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Real life partners, in-game depravity

Started by Paul Czege, April 03, 2002, 04:10:36 PM

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Paul Czege

Hey Dav,

So, my girlfriend just produced an incredibly creepy Whispering Vault character for our upcoming game, a surprisingly visceral character that kind-of took me by surprise. And it got me thinking about Violence Future. Puji Blowfish, and some of the events Ron describes from your play session are even a couple of notches above what we'll likely see in Whispering Vault, so I guess I'm a little concerned about the possible impact on the romance in my relationship of turning my girlfriend loose with a rules-set like you've developed. Have you given any thought on including some game text how to keep the love alive in a relationship after you play Violence Future with your significant other?

My Life with Master knows codependence.
And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans



And, you haven't even seen your girlfriend's character in play yet!

In all seriousness, be pleased that she doesn't feel the need to damp it down due to your presence.

Julie, who is highly intrigued by Violence Future

Danielle Lewon

time to defend myself, hi this is Paul's girlfriend. He's the one who wanted my character to be more horrific than my first thought from the character creation session.
Ankh Wejeb Seneb
(Life, Health, Prosperity!!!)

Mike Holmes

Hey S'Nora, welcome to The Forge!

You know Paul, that's a kind of patronising attitude. Don't you think that S'Nora can keep herself as detached as yourself from the game? Or is it you that you are worried about?

Sorry, just had to getcha.

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


Paul (et al);

I really hope you weren't serious, or I WAAAY misinterpreted your post ;)

You asked for this, be warned, this may offend... (Stop reading if you have touchy dispositions and tend to let everyone know about your touchy dispositions)

Two options:

Regarding possible differences in respect for the human condition (one likes it, the other likes it medium rare):  agree to disagree.  Just because she may, or may not, be a "disturbed" individual experiencing a first pschotic break does not mean that "physcial displays of affection" need be erased.  Indeed, in many ways, a good romp through the viscera can often increase sexual appetite (if your anything like me).  Certainly a certain added flavor of "will I survive this?" can be a powerful motivating force in the bedroom (and elsewhere), certainly you will become a more attentive lover...

The other possibility is strong medication.  I advise against this, unless you enjoy playing "randy graverobber" in the bedroom.  While a certain passive sentiment *can* be fun in your partner, there are inevitably times when a more proactive response to your activities might be appreciated.  Besides the obvious troubles, medicinal side-effects can have scary, and sometimes painful ramifications.  For instance, Paul, I am assuming that both yourself and S'Nora have a healthy set of teeth.  Depending upon chemical interaction, there are times when, say the other person going into seizure would be quite unpleasant for you (in the case of the more feminine partner, this can also be a good thing if your partner enters seizure).  A nice side-effect for men, however, is that heavy medication will supress gag reflexes in your partner...

With either choice, however, there is no reason that sex must suffer.

Love, on the other hand, may or may not be impacted.  However, if the sex is there...

Dav, quite unrepentant

Ron Edwards


After swishing and spitting a few times, I'm ready to join this thread ...

Let's get more specific. Say I am one of the participants in a role-playing situation, and say that my girlfriend is also present. Say that we're playing a game in which one or the other character engages in sexual activity, or for that matter, any sort of graphic activity. [For brevity's sake, I'll use myself and thus say "she" for the partner and "girlfriend" rather than "wife" or whatever. Alter details to suit yourself if necessary.]

The basic question is, So what? Please note that I am not using this question in its casual sense, which is shorthand for "Shut up," but rather, literally. What is the significance of this situation? What are its ramifications? How is the actual play (ie imagined events) affected? How is the relationship affected?

Is it all just a matter of "oh, it'll vary by individual," or are there some patterns or processes we should all think about?

Tweak it: the other player is not my girlfriend, but rather, we are both single and neither "just friends" nor exes nor anything - i.e., we could theoretically become sexual partners.

Tweak it: the game itself includes mechanics and defined circumstances of play that acknowledge such acts on player-characters' parts. (E.g. Violence Future, obviously, but also perhaps Vampire, SLA Industries, or a few others out there. Violence, from Hogshead, is excepted due to its satiric nature.)

Tweak it: the group, for whatever reason, tends not to "draw the curtain" but usually carries on the scene in which graphic acts occur, just as in a typical dialogue or combat scene.

And in the case of any and all tweaks, do any of the questions I pose change their answers? How?

I'm looking for substance on this one, folks. Real play, real examples, real ick-poo in the imagined play-content, real consequences later.


Clinton R. Nixon

Ok. I'll do this. (Any one who thinks they know any of the people I'm talking about - first, you're probably wrong, and second, if you bring up names, I'll find you and sodomize you with a broken-off broom handle. So quit snickering.)

I once role-played in one of the most twisted psycho-sexual situations I'd ever been in. I was playing in a fantasy role-playing game, and the GM was someone I considered my best friend. However, he did not consider me his best friend, which created a bit of tension.

On top of this, I was completely in love with his female partner. There wasn't a thing about her that I didn't want to worship. It was doubly strange, because it wasn't that I necessarily wanted to sleep with her or anything - I had too much respect for her, but I liked his situation, and the interactions they had, and wished I was in his situation.

So, given all these mitigating factors, the role-playing game should have stayed far from sexual territory. Unfortunately, it didn't. In the game, my character was a halfling/hobbit-type, wide-eyed and innocent. Without the usual fantasy jargon, we would have had a young, virginal teenage boy.
Within a few sessions, the GM had my character captured and stripped naked and made to wear little leather shorts by a sadistic priestess, who continually spanked him and made him perform as her slave. We luckily never had an actual sex scene, but continuous scenes of degradation and sado-masochism. The GM seemed to really enjoy this.

What happened was that we ceased to be close friends. It took a while, but I drifted further and further away, more and more weirded out by my own feelings in the situation.

I think the lesson is that honesty should come first in your game/social situation - if I had let him know that I thought the game had gone too far, I'd probably never have had a problem.
Clinton R. Nixon
CRN Games

J B Bell

Wow, it's Heavy Confessions Day on Actual Play.  :)

A while ago I summarized in some "most fucked-up" thread[*] the only time I ever GM'ed a graphic sex scene.  What I did not mention was that the PC participant's player was a guy I had had a searing awful crush on since late high school.  This was pretty well public knowledge by that time, and something that had been resolved thanks to the incredibly useful policy I had developed of "do not get romantically obsessed with straight men."  (Not to mention his being really decent about the whole embarrassing thing.)

Nonetheless, there was still history there, but the scene went off really quite well, though I was quite nervous about it, and cemented our friendship further.  In effect we demonstrated (to me anyway) that we could harness that wacky sexual energy, not only without harm, but to dramatic and fun effect.  I attribute the success to having checked up with the player ahead of time that the scene would be OK, and of course to having a mature set of players all 'round.

I imagine that the ratio of tales of woe to ones like this will probably be depressingly high, but for those who dare try and who go in with their eyes open, it is possible to get a gain out of what are usually hairy and destructive situations.


[*] OK, apparently I didn't talk about it on this board, or anyway, I can't find it.  In sum, the friend's PC, Echo, a hacker and user of the "teknos circuit", a metaphysical power representing the self-interest of mechanical/industrial existence, was sliding down the greased Faustian fire pole, as his use of the circuit was changing his body, piece by piece.  An NPC established by a different GM, Cassandra, was an avatar of The Flesh, which represented, you know, flesh.  She was cast out of the Flesh for some reason I forget, but the PCs were nice to her, and she fell for Echo.  Determined to save him from himself, she concocted, rather literally, an antidote.  I remember the awful sinking feeling when I determined that the most logical way for a purely-flesh creature to synthesize drugs would be in their body, and that of course, the usual way you pass on antibiotics, as a creature, is through breast milk.  There were no references to "purple-helmeted love nazi", but the scene was quite explicit and played out in front of the other players.

"So, you're sucking her nipple, and what do you know, you get a mouthful of milk."


"You heard me.  You're starting to feel strange.  Your left arm [the mechanical one] feels sore where it joins the flesh of your shoulder."

He, um, disengaged, accused Cassandra hotly, she tried to explain, he ran out, and eventually defeated the antibodies with a few die rolls.  Thus securing his place in Hell, more or less, as at the (sadly curtained before its fulfillment) culmination of the campaign, he was crucified in a hellish netherworld, his consciousness in a janitorial robot . . . well, it was a weird game.  I really admire players who are determined to have a proper tragic outcome for their PC.
"Have mechanics that focus on what the game is about. Then gloss the rest." --Mike Holmes


Well, Ron, this probably isn't the substantial content you want, here are my thoughts on the issue nonetheless.

In regards to your initial scenario, I agree, "So what?"  I'm certainly not an advocate for full disclosure in relationships, but I do believe such situations can be treated as either a discovery or a threat to be handled privately between the individuals involved.

As far as your tweaked scenarios, I can't say that I've been there.  I mean, you and I have gamed where there were scenarios of strong sexual content, but hardly anthing I would consider depraved or overly explicit.  However, I do believe that gaming can be a legitimate forum for serious, or, not so serious, flirtation.  I do not consider it any different from other group activities where potential sexual partners can meet and engage one another. I guess it would be possible to incorporate stop words into a rpg that had strong content.  I find this idea galling; if a person cannot disassociate gaming from reality (or at least leave the table), there is something more seriously disfunctional than a highly charged session.

Consequences to relationships can happen even in the absence of depraved activity in play.  In a different decade when I dated a GM, our gaming could hardly be considered depraved or even overtly sexual. He did incorporate emotional baggage into the game which affected our relationship.  At the time, I found it extremely confusing; now, it simply pisses me off.



After giggling cheerfully at the image of an eight year-old boy's body with a today-version of Clinton's head running about in leather hot pants chased by some maniacal dominatrix playing a game of grabass, I am ready to join the fracas.

I think most people have their strange sex-orgy-rpg stories.

With one exception, all games I have played with sig. others have always devolved into an antagonistic affair, wherein the person either 1) hates me from the get-go, or 2) attempts to foil every possible plotline I can offer.  This has made me leery of continuing to game with sig. others.  

I think, however, that focus upon relationship-building in-game through many of the newer indie games (most notably Trollbabe), would help resolve some of these rather irritating issues that develop between IC and OOC activities.  I don't know, I would have to try it.

I *will* say, however, that my experience shows a definite fault in the lines between male and female roleplayers, in general.  Namely, that women leave the game way the hell behind after wrap, whereas men do not.  (Also, most women I know are psychotic serial killers when given the opportunity, and many men *think* they are psychotic serial killers when given the opportunity, but that is a different issue)

Part of me really wants to chalk much of the strange sexual tension to poor games.  I mean it.  Given enough "umph" to play with should  cause this to be very sideline.  For instance, Ron has mentioned his Hero Wars game as rather graphic at times, sexually, and non-sexually.  It doesn't seem to have significant impact, however, mainly due to the fact that the game itself is a well-oiled machine, and that Ron is also a well-oiled machine...

Well, enough of that, I must have my head battle with imagery of a horde of midget-Clintons dancing about screaming "spank me!" and corporate finance.



No matter how much you choose to say,"But its just my character!" the character is controlled by the player, and any choices you make as a player says something about you... Many folks choose to use roleplaying as a great vent for aggression(killed 23 orcs today, whoo-hoo!), anger, personal opinions, poltical views, metaphysical and moral theories, so of course sex being one of the main drives in our lives is going to jump in on it.

There's definitely something to be said about the social contract in this case... Has anyone considered that this is a conflict between real life relationship maps of sexual tension, and game relationship maps between characters?  


Tripping is when you try to use emotions to make logical judgements
Rationalizing is when you try to use logic to feel emotions


Hey, I once effectively married a girlfriend to my then-GM by introducing her to gaming.  Well, it was not that bad - it was just a fling - and I saw their 2-year old son the other day.  The whole thing occurred across a live game, as you might expect, but given the specifics, I guess, never became a serious problem.

A (male) friend of mine had a nasty experience with SO's and gaming, tho, although I was not present.  I believe the problem was, essentially, proximity.  The pair of them had discussed the character "off camera", and functionally the game was becoming more focussed about her PC as dramatic lead.  I don't think this was in any sense malicious; just that his head contained a disporportionate quantity of detail about that character and its concerns.  The other players were Not Happy - there were accusations of favouritism (although in retrospect the players are happy to concede that was a somewhat exaggerated claim).  But the game disintegrated and they have never really let him forget that error.

I don't do graphic sex, certainly not rape, ever.  Usually I use the "discrete veil" approach.  I don't, for example, think that most "sex scenes" in movies contribute much.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Chris wrote,
"Has anyone considered that this is a conflict between real life relationship maps of sexual tension, and game relationship maps between characters?"

Yes, yes, and double-yes.

Julie wrote,
"I mean, you and I  have gamed where there were scenarios of strong sexual content, but hardly anthing I would consider depraved or overly explicit."

On reflection, I realize that I'm a "veiler" much like Gareth. As a GM, I'm happy to draw the curtain just a tad, or to provide phrasing that permits everyone to construct their own visualization, rather than describe the details myself.

For example, everyone, a particular scene in Hero Wars concerned Julie's character and an NPC meeting, flirting, chatting, and heading to bed together. As authors, we put some effort into the one-step, two-step, back to one-step, sort of interaction that goes on in these situations. It was interesting to me that, in my opinion, Julie and I are both, well, kind of good at that interaction in real life. So bringing those skills into role-playing as authors/creators regarding fictional characters was odd ... not flirting with one another at all, but contributing our skills and ... what, maybe recognizing, without having to process or confirm it out-of-character, how a details of a situation like that would make for the most effective scene or story overall.

The example continued with the actual in-bed sex between the characters. Here's where I "veiled" things. As I recall, no actual description was given of (say) what position the characters were in, or or who'd done what to whom, or even soft-core stuff like how the candlelight outlined his or her whatever. I think I used the word "congress" at one point, and I, at least, and I think everyone else, privately constructed an image of the two characters that included penetration. I'm pretty sure this individual-construction did occur, because when the Hero-Wars-type roll occurred concerning all sorts of magical back-story to the scene, and when each character perceived the other to be Thed, goddess of rape, in the middle of having sex - because Thed did manifest to an extent in that room - everyone, ie, all the real people in the real room, squicked out immediately (in a good way). Just having Thed appear "in a vision" is one thing; having her manifest as and during a pleasing act of sex is another - and everyone seemed to have entered into the imaginative construction of the scene enough for the scene to provide that latter, more powerful version of events.

Julie also wrote,
"However, I do believe that gaming can be a legitimate forum for serious, or, not so serious, flirtation. I do not consider it any different from other group activities where potential sexual partners can meet and engage one another."

I agree with you totally. I also think that mutual attraction can play a very positive subtle role, far less demonstrated or even self-perceived than "flirtation," among people who are not and will not be partners. It is expressed as a kind of charge that enters into all of their interactions, giving a little more power to whatever the task at hand is.

I think that if someone had expressed this concept to me, say, ten years ago, I would only have been able to perceive sexual longing, innuendo, frustration, or other drama in what they were saying. However, what I'm describing may be familiar to older folks - a fully positive element of human interaction that exists completely under the radar screen of needing or wanting to act on it, or, in the absence of self-reflection, even to know that it's there.



I think it would be a safe thing, when constructing relationship maps, to consider what you know of your players RW relationships, and to avoid duplicating any that you suspect might be difficult.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci

Gordon C. Landis

I'm not sure this really adds anything to the discussion (sorry), but my inner-something wants to balance the more . . . lurid stories with something a bit more prosaic.  One common configuration of my gaming group includes both my girlfriend (bought ourselves a townhouse a few years back and if they ever fix that "marriage penalty", *maybe* we'll consider it) and her ex-boyfriend (now married to a wonderful, but sadly non-gaming, lawyer).  I wasn't around when they were "together", though they were occasional sexual partners (of convenience?) during my first year or so of game-experiences with this group (well before I tricked the poor woman into . . . ah, that is, well before we decided to become a couple).

And best as I can tell, none of it had any significant impact on the gaming.  Partly this might be due to the fact that sexual issues rarely arise in our games, and when they did, it was usually in the context of  Anime-flavored Mekton games, where *of course* the lusty male mech-jocks had to occasionally seek out (almost always successfully) erotic encounters with exotic females (to fail to do so wouldn't be "realistic"), and the families of the astoundingly attractive women would regularly seek to get 'em in bed and/or married off in service of some political end . . . no problem separating "character" from "player" there.

Maybe that's my comment - as others have mentioned, my experience is that clear/extreme separation of "player" and "character" in this arena is the safest/easiest answer.  Some other posts (esp. Ron's) point out that in the right group, the player-player tension/issues can enhance the character interaction and thus the game experience . . . and while I agree in principle, my experience with this in the non-sexual interpersonal arena is that such a focus CANNOT by instigated/manipulated by the GM.  It must be initiated by the player(s), and can perhaps then be (very delicately) facilitated by the GM.

Oh, just in case: I've NO problem with "lurid" in general and I'm impressed by the good-humored maturity that folks have shown in approaching a topic that would be pure flame-bait elsewhere - props to everyone (can a white man of 38 get away with saying "props"?  Guess I'm about to find out . . . )   Call me a pinko-liberal-whatever, but I think it's kinda courageous of folks to share some of the stuff they've related here.

Gordon (under construction)