I was sitting pacing back in forth like I do when I gamemaster. The new player stated he wanted his character class to be a space consort. A quick scan of the table told me this was a good idea. This was the moment I knew there was going to be an explicit tag on our show.
So let's start off with some background. Nobody at the game table is in any shape or form a prude. I myself have worked as a body painter in two different countries with clients involving strip clubs and Ummm err private parties. That said I’m very clear there are a time and place for sex and nudity. I am the first to say the Game Table most of the time is not the place.
I have been gamemastering for over 30 years. I can count the number of times where a sex scene was appropriate on one hand. I also have to say that not every one of those times went as smoothly as the one in the last episode of Star-Fall.
What could go wrong? It's just an RPG Game, right?
These days there is a lot of debate about safe spaces and the game table. Some feel this is a place where the only rules should be in the book and you can say anything you want. A growing number of people (I am one of them) feel that the game table needs to be an inclusive and diverse place where everyone feels safe to be who they are. ( So long as it does not make another feel overtly uncomfortable….don’t be a sexist ass at the table please )
Sex is one of those topics that can go bad very quickly. It's not safe to assume that everyone at the table has the same tolerance for the topic of sex at the table. Myself it's contextual. 10 years ago when my daughter was young. Bringing up the topic of sex, rape or incest at the table even as dark humor was enough to call my wrath (assuming my wife did not slice you to pieces first). The point is that you need to be careful. Every joke is a possible social mistake that cannot be undone.
So how do you navigate this difficult topic without being labeled “That creepy guy”. Here are a few tips. (at the end I will tell you how that worked out in “Star-Fall” )
Get consent first!
You will be amazed at what you can get away with if you ask permission first. I know there are a few of you that are thinking “I don’t need to have consent do that … its silly” put down your AR-15 and listen. Its a simple thing by asking if its ok if “This next scene has sexual content … is everyone ok with that?” if nothing else you will gain the respect of everyone at the table for asking. If one person says no ... then NO ... this is not a vote. You push forward because one person said no and not only will you make that one person uncomfortable to the point that you could lose them as a player but anyone who sympathizes with them. I have seen games die because of this. So do the right thing and get consent.
Is the Sex Scene really needed?
If you want to have the badge creepy guy of the year throw in something sexual in the middle of a dungeon crawl for no reason whatsoever. There needs to be context. In the last episode of Star-Fall, it was Eight episodes before the space prostitute actually had sex with someone. Why because it was not appropriate. Think do I really need to have a nude guard here? What value does it add to the story?
No value = No scene
Fade to black
We do not need to know the details. Keep the intense details for the writing of erotic fiction. Even James bond films fade to black. Going into details of a sex scene during a game is creepy. (We are assuming that this was not a game of Dungeons and Bondage). If you have consent from all the players before the game even starts (it's too late otherwise) avoid going into details at all cost.
I have encountered games where two players were started to flirt with their characters as avatars. (That is fine) however, we wished they took their dice and got a room because nobody else wanted to hear about it. At the time we were too polite to mention it. Buy years later we are still teasing them about it. DO BE THEM!
Triggers? Do the right thing and avoid these traps
There are some topics that should be avoided. I happen to know that more than one of my players were sexually assaulted at a younger age. Rape & Molestation are off the table for any reason. To bring up those topics during the game is an instant reason to stop the game and maybe even kick a player out. So we avoid the topic altogether. Once again this is supposed to be a place where everyone is having fun. Opening up old wounds at the table is just a bad idea. Be a good human being and find out what triggers there might be.
Have fun ...as long as everyone is having fun
You should always be scanning the table to make sure that the joke about the hooker with four tits was not done to death. Just because something is funny now does not mean it's going to stay that way in ten minutes. I’m not saying don’t have fun but don’t be telling adult jokes at a daycare center.
The GM should never ask for a roll
First, it’s just bad gamemastering. It's Shoe stinging the players. (The act of requiring a roll for every simple thing like tying your shoes) . If you are going to have a sex in one of your games the players should ALWAYS Be in control of their character. Even if there is a reason why they should not. (Ask the player in advance if needed … such as spells or mind control drugs… Hey there is a scene where your character might be under the influence of ____ and it will have your character do sexual things … is that ok? ) The moment a player feels like they cannot control their own character even with the most innocent of things you may lose them as a player. Don’t even think of trying this with sexual content.
Check-in and Say something
Even if you are not the GM. Don't assume that the GM has everything under control. Take a look at the other players and make sure they are having fun. Just because someone is quiet does not mean they are having fun. Be the champion and check in when nobody is looking. "Hey, that last scene seemed to bother you are you ok ?" Then say something about it!! Stop the game if need be.
It's also ok for you to Say it's not ok for you! You do not need to tough out anything that is not comfortable.
Terry is a space male escort who is going through some personal growth as his home planet was just invaded by an oppressive religion. This does bring up some a lot of judgment calls.
* All the players know that he is playing a “Space consort*
*All the players are adults (Why this has to be said is sad)
*Gav the player never goes into detail about what he is doing. It’s always insinuated.
*Gav never attempts to have his character have sex with the other player characters (Note the scene with Lava … She was the aggressor)
* Even the part where the two players characters were “Rolling for skills” the details were left to the imagination.
* Gav character is more about his relationship with his father than his occupation. The occupation seems to be more of a vehicle where character growth can happen. So basically here is this character class that is all about sex and the player never talks about it other than his tagline “If you pay me”
Terry and Lava have a scene together where negotiations for passage out of the system require Terry's special skills.
This is a Sex Scene .. however not something that you would find overly sexual.. though its very funny! Listener discretion is advised
All money received from this go to upgrading our equipment
We also have a deleted scene where the players had a lot of fun roleplaying in this scene. It's not very SEXY per say. but its a good example .. This scene is available to the Patreon backers for free.
How things have gone wrong in the past.
So a long time ago I had a game group where one of the players was playing a tech. We got along just fine both inside and outside of the game. as the GM gave the player a new workshop. When the character walked into the workshop I had made the mistake of using the phrase. “This workshop is so awesome you almost had an orgasm looking at it”. I say this was a mistake because the players face changed from laughing to a forced smile. She never played again in my group.
So I was a player in a group. My Raccoon shaman (Shadowrun 3rd ed) was invited to go to this club. And things got creepy really quick. The GM without the consent of the table pointed out that at the club there was a room that we needed to walk through where people were having an orgy. He went into great detail with this and then attempted to get our characters to join even to the point of requiring Willpower rolls. I wish that was where the creepy part ended … let's just say even with making my rolls I never played with this guy again.
There is nothing wrong with a sex scene at the table. Just be sure you are not going to make players or the GM uncomfortable while doing so.