Hello, Gentle Entities and Al dente Adversaries!

Today is Raksha Bandhan, a celebration of a bond of protection between sisters and brothers here on the plane where Hipsters of the Coast is found. I hope someday such a wonderful holiday and the deep culture that supports it finds a home and takes hold in other planes…..

August is quickly ending and here in the Northern Hemisphere we will soon enter the time of Harvest Festivals, mobile pumpkins, sacred gourds, and all manners of undead interactions. We are also in the waning days of National Civility Month. I would like to remind our Necromancer friends that consent is key. Discussing things with one’s ancestors following the appropriate protocol and reverence is heartwarming, bringing them up without warning in large groups is an invasion. Consent is key.

Which leads us nicely to this note:  As we shall not meet again until September 6, I would also like to gently remind our dear readers to note September 1 is “Bring Your Manners to Work Day.”

At Mizz Mizzet’s School for Magical Manners teach that:

Protocol is the set of agreed-upon rituals negotiated for meetings between individuals with the power to prevent warfare or other forms of harm caused by unclear expectations or understandings.

Etiquette is the ruleset for people to follow in order to smooth social interactions without needing to do more than know the rules.

but Manners are where empathy lives. Manners are the most important aspect of the art of hosting. Etiquette and protocol can be used to gatekeep or exclude when weaponized in violation of their spirit, manners are what act as the check and balance for that rules set, allowing you to make people welcomed and protected in the space you inhabit.

The most common example is the one where a Queen in her court is hosting a dinner and sees that one of her guests has used the incorrect utensil at the table. The Queen, being well-mannered, then uses the same utensil to prevent that guest from being made a target for those who value rules as traps.

Workplaces are often filled with arbitrary rules and outdated or inefficient protocols. Thus, on September 1, remember the best weapon against bad protocol is excellent manners.

As this is our thirty-second 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.

This week we will be answering a question about how to politely leave a group encouraging abhorrent behavior while making one’s displeasure known.

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;

I need a polite way to leave a group that is tolerating some fellow gamers that are talking about news and online discourse in ways that I find racist.

I’ve done the thing where I say” that’s not really cool” when they say offensive things but our group members really seem to run immediately to excuse it or minimize it when I say something. We look like we’re heading into a really intense election season. I am just not interested in accepting or tolerating any kind of this nonsense. The other players really seem to think “it’s just memes” or “let it go, they aren’t serious.” I can’t.

Do you have some kind of script where I can keep the door open if the rest of the group ever gets real about what they are defending? People do change or things make folk realize what they are doing, but I’m done with the current version of them. I don’t want to lie or ignore why I’m leaving, because that feels very much like being complicit.

Thanks for your help

Dear Disgruntled.

I would like to start by congratulating you on having boundaries and wanting to maintain good manners while enforcing them. I applaud your appropriate efforts in creating clarity.

I advise you to approach the host rather than the entire group. While you do not describe the group, your letter indicates there is only a small group creating the problem but a larger percentage enabling them. A dramatic gesture or letter to the whole group, while occasionally satisfying, would most likely be interpreted as grandstanding. Addressing the host of the group directly puts the responsibility for the type of gathering they created exactly where it belongs. With them.

This will leave your relationships with individuals outside the group in a “neutral” place and let the host decide how to either continue or change the event. Since you want to keep the door open for possible improvement in either guest lists or tolerated topics I suggest the following style of wording:

“I’ve enjoyed my time playing with you, but I’m going to have to stop coming by while *name-of-problem-players* are here. I can’t condone their conversations, and they don’t seem to want to modify their behavior around us, even if asked, so it’s not fun or social for me. I think it’s  better for all of us if I’m the one who leaves. I’ll see you at the LGS though. Thank you for having me.”

Your host may want to have a deeper conversation or try to convince you things will change, but politely answer them with:

“Thank you for caring about my concerns. I appreciate it, but this is just a personal boundary. I’m not interested in being at a table with *name-of-problem-players* again.

And, if it is true, and if you still want a relationship with that host outside the group dynamic,  you can offer to play with them one on one at your home,  or at other venues.  You might also offer to do something with them  that is not the game your group plays together.

There are many reasons a host may be hesitant to confront people inside their home about their unacceptable behavior, and you are wise to make it clear that intolerance is unacceptable. Hopefully your absence and clear statements about why will permit other members of the the group to realize the unacceptable behavior of the problem gamers and invite you back when the rude and racist are no longer there due to being disinvited or fully digested.

Sadly, you must also be prepared to find that the people who are tolerating the intolerable may also share those abhorrent views. It is always disappointing when you find out those close to you are choosing compliance  with the complicit.

Should others ask why you have left, simply repeat what you said to the host. Consistency is polite. You will not be speaking behind anyone’s dorsal fins since you have said it to their snouts, and it has the benefit of making your boundaries clear to anyone who is asking.

Time away from this group might prove that upon reflection, you are no longer comfortable with that play group, even if the offending individuals leave. It still behooves you to be polite.  This would be where you might find you are best served by standard etiquette responses if asked to return.

Variations on “thank you for the invitation, I’m afraid I’m unavailable” will be sufficient.

I hope for the future awareness and reconciliation for your gaming group and the redemption or exile of the intolerant in your midst.


Thank you to Adrienne Reynolds, for her interplanar transcription services.

Mizz Mizzet Portrait by Andres Garcia

Delightful Readers, Please Submit Your Questions to Mizz Mizzet.

You may submit your questions to Mizz Mizzet using this form.

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.

Any questions answered publicly will be made anonymous, and noms de plume will be created to represent any parties mentioned.

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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