Comfortable Play - Respecting Boundaries in Tabletop RPGs - Extra Credits

Having mutual trust at the table means we can use tabletop RPGs to explore ideas that are uncomfortable for us. When the game is run safely, we can use these experiences to help us understand how we would confront these things in the real world, and it can give us an experience to share with others when we leave the role-playing world.
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By Ben Briggs, DjjD, ectogemia


  1. Extra Credits

    Extra Credits9 months ago

    What's an emotionally powerful experience you remember from a role-playing game session, where maybe you explored an uncomfortable topic but felt connected with yourself or with other players as a result?

  2. Lord Skufberry

    Lord Skufberry7 months ago

    One time I played dnd the dm made a plot that reminded me of one of my dead friends which really made sad and I stopped playing saying that they could play that campaign but that I wasn’t

  3. clary

    clary9 months ago

    I almost screamed at the Vampire reference! Didn't you have one of those in your Extra History take on Otto von Bismarck, too?

  4. Nathan Irwin

    Nathan Irwin9 months ago

    @turtle2720 "Made a player NEVER come back for more horror RPG" I don't know if that's necessarily a good thing.

  5. turtle2720

    turtle27209 months ago

    Made a player NEVER come back for more horror RPG :) If you don't like smoke then you shouldn't play with fire! I've even bought pig hearts, sown them together and made the players deal with real blood and real flesh. Made thorough (insane) journals for the players to read through (and get a good laugh and frightened giggles).

  6. Kal King

    Kal King9 months ago

    The moment I realised I didn't like playing evil characters. Had a moment where the dm set up a moment for me to be truly evil instead of just a bit of a dick and I just couldn't bring myself to do what was set up

  7. cory6266

    cory626612 days ago

    Or, alternatively, just sack up.

  8. Miguel Angel Rangel

    Miguel Angel Rangel12 days ago

    DMs ASSEMBLE!!!!!

  9. Ashley Autumn

    Ashley Autumn12 days ago

    I actually remember some of my best character work coming from working at the edge of limits. Although it definitely required stepping back and talking with the GM to discuss this...

  10. Stone Morris

    Stone Morris23 days ago

    ...or you could just game with emotionally mature players...

  11. Nik None

    Nik None2 months ago

    Can`t you just talk? Instead of using some items?

  12. Wymacongaming Seth

    Wymacongaming Seth4 months ago

    There’s this concept in tabletop gaming specifically called “the social contract” it basically boils down to this. Because of a lack of random online matchmaking 1 someone can say “if you’re going to be a jerk I’m not playing with you anymore” and as well your reputation is a lot more important as word will get around that you’re a dick when playing game, so I’m a way this is already sort of in place

  13. Haran Yakir

    Haran Yakir4 months ago

    Every DM should watch this episode.

  14. Bryce Richardson

    Bryce Richardson4 months ago

    I don't get on roller coasters because companies are wild and you never know what's secretly wrong with them

  15. viera

    viera5 months ago

    So the X card is a safeword?

  16. N5ZZ0

    N5ZZ05 months ago

    I never had issues of this type playing. Mostly because me and my peers are like a vortex of chaos.

  17. Nosferatu Zod

    Nosferatu Zod5 months ago

    You did not want this, you did not ask for this but suddenly you are playing a table top rpg you bought and payed for.

  18. Ivan Berdichevsky

    Ivan Berdichevsky6 months ago

    Characters are not a reflection of the player, but an extension.

  19. Nick Strife

    Nick Strife6 months ago

    John Stavropoulos? Who is that guy? And why he has a greek surname?

  20. CricketStyleJ

    CricketStyleJ7 months ago

    This is a good discussion, but I have something to add that I think is often overlooked: when reaching an understanding about violations of boundaries, the trust has to go both ways. Just as I might trust you not to violate my boundaries when I tell you what they are, you would have to trust me not to abuse the leverage this arrangement gives me, and vice versa.

  21. Son Of Satan

    Son Of Satan7 months ago

    In RPGs I like playing the most evil bastard that ever lived.

  22. Cryo Genic

    Cryo Genic7 months ago

    This channel is run by soy boys

  23. Cryo Genic

    Cryo Genic7 months ago

    This channel is run by soy boys

  24. Smurf Bruh

    Smurf Bruh7 months ago

    My character: *slightly evil* My character: *does something bad* EC: wHy DId yUo dO tHaT

  25. CptAssCheeks

    CptAssCheeks7 months ago

    Why do you/the makers of this video assume everyone is so immature and emotionally unstable?

  26. u a

    u a7 months ago

    Or just don't play with entitled pussies.

  27. Galo

    Galo7 months ago

    oh god, do you guys now want to turn Tabletop Games into cry baby stuff

  28. Xrhstos Pex

    Xrhstos Pex7 months ago

    Oblivion elder scrolls is a little scary

  29. Louden Abbott

    Louden Abbott7 months ago

    will you ever do a video on the magic the gathering?

  30. Steven Jenkins

    Steven Jenkins8 months ago

    Although I do understand that people's boundaries should be respected, some people have boundaries that are way too restrictive in that case you just don't play with them.

