Tag Archives: sex

Pregnancy and Pirates

Last Reavers game session, I suddenly found myself playing a new RPG of pregnancy and pirates, we’ll call it “P&P” for the time being… This is the kind of pickle you find yourself in as a GM when sex is a component of your gameplay.

As background, this Viking barbarian/serpent shaman druid PC named “Serpent” has become involved with a half elf wizard woman named Samaritha (an NPC). Or at first he thought she was a half elf, turns out she’s a serpentfolk in disguise (they can alter their form). As he is all snake themed anyway, this turned out to not be a dealbreaker and so they’re an item.

Anyway, it started innocuously enough – Serpent was just BSing with the other PCs as they were buying supplies about how “Samaritha talks all the time.” Another PC suggested getting her pregnant, and the rest all jumped onto that discussion mainly just to make Serpent uncomfortable (though oddly, they all took the assumption that a pregnant woman would talk less at face value… I’m the only one of the group with a kid so I had to restrain myself from pointing out the flaw in this cunning plan…). They then talked about it again later at a bar, while at the same time asking around trying to gather information on a female pirate they are chasing, which led to the novel rumor that the fled pirate is pregnant with Serpent’s love child and he’s tracking her down to make an honest woman of her. So I thought it was a joke and they were all just busting his balls about it.

But the idea took root with frightening swiftness. Given that he’s a human and she’s a serpentfolk it would seem to be a somewhat intractable problem but the other PCs were seriously going to look into fertility potions/magic and the like to help their buddy out! (This is all before Samaritha is consulted on this plan of course).

And next session, Serpent totally sat Samaritha down and had a “let’s have a baby” conversation with her. She reveals that serpentfolk aren’t able to reproduce any more, that’s a big problem with their race. They had found a serpentfolk egg in stasis back in a previous adventure (taken from the Green Ronin Freeport trilogy by the way) – I had been downplaying that, and she’d stashed it, but now they discussed raising it as a backup plan – but I was surprised how invested everyone was with really making a pregnancy happen. And it got even a little more complicated because all serpentfolk born after a long, long time ago are degenerate barbarian types and they thought about doing some divination to figure out how the baby might turn out, that is if they could even conceive in the first place… The rest of the PCs had long left the joke part of this around and were quite engaged in this whole discussion and wondering how to make it happen.

I’ve never had having a kid come up in a campaign before so I guess I’m looking for advice… Though there’s a lot of different layers here. How could it happen with a serpentfolk and a human, just technically? How’s pregnancy at sea on a pirate ship going to work (and I guess it’s not like a full pregnancy, but semi and then she’ll lay an egg or something)? The odds are all against it but PCs have a way of making “things that haven’t happened in millenia” happen… I do keep a half decent edge to my game world where the difficulty and brutality of medieval life is present… Will I get on a government watch list for Googling “serpentfolk reproduction?” I don’t know, thoughts?

I am gratified, though, by the work I’ve put into the NPCs and the realistic feel of the campaign, and the investment of the PCs in the game world and their own characters, that this would even come up. For them to see Samaritha not just as a faceless NPC or “arm candy” is great, and to be immersed in the world enough to care about things other than “killing things and taking their stuff” – well that’s what roleplaying is supposed to strive for in my opinion.

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Two, Fifth Session

Fifth Session (15 page pdf) – “Sex, Death, Gods, and Demons”  – [WARNING: NSFW] The PCs race to kill the last Keeper before the horror from the Dark Tapestry destroys Riddleport. But that’s not the greatest foe they face, as it turns out sex is the deadliest weapon of all.

