Friday, 15 March 2013

Let's Read: The Book of Erotic Fantasy: Chapter 1, Part 2

So, today, we get on to Sex and Alignment.

I've said before, I don't like the D&D alignment system (and I know that's a feeling shared by many, many gamers). It's one of those legacy mechanics that went from representing a cosmos-level struggle (similar to the Moorcockian Cycles), to becoming the famous 9-point chart that people argue about daily on the Internet...

Yeah... it's something like that
Now, The Book of Erotic Fantasy starts to provide its take on these issues, with regards sex. If you thought that alignment was a straightjacket to your moral behaviour, just you wait until you see what it does to your bedroom behaviour. And if it involves straightjackets, you're probably Lawful Evil. Just saying.

So, to start - Lawful Good. It's all sex in the missionary position, with the light off, through a hole cut in the sheets, purely for the purpose of procreation, right? Wrong. LG is more about thoughtfulness, looking ahead, and being respectful of your partner and their wishes. It also states that an LG relationship does not mean monogamous - sex outside the pairing is accepted, so long as all of the involved parties are aware what's happening, and are alright with it. If it's the wanton slaking of lust, not so much - there's no thought put into it. But you can be polyamourous and Lawful Good, which is nice.

We get a stat-block to represent such a character - Valeria, a Paladin with the Perform (Sexual Techniques) skill and the Sexual Training feat (more on those later, I assume...). This is also the first mention of the App stat (which I assume to mean Appearance) - how this ties in to skills (like, does it replace Charisma for certain skills? Or maybe there's a synergy bonus to those skills?) hasn't come up yet, but I am interested in finding out. She also has a few new spells and items, but nothing of any great note (although I want to place my bet that the (Potion of) Peacock's Beauty is the version of Owl's Wisdom, Cat's Grace etc. for the Appearance stat).

We also get what I assume to be some artwork for Valeria, which is a photo of a model wearing the most impractical leather armour/corset thing, in a wonderful shade of Scarlet Letter red. For some reason, it has little rings where her nipples would be... which strikes me as impractical, at best. Unless they're related to those Nipple Clamps of Exquisite Torture from the Book of Vile Darkness...

Lawful Neutral - the alignment of tradition, strong taboos, arranged marriages... the sexuality of those who are concerned about doing things "the right way", with a similar great deal of thought as LG characters. Very little room for flexibility, but seems the most likely to get themselves hitched "because it's the right thing to do", rather than out of love (or lust). Fairly meh.

Lawful Evil - Order and Power are our inspirational words here - LE uses sex as a weapon, seducing and dominating those lower in standing, and submitting to those in charge. They are "most definitely evil, but they play by the rules". And yes, the wording is specifically charged with such BDSM-imagery. Our photoart now shows a young, thin man, wearing leather shackles which bind his wrists together, and chains leading from them to his nipples. He's holding a candle in his cupped hands, and is staring at it with the most gormless look I've ever seen.

I find the implications that Lawful Evil = BDSM a little... worrying. I mean, when the game goes out of its way to ensure that BDSM isn't automatically evil, but makes the reverse true, that's either sloppy writing or double-standard up the wazoo. Once again, time will tell.

Notably, the text-blurb for LE is the longest so far, and explains why that picture of the little pigeon-chested fella holding a candle is there. Someone spent a while crafting that little narritive...

Neutral Good - focus on pleasuring their partners, and simply want them "leave their partner happier for being with them". NG's exemplar character is Chevel, a Bard (who I can see getting a lot out of this book). She has Perform (Burlesque), and a few new spells as well (depilatory and grope as cantrips, block the seed and vision of exquisite pleasure at 1st-level, and touch me not and limited telepathy at 2nd-level). While the rest I can vaguely guess about, I am assuming that vision of exquisite pleasure is a first-level save-or-suck (*snicker*) spell, which have historically been one of the problems with 3.5.

True Neutral - as with most edition of D&D, this book seems to struggle when it comes to defining the Neutral Neutral crew. Their description basically states that they do what they want - they might be chaste, celibate, slutty, faithful, cheaters - whatever works for them. Dull, and pretty pointless - much like the True Neutral nearly everywhere else.

Neutral Evil - self-centered schemers, who will do whatever they feel they can get away with. They control, abuse, and prostitute others for their own gain. Their relationships tend to be "emotionally painful, often filled with trickery and deceit".

Chaotic Good - "if it feels right, do it" is the slogan here - CG characters value their individuality, and shrug off the taboos of their society, hoping to convince others to do the same with some righteous dickings. They want to ensure that their partners feel better for having been with them - whether that means freeing them from the constraints of their culture, or just leaving them with more confidence, they're the Robin Hood of bedroom antics.

Chaotic Neutral - it's the DM's least favourite alignment, the good old could-kiss-your-mother, could-punch-your-baby Asshole Random. CN characters care about themselves in relationships, leaving "a trail of emotional wreckage and heartache" behind them. They pride themselves on individuality, breaking taboos for the sake of it, and really playing up that "actions first, think later" mentality.

