We use this page as a resource for gathering best practices around the tabletop role-playing game industry that promote an inclusive and diverse gaming environment. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list but rather a list of policies that can be freely borrowed by other tabletop gaming professionals. The authors at all the below links have made it clear their policies are free to distribute and use as best practices.
1. Convention Policies
For a history of convention policies and why cons needs better harassment policies, see Wired’s article on the subject, “Human Decency is Not Enough: Why Cons Need Better Anti-Harassment Policies“.
1.1 For Convention Hosts
The COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak is an unprecedented scenario echoing some of the most dire predictions of post-apocalyptic role-playing games, but it is no joke. We’re trying to “flatten the curve” of emergency and medical visits due to the outbreak through “social distancing,” but to do that requires gamers to change their plans. To that end, the CAR-PGA board has released official guidelines on how to manage tabletop play in an era of social distancing.
Here at Gen Con, we’re in the business of having fun. After all, it wouldn’t be The Best Four Days in Gaming if we didn’t all have a great time together! And as every gamer knows, a thorough rulebook is the key to everyone having a good time, so here are our rules for a safe and fun Gen Con. If you have a question about a certain policy or guideline, be sure to read through all of our policies, but if that still doesn’t answer your question, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Game on!
Why have an official anti-harassment policy for your conference? First, it is necessary (unfortunately). Harassment at conferences is incredibly common – for example, see this timeline of sexist incidents in geek communities. Second, it sets expectations for behavior at the conference. Simply having an anti-harassment policy can prevent harassment all by itself. Third, it encourages people to attend who have had bad experiences at other conferences. Finally, it gives conference staff instructions on how to handle harassment quickly, with the minimum amount of disruption or bad press for your conference.
PortConMaine is proud to be a #SafeCon for our community! To this end we have been working on clearer policies, more information on our website, and promoting how as a convention community we can all be more aware and involved in keeping everyone safe!
1.2 For Exhibitors
At Pelgrane Press, we believe conventions are an integral part of the roleplaying community. We love going to them – we get to catch up with our colleagues, chat to our customers, and run and play our own games, and other people’s. We are eager to support and promote local conventions, even if we can’t attend them in person. We want conventions to be safe and inclusive spaces for all gamers. Unfortunately, we know of too many instances where our colleagues, customers and friends have been harassed or made to feel uncomfortable at gaming conventions. We believe strongly that having a policy in place which explicitly censures harassing behaviour, and provides a clear procedure for reporting any such incidents, creates a safer and more welcoming environment for people at the greatest risk of harassment. As such, Pelgrane Press will not exhibit at, or provide support for, conventions which don’t have a publicly posted and enforced anti-harassment policy.
1.3 For Guest Speakers
So, I’ve decided something. I am often asked to be a Guest of Honor or a participant at conventions, which is nice. I also have a number of friends and fans who go to conventions, which is nice too. When my friends and fans go to conventions, I would like them not to have to worry, if they are skeeved on by some creep at the convention, that the convention will take the problem seriously. I would also like them to be able to know how to report the problem, should such a situation occur. That being the case, moving forward from this very instant, the following will be a hard requirement for my being a panelist, participant or Guest of Honor at a convention:
2. Game Policies
This section contains best practices for running tabletop games, particularly with mature subjects that might some participants feel uncomfortable.
Mature or controversial elements can and should be a part of many RPGs. But how do you know what topics to include or leave out of your games? How do you include potentially difficult elements while ensuring that nobody’s game night is ruined? Consent in Gaming gives you the strategies you need to make sure everyone at the table has a great experience, even when the game goes in a challenging direction.
We at Free League Publishing strongly believe that gaming should be for everyone; from every walk of life, every corner of the globe and any background. Games, and roleplaying games in particular, are a powerful tool to create and visit wondrous worlds in the imagination. We want everyone to have this opportunity, without exception.
Functional play depends on everyone playing the same game. Sadly, many people don’t even know or negotiate what that means, and a lot of game texts leave crucial things out. Too often, people come with different ideas and don’t realize it, and it turns into a mess during play. So, this tool is designed to clear that all up before you start playing.
Playing tabletop roleplaying games can be fun and fulfilling experiences. However, making sure that the GM, players, and potential audience feels safe is important. This is a quick reference guide on how to incorporate safety tools into your TTRPG games to make sure that everyone is having fun.
The X-Card is an optional tool (created by John Stavropoulos) that allows anyone in your game (including you) to edit out any content anyone is uncomfortable with as you play. Since most RPGs are improvisational and we won’t know what will happen till it happens, it’s possible the game will go in a direction people don’t want. An X-Card is a simple tool to fix problems as they arise.