasteful.
 

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Aebir-Toril

100100101010
Does this type of situation occur often at the tables of others? I have never incorporated sexual violence into a single campaign, and neither have my DMs/GMs. Is this a normal thing?
 
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Celebrim

Legend
You're not correct. The statement put out by the player who was the target of the exchange shows the scene hit her VERY hard - not that it was just crass and distasteful.

I have watched her statement. And "hit her VERY hard" is not the same as being triggered. If a friend who I trusted got creepy with me and ruined a game I was enjoying, it would "hit me VERY hard". It would not "trigger" me. If my boss hit on me or sexually harassed me at work, it would be a very difficult and emotional experience. It would not "trigger" me.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Does this type of situation occur often at the tables of others? I have never incorporated sexual violence into a single campaign, and neither have my DMs/GMs. Is this a normal thing?

Guys creeping on pretty girls? Pretty common.

Actually incorporating sexual violence into a game? I would hope that it is rare, but there are a lot of high profile incidents.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I have watched her statement. And "hit her VERY hard" is not the same as being triggered. If a friend who I trusted got creepy with me and ruined a game I was enjoying, it would "hit me VERY hard". It would not "trigger" me. If my boss hit on me or sexually harassed me at work, it would be a very difficult and emotional experience. It would not "trigger" me.

sigh why on earth are you hair splitting to such an inane degree?

But since you insist:

The player in question was also a prior victim of sexual assault. This situation could have very easily acted as a trauma trigger for the prior occurrence and therefore fully qualifies in the clinical sense.

But wether this qualifies as an honest to got trigger? Who cares, the act/situation itself is more than enough of a problem on its own terms/merits. It needs to be highlighted to and pointed to as a prime example of what not to do in a game.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Saying virtually anything becomes dangerous if you don't do it wisely or with precautions is a meaningless statement. Getting six of your buddies together to run through Castle Ravenloft, to troubleshoot for friend Computer, or prevent the Camarilla from sinking its fangs into your city is exceedingly unlikely to cause harm to any of the participants.

You are talking about what is "likely". As if you have a handle on what happens at hundreds of thousands of tables around the world? Care to tell us how you got this handle?

You say this, in a thread which starts with an example of harm. Kind of puts a hole in your position when it is right there.

How many women have to talk about sexual harassment at games before you consider it "likely" harm? Not that they are the only people who can be hurt, but it is the example the thread is about.

On the other hand, American football is an inherently dangerous activity where participants are commonly subjected to contusions or abrasions during the normal course of play.

In professional and college football, those guys are not at play. They are at work. Yes, there is risky work in the world.

In the video, the speaker mentions that play of RPGs involves making oneself vulnerable. He's entirely correct in that. And, by definition an activity in which one becomes vulnerable, one is at higher risk of harm, and so RPGs do have some inherent risk to them. It isn't risk of traumatic brain injury, but there's a lot of harm in the world that isn't about crushing bones.
 

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Does this type of situation occur often at the tables of others? I have never incorporated sexual violence into a single campaign, and neither have my DMs/GMs. Is this a normal thing?

It happened to me, once, thirty years ago. With the single dumbest DM I've ever had the displeasure of playing with.

I played with another DM who would have tried it on with me if he knew how badly it would have bothered me. Thankfully, I got sick of his crap before he escalated to a point that would have severe consequences for both of us.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Adam's not any thing close to an idiot who burns money. This was planned and probably coordinated by the group.

Mod Note:

Your unfounded claim that folks were complicit in publicly staging an incident of harassment for profit is not acceptable. At all. You will not be posting in this thread again. Have us catch you making such a claim again, and you will not be posting on this site.

This is to make it 100% clear to everyone - groundless accusations that folks are fabricating rape, assault, or harrassment incidents will not be tolerated on this site.
 

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
I really have no desire to fight, but I think the whole "triggered" argument is mostly a strawman. Mostly, because sure, it does actually happen that some one has some sort of PTSD and can in fact be triggered in the clinical sense, but that mostly that word is appropriated to describe a wide range of much milder emotions with varying levels of discomfort and which even when great don't involve something that involves a clinical or medical condition. As such, use of the term is a sort of appropriation that ultimately detracts from the understanding of the real suffering of a very small percentage of people, while at the same time serving as a way to claim moral high ground on the issue in a lovely, "Shut up! How dare you!" sort of way.

