Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online)


  • Coder

    So, the latest development blog for the new version of Changeling, and it's about Storytelling, and it's here: http://theonyxpath.com/storytelling-changeling-the-lost/

    In this, she reveals some ideas from other RP groups and icons on how to indicate intensity and discomfort in a scene. My purpose of this post is to see how this might be applied to a Mu*, or other text-based online persistent platforms.

    First, the text:


    LINES AND VEILS
    A classic safety technique originally described by Ron Edwards, Lines and Veils allows players to pick and choose what they want to address in the chronicle. Before game, the Storyteller should prepare two sheets of paper. Label one “Lines” and the other “Veils.” Lines are things that will absolutely not be touched on in the chronicle, not even mentioned in passing. Veils are things that can happen, but will not be played out, and instead addressed with a “fade to black.” The Storyteller asks players what they’d like added to the lists, and notes that the lists can be edited at any time. Veils can be moved to Lines, Lines can be moved to Veils, new Veils or Lines can be added, or Veils or Lines can be taken away (with the consensus of the other players). Veils and Lines cannot be used to cut out antagonists (i.e. “I don’t want the True Fae to be a part of this chronicle at all, not even mentioned in passing”) but can be used to restrict antagonists’ actions that might be uncomfortable for some players (i.e. “I do not want the True Fae in this chronicle to use sexual violence”).

    Common Lines: Sexual violence, explicit depiction of torture, force feeding, starvation, mutilation, racial slurs, gender-specific slurs, spiders, trypophobia-inducing imagery, needles, bestiality, explicit depiction of bodily functions

    Common Veils: Explicit depiction of consensual sexual activity, torture, emotional abuse, physical abuse, body horror, human experimentation, dream or nightmare sequences, childhood memories, prophetic visions

    FADE TO BLACK
    In a movie, when the hero is just about to get into bed with her love interest or be “forcibly interrogated,” sometimes the camera cuts away right before the action — occasionally with a moan or a scream included as appropriate. This technique is called “fade to black,” and can be used in your chronicle as appropriate. If you don’t want to narrate every caress of a love scene or the weirdness of a changeling’s personal nightmare or the agony of Faerie torments, simply fade to black and focus on another scene. A player can also request a fade to black if they are uncomfortable with what is happening at the table.

    THE STOPLIGHT SYSTEM
    This is a relatively recent technique and was pioneered by the group Games to Gather. The Storyteller lays out three different colored circles on the table: red, yellow, and green. Each color indicates a response to different levels of intensity. Green means “yes, I am okay with and encourage the scene getting more intense.” Yellow means “the scene is fine at the intensity level it is now, and I would like it to stay here if possible.” Red means “the scene is too intense for me in a bad way and I need it to decrease or I need to tap out.” Players can tap the colored circles as appropriate to indicate to the Storyteller what they want or need at that moment.

    The Storyteller can also use the stoplight system to ask the players if they’d like intensity increased or decreased as necessary without breaking the narrative flow. To do so, the Storyteller can repeatedly tap a color — green for “more intense,” yellow for “keep it here,” and red for “do you need me to stop?” The players can then touch a color in response. Players can also respond by saying the color in question out loud.

    THE X CARD
    An up-and-coming technique, especially in storytelling-game circles, the X card was designed by John Stavropolous. The X card is fairly self-explanatory. A card or sheet of paper with an “X” drawn on it is placed in the middle of the table. At any point, a player or the Storyteller may touch the X card to call a halt to any action currently making them uncomfortable in a bad way. If they would like to explain themselves, they may, but it is absolutely not necessary and the Storyteller should continue play once everyone is settled back in.

    THE DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN
    This is another technique that needs very little explanation. If a player needs to stop play for any reason, they are free to do so after giving the Storyteller a heads up. The chapter (game session) is then on pause until that player either returns or leaves the premises. Storytellers should use this technique either in conjunction with other techniques, or during sessions where players may have to leave abruptly for personal reasons.


    Now, the question: Besides Fade to Black (which should always be available to everyone, always) and The Door Is Always Open (which I think is common sense), which method do you think would be best for our hobby?

    I am leaning toward Stoplight. It's more nuanced than a straight-up yes/no, and doesn't push players to wait until they need to stop. It does, however, mean more fiddling with commands and keeping track of things.

    Thoughts?



  • Is there a coded way to have something like the stoplights always displayed? I know systems where multiple windows are constantly tracked can do it (like the health section of a MUD like game), but could it be done in typical MU* text RP?

    I ask because to me some of the value is that its non-verbal, and it's quick, and it's public.

