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Author Topic: How about some love for Sex?  (Read 3940 times)
Ron Edwards
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« on: February 17, 2010, 09:06:11 AM »

Hello,

Here's an old thread to check out: Sex and Sorcery -- this book rocks!. Pride aside, restricted only to looking at the responses to the text, higher praise for a role-playing book is hard to find, especially from the range of people posting in the thread. Sex & Sorcery: re-reading it and Hooray (Sex & Sorcery) are similar. Yet today, Sex & Sorcery is frequently referred to as a lesser member of the Sorcerer library. A lot of those references use "I heard" phrasing, as well as status-oriented, non-specific reaction phrases like "Meh." I see this reflected in orders: tons of Sword, tons of Soul (which itself had its two-year "meh" reaction phase until people started actually reading it), but not enough Sex.

Concept 1: the Sorcerer supplements are intended to deepen and broaden the core game. Therefore their audience is a person who already knows and enjoys that game. If you're not "Sorcerized," then Sword is basically a genre-appreciation tract and Soul is a little baffling but perhaps appreciated as the genesis of techniques explicitly employed in Dogs in the Vineyard and other games. Sex, on the other hand, was written not only for those who appreciated play based on the book, but for those who'd gone through the further gates of enjoying play using the other two supplements. I can see how it'd be quite abstract and disorganized-looking for at least some people who came to it entirely cold.

Concept 2: once you've processed the stuff in Sex & Sorcery, the material and concepts may seem so natural and obvious that they demand little comment, and indeed may even be remembered as obvious, even though one's play-history is chock-full of the very problems the book describes. So representing for the book may not arise as a personal priority.

Concept 3: the book's impact on game design and content since it was published is profound. I think if we were to draw a little graph of gender/sex content (with players acknowledged as such) vs. time, then there'd be a flat line with only a few little blips until Sex & Sorcery was published, then about a year after that, a big leap to a current new plateau. Most if not all of those authors would be people who'd directly interacted with the Sorcerer supplement and engaged in dialogue about it, too. I'm not claiming sole personal responsibility, but I do think I've helped bring a more positively sexualized voice into the hobby, for at least some sectors of gaming to become simultaneously more explicit and less fetishized, and even for certain brands of fetishism to become more self-referential and thus critically solid (e.g. Poison'd, Barbaren, Tales of the Fisherman's Wife).

Anyway, all that said, I'm sayin', if you think the book is good, or can see how the issues have arisen in your past, or even better, have seen some pretty powerful stuff of this kind appear in functional forms in your gaming since you read it, or if you can see the book's impact on your own design (or designs of games you've played), then I'd like to see some public speaking up about it. This isn't about praising me or giving me attention - so for instance, there's no need to reassure me or anything like that in this thread - but about our discourse-culture and promotional-culture. "I heard" and "Meh" aren't what any of us should be accepting as meaningful contributions in the first place, I think.

All thoughts are welcome to help round out the issue and to point out things I might not be understanding.

Best, Ron
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2010, 09:47:52 AM »

I think a big chunk of this is that Sex and Sorcery rivals only the original book in terms of inspiring new game design (this is related to your last point.) Instead of talking up Sex and Sorcery on the internet, I wrote games (Bliss Stage, and more recently HGMO and ... no I actually don't have the guts to namecheck that one in public.) I'll try to namecheck more publicly, although lately my "product of Ron's that I love" is S/lay w/Me, which honestly pushes many of the same buttons but with the benefit of several years of design and cultural development.

One interesting thing to me is that Sex and Sorcery is at the base of a *lot* of the short games work that's been done over the last half-decade (I'll note that, in addition to Sex, I've also overlooked Jonathan W's seminal work with KKKKKK and Waiting for the Queen /Tea at Midnight. And probably overlooked other stuff too.) This despite that the book's content is no "shorter" in play than any other RPG. * Huh.

yrs--
--Ben

* Insert premature ejaculation "joke" of your choice here.
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Frank Tarcikowski
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a.k.a. Frank T


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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2010, 02:10:07 PM »

I loved the examples on p. 12/13. The male and female story archetypes have been an invaluable tools to me, actually, I thing they have been the single most valuable thing I've taken from all the Sorcerer books. So, yeah. It's highly recommended. I still would like to run In Utero some day, too. I remember this guy whose collection of RPGs took up an entire wall (and not a small one), a good portion of which were quite obscure titles, flipping through "Sex" and reading the In Utero characters, then admiringly exclaiming: "How sick is this?!"

- Frank
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BARBAREN! - The Ultimate Macho Role Playing Game - finally available in English
greyorm
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My name is Raven.


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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2010, 04:13:09 PM »

This just recently came up in another thread here, but the big thing for me in Sex& has nothing to do with sex and gender, and everything to do with starting me along the path to figuring out the idea that results in the fiction don't have to have a mechanical component/result/modifier to matter.

Some years back, I started a thread about trying to make all the different martial arts styles in Sex& mechanically inter-related (ie: this move/style has this much bonus/penalty against that move/style, etc.) and Ron pointed out that doing so was completely unnecessary. That if you choose Throw as opposed to Grab, the results in the fiction are (or can be) game-changing, more so than a mechanical modifier.

Which is a pretty big deal for someone who comes from a design background and style that perceives the the-mechanics-as-the-fiction (or as the most important part thereof from which all events and consequences should flow and flows best from), because it is 180 to that conceptualization.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
jburneko
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2010, 12:53:12 PM »

I will admit that Sex & Sorcery is the only Sorcerer supplement I've read cover-to-cover only once.  I've revisited parts of it but I've never it it a sold second read through like I have the others.  I agree that it kind of has an "Well, that's obvious" feel to it.  However, I think there's a more subtle point under that comment.  Sex & Sorcery raises an awareness about something rather provide a process.  I go to Sorcerer's Soul when I want to refresh myself on the creation application of Relationship Maps.  That's a considered process I return to and execute over and over again.  But the material in Sex & Sorcery is now just something I'm attuned to.  I don't really *do* specific even though it's probably altered my gaming habits on several levels.

