There is a running theme that I’ve been encountering lately where people feel like communicating directly with one and another is somehow too much of a burden and that there should be an easier way of dealing with the pressures of that conflict. For some this means using a “safe word,” which has caused an incredibly negative reaction from several of the blogs I read (please see Maybe I’m That Guy: A Bit O’ the Rant by +Tim Shorts and Need a Safe Word for your RPG Group? How About F*ch Off! by +Erik Tenkar), while others seem to believe that you suffer through that discomfort, quietly, and then never return to that situation.
Like +Tim Shorts and +Erik Tenkar I have a real problem with the idea that any game I'm playing in would need a safe word. Only my problem isn't with the idea that it's introducing popular psychology into my role-playing game; but in the idea that instead of outright talking about the things that make us uncomfortable, or anger us, we'd stop it by shouting out some inane phrase, like Orangejello.
I know that this might sound crazy to some but when things are bothering you in real life or in the game, the grown up thing to do is to say something. If the Dungeon Master is having a non-player character rape the princess to death and it makes you uncomfortable - as it fucking should - then you look the stupid bastard in the face and tell him that shit crosses the line and you'll not abide it. If one of your fellow players is trying to screw a goat, and that bothers you, tell him to quit 'cause it's creeping you the fuck out.
Without confronting the things that bother you in the game, and in life, you're never going to prevent those situations from coming up again and you're not going to be able to set people straight when they start crossing you red lines (or third rails if you prefer that term instead). So don't pussy foot about whispering your safe words in the dark while you're trying to remember how to stagger your keys for the fight that's never going to come. Step up and say something.
Honestly, I don't know if I'll ever understand this childishness that has been creeping up in our culture - and it is childishness. We have gone from a society where we confronted the things that made us uncomfortable and upset to one where any discomfort is too much to bear. I have no interest in adopting that foolishness so if you ever come to my table expect me to be direct with you. I will tell you when you cross the line with me, and I will piss on you if you persist.
This was my rant for the week, but before I go let me give you a lesson in life that an old murderer once told me: discomfort is god's way of letting you know you're still alive, be grateful for it because the alternative isn't worth contemplating.