Welcome Gentle Entities and Acidulated Enemies. We are back at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms: Prime Material Plane Hipsters of the Coast Salon, answering etiquette questions and celebrating National Thesaurus Day by cross comparing synonyms and homonyms across planes with similar linguistics through time, space, and playing games where we try to kill each other efficiently.

Over the last two weeks we explored a single question that involved both guesting and hosting in specific circumstances. By today my delightful documentariat, we shall return to our three question format answering queries involving spawn safety, authentic apologies and missing stairs.

Content Warning

Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Magical Manners is pleased to provide Content Warnings, given that solving bad behavior often means describing bad behavior. Today’s column third question addresses the etiquette around a “missing stair.” While the topic is not defined in this document there is a link that goes to the original 2012 essay defining sexual misconduct in communities. Please do not click that link if it will cause discomfort.

Delicate Disease Vectors

Dear Mizz Mizzet,

Our regular gaming group has two couples that have children and very different ideas about handling COVID prevention. We mostly play board games but some of our group is worried about the pre-school to adult disease vectors. The kids don’t come to the games but one set of parents is very YOLO about COVID risks and the other is a little hyper vigilant. Our singles are somewhere in the middle. As a host can I handle the conflict without pitting one parental style over the other? 

                                    Yours Truly, 

                                    Not the Mama

Dear Not the Mama;

How wonderful that adult peers have gaming spaces and maintained relationships even post spawning! And how lucky we are that the person who gets to decide the social rules for the hosting location is you.

In any area where there is a spectrum of belief, the general rule of talon is to err towards the strongest practice. So without identifying the underlying participant conflict you can simply declare it a house rule for participation in events at your domicile at your request providing a generic explanation.

May I suggest sending it in a planning email to the full group at one time?

“Hello all, due to the current chaos around recommendations and the several ongoing plagues, I’m going to ask that we all mutually mask during games. It’s going to be a house rule for family too. I don’t want to lose our time together and I don’t have enough sick days even for a winter cold. Thanks in advance!


This will be a relatively easy request, you may offer to provide the masks yourself so there is no burden on your guests. If there is a conflict, it will come to you as host where you have the power of it being your nest and will not cause strife in your group. While I am a dragon who believes everyone who can be vaccinated, should be vaccinated, one credits such a thoughtful host as yourself as already having resolved this with your peerage, so this request means you do not have to engage in further personal/political/parenting discussions.

If your risk-accepting parents resist masking, you may have a deeper conflict than parenting styles, and quite honestly they will be engaging in unmannerly behavior. Proceed accordingly.

We discussed other hosting responsibilities last week so you might find some additional perspective here.

Best of luck and may the variance of the games you play favor your strategic skills!


Acclaim-Worthy Apologies

Dear Mizz Mizzet,

I have to make an apology to someone. It’s socially necessary for me to continue working with the group I’m working with, but I’m not sorry, and I don’t “mean it in my heart”. However I want to stay exactly where I am, and I do want everyone else to feel comfortable. Should I apologize? If I do, how do I not get spiraled into the “no apology is good enough” thing that happens on social media.


I Promise I’m Not Jeremy Clarkson

Dear Fortunately Not Jeremy;

Many entities are overly concerned with authenticity when making public apologies. However, authenticity is not necessary. Authenticity is required when one is making AMENDS and seeking forgiveness. You are doing neither of those things. You are seeking to restore public balance for the sake of group peace. It is not dishonest to want to create an apology only for those reasons.

There is of course a caveat. If you feel the group peace is important enough for you to publicly apologize, but not important enough for you to stop doing whatever it is you are apologizing for… do not apologize.  You will simply be proving you are not an entity of your word. There are several cultures worth of demons that will assume you are fair game to target by local laws, trickster gods and culture heroes may use your actions as justification to target you as the center of a “lesson”  for burnishing their own myth. It is better to say nothing, than to set yourself up to be watched closely for a change in behavior. Authenticity is not necessary but honesty is.

Now, while you are not contrite about the conflict, you may be socially amenable to the apology for the sake of social peace. Though you might not fully agree that the thing you are apologizing for is a problem, you are authentically willing to agree to  “their lair, their laws” and not repeat the problematic thing.

That is good enough for a “real” apology.

If this is the case, you must undertake the construction of a proper apology that is neither dismissive, nor defensive. It is important to remember that no matter how big or how small the offense, the person being apologized to has the right not to accept it.

In a social scenario the public apology is not solely for the sake of the person who requires one, but also for the group of beings that were disrupted by breaks in the shared social compact.  Apologies are a restorative social act.

“Apologies are a restorative social act.”

You must reassure the group that even if the being whom you are apologizing to doesn’t accept your apology, you WILL be abiding by and upholding the social rules breached in your collective future. In your signature you reference an individual who managed to make his own situation worse by bungling this aspect of his public statement. I suggest you treat everything he wrote as a negative example.