And, as evidence of that, I'd like to point out that so far as I can tell no real triggering was involved in this controversy and it's dominance of the conversation while complete ignoring what actually happened here is well par for the course. And heck, "triggered" has become such a part of the vernacular now that it is used to refer to all sorts of things.

The players at the table found the whole situation awkward, distasteful, and unpleasant to the extent that GM lost, rightly I think, all the trust he had from his players. What he did was in a word, "creepy". That in itself is sufficient grounds to suggest it was wrong. There are lots of other ways in which I find it wrong, that I won't go into here. But what I didn't notice going on was anyone being "triggered".

If feel "triggered" has become the sort of thing that shows up for the same reason Godwin's Law has such predictive power. If it's the only thing in your toolbox for describing harm, then that's what you reach for. It doesn't actually reflect what is really going on 99.99% of the time. And for all those cases where harm happened but it wasn't a "triggering" event, it rather misses the point.

Deliberately sometimes.

I just typed a long response, but realized that if you haven't been persuaded by the very public debate, mostly in recent years, then I'm not going to accomplish anything with a forum post.
 

I didn't watch the video but I did read the article, which was well-written. I'm glad that the ideas of trust and power were made central.

I do think that when we roleplay, because it is often desirable to evoke an alternate perspective as authentically as possible, we may sometimes enter a kind of liminal or non-normative state of consciousness. Things which we experience in liminal states can have unpredictable effects in normal life.

When we share an imaginary space, we need to be especially excellent to one another: we are actually all unusually vulnerable.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
I have watched her statement. And "hit her VERY hard" is not the same as being triggered. If a friend who I trusted got creepy with me and ruined a game I was enjoying, it would "hit me VERY hard". It would not "trigger" me. If my boss hit on me or sexually harassed me at work, it would be a very difficult and emotional experience. It would not "trigger" me.
Celebrim, please stop hijacking this thread. Your single-minded focus on the definition of a single word is completely unimportant here.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
@Hussar : What would I ever do without you to demonstrate?

But he has a point. You are dismissing an argument based on whether someone was triggered in a clinical sense. In the process, you make it seem like the situation was no big deal.

Never mind how this was a public performance, such that anyone in the audience who had suffered assault could well have been actually and clinically triggered...

Let us be clear - the event counts as a non-consensual verbal violation of sexual boundaries - which is commonly referred to as "sexual harassment". It is a harm.

Continuing to worry about the technical term in light of that looks like a deflection.
 

So I’m a fan of Adam’s and I’m really surprised that he let this go so bad. I haven’t seen the actual incident, just the bit of leadup to it. Is anyone able to summarize the actual in play situation?

I’m asking not to challenge how it could be categorized as a fictional instance of assault (enough people have taken it as such that challenging that seems a bit silly) but rather to try and understand how Adam may have thought this was different than it was taken. I’m curious of the fictional circumstances.

I’ve no doubt he’s learned from this and will continue to learn, but I also hope he’s given the chance. I feel like he’s a pretty thoughtful guy who happened to misjudge and make a mistake in this instance. I don’t think he needs to be silenced forever.

I imagine the fact that this was a stream and one of MANY that Adam does is part of the situation...the need to push boundaries a bit and produce more provocative play is gonna be a concern for someone who does this for a living the way he does. But for those of us playing in private games online or in a shop or at home...it really is easy: you just avoid such topics. You don’t allow them to come up in the game.
 

Unfortunately, yes. Last time it happened when I was a player was some time ago, when I was in my early 20s. We weren't articulate enough to say "we're not okay with this," but we did all say that that person never gets to DM ever again.

And on the other side, yes, there absolutely are weirdo players out their that try to introduce sexualized content/violence in games where no one else is on board with it.

There have been some high-profile incidents, but assuredly there's still plenty of tables where that sort of thing goes on outside the public eye. We've gotten better as a hobby, but there will always be work to do.

Does this type of situation occur often at the tables of others? I have never incorporated sexual violence into a single campaign, and neither have my DMs/GMs. Is this a normal thing?
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
So I’m a fan of Adam’s and I’m really surprised that he let this go so bad. I haven’t seen the actual incident, just the bit of leadup to it. Is anyone able to summarize the actual in play situation?

