Hello Gentle Entities and Herbaceous Enemies! It is my understanding that this week on the plane that houses Hipsters of the Coast, there is a celebration involving ashes, but apparently it does not involve the spring cleaning of one’s lair and does involve a religious ritual involving contemplation of one’s role for doing good in the material plane and the reflect on the amount of time one inhabits in it. We here at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complex Lifeforms wish a thoughtful and meaningful Ash Wednesday for those who observe it.

As this is our eighth column, we at Mizz Mizzet’s School for Complicated Lifeforms would like to remind you that we answer between 1-3 letters from our interrogative entities across the multiverse each week. If you missed our initial column, you may peruse it at your leisure at this location.

Content Warnings

Mizz Mizzet’s Guide to Magical Manners is pleased to provide Content Warnings, given that solving bad behavior often means describing bad behavior.

Dear Mizz Mizzet,

Some members of my playgroup want to boycott something. I just don’t agree with their motivations about the boycott being justified, but I also don’t actually care. Am I required to be vocal about supporting them? Do I have to boycott too? What is the “polite” answer if I DNGAF?

Not Into Performativity


Dear NIP,

You do not mention the cause that is being supported through boycott, so all advice must be prefaced with this – if you do not support an entities’ right to their full existence and safety under societal and governmental laws and practices, you do not have an etiquette issue, you have a fundamental disagreement with your friend group and you should examine it in that light.

HOWEVER, there are circumstances where even under the rubric of reasonable beings on the same side of an argument disagreeing about what type of activism or what level of engagement is appropriate. You may have differing opinions about which direct or indirect actions will lead to solidarity or change. You may differ about whether an action is useful or simply ritual. As long as you are not in conflict with the underlying belief system informing the boycott – you CAN actually address the question you asked through etiquette and manners.

There is a polite answer.

Accommodate your playgroup’s boycott when interacting with your playgroup. Do not undermine their chosen boycott even if you disagree with that action. You do not have to be vocal about supporting their cause, but that also means you should not be vocal about your apathy. You can maintain a mannerly interaction with your group by keeping your ambivalence silent when they care. If you truly do not care, this path costs you nothing and is the polite answer.

This does bring up certain complex social situations – if someone from the group sees you outside their space using a thing they have chosen to boycott and confronts you with it, or calls you on “hypocrisy,” the mannerly thing is to be honest:

“I support my friends and associates enough to respect their choices in their spaces. I do not agree with the use of a boycott but I’m not going to bring the boycotted thing into their games/caverns/space stations. That’s rude, and I’m not into being rude to my friends.”

Some other groups who want you to take a stronger stand against the person or items being boycotted may attempt to entice you to confront your friends, and accuse you of cowardice. Pay these agitators no heed. These individuals are rude, and therefore should be served as light snacks during tea, possibly on toast with mint chutney. Sadly, this is illegal on most planes, and even I can see that eating the rude does fall short of many local morality standards of respecting all entities’ right to exist. It’s simply that if one is freely being rude, one has made one’s own empowered risk assessment of being eaten by a dragon. One would hate to disappoint them in their deliberate desire to live dangerously – but I digress.

What you can do is state your position simply and shortly:

“I respect my friends enough not to make them uncomfortable, and I don’t care about you enough to gad about hurting others to please you.”

If rude entities are continuously attempting to get you to harm your friends because you engage with a particular object or entertainment, you might want to consider that your friends were correct in boycotting the thing as it empowers the obnoxious.. It is PERFECTLY acceptable to move from being apathetic but polite, to actively supporting a thing. I assure you that is not weakness, but what is sometimes called a “considered opinion based on experience.”

As long as you are personally consistent while respecting your compatriots, neither they, nor their enemies truly have any role in policing your actions on your own time.

If your compatriots are making purity tests or ultimatums about things that are less than life or death, which you disagree with, this might not be the best coterie for you. Consider how important their role is in your own social life should you find yourself often agreeing to uphold actions to “prove” you support them at the expense of your own worldview or actions.

