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Nerdarchy > Film, TV and Video  > YouTube  > Nerdarchy on Does Zoo Mafia RPG Need Safety Tools Design Diary #11

Nerdarchy on Does Zoo Mafia RPG Need Safety Tools Design Diary #11

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In this 16-minute video on Nerdarchy the YouTube channel Nerdarchists Dave and Ted dive back into the Zoo Mafia Roleplaying Game. Nerdarchy is taking a crack at game design for our very own RPG by hacking Powered by the Apocalypse. In the video they discuss safety tools for a crime RPG.

The conversation starts an overview of  Zoo Mafia, the RPG where you Go Wild, Do Crime and Don’t Let Humans Catch You. Dave and Ted briefly discuss the concept of safety tools as regards RPGs in general, pointing out their usefulness and importance. Safety tools help ensure everyone enjoys the game and improve the mutual consideration among players.

“It only takes one person to introduce circumstances that one or more people might inflict on others that they aren’t interested in. All of which can be avoided simply by having a discussion before the game starts. Occasionally something will come up that won’t be discussed so I’d prefer to have the tools to address it when it happens. It really just comes down to having empathy for others.” — Nerdarchist Dave, in response to a video comment

Considering potential safety tools is particularly important for a game like Zoo Mafia RPG because the subject matter could lead to uncomfortable places for some players. Since characters in the game are criminals seeking to rise in the ranks of powerful organized crime families they’ll undoubtedly engage in unsavory activity from time to time. But even in these circumstances it’s wise to establish some boundaries.

In our own live playtest for Zoo Mafia RPG we spent a good deal of time during our session zero setting some boundaries ourselves. For example more than one player didn’t want to include topics like sex work into our campaign. This group has been playing together for years now and we know each other’s likes and dislikes pretty well but it was still more than worthwhile to have this open conversation and discuss the safety tools we’d use if our story strayed in a direction someone didn’t feel comfortable about.

This illustrates another positive aspect of discussing these things with fellow players. In addition to sharing themes and topics we’d leave off the table we also thought about the crime aspects on which we did want to focus. While Zoo Mafia RPG leans heavily into crime story elements this same approach could be used for other genres too. Fantasy for example can vary wildly from dark and disturbing to shining heroism. Are there places your adventurers — and the players behind them — don’t want to tread?

In the video Dave and Ted go over a few well known safety tools to explain their use. These can come up before, during or after any game. The examples they use are the X-Card, which is used during play, Lines and Veils that are established before a game starts and a Debrief following a game session. The last of these is what Nerdarchy’s Tuesday night group use most often. We often check in with each other about a variety of things (including how much fun we have with every game together!).

Are you familiar with RPG safety tools? What techniques do you use in your game groups to help ensure a safe and pleasant gaming experience?

If you want to be one of the first people to get your paws on those Zoo Mafia Quick Start Rules you can sign up for the Zoo Mafia RPG newsletter here.

Nerdarchy staff

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