About Adult Content, or, Love Riddleport style

No, seriously, this session is NC-17 rated (that’s X-rated for you old folks), so don’t read further if you’re easily offended.  Also, there are spoilers for Richard Pett’s adventure Carrion Hill. Below, I give you a look into the planning that went into all this. Some people think RPGs should be bowdlerized like comics were under the old Comics Code. Well, I disagree; even most classic literature revolves around “adult” real world concepts about sex, infidelity, temptation, et cetera. I believe RPGs are a serious art form and don’t have to be just escapist power fantasy – if you disagree, you’re welcome to your own game, but to me it’s like Hamlet vs. Donald Duck comics – you can enjoy the latter, but if you claim they’re the acme of literature like the former, then real people will look down on you like the punk you are.

To telegraph the inclusion of sexual content in this session to the group, I added some sexual tension with Iesha at the Gold Goblin (always do a little foreshadowing) and then because of the nature of the Tommy scene especially I just plain told all the players (and our groupie Georgina who was spectating) that this scene would be sexually explicit and they could take a powder if they were uncomfortable, but they were all down. I felt that they all (Tommy mainly in this scene, Sindawe later on, and the others in their turn) did a great job of roleplaying through all these heavy topics.  Good work guys!

About The Graphic Sex Scene with Tommy, Lil, and Seyanna

One of Tommy the halfling’s long term goals is to become a respected and feared pirate/crime lord with a hot human mistress. He’s recently taken a level of assassin and is notable for his enthusiastic torture of the captured assassin Jesswin, and the trapped tiefling prostitute Lavender Lil has been #1 on the future-mistress list. Well, recently I got Paizo’s Lords of Chaos, Book of the Damned Volume 2 and the idea of the demonic boons and whatnot were interesting, so I thought I’d see if Tommy could be tempted.  Turns out he could! You may remember Seyanna the succubus from the Riddleport Light back in Season One – she was a slave of the old sorcerer who used to keep it, Gebediah Crix. Sindawe ended up gifting her to a helpful imp. Fortunately for her, the tsunami hit the city immediately thereafter and in the chaos she managed to get the golden key that controls her away from the imp, tore him into devil bits, and went on her way.  But a good GM never tosses away an NPC! Upon reading Lords of Chaos, I realized there was a perfect fit here. Nocticula (she’s on the cover) is the demon queen of succubi, assassins, whores, and related shenanigans. An aspiring assassin not afraid of getting his hands dirty and who has a soft spot for the demon booty – well that’s something that’s going to show up on her radar. So Seyanna (who can read minds, so knows all about Tommy, and reckons he’s a good Nocticula prospect) headed over to the House of the Silken Veil to get a job. It took some doing to fool the cunning head priestess of Calistria, Shorafa Pamodae, but that’s where succubi are Vikings.  In fact, last time Tommy visited she was in the waiting room for her job interview – I gave him a Perception check to recognize the clothes she was wearing from their encounter in the lighthouse (she had changed form of course, but not clothing) but alas he failed it. So in short order she sexually enslaved Lil and laid out a high quality temptation for Tommy. In the end he accepted her dark gift. This entire scene was the most graphically sexual of the campaign, and it had to be, to reinforce the nature of these demons  – sexual, perverse, violent – and make it clear what he’s getting into. Like any good ensnarement, there was an element of threat and an element of cupidity, it works on marks every day in real life and it worked on Tommy.  It’s not clear what he plans to do now – go along with it?  Turn against Lil? Try to get the succubus somehow? And what are her plans? Help him? Hurt him? Corrupt his precious bodily fluids? We’ll see, this has provided enough plot hooks to sustain a campaign into infinity.

About the Asylum

This was the climax to Carrion Hill – what is essentially a Spawn of Yog-Sothoth from Lovecraft’s “The Dunwich Horror” is loose in Riddleport and they are trying to get rid of it, starting with killing its summoners so it can’t kill them itself and take their power.  The last Keeper runs an asylum, of course. You should have seen the dismayed looks on the faces of the players, they knew it was going to be Real Messed Up ™. Richard Pett did a good job on this adventure adding all kinds of cool setpieces and Lovecraftian horror tropes.

