In Random Encounter for this episode, Matt wrote in about an alternative way to use the X Card. I’ve also seen it used that way–I think it’s even in the details of introducing the X Card to the table to use it for something silly, like to take back a joke description, or something. I’ve seen the facilitator/gm ask “do I need to use the X Card here?” in a game that everyone had agreed to push the line ahead of time. That’s fine, but does also lead to some of the problems which you two brought up. Especially because the X feels like a big “NO” for what happened; like you answered wrong on Family Feud.
That’s why I like to use Script Change, by Brie Beau Sheldon. It is a “content, consent, and safety tool for all games”. It uses the terms “pause, resume, frame by frame, rewind, fast forward, and instant replay”. I find that everyone is familiar with these terms, and therefore it’s very user friendly. There are explanations for each of the terms that elaborate and give some nuance to work with too. What is especially great about this tool, is that it encourages checking in with the pause button.
For example, “Pause. Hey y’all, we just heard a child’s scream from upstairs and we’re talking to a witch that may be way out of our league to battle and we might get TPK’d, but my cleric isn’t going to take time to verify if the witch is just baby sitting the neighbor’s kid; he’s going to assume the worst and smash her in the face. You cool with that, or should we let the scene play out a little more before I smash her?”
The table then knows the potentially party killing move I’m going to make.
I mean, I think these tools could used less if we also shared the thoughts of our characters more as we narrate action, but that’s a different subject.
In the episode, Sean said “I don’t ever want to use the X Card”. And I’m sure that was more about not being an Edgelord player or GM, but I think any introduction of potential hesitancy at the table isn’t great. And that’s why the X Card isn’t for every group. If we are worried about making mistakes with the tool, or worried about mistakes in general, our fun make 'em ups aren’t going to be very fun. And a tool which the group is afraid to use isn’t much of a tool for the group. Maybe Script Change would work better for this group.
Here’s a link to the Script Change Itch
Thanks for the BSing about games!