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Old 08-10-2020, 06:14 AM   #1
C-Moon
 
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Default Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

Hi, I work for Savage Mojo and for us, inclusivity within our SWADE meta-setting of Suzerain and the games that take place in that universe is important.

By this, I mean not just how to make sure a TTRPG is accessible for all types of people, but also all types of player. By having multiple realms within the Suzerain universe we all for fantasy and sci-fi lovers to play together with the same characters but through adventures of different settings/styles/genres.

What are ways that you all try to help players feel included, confident and comfortable when playing?

-Ciaran

Savage Mojo
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Old 08-10-2020, 07:56 AM   #2
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

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Originally Posted by C-Moon View Post
What are ways that you all try to help players feel included, confident and comfortable when playing?
Essentially, following the Golden Rule.

Since role-playing is a multi-way conversation that is quite lengthy, there is a learning process about how other players want to interact. It's important to distinguish between players who don't actually want to talk very much, and those who do, but get talked over by other players. So I'm alert for people who've been interrupted and try to cue them to talk, the ones who've said least first. This requires listening all the time, which is hard work, but worthwhile.

I try not to be an adversarial GM. There's an important issue with being helpful to players, in that one should not tell them what their characters are feeling, only what they are perceiving. Telling a character what they're feeling, as a deduction about the character's personality, is fraught with peril; characters' minds often work quite differently to GM expectations.
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Old 08-10-2020, 07:57 AM   #3
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What are ways that you all try to help players feel included, confident and comfortable when playing?
I really don't think I've found it to be much of an issue.

Way back in the twentieth century, I was visiting with my downstairs neighbor, who was one of my regulars, and talking with her and a friend of hers whom I knew slightly. I told the friend she would be welcome to take a look at my current sheaf of proposed games if she was interested, and my neighbor said, "Bill is a good GM for women." (I still consider that a high compliment.) The other woman played in my next round of campaigns and in fact was central to one of the best scenes I've ever had. More generally, my circle of players in San Diego was fairly close to 50% women.

So what accounts for my having so many women players? Part of it may be just that I try to subordinate private gratification in playing to the gratification of making the players interested and involved. Part of it is just that I've never hesitated to ask women if they wanted to play (and having multiple women players does help avoid the "singling out" effect of being the only woman at the table). But also, my games often have a lot of characterization and dialogue; and they often have overt sexual content, but they're explicit about the costs and risks involved, and about the agency of women in deciding how to deal with them.

As for other groups, I've had two gay men, a lesbian, a couple of bisexuals, an F-to-M transgendered player, and one or two asexual players in my circle in San Diego (and perhaps some in Riverside, but I didn't learn much about their personal lives). My circles have been predominantly white, but I've had players who were black, Hispanic, South Asian, and East Asian; I think the issue hasn't been that my games had something offputting, but that I recruit mainly via friends networks and cross-racial links in those are statistically uncommon (though both my South Asian and East Asian players were good friends of other players, and my black player became and has remained a good friend of some of them even after moving across the continent).

I think the one thing I would call a central takeaway from my experience is that players want to have and portray agency. Give them opportunities to make choices and produce outcomes, and make sure that all of them have such opportunities. And that's not something that can be accomplished by a system of game mechanics; it depends on the GM's care in managing a social group. I was a lot less practiced in that back in the 1990s than I am now . . .
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Since role-playing is a multi-way conversation that is quite lengthy, there is a learning process about how other players want to interact. It's important to distinguish between players who don't actually want to talk very much, and those who do, but get talked over by other players. So I'm alert for people who've been interrupted and try to cue them to talk, the ones who've said least first. This requires listening all the time, which is hard work, but worthwhile.

I try not to be an adversarial GM. There's an important issue with being helpful to players, in that one should not tell them what their characters are feeling, only what they are perceiving. Telling a character what they're feeling, as a deduction about the character's personality, is fraught with peril; characters' minds often work quite differently to GM expectations.
All of this is good advice, and part of my approach also.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:08 AM   #5
C-Moon
 
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

Quote:
Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
Essentially, following the Golden Rule.

Since role-playing is a multi-way conversation that is quite lengthy, there is a learning process about how other players want to interact. It's important to distinguish between players who don't actually want to talk very much, and those who do, but get talked over by other players. So I'm alert for people who've been interrupted and try to cue them to talk, the ones who've said least first. This requires listening all the time, which is hard work, but worthwhile.

I try not to be an adversarial GM. There's an important issue with being helpful to players, in that one should not tell them what their characters are feeling, only what they are perceiving. Telling a character what they're feeling, as a deduction about the character's personality, is fraught with peril; characters' minds often work quite differently to GM expectations.
That's a really good point about a characters feelings being so connected to the player. Something so obvious that I'd never considered! Thank you!
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:10 AM   #6
C-Moon
 
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I really don't think I've found it to be much of an issue.

