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Author Topic: Exxxploit  (Read 3293 times)
xenos
Member

Posts: 4


« on: November 14, 2003, 07:30:31 AM »

Hi folks.  This is a semi-regular poster under an alias, cause I have a nifty idea for a game, but it would probably be offensive to some people who know me and may read the Forge.  Don't want to make a big deal about the anonymity; some people may guess who this is right away; I just don't want random people searching on my identity to run across this and be offended, but I *do* want to bring it up publically 'cause I'd like feedback on this and think it could be something cool.

Anyway, a friend (non-Forge-poster) and I came up with the idea of doing an "adult" roleplaying game with a particular premise: it's a roleplaying game of erotic fan fiction/fanart.  There's tons of this stuff on the net: famous action/adventure heroine (or hero, whatever -- this is a tradition that goes back to Tijuana Bibles, and more recently, Trekkie "Slash" fiction) starts out in a situation that's typical adventure, but somehow it segues into an improbable sexual fantasy, possibly a completely outlandish one.

Each character should have attached to him or her one or more Fantasies.  It is ambiguous whether these are the fantasies of the player, or the (perhaps suppressed) fantasies of the character.  Actually they are supposed to be both.

The idea is that as long as the character has these Fantasies, they are going to manifest themselves in his or her life.  (If that requires multiple alien abductions, so be it.)  The power that makes this happen is, well, genre: that's what kind of fiction this is.  As surely as D&D characters improbably have adventure hooks appear in their lives, Exxxploit characters improbably have sexual fantasies happen in their lives.

I came up with the idea that when a character experiences a Fantasy, there is an important point of choice: they can Accept or Deny the Fantasy.  (This is based on some ideas in the book _The Erotic Mind_ by Jack Morin, and general two-bit pop psychology.)  There are positive and negative consequences to each:

If they deny the fantasy, then the power of their denial works itself into the narrative: they are able to escape completely any long term consequences of the experience.  Their secret identity is not compromised, nobody gets video of it (or that video is somehow destroyed), people have hypnotically induced amnesia about the event, whatever, it gets covered up.  However, the fantasy still exists, and it will keep happening to the character.

If they accept the fantasy, then they do indeed suffer consequences in their lives -- to their reputation, their relationships, whatever.  However, they can also grow and be empowered by the fantasy, and importantly, they can move past it -- it is crossed off their list (optionally to be replaced by another, but not necessarily) and they can get on with their lives.

I think this is a pretty nifty premise for a lighthearted adult-themed RPG, and I really want to do something with it, but I'm kinda stumped for a system.

I came up with one that was part Pool ripoff, part WuShu ripoff, and part InSpectres ripoff, and I'm not sure it worked that well.  Without going into the details, the idea behind the system was that the player would be trying to run the character through an action-style RPG and would be forced, by declining resources, to add dice from special pools associated with the Fantasies, and when enough of this happened, it would trigger the Fantasy to happen by deus ex machina.

The problem was that the player found it tedous to go through the motions of gradually triggering the fantasy.  He would have been just as happy to "bring on" the fantasy, so he didn't see the mechanics which forced it as helpful.

Maybe I need more mechanics which actually address the psychological process of accepting or rejecting the fantasy?  I'm not sure.  I didn't really have mechanics for that, I just made it a choice that had to be made after the fantasy was done.

I'm left kinda flailing as to where to begin with mechanics.  I need a very simple, no hassle system to resolve adventure actions, something to deal with the Fantasies and the fact that they are narratively destined to happen, a way to transition...

I guess I'm posting with not much to show right now.  I had what I thought was a good system and I'm convinced it wasn't worth it, and I'm looking for things to plagiarize. :)

BTW, influences here include -- Elfs and maybe KPFS for player/character separation (though different from both of those), InSpectres and MLWM for a tightly defined narrative structure that includes a transition point to an "endgame" (here the "endgame" being the sexual fantasy being enacted), and WuShu and The Pool both strike me as things I might want to draw on for simple action resolution systems.

