I like to include sex and sexuality in my games. Not as a front-and-centre element, but certainly something that comes up. From the classic wenching at a tavern, to the confusion that magic might bring to alternate sexuality and transgender issues, I like to use sex as a starting point and hook for games - after all, your characters are people, they eat, they sleep, they fuck. They have their preferences to the way they do those things (if they do them at all). But, being a background element, I disagree with in-depth mechanical representations of it (finding them too... well, mechanical).
However, enough about me - let's get to it.
Our cavalcade of smut begins with a surprisingly open and frank introduction, where one of the authors explains that they simply wanted to add more possibilities into your average D&D game, and they tried really hard to not offend anyone, and present a wide variety of possible sexual behaviours and orientations in as positive a light as they can. It's nice to see this, rather than the slightly creepy tone the AD&D Book of Sex took. I might be wrong, but I feel somewhat more confident in the tone of the book, partly because one of the authors is female. That might be a slight gender bias showing, but I'll assume that input from both sides of the gender divide will help to present a balanced view throughout the book.
We'll see how long it lasts.
There's notes about how to handle the themes in a mature, responsible way, but also notes that, sometimes, there's nothing wrong with a bit of bawdy humour here and there. But when the DM wants to run a serious look at the repercussions of magic in the face of humanity's ever-changing sexual desires and needs, and the Gnome keeps cracking wise about his Rod of Lordly Might, there's a disconnect, and the book talks about some ways to lessen the problem. Really, it boils down to "talk to your players" - which is what a GM should be doing anyway.
This little section also has a sidebar detailing the "Ratings" of sex in your games:
- G - the "standard" no-sex, no-nudity, good clean family muderhobo group. It is noted that characters may still use their charm, but come across more "flirtatious" than anything else.
- PG-13 - sex is obliquely mentioned, and mature themes may be present, but it's usually little more than that. If sex happens, it's all "fade to black", and the consequences are normally plot-related (if mentioned at all).
- R is the level where these rule start - sex happens, is frequent enough, and has lasting consequences throughout the game- enough consequence to warrant skill checks, at least. It can also begin to feature as a political tool, or a personal motivation.
- NC-17, and sex is commonplace, taboos mean very little, etc. - your game has officially become pretty dirty. It's like A Song of Ice and Fire with a bit more titillation.
- And XXX, where sex is the focus of the game, and sexy monsters are the order of the day. This would be something like Phil Foglio's XXXenophile, or your classic British sex comedies (only less cringe-worthy, I would hope).
There are further sections detailing Sex and Love Between PCs (is it bad that I can only imagine this between either young, lovestruck couples playing together, or people looking to gain some obscure mechanical benefit?), Sexual Orientation (which will get a fuller write-up later in the book), Kinks and Fetishes (with the claim that there will be further rules for Fetishes in Chapter 2: Rules, Skills and Feats. Joy), Prostitution: Both Sacred and Profane (with some intonation as to their being Prestige Classes that follow), Pornography (Illusion Spells seem to be pretty popular), and a bit about the consequences of sex and love (marriage, pregnancy etc.).
All in, most of the information presented within is a little... preachy.
"Sex is great, we love sex, and everyone has their own ways of doing it, and that's just great."
The game emphasises that regardless of someone's gender, orientation, or preferences, they are just as capable as anyone else in their respective fields, and that the only time these things should matter is when the rules say so (like Feat prerequisites, or Prestige Classes). It's a weird sort of back-and-forth, "Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others"-kinda thing. We'll see if this continues throughout the book.
The book also makes a distinction between "cultural" and "universal" taboos - so, for example, some cultures might see sex with multiple partners, or outside of wedlock, or even the use of sex toys as a gross display of wanton sexuality, while for others it's the norm (or even encouraged). But, in general, necrophilia, rape and the like are pretty much always outside the realm of normal behaviour, thus getting listed in the Universal list (the quote from text: All but the most Chaotic and Evil of societies view the following as reprehensible).
There's a section on Rights of Passage - the kind of things a youngster must do to prove themselves an adult (and thus, gain the right to have sex). I can see this coming up in a few games - like a Barbarian tribesman having to go kill a certain type of creature before gaining such an honour, or maybe seeing his tribe destroyed before he could undergo it - a source of much angst for roleplaying goodness! And, of course, a chance for the player to re-enact the rite, with the help of the other PCs...
Tomorrow, I'll continue my delve into this mucky book with a look at Sex and Alignment, and our first piece of "artwork"!