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Becoming a Safe and Inclusive TTRPG Community - The Why, How, and What of Litlcord.

At times new members ask why questions like: why does Litlcord do it like this, how did Litlcord turn into this, and what does Litlcord do to stay like this? In this blog post we will go through all those details explaining the why, how, and what of Litlcord. You can look for the large headings if a particular aspect of Litlcord interests you, but otherwise I hope that you can learn something about our safe and inclusive TTRPG community.

Litlcord's Origin Story

To begin Litlcord's origin story we need to go back to the year 2019. I, angiroo, had a different username for my online presence. Along with my admin, melancholy, we were both administrators and high level staff for a few of our 'friend' groups' servers. These were large servers, and we tried to make things better than they were. It was extremely toxic, but yet they wouldn't change anything despite risks of Discord server and account termination being a possibility for the owner and some of the staff they recruited. I was considered a mom to the server, but when immature drama occurred, I with some loyal friends received permanent bans from the server for false reasons and just toxicity on their end. Most of the server left afterwards and eventually the server and server owner were terminated from Discord for the many atrocities that happened - not surprising.

A few months later one of my lifelong friends approached me wanting advise on how to get started with Twitch. We came up with a plan to have matching usernames that were unique, thus the new username 'litlevelyn' happened (the term 'lil' was popular, so we wanted to take advantage of it while having a unique way to say it), and we wanted to stream together to grow our bases twice fold. I explained that we should make a Discord for our community, and so I pulled together some old online friends and built 'litlserv.' I finally had my own server where I could ensure there wasn't toxicity, bias, and other issues like the servers I had to watch as a staff member without any authority had. My Twitch started to grow, and my friend wasn't consistent, so it was really just my community.

In the end of 2020 I learned how to play Dungeons & Dragons, and I found out some of my community also played. We had one of our current admins, pachiibear, run our first game there, and it was even streamed to my Twitch. Suddenly, everything started dying, from my Twitch due to the D&D streams my audience didn't want, and to the server due to lack of activity after adding in D&D to it. I wasn't sure what to do, but I realized that I should just make a new server not related to Twitch or anything like that.

Thus, Litlcord was born March 21, 2021. Originally the focus was only to game and hang out with one another in voice channels. I was able to move over about 80% of the litlserv members to the new Litlcord server and deleted litlserv a week and half later. Litlcord did really well, hosting 15-30 people events for gaming, and then it happened again. People asked for D&D. I was concerned, because I knew it was what killed my previous server. But, I determined to test the waters by hosting a 'Learn how to play D&D' event, and there were many members that joined. I figured we had enough of an active interest to give it a shot, so I let D&D games start in Litlcord.

Suddenly, people began to invite their friends who played D&D, and it only took three months for Litlcord to become fully D&D focused. At that point we had 50-100 new members weekly until we hit 600 members. I learned from my past mistakes and was able to design Litlcord in a way that appealed to TTRPG players. As of writing this blog we are at over 1.3k members, and I love the community.

Inclusivity, on All Levels

Some people might ask why be so inclusive, and to that I ask why not be? When first getting into tabletop role-playing games I had no idea just how atrocious the space can be towards BIPOC, Women/Femme Identifying, Transgender, Queer, LGBTQ+, people of low socio-economic status, and people with disabilities. To me, it doesn't make sense. We play a game where you can be who you want, create a fantasy, try something new, or feel like your true self. I then learned that this hostility is found in many communities that block, harass, and discriminate many of these marginalized groups. I heard stories of what was happening, and I was disgusted. How could we play such a loving, all encompassing game but treat another human being like this? Litlcord was going to be that change needed in the space.

I am proud to say that Litlcord consistently receives great remarks from server members about how it is a safe home for them, and that they have built some of their greatest friendships from the community members. Sure, there's sometimes a bad apple, but we learn from those mistakes, grow as a person and community, and we improve. You might be asking how exactly we're inclusive, so here's a bit of a look into it!

