Today, I’m going to talk – again – about the topic of how you play at your table, and how it is quite literally the business of no one but you and your group how you do so. This is prompted by someone throwing a childish hissy fit on Twitter at an author I’m a fan of, who happens to play what I think is 4th edition D&D.
As a warning, there is a bit of language in the post below the cut that may be considered foul. Be advised, if this may trouble you.
The author in question is Ursula Vernon; if you like weird and whimsical with a touch of the kind of darkness you’d expect in a proper fairy tale, you might want to look into her stuff; I put her up with Neil Gaiman as people I want to read, for the same reasons of how engrossing and compelling their works are. They’re wildly different – Neil is stardust and midnight shadows, while Ursula is gardened earth and the old magic of the trees – but they’re good.
At any rate, the event in question was the creation of a kobold prostitution ring run out of the castle where her group’s characters are based. The only mention of it by Ursula was that they’d briefly derailed the game to make certain that it was safe, legal, and completely voluntary on the part of the kobolds. It was a tongue-in-cheek quip where she was sharing some of the silliness that crops up so often among gaming groups.
And then some dude with a fetish for policing the gameplay of other butted in and turned it into a Trumpist rant about how kobolds are vile and how it isn’t heroic to make such vile things safe to whore themselves out. He even, I am told, made a blog post about this tweet; I haven’t bothered to read it because it’d just make my blood pressure go up. I’ve heard it all from his group by now, anyway.
See, this dude is exactly what you, dear reader, should strive to not be. He’s the kind of jerk who doesn’t feel happy if they know that someone is having fun in a way that they disapprove of. It’s none of his business; he can disapprove of prostitution in a game, or treating kobolds as sapient creatures in a game, or whatever all he likes. He doesn’t have to have any of it in his games.
And that’s all the say he gets in it. He’s not a part of the group in question; his opinion matters as much as a gnat farting in a tornado. The people who are part of the group are all in on it and they’re all having fun; that’s all that matters here. The difference here between this group and the one I’ve described in the past as the worst group in the world is simple: this group hasn’t invited this dude in. The worst group invited me, who was already uncomfortable with their behavior, and then someone who clearly didn’t consent to their behavior, and inflicted that behavior on everyone anyway.
Consent matters completely for the group; it doesn’t mean a fucking thing for people who aren’t a part of it. Ursula’s group doesn’t need my consent or approval, even though they have both, because I’m not in their game. They don’t need the consent or approval of the thin-skinned internet dickbag, because for all of his tantrum-throwing he isn’t a part of that group. You, dear reader, don’t need my consent or approval for your games, either – just the consent and approval of the others at the table.
So go out and have all the WrongBadFun you want; just make sure the others at the table are on board with it first, because consent fucking well matters.
And assholes don’t.