RPG (Role-Playing Game) Research - RPG Research Suspending All international Services and Most Other Operations In Order to Get Insurance

As originally posted on our other server in early May 2022.

 · 14 min read


Role-Playing Game RPG Research's News and Blog

RPG (Role-Playing Game) Research Suspending All International Services and Most Other Operations In Order to Get Insurance

It is with a heavy heart that this announcement is written today, though it is expected this will only be a temporary, brief, hiccup in our decades-long (45+ years) of endeavors related to RPG Research and gaming accessibility.

With the exception of our efforts to open the new RPG Community Center in Spokane, Washington, we must suspend almost all of our services and non-local volunteer staff effective April 28th, 2022 so we can get insurance to allow volunteers and the public to be able to access the RPG Community Center.

We need all resources focused on getting this RPG Community Center open to the public, then we will do all we can to incrementally bring back as many of our other programs over time (that we're allowed to by the insurance providers).

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


Unfortunately, after more than 3 months of trying to get an insurance quote, it appears that in order to be able to get insurance so we can open the RPG Community Center to the public, at 101 North Stone Street in Spokane, Washington, we are going to have to temporarily suspend all of our international operations and almost everything we have been doing for decades, in almost every way we do it.

We must suspend all of our international and national volunteer staff (we are 100% unpaid volunteer-run). In order to get insurance we can only retain Spokane-local volunteers (and our board members). We must take offline almost all of our online services, information, archives, events, training, and other benefits we freely offer to the public:

* RPG research archives

* RPG museum, essays

* videos

* diagrams

* books

* flowcharts

* audio (podcasts, panels, interviews, etc.)

* live streaming (game evals, talk shows, interviews, vidcasts, entertainment shows, fundraisers, etc.)

* online training

* other classes

* entertainment shows

* talk shows

* online tabletop games

* online community programs

* etc.

This must be done in order to have any hope of getting the insurance we need to grow further. This will temporarily be many steps backward, with the hope that we can once again move forward.

Image of many tabletop RPG session on our platform. RPG Research in 2020 in partnership with TheFantasy.Network built and ran an interactive media and community platform simultaneously hosting WorldCon and GenCon Film Festival, and many other conventions (20,000+ concurrent participants) from cancellation due to COVID-19

For decades we have been operating without incident. We have been operating cooperative music and role-playing game programs for people worldwide semi-formally as many different endeavors, as well as the more formal RPG Research Project and RPG Research organizations and similar projects and programs.

RPG Research and The Spartan Show Actual Play Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition (D&D 5e) actual play tabletop live-stream of the Worlds of Beru Campaign with Hawke Robinson as GM. We incorporated real time sketch artists during the show.

This all started with RPG Research’s founder, Hawke Robinson:

* in 1977 was introduced to tabletop role-playing games through a cousin

* began experimenting with optimizing RPGs for maximal enjoyment since 1979

* began software development in 1979 and developing electronic RPG tools and RPGs since 1980

* a paid professional game master since 1982

* researching and writing about the effects of all role-playing game formats since 1983

* running RPGs as in-school classes as well as after school programs since 1985

* using RPGs with incarcerated populations since 1989

RPG Research staff were advisors for the documentary, and ran a booth with the Zombie Orpheus Entertainment folks at Booth 100 at GenCon, and on GenConTV talking about RPGs and incarcerated populations and the 10+ years-long documentary.

* in a vast range of medical and therapeutic settings for many populations as the RPG Research Project and RPG Research organization since 2004

* especially our advocacy and inclusion of many populations with disabilities or neurodifferences.

RPG  Research volunteers ran multiple RPG and RPG-adjacent programs at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) summer camps. The kids voted our programs their favorite. They are pictured here painting their custom shields before their tabletop and larp events (they get to take the shields home with them)

We have been operating formally as RPG Research, an incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit charitable research and human services organization since 2017, with over 200 volunteers and programs across 6 continents, also without incident.

RPG Research staff in partnership with Eastern Washington University (EWU) and the Northeast Youth Center (NEYC) designed and hosted "Fantastic Fun For All: Extreme Medieval Sports" program for the poorest zip code in the state and one of the "hungriest" zip codes in the country, to give the kids a day they'd never forget (2007).

