Should a Dungeon Master change a game campaign to be "cruelty free?"

Originally published at: Should a Dungeon Master change a game campaign to be "cruelty free?" | Boing Boing

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The game should make the players happy. If the request isn’t too onerous why not agree? The people who feel the need to complain about a game they aren’t even a player in are way more of a problem than campaigns where no one eats a dead animal. Indeed, why anyone beyond the players involved gives a fuck is beyond me.


One of the perks of D&D and board games etc, you can house rule things to make it more enjoyable for everyone. Why does anyone else care how someone else wants to play?


For a game where the goal is to have fun with friends, of course, use your imagination to tweak things and make everyone happy - I imagine there are also DMs who use old modules but excise the racism and sexism endemic to a lot of D&D content.

I could also see solutions that require a little more world building and role playing which could be cool. Like not creating a cruelty free world, but creating narrative space for a vegan character to exist in it in a realistic way where they have to navigate a culture predicated on cruelty.

Or adjust the norms of the world to be cruelty-free by default, where the script is flipped and those weird omnivores have to justify their diets and their penchant for leather satchels.


Having a chief God forbid the consumption of flesh could be a simple solution. :smile:


Haven’t played D&D in a long time but I’d be happy for the party to go vegan to make one of us able to play with full enjoyment. Incorporating it is just a challenge, a ludic element if you like, and absolutely in the spirit of games.

Plenty of behaviour is no go in a consensual games environment.


They still have a Monk and Cleric class, right? Its not hard to have any of them in a religion which forbids eating meat like Buddhism and Shinto.


There are a lot of safety tools out there for just such an occasion. An X card is one option, if a GM running for strangers wants to not accidentally get in on someone’s trauma or make them too uncomfortable, it can be a matter of players holding up or tapping a card the GM provides as a signal.

Lines and veils can be how you deal with it, either stuff you know about ahead of time or stuff that comes up. Line being something the group can agree doesn’t happen in game (harm to children being a commonly requested example), with veil being it happens, but just skip over the uncomfortable details (even if you’re fine with meat eating, a detailed step by step description of how bunnies became supper isn’t necessary).

Depends on the group and what they want to compromise or agree on. Maybe a vegan player is ok with the game referencing inns serve hearty meals, and never get into details beyond that. Maybe the GM could reference that it’s assumed in this world vegan options are always available if that helps and not go into details.

What’s really important is everybody is respectful and willing to talk it out. If a compromise can’t be reached, no hard feelings. It’s a collaborative game where everyone should have fun.

(And I’ve heard gamers who do have past trauma joining games with explicit safety tools can feel freer to actually confront those experiences more when they know they’re surrounded by people who care about them. It’s like you wouldn’t explore a scary cave by yourself, but if you have proper equipment and buddies you can still go in, not because you’re sure nothing will go wrong, but there’s plans to deal with things if they do go wrong.)


So many issues in this scenario!

I agree with @BakerB @prh99 (and everyone else who said) this is up to the players and DM. This is supposed to be fun, not an exercise in masochism.

A world where animal flesh is forbidden? @euansmith has a great idea! Heck, the baddies could be religious abominations eating animal flesh and must be stopped!

But there is also an assumption that medieval people were cruel and ignorant in every possible respect, which just isn’t true. A pig slaughtered for a feast or for the player’s dinner? That pig probably had a pretty decent piggy life. It certainly wasn’t raised in modern factory farm conditions, in a tiny pen force fed a monoculture diet designed to fatten it up. And it was slaughtered in a quick and efficient manner — that pig was valuable and as little went to waste as possible. Blood, bones, skin, organs… it was all used if possible. A sloppy, cruel slaughter means you lose valuable parts of the animal. A professional butcher/abattoirist is going to make it as quick and “humane” as possible to avoid loss. (Our ideas of humane may be different, though.).

When I ran campaigns, I generally avoided going into details about food, but that was because my players didn’t find it interesting or important. They ate, they feasted, but we never discussed what it was we were eating. It could have been stereotypical renfest fare, it could have been a stack of broccoli pizza.

It’s the group’s decision, and the group’s alone.


As a family that has house rabbits… yeah, the relatives have learned in no uncertain terms that it is never funny, or acceptable to talk about rabbits becoming meals, just like we don’t talk about how dogs are food in several cultures.


