The Gravity of the Crime – trigger warning needed?

Brief description [spoilers]:
One of plots is a young female assisstant being sexually harassed by her mentor and boss. She reports that to chief of their institute, but her complaints are rejected and nothing really changes. She wants to stay at her job, but must tolerate this toxic environment.
This is a challenge for Starfleet observation team, because they are under the Prime Directive restrictions - they are not allowed to intervene and respond to any acts of injustice.

This dilemma is a big one, but it is not for the players, because they discover that one of NPC had intervened already. They may interrogate and question NPC that was her motivation to intervene and violate the Prime Directive.

I find this at least uneasy and troublesome, because some law-abiding Starfleet officers may argue here that intervention was not justified (from legal point of view) and these crimes should not be a subject of Starfleet activities at all. Afterall they watch entire planet population, there is a plenty of murders, rapes, thefts and another crimes and it is not Starfleet job to police them.

I am not writing this to suggest what should be possible player choices in this matter, but this a very sensitive topic, and I feel it should be noted somehow in scenario book, marked as a possible trigger.
Sexual harassment or abuse is sadly very common in our contemporary world and if mishandled this topic may spoil fun for one or more players.

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I think because sexual harassment and abuse are so common in our contemporary society, it makes it the perfect topic for a Star Trek show/adventure.

I haven’t read the adventure yet, but if that’s the plot I’m totally fine with it. And in my opinion, it is expected from Star Trek. After all, I don’t find it more serious or severe than murder or slavery, and these things are very common tropes in sci fi and Trek.

Should the buyer be dissatisfied with the overall plot, this is an issue for customer support.

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I think that plot is fine and leaves players with some challenging choices but there should be some content warning. This may be true that murder or slavery are common tropes in Star Trek, but it is also uncommon for a player to have a personal experience with them in real life.

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I have mixed feelings about trigger warnings in general because I have seen mixed evidence as to how effective they are for helping people overcome their trauma vs just perpetuating it. Plus this feels like an awkward topic of discussion for public forums.


If it is an awkward topic of discussion, just imagine having this topic on your game, emerging during unrelated crime investigation. It is only side-plot and players may not suspect it (as we did).

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as a many time sexual assault victim i think that if it were handled well it can be a good plot, raising awareness is a good thing.

i also think that a trigger warning would be essential


I understand everyone responds to things differently due to how our individual scars and past/current trauma’s affect us as individuals. Everyone has their triggers. I have mine - spiders, abusive alcoholics, domestic violence, and death of immediate family members. It’s a reality of life.

Too many people today are so focused on being sensitive and thoughtful, you can’t even make jokes at your own personal expense because it triggers victim mentality in somebody else. When I get triggered by something, it’s my own victim mentality coming to the forefront and overriding rational thought.

That said, I do not support the idea of providing trigger warnings for RPGs. By today’s standards, that makes me insensitive. I have used RPGs since I first started playing in the 80s as form of therapy to help understand myself and what was going on in my life, basing core aspects of characters on the stressers and traumas of my real life. If triggers would’ve been used then, I would’ve never played. I hate the idea of trigger warnings being included today.


If its for a published adventure a trigger warning should be there.
Like in the breef summary of possible content (this adventure contains controversial content like sexual harassment, violence, slavery…) as an example.



Wheres this adventure from?

Game session in not a form of behavioral therapy, but entertainment, and you are playing with your friends (or strangers) not with your doctor. If it helps you to grow or reflect on yourself, it is good, but it is not its purpose.

Also consider this - if you do not need trigger warning, you may just ignore it. But there are some people, who would thank for it.

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I must vehemently disagree with your assertion that a Game session is not a form of behavorial therapy, but entertainment. Therapy may not have been the original intent of an RPG Game Session, but it is the perfect safe space to pursue therapy - a more developed form of play therapy applicable to people from 10 years of age on up.

You do know there is a growing segment of mental health professionals that have been using RPGs for therapeutic purposes for some time now - Tommy Foundation and the Bodhana Group just to name two. There is a publication called Wizards, Warriors, and Wellness that delves into the topic of Therapeutic RPGs and the development of the Critical Strengths Engine designed with the specific purpose of RPG Therapy. Jack Berkenstock of the Bodhana Group has partnered with a College in Pennsylvania to run accredited training for the Therapist Education track.

Game session in not a form of behavioral therapy, but entertainment, and you are playing with your friends (or strangers) not with your doctor. If it helps you to grow or reflect on yourself, it is good, but it is not its purpose.

I’m talking about classroom settings as well, which is not therapy. A lot of things may still be up in the air as to what is best to help people. And if you’re playing with friends, or strangers, and know what is in the module you are about to run, you’ll probably feel like giving a fair warning to people, or toning down the content if you think they prefer it, or toning up the content if you think they’d be more able to handle it. I’m not entirely convinced one way or another, like I said I’m conflicted, but articles like these. Harvard Study: Trigger Warnings Might Coddle the Mind , do make me worry that trigger warnings might be helping people in the short term but hurting them in the long run.

Shouldn’t it be the GMs responsibility to run a game which is compatible with the group?


Goddammit I am a GM not a Therapist.

Actually as interesting as I may find it, that RPG found its way into Therapy, with my around 15 years as GM I am still a medicore GM and in no way quallified to threat someone.
So when I am GMming or gaming, at home or at conventions, it is pure entertainment or should be and I boldly assume, that it’s the same with most of you.

Regarding the Adventure: In one of my groups I could not run it, because of the lack of consent and I certainly will not say to one of my players: We have to, it will be good for you, it is therapeutic.
I am not qulified, I am not a doctor and they are not my patients.
And in the secound groupe, I will talk to my players first, if I intend to run that adventure.

P.S.: Yes I know how good a round of RPG is after a heartbreaking event and how helpfull a good laughter.


Yes and yes. But from all published Star Trek Adventures books I do not recall any mention of safety tools, prep. session zero or discussing triggers.

And we have guidance for beginner GM, starter set, also core book is written to be accessible for GM with zero or low experience.

As for this adventure: sexual abuse plot is not essential and may be cut off or replaced with other, because main story is about (unrelated) mystery death of Starfleet officer. However, if someone want to run it by default (because this is how it was designed and tested), there is a place to recognize this a sensitive topic and help GM to assure that all players should be aware and consent.

If you are tough and conscious, if you know safety tools and do not need them, it is ok. It is your game and your team. But give everyone chance to learn that there are some simple techniques available to use.

You assume that the GM would be the therapist in this case. But that’s not necessarily the case. Many forms of therapy don’t actually require a therapist. Playing with dogs can be therapeutical, even though the dog is not a therapist.

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or are they, with those loving natures and those begging eyes, they could be Derren Brown’ing us and we’d not now it :wink:


You are right, I have assumed that.
I myself know about the healing effect of a RPG-Session, the possibility of recharching Mind and Soul (in lack of a better tern).

Furthermore, the best RPG-Sessions I ever had were, when I got emotionally involved, lived in fear for the well being of my charakter and his companions, envolved a hatred for some npcs, coursed at the GM and swore to take revenge on his charakters when I GM next time.

But on the other hand, I have some players with whom I would not play that Adventure, because I have to respect their no goes.

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As a DM, I’d talk it through with my players and if necessary change the plot slightly.

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You have to know your players and what they need. Do you think they might have a problem with a situation, talk to them. If ot makes them really uncomfortable, don’t run the scenario.