How To Politely Interact With Various Boycotts You Do Not Personally Practice

There have recently been several flavors of boycott related categories in the gaming world. Humans sometimes have trouble getting information about causes and concerns with either nuance or credibility. Also different humans hold on to direct economic actions for different lengths of time. In a plane with capitalism, sometimes the only direct action for some entities is choosing where to spend discretionary gold.

You might need a brief rule of talon to help you separate being apathetic to being complicit:

  • If you are spending money or using something that funds a person or organization who then turns around and spends that money to actively oppress and endanger other entities – you will be complicit if you spend that money. Your boycotting friends will be within cultural rights to be suspicious of you.
  • If you already own something, and your friends are boycotting the something for personal political reasons but you do not agree with the provenance of the accusations. You are not complicit, you might still want to be considerate to your friends who feel the boycott is important to their view of the issue. Simply do not use the thing around your friends, and if it upsets them it also costs you nothing to make sure it is out of sight when they are visiting with you. This is part of being a good host or a good guest.
  • If these folk see you say, for example – using a card with artwork by an artist they feel they should be removed from a game, in a public space, you may say “I respect your position enough to not use them when we’re in our homes and I’ll use a proxy when we play together or cover the cards with an alter sleeve, but that’s not my own position on card art, and I just play cards that are legal.”

Be warned: This might change your relationship with the individual questioning you, but friendship is a reciprocal relationship – they should be pleased you value their comfort in one to one interactions, even if they have discovered you don’t agree with the generally protest action. Sadly they may not. It must be pointed out that policing the actions of fellow beings who respect other an individual’s choices enough to alter their own behavior is impolite, although it falls short of being rude. Even if one is on the side of local angels, it that form monitoring others of IS invasive.

Remember that the litmus test for all of these situations is best described by Robert Jones Jr.:

“We can disagree and still love each other… unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” — Robert Jones Jr

The last form of boycotting situation to cover in our current world of leisure activities is one that will be very relevant to participants in the community of Dungeons & Dragons. Reasonable people may disagree what to do when the subject of a boycott actually responds to the protests by changing their behavior and doing what the protesters requested. Which means the boycott worked. But some folk will not accept that the changed behavior or retracted action is sufficient and will continue to boycott the thing. Others in the group will accept the apology/correction/movement of the entire ruleset into the creative commons and want to resume using the thing.

As an advocate of interplanar civility I generally tend to advocate for accepting any apology even if it is insufficient or made in such a way that it undermines itself because that allows me to enter into conversation with the entity apologizing so we can work on where they fell short in looking for redemption.

Reasonable beings may disagree, and apologies are only made when trust is broken. I fully understand if individuals do not want to waste any further time or treasure on waiting for offenders to prove their trustworthiness. So some folk – once they boycott a thing- for them it is more permanent and they may never go back to using or participating in the thing produced by the target of the boycott. This is certainly a valid position. It is also subject to the valid critique that in a capitalist plane, if you do not return to the boycotted thing when you’ve won all your points you’ve literally incentivized the offender to simply “write off” future activists as a loss that should just be lived through not listened to for the next time.

If you are in a group where this type of discussion is a part of the group making decisions together for what to play, where to participate or what to use together and you *truly* do not have a wildebeest in this hunt, it is indeed rude to force your apathy into their spaces for things that are lower stakes. Adding it sounds like it would make such discussions unproductively longer. It is important to remember that etiquette is rules-based, but manners is about making other folk feel welcome and comfortable. Do not force confrontations or play “Devil’s Advocate” about things you do not care about when others around you care deeply. It is ALWAYS poor manners to play Devil’s Advocate unless you are part of one of the Courts of the Abyss or a member of Asmodeus’s white shoe firm.

I have learned a charming new term used by short lived creatures: “Too Long Didn’t Read” often abbreviated as tl;dr.

The tl;dr for this set of etiquette is: “If one does not care, then one might as well support what is important to one’s friends, because one’s friends are what one actively cares about. Do not use things they find offensive around them if you can help it, but etiquette does not require you to pledge money, or support actions you disagree with or take the same actions on your own. Silence on the subject is the polite alternative to vocal ambivalence or false support.”

May your efforts to respect your comrades’ comfort be met with equal respect for your own.


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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