For bonus points, there is some more photoart here - of some woman with her boobs out. Now, I do love boobs, but that's not why this entertains me - the model featured is the spitting image of the ex of one of my old players/GMs - who was a fucking nutbar. Ah, good times...

Also, there are little blurbs of text which allegedly "demonstrate" behaviour typical of each alignment, but none have been noteworthy... until this little gem:
"Ooh, I have need of your nice, strong sword," she cooed. She used her left hand to draw up her skirts, exposing a bare expanse of thigh. "Come here and explore my deep, dark cave".

Did... did she just compare her vagina to a dungeon crawl? Watch out you don't catch ear-seekers or some shit.

Chaotic Evil -abusers, pure and simple. They seek to destroy, hurt, and torture people at the best of times, and are associated with acts such as "rape, mutilation, bestiality, and the abuse of helpless creatures". The authors also point out that they aren't going to mention anything more about these subjects, bar mentioning them. That's nice.

Join me tomorrow for Sex and The Species, where we learn about randy half-orcs, awkward half-elves, and of course, Gnomish sex toys.



  1. You do realise that I was using the older, AD&D version of the book of erotic fantasy all the way through the Isle of the Earthshaker campaign that you played in? You see, it's content doesn't just have a placed in relationship centred games such as some heavily anime influenced campaign words.

    It's presence can be quite subtle. Minerva (the High Priestess character, for example) was an NPC who made good use of the "bitch table" and the seductive/ falsely innocent young Merithina, (although based on my revised Houri class) used a few rules taken from that book as well.

    Well, did I blow your mind?

  2. You truly did! I guess that's the way I would see myself using it, but not as the focus of a campaign.

    I picked the BoEF because it's got such a contraversial reputation, I thought I'd take it apart and see what made it tick.

    Did you catch my review of that AD&D book?

    I wasn't too gentle with it...

    1. That being said. A hell of a lot of the content of both books is just dross. It's like they're trying really hard to be controversial (in the 3.5 version more than the first) and sucking really, really badly at it. Some of the sex dialogue is (as you've pointed out) frankly hilarious rather than erotic. It's a bit like a carry on film really.

      I guess you just have to appreciate that you're not actually meant to take these books any more seriously than the Munchkin's Survival Guide. The exception being that the Erotic Fantasy books actually have some useful content for the average DM's campaign. You just have to sift through the childish (but often amusing) smut to actually get to it.

  3. I missed that one... but I'm off to see it now!

    The controversy is mostly....well, typical controversy. A lot of hype and rumour mongering by people thatr haven't even read the book. Really, given all the D&D is demonic crap from the early eighties, you'd think we gamers would know better....

  4. Here's an example of how I used the AD&D version of the book in the game, while keeping it's presence in the rules invisible to the players and characters.

    Me: "Oh, dashing one-eyed Bard, you're were wounded saving me. Thank you." Merithina places a chaste kiss upon your cheek before bouncing away happily, casting an adoring smile and a grateful glance over her shoulder as she returns to her brooding bodyguard, Bombatta. The big guy gives you an evil look, and seem's none to pleased! For some reason, whether it's the kiss, Bombatta's reaction, or a bit of both, you're wounds don't seem to be bothering you as much. It's a wonder what a kiss from a grateful, pretty young girl can do, isn't it?

    Remember the slave girls that filled you in on some of the real story behind the fate of Merithena's mother and sisters? You got that little tid-bit because I used some of the tables in the book to determine that (during the off-camera part of the game when "most" of you guys were resting, one of the PC's who sneaked off into the woman's quarters managed to sufficiently impress his tumbling partner enough that she spilled the beans on the big secret.

    Of course, Merithena later confided in one or two party members herself before the PC in question got the chance to brag about how he came by this information. But given the nature of the PC in question, I imagine that Merithena's destiny was a piece of information he'd rather keep to himself.

    (At which point I noted down that Ali's Bard character has six more hit-points than he thought he had)

    1. I think they did lawful evil wrong, it reads more like they *intended* it to mean abuse of authority. like the politician who kinda forces(she didn't technically say no so we're good) his highschool age interns to sleep with him, or the boss that makes it clear theres only one way for promotions. one of those drive into the middle of the woods far from anybody and let her think she doesn't get a ride back for free...

      "if the girl said 'no', then the answer is obviously 'no'. But the thing is she is not gonna say no. She would never say 'no', because of the implication things might go wrong for her if she refuses to sleep with me. Not that things are gonna go wrong for her, but she's thinking that they will."

      they don't rape like drug you or rape like tackle and forced entry like ce does, they put you in a situation where an otherwise unwilling person will consent because there doesn't appear to be a choice, or maybe there is but they sortof coerce it.

      maybe even a bit of that bait and switch thing where uncle kenedy always got first dibs on his nephiew's girls*after they'd already gotten to the compound with them and undressed* so its really awkward for her to gather her things and try to leave or even that creepy professor whos always gloming onto the nearest student with a skirt. basically i'm seeing the lawful evil article as an abuse of power thing, or manipulation. the bdsm imaginary was a very poor choice to convey that