Are your tabletop RPGs G-rated? Do they head into PG territory, or are you more of a hard “R” player? Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to gaming, and navigating them can be one of the biggest challenges of roleplaying.
There are a few tools out there to make sure players stay safe and comfortable, like the X-Card, but most come with weaknesses that can be just as complicated as the issues they’re trying to solve. For some players, stopping play can feel like a drastic move, and people end up powering through scenes that might be upsetting, unwelcome or triggering even though they have a tool at hand.
Script Change is a new tool by designer Brie Sheldon that aims to offer players and GMs more options than stopping play. Ideally, groups discuss big-picture concerns before playing, so everyone is on similar pages when it comes to things like violence and sexual content. Script Change comes into play when elements shift mid-game. Players don’t always know what they’ll be comfortable with in advance, so having something to pull out in those scenarios can keep everyone having fun.
The three main tools in Script Change are rewind, fast forward, and pause. Asking another player to Fast Forward is a request to jump ahead past the current situation. You may not be uncomfortable with the events happening, but you’d prefer a ‘fade to black’ and time skip rather than having them depicted in game. Rewind gives players the chance to fix something that’s already occurring – events have gone in an uncomfortable direction, and the only way to resolve the issue is to break, discuss it, and take another approach.
Pause is the gentlest option: a call for a short break. It can be paired with discussion, a rewind or a fast forward, but it can also be a breather, nothing more.
Sheldon recommends using the tools in more scenarios than you could normally use something like an X-Card:
If the tone has gone too comedic or too dramatic for you, call for a rewind. You can also use rewind if someone is pulling punches and not making the game as action-filled, or as drama-filled, as you want it to be! If you feel like someone is going on-and-on and is making the game boring, you can call for a fast forward. Best of all, you can always use pause when you need a break.
By pulling the tools out in lots of situations, no one is left feeling uncomfortable when they really need to pause, rewind or fast forward through content. And going along with the film theme, Sheldon also puts forward fun tools like Highlight Reels that let players go over the stuff they loved in the session, Instant Replays to go over complicated scenes out of character, or Wrap Meetings to talk through sessions with an eye to constructive criticism.
Script Change is undergoing regular revision, so visit Sheldon’s site for the latest details.