Sensitivity Resource Hub

A guide for writers, worldbuilders, and game masters using Lore Master's Deck to write about sensitive issues and represent marginalized groups outside their personal experience

Some cues in The Story Engine: Lore Master's Deck feature an asterisk (*), indicating material that could cause harm if mishandled or misrepresented, including gender, disability, colonialism, and the experiences of racial and religious groups.

We on the development team have done our best to note the cues that most benefit from deeper research and care. We acknowledge our list may be incomplete and the resources we link to may be imperfect. These are complex issues that involve a variety of perspectives to understand. Whenever possible, we focus on the perspectives of people directly affected by the issue. Like you, we have the goal of representing sensitive material and diverse experiences with respect and empathy, learning to do better with each attempt.

We want to offer special thanks to Athar Fikry, A. Z. Louise, Sonya Ballantyne, and Kendra Harrison for their work in identifying sensitive cues, preparing notes, and compiling resources.

Using This Resource

This page is a database of all Lore Master's Deck cues marked as sensitive, along with notes and research links to help writers, worldbuilders, and game masters. Note that the linked resources may be insightful and helpful for exploring one facet to an issue, while being limited in explaining another. As discourse around this material evolves, some of these resources may fall out of date in terms of their vocabulary or perspective. We'll endeavor to update it when a resource does so.

There are two ways to navigate this page:

  1. Scroll this page, which is organized by main deck card type and expansion.
  2. Use your browser's "find on page" feature to search a specific cue or keyword.

General Resources

We recommend the following essays and resources as general guidelines to writing stories or building worlds that include sensitive material, involve marginalized characters, or involve marginalized characters and perspectives outside your personal experience. Keep in mind that some expressions of culture may appear neutral or even invisible to the outside observer, and that additional research may be necessary.

On Representing Race & Culture

On Representing LGBTQ Characters

On Representing Disability

    Lore Master's Deck

    Faction Cards




    Historically, circuses were often the home of freak shows, sites of exploitation of people of color, very fat people, and disabled people who in many cases could not access other forms of income. Be careful how you depict characters and normalize mistreatment in a circus setting. Further reading: Disability in the Archive: Freaks & Geeks (Meg Szydlik, Massachusetts Historical Society), African Americans & The Circus (National Museum of African American History & Culture).


    Formally, a cartel is an association of manufacturers or suppliers restricting competition and maintaining high prices. Informally, the term is often used in a loaded way linking to organized crime selling drugs.


    The term "tribe" is often used to recognize distinct groups within Indigenous cultures. It is also often harmfully linked to negative associations of primitiveness and savagery. Be mindful when worldbuilding groups that parallel real-world cultures, and of which cultural associations you ascribe to them in your lore. Further reading: The Trouble With Tribe (Chris Lowe, Southern Poverty Law Center).

    formed out of colonial interests or resistance; reclaim or restore a homeland or sacred location

    Be mindful of worldbuilding or storytelling that parallels real-world movements and struggles, especially where the parallels involve colonialism, oppression, violence, or genocide. Be especially cautious about oversimplifying the causes, effects, and solutions of colonialism and oppression. Further reading: Writing the Margins from the Centre and Other Moral Geometries (Amal El-Mohtar, Uncanny Magazine), Never Say You Can’t Survive: When Is It Okay To Write About Someone Else’s Culture or Experience? (Charlie Jane Anders,


    Figure Cards




    The term "chieftain" is often used to describe leaders in Indigenous cultures and tribal groups. See "tribe" under "Faction Cards."

    personality or physical traits of a creature

    Exercise caution when associating people with animals. There is a long and racist history of dehumanizing people of color, religious minorities, and other marginalized groups by comparing them to animals. Many animals were used (and are still used) as hate symbols. Further reading: What Happens When Groups Of People Are Described As Animals (Shereen Marisol Meraji, NPR), The Racist Trope That Won't Die (Brent Staples, The New York Times).

