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Sex & Sorcery At The Table

Started by jburneko, June 05, 2009, 06:03:41 PM

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Sex and Sorcery is certainly the most unusual of the Sorcerer supplements.  In many ways its content is a big, "well DUH" but the way it's presented is certainly thought provoking.  In particular I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the "scary diagram" presented near the beginning.  Outside of that, I really don't feel like I use the material in that book in any direct kind of way.

Except for last night.

So I'm running a Sorcerer & Sword game using my Gothic inspired setup.  Last night we're doing our character re-creation session for setting up our third story arc.  One of my players keeps making little comments about how she thinks her character might be a lesbian.  To be clear the player is female and the character is female.  However, so far, none of that has entered the game.  So, last night I brought it up explicitly.  I mentioned how she keeps skirting around the idea that her character might be a lesbian and did she want to bring that explicitly into play and deal with it.

She said she didn't and when I asked why not she said it would make her uncomfortable.  I asked her why she thought that and she told me that while the idea was really attractive to her she's afraid that she would shy away from it during the game and that she didn't think she could really make the dynamic work.  I said, okay, and was about to leave it at that.

Then I had a thought.  I had a thought I'm not sure I would have had, had I not read Sex & Sorcery.  I pointed that while in the fiction we'd be talking about two women having a relationship, at the table the creative dynamic would have to be between her and me... and I'm a guy.  I said that no matter what was going on in the fiction the actual human-to-human dynamic would be male/female because it can't possibly be anything else.  I asked her if she thought that would make a difference.

I could tell that it certainly affected her thinking.  It gave her real pause and she considered it carefully.  In the end she still chose not to work with it but the whole thing was very insightful for everyone at the table I think.



Ron Edwards

If someone could explain the funny part of this thread to me, I'd appreciate it.

Best, Ron



My original post was not intended as funny.  My "well, duh" comment referred to the fact that Sex & Sorcery initially appears to be pointing out the obvious: That the out-of-game social dynamic at the table matters.  I know that's not particularly obvious to a good chunk of gamer (or wider geek) culture but I don't think I've ever been under the delusion that if we all just "stay in character" it will all work out.  So to me, it wasn't saying anything particularly profound.   Although (a) I like the way the material is presented and (b) I like the idea of *harnessing* that dynamic deliberately (as opposed to simply being aware that it's a factor and needs to be "managed" the way it's managed in ANY social situation and that RPGs are not a way to dodge that reality).

But as I said I've never felt like I've put that material to deliberate use.  Then the situation the other night came up and I thought I'd share it as an example of that material being deliberately expressed and discussed.  There is nothing funny about that anecdote.  It was a really interesting and kind of profound moment.



Jesse, that sounds really cool.  The notion of using the at-the-table trust between players to "allow" a player to cross some role-playing boundaries is a really neat thing. 

I recently had a similar experience (Warning:white privilege) in a Spirit of the Century game where I did some racially transgressive stuff I would never do unless I was role-playing with people I knew and trusted very well.  Intriguingly, while I'm role-playing I can speak my character's name, but when I'm not role-playing I hesitate to even type it!

Sex & Sorcery is a funny ol' book.  I don't want to de-rail your thread but I love that Chapter 1 diagram too.  And, in one of my games, Azk'Arn was the pre-history of the Dictionary of Mu.



[hoping this isn't a thread-jack....]
Wow, now I find myself trying to recall a time when there was real, person-to-person trust manifested at my gaming table. I've gone in that direction sometimes, especially with a transgender friend of mine (male-to-female) who, before she came out to me as a woman, was working with me to put together a 1-on-1 Wraith game with a female PC.
That might sound like some trifling stuff, but for her, given that she was a beer-swilling, football-watching, bearded, flannel-dude, and, you know, a woman inside, this was a big step.
The game never actually took place, but I think just character creation served an important purpose anyway.

I had that same friend, some years later, surprise me by announcing, as an NPC in a game of V:tM, that my character was gay. Yep, a gay, mountain-man Gangrel. This sort of thing was actually a bog-standard detail for us to add, at this point, and it's really fascinating that, if different people are creating more or less the same situation, the specific content can trigger very different responses.
Actually: we had some measure of trust have to take place, and I feel like I really grew as a player, when a guy in my Changeling group (detecting a theme in the games I run? ^_^) said he wanted to seduce an NPC at a bar. The players and the major NPCs had a habit of going to bars after big victories or events, which set a good, upbeat, casual mood in-game and around the table. For extra fun, the player's girlfriend was sitting next to him while we ran the scene, and for even *more* fun, there was a bit of latent romantic tension between me and my player. Whew. That was nerve-wracking to run, but introducing sex, period, into a game I was running really got me to put more emotion into the game. Even more intriguing is that the player managed to maintain a romantic relationship between his character and the NPC for a few sessions (until he left the game, as it happens).
Enough so, actually, that I didn't balk from having another NPC, a really butch lesbian, hit on a female player/character. Thankfully, it worked out well - she was a charmer, not crude or anything, so it added a fun element to the game rather than making the player uncomfortable. Good stuff!
Mask of the Emperor rules, admittedly a work in progress -


Quote from: AXUM on June 11, 2009, 10:24:10 AM
Well... DUH!

Da Ax
Quote from: Ron Edwards on June 11, 2009, 08:19:57 PM
If someone could explain the funny part of this thread to me, I'd appreciate it.

Best, Ron
Ron, I suspect that Axum's LOL was due to his own "well duh" reply (and not to the original post itself) because of the way that jburneko had made use of that "well duh" phrase in the OP. But I'm guessing you figured that out and were simply making a point.

I, for one, am glad to see examples of where Sex & Sorcery comes into play on the gaming table. My group lacks the maturity to play that style, and it's always interesting to see how others make use of it.
Marv (Finarvyn)
Sorcerer * DFRPG * ADRP
I'm mosty responsible for S&W WhiteBox
OD&D Player since 1975