Ah, if he had only consulted a modern etiquette dragon first! Of course he runs a high risk of being roasted as repast for rudeness, so we shall give you a useful formula so you do not emulate that outcome.

A formal apology for social peace does not need agreement but it does need accountability. Therefore we teach the following scaffold for constructing an apology that goes past a quick I’m sorry, but doesn’t extend to excuses:

  • Address the person you are apologizing to in the first sentence, by name, and the group you both belong to immediately after.
  • State the problem and that you are sorry before you go anywhere near “explanations’
  •  Make a brief statement of the action you will take to assure all and sundry that you will not repeat the act you are apologizing for (and to reiterate – do not bother to apologize if you are most certainly going to do that act again) 
  • This section is the only possibly place an explanation is appropriate – to give context to how it will not happen again

Apologies can be either short or long. As per your missive, we are only discussing a public apology. You will want to avoid any method of polarizing or politicizing your apology. If what you are apologizing for has legal repercussions, please contact the legal advocates of the plane you reside on before making the public apology. If you do consult such expertise please refrain from using legalistic language when you make your apology as there are few circumstances where legal formations are comforting or reassuring. Unless you have offended a member of the Azorius, they find it soothing.

A short example for entities who are not Azorius:

“I’d like to apologize for disrupting the game last week when I brought up my feelings about financial speculators in MtG. I specifically want to apologize to Elaine for continuing the subject after she asked me to stop. We are a kitchen table group, not a trading group, and I recognize it was not a conversation that should be held in a group that welcomes proxies, Especially not during the game. I was out of line.  Most specifically, I apologize to the group for not respecting the boundary she tried to set and will be mindful to shift subjects when asked in the future.”

An example of an apology  that requires some public restitution:

I would like to apologize to Circe and the local farmers of Ææa for the consumption of twelve ruminant mammals. I am terribly sorry to have caused economic hardship to the agricultural community, and am deeply pained to have impugned Circe’s livestock management practices.

Although I snacked on the readily accessible Ovis aries, believing they were rude men who were transmogrified, as Circe and I firmly align on eating the rude and have a snack break understanding;  it seems they were simply sheep that had slipped the fence and that’s why they were looking unusually independent while away from their herd.

I will be paying wergild for the sheep to the impacted farmer and providing the island with the equivalent goods the 12 sheep would have provided until they are replaced.  I should have recognized immediately upon the first morsel of mutton that the flavor was off and not at all magically seasoned. That is entirely on me.

Circe – I understand if you would like our future visits to be non-food events. I would like to once again reassure the population that the error was all mine and none of Circe’s. Circe has also promised to tie ribbons around her livestock when I am visiting and I have promised not to dine without being served directly while on Ææa.


[CW: the missing stair link below goes to a link describing the meaning of a term indicating sexual impropriety, that definition is not included on this page or in the text below]

Dear Mizz Mizzet, 

A dear friend has started bringing around a person who is a local “missing stair,” and while I have done the traditional thing of warning my friend that this person has hurt several people in our social circle, they continue to just “drop by” with this individual, upsetting members of our friend group. How do I end this?

Furious Friend

My beleaguered FF;

One way is simple. Tell your friend plainly that Missing Stair is not welcome, and if they value the group they will have to find some other way to socialize with their new problematic friend. If you believe your dear friend is on the target list of your local Missing Stair you may discreetly, directly, tell Missing Stair they are not welcome yourself, and instruct them to find ways to avoid coming to events with this social circle. If they persist after this discrete action you might want to consider being less discrete and move from “missing stair” social practice to outright “I do not like you and I am openly asking you to leave.”

If you are a dragon, you are perfectly proper, and well within your rights, to consume the broken baluster, unless you are in a planar locality that has laws against eating the rude.

You may apologize to your dear friend for consuming their comrade using the method I outlined above in the previous response

Decisively yours,


Thank you to Adrienne Reynolds, for her interplanar transcription services.
Mizz Mizzet Portrait by Andres Garcia

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New Mizz Mizzet columns are posted every Wednesday right here as well as in Hipsters of the Coast‘s weekly email newsletter. You are also encouraged to follow her at @MizzMizzet on Twitter.

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Born a perfect dragon in an imperfect multiverse, Mizz Mizzet (she/her) is the pioneer broodmother of today’s multiplanar civility movement.  She is now working to persuade Planeswalkers to participate in it.

Her tireless efforts to expand the understanding and exercise of etiquette beyond the stereotypical terror of too many pieces of silverware, and whether to use poisons or explosives at celebratory conquest dinners, have not escaped official notice.

She specializes as a consultant in seating arrangements for inter and intra planar political events as long as contracts include the option to eat the rude.

Out of respect for her relative’s delicate sensibilities regarding draconic rank, she does not reside on the plane of Ravnica.

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