Way back in the twentieth century, I was visiting with my downstairs neighbor, who was one of my regulars, and talking with her and a friend of hers whom I knew slightly. I told the friend she would be welcome to take a look at my current sheaf of proposed games if she was interested, and my neighbor said, "Bill is a good GM for women." (I still consider that a high compliment.) The other woman played in my next round of campaigns and in fact was central to one of the best scenes I've ever had. More generally, my circle of players in San Diego was fairly close to 50% women.

So what accounts for my having so many women players? Part of it may be just that I try to subordinate private gratification in playing to the gratification of making the players interested and involved. Part of it is just that I've never hesitated to ask women if they wanted to play (and having multiple women players does help avoid the "singling out" effect of being the only woman at the table). But also, my games often have a lot of characterization and dialogue; and they often have overt sexual content, but they're explicit about the costs and risks involved, and about the agency of women in deciding how to deal with them.

As for other groups, I've had two gay men, a lesbian, a couple of bisexuals, an F-to-M transgendered player, and one or two asexual players in my circle in San Diego (and perhaps some in Riverside, but I didn't learn much about their personal lives). My circles have been predominantly white, but I've had players who were black, Hispanic, South Asian, and East Asian; I think the issue hasn't been that my games had something offputting, but that I recruit mainly via friends networks and cross-racial links in those are statistically uncommon (though both my South Asian and East Asian players were good friends of other players, and my black player became and has remained a good friend of some of them even after moving across the continent).

I think the one thing I would call a central takeaway from my experience is that players want to have and portray agency. Give them opportunities to make choices and produce outcomes, and make sure that all of them have such opportunities. And that's not something that can be accomplished by a system of game mechanics; it depends on the GM's care in managing a social group. I was a lot less practiced in that back in the 1990s than I am now . . .
That's so nice and inspiring that you've been apart/a source of such acceptance and diversity in the community! Definitely great advice, thank you very much :)
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:29 AM   #7
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I think the one thing I would call a central takeaway from my experience is that players want to have and portray agency. Give them opportunities to make choices and produce outcomes, and make sure that all of them have such opportunities. And that's not something that can be accomplished by a system of game mechanics; it depends on the GM's care in managing a social group.
This is very sound advice. Doing it happens at multiple scales: the instant-to-instant conversation of play, the group's joint feelings, and the process of forming a group. Mine have not been so varied as Bill's.
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Originally Posted by C-Moon View Post
That's a really good point about a characters feelings being so connected to the player. Something so obvious that I'd never considered! Thank you!
I've seen one particular GM getting that wrong many times. He has slightly too strong a desire for the story to proceed, and finds his own ideas of what should happen compelling. In a sense, a GM's role is not to produce story, but situations from which the players can produce story.
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Old 08-10-2020, 08:35 AM   #8
C-Moon
 
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

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Originally Posted by johndallman View Post
This is very sound advice. Doing it happens at multiple scales: the instant-to-instant conversation of play, the group's joint feelings, and the process of forming a group. Mine have not been so varied as Bill's.

I've seen one particular GM getting that wrong many times. He has slightly too strong a desire for the story to proceed, and finds his own ideas of what should happen compelling. In a sense, a GM's role is not to produce story, but situations from which the players can produce story.
I can not agree more with that last sentence, I always try to have the narrative be hung on major events that are going to happen, how they happen and what effects they have. That's for the players.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:28 AM   #9
whswhs
 
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I can not agree more with that last sentence, I always try to have the narrative be hung on major events that are going to happen, how they happen and what effects they have. That's for the players.
Yes, John is quite right about this.

It can be tricky in handling Influence skills. But, for example, if an NPC were attempting a Sex Appeal roll, I would tell the player "she seems really attractive" (perception) but not "you want her" (emotion). Or, on a critically failed roll, "she's trying to attract you, but you can tell that she's nerving herself up to it and dreads your response" (perception, but not emotion. The trick is to present the evidence, but not tell the player how to respond to it.
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Old 08-10-2020, 09:43 AM   #10
C-Moon
 
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Default Re: Bringing Inclusivity into TTRPGs

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Yes, John is quite right about this.

It can be tricky in handling Influence skills. But, for example, if an NPC were attempting a Sex Appeal roll, I would tell the player "she seems really attractive" (perception) but not "you want her" (emotion). Or, on a critically failed roll, "she's trying to attract you, but you can tell that she's nerving herself up to it and dreads your response" (perception, but not emotion. The trick is to present the evidence, but not tell the player how to respond to it.
That is a great explanation! I'll have to save that one!
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