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D&D General Which movie rating would you use to describe your D&D campaigns?

Which MPAA movie rating would you use to warn folks about what to expect in your D&D campaigns?

  • Rated G - General Audiences

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance suggested

    Votes: 3 3.0%
  • Rated PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13

    Votes: 55 54.5%
  • Rated R - Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian

    Votes: 28 27.7%
  • Rated NC-17 - Adults Only

    Votes: 13 12.9%

  • Total voters
    101

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I was looking over someone's D&D campaign intro one-sheet and in the spot discussing the "lines and veils" the DM described the game as having PG-13 violence and themes, which seems like such an obvious way to rate your game's "appropriateness" for different groups (at least for Americans, I know other countries have different systems - or none at all - for rating films) but one I never considered before.

Talking it over with a friend, who like me thinks it is really important for players to know what kind of game they are getting into and what might come up, but that nevertheless lean in towards some of the horrible things that can happen in a world where people go into holes to hunt monsters, monsters emerge from holes to hunt people, and armies clash with wizards capable of calling a fire storm down on them, and the like, he said his games are more like "Rated R" and I agreed about my own game, but then wondered if some of my descriptions of violence or gore might actually be more like NC-17 (but with NC-17 leaning towards overt non-porn depictions of sex, probably not)

I think that's fine because I play with all adults who are okay with (or even prefer) that kind of grittiness and potential horror. If and when I ran the game for teens or children (or adults not down for that), the rating would be more like PG-13 or PG (though I have not run a game for kids in decades - one for a group of older HS teens in the late 90s and before that when I was a kid myself).

So I was curious how you'd rate your typical D&D campaign using movie ratings (which I understand have their own limits and problems). I am limiting the choices to one, but am more interested in any details of why you chose that rating in your post (or if you run or play in more than one game that'd have different ratings, choose one that feels "typical" and tell us about the other in your post).

For those who are unfamiliar with American movie ratings or need a refresher, here is a quick n' dirty (but not beyond "PG" dirty ;)) description:

  • Rated G = General Audiences: All ages. No or little explicit violence. No foul language. No sex. Think Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, the former of which has a group of dwarves hunting down a witch and the latter a battle with a dragon with "all the powers of hell."
  • Rated PG = Parental Guidance Suggested: Some material may not be suitable for children. But the degree of romance, violence, and intense moments of danger you might find in a Star Wars movie (esp. the original trilogy). A planet blows up, but we don't see people suffer, though a mostly bloodless arm is cut off (A New Hope), some fade to black torture (Empire), a giant space slug has an ornamental sex slave (RotJ). Hmm, actually, I wonder if some of those might have been PG-13 if that rating had existed back then. As for language, non-sexually-derived profanity is allowed in moderation. No drug use.
  • Rated PG-13 = Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13: Depictions of intense violence are permitted under the PG-13 rating, but violence that is both realistic and extreme or persistent moves it to the "R" designation. Drug use is permitted in moderation. Infamously, removing the still beating heart of a sacrificial victim in Temple of Doom along with the scary situations and wonton violence in Gremlins led to the creation of this rating. This is actually the rating I imagine is most common. The Lord of the Rings movies were PG-13 as are the Star Wars movie since Revenge of the Sith.
  • Rated R = Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian: Intense and persistent violence or gore, sexual situations, full nudity (in moderation), and any kind of language are all permitted. In real life, the rating really start to fall apart here because you have films like Billy Elliot and Erin Brockovich getting an "R" rating for language, but putting them in the same category as a film like Kill Bill. Conan the Barbarian (which is a big influence on my DM style of description and view of the world) was rated R (and the first uncut R movie I ever saw at perhaps too young an age).
  • Rated NC-17 = Adults Only – No one 17 and under admitted: Unfortunately, this rating is the kiss of death for a lot of films, and the way the MPAA grants this rating leans a lot more towards sex than violence or other themes/depictions - so it seems to be if applied to D&D campaigns the way it is to movies it'd be the kiss of death for a lot of campaigns too. As the recent, "How do your handle Romance?" thread suggested, a lot of people fade to black or just wholly avoid any kind of sexual situation (which is understandable - though sex and romance are different things) but violence is pretty central to the D&D conceit. Personally, I might describe the melting flesh of someone killed by a fireball, which could be gross enough for NC-17, but at the same time, Raiders of Lost Ark's melting Nazis earned a PG (maybe because God did it ;)). This rating replaced the "X" rating which was dropped for its association with porn, though neither X movies or NC-17 movies are porn. An example of a movie that has the kind of intense and persistent violence that might reasonably called NC-17 is Saving Private Ryan - but it did not receive that rating because Spielberg and the ideological weight of WW2 in American society.
Despite going through all these I still feel torn between Rated R and NC-17, not because my games necessarily have what is often found in NC-17 movies, but because nonetheless, I would only feel comfortable running my typical games for adults - though I have no doubt that there would be some teens it'd be okay for - but that is not my job to determine.