    Ideally, it would be awesome to with one touch highlight the pose or sentence, color code it, and send to the player who posed, and a ST if present, maybe to all present if desired. And that is asking a lot.

    I could see the veils and lines thing being a list set up by staff, then amended by players over time, AND sorta like a +kinks thing, have a function where it can tell you differences between you and another player, so you PAY ATTENTION to where you may easily and casually go further than their lines and veils.


  • Coder

    @Misadventure said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    Is there a coded way to have something like the stoplights always displayed?

    Of course. We take the MUD/Nuku style of updating the information onto your screen after every time you type something. Or you take the web-page style. Or you update everyone who is either new to the scene, when the scene changes, or when someone changes their position.

    I could see the veils and lines thing being a list set up by staff

    I could see this something called "RP Prefs", as you mention via invoking 'kinks'.



  • RP Prefs are kinks.

    I like the idea of an RP Boundaries +weather available per scene.

    I imagine something that automatically looks at your lines and veils, and then on command tells you the boundaries of comfort for all present, and perhaps can be updated to call out topics on the board or in play that are from the common list already.



  • @Thenomain said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @Misadventure said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    Is there a coded way to have something like the stoplights always displayed?

    Of course. We take the MUD/Nuku style of updating the information onto your screen after every time you type something. Or you take the web-page style. Or you update everyone who is either new to the scene, when the scene changes, or when someone changes their position.

    I could see the veils and lines thing being a list set up by staff

    I could see this something called "RP Prefs", as you mention via invoking 'kinks'.

    This is exactly the kind of thing I was trying to do with the prefs system I was working on.

    It just doubled as a space where people could express what they really liked, too, so STs could use it as a reference/resource game-wide to see what kind of plots people were (or weren't) interested in, so they could best develop things they knew they could gain an audience for (and not waste time on something no one was into) and maximize fun while minimizing problems.


  • Coder

    @Misadventure said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    RP Prefs are kinks.

    Maybe in your world, but in my world they're not something that I use to get myself off.

    Just sayin'.



  • @Thenomain I think it's not so much kinks as in sexual kinks, but +kinks, which, at its core, is just a prefs system that has general RP topic and identity preferences, then a lot more specific kinky preferences listed. It's not hard to keep the topic and identity preferences, and swap out the naughty wishlist for general triggers and expanded general interest subjects.


  • Coder

    @surreality

    I'm going to stick with the definition of 'kink'. If you two want to open minds or re-define it, please find another thread to do so as I'm not buying it. I'm trying to find social and codewise solutions to people's discomforts in scenes, without singling out the people who like to push their own boundaries. It's a shared space, and should have tools to make that comfortable.

    Right now, I'm not comfortable, and will continue to call it RP Prefs.



  • @Thenomain Kinks, the word, and +kinks, the coded system, are different things.

    Kinks are the dictionary definition.

    +kinks is a coded system of RP preferences that includes dictionary-definition kinks, and also general roleplay preferences for generic subject matter.


  • Coder

    @surreality

    So, RP Prefs.



  • @Thenomain No argument there -- I called it +prefs in the setup I was working on as well, since there was no reason to go into all the sexual details.

    Referring to the system, though, +kinks (as code) is at its core a preference system, structurally, and does include non-sexual preference info as well.


  • Coder

    @surreality

    In our violently agreeing, you have missed the part where I very openly said that calling it 'kinks' was making me uncomfortable and would prefer to call it RP Prefs. It's also more technically accurate and removes a lot of baggage and connotation from the phrase.



  • @Thenomain Possible, it's a post-surgery day and the brains are a little hazy.

    Though that this is coming up really makes me want to work on stuff again because I really liked the way I had this set up, and showing it would be easier than explaining it. :/ (Which, for the moment, I am also going to blame on the painkillers turning my brain to jam, because I am so not there, despite the come-and-go case of twitchy fingers eager to prod things.)

    I am really happy there's something at least semi-official that's addressing this issue. It's long overdue, in part because I am reasonably certain most of this has long just been considered common sense on the part of the writers. In the back-when days, I saw this come out on a host of different subjects we all fight about in the MU take on WoD re: 'we shouldn't have to tell people that!!!', though not this one specifically. Hopefully this will serve as a wake-up call to the folks who insist on a free-for-all where everything is permissible and anybody who doesn't like it is 'doing it wrong', and will make it into the core materials going forward as well in some form.



  • @Thenomain said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @surreality

    In our violently agreeing, you have missed the part where I very openly said that calling it 'kinks' was making me uncomfortable and would prefer to call it RP Prefs. It's also more technically accurate and removes a lot of baggage and connotation from the phrase.

