Anyone (player or organiser) may invoke any of these at any time, without being expected to give reasons. All participants are expected to respect these without question, and anyone failing to do so may be removed from the event. Several of these offer different methods for accomplishing similar ends, but we feel that a broad toolkit will suit more players and different styles of play.
Please note that all players are generally expected to use common sense in regard of these rules. Another player saying “OC: This is getting too intense, dial it back please” is just the same as saying “Brake” and should be treated the same way. These tools exist to help people feel safe, and establish norms, not to be strictly prescriptive about the exact wording we expect players to use.
“Cut” – This should be used to indicate a need to stop play at once. Anyone hearing a call of cut should immediately cease playing and work together to resolve the situation. This can apply to issues of both emotional and physical safety – that is, it is as valid to make a call of “Cut” because someone is uncomfortable to the point that they need to remove themselves from activity immediately and without discussion, as it is to call “Cut” because someone has a physical injury. Players should use their judgement about how loud and general a call of “Cut” to make – a conversation between three players where one needs to use the call to stop the conversation can probably be stopped quietly. A physical injury probably needs a more general call to stop the entire game.
“Brake” – This should be used to indicate that someone is approaching a personal limit, and that they do not wish to go further than this. Participants should continue play, but ensure that the physical or emotional intensity of the situation does not escalate further, and take steps to reduce the intensity of the situation as fast as possible.
OK check in
This is intended for use in intense situations where a character might be distressed/crying/otherwise extremely emotional, and another player might need to be assured that the player is simply doing a great job of acting, but is not, in themselves, unduly upset. It is used as follows:
Player 1 flashes the “OK” symbol — with the thumb and index finger touching in an “o” and the other three fingers extended upward — to another player and establishes eye contact. This gesture means “Are you okay?”
Player 2 responds to the signal with one of three responses:
- Thumbs-up, which means “I’m fine.”
- Thumbs-down, which means “I am not okay.” Player 1 should respond by asking if Player 2 would like to stop, take a break, or otherwise pause.
- Flat hand, which means “I am not sure.” Player 1 should still respond by asking if Player 2 would like to stop, take a break, or otherwise pause.
You may choose not to interact with a scene or another player at any time by covering your eyes, looking down, and walking away. This is a visual cue that the participant (rather than the character) wants to opt out of a situation.
Don’t Ask Why, Don’t Say Why
In the event that any player or ref needs to use any of these safety techniques, it is important both that other participants do not ask why, and that player using the technique does not say why. This has a dual function: It avoids the any perception of a hierarchy of reasons for self-care, and most importantly, by ensuring that reasons are never given, it protects those who need to use these techniques for private reasons that they may not want to share.