I’m asking not to challenge how it could be categorized as a fictional instance of assault (enough people have taken it as such that challenging that seems a bit silly) but rather to try and understand how Adam may have thought this was different than it was taken. I’m curious of the fictional circumstances.

Adam has always struck me as a great DM who puts A LOT of thought into his craft, he's actually spoken, quite extensively, about how to avoid the very thing that happened!

To summarize:

A (female) player's Male PC android is injured and goes to a mechanic he knows/trusts to fix him up. The mechanic instead isolates him from the rest of the group and sexually assaults him through essentially plugging him into a machine and simulating a sex act(sorry I'm being a bit vague - not 100% sure of the rules for this on this forum).

The incident seemed very premeditated and planned out by Adam - he was giggling and laughing throughout, like he thought it was a big joke. The players (especially the one this was happening to) appeared shocked and uncomfortable, like they were clearly NOT expecting this scenario.

I’ve no doubt he’s learned from this and will continue to learn, but I also hope he’s given the chance. I feel like he’s a pretty thoughtful guy who happened to misjudge and make a mistake in this instance. I don’t think he needs to be silenced forever.

I imagine the fact that this was a stream and one of MANY that Adam does is part of the situation...the need to push boundaries a bit and produce more provocative play is gonna be a concern for someone who does this for a living the way he does. But for those of us playing in private games online or in a shop or at home...it really is easy: you just avoid such topics. You don’t allow them to come up in the game.

It is just shocking to me that a DM of Adam's experience and (apparent) awareness would pull something like this. It's pretty simple, if such a controversial scenario hasn't been discussed and expressly ok'd - JUST DON"T DO IT.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
I didn't watch the video but I did read the article, which was well-written. I'm glad that the ideas of trust and power were made central.

I do think that when we roleplay, because it is often desirable to evoke an alternate perspective as authentically as possible, we may sometimes enter a kind of liminal or non-normative state of consciousness. Things which we experience in liminal states can have unpredictable effects in normal life.

When we share an imaginary space, we need to be especially excellent to one another: we are actually all unusually vulnerable.

Good post!

In any game where the GM has as much control over the fiction as D&D (essentially the power) trust is absolutely essential.

Trust allows the GM to really build fun scenarios for the players with them buying in fully because they know the trust will be rewarded with a fun play experience.'

An incident like this shatters that trust and any idea of a future fun play experience is gone. Especially in a venue like the one here - where the GM and the players all have hundreds of thousands of followers!
 

Aebir-Toril

100100101010
Unfortunately, yes. Last time it happened when I was a player was some time ago, when I was in my early 20s. We weren't articulate enough to say "we're not okay with this," but we did all say that that person never gets to DM ever again.

And on the other side, yes, there absolutely are weirdo players out their that try to introduce sexualized content/violence in games where no one else is on board with it.

There have been some high-profile incidents, but assuredly there's still plenty of tables where that sort of thing goes on outside the public eye. We've gotten better as a hobby, but there will always be work to do.
This strikes me as very odd, because I've always seen RPGs played more for the blood and glory than any element of sexual violence. But, I suppose people will incorporate whatever they wish, and will have to deal with the consequences.
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
In professional and college football, those guys are not at play. They are at work. Yes, there is risky work in the world.

In the video, the speaker mentions that play of RPGs involves making oneself vulnerable. He's entirely correct in that. And, by definition an activity in which one becomes vulnerable, one is at higher risk of harm, and so RPGs do have some inherent risk to them. It isn't risk of traumatic brain injury, but there's a lot of harm in the world that isn't about crushing bones.

Just to highlight this - the analogy is apt - because the people in this video are not really "at play" either.

Each one is a professional streamer, most with hundreds of thousands of followers. They are (as you point out in a later post) doing performance art.

That's why (sorry if repeating myself) I'm both 1) stunned that a GM of this caliber would pull something like this especially in such a public setting, but 2) happy that the incident seems to be getting the attention it deserves with the clear consensus of WOW is this not ok and how do we ensure it doesn't happen.
 

Celebrim

Legend
But he has a point. You are dismissing an argument based on whether someone was triggered in a clinical sense. In the process, you make it seem like the situation was no big deal.

No, that's the exact opposite of what I did. What I actually argued is that things could in fact be a very big deal, even if no one was actually triggered in a clinical sense.

Your characterization of what I wrote is libelous.
 

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