    Show us on this stop light your level of discomfort... I'm thinking its a mid-range yellow?
    alt text


  • Coder

    Seems to me there's a wonderful tool already for this.

    Thenomian pages Faraday, "Hey this is going to far."

    Faraday pages Thenomian, "Oh no! What can we do?"

    We're supposed to be adults here, let's try communicating like adults. What in the world am I supposed to do with a vague yellow stoplight indication? Change the entire scene based on some vague guess as to what might be bothering you?


  • Politics

    @faraday said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    We're supposed to be adults here, let's try communicating like adults. What in the world am I supposed to do with a vague yellow stoplight indication? Change the entire scene based on some vague guess as to what might be bothering you?

    I'm with Fara on this, to no one's surprise.

    But, at the same time, there are many, many of us who aren't good at communicating our discomfort. And there's no guarantee people will refer to or use RP prefs in their RP.



  • @Ganymede A prefs system is a good communication tool. It is not, and should never be considered to be, a communication replacement.


  • Coder

    @surreality said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    @Ganymede A prefs system is a good communication tool. It is not, and should never be considered to be, a communication replacement.

    Sure, but tools aren't free. There's a cost to create the tool, a cost for people to read and understand and enter their preferences using the tool, and then a cost for people to actually use the tool to see other peoples' preferences. I remain unconvinced that the cost and the likelihood of people using it effectively makes it worth the effort.

    I wouldn't use it, personally. But I'm perfectly capable of saying: "OK guys, you've been captured by Cylons. If you want to be tortured you can be, but you don't have to be. Oh you do want to be tortured? That's fine, but I'm not going to GM it for you. We can either FTB here or you guys can get a RP room and knock yourselves out." It's really not that hard.

    If someone wants to go through the trouble of implementing it on their own game - more power to them. I'm not saying they shouldn't. I'm just arguing that it's not necessary.



  • @faraday It may not be worth it to some, but I've seen it used for many years now to good effect on Shang in the actual +kinks format, which includes a lot of stuff more sensitive and/or controversial than the usual collection of general subjects and/or triggers.

    Having made a setup that works in terms of the 'make the code/set it up for people to use' side, even as someone code clueless and fumbling it really wasn't at all onerous. (It may not be a system others would ever want to have or use, since it was designed to integrate with everything else I was doing, and doing more or less the same way, but that's neither here nor there.)

    Some people will use it and some people won't. Some people will get a benefit out of it, and some people won't. To some extent, this is a matter of 'you get out what you put in'.

    For games like WoD -- which the stuff in the original post is in reference to -- some intensely dark and potentially problematic subject matter is extremely prevalent. (Some other themes have the same issue, but not all.) It is a very common sentiment among players in these themes that 'it happens in the world and if you don't want that thrown in your face on a whim in a random pick-up scene some idle afternoon, go home, you big baby'. That attitude is not especially conducive to collaborative play, especially in an environment with a variety of scene runners rather than a single person leading a tabletop campaign that can better familiarize themselves with the sensitivities of a small number of consistent players, and it's a good thing that there's something at least semi-official from the publisher of the material that acknowledges the importance of player comfort and suggests options for means of indicating comfort or lack thereof with any given material.

    That they're suggesting this for a small group with just one person who has to keep track of the information from maybe a half dozen players -- which is much easier than what many M*s have to contend with -- says it can be helpful. It doesn't say it's necessary, but I can guarantee you that anything I ever put together, I'm going to consider it well worth the effort to include. If it spares one scene runner from spending forever building a plot that it turns out no one has a shred of interest in (which they could have found out by checking interest in that subject on a subject page on the wiki) or one person doesn't have a PTSD trigger thrown in their face out of the blue because they wrote down 'I have a severe phobia of X, please do not pose about X around me' and one person bothered to read it, I will consider that time and effort more than well spent on my part. YMMV.


  • Politics

    @faraday said in Indicating Discomfort in a Scene (online):

    I wouldn't use it, personally. But I'm perfectly capable of saying: "OK guys, you've been captured by Cylons. If you want to be tortured you can be, but you don't have to be. Oh you do want to be tortured? That's fine, but I'm not going to GM it for you. We can either FTB here or you guys can get a RP room and knock yourselves out." It's really not that hard.

    You mean, you're not into robot-torturing? All of my hopes and dreams, dashed.

    Beep, boop.

    That said, I understand what you're getting at, @surreality, but, like @faraday, I simply would not use the tool that often. Really. I rarely use +finger for anything more than trying to remember someone's last name, and I find myself using 'look' less often as I'd rather rub one out to a character's wiki page.


Log in to reply
 

Looks like your connection to MU Soapbox was lost, please wait while we try to reconnect.