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Some people in the RPG world struggle with the concept of "safety tools" at the table. I'm referring to things like the "X-card" - things we can have on the table to remind us to be aware of each other's limits and to remind people that it's OK to have a conversation about them (or, often, NOT to have a conversation about them, by just cutting them out).
Well, in a discussion on this topic I came across a brilliant analogy by Jesse Cox:
The safety tool (like the X-card) is a successful Spot check.
Using something like the X-card allows you, as a group to make a successful Spot check for problems in your group.
I really like this formulation. It simultaneously scores (at least) two nice points:
1. It's accessible and in "gamer-speak", which may make it more palatable for people (especially old-school gamers) who find the whole idea of "safety tools" weird and New Age-y.
2. More importantly, it really underlines how the tool doesn't, by itself, do anything.
It's still up to us to be aware of issues, communicate clearly with each other, and fix them. The Spot check doesn't help us avoid danger: it's just the first step to avoiding a trap or fighting a foe. It's still the party's responsibility to avoid danger and escape the dungeon, after all - but without a successful Spot check, we have no chance at all.
I'll have to think it over some more, but, at first glance, I love it.