Day 5: Would you say rolling dice to have sex is hot, dirty, deprotagonizing, or all the above?

First, the obligatory meme where this question came from:

My finest work.

But where the question really came from? The presence of sex and sexuality in a particular strain of indie games.

I think explicit discussion of sex is a legitimately important development in RPGs, and probably one of the primary early divisions between trad and indie. I mean yes of course sex has been in RPGs since the beginning, but at least in my games? Off-screen and implied at best: so-and-so is “in love with” so-and-so. Queen X and King Y are married although Knight Z and Queen X both long for King Y. Some of that was a function of my age — teenage Paul wasn’t getting any as a high school sophomore, talking about it was unthinkable. Some of it was a function of what RPGs were at the time.

The earliest I saw sex brought in in actual words, as a formal part of an RPG’s procedure, has to have been Ron Edwards​’ Sorcerer. When you draw out relationship maps in that game, connections of sex and family are privileged over everything else. Smart!

That was 2001, maybe earlier.

I speculate the trad/indie division has something to do with the fact that fucking is about human relationships. Actual connections between people. I’d done r-maps before of oaths and hatreds but those are kind of…constructs. They’re not actually visceral biological connections.

So, like…our favorite genre fiction, yeah? Everyone’s boning all the time. Jackson added implied boning to Lord of the Rings, the most chaste fantasy story ever told. Sci-fi? Boning. Fantasy? Boning. Postapocalypse, espionage, westerns? So much boning.

My speculation ends here: if you start explicitly including sexual relationships in RPGs, you’re explicitly aligning them with genre fiction, with story-making. And despite everyone’s best efforts on both sides and a decade-plus of online fights, I think there are huge swaths of trad players for whom RPGs have very, very little to do with fiction and story-making.

Anyway, rolling sex to have dice. No wait, the other way. Terrific addition where the games are more about human situations than external plots. Assuming the GM doesn’t just straight-up murder your lover/spouse “because that’s dramatic,” it’s one of the most protagonizing things that ever happens at the table.

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