  31. FerretBomb

    FerretBomb8 months ago

    First part of the video was on-point, and a good way to deal with the usual randumb edgy derailers. Have to say that the end drifted pretty hard away from respecting boundaries though, and seemed to get very lost in the representation bit. It felt like more of an ad-spot than any kind of continuation of the original topic, and very out of place as a result. It'd have been interesting to address how a GM with a personal preference to heavily include a given theme (disabilities in the video's example) with a player uncomfortable with that theme's inclusion could be handled other than the classic 'find a new group'.

  32. Verbose Mode

    Verbose Mode8 months ago

    The number one rule at my table is always _"play with the party, never against them."_ The few times that rule has been broken have been planned out and discussed ahead of time... or resulted in players getting kicked out of the game.

  33. DapperCuttlefish

    DapperCuttlefish8 months ago

    This video has became very relevant for me unexpectedly. My new group is quite large and varied, and we've run into an unusual issue - the standard "abandoned/neglected/abused by parents" trope is a touchy subject for several players, since it hits too close to home. I'm probably going to use the X card idea when we get into backstory-focused sessions, because discussing their parental trauma is something nobody wants to do.

  34. Imperator Crispico

    Imperator Crispico8 months ago

    Playing a blind character could be real fun

  35. Terry H.

    Terry H.8 months ago

    that feel when it's just bdsm

  36. Query Delacroix

    Query Delacroix8 months ago

    Safe spaces for RPGs. I'd rather just toss the wimp out.

  37. Flerrin

    Flerrin8 months ago

    Does that now mean I must include topics or ideologies I don't agree with or even violate my personal rules for the sake of someone else so they can feel save?

  38. John Doe

    John Doe7 months ago

    Why? Why would these rules not apply to you the same way they would to others?

  39. Isaiah Kerstetter

    Isaiah Kerstetter8 months ago

    Games can never have "legitimate harm". Games aren't real. The threats in them aren't real. Scenarios can be annoy you, they can not hurt you.

  40. Isaac Matthews

    Isaac Matthews8 months ago

    2:18 What fantasy world do you live in?

  41. Thomas Gibbs

    Thomas Gibbs7 months ago

    The one where it's ok to support children in drag queen competitions but it's wrong to write a dark story about real world events.

  42. [WUT] RKProRacer

    [WUT] RKProRacer8 months ago

    1:26 no, that’s just me whenever I try and play train simulator

  43. Creatureofthemorning

    Creatureofthemorning8 months ago

    Thank you so much for making this video! While I've been playing D&D with a good group of friends, one of them has been bullying other player-characters in game, and I was able to better realize what was bothering me about that as a result of seeing this video. Thank you for helping us to start the conversation about setting boundaries for our D&D game, so that we can have more enjoyable games in the future, and can address some of the problems we have been having.

  44. shydex

    shydex8 months ago

    Thinking i'm going to unsubscribe. You guy's don't really talk about game design any more. None of this hypothetical stuff is going to help anyone make a game. It's just going to help people talk about making a game, which mean's they won't be making a game. Your first episodes where about keeping it simple. I like you, and the earlier stuff was really helpful

  45. Mallrat82

    Mallrat828 months ago

    Step one: stop getting so damn offended by everything! If one can't handle a little discomfort in a game, he or she has far greater personal issues to worry about. Also, the roller coaster analogy is a horrible comparison. They have safety harnesses to protect people from possible injury or death. There is no such risk in a tabletop game. Step two: if you can't take the heat, get/stay out of the kitchen! I'll use myself as an example here, and to put the roller coaster analogy to good use as a viable argument, I'll go the psycological route. I have acrophobia, so I tend to stay away from roller coaster rides at all costs because I don't want to put myself in a situation of potential panic. The key here is that I, and no one else, am responsible for myself. If a player has a unique condition or has experienced some sort of trauma or anything like that, it's up to that person, and that person alone, to stay out of circumstances that would put him or her into a state of panic. It's up to him or her to ask questions about the scenario and decide whether or not to play in that particular game session.

  46. Calinas the Necromancer

    Calinas the Necromancer8 months ago

    Yep, profile pic checks out

  47. Kebin Yell

    Kebin Yell8 months ago

    This is actually a real problem with some games more than others. I'm running a game set in the 20s, and I think we can all agree that America had some work to do. Most of our discomfort comes from race and ethnicity, since we cranked the stupid up to eleven on that front. But even the politics of the time can cause a problem. We had a teetotaler in the group, and they were bothered with issues around Alcohol and alcoholism. And don't even get me started on the politics abroad at the time. Thanks for spoiling my game, Vladdy. Got off topic a little there, but I guess I just wanted to offer some specifics about things that will distress players, even some you would never have thought of as a problem in a million years.

  48. faceshed

    faceshed8 months ago

    Uh... You should always side with the person that feels uncomfortable no matter what? That is the dumbest rule I've ever heard. Boundaries shouldn't just always be excepted without question because some people use this to get whatever they want. The key here is not to side with an arbitrary party and call everyone else selfish, but to establish teamwork by establishing how far is too far.

