Running an accessible game

Tabletop roleplaying should be for everyone, so it's critical to examine your game to make sure it actually is for everyone, and provide the necessary accomodations for the players and the characters. Accesibility in gaming comes in many forms, including sharing images that inspire your descriptions of places, taking and sharing notes at the gaming table, and considering the accessibility needs of the fictional adventuring party themselves!

There are many groups who have explored accessibility to a deeper extent than I do here, such as the group of volunteers at Everyone Games who host an annual online event highlighting accessibility and Knights of the Braille who have gathered this list of accessibility resources.

Take group notes

A lot can happen in one roleplaying session! At some point, especially if you play a long running campaign, somebody is going to want to remember something that happened in a past session. It is always a good idea to have and share notes from sessions of everything that the players and characters say and do.

One way is to have a designated notetaker, or a rotating designated notetaker. Another is to have a collaborative document that everyone contributes to. If everyone in your group consents to it, it can take a lot of pressure off the notetaker for the session to be recorded so the notetaker can write down things they want to revisit, then listen to the recording at a later time to write up the summary.

When I'm running a game, I will often read the notes that the players took and write up a little intro that I read at the start of the next session. The intro serves several purposes-- it reminds the players of everything that happened last time, focuses their attention on the game, and allows me to (sneakily) highlight any facts of what happened in the last session that were important to a character or the narrative, whether or not the players had previously considered those things important.

Share inspiration images

A significant amount of the tabletop roleplaying experience is spent imagining the world. As a GM, you will often be responsible for describing this world and bringing it to life, however this can be a daunting challenge for you to present and for some players to process.

To help with this, consider sharing images that inspire the characters and scenes that you're describing! If you're running a published adventure that includes graphics and handouts, this can be really easy. If you're not, you don't necessarily need to go overboard-- even just a rough sketch in paint of the layout of the tavern or a quick image search for a character that looks similar to what you're describing can go a long way.

Digital dice rollers

Simply Roleplaying uses a lot of dice. This is largely because dice are fun, and adding together groups of numbers that you see physically in front of you is easier than tracking down less concrete numbers on a sheet of paper. However, that can become overwhelming. If you or one of your players finds it overwhelming, try a digital dice roller that rolls the dice and presents the summed result. If you're playing on a Virtual TableTop, this might come built in! If not, try a standalone dice roller like Sophie's Dice.

Accessibility in the fiction

Consider the accessibility needs of the characters in your game -- not just accessibility needs that we typically consider, but also accessibility in the fantastical needs of the character that a player might want to play. A centaur would have just as difficult a time with a ladder as someone with limited mobility, and a giant would be unable to traverse a cramped tomb that was built with dwarf-high hallways.

To solve this, simply offer multiple options for interacting with the world. Dungeons whose entrance might otherwise only have a ladder or stairway could have a pressure plate elevator or sloped cavernous entrance. Anecdotally, considering character accessibility often tends to help make your spaces make more sense. If goblins have been living in the mines, surely they would have a cart-accessible entryway to bring food, water, and supplies into their living space.

Aside from the obvious importance of making accomodations for disabilities, considering character accessibility is also important because you don't want to create environments that are hostile to the concept of a character that a player wants to play. It's just not fun to play a giant and want to explore your massive size only to be told that you have to be shrunk to human size for this dungeon (or worse, be excluded from the adventure), because it only has human sized hallways.