First off, it begins with how we market and present ourselves everywhere. No matter where you look, we will have any promotions, advertising, and posting include that we are an inclusive server for all. Second, it starts with having these views in our actual community rules. Third, it continues by ensuring our staff team protects and matches these views when enforcing these rules. Fourth, it is maintained by transparency and having private spaces for marginalized groups to speak to one another openly and feel a sense of connection. It is important for people to know they aren't alone. Fifth, it is reinforced by having inclusivity on all levels of the server. We have staff that are in marginalized groups. We have Player Slayers (GMs) that are in marginalized groups. We have server artists that are in marginalized groups. We have TTRPG creators that are in marginalized groups. And we give each and every single one of them the same respect, love, and care as anyone else. We let them know their feelings are valid and authentic.

We are also inclusive to those of a low socio-economic status by ensuring all the games ran on Litlcord are free-to-play, and it will maintain that way. We will allow creators to promote their services, including Pro GMing, but none of that will be directly hosted on the server.

A Safe TTRPG Community for Players

The amount of people I have met who originally said they are uncomfortable with online strangers in TTRPG games, yet join Litlcord and end up joining numerous games or becoming a GM is staggering. You might ask how we've accomplished to make a free-to-play community so safe that people can finally play games at ease, despite it being with 'strangers.' Here's how we do this.

The first line of defense is providing a staff team that cares about the community. Without staff in place to help monitor, deal with any issues, and remove problem-makers, the server wouldn't function as intended. It goes past that, as we utilize our Discord Bots to prevent issues before they can even happen. We can do this through auto-mod features to block, mute, timeout, warn, and ban preventatively or right as an issue arises.

The next line of defense is our continued inclusive efforts, as without that we wouldn't genuinely have a safe space for many people. As detailed in the above Inclusivity section, this is important to us. We are the change that needs to happen in the TTRPG space.

Our defense continues with our Performance Check, aka Player Slayer (GM) review. There are many times where incidents can happen, but the player is too scared to say anything in fear of retaliation from the GM or other players. Our review system allows players an anonymous way to provide feedback to the GM, along with directly to the server owner. Although the form requires a username, the form is only viewed by me, the server owner. If there are any concerning reviews, I will personally chat with the player to hear the full story and details. I then start to investigate and see if other players are having this issue before I confront the GM about it. The Player Slayers of Litlcord will only ever receive a paraphrased version of the review that is sent by me, without the reviewer's username information. This has proven quite handy, as we've been able to stop and remove GMs quickly through these reviews.

Players can also view a leaderboard of the reviewed Player Slayers. This board includes the @ mention of the GM, their average rating out of five stars, and how many reviews they've received. This should give a player a good idea of what they're in for, without any personal information. Players can also use the game masters channel to read each Player Slayer's introduction. There's consistent information for each of these introductions like their Game Master Style Mix, that will help identify good matches.

Also, with being a community, the players can talk to one another outside of the games and make friends. Speaking of the games, each game is ran in a private area of the server. Why run all the games on the server and not somewhere else? Having games on the server and no LFG/LFP means that all of our games can be monitored, approved, and managed. Remember those first two defense lines I described? Staff and bots will trigger in these channels, so we can still prevent many issues before it happens or react quickly. This keeps the players safe, along with the GM.

Overall, we have many procedures and policies in place to make sure a player is safe for all Litlcord games.

A Safe Place for Player Slayers (Game Masters)

Most of the measures explained above are also to protect our Player Slayers. Our staff help protect our GMs, inclusivity ensures they have a space to run games in without dealing with hateful players, reviews help GMs know how to improve or if their games are going well, and private sections allow GMs to know any issues they have can be resolved without a mess.

We are also safe for new Player Slayers. There was a community I was part of for a couple months that influenced many of the decisions for how Litlcord functions. In this community, I remember this as the last straw after other issues my friends and I were dealing with. The community had continually denied my friend from trying to be a GM just because they hadn't done it before. It didn't take long to realize that this was also because the staff and GMs were extremely biased to only their friends or players that did the pay-to-play games. I vouched that Litlcord will still have quality GMs, but that anyone who has decent experience beforehand as a player can try their hand out as a GM. The reviews provide a way for them to improve.

In the end, Litlcord is inclusive, safe, and a space to grow, learn, and improve while having fun making friends. Litlcord will continue to grow and find new ways to be better than before while giving back to the community.

If you are not yet in Litlcord but feel that this is the space you want to be in, you are more than welcome to join our growing community. You can be a new player or game master, an artist, creator, or small business and find a place in our wonderful server you can call home. Join today!

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