All of this history is apparently too confusing and overwhelming for the insurance agents and companies trying to formulate a quote, so we must strip everything down to the basics to accommodate them, then we hope we can incrementally build our operations back up.

RPG Research volunteers at a half-day park-wide event with all forms of role-playing games, tabletop, live-action, hybrids, electronic (VR, laptops, etc.)

We "rode on the coattails of others" as far as our having previous insurance coverage by running programs at other organizations’ facilities (schools, libraries, community centers, universities, rehabilitation facilities, MDA summer camps, my own personal insurance, my LLC’s insurance, etc.) and we were covered by their insurance as we provided our extensive programs.

RPG Research running Drop In and RPG program at Spark Central Community Center for at-risk youth, adults, and those with special needs. We've been running programs at Spark Central almost as long as they have been around. In 2022 we're coming up on 5 continuous years of our programs there, without incident because of our highest standards and extensive volunteer training an gold-standard policies and procedures backed by decades of experience, research, and evidence-in-practice.

Now that we are a formal incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit organization (since 2017), and we are now trying to open up a community center of our own (and we hope later as an RPG Museum as well), the issue of trying to get any insurance at all has become a huge road block.

role-playing gamers and RPG Research volunteers in the back of one of the wheelchair accessible RPG trailers. The RPG Trailers and RPG bus are owned by Hawke Robinson personally, and he freely loans them out to RPG Research to help us provide more programs across the US in a comfortable, safe, welcoming, accessible and environmentally controllable mobile facility.

We have been trying every week since late January 2022 simply to get a quote from insurance companies for sufficient coverage on the property. They aren’t willing to provide separate property coverage only, insisting that we must include organizational general liability, cyber security coverage, and other insurance coverage as a bundle. That is where it all becomes too complicated. I have completed over 90 pages of applications, and been hit with scores more yet again this week.

The wheelchair accessible RPG Mobile fleet, RPG Bus and RPG Trailers owned personally by Hawke Roinson so that he can freely loan them to RPG Research to help us expand the reach of our programs to underserved and unserved populations in rural and remote locations.

We must get the property insurance to meet the terms of our NNN lease for minimum coverage before we can allow volunteers or the public on the property so we can open up the RPG Community Center.

The RPG Center. On the left, future home of The RPG Community Center Building, on the right, future home (we hope) of the RPG Museum. Of course, we need the insurance so we can open these places up for our volunteers to work on them, and for the public to be allowed access.

We are now coming up on paying a third month of rent in May, and we are still unable to even get a simple sufficient insurance quote. Of all the challenges, no one expected it to be this difficult to just get the insurance quote. We were braced with challenges to get sufficient funds to cover whatever the premiums might be, but just getting a quote was not expected to be all but impossible.

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


I have contacted more than 30 agencies, and they have reached out to many insurance companies only to get "declinations". 

A declination means the insurance companies are refusing (declining) to even provide a quote for the minimum coverage that we need to open the facilities, because they consider us too high a risk to even consider insuring, even though we’ve operated for decades without incident.

Their reasons for declination are due in large part to:

* our being a non-profit (found out much smaller pool of companies will provide coverage for non-profits)

* our distinctive way of doing things with a 100% unpaid volunteer model (for decades without incident), we all (200+ volunteers) do this for free as a labor or love trying to make the world a better place

RPG Research and Hawke Robinson's RPG Trailer, guest speaking at Eastern Washington University's Therapeutic Recreation Department classes.

* the insurance companies have made it clear they do not understand what a role-playing game is. Among a list of other issues they list (see list further down on this page), they don’t have a “risk rating” for role-playing games, so they default to higher risk categories since it is unknown in their tables.

RPG Research and Spokane Area Gaming Alliance volunteers at WorldCon 2015 hosting all of their gaming that year.

The biggest issue appears to be that they are conflating between what the non-profit RPG Research does currently and the limited scope of coverage we want for the community center, with everything we have ever done over the past 45 years with RPGs. They look through all of our thousands of web pages, many social media, thousands of videos, our international reach, all the media mentioning us, etc. They are not willing to provide unbundled property coverage, so it all becomes much more complicated to provide coverage for the whole organization.

We’re only asking for a very narrow subset of coverage:

* the property

* operational liability coverage sufficient for opening the community center to the public to run tabletop role-playing games

After more than 3 months, we still don't have a single insurance company willing to provide a quote that provides the minimum coverage we must have for the property, and for us to open the community center.

