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Gender rules revealed [Sex & Sorcery]

Started by Ron Edwards, December 03, 2002, 04:17:37 PM

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Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Fang, you cunning ... whatever-you-are. That is bang-up insightful of you. A great deal of this supplement arises from my own reflections on very active sexual activity associated with my gaming. Actually, that's saying it backwards. Sexual whatchamacallit, y'know, getting laid, is something I sort of ... how does one put these things ... well, I put a lot into it and got a lot out of it, with lots of people for a long time. Gaming was comparatively a small part of my life. So including the gaming into the sexual adventuring (rather than the other way around, which is what it looks like from a die-hard role-player's perspective) seemed perfectly valid and had the rather wonderful side effect of "legitimizing" gaming to everyone around me, partners, non-partner friends, and acquaintances alike. Not that I cared much about it, but that effect was almost instantaneous.

"Hi, I'm me. Um, yes, that's my romantic life that's seeping around everywhere; it kinda shows up wherever I go; mind the wet spot. Oh, and I game too, it's a neat hobby." Unilateral response: "Hey, that gaming stuff looks pretty cool."

In the interest of decency and self-respect, I want to add that I'm referring to the years 1984-1996 or so.

Julie, whoops, the asymmetry is a typo. The relevant ritual for female players is Contacting alone.

Chris, thanks for pointing out the GM. I hadn't considered that, and I should have.


Le Joueur

Hey Ron,

Quote from: Ron EdwardsFang, you cunning ... whatever-you-are.
I'm the Madman.  How can you forget?  The Madman, Madman, Madman.  (I sound like an episode of Dora, the Explorer - by the way, is that supposed to rhyme only in New York City?  And can we start calling Adventurer Croft, Laura, the Explorer?  Is it the sequel?)

Mostly, I was responding to my own sense of "Yeah, and...?" about the Infamous Five Threads.

As an aside, my wife constantly compliments me on personifying my romantic non-player characters by saying that she's never, and I mean never, considered having an affair; she'd just be looking for 'the me' in whomever she lay with.  She can get that in gaming.  I know...we make all our friends sick too; but hey, we're newlyweds, we've only been married 13 years....

Fang Langford

p. s. I'm still waiting for my fruity Starburst!
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

MK Snyder

Umm, on first reading, it looks like Ron is trying to get more women to roleplay with a game that is "Rosemary's Baby"+"Alien."

Have I got that right?

And we thought using D&D was going to be tough...

I'll repeat J's suggestion that it would be better to not recruit new players in game stores for this one. In fact, Ron, just to let you know, using the Premise of Reproduction as a rationale to require the participation of both sexes could be seen as highly offensive to gamers who happen to be female. Most of the gamers who happen to be female that I know, and have read, do *not* want to be recruited for their femaleness. They just want to feel fully accepted as gamers.

Thus, to recruit women to be players primarily because they are women; and primarily for a reproductive role; not to mention one that is repellent and evil...oh, man. Have the personal body armor and bail money handy.

These observations are being offered with full disregard for the concept that this is a profound and logical development for the specific game, Sorcerer; within that frame of reference, it is appropriate.

Ron Edwards

Hi Maryanne,

That would be a valid criticism if I had a specific agenda to attract or interest more women in role-playing. I don't, though. It's certainly not one of the stated or unstated goals of the supplement. (In fact, the more I think of it, the very concept of men "doing something" to "make" women get more into gaming is pretty dubious from the get-go.)

Jesse's stated the whole shebang pretty well, I think - given men and women at the gaming table, real-person inter-gender interactions can be enlisted to power-up and enhance the content of play.

Do bear in mind that this thread concerns a secondary feature of the sixth of six chapters.

Here are some older threads to give a more complete view:
Third print supplement - maybe
Third print supplement - actually
Sex & Sorcery: male and female story types
Sneak preview: Sex & Sorcery excerpt
Sneak Preview 2

A couple of threads about film and literature relating to all this can be found too (they have "Sex & Sorcery" in the thread titles), and also a search for "In Utero" in this forum will yield a lot too.



As a former hair-clutcher, griever and swearer: I'm not now clutching my hair, grieving or swearing.  (Out of fairness to me, I'd come around already.)

It seems to me, though, that you're rewarding something that your target audience already does.  The mixed-gender group playing Sorcerer in Rosemary's Baby + Alien land has pretty probably already enlisted its gender dynamics, at the social contract level.  Making it explicit in the game rules part of the social contract could:

a. be redundant, giving dice for actions the players would've taken anyway;

b. disrupt the unspoken social contract in such a way that, until the group adjusts, play is stilted and uncomfortable; or

c. be supercool

depending on the group.

Not that any of those are a Bad Thing.  And if it gets a group to notice and talk about its gender dynamics, I'm for it with no bones.


Gordon C. Landis

Quote from: Ron Edwards
Do bear in mind that this thread concerns a secondary feature of the sixth of six chapters.
Maybe it's just me, but I think it's an incredibly exciting and interesting secondary feature, and not especially because of the gender/sex angle.  It represents a concrete way to focus the real people involved in the imagined experience on each other, as real people.  In a way that will add interest and (possibly, if that's what they want) "weight" to the imagined experience.  This is normally only accomplished by the so-called "good GM" knowing his players well, and/or the players knowing each other well, and etc.  Having a game mechanism that can help seems like a pretty big deal to me.

