By Absolute Tabletop

Safety Tools

It's recommended that all ATCONLINE Game Masters utilize some form of safety tool in their games. Safety tools allow players to voice any concerns with content without disrupting the flow of play, and give GM's the confidence to run games that are fun and entertaining for all of their players. Below, we've outlined one easy method for convention games: the stoplight method.

The Stoplight Method

The stoplight method is designed to allow players to put forth their own "stoplights," much like traffic signals. A red light is a hard stop, a yellow light is intended to slow down, and a green light is intended to continue play.

  • Red Lights:
    These are topics, subject matter, and situations that you do not want included in the game under any circumstances, without exception. No explanation needs to be given – these topics and situations are off-limits.
  • Yellow Lights:
    These aren't red lights, so their inclusion isn't forbidden, but it's definitely conditional. This subject matter should be handled with great care, and isn't something you're interested in exploring in great detail.
  • Green Lights:
    These are things you absolutely want to see in the game. These are the concepts, situations, and experiences that make you want to come back to the game again and again.
Using Stoplight Cards

If your preferred online gaming space provides the option to "whisper" or privately message during a game, encourage your players to use this functionality to let you know when they're feeling uncomfortable. Or consider implementing a verbal stoplight system through the use of the realtime chat functionality. In this situation, typing "red light," "yellow light," or "green light" functions the same as using the stoplight cards in person.

When to Play Stoplight Cards

"Yes! This is awesome! Let's keep this up!" (Green Card)
"I'm feeling a little unsure of where this is headed, so let's proceed with caution." (Yellow Card)
"Let's fade to black or get out of this situation as soon as possible." (Red Card)

You can optionally use this method by creating one set of cards for the table (or a few sets for larger tables) for community use – just be sure all players can reach them quickly and easily during play.

Basic Safety Guidelines

Here are some basic, helpful tips to ensure a playspace that feels safe and inclusive for everyone at your game table!

  • Be mindful of the names and pronouns of everyone at your table, as well as their characters. Writing up a list before the game will keep this information close at hand during the game.
  • When moving from one scene to the next, check in with your players. "Are we good to continue?"
  • For games running longer than a couple of hours, plan to take a break to allow everyone to step away for a moment.
  • Before the game begins, ensure your players have a way to get your attention during play, and communicate that method to them.