An interesting side topic came up in the comments thread for Does Age Matter in Gaming?: sexual themes and younger players.
In thinking about this, two GMing angles came to mind:
Deciding whether or not to incorporate sexual or other mature themes into your games at all.
How that decision changes when you have younger players in your group.
I’ve never had to make the second call (mature themes and kids): when I was younger, so was everyone in my groups (and we were, at times, filthy little bastards); and now that I’m older, I’ve never GMed for kids.
In terms of the first angle, I generally steer clear of using sexual themes in my games. This is partly due to personal preference, and partly due to the complexities that surround this issue — it can get messy.
And in that vein, for this first day of GenCon 2007 I have a GenCon anecdote to share: The game my GenCon group refers to as “All Holes Filled with Harn.” As you might have guessed from the title, this post could be considered NSFW (not safe for work).
I don’t remember what the event was actually called — only the Clerks reference has stuck. There’s a scene in Clerks where Randal orders new videos from his distributor, one of which is called All Holes Filled with Black Cock, in front of a horrified mother and her young child. It’s hilarious.
Harn, of course, is Columbia Games’s insanely detailed low-magic fantasy setting — one my group had never tried before. GenCon is always an opportunity to experiment with new games, so we decided to give it a shot.
As it turned out, the entire adventure was about my character, a nubile young acolyte, being taken to a holy site for a ritual orgy by her priest-mentor, one of the other PCs — who, naturally, was played by a 300-lb. guy with a beard. Naturally, the little detail about the orgy didn’t actually emerge until midway through the event.
I spent the last half hour or so somewhat creeped out, despite the fact that the GM handled things fairly tastefully (or at least, as tastefully as traveling to a ritual orgy can be). The session was pretty enjoyable, and it certainly never descended into F.A.T.A.L. territory — no rolls for vaginal depth needed, thanks. The actual orgy was handled off-camera by way of a short description — it was the lead-up that I found creepy.
Nonetheless, I would have liked a heads-up before the game began — something along the lines of, “This adventure is about taking a young priestess to a holy orgy. One of you is going to play the priestess, and the rest of you are pretty much going to rail the crap out of her at the sacred gangbang.