So, in order to reduce their confusion (and I assume some anxiety on their part because we are so unusual in their view), we are openly and transparently (as we always are) going to indefinitely suspend all of our international operations, and almost all of our other operations, events, and volunteer staffing worldwide. 

RPG Research and Mindcrack Podcast Twitch stream fundraiser for RPG Research. They had never played  tabletop RPG, before, and they had an incredible time and want more. We raise more money per hour than we ever have before, about $1,000 per hour! We look forward to being allowed to do this again, once the insurance situation is worked out, we really need those funds to keep our programs going and growing.

We will only sustain the bare bones functioning with a local skeleton crew and our existing board of directors. This is done in the hopes that this huge simplification will enable the insurance companies to be able to handle this narrower scope and provide the coverage we need.

This will hopefully lead to us being able to get the insurance in place sufficient to open up the community center to the public. Once this minimum insurance is in place, we then hope we can incrementally ask them for additional riders/add-ons to the policy, get that added coverage in place and then add back the suspended function, staffing, or event, so that over time we can get back up to providing the amazing array of services we’ve been freely providing worldwide for decades without incident.

On April 28th, 2022, after an emergency request to run it by the RPG Research Board of Directors, I, William Hawkes-Robinson (“Hawke Robinson”) as the Founder, CEO, and Chair of the 501(c)3 non-profit research and human services charitable organization RPG Research, and receiving support from the board, effective this day, will be suspending almost all of our functions, operational reach, locations, and international volunteer staffing. We will be operating only at the bare minimum necessary to open a local community center to run tabletop role-playing games only for teens and adults. I am hoping this draconian simplification will be basic enough for the insurance companies to finally provide a quote so we can finally move forward.

RPG Research and Tolkien Moot volunteers in front of Hawke Robinson's first RPG Trailer around 2017 or s.

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 



Role-playing game players, including Autism spectrum, and RPG Research trained volunteer staff game masters running RPGs in the wheelchair accessible RPG Bus (loaned for our use by Hawke Robinson), celebrating a great dice role at a key point in the game.

As of May 28th, 2022, we will only be continue the following:

* We will continue as a 100% volunteer-run organization, but with this greatly reduced, local-only staff.

* Only a small subset of active core volunteers (6-12 out of our nearly 200 worldwide) located in the Spokane region will be active volunteers/staff, all others will be inactive.

* We will continue with our existing board of directors (some of which are remote) and quarterly meetings as required for our incorporated 501(c)3 non-profit charity status.

* We will continue, as we always have, full background checks on all of our volunteers and staff.

* We will continue with our existing Mission and Vision statements, but our Impact will be severely reduced during this suspension period. Many of our functions will be suspended for now in order to satisfy insurance requirements.

* We will suspend all online live-streaming to all of the social media platforms, including but not limited to: Youtube, Twitch, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.

* We will only have minimal Social Media postings, adding significant oversight to our postings before they are allowed to go public (we've never had an issue, but this is a concern for the insurance companies), this will be significantly reducing our social media presence. We plan to only have 1 social media posting per day, vetted and approved before release.

* We will continue recording our private training sessions.

* We will continue using private recorded security cameras in all of our tabletop sessions (with signed waivers of permission from all participants).

* We will continue to use sign-in / sign-out processes for all sessions.

* We will continue our community Drop In and RPG in-person programs at the Spark Central Community Center, as that has been under Spark Central’s insurance coverage for the nearly 5 years we've been running our RPG programs there (we contacted the same insurance company ourselves for our center and they declined providing us with a quote unfortunately).

* We will continue our current in-school Drop In and RPG programs through Spark Central that are currently underway.

* We will continue our volunteer staff weekly training, but it will only be for in-person Spokane staff (the insurance companies don’t like our using providing training)

* We will only offer in-person tabletop role-playing games to the community at the community, we will suspend providing electronic, live-action, or hybrid RPGs in-person or online.

* We will continue our weekly Administrative Staff meetings

* We will continue our regular weekly volunteer staff applied gaming and volunteer staff training sessions, but only in-person (though we will record sessions as we always do, these will be kept locally if/until we have insurance riders later allowing us to upload them to the public again).

