"Err on the Side of Caution" i...

"Err on the Side of Caution" in Roll20: Meaning and Implications

"Err on the Side of Caution" in Roll20: Meaning and Implications

Mar 28, 2024 08:31 PM Joaquimma Anna

The phrase "err on the side of caution" is often seen in discussions about Roll20, a popular online platform for tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons. It's an important concept to understand, especially for Game Masters (GMs) designing games and making judgment calls. Here's what it means and its impact on your Roll20 experience:

Meaning: What does it mean to err on the side of caution?

Essentially, it means prioritizing player safety and comfort when making decisions with ambiguous outcomes. This involves considering potential negative consequences or scenarios that might make players uncomfortable and actively working to prevent them.

Examples in Roll20:

  • Handling sensitive topics: A GM might decide to avoid a potentially triggering theme for a story if it hasn't been discussed with the group beforehand.
  • Moderating conflict: When player disputes arise, a GM might act swiftly to de-escalate or give players a break before the situation worsens.
  • API and Macros: If a GM is unsure if a player's macro or API script might break the game or be unfair, they might disallow it until they're sure it's okay.

Why is this approach important?

  • Inclusivity: Tabletop RPGs are meant to be fun and safe for everyone. Erring on the side of caution fosters an environment where all players feel comfortable participating.
  • Preventing problems: Players trust the GM to create an enjoyable experience. Preemptive action avoids disruptive situations or negative feelings that could ruin the game.
  • Community standards: Roll20 has community guidelines encouraging consideration toward other players. This principle reinforces those standards.

Situations where "err on the side of caution" may apply:

  • Introducing new players to the game
  • Addressing potential player sensitivities
  • Experimenting with homebrewed rules or systems
  • Handling in-game character romance or violence

It's NOT about being overly restrictive

It's important to note that "err on the side of caution" doesn't equate to avoiding challenging topics or limiting creativity. It's about communication and consideration. Here's how to strike a balance:

  • Use safety tools: Implement tools like X-cards or Lines and Veils to help players communicate potential triggers.
  • Foster open communication: Encourage players to voice concerns and set clear expectations from the beginning.


  • Roll20 Community Code of Conduct: 
  • Reddit discussions on the topic:
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  • "Geek & Sundry" on player safety tools: 

The Takeaway

The principle of "err on the side of caution" promotes a positive and respectful atmosphere within your Roll20 games. By prioritizing player comfort and safety, you create a more enjoyable, welcoming, and inclusive environment for everyone at the virtual table.

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