Warning labels and tools?


Stupid question of the day…

Warning speeches and or content warnings and tools for the game?

A cool trend I see is content warnings…I do not see them as a safety hatch for the weak willed, but as a very clever avenue to playing with some very touchy and emotional topics. And approaching them in a mature way, as opposed to popcorn flick way.

Tarantino approaches violence differently in his movies, but it is fun and glorified. Taking the turn for the tragic is harder in games, I don’t want to play emotional games weekly, but I do want to play them.

I think a well crafted one also helps set the tone for the mood of the game.

What tools do you use at the table?
How do you assemble your content warning?


Something done at cons that I’ve played at is the GMs have index cards on the table with the classic symbols you see on media players. > for play, = for pause, and X for stop right now. You can touch those cards at any point to indicate how okay you are with subjects that come up. It wasn’t used, but it certainly created a good feeling that it was there.


Perhaps this can help:

The PDF is free


I try to lay out clear ideas; gain as best i can, an understanding of my player’s comfort levels with certain topics and situations during my session zeros. Beyond that I try to pay attention to their reactions to things during the game itself. And always make it clear in front of everyone that anyone can call for a stop during things they aren’t comfortable with.
This has worked well for me so far.
If I had a group new to me I would work to layout these understanding with more specificity than a group I know.


As actionable as those tools may be, they have the problem that they are overt - the person needs to put themselves in the open and not all are willing to do that.

The consent form being anonymous gives a bit more ‘freedom’ to those players.

Another I’ve seen and used is the ‘table buddy’ system. The gist of it is another person keeps tabs on your cues for discomfort and they signal the DM (through messaging or another covert form) to take 5 or something like that. It has a lot more mechanisms, but I can’t remember them all.


Every October I run a series of horror games. I often try to push the boundaries into unusual and uncomfortable content. I want my players and myself to be morally challenged by these games, and take away something to think about. I make Facebook events for each game, and provide a blurb with a content warning. In this way, my friends were able to self-select ahead of time whether they wanted to be part of that content.

In 2019, I concluded October with a The Crow game, in which the PCs were the bad people, being stalked by the undead avenger. The crow only brings back souls to avenge the very worst of crimes. Further, unlike the source material where the baddies are mostly one-dimensional wastes of good air, I made sure my PCs had a sympathetic side. As you might imagine, this was far and away the most edgy game I’ve ever played. I used Monte Cook’s Consent In Gaming, encouraged my players to read it, and required the consent checklist to be filled out to play. I’m glad I did, because I realized as we sat down to play that some of the content I’d prepared was a hard no for one of my players. Fortunately I was able to improvise an adjustment, and we had an epic, memorable game.