It really is a case of “read the room”, and since the ultimate arbiter is the DM, they can choose to do whatever they like. My group tried to thread the needle of being generally goodish murderhoboes, but would come into quandaries on, exploring a dungeon, and coming across an (evil) goblin community. With evil goblin children. Evil healers. We tried to avoid bloodshed, but then there’s the question of an (evil) community that are behind us while we’re trying to get deeper in the dungeon. And attempts to browbeat them into fear led us to question if we were graduating from murderhoboes to colonial assholes.

We did a lot of mystery based games (dubbed D&D who done it) where the goal was more investigating, sleuthing and such, among (generally) polite society, before the final act when the big bad(s) reveal themselves and we have to kill stuff. But there’s really no reason you can’t play a nonviolent game, if that’s what the group wants.


8 posts were merged into an existing topic: Thrilling Tales Ripped From Your Campaign!

So, after reading the story, then reading the post, sounds like the DM was doing their best to find a way to make both players feel welcome, and anyone outside of that scenario complaining about this is a jerk and should shut up. Good for the GM and the players, I hope they found the right way for everyone to continue enjoying their happy escapism.


I’ll echo what a lot of people are saying here- The huge strength of the tabletop setting is that it’s up to each group and each DM, how to resolve situations like this, and keep the game interesting for all concerned at the same time.

The only thing I’d add is that stuff like this shouldn’t be coming up in the middle of the game- this is the sort of thing that’s best resolved at a session 0, where these things can be hashed out OOC before people have put time and effort into characters and the setting.


The original Reddit thread, the dilemma the DM had was that one of the PCs already had built up a persona of a fellow with a fancy palate and this new player came in and wanted the DM to change the already existing tone of the game. Much of the controversy, such as it was, on the original thread was not so much “should I run a cruelty free campaign” but “it it fair for a new PC to make structural demands on the DM’s universe that tweak the expectations of the other PCs.” Mind you, the game swapped to vegan snacks in, er, meatspace, so there was already some personal accomodation.

I think folks were chiming in far less on veganism but on a newer PC’s personal and in-game self-centeredness.


The classic subversion of this genre was a scenario where we were all guests at a quasi Victorian house. Every morning, somebody is murdered, poisoned. A friend was playing an evil character. So she also poisoned a guest every morning. Eventually, only one victim, her victim, died, the next morning, nobody poisoned anybody, and no one died, so she knew she had solved the scenario. if we played it that way every time, it would get old soon, but it was pretty hilarious. No actual quasi Victorian entities were actually harmed on the making of this anecdote.


21 posts were merged into an existing topic: Can vegans and meat eaters coexist?

Without having watched the video or looked at the reddit thread I feel like I have an opinion to share.

Nothing in the D&D setting required meat eating, so if it isn’t going to make the other people at the table unhappy it is an easy request to satisfy. If it does make them unhappy then you ought to balance out how many people are how unhappy with the change (probably giving some modest amount of preference to people that came into the campaign earlier).

As a less politically charged example my wife & I joined an already running campaign where the DM would frequently “borrow” a character and marriage a multi minute part of a story with that character’s viewpoint and making choices for them and such. It made the campaign feel less like a RPG and more like a novel where various things absolutely set up other things, but also where you the player we’re basically along for the ride far more then actually in control of much of anything.

The existing players loved it, I found it an interesting but slightly off putting change of pace, my wife hated it. However it worked for the group, so we agreed to stick around long enough for them to find replacements and then left. It wasn’t what we wanted, but it was what the table wanted. No hard feelings.



But to the OP: well sure, maybe this DM should. Also, if I understand correctly, the player is asking for the campaign to be cruelty free, not the world? It could just be set in a region where meat-eating is not a thing, or meat could just not feature in the story? That seems like a small lift to let a player not have to deal with something in a game that they presumably have to deal with in real life constantly.

I haven’t DM’d in a long time, but when I did, even though it would have been thematically and Earth-historically appropriate I never filled my games with explicit depictions of torture (human or animal). And the one time I set up a (poorly thought out on my part) situation where the players killed a bunch of what they thought were monsters in the wild but later found out were sapient innocents I was asked to never do that again, very reasonably so.

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Ignoring the fact that most the “horror story/anti-work/bad karen” subreddits are basically just fiction writing workshops…

A DM’s job no longer is to murder their players with glee and hasn’t been for 15 years plus now. A DM’s job is to, with the players, have a good time. Whatever it takes to have that good time, for all of them, is on the table.