  49. Pied Piper's Pestilence

    Pied Piper's Pestilence8 months ago

    Well, I do not disagree with your viewpoints often, but in this case I do. When we play an RPG sooner or later there will be fighting and that means there will be blood shed and I wouldn't want to play with anyone who whimps out, just because of realistic effects of fighting. Let's take another example - what if we played Call of Cthulhu and the player wimps out - that`s a great nope, cause the fame is all about horror and dread. If you can't stand playing adult rpg's then just don't. You do not go into a slasher movie and then cry about all the guts flying around.

  50. Aster Davies

    Aster Davies8 months ago

    Hey I recently watched a GDC about creating a sense of "home" in games. Felt like Extra Credits could do an episode on this, I'd love to learn more.

  51. conscript900

    conscript9008 months ago

    Another piece of advice would be dont play a setting thats going to almost for a fact have things you wont be okay with. IE if you have a problem with torture gore and bloodshed. dont play warhammer 40K

  52. Skelly

    Skelly8 months ago

    Yeah sure let me just throw out my artistic integrity for the sake of others.

  53. your father

    your father8 months ago

    You sound like a narcissistic DM

  54. Doctor Kalkyl of the 501st

    Doctor Kalkyl of the 501st8 months ago

    Telling me not to violate others emotional boundries violates my emotional boundries!

  55. Kinshra Slave

    Kinshra Slave8 months ago

    Imo a good DM can quell most players who are pushing playing a jerk too far. Its fine to play someone who's kind of a douche but there are consequences for going overboard and the player needs to understand that. For example your character acts like an ass and gets banned from the hub town's market place, now to buy anything you have to pass stealth rolls and/or pay off merchants and guards.

  56. Kinshra Slave

    Kinshra Slave8 months ago

    Where my fellow Myriad Song players at?

  57. Viktor the Creator

    Viktor the Creator9 months ago

    Remember kids, it's Dungeons and Dragons, not Dungeons and Dickheads.

  58. Pepijn

    Pepijn9 months ago

    I find the portrayal of orcs in this video rather discriminatory.

  59. AJ Fawxe

    AJ Fawxe9 months ago

    As a person who has played and run: Don't Rest Your Head, which deals with psychological horror stemming from anything from psychological trauma to mental disorders to substance abuse. Wraith: The Oblivion which deals with death, the afterlife, the things you left behind, and the despair of knowing it's all over. Changeling: The Lost, which deals with having your life torn apart, often by a creature who treats you as something less than a person. Changeling stories often involve a lot of abuse or manipulation. They're changed in ways that they often do not consent to. When they escape the find that a doppelganger has taken their place and they have no normal life to go back to. These and many other games require a deep understanding of your group. I trust in that while you explore these dark and complex subjects you will ask with an appropriate amount of care and concern. I can happily say that my table has never had someone walk away in anger, pain, disgust, or any other negative feeling. Respect your table, these people are your friends. They trust you to respect them and their boundaries.

  60. Kyle Thomas

    Kyle Thomas9 months ago

    Well there goes my hope of playing a Hobgoblin, just the lore will get the x card spammed.

  61. Alexander Rodriguez y Gibson

    Alexander Rodriguez y Gibson3 months ago

    Kyle Thomas In witch RPG?

  62. Tweedlebean

    Tweedlebean9 months ago

    More people need to understand that "you aren't playing a jerk, you are a jerk" thing.

  63. BerlinWallNeverFall

    BerlinWallNeverFall9 months ago

    You guys should talk about hajduks, especially from Western balkans

  64. I Twine

    I Twine9 months ago

    As always, the Extra Credits team are retards.

  65. Yomoto Smith

    Yomoto Smith9 months ago

    "And then the tentacle monster...." nuff said \:-)

  66. Yomoto Smith

    Yomoto Smith9 months ago

    "And then the tentacle monster...." nuff said \:-)

  67. Güber McSanchez

    Güber McSanchez9 months ago

    Good watch ty.

  68. Low Gun

    Low Gun9 months ago

    The only part of this video I disagree with is the fact that the "jerk" character wasn't eating an apple

  69. blarg2429

    blarg24297 months ago

    Cinema Sins hasn't been good enough to be worth referencing in several years, but suit yourself.

  70. Mendoras

    Mendoras9 months ago

    So I made a mistake when my players had to choose to safe a beloved npc companion or some children? 😈. I think that was great, and one of the Player character still suffers of nightmares because of that. 😎

  71. Mark Stevenson

    Mark Stevenson9 months ago

    How do these systems address people that want to use these rules and systems as justifications for control over others? All rules and systems can be abused by those that stick to the letters of the rules but not the intended ethics underlying them. Having worked in public health I have encountered a number of people who act in this RPG terms these are emotional rules laywers.

  72. Brandon Vaughan

    Brandon Vaughan8 months ago

    They don't. And I'm surprised more people haven't made similar arguments to yours. I've been around folks who use emotional manipulation to get what they want so I see that this is ripe for that type of abuse. My other thought is, if you legitimately have serious, deep seated issues with concepts/situations that could very easily come up in RPGs, why are you playing then?