In the end the PCs couldn’t quite kill the Keeper before he ran away and loosed the resident chaos beast – and then as they slew him, the Spawn showed up. I was liberally adding Will saves to prevent Wisdom damage as a stand-in for Sanity mechanics. The best part of this was when everyone managed to get clear (well, Wogan just about didn’t, but Sindawe helped him out) and ran off as the chaos beast and the Spawn met.  Everyone, that is, except the curious Serpent, who stayed behind, peering at the meeting out of curiosity.  Would they fight?  Is one the other’s baby or something? Would they mate? Well, he’ll never know, because he rolled a natural 1 on his Will save and went completely insane – temporarily (mostly), but his mind blanked out and he came shrieking and gibbering out of the asylum behind the others.

I let them get away with just “blowing up the gas lines” in classic Call of Cthulhu fashion instead of fighting the spawn. They were all beat to hell and were clever slash lucky enough to get the spawn and the chaos beast to meet (that was a pretty low percentage play). And then they were like “Oh, the gas lines!  All that leaking dwarven gas line stuff during the flood was foreshadowing!” And I was like “Uhhh… Yes!  Yes it was!”  So they gleefully wandered away from a burning asylum as many insane people burned to death screaming.  Shadow Riddleport will be quite lively if anyone visits again! And the spawn might be dead.  Maybe.  Or maybe it’s a big ass chaos beast.  Or maybe it’s napping. No hints from me!

About the Guns

We changed our gun rules for this game – we had been using these rules I put together, but Paizo has their new gun rules from the upcoming Ultimate Combat out for playtest so we thought we’d use them. We like using period-appropriate guns especially in a pirate game of this sort, so slow to load black powder wheellock pistols and muskets are in the hands of some of the local guards, and our cleric of Gozreh, Wogan, has a soft spot for them. They’re expensive, but he’s managed to get a small collection.

We had mixed results on the rules. These new guns perform a touch attack at short range, which was a nice boost and let him actually hit things. But damage was just too small (1d12 musket/1d8 pistol). Since you have to reload for a long time, you can’t get in a lot of attacks and certainly can’t get the rapid shot/multishot/iterative attack kinds of things every bowman has. So someone with a bow can pop off 2 or more arrows a round for 1d8 + STR damage each even at low level, but with a pistol you can fire once every other round for 1d8, not easily enhanceable. I’m going to boost damage significantly (2d6 for pistols, 3d6 for muskets) – guns are expensive and require a special feat and are slow, so there needs to be compensation.

About Sindawe and Hatshepsut

I hadn’t been planning on doing this in the same session as the succubus thing, but that’s how it ended up happening. Anyway, you may remember that back in Season One, Sindawe ended up making love to an avatar or something of voodoo goddess Mama Watanna, after which she blessed him but warned him he had to be faithful to her and keep it secret. I basically ripped off RL African deity Mami Wata for this bit. To quote the relevant bit from Wikipedia, “Mami Wata’s association with sex and lust is somewhat paradoxically linked to one with fidelity. According to a Nigerian tradition, male followers may encounter the spirit in the guise of a beautiful, sexually promiscuous woman, such as a prostitute. In Nigerian popular stories, Mami Wata may seduce a favoured male devotee and then show herself to him following coitus. She then demands his complete sexual faithfulness and secrecy about the matter. Acceptance means wealth and fortune; rejection spells the ruin of his family, finances, and job.” And that’s what happened. Anyway, Sindawe got a CHA boost out of the gig and has been faithful so far.

Well, he’d developed this friendship with Hatshepsut, monk and priestess of a lost civilization they thawed out back in Viperwall. At first, it was just “let’s not murder her” when Serpent wanted to just murder her… But then he stepped in to help since she doesn’t speak Common and sometimes axe kicks people who violate her weird ancient customs.  And Sindawe wanted to learn Aklo from her to have a secret party language.  As they are both monks they ended up fighting together a lot, and saving each others’ lives from time to time – Sindawe has even spent his precious Infamy Points to help her out.

