You Don’t Have to Go There

Roleplaying games (RPGs) touch on all sorts of odd and sometimes disturbing subjects. It’s hard to avoid. Roleplaying must reflect life — characters must do things in order for the game to be interesting. They must experience things. In many games they’re expected to grow as people, which doesn’t happen without life-changing experiences, however large or small. And if we use the same plots all the time, things get boring.

We all have a little list of topics that we don’t want to deal with. Maybe it’s because the thought of a particular thing just bothers us, intrinsically. Maybe it’s because of some weird psychological connection between one subject and another. Or maybe it’s because of personal experience. We don’t necessarily have this list in conscious thought, either; sometimes we only discover what bothers us by stumbling across it.

No matter what your game master (GM) chooses to explore, you don’t have to go there if you don’t want to. You may ask him to steer clear of a certain topic, either before it comes up or once you discover that it bothers you. You don’t have to explain why it bothers you, either.

If the topic is a huge theme of the game, maybe you’re better off finding another game. Whether you leave your gaming group for another or your gaming group switches games is entirely a factor of your particular group. Some people come together strictly for the game, in which case you’re probably better off leaving. Some groups are friends first and the game is simply a way to socialize; in this case you can probably convince your group or GM to move on to a different subject.

Don’t use this as an excuse to avoid any random topic that irritates you a little; not every plot and topic can be tailor-made to your particular likes and dislikes. There’s an entire gaming group to think about, and everyone has a right to some of the fun. But if a topic really does bother you, let the GM know. You don’t have to explain the particular trauma behind the bother. If he asks, tell him you don’t want to talk about it, or if you don’t feel comfortable saying that, tell him it’s just something that really bothers you–no specific reason why.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between character bother and player bother.We explore things with our characters that may teach us a lot about ourselves. Just keep a close eye on where the dividing line between okay-bother and not-okay-bother lies for you, and where possible let the GM know before a subject causes you trauma. It’ll make things easier on everyone.

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