    mumbles or stutters

    A stutter is a common form of speech disorder that usually follows specific patterns, such as repeated or prolonged sounds, syllables, and words, often accompanied by eye blinks, link tremors, or other indicators of struggle. When writing speech disorders or disruptions, it helps to research the patterns and stressors that may be relevant to the character's experience. Further reading: Stuttering (National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders).

    culturally specific headwear

    Be mindful of real-world cultural contexts when writing about headwear. Certain forms of headwear are tied to culturally specific traditions, often with a long history of oppression, prejudice, or marginalization. Examples include Tignon laws in the United States, the confiscation and appropriation of Indigenous headdresses in North America, and Islamophobic responses to turbans and headscarves worldwide. Further reading: What is Tignon Law? (Wrap Life), Headwrap: A Cultural Symbol (Krystle DeSantos, AphroChic), An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses (âpihtawikosisân,, Indigenous Regalia in Canada (The Canadian Encyclopedia), Muslim Women and the Politics of the Headscarf (Anna Piela, JSTOR Daily).

    noticeable scar or wound

    Depictions of characters with scars and wounds sometimes fall into certain ableist tropes, especially when it comes to facial disfigurement, burn scars, or wounds that affect physical or mental ability.  Further reading: Hey Hollywood – Scars Don’t Make You Evil (Lise Deguire, Face Equality International), Writing Disabilities, Part 4: Villains and Disabilities (Rachel Spencer, Listen Up), Tips for Writing About Characters With Burn Scars (Niki Averton, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors).

    wears glasses or an aid to see or hear

    Assistive devices can help with visual and auditory impairment, two disabilities that are often misrepresented. Be mindful and accurate when depicting characters who blind, deaf, or hard of sight or hearing. Further reading: Constructing Blindness (Elsa Sjunneson-Henry, Reactor Magazine), So, You Wanna Write a Blind Character (Elsa S. Henry, Terrible Minds).

    regionally specific or mixed accent

    Accents and dialect can help regionalize characters, and can be an empowering experience for writers presenting their own dialects and accents, but can extremely demeaning if done badly or with ill intent. Further reading: The POC Guide to Writing Dialect In Fiction (Kai Ashante Wilson, Reactor Magazine), Writing Characters of Different Races and Ethnicities (Writing the Other).

    seek or develop a treatment for an illness; recover from the effects of an event; chronic pain or illness

    Narratives about cures for illness, injury, or disability can often fall into ableist tropes where a character is not considered complete or realized until their disability is erased. This is especially true for stigmatized conditions, chronic illnesses, and disabilities that are frequently misunderstood or misrepresented. Be careful how you depict disabled characters and healing (especially magical healing) in your work. Further reading: The lure of the magical cure (Chloe Johnson, The Bookseller), Power Structures Are Meant to Be Broken (Elsa Sjunneson, Fireside Fiction Company), 4 Tips for Writing About a Character With Chronic Illness (Katrina Quarry, The Mighty).

    prosthesis or missing limb

    Amputations, limb differences, and prosthetics are often misrepresented in fiction and are linked to a variety of harmful tropes. The experiences of amputees may vary immensely depending on the degree and location of amputation(s) and the choice (and options) for prosthetics. Do research and be mindful when representing the experience of people with limb differences. Further reading: 10 Things Amputees and People With Limb Differences Want You to Know (Susie Armitage, SELF), Writing Amputees (Diane Morrison, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America).

    prone to delusion or paranoia

    Delusion and paranoia are often symptoms of mental health disorders, such as a schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, and postnatal psychosis, among others. These symptoms and the disorders they are linked to are often harmfully and/or inaccurately represented in media. By mindful of how you present these traits, and how the characters who present them are framed in your storytelling. Further reading: Paranoia and Delusional Disorders (Mental Health America), Paranoia (, How to Treat Mentally Ill Characters When Writing a Novel (Sonja Yoerg, Writer's Digest).