I wondered how he’d respond to a spark; I just needed the right time.  Hatshepsut got hit by the chaos beast’s attack during the run on the asylum and nearly got mutated. She puts up a stern front but the whole “guess what it’s hundreds of years later and your gods and people are all dead and you’re a hobo now” thing is tough on her, and the chaos thing really shook her. Buty she has her pride. So in Red Sonja fashion, she challenged Sindawe to spar, and when he won, she offered herself to him. And he decided, “OK, let’s do this.”  I knew some random hottie wouldn’t be tempting to him, but a reliable comrade, that’s a different thing.

So what will happen with an irate water goddess?  I guess we’ll see! One PC uses sex to get into bed with a higher power, and one uses it to get out. Interesting times.

Was it sex-drenched?  Yes.  And that’s how you do it!  As a result we have personal investment and drama!  Roleplaying isn’t dead yet. Stay tuned for next time, when we kick the second major campaign plot arc into high gear.

Hot Girl On Girl Action In Our D&D Campaign?

In our last Curse of the Crimson Throne episode, my character Annata had a surprise sexual proposition from her friend Laori.  I was faced with the decision of whether or not to give in to the frenzied cries of “We want slashfic!” from my fellow party members.  I made my decision, but as I reflected on the thought process I went through to arrive at it, I started to consider the nature of that process.

For some reason, there is very little talk out there about how people actually conduct character immersion in role-playing games.  I suspect it’s the minority that do it at all; many people deliberately reject it and even those who talk about in-character play seem to equate it to things like “using funny voices” or other trivia that reveal that they don’t really understand what immersion, in my opinion, really is.  I wanted to share the method behind how I run “in character” and hopefully get some insights from others out there who do the same.

Here’s some background on the situation in the game to provide a shared context.  My character, Annata, is a priestess of Sarenrae, sun goddess of redemption.  She grew up on the streets as part of a Fagin-style child crime group.  She escaped to the church and grew up there.  She was in the big city of Korvosa and worked as a physician, so she wasn’t cloistered and isn’t ignorant of the world, but her semi-isolation in living arrangements  and total devotion to her duties kept her from “dating” per se.  And long story short, now she’s an adventurer.

Our group met an odd woman, a “Forsaken” elf (Annata’s not 100% sure what that means) named Laori, and have adventured with her on and off.  She’s a cleric of Zon-Kuthon (think the Cenobites from Hellraiser).  Normally that would be “bad,” but her and her organization’s goals align with our heroes’.  And more than that, she’s likable.  She’s a happy, peppy, and perky (if evil) S&M Gothchick.  Sarenrae’s faith is very ecumenical, and her personality is a lot like Annata’s, so they took to each other quickly and became friends.  All the guys think (from a distance) that she’s hot; here’s the somewhat anime-looking artist’s conception of Laori in her spiked chainmail catsuit:


Anyway, last session Annata and Laori were chattering away and kinda out of nowhere, she lets me know that she wouldn’t mind getting more intimate with me.  Annata does like Laori; she’s a peppy chirpy cleric too and she definitely saw her as (platonic) girl-friend material, but this was a surprise twist she didn’t see coming.

Interesting! So here’s a peek into how my thought process went. I admit it’s a mix of true immersion and metagame thinking about my character’s personality, but I find that necessary because you seldom have enough information about the fictional world to avoid the “meta” totally.

First, my immediate reaction was intuitive, a quick reaction based on my conceptualization of Annata’s personality. Is it completely out of the question?  No.  Is it a slam dunk? No.  I could see it going either way.

