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 1.7%
  • Rated PG - Parental Guidance suggested

    Votes: 3 2.6%
  • Rated PG-13 - Parents strongly cautioned – Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13

    Votes: 63 54.8%
  • Rated R - Restricted – Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian

    Votes: 34 29.6%
  • Rated NC-17 - Adults Only

    Votes: 13 11.3%


Victoria Rules
I don't understand rating as weighted by the amount of something. I mean, there are monster that have the ability to swallow whole and inflict damage. You only need a single round.

G: The giant frog gobbles Bobbie. You loses 2 HP.
PG: The giant frog gobbles you. Despite not having teeth, the monster has a dangerous drool that creates burns. You loses 2 HP.
PG-13: The giant frog gobbles you. Everyone, you no longer see your friend, but you can hear screams from inside the stomach of the giant frogs. Bobbie, digestive acids are slowly dissolving your flesh. The pain is intolerable, like a thousand needles, and you hope help will come soon. You loses 2 HP.

R: Everyone, The giant frog gobbles Bobbie. Noone have ever survived such a fate for long. Even though there are stories of other fighters acting quickly enough to rip open the frog's belly, freeing their friend from dying, the acid is often very quick to act and the scarred husk of a person they could release was often lacking a limb, or eyes. Eyes are often the quickest part of the body to dissolve, unable to resist the potent acid of the beast's belly. Only the most potent magic can then save the victim, as often it is fully immersed in the digestive acids ; simply washing the survivor after the fact isn't enough to solve the slow melting of the lungs, if he wasn't lucky enough to hold his breath during the whole ordeal... one can't simply endure without a shriek. More often than not, death occurs by suffocation over the course of an agony over several days. Maybe if you're quick enough, you'll be able to give your friend a merciful death. (btw, turning to Bobbie's player, deduct 2HP).
Hell, hit points in your R version are beyond meat! :)

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For X-tremely fun!!

But seriously folks…

PG13-R for occasional language and occasional graphic violence(depending on how much catharsis the players seem to need when disemboweling a villain. It’s really up to them.)


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?
Definitely an 18 rating in my games.

Let's see, the two campaigns I am playing in right now:
Campaign A: DM has depicted scenes of child sacrifice, general slavery, general allusions to prisoners being eaten by their captor Gnolls, and on a rare occasion sexual assault. Guess that is somewhere between R and NC-17.
Campaign B: My char slipped a Rapier into a condemned man's skull because he was about to be sentenced to be drawn and quartered. Same campaign, I had a player screaming at me out of game and in game about "consent" when I had an NPC Cleric cast Greater Restoration on his char as his char slept (his char had a tentacle growing in him). Guess that is PG-13 or R.

The campaign I run: Sentient Dagger sometimes takes over a player if the player fails a Wis save vs Cha of the Dagger, which triggers consent issues. Plenty of racism as Half-Orcs are KOS due the decades long war between the Orcs and other sentient species, and Tieflings are looked at with great suspicion and antipathy. Lots of triggerable events like when players are trapped in areas of magical darkness they can't dispell, or trapped underground. Excessive violence when half the party was killed by crushing boulders when a player's plan went horribly wrong. I consider that G.

PG-13ish. I think the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones would be PG-13 today.
I am not an American, but since rating systems can be compared over here:

I can see an argument that Indiana Jones' last scene might push it to be a 12 or even 15 rated movie (mostly for the ark scene alone), I don't see why Star Wars would be PG-13. The violence outside of the arm cutting scene is very tame.

This does raise the question of ratings and what is acceptable at a certain 'rating' these days however. Ireland doesn't have anything like NC-17 or the highest rating, where as I understand the move becomes VERY difficult to market or release; 18 is the highest rating, but those movies do well (mostly because what would be rated R in the US would typically end up rated 18 over here).

What have I have observed, however, is that some older movies that would have been rated 18 in the past (at-least by my reckoning) have been getting lower ratings. E.g., I'm fairly sure the movie Terminator (despite some disturbing scenes) would be rated 15 nowadays, and I think there is a general observation to make nowadays that you can get away with more being going up to an 18.

I'm not sure if that's a unique thing when it comes to Irish film rating in particular (since Irish ratings are distinct from the rest of Europe, in the way that, say, game ratings etc. are not), but it's an observation that I think may 'track' with me rating the campaign I have played in (as well as the ones I'm planning) as PG-13 (probably equivalent of 12 or 16 over here) despite very gratitous cursing and potentially containing some violent enough scenes.


He / Him
PG-13. I tend to be pretty picky about what I let into my headspace, and scenes of excessive violence or gore are not invited. I don't mind naughty words, but since I work with children I tend not to use them a lot anyways.

I'd say my games are at a Men in Black level of violence. Things will explode into goo, but I'm not interested in that goo being very detailed.

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