    notable hairstyle, facial hair, or body hair

    Be mindful of racial bias that exists around hair and hairstyles, especially for Black people and other people of color, as well as misogyny directed at women's facial and body hair. Further reading: ‘Plucked’: Race, gender, science, medicine converge in history of hair removal (Doug Hubley, Bates College), How Hair Discrimination Affects Black Women at Work (Janice Gassam Asare, Harvard Business Review).

    serious phobia of a creature

    Phobias are recognized as anxiety disorders. Be mindful of introducing phobias for comedic effect, or treating them as delusions or mindset issues that can be cured by forcing contact with the phobia in an uncontrolled setting. Further Reading: What Is a Phobia? Fostering Understanding and Reducing Stigma (Stigma-Free Society).

    anxious or fearful mannerisms

    Anxiety is a broad category of disorders and a symptom of a variety of medical conditions. Be mindful and accurate when representing anxiety or its symptoms. Further Reading: What You Need To Know to Write Anxiety in Fiction (Everly Reed,


    In addition to the flagged cues, we want to note that many Figure traits included in the deck are linked to neurodivergence. The following cues are not flagged, but are often presented as negative traits in fiction and benefit from thoughtful handling: extremely talkative or terse; especially clumsy or graceful; honest to a fault; cold-hearted or highly logical; overly trusting or distrustful; always in a rush; forgetful or distractible; creative or divergent thinker; careless with time or money; hums, whistles or fidgets; excitable or enthusiastic; considered a genius; disheveled appearance; social chameleon or butterfly; only eats their favourite food (from the Oddballs & Outtakes Expansion).

    Further reading: On Writing Neurodivergent Characters (Mark Wheaton, Writer's Digest), 7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture (C.L. Lynch, NeuroClastic).

    Event Cards




    "Riot" is a loaded term often used by governments and groups in power to de-legitimize protests, demonstrations, and other resistance movements that use social discomfort or disrupt the status quo, especially with regards to race. Consider why a particular event would be labeled a "riot" instead of a "protest" or "resistance," and who would use (or not use) that term to describe it. Further reading: A riot or an uprising? (Angelyn Francis, The Toronto Star), Riot or Rebellion? The Meaning of Violent Protest from the 1960s to George Floyd (Elizabeth Hinton, Vera).


    Be mindful of depictions of extreme violence, especially when that violence is directed at a specific culture, race, religion, or other protected group and/or parallels real-world events. Consider providing a content advisory, content warning, or trigger warning. Further reading: Content Warnings (DePaul Teaching Commons, DePaul University).

    heavily politicized (by a Faction)

    The term "politicized" generally has a negative connotation and can encompass a variety of scenarios, some of which evoke bias toward minority groups. People from marginalized or targeted groups are often dismissed as "making things political" when they speak about their lived experience, especially when that experience makes people in the dominant cultural group uncomfortable. Consider carefully what you, and the power groups in your world, consider to be "political," and who benefits when a conversation, perspective, or stance receives that label.


    Location Cards




    Pyramid structures appear in a variety of cultures worldwide and are often sacred sites. Popular media depicting pyramids often falls into tomb-raiding or archaeological colonialism tropes with little regard for the cultures involved. Be careful of the tropes you choose to include. Additionally, pyramids are frequently associated with outdated colonial images of Egypt and Egyptomania. Be mindful about reproducing colonial or Orientalist tropes when writing about Egypt-inspired settings. Further reading: Archaeological Tropes That Perpetuate Colonialism (Nicholas C. Laluk and Joseph Aguilar, Sapiens Anthropology Magazine), The Adventuring Archaeologist Trope (Katy Meyers, Play the Past), The Casual Colonialism of Lara Croft and Indiana Jones (Daniel A. Gross, Hyperallergic).


    Object Cards




    See "culturally specific headwear" under "Figure Cards."

    repairing, restorative, or healing properties

    See "seek or develop a treatment for an illness" under "Figure Cards."