My last post was a little (too?) jokey partially as a way to cushion the possibly sensitive gender/sex issues, and I didn't want that to override the fact that I really think this is a cool, important, potentially very valuable approach.  I can see it going in very interesting places.

Gordon (under construction)


I like these proposed rules.  It is very deliberately protagonizing characters, in that it forces people to team up, rather than letting one person become the focus of events for a while.  Even if it were not gender based, I think these rules would be excellent.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Mike Holmes

Hmm. You know, I've been surprised that Sorcerer hasn't come under fire from the Religious Right. But, hey, if anything can get you that attention, this may just be it! Not just demons, anymore, but sex too, involving the real players (nevermind that it's just in-game, people are going to see this as encouraging out-of-game sex)!

(only half winking on this one)

Member of Indie Netgaming
-Get your indie game fix online.

Fabrice G.

Hum... and now as a Sorcerer fan (tm), if I want to use those clever rules I will have to go on the tremendous quest for french female player !

And He said it's just a secondary feature of the sixth chapter !?!

What will it really takes to use that book ? :)

Anyway, given the context you showed us already, this approch makes perfect sense.

Now all I hope is that I will see the beast sooner than later.

Take care,



Quote from: Fabrice G.Hum... and now as a Sorcerer fan (tm), if I want to use those clever rules I will have to go on the tremendous quest for french female player !

I think that you could theoretically work it with a German or Spanish female as well, or an American if you can find one. Or is there something (other than your obvious linguistic preferences) that makes it better to play with a French female?  I could see a French wife being a real hinderance to adding an international aspect, for instance.

You can't see this, but I've got a huge grin on my face as I'm typing this. I wish you luck in your quest for a French female player - we should all be so lucky as to find one.
Clay Dowling - Online Campaign Planning and Management

Fabrice G.

Hi Clay,

off topic but i couldn't resist: Hey, I'm all for cultural diversity in play, I'll accept all kind of female player in my group (not that my girlfriend will be too happy about that ;) ).

Back on topic now.
As jokingly as my previous post was, it was based on a real concern. There's really few female player in my town that I now off. I don't know about the situation in the USA, but in France the percentage of female player is quite low. So combine that with the fact that I live in a not-so-big town... My point is that as much as I like those rule suggestions, they will be quite hard to implement as first there's the quest[/i) thing.

To be more precise about the rules, I think they're quite "new edge". Aside the whole narativist thing, it will be another bit to be explained to the casual player. Well, explicitely taking into account the gendre of the player, and ruling it having in-game effects...that will be something.
But, from my (little) multi-gender group experience, it should be worth it because, as mentioned previously (by Jesse I think) the perception  and the treatment of the Premise will be different between male and female players.

Take care,


[Edited because I misunderstood Clay statement, and to elaborate on my take about the rules].

Ron Edwards


I just reviewed the thread for anything I'm missing, and I found something.

MK wrote,
"... just to let you know, using the Premise of Reproduction as a rationale to require the participation of both sexes could be seen as highly offensive to gamers who happen to be female."

Well, that one is a clean miss. There ain't no such animal in this supplement. See my post to Jesse, above.

In-game sexual/reproductive content is one thing; metagame, real-people sexual/reproductive content is another. The first may or may not exist, where as the second definitely exists regardless of what's up with the first. This distinction is made very clear in the supplement itself.


Christopher Kubasik

Hi Ron,

Could you please "unpack" the paragraph that begins, "In game sexual/..."

I have to admit I'm not sure I know what you're getting at there.

And I'll post here what I mentioned to you on the phone last night:  When i read all these posts I immediately thought of the game Twister.  Yes, eight men might play it, or eight women.  But a mix of men and women simply makes the game more fun to play.  The rules remain the same, but an awareness of sexes involved just is more... Fun.  (At least for me.)

Yes?  No?  Off base for these new rules, or what?

Take care,

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Seth L. Blumberg

So you're using the sexual element of the interactions between characters as a justification for rules that depend on the gender of the players?

Not to Sim this out, or anything, but...WTF?
the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue

Ron Edwards


Christopher, great Twister analogy. Let's see about that unpacking. Hmm, OK, Bob is a player playing the character Bartholemew, and Meghan is a player playing the character Morgana.

1: Bartholemew and Morgana, the characters, have hot, squishing, loud sex with one another. This is a fictional event, right? It's made-up. Characters do it, not players. Now, given my rules-set, let's say this has nothing to do with Humanity 0 or sorcerous rituals or anything. In that case, it's just another day in the Sorcerer scheme of things and no "gender rules" are involved at all.

2: Bartholemew and Morgana, the characters, cooperate on a ritual, say a Contact. No sex is involved. No sex. They have tea together or paint symbols, whatever. Why look! The gender rules do apply, and Morgana is exempted from the Humanity check for the Contact.

Seth, nope, you're bonkers. No in-game justification regarding sexual interactions is involved at all. Looking at my rules-set presented in the first post, I don't see any sexual interactions among the characters. Where the dickens are you getting that?

Folks, if you have a substantive criticism or point, I'm all ears. But don't waste my time with gut reactions or cries for explaining myself on my part.