Roll20 has introduced official support for RPG safety tools to its virtual roleplaying sessions, including a number of popular options to protect players.
Safety tools are used by GMs and players to avoid and address potentially difficult content that may arise while roleplaying. Depending on the tool, certain subjects may be avoided completely, handled in a particular way - such as “fading to black” or limiting the level of detail given - or otherwise changed in response to players’ level of comfort. Tools can be used to set boundaries before sessions, as well as providing ways to alert other players to uncomfortable or unsafe situations during play.
Roll20’s official support includes a built-in set of safety cards that can be selected when setting up a game on the virtual tabletop. The deck is listed as the Burn Bryte Safety Card Addon, having originated in the Roll20-exclusive sci-fi RPG, but is available to all users.
The deck includes three colour-coded cards that indicate whether each player is happy to “Keep Going” during a potentially difficult situation, would prefer the group to “Slow Down” - indicating that the current discussion or subject may be about to breach their level of comfort - or a request to immediately “Stop”.
The cards played are anonymous, allowing players to decide whether they wish to provide further information on why they feel a certain way. In any case, the cards’ instructions should be abided by the entire group. Each player can play any card any number of times.
Roll20’s own safety deck is complemented by a bundle of free RPG safety tools collated by Evil Hat Productions, the publisher behind Fate, Blades in the Dark and Monster of the Week, among others.
The free bundle includes several popular safety tools previously included in Fate and available outside of the RPG.
The X-card, originally created by John Stavropoulos, allows players to request an immediate stop to the current discussion.
Beau Jágr Sheldon’s Script Change features a deck of cards to indicate more granular approaches to handling sensitive subjects, represented by similar controls to a video player: rewind, fast-forward, pause, frame-by-frame, instant replay and play are all options.
Palette (Lines and Veils), based on the lines and veils concept first described by roleplaying designer Ron Edwards, provides a framework for players to set boundaries before a session. Lines indicate hard restrictions on topics that should not appear in a group’s session or story in any form. Veils, meanwhile, represent situations that can occur as part of a story but should happen outside of the group’s own discussion and should be limited in detail - the equivalent of fading to black or cutting away in a film.
Lotte wrote about lines and veils for Dicebreaker earlier this year, praising the concept as an effective way of making roleplaying welcoming for all kinds of players: "Knowing that there’s a robust system of lines and veils in place when I play has given me the freedom to be vulnerable."
Both Roll20’s safety card deck and Evil Hat’s safety tools bundle can be used with any roleplaying system on the virtual tabletop, and are free for all users to access and use in their games. The tools can be used as standalone tools or combined in any fashion to suit the group.