    Material Cards



    affects moods or emotions

    Substances that affect mood and emotions are often linked to psychiatric medications and mood disorders, both of which carry significant social stigma and are often misunderstood and misrepresented. Be mindful of falling into harmful tropes that depict medications as a social evil, or that indicate medication should be mandatory. Further reading: The Stigma Around Psychiatric Medication Is Forcing People to Suffer In Silence (Dominique Michelle Astorino, Shape).

    traditionally used by only one sex or gender

    Be mindful of worldbuilding that assigns essential biological characteristics to sex or gender. Further reading: Moving Beyond Binaries in Gender-Based Magic Systems: The Wheel of Time and Iron Widow (, Writing Characters of Different Genders | Trans, Non-Binary, Cisgender, More (Writing the Other).


    Creature Cards



    associated with a cultural value or personal quality

    See "personality or physical traits of a creature" under "Figure Cards."

    hunted as a rite of passage (by a Faction)

    Animal hunts are part of some sacred and/or subsistence-based Indigenous traditions, many of which are represented with colonial bias in media. Be mindful of your own bias and assumptions when depicting a rite of passage that parallels a real-world cultural tradition. Further reading: Facing the Lion (Maasai Warriors, Maasai Association), An 'Angry Inuk' defends the seal hunt, again (Alexandra Pope, Canadian Geographic).


    Deities Expansion



    exile or persecution of a deity's followers

    Be mindful of depicting violence or oppression that parallels real-world religious conflicts or colonial experiences. Be especially careful of writing a story that oversimplifies the causes of persecution and bigotry, or implies the violence was in any way provoked or deserved. Further reading: Ethics in Magical World-Building: Fantasy Bigotry (Dorian Dawes, Medium).

    considered a healing site

    See "seek or develop a treatment for an illness" under "Figure Cards."


    Note: Religion and religious persecution are sensitive subjects. Do additional research and take extra care when depicting parallels to real-world religions, cultures, or sacred practices. Be aware of your own assumptions and biases and how they affect your worldbuilding.


    Namesakes Expansion





    While in fantasy the term "golem" is often used generically to refer to a living or animated construct, the word comes from the Jewish tradition and has specific meanings dating back to the Ketuvim and Talmud. Be mindful of the religious and cultural origins of the word. Further reading: Golem (Jewish Museum Berlin), Modern Jewish History: The Golem (Alden Oreck, Jewish Virtual Library).


    Note: Names hold power, both for those who give them and receive them. When using this deck, especially when creating negative epithets or applying labels to marginalized characters, think carefully about the power dynamics involved.

    • Who in your world gave the name?
    • Who perpetuates it?
    • Who gains power from it?
    • Who is harmed?
    • What real-world prejudices might be reflected?

    Think carefully about how the answers are represented in your world.


    Emblems Expansion

    No cues in this expansion have been marked as sensitive material.

    Note: Symbols can carry hidden meanings and trigger powerful responses. Be thoughtful when introducing symbols to your world, especially if they evoke real-world groups or contexts in which symbols are weaponized for hate or oppression (e.g., graffiti, hand signals, or salutes).

    Story & Lore Bridge Expansion



    induces or heightens a trait in the bearer

    Science fiction and fantasy media both contain tropes in which specific genetic, racial or "superhuman" traits are considered superior, sometimes being cultivated or engineered intentionally. These tropes, when not treated critically, can reinforce racist, ableist, and pro-eugenics perspectives. Further reading: Where science meets fiction: the dark history of eugenics (Adam Rutherford, The Guardian).

    induces an urge

    Urges, intrusive thoughts, and compulsive behaviors are often associated with neurodivergence and a range of mental illnesses. Do research and be mindful when depicting urges with parallels to neurotypes and mental illnesses that affect real people. Further Reading: Stigma Against People With OCD Varies With Their Obsessions (Association for Psychological Science).




    regional accent

    See "regionally specific or mixed accent" under "Figure Cards."


    Story & World Bridge Expansion

    No cues have been marked as sensitive material in this expansion.