Delving into the Book of Erotic Fantasy: Wear Protection
Originally posted on Sidekickcast.com
Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition introduced the Open Gaming License, which made huge chunks of the D&D rules open to third parties. It created thriving adventure lines, such as Dungeon Crawl Classics and even allowed the creation of competing games, such as Pathfinder. But by far one of the most simultaneously awesome and horrible products that emerged as a result of this license is the Book of Erotic Fantasy.
According to the introduction, “The Book of Erotic Fantasy is a sourcebook that deals with the topics of sex in the world of fantasy roleplaying games, written with the adult player in mind.” Depending on who you talk to, it’s either one of the best third-party supplements out there or one of the worst.
Who Wants a Book Like This?
The Book of Erotic Fantasy was definitely a niche product, and it’s easy to classify it as something just for horny teenage geeks. So that’s got to be the target audience, right? Eh…maybe, but there’s a lot of other stuff in there that doesn’t fit that demographic.
There are pictured of naked women and goofy spells like ale goggles, but there’s also stuff like details on the mating cycle of centaurs, rules about pregnancy and childbirth, and a good amount of art that is deliberately unappealing.
I actually have used this book in one of my game sessions, partly because one of my players inexplicably brings it to every session and partly because a PC visited a brothel and I wanted to give her a venereal disease with some creativity (I settled on “whore’s delight,” which causes Strength damage and possible paralysis). None of the other stuff has come up, though I have joked about using the rules to determine how long a PC can last in bed.
I don’t really think this book is designed to appeal purely to horny adolescents. Rather, I think it’s the product of some folks who spent way too long thinking about how sex might work in a fantasy RPG setting. Once you’ve spent several hours thinking about whether vampires can transmit STDs, you can either burn your brain out with bleach or try to put together something productive out of it.
The Most Important Rule
There is one important passage in this book which I think should have been placed right at the forefront, where most RPGs put their Rule 0 like, “This is your game” or “Make sure everybody has fun.” That’s the section on consent, which really cannot get overstated:
Just as in real life, no means no. During the course of a game, characters will try to seduce, woo, cajole, or even force themselves on NPCs. If the other character agrees to the act, it is considered consensual, and thus acceptable (although there could still be plenty of fallout from it). If a character says no, and acts accordingly, then it is non-consensual. This sort of behavior is almost always relegated to the actions of evil NPCs, and you, the DM, should be extremely wary about allowing it into your game.
The Book of Erotic Fantasy does not condone non-consensual sex in any manner.
Personally, if I was writing an RPG supplement and had to put in a section saying, “Don’t rape people,” that would have gotten me to drop the project immediately. But since this thing did happen, I’m glad they included this section, because people are creepy. I’ve been gaming since I was 12 and there is some seriously maladjusted folks out there. And it’s not just a nerd thing – we still live in a society where a lot of people think men can’t get raped, women can’t get pregnant through rape, and that somebody who gets drunk and then taken advantage of sexually is at least partly to blame. Anything that establishes that non-consensual sex is an evil act, be it an RPG supplement or a fortune cookie, gets a thumbs-up in my book for the effort.
So What’s Actually in the Book?
Like I said, The Book of Erotic Fantasy is a product of somebody spending an incredibly long amount of time thinking about the physics of sex in a fantasy setting. Here are some of the highlights/lowlights that leave me either raising my eyebrows or scratching my head:
A very long list of the sexual habits of fantasy creatures. Like, bizarrely long. Did you ever wonder what minotaur breeding is like? Of course you haven’t, but this book has the details anyway. It includes everything from classifying sex with constructs as “assisted masturbation” to rules for pregnancy when you’re carrying a half-dragon child.
A new ability score, Appearance: For those who missed having the Comeliness score in first edition AD&D, there’s an appearance score that includes modifiers to determine how attractive you seem to other races. (Also a sidebar that states that having a large penis doesn’t automatically make you good in bed.)
Rules for sexual stamina: This is a stupid section, but I can’t help but find myself fascinated by it. Turns out that having three hours of uninterrupted sex is possible if you can pass a DC 30 Constitution roll. By the way, rangers are really good lovers, because they get Endurance as a bonus feat and that gives a +4 bonus to their sexual stamina rolls (basically buying another 20 minutes in bed).
A full table of STDs: Including some with such lovely names as “azure balls,” “crotch plague,” and the aforementioned “whore’s delight.”
Rules about contraception: Which, let’s be honest, probably provide more in-depth sex education than you’ll be able to find in the entire state of Texas. By the way, did you know that you can buy a masterwork condom?
This table: Just…wow.
Prestige classes: Including the divine celibate (which gets a unicorn mount and resistance to sex magic) and the dominator.
A ton of new spells: And some of them can actually be useful in a combat, believe it or not. The 2nd-level bard spell disrobe causes nonmagical clothing and armor to fall off, which means that a full-plate wearing fighter can be rendered vulnerable by a bard snapping her fingers.
A magic weapon property called dripping: Which causes the weapon to do acid damage. Yes, that’s all. Why, what did you think it meant, you pervert?
A number of sexuality-focused deities: Including Alilial, the midwife of the gods, whose holy symbol is a fetus in utero. These deities range from gods who could fit into any setting, such as Kaladis the Watcher of the Marriage Bond to those I hope to never actually see in a campaign, such as Vershnat the Black Goat with 1,000 Young whose holy symbol is an image of vagina dentata.
A disappointing array of monsters: As horrific as it seems, I was kind of expecting a bunch of tentacle monsters and pleasure demons in this section. Instead the monsters are almost all half-breeds or quarter-breeds of other monsters, such as half-devils, giantborn, and serpentines. On the other hand, the pleasure golem hits the button in my brain that says, “This is creepy,” and the picture provided makes it even creepier.
A random table of 100 adventure hooks: Which includes, among other things, “All females in a 100-mile radius cease menstruating” and “The adventurers are challenged to a game of ‘sexual endurance’ by a band of halflings.” For a strong adaptational creepiness factor, there’s “And ogre falls in love with a local lord’s daughter.” If you’re using Pathfinder ogres, that means something horrible is about to happen.
An appendix of creature appearance scores: Ever wonder if an elasmosaurus is more attractive than an earth elemental? No? Well, the answer is here anyway. (The elasmosaurus has a Appearance of 6 versus the earth elemental’s appearance of 8. The fact that this means the flippin’ dinosaur only takes a -2 penalty to seduce a humanoid highlights a major flaw in the system.)
A real lack of naked dudes: The text of this book strives to give equal treatment to both genders and shows a fairly progressive mindset. This is totally undone by the fact that the art is full of boobs everywhere. There are a couple of shirtless guys, but – and I find it odd that I’m saying this – there really should have given us more naked man butts.
I don’t know of anybody who would get their money’s worth if they paid for a copy of The Book of Erotic Fantasy. At the same time, I kind of admire the way it just dives into some pretty thorny topics and treats them seriously. I am definitely not the type of person this book was targeted toward, but I do have to admit that it does what it is meant to do very well – sometimes horrifyingly so.
This entry was posted on November 15, 2016 at 12:06 PM and is filed under Rants, Role-Playing Games, RPG Rants with tags Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.