I made a quick roll.   I like to use dice in these kinds of situations. Some people object to this and think any kind of personality mechanic, even an informal appeal to  fate like this one, is “roll-playing” and not immersion.  But in my opinion, the only way to truly simulate real feelings in game is to add some randomization. In the real world, attraction and the like don’t follow any automatic rules. You don’t control who YOU are attracted to.  You may have a “type” but the factors that go into it are too many to be deterministic.  If she had been propositioned by some random person she didn’t know or didn’t like, then I wouldn’t make a roll. If it was some guy she was totally into, then probably I wouldn’t roll either – unless in my opinion the situation was off enough that she might react poorly. In this case, I did what I usually do – a d20 roll, higher means more positive, with vague modifiers applied mentally. Think of it as the other person making a Charisma check. She’s made a handful of checks like this over the course of the campaign, when she’s met someone and I want to know “is chemistry kicking in.” So I made the roll. My gut was “if this isn’t real high, there’s no way.”  I don’t set hard thresholds and results (too much work!  The whole intuition plus roll happens in 5 seconds total), but in this case my gut said 1-5: Disgust, rejection, breaking off friendship; 6-10: Rejection, no explicit breaking off of the friendship but she won’t trust her afterwards; 11-15: Rejection but with friendship not severely affected; 16-20 Maybe, intrigued – not “Yes,” but “She’d think about it.”

Roll result – 18. That’s pretty high. Certainly not high enough for a good girl who has always thought of herself as straight to drop trou on the spot, but enough that after politely extricating herself, she found the idea unexpectedly intriguing and churned over it in her mind afterward in traditional woman-hashing-over-a-relationship fashion.

Here’s the mental path I went through.  Annata has been pretty staunchly straight so far; she was interested in two guys back in Korvosa (Grau, who was a bit of a project for her, and Vencarlo, a sophisticated older gentleman who ended up being the local equivalent of Zorro). Now, she is in love with Vencarlo, or thinks she is (it’s her first time in love). But he hasn’t reciprocated much, and since they both blew town she’s not sure if they’ll ever meet again. And she feels emotionally vulnerable, being away from Korvosa and all.  She’s heard of such things (woman on woman) but never thought about it herself.  What would Sarenrae do?

Meta-thinking comes in here.  I’m not sure if Sarenrae is for or against that kind of thing. One of the problems with fantasy religions is that there’s usually a lot undefined in terms of expected behavior of parishioners.   Is premarital sex OK at all?  Is homosexuality?  This is hard because these should be game “facts” and not subjective, which means I have to engage in metagame thinking. I decide that Sarenrae’s faith is probably not strictly against either, though general societal conservatism that would look down on both would be present.

Back to fully in-character.  Annata has often meditated upon the beauty of the goddess as part of her religion, though (it was the beauty of a statue of the Dawnflower that drew her when she was a street urchin).  Annata has gone through several emotional states in the campaign; when the group left Korvosa for the wilderness she transitioned from her current gig as somewhat strident wound-tight freedom fighter into a bit of a depressed martyr complex, but recently their time with the Shoanti barbarians ended up being kinda “Spring Break”-ey and she got to relax and party and open her mind, so she is in an experimental and confident kind of mood generally.  Laori is clearly a little S&Mey, which isn’t something Annata conceives herself as into, but she is pretty submissive and I can see the dynamics of a top/bottom relationship working there.  And finally, Annata is worried she might be embarrassed if the other guys found out – it might diminish her stature as a spirital leader in the party, generate jealousy, or just get her razzed more.  In the end, a lot of mixed feelings that don’t call for clear action one way or the other.

She thought over it long enough that the sheer weight of the analysis took some of the edge off – she’s not going to act on it (and probably won’t mention it happened). But she took it well enough that it won’t affect her friendship with Laori, and that means she might try again, and if it does it’s got a chance of going farther. I’m pretty comfortable that this is a realistic reaction – I’ve known a couple people over time who have been tempted (sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully) by a daring and insistent gay friend.