That all said my personal favorite thing in the book is "The Scary Diagram."  I really, really want to play a Sorcerer game with that diagram explicitly on the table as the Humanity definition.  I call it Sorcerer, "Sex, Death and Madness style".

This may be tangent but also the material in Sex & Sorcery is right at the heart of my thinking of the Houses of the Blooded LARP that is rapidly becoming all the rage in my local convention.  I can't tell if the principles behind the LARP leverage the ideas laid out in Sex & Sorcery so brilliantly that, that is what everyone is digging on so much or if the design is so painfully ignorant of those ideas as to be morally irresponsible.  I can't tell if  everyone sees what I see and I'm the only one looking on with horror (which makes me wonder why I'm the only one horrified) or if I'm the ONLY one who sees what's going on (which makes me want to raise awareness of it).

Jesse
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hix
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Steve Hickey


« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2010, 03:10:14 PM »

Sex and Sorcery introduces the concepts of Lines and Veils, right? I use those constantly - in fact, I brought them up at our Bliss Stage planning session last night. My regular Tuesday night group has been much improved by applying lines and veils, and I've had some great one-off and convention game experiences where the group has used them to introduce unpleasant stuff into the fiction - points where it felt absolutely necessary that the story needed to go somewhere dark. The idea of introducing that stuff but not showing it actually gave the story a lot of weight.

I also think the Lines and Veils concepts are great for building trust and helping people communicate. All in all, I think they are freaking essential.
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Cheers,
Steve

Find out more about Left Coast (a game about writers, inspired by the life of Philip K. Dick) on Twitter: @leftcoastrpg
The Dragon Master
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« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2010, 07:44:15 AM »

Jesse: I could be mistaken but from what I know of John Wick, and his opinion of The Forge (or for that matter anyone who thinks about the question of what makes gaming fun), I'd say it is highly unlikely that he has even touched a copy of Sex and Sorcery. What is it about the LARP that makes you think of that diagram?
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2010, 01:44:19 PM »

Some history seems necessary here.

Tony, John Wick was one of the primary interacting members of the community that birthed the Forge, nearly a co-founder of some important parts. He participated in the discussions at the Gaming Outpost, RPG.net, and then here when we started the forum; he exemplified the success of independent publishing with Orkworld, including his publisher forum here which you can see in the inactive forums section; he is a fan of Sorcerer, and participated at the first Sorcerer booth in 2001; his dialogues with me helped shape the GenCon Forge booth for 2002; and on and on.

Whatever identity politics you're perceiving or mis-perceiving clearly don't indicate anything conceptually important in terms of game preferences or design of their parts. I'm interested in the LARP question too, but I don't think that there's much point to positing some kind of deep divide or feud, then positing a further implication about what games should or shouldn't share affinities or illustrate possible influences. That's two steps of fantasy away from talking about things as they are.

Best, Ron
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The Dragon Master
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« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2010, 02:49:59 PM »

I never would have guessed any of that based on my interactions with him at our game over the last year. But that entire issue is in fact a side point to the main thread here, and I'm sorry for the possible derail of the thread.
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"You get what everone gets. You get a lifetime." -Death of the Endless
The names Tony
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2010, 02:22:26 PM »

Hi Tony,

It's no big deal. Whatever people say about one another, or me specifically, they can say. My concern is only that the actual history not be lost.

Your question does interest me, not in an oh-mi-god way but out of simple design curiosity - so Jesse, what are the specific features of the LARP which resonate with the text?

Looking over my first post, I'm not sure if I quite managed to get the purpose of the thread articulated. The idea was not to state or testify one's love for Sex here (although discussion about it is welcome; the stuff is interesting), but rather to keep in mind that it's good to speak up in favor of the text's strengths elsewhere when it's relevant.

Best, Ron
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Roger
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« Reply #10 on: February 22, 2010, 02:35:08 PM »

I might suggest that the people who most fully embrace Sex & Sorcery are also the least likely to publicly dissect their experiences with it.  It's a personal thing by design, and the better it's working the more personal it is.
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jburneko
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Posts: 1429


« Reply #11 on: February 22, 2010, 02:39:49 PM »

I wanted to acknowledge the call for my further thoughts.  I've been really busy and my thoughts are lengthy so I haven't had the chance to do the full write up.  When I do, I'll start another thread so as not to completely hijack this one.

Jesse
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James_Nostack
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« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2010, 04:58:15 PM »

I actually re-read Sex & Sorcery as a result of this thread.  I have a bit to say about it, but I've been ill and work-busy and haven't had time to write stuff up.  It's probably my favorite of the supplements - certainly the richest in terms of ideas.
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--Stack
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2010, 06:16:49 PM »

Hello,

Roger, that's probably true. But it's all the more reason to engage in interesting dialogue in terms of actual play discussions, as I see it. If you get A from the text and I get B (or beta, or 7, or pi), then I think both of our experiences and reflections are enhanced if you and I happen to talk about our games together, later. My hope is that this thread might spur such discussions.

James and Jesse, I'll look forward to your posts when you get the time.

Best, Ron
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Calithena
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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aka Sean


« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2010, 08:16:32 AM »

Well, this is a more superficial response, but Azk'arn is totally metal and I love it. Also one of the great short-form fantasy world descriptions in all of RPGs. Something I'd like to see more people exposed to, actually.
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