So what about you? How'd you rate your games?
 

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Lyxen

Great Old One
The problem with these ratings is that they are one-dimensional, covering violence, sex, horror, other themes (slavery, etc.), etc. In our games there are no explicit sexual descriptions (although there can be some crude jokes now and then), lots of violence, sometimes gratuitous, not much horror (we do heroic games, and horror does not mix well with that), and sometimes other disturbing themes... And even all that may vary...
 


Probably somewhere straddling the line between PG-13 and R. Usually pretty pulpy action adventure, but there can be some darker themes and whilst I don't usually describe violence as super gory, it's not bloodless video game violence either. In last game the characters actually ended up carving up a dead troll to get its heart... Also this actually isn't particularly noticeable in verbal form, but as the setting is stone age and bronze age with very warm climate, the standards of modesty might not be quite to the modern western standards. I really don't focus on that on verbal descriptions, but in visual media it would be readily apparent.
 


NC-17 and I don't think I'd play with anyone under 21. In fact I most likely wouldn't even play with anyone I didn't know these days. Our game isnt necessarily ultra graphic or violent but rather we've all known each other so long that theres quite a bit of off color jokes, topics and insults that someone who didnt know us probably wouldnt be comfortable with.
 

J-H

Adventurer
Generally PG/PG-13 is what I shoot for. There's definitely violence, but I don't usually get too descriptive.
 

ericstephen

Villager
I was looking over someone's D&D campaign intro one-sheet and in the spot discussing the "lines and veils" the DM described the game as having PG-13 violence and themes, which seems like such an obvious way to rate your game's "appropriateness" for different groups (at least for Americans, I know other countries have different systems - or none at all - for rating films) but one I never considered before.

Talking it over with a friend, who like me thinks it is really important for players to know what kind of game they are getting into and what might come up, but that nevertheless lean in towards some of the horrible things that can happen in a world where people go into holes to hunt monsters, monsters emerge from holes to hunt people, and armies clash with wizards capable of calling a fire storm down on them, and the like, he said his games are more like "Rated R" and I agreed about my own game, but then wondered if some of my descriptions of violence or gore might actually be more like NC-17 (but with NC-17 leaning towards overt non-porn depictions of sex, probably not)

I think that's fine because I play with all adults who are okay with (or even prefer) that kind of grittiness and potential horror. If and when I ran the game for teens or children (or adults not down for that), the rating would be more like PG-13 or PG (though I have not run a game for kids in decades - one for a group of older HS teens in the late 90s and before that when I was a kid myself).

So I was curious how you'd rate your typical D&D campaign using movie ratings (which I understand have their own limits and problems). I am limiting the choices to one, but am more interested in any details of why you chose that rating in your post (or if you run or play in more than one game that'd have different ratings, choose one that feels "typical" and tell us about the other in your post).

For those who are unfamiliar with American movie ratings or need a refresher, here is a quick n' dirty (but not beyond "PG" dirty ;)) description:

