Darker themes in RPG's?

Discussion in 'Role-Play Discussion' started by Squishy24601, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. Squishy24601

    Squishy24601 Resident Game Owner

    What are your opinions on darker themes in RPG's? Themes typically deemed as taboo? Do you enjoy exploring them? Do they make you uncomfortable? Do you allow them on your sites? Does it annoy you when people are closed-minded to the exploration of these topics on sites that have 3-3-3 ratings? If you do enjoy exploring them, why, and if you're one of the ones that don't, why is that?
  2. caporushes
    Caffeine Fix

    caporushes Newcomer Game Owner

    It doesn't annoy me if sites have a 3/3/3 rating but don't allow certain themes on their site. They're perfectly allowed to say you can write explicit content (on any axis), but put limits on what that content can be in specific. That's just how cultivating a space works.

    I'm also not opposed to a site ALLOWING darker content. Nobody is going to hold me at gunpoint and make me read threads that cover territory I'm not comfortable with that I'm not involved in. I like writing some "dark" stuff myself, I guess, but I wouldn't want anyone to feel obligated to read it.

    That being said--that requires that those themes are appropriately tagged/indicated in some way so that everyone can pick their own comfort zones. This can be thread tags or descriptions or SOMETHING... I just think it's a general courtesy.
    aine likes this.
  3. aine

    aine Newcomer Game Owner

    While I can admittedly get frustrated with sites that have mature ratings and allow some questionable things while outright banning others, I have to remind myself that for every site it is up to the staff's digression what they are comfortable with having on their own site. So, at the end of the day, I can't fault them for wanting to be able to write in a community they themselves are comfortable in.

    As long as I'm comfortable with my writing partner (which usually translates to being pretty close friends with them) then I don't mind darker, taboo, themes. Although, the plot would have to make sense to me and I'd of course have to have muse for it, but that's about all the qualms I'd have over writing darker themes.
    caporushes likes this.
  4. Lasciel

    Lasciel Newcomer

    Some of my earliest frustration with online writing came from butting up against censorship of 'extreme content'. I was writing on a family friendly LotR site and while I knew that sexual things were not allowed, it was 'kiss fade to black' essentially I got a few nudges about gore content in my battle posts. While "And then there was a mighty battle... meanwhile the trees" might have worked for Tolkien it doesn't for me :P I like the scene building, writing sustaining injury and the chaos of combat, so I ventured out in search of places that would let me write to my apparently bloody heart's content.

    Since that time I've written a wide variety of what most would consider extreme content and don't see myself ever going back to a site that has hard limits on what is allowed. That being said I am ALL for content and trigger warnings. Nothing sucks more than clicking on a random story and falling blind into something hardcore.
  5. Pigboy

    Pigboy Newcomer

    Yeah, obvious issues aside (warnings, notes) I'm okay with reading most any kind of content. That said, I'm not opposed to an option that allows such content to be segregated, such as adult forum within the forum. Not everyone enjoys that, however, I understand.

    There's still something to be said for writing around such scenes, however. It can get tricky, but there's a definite trade-off between cutting off hard after a kiss and assuming sexy-times happened, and kind of being more implicit about the act.
  6. ElusionRpStaff

    ElusionRpStaff Newcomer Game Owner

    I personally love writing darker themes and tabboo themes. Exploring frightening, sinister, and violent stories through writing is healthy in some ways. I do get annoyed when 3-3-3 sites aren't true 3-3-3 sites.
  7. RedSky

    RedSky Newcomer Game Owner

    I enjoy writing darker themes. It helps me explore things in a safe environment, or to process some of the darker things that happened in my life. I think it's a healthy outlet. All of my sites are true 3-3-3s, but I don't blame anyone for not allowing certain content.
  8. Peaky-Blinder

    Peaky-Blinder Newcomer Game Owner

    I enjoy darker and taboo themes. And I do sort of feel that if a site claims to be 333 then it really should be. If they are not as comfortable as they claim with certain kinds of content, then change the rating. There is no shame in that. Everyone has different comfort levels, just make it clear. The game I currently run is pretty much centered around a source material that is heavily 333, so admittedly perhaps I am a little biased. But as long as people know where things stand, and I stress - any such content is clearly tagged so can be avoided easily. Then everything is hunky dory.
    Aphachea likes this.
  9. nemesi5

    nemesi5 Newcomer

    The 333 system is a difficult rating system for me because I’ve found lately that there are many communities that are actually incredibly granular about exactly what specific types of taboo content they’ll go for, and which they are vehemently opposed to.

    I’ve been in a group where the topics of mass murder and genocide were fine with the majority and even joked about, but even the most infinitesimal amount of harm to a child character including things like underage drinking or any kind of sexually complicated content whatsoever were heavily looked down upon. I guess what annoys me the most is when people act like there’s some kind of moral superiority to liking one type of taboo theme over another—all of it is awful IRL, that’s why it’s taboo. I certainly have my topics that I would prefer not to touch with a ten foot pole, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think people can write about them.