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies.

RPG Research's founder, Hawke Robinson at Merlyn's Games & Hobbies running accessible tabletop role-playing game sessions, including for players with Cerebral Palsy (CP), Autism Spectrum (ASD),blind, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, and many others, 2005+

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 



We will suspend indefinitely all of the following (that the insurance companies listed as having issues with us doing), we plan down the road, once we get insurance for the community center, to ask for add-ons/riders later to allow us to incrementally resume these functions, until then we will suspend as follows:

* Suspend our international operations

* We will suspend remote tabletop RPG sessions.

* We will suspend our research projects.

* We will suspend public access to our research archives.

* We will suspend our archival processing endeavors and archive search endeavors.

* We will suspend all remote and online training of remote volunteers.

* We will suspend all live-streams.

* We will severely limit our online presence on Youtube, Twitch, Social media and elsewhere due to concerns by the insurance companies about our online presence (though haven't had any issues in the decades we've been online).

* We will severely limit our social media posts, restricting what is posted to only what goes through a full vetting (though we've never had any incidents)

* We will suspend all remote training and operations of our volunteer staff and only provide it only for local in-person Spokane staff (the insurance companies were uncomfortable with us providing any remote training or online).

* We will suspend all of our remote or online tabletop, live-action, electronic, or hybrid game sessions (insurance companies not comfortable with us providing any services online).

* We will suspend our live-action game sessions (insurance companies not comfortable with the potential risk of injury, which is legitimate, though we've never had an incident in decades of doing so).

* RPG Research will suspend use of the Wheelchair accessible RPG Bus and RPG Trailers that I had been loaning for free to RPG Research to use to help increase accessibility in gaming (I use these in my private practice as a Recreational Therapist through CM&F Group, and I have my own insurance coverage for them both personally through a multimillion dollar "umbrella" policy through LIberty Mutual and Safeco, and professionally through CM&F Group, but the insurance companies aren't comfortable with these being used by community for the non-profit).

* While it runs the risk of killing us financially, we will suspend all fundraising "events". Hopefully the individual donors will keep us afloat during this transition. People can still donate to us through the usual online link, but we will hold off on any events related to fundraising because this is another line item of risk the insurance companies have indicated concerns with (though we've never had any incidents over the decades of events we've run).

* We will suspend our American Sign Language (ASL) practice groups

* We will suspend our ASL RPG groups

* We will suspend our Blind / Visually Impaired RPG groups

* We will suspend our Accessibility advocacy programs

* We will suspend our self-hosted public events

* We will suspend our fundraising events (just leave donating on our website or in-person, but not run fundraising events until we later add insurance rider allowing us to do so)

* We will suspend our public speaking programs at events

* We will suspend our self-hosted public conventions (RPG Conference, etc.)

* We will suspend our fundraising efforts for other organizations

* We will suspend the efforts to create the RPG Museum (will get separate insurance rider for that later)

* We will suspend our transcription programs

* We will suspend our grant writing programs

* We will suspend our researcher meetings with 30+ PhD researchers around the world, and only continue our local minor research on optimizing the TRPG experience for increasing their fun.

* We will suspend our Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, and related programs.

* We will suspend our RPG Tours raising awareness about accessibility and gaming.

* We will suspend our Diploma and certification training programs

* We will suspend our entertainment shows and streams

* We will suspend our cataloging, indexing, and scanning of our research and museum archives.

* We will suspend our RPG Advocacy and Public Speaking online and remote training sessions, only providing them to Spokane local volunteers in-person.

* We will suspend the RPG Talk Show and related shows

* We will suspend the tours of our facilities

* We will suspend the periodic RPG Retreats

* We will suspend the RPG Camps

* We will suspend the annual RPG Research RPG Conference

* We will suspend the RPG Journal

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies.

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


Insurance Companies Partial List of Reasons for Their Declination

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies:

* Non-profit

* 100% Volunteer-run

* Do not understand what tabletop role-playing games (TRPG) are, so rating in higher risk categories

* Consider video game (electronic RPGs) higher risk

* Consider live-action role-playing games (such as larp) to high a risk to cover

* Do not understand what hybrid role-playing games are (HRPG, such as cross-over board games, card games, etc.), so rating higher risk categories.