  • Rated G = General Audiences: All ages. No or little explicit violence. No foul language. No sex. Think Snow White or Sleeping Beauty, the former of which has a group of dwarves hunting down a witch and the latter a battle with a dragon with "all the powers of hell."
  • Rated PG = Parental Guidance Suggested: Some material may not be suitable for children. But the degree of romance, violence, and intense moments of danger you might find in a Star Wars movie (esp. the original trilogy). A planet blows up, but we don't see people suffer, though a mostly bloodless arm is cut off (A New Hope), some fade to black torture (Empire), a giant space slug has an ornamental sex slave (RotJ). Hmm, actually, I wonder if some of those might have been PG-13 if that rating had existed back then. As for language, non-sexually-derived profanity is allowed in moderation. No drug use.
  • Rated PG-13 = Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13: Depictions of intense violence are permitted under the PG-13 rating, but violence that is both realistic and extreme or persistent moves it to the "R" designation. Drug use is permitted in moderation. Infamously, removing the still beating heart of a sacrificial victim in Temple of Doom along with the scary situations and wonton violence in Gremlins led to the creation of this rating. This is actually the rating I imagine is most common. The Lord of the Rings movies were PG-13 as are the Star Wars movie since Revenge of the Sith.
  • Rated R = Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian: Intense and persistent violence or gore, sexual situations, full nudity (in moderation), and any kind of language are all permitted. In real life, the rating really start to fall apart here because you have films like Billy Elliot and Erin Brockovich getting an "R" rating for language, but putting them in the same category as a film like Kill Bill. Conan the Barbarian (which is a big influence on my DM style of description and view of the world) was rated R (and the first uncut R movie I ever saw at perhaps too young an age).
  • Rated NC-17 = Adults Only – No one 17 and under admitted: Unfortunately, this rating is the kiss of death for a lot of films, and the way the MPAA grants this rating leans a lot more towards sex than violence or other themes/depictions - so it seems to be if applied to D&D campaigns the way it is to movies it'd be the kiss of death for a lot of campaigns too. As the recent, "How do your handle Romance?" thread suggested, a lot of people fade to black or just wholly avoid any kind of sexual situation (which is understandable - though sex and romance are different things) but violence is pretty central to the D&D conceit. Personally, I might describe the melting flesh of someone killed by a fireball, which could be gross enough for NC-17, but at the same time, Raiders of Lost Ark's melting Nazis earned a PG (maybe because God did it ;)). This rating replaced the "X" rating which was dropped for its association with porn, though neither X movies or NC-17 movies are porn. An example of a movie that has the kind of intense and persistent violence that might reasonably called NC-17 is Saving Private Ryan - but it did not receive that rating because Spielberg and the ideological weight of WW2 in American society.
Despite going through all these I still feel torn between Rated R and NC-17, not because my games necessarily have what is often found in NC-17 movies, but because nonetheless, I would only feel comfortable running my typical games for adults - though I have no doubt that there would be some teens it'd be okay for - but that is not my job to determine.


So what about you? How'd you rate your games?
In the over 5 year campaign you ran and we got to complete, that's definitely NC17 for Gunthar alone. The infernal gnome ripping off the head of our companion & eating it in front of us is the Romero Director's Cut of an R-rated campaign your good twin ran somewhere out there in the multiverse. ;)

So far, our current campaign is PG13.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/They)
The motion picture content rating system has some odd rules. My games would definitely get slapped with an R rating, mainly because of language. My players and I swear openly and often. Otherwise though, it would probably fall under PG 13. Maybe even PG except in a few particular instances.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
When I DM, the game is very PG.... until someone gets crit or screwed over by a NPC.... then it dips into R hard with the swearing, descriptions of gore, and lewd jokes and insults.

NC-17 if Mal gets crit hit twice in a session.
 


Lanefan

Victoria Rules
As @Charlaquin alludes to, it's different ratings for different aspects:

Language (both in and out of character): X all day long.
Violence: R, more or less, though often cartoonish in a way.
Themes: R, in general. Slavery's an accepted thing in the setting. So is torture sometimes. In-setting societal racism/speciesism is a given; some cultures/species just don't get along with some other cultures/species and have centuries of wars and battles behind them to prove it.
Sex and nudity: I'd say PG-13, but I think our crew trends way less prudish than these ratings are meant for. Others would probably say R.
Drug use: other than mirthweed (in-game equivalent to pot) it just never really comes up. Out-of-game we stick to alcohol. :)
 

schneeland

Adventurer
Depends on the genre. Fantasy or pulp action games would probably be closer to PG-13, but not quite there (mostly due to language and occasional description of gore), Cyberpunk games are more in a solid R territory (even more swearing and sex might come more often, even if it still mostly implied; also drugs and racism can show up in the stories). Which, I guess, makes it R in both cases.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
In the over 5 year campaign you ran and we got to complete, that's definitely NC17 for Gunthar alone. The infernal gnome ripping off the head of our companion & eating it in front of us is the Romero Director's Cut of an R-rated campaign your good twin ran somewhere out there in the multiverse. ;)

So far, our current campaign is PG13.

Fair enough!

(for those who haven't figured it out, @ericstephen has played in the majority of the D&D campaigns I've run from 1993 until the present).
 




Drug use: other than mirthweed (in-game equivalent to pot) it just never really comes up. Out-of-game we stick to alcohol. :)
Years ago in the mid-90s I was DMing a 2e game. The PCs found some treasure that included a ring of djinni summoning, so one player ended up with it. The Djinn could grant him 3 wishes but only 1 per summoning. The player decides his PC wants some Elven Redbud and summons the Djinn and makes him grants a wish to give him some pot to smoke. No sooner did he dismiss the Djinn that he realizes he has nothing to smoke it out of. Summons the Djinn again, gets a bowl, and dismisses him then realizes hes got nothing to light it with, and ends up wasting 3 wishes and permanently releases the Djinn from servitude for some weed in the span of 5 minutes. The roleplaying of the whole thing was really funny and still gets brought up from time to time.
 



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