    Personally I think that content warnings and keeping taboo content discussions private OOC are the most important thing, and making sure that you have your space set up such that you can easily cordon off areas with challenging themes so that people who don’t want to see it don’t have to.
    Aphachea likes this.
  10. storynsong

    storynsong Newcomer

    Content warnings! Definitely the way to go. I personally loooooove darker themes, because to me writing is the chance to explore situations through a character that I, the person, might never really experience. But I belonged to a site once that used a light system when tagging posts (Green circle for Everyone, Yellow for a little dicey like substances and vague sexual mentions, Orange for this is getting intense and Red for Seriously don't read this if you're sensitive in any way.) Then at the top of a post, just throw in a little tidbit about what kind of dark/taboo content it is.

    The other factor which made that system work was that under your OOC profile you could list your limits and what you weren't okay with reading/writing. That gave visibility to the community so I wasn't sending eye-related gore to a player I knew was squeamish about it, as an example, and also helped inform what specific CWs to include.

    Overall that system made for a really safe space where everyone could still write what they wanted on the 3-3-3 site.
  11. Malikgrippen

    Malikgrippen Newcomer Game Owner

    Not a fan. They are really just a way for people to play out their disturbing thoughts with others.
  12. Siren

    Siren Newcomer Game Owner

    Our site is 3-3-3, so I certainly enjoy darker themes. To me, it makes the RP more realistic when you can get to the nitty gritty of things. It's definitely not for everyone though.
  13. I don't mind exploring such as increased violence in fights on 3-3-3 sites. However, other topics (usually dark in terms of sexual or mental health) that I absolutely do not want to deal with or read. Many of which I think have no place in a forum RP either. They're illegal for a reason. Mentioning it happening in the past as part of a character's bio is one thing. Actually RPing it is another thing entirely. one that I'm not comfortable doing or reading.
  14. Cirago

    Cirago Resident Patron

    My issue with 3-3-3 is that it lacks nuance. A site may be okay with sexually explicit content and with violence as separate categories, for instance, but due to admin or player preferences not the intersection between the two, and each community needs to work out its interests, acceptable topics, and limits amongst itself.

    I tend to see 3-3-3 as the start of a conversation, rather than a guarantee that a site has no limits. I agree with others that having tagging and flagging systems in place for threads that will contain specific triggers is an important component of making sure everyone is safe and comfortable RPing together, not to mention common courtesy. But I have no problem with a site allowing a 3 in Violence on a personal character level, but limiting something like genocide.

    Remember that the moderators are people too, and if they're called in to read a thread that might be violating other site ToSes they should be able to do so within their personal comfort levels and without risking specific personal triggers. We don't know what life experiences they've had that might influence how they react to reading specific dark situations, and at the end of the day if your moderators are getting too stressed by what's going on on their site, they'll close it and then nobody gets to have fun there anymore.

    That said, I know it can be cathartic or just plain fascinating for people to explore dark themes in the relatively safe, controlled environment of RP, where situations and characters are entirely fantastical and separated through a screen and the distance of text instead of visceral images. Having the option to write those encounters is valuable, but it means finding the right partners and right community who can handle and support that. That may mean spending weeks or months combing through active sites to find one that clicks with the themes you want to explore, or it may mean starting your own site to build a community of like-minded writers!
    Honey likes this.
  15. knifeskunk

    knifeskunk Newcomer

    I'm a big proponent of 'heed the tags'. I tend to think 3-2-3 is a bit silly (personally) for personal reasons and 3-3-3 ratings draw me so long as they have a sufficient tagging culture for people to avoid anything they don't want to see.

    As for dark/taboo/tough content, I enjoy it, but again, big on curating spaces - I think people should be able to have the systems they need to avoid it, but also think people shouldn't be judgy about those who do.
    Iztak likes this.
  16. Sage_Xalcen

    Sage_Xalcen Fresh Blood

    As long as it is noted I've never seen the deal one way or the other. It just be what it be. RP is meant to be a hobby so to each their own.
  17. odd

    odd Resident Patron Game Owner

    We have a 3-3-3 site rating but certainly, there are times that I've drawn a hard line in the sand if I feel like topics are being written about from an uncharitable or cruel point of view. We also have tags for trigger warnings and adult-content so that members who are just reading threads can be warned ahead of time about what they might stumble on.
  18. kraken

    kraken Newcomer

    If it's not gratuitous, sure. If you're writing graphic violence for the sake of ... well, idk, but if it's for an unsavoury reason or shock value, get outta here! Similarly with other themes that might be rated 15 or 18+ (i.e. if you're writing triggering material to be ~edgy~ or for shock value, just... stop).
  19. Gwendalyn

    Gwendalyn Newcomer

    Dark can be a good thing to add, but 15+ is enough. Not more heavy