I haven’t gone into my method for how I play female characters; that’s a big topic and only peripherally relevant.  (Nor do I feel like I need to justify it; the people who are “against” crossgender play are wrestling with deep-seated emotional problems IMO.)  But suffice it to say the thinking through the various pros and cons I go through above is my attempt at a female approach to analyzing relationship issues, as opposed to the more… elemental typical male response.  (In this case, I am guessing the other two male PCs’ reaction would be “Hell yeah!” tempered only by explicit or implict fear that Laori would be the “top”.)  I wish I could do it more completely “in character,” but I find myself having to pepper the thought process with little meta-thoughts a lot.

I’m interested in how other people work through in-character issues. (I know some of you don’t, and think this is all weird, and say D&D is just for combat-n-fun… Feel free to not respond then.)  Do you use pure immersion (“I am Annata, and I think this…”), metagame evaluation of your character’s personality (“Annata has this in her background so she’d probably react this way…”) , randomization (“I roll d20 and… Annata likes it!”), something else I haven’t thought of, or a mix of these? And if a mix, in what proportions?

Probably one missing element is metagame group dynamics. “Would the other people at the table feel weird about this?” I almost totally omit that. Either I’m a role-playing purist, or I’m just a narcissist that doesn’t give a good goddamn what other people think, but there it is. Another is the narrativist approach, determining if this would make for a good story or not and deciding on those grounds. I do keep that in the back of my mind a little I guess… If I think it would generate a shit story I’d steer away from it out of fear of “ruining the game for everyone”.   I also try to remove “What I the player think about this” as much as possible.  Do I the player think Annata-on-Laori action would be hot; do I believe homosexuality is right, etc – I deliberately firewall that away (as much as is possible) in favor of my character’s personality and beliefs.  Or worse, what someone else thinks – I have little tolerance for people who interject with “Well, a good character/cleric/woman/etc. would…”  I politely encourage folks like that to close their filthy gobs.  And lastly, “acting.”  Immersion is akin to method acting, but in my mind the more commonly defined RPG actor stance – “using voices” and dramatic turns and flourishes – have jack crap to do with real in character play.

Thus after thinking about it, I’d have to say my pet “in character” thought process mix is:

  • As much immersion as I can (50%)
  • Metagame evaluation to fill in the gaps where I can’t fully immerse (35%)
  • Randomness where I think that human feelings should not be deterministic (10%)
  • A shade of “will this derail the story” in the back of my mind (5%)

I’m really interested in hearing other people’s method for “deep IC” play!

Gender Issues In Gaming

There seems to be a bit of traffic at the moment regarding gender issues in gaming, so here’s a quick roundup and my thoughts.

peasantbutcher from tenletter has been posting installments from her college paper called “the case of the bitch: gender and identity construction and formation in role-playing narratives.” The latest bit, Part 5, got under my skin a bit.  Its main argument appears to be that since society is inherently gender biased, so are RPGs (Q.E.D.), and their designers are clearly partly at fault for propagating those stereotypical views – but with no evidence of that.  In my opinon, though there are of course the occassional game that is quite sexist, many are not.  Many of the gender complaints about more modern games seem to be to be of the specious variety.  Take John Kim’s “Gender Roles in RPG Texts.”  It faults D&D 3e because of the evenly gender split four iconics, Lidda and Mialee are less ass-kicking in combat than the two male characters.  However, even if this were reversed, you get complaints about the “Amazon stereotype” (as in Part 4 of the paper).  Of course if the woman is a sorceress then she’s the “femme fatale” stereotype (see the Hero Wars part of John Kim’s article.)  I start getting that “So what exactly would make you happy?” feeling about it.

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Sex and D&D

No, I’m not trying to horn in on dungeon_grrrl’s turf.  But I just ran across this oldie but goodie link – “Sex Advice From a Dungeons & Dragons Player“.  Apparently nerve.com didn’t like that and went with cosplayer advice instead.

Do you have any D&D-oriented sex advice, or questions that need a good D&D answer?  Add them below!