I'll write more when I get a chance and/or come up with some ideas for a new system.  Right now I'm in limbo and thought maybe some discussion would help me think about it.

What do y'all think?  I know it's silly, I know it's kinda offensive, but I've tossed around this idea to the point where I feel like it's got the momentum to become something actually cool...
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Paul Czege
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2003, 11:03:38 AM »

I like it. But you're going to have a hard time doing demos at GenCon.

You intend it for one-on-one play, right? I imagine you're going for a bit of a truth-or-dare dynamic?

Without going into the details, the idea behind the system was that the player would be trying to run the character through an action-style RPG and would be forced, by declining resources, to add dice from special pools associated with the Fantasies, and when enough of this happened, it would trigger the Fantasy to happen by deus ex machina.

I'm not sure the action-style idea fits that well with a titillating play dynamic. What you need instead, I think, is for a character's fantasies to problematize their routines...the ordinary stuff they have to do. So it's hard to make it through Jimmy's soccer practice when the nude-but-for-bunny-slippers woman is masturbating on a blanket under the bleachers.

Just riffing here, but perhaps giving in to fantasies is empowering in your dealings with strangers, or in the workplace, but problematic in your dealings with family and friends? (Think generally about how Self-loathing works in My Life with Master.) And maybe you're utterly incapable of action in the face of your fears, or on behalf of your ambitions, without spending from your fantasy-derived effectiveness? Of course, all that could come crashing down if you don't carefully manage how often you dip into that pool of effectiveness...

I dunno. It's still not quite right. What's the happy ending?

Paul
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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
JimmyB
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2003, 08:41:34 AM »

Quote

I dunno. It's still not quite right. What's the happy ending?

Well, just a thought, judging from fan fiction and similar things you might want to have two options. If they've given in too many times to their urges, you could have the happy ending being a sort of post-coital relaxation with all of the people they just screwed, whereas if they resist in the end, they could look back on it as a period of their lives that they enjoyed, but which was over.
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Jimmy B
http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/24HourGames/">Ye Olde West

Working on: Poetry in Motion
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2003, 12:49:17 PM »

Quote from: The mysterious xenos
It is ambiguous whether these are the fantasies of the player, or the (perhaps suppressed) fantasies of the character. Actually they are supposed to be both.


I think the game has to emphasize and made crystal clear that the fantasies must be the players' as well as the characters'. There's nothing to be gained by making this point ambiguous. If players distance themselves by inventing fantasies that don't turn them on, as in saying (and really meaning) "these are my character's fantasies but I'm not into that," it's hard to see the ensuing play having much point.

The idea that the fantasies are made up in advance also seems to be shying away from real player to player "hands on" interaction with each other's fantasies. Which I don't think will work. If a "fantasy" is a piece of canned narrative (presumably, of a sexual situation or encounter), already complete before play begins, then what you'll tend to have in play is an intellectual exercise of "how can we set the stage to make this fantasy scenario happen" (invoking e.g. alien abduction if necessary). Like I said this seems to be literally shying away from the main issue: you've got players around the table talking about and role-playing their sexual fantasie. They'll either be comfortable with that or they won't. If they aren't, then treating the fantasies as pre-existing nuggets not to be touched or made the subject of negotiation (or as Ron would say, "addressed") in play won't help. If they are, then let's let them get their hands dirty.

I'd like to see some play organized around actually inventing fantasies based on fantasy elements attributed to the characters (but appealing to their respective players as well). Such an element could be an image, setting, person, preference, fetish, or bit of situation, ranging from very general (ritual sex; gender alteration; youth; food) to very specific (a tattoo of a tiger; a bed of rose petals; a leather thong; Angelina Jolie).

The reaction of the character to the fantasy should still be the key focus of play, as you describe. But instead of a reaction after the fact to a fait accompli (the choice to Accept or Deny the fantasy), wouldn't it be a lot more powerful to have a series of such choices within the fantasy itself, as it unfolds on the fly? Each choice would essentially ask, "OK, you've gone this far, but will you now go this far?" Either choice having consequences for the character's subsequent life.

