Coolness Policy

Hey, welcome to the New York Red Box crew! We hope you'll have a lot of fun playing games with us, and stick around for a long time. This page is our attempt to codify the unspoken standards of play that we've been following for the past few years.

When you join the Red Box site, we promise to always be cool to you, and you promise not to be uncool to us. If you start acting uncool to other players on the site or while we're gaming we'll ask you to leave. You are playing Dungeons & Dragons - be cool!!

Since there's no central authority for the group, maintaining these rules is a community project; the more you help make sure these rules reflect the way you want to be treated, the better an authority they'll be!

How Can I Avoid Being Uncool?

  • Act like you know how to behave. We're playing in public, so make sure that your behavior will be offensive neither to the person next to you nor the grandmother and kids who may be walking by.
  • Act like players are people. We're a diverse group racially, gender-ly, sexually, and religiously. If you want to play with us, be cool with who we are. Remember that people come from many different cultures (don't even assume we're all immersed in gamer culture!). Avoid slang like "nigga" and "gay" that may be OK in your group but offensive to others.
  • Act like we were all new once. Some of us are new to the game. Friendly advice is welcome, but don't be overbearing when criticizing others' choices, especially if they're new. That's not always an easy call, but err on the side of assuming people know what they're doing, and letting them make their own mistakes even if they don't.
  • Act like games are just games. If you think you're better than someone else because of the particular kind of roleplaying game you prefer, or your mastery of the rules of that game, or your knowledge of the real-world details that relate to the game, or whatever - please keep this opinion to yourself. Don't get defensive and imagine that someone is challenging your superiority if they express other views.
  • Act with respect for our lines and veils. (See below.)

What are Lines and Veils?

A Line is a flat limit on what we're willing to imagine taking place in the game, even if the rules might otherwise permit that behavior. A Veil allows the events to occur, but it's understood that we'll gloss them over instead of describing them graphically.

Lines, or Limits on Authority

Even if the rules imply that your character could do these things, at our table it simply doesn't happen - and your request is basically stricken from the record. Saying "but that's what my character would do" does not justify crossing these lines; we respect your desire to role-play, but respectfully request that you find an in-character way to justify role-playing within these limits.

  • No sexual violence or abuse, whether among player characters (PCs) or the characters run by the DM (NPCs).
  • No intentional violence between PCs. In some situations, another player's PC may wind up inadvertently causing harm to yours. Do assume that it was not on purpose; don't attack them in retaliation. If you're upset that someone is persistently not careful enough about where they throw their flaming oil, talk about it as people at the table, don't act on it in-character.
  • No deliberate and recurrent humiliation of a fellow PC. Humor is encouraged, and many of the fates that are likely to befall your PC are humiliating. It's hard to tell where good-humored teasing stops and picking on someone begins, so talk about it as people at the table.
  • (Other Lines may be added; if you've got one, edit it in!)

Veils, or Limits on Explicitness

Stuff that's behind a Veil occurs in the fiction, but we generally gloss over the details. Giving all kinds of crazy details has a pretty high chance of either derailing the session or making people pretty uncomfortable.

  • Sex
  • Torture
  • (Other things, keeping in mind that we need to respect not only our own comfort level but also that of passers-by)

Adding more Lines and Veils if Necessary

If someone says, "Hey, maybe let's not go there," that's a request to cordon off some fictional material. Respect that request for the time being; don't press for an explanation or make a big issue about it.

Some Questions You Might Have

Something's distressing me in the game - what should I do?

Just pipe up and say, "Hey, I have a problem with this." It's our responsibility to abide by the Coolness Policy and to respect the Lines and Veils. But it's your responsibility to be aware of and talk about how you feel! If the Coolness Policy is inadequate, we need to know.

It's impossible to resolve a real-world social problem with in-game fiction. If something's upsetting you, it won't go away until the real people resolve it.

If you're not comfortable talking about it in front of everyone, try talking to the DM, social host, or the person you feel is responsible for the problem. If you are the DM and something is bothering you, you can say "Let's pause here and talk about this out of character," or talk with the people involved privately away from the table.

I felt distressed, but didn't object at the time - what should I do now?

After the game, talk to the DM or the host of the session to let him or her know about the problem. Ideally this person will find a tactful way to handle the situation. You might want to talk to a player you trust to get some moral support.

If the people you talk to can't resolve the problem - or, yipes, the troublesome content was introduced by the DM or the host - send a private message to James_Nostack, who organized the Red Box site. He can be found on the Members page (on the left-hand menu bar).

Why not let me say what I want, and if someone objects I'll stop?

Because there are many reasons a person might feel reluctant to come forward. For example, "If I object, will anyone else at the table back me up? Will my objection make things worse? I'm new here - will they invite me back?" Placing the burden on the aggrieved person would ensure under-reporting.

The existence of a coolness policy implies that you guys have problems being cool to each other!

Au contraire! (Glantrian for, "Save vs. Poison.") In two years of play we've been remarkably free of inter-personal conflict, and we want to keep it that way. We're a public gaming group that's steadily expanding, with lots of new players. We're interested in making our expectations explicit to try to extend that streak of good luck.

Is this censorship?

No. We're just letting you know how to get along with us. The Coolness Policy amounts to, "Don't act like a jerk, and if you're in doubt then ask first." If you feel that's too constraining, then we're not the ideal group for you.

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