* No Ph.Ds directly running the on-site community program (though we have 30+ worldwide in our volunteer staff for our research programs, none are local and available to oversee the community center in-person)

* No paid staff

* Remote volunteers

* Remote participants

* Research repository

* Community programs

* Programs for more than one population

* Programs for children

* Programs for senior adults

* Programs for people with disabilities

* Programs for Autism Spectrum populations

* Programs for at-risk populations

* Programs for incarcerated populations

* Programs for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HoH)

* Programs for the Blind or Visually Impaired (VI)

* Programs for people with learning disorders or other challenges/differences

* Live-streaming online

* Social Media presence

* Level of exposure in the news / media

* Volunteers not in Spokane

* Volunteers not in Washington State

* Volunteers not in USA

* Wheelchair accessible RPG Trailers and RPG Bus

* Building too old even though upgraded electrical, etc.

* Neighborhood high risk

* Cooperative music programs (Drop In and Jam)

* Cooperative facilitated drum circles (Drop In and Drum)

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies.

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


This will directly impact the following websites (and others not listed):























and many others

Partial List of the Insurance Companies that have "declinated"

* Spokane Valley Insurance

* RMG Insurance – doesn’t cover Washington state.

* GuideOne - “not in their risk appetite right now” plus a $5k minimum premium.

* CommercialInsurance.net 

* AM Trust - “No prior coverage is a concern, but really this is not a fit for us due to the international reach and competition events focus.”

* Philadelphia - “underwriter is not comfortable with insured’s exposures from a GL standpoint stating it is too far out of the box.”

* The Hartford

* Great American

* USLI has declined with the following reason: We will not be able to consider for GL/ Package due to scope of services, including research, training/ development, multi-continent reach, mobile exposure, etc. "declined all lines" - "due to the overall scope of services, including research, training/development, multi-continent reach, and mobile exposure. I dug deeper through their website to make sure we can't help with any terms and I have to agree with the declination"

* HUB International - "this is also outside our appetite due to events and programs being primarily volunteer led, as well as the level of media/online presence and chatrooms used for trainings and research."

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies.

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


Not Declinated, Still in Progress, Scores of Pages of Paperwork

* NPIP - Not quite declined, but keep kicking back asking for more and more pages and pages of paperwork. Still a work in progress after weeks of back and forth.

* KBG Agency – only one that has provided quotes, but they are far below the required minimums we must have to comply with the lease terms. Quotes are around $2700-$5400/year but barely any coverage, and not sufficient to meet the minimum requires for our lease terms.

* Farmers Insurance - Brian Tillia is especially trying hard to find us something, he seems to be one of the few agents that has taken on really trying to help us find a solution.

* Lutheran Trust – Another of the few agents really trying to help us. Looking into “surplus lines” because we have had so many declinations we are eligible, but these tend to be incredibly expensive, he said to brace for $10,000+ USD per year!

This list will be updated, potentially without notice, as we further negotiate with insurance companies.


We welcome any suggestions to help us resolve this significant hurdle. We will update this page as progress is made.

We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we undergo these growing pains.

Meanwhile we have $1,500/month rent, $500/month in utilities, plus whatever the insurance is going to costs (guesses have ranged between $5,000 to $10,000+ per year that we should be prepared to cover). 

Please consider donating today to help us through this transition period. 


Hawke Robinson

A Washington State Department of Health Registered Recreational Therapist with a background in Therapeutic Recreation, computer science, neuroscience, cognitive neuropsychology, research psychology, nursing, play therapy, education, and role-playing gaming.
Hawke Robinson has been involved with role-playing games in community settings since 1977. Studying methods for optimizing the experience of role-playing games since 1979. A paid professional game master since 1982. Studying the effects of role-playing games upon participants since 1983. Providing role-playing games in educational settings and for educational goals since 1985. Working with incarcerated populations since 1989. Researching and using role-playing games to achieve therapeutic goals for a wide range of populations from 2 years old through senior adults since 2004.
Founder and CEO of the non-profit 501(c)3 charitable research and human services organization, RPG Research.
Founder and President of the for-profit <https://rpgtherapy.com">RPG Therapeutics LLC and RPG.LLC.
Author of the RPG Professional Workbook available on Amazon.
Creator of the wheelchair accessible RPG Mobile fleet.
Founder of the RPG Museum.

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