It's just an impression based on my reading of what you wrote, so I might be wrong, but it sounds to me like the reason you're in limbo is that you're trying to design a game about sex without really facing up to sex. 'Cause it's, you know, kinda offensive to talk about it. You want a game where playing has the same sense of detachment as reading someone else's slash fiction, instead of the one-hand-on-the-keyboard (and the other one's not on the mouse) experience of writing one's own. I'm not sure if that's workable. If the game's telling the players to be embarassed about the fantasies (or to treat them as absurd, which amounts to the same thing), the players will be embarassed to play it.

- Walt
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xenos
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2003, 03:03:58 PM »

Hey, great feedback, Walt!  Thanks!

Quote from: Walt Freitag
Quote from: The mysterious xenos
It is ambiguous whether these are the fantasies of the player, or the (perhaps suppressed) fantasies of the character. Actually they are supposed to be both.


I think the game has to emphasize and made crystal clear that the fantasies must be the players' as well as the characters'. There's nothing to be gained by making this point ambiguous. If players distance themselves by inventing fantasies that don't turn them on, as in saying (and really meaning) "these are my character's fantasies but I'm not into that," it's hard to see the ensuing play having much point.


You're quite right, and I guess I put that badly.  I think the point is that they ought to be both.

Quote

The idea that the fantasies are made up in advance also seems to be shying away from real player to player "hands on" interaction with each other's fantasies. Which I don't think will work. If a "fantasy" is a piece of canned narrative (presumably, of a sexual situation or encounter), already complete before play begins, then what you'll tend to have in play is an intellectual exercise of "how can we set the stage to make this fantasy scenario happen" (invoking e.g. alien abduction if necessary). Like I said this seems to be literally shying away from the main issue: you've got players around the table talking about and role-playing their sexual fantasie. They'll either be comfortable with that or they won't. If they aren't, then treating the fantasies as pre-existing nuggets not to be touched or made the subject of negotiation (or as Ron would say, "addressed") in play won't help. If they are, then let's let them get their hands dirty.


You're right that this is a difficulty.  I think part of the thing is that by "fantasy" I meant something fairly general, rather than a complete narrative.  Something along the lines of what you list below as "fantasy elements" --

Quote
...I'd like to see some play organized around actually inventing fantasies based on fantasy elements attributed to the characters (but appealing to their respective players as well). Such an element could be an image, setting, person, preference, fetish, or bit of situation, ranging from very general (ritual sex; gender alteration; youth; food) to very specific (a tattoo of a tiger; a bed of rose petals; a leather thong; Angelina Jolie).


This is EXACTLY what I meant by "fantasies" -- fantasy ELEMENTS.

There still might be some difficulty with seeming to have to railroad things, but no, I didn't mean "complete narratives."

As a matter of fact, I had a simple "fanatasy generation system" where to create a fantasy you can choose two or three elements off a long list of things like "bondage" "mind control" "sex with robots" etc.

Quote

The reaction of the character to the fantasy should still be the key focus of play, as you describe. But instead of a reaction after the fact to a fait accompli (the choice to Accept or Deny the fantasy), wouldn't it be a lot more powerful to have a series of such choices within the fantasy itself, as it unfolds on the fly? Each choice would essentially ask, "OK, you've gone this far, but will you now go this far?" Either choice having consequences for the character's subsequent life.


I think you've got something here.  I would like to incorporate this somehow.

Quote

It's just an impression based on my reading of what you wrote, so I might be wrong, but it sounds to me like the reason you're in limbo is that you're trying to design a game about sex without really facing up to sex. 'Cause it's, you know, kinda offensive to talk about it. You want a game where playing has the same sense of detachment as reading someone else's slash fiction, instead of the one-hand-on-the-keyboard (and the other one's not on the mouse) experience of writing one's own. I'm not sure if that's workable. If the game's telling the players to be embarassed about the fantasies (or to treat them as absurd, which amounts to the same thing), the players will be embarassed to play it.

- Walt


Heheh.  Well, I don't want the game to tell the players to be embarrassed about their fantasies; as for treating them as absurd, depends what you mean by "absurd."  I don't want to treat them as contemptible!   I'm writing the game partly because I rather like such things myself.  But I also don't take them terribly seriously.  I guess the point you're making is that you have to be ready to sacrifice detachment and accept involvement, without being embarrassed, and that's a good point.

Something I've been working from is a sense of split-personality in erotic fanfic -- it is parasitic on an existing story and characters (usually in an action-adventure genre), which existed originally without it.  It in a sense imposes the sexual elements on a world that made sense without it.  So I've been thinking in terms of a rift or dividing line between "action-adventure" story and "sexualized" story which might somehow be reflected in the rules.

The "accept/deny" part of things is in a sense about whether the character is allowed to return to the G or PG-rated action-adventure universe or stays in the "fanfictioverse" where the fantasies are realized.

I was just thinking that it might be helpful to look at a "roll above/below attributes" scheme to accomplish some of this, like in Wuthering Heighs and MLWM.  That might give some of the sense of moving between two poles.  Perhaps acceptance/denial of fantasies (or whatever gets substituted for it) could be rated on a polar scale, where some things are easier if you are more accepting, and some things are easier if you are more denying.

I think I'm going to see what I can put together using that idea.  It is the first promising starting point I've come up with since deciding my existing ideas were not quite getting there.

Again, Walt, excellent feedback; I really appreciate it.
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xenos
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2003, 08:43:19 AM »

BTW, I didn't mean to minimize Paul or JimmyB's replys there; Walt's was just a bit meatier and demanded a reply more.  I appreciated all responses.
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Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2003, 07:07:49 PM »

Quote
Well, I don't want the game to tell the players to be embarrassed about their fantasies; as for treating them as absurd, depends what you mean by "absurd." I don't want to treat them as contemptible! I'm writing the game partly because I rather like such things myself. But I also don't take them terribly seriously. I guess the point you're making is that you have to be ready to sacrifice detachment and accept involvement, without being embarrassed, and that's a good point.


Yeah, I guess I didn't explain that "absurd" thing very well, but you've managed to catch the gist of it anyway. What I meant was the players deliberately adding random absurdity to a fantasy scenario as a distancing tactic. As in, "I don't want anyone to find out that this scene with the sex-before-willing-sacrifice kink is really turning me on, so I'll introduce a duck and a robotic nun into the narration."

I'll be interested to see what you come up with from here using the split universe and push/pull attributes scheme. I'm most interested, though, in how you see the fantasy elements being assembled into fantasies (that is, fantasy narratives or scenarios) as your vision of the game play develops. I'm talking about the real nuts and bolts of narration: who gets to propose scenarios, who gets to propose additions or modifications to scenarios, how those proposals get accepted or rejected. I could see this as anywhere from a traditional GM (who would have to develop a very specialized talent, I believe) to completely GM-ful(/less) play with overt negotiation a la Universalis. I'm sure you have something in mind for that but I haven't grasped it yet from your descriptions.

I feel kind of exposed (intellectually, that is, no entendres, double or otherwise, intended) talking about this subject without having read Sorcerer and Sex. Have you read it? If so, any relevant insights from that source?

- Walt
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xenos
Member

Posts: 4


« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2003, 07:33:16 PM »

I must disappoint you -- I *don't* have a 100% clear idea how this is all going to go.  I'm drawing on some experiences gaming with and talking about games with the sorts of friends that you can be open about weird sexual stuff with, so I'm thinking about that, not about some sort of bedroom game where you're gaming with an SO as a prelude to sex or something.

I have considered whether some kind of GM-less play might be a good idea.  So far a good idea for how that would work hasn't come out and grabbed me; I'm not familiar with many GMless games other than Universalis, which isn't exactly what I'm after here.

I do have a copy of Sex & Sorcery but (mea culpa) haven't read it yet.  I read Ron's stuff slowly and I'm only through Sorcerer and Sorcerer & Sword so far. My impression was that Sex & Sorcery was a lot less silly than this game was liable to be, so I hadn't worried about digesting it first, but perhaps I should.

To be honest, there's a bit in Sorcerer and Sword where the example characters are created, in which it is mentioned that all of them may perhaps embody some vaguely disturbing psychological needs on the part of the players, and that that is a *good thing*, something that will help invest them in the game and give it power -- that seems relevant to Exxxploit, perhaps.  So maybe I should actually give Sex & Sorcery a good look and come back with a report.

As for how the fantasies got put together, my initial thought had been to put together a list of, say, three "fantasies," each consisting of two or three elements taken from the big list or made up.  "Sex with a giant plant," "domination and humiliation," "nipple clamps," or the like.

And part of the game would be an inexorable and at least somewhat improbable movement towards one of those fantasies, which would cause it to be "acted out" and then accepted or denied.

I mentioned that one of the sources that inspired this was an excellent book about sexual psychology called "The Erotic Mind" by Jack Morin.  This idea of improbable fantasies that have power over the character and cause themselves to be enacted, and which can only be controlled when they are accepted, is a caricature, a simplification, and a projection into a fantasy world of some of the ideas in that book.

It's also a rules-reflection of the "Tijuana Bible/fanfic" genre, which is historically based on dubiously legal ripoffs of popular characters, which force them into improbable sexual situations.  Here the sexual preoccupations/themes/fetishes of the creators and readers are projected onto the characters, which you could look at either positively or negatively, depending on a lot of factors.

I think that the most valuable idea I've gotten out of this discussion so far is that the theme of Accepting/Denying fantasies, if I'm going to use it, might be better broken down into smaller chunks or stages, and perhaps a good way to do that would be to have a gradated scale of acceptance and denial (converse attributes, a roll over/roll under situation).

I'll see if I can get some more solid rules together for discussion.  Sorry for blowing smoke, for posting such inchoate ideas, but the reason I posted here is that I have a strong feeling there could be something solid, interesting, and unique here, but it's gotten all slippery in my mind, I'm not happy with what I've done so far, and I'm reaching for ideas on where to go next.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2003, 08:47:43 PM »

Hiya,

I have four things to say.

1. Well, there is this model thing being discussed presently in the GNS Discussion forum, which might be helpful. At the very least, if you try to visualize actual people engaged in playing the game, working through the levels of my model, it might help in making some decisions about design.

2. Like it or not, you have two very different levels to deal with - pornography as a direct experience of the real people, and pornography as a process/experience of the fictional characters. It seems to me that the normal outcome of the former is literal, physical masturbation. Yet I presume that that is not actually the goal of play that you envision (see #1), unless I'm mistaking something.

In a typical fantasy, or porn movie for that matter, "plot" is usually tossed to the winds and the sexual encounters simply pile on faster and, uh, xxxx-er, as spectacle in and of themselves. Is that really the plan, for actual play of this game? If not, what's going on in the process/experience of the fictional characters that would wrench the attention of the group of real people away from the need to decide whether to beat off together or separately?

3. I am flattered that my book Sex & Sorcery has even a small influence in sparking this notion for RPG design. I'll be interested in your comments once you read it.

4. Bunny slipppers!!

Best,
Ron
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JimmyB
Member

Posts: 31


« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2003, 04:56:11 AM »

Just as a thought, would it be worth designing it largely for internet play, with by e-mail or in chat rooms? Main reason I ask is because then you tend to get people being much more open about themselves, and less likely to try and distance since they've already got the insulation that the internet provides.
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Jimmy B
http://groups.yahoo.com/groups/24HourGames/">Ye Olde West

Working on: Poetry in Motion
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