The goal of any good game is for all of the players to have fun. Some things aren’t fun for all players, so we skip right over those. There are a couple of tools that make that easy to do. These tools are separate from the palette because they aren’t exactly story- or game-related.

X Card

The X Card is a card with an X on it. If a player taps it, picks it up, or whatever, the topic at hand gets rewound and undone, no questions asked. It doesn’t matter why. It could be something traumatic or just some sensory issue that bothers the player. You are playing games with friends or potential friends, so don’t be a jerk, just back it up and try something new. The player with the X Card may have to say what gets undone, but that’s it. No conversation or explanation is needed or wanted at this point.

Lines & Veils

Lines are places we don’t go. Don’t cross that line. Again, the reason could be trauma, sensory issues, bad memories, discomfort, or something else. Just don’t do it. Don’t edge up to it, don’t try to see how close you can get to the line. Skip this and let everyone at the table have fun.

Veils are things we do that we can acknowledge, but don’t want to see, so we fade to black. Sex in a roleplaying game is a common example, so are certain kinds of injuries. If sex is veiled, skip over it with something like “My seduction was successful. The next morning….”

Both lines and veils are best done anonymously. Everybody puts their lines and veils on an index card and turns them all in to the facilitator. However, if any of them aren’t clear, somebody will need to clarify what the card means. In general, make your lines and veils clear and this won’t be a problem.


The Palette is a beautiful mechanic from Microscope that helps ensure everyone gets the game they want to play. It’s a simple yes/no list.

First, pick a genre. Are you playing fantasy, scifi, 80s action movie, or something else entirely?

Go around the table. Everybody, in turn, adds something to either the Add list or the Ban list. When someone passes on their turn, everybody else gets one turn, then the palette is complete. The things in the Add list will be a part of the game. The things in the Ban list will not. You might end up with lists like this:

Add: Spaceships, dragons, heist

Ban: Magic, capital punishment, drug use


Add: Ritual magic, virtual reality, intelligent pigs, serious tone

Ban: Bacon, government agents, computer viruses

The Ban list is sacred. These things will not be in the game, period. The Add list is a bit more flexible, because a scene may not be conducive to including an Add element, but every effort should be made to include the Add elements in the game.

The Add List is also where you can set the tone, the genre, and a host of other things that make this the game you want to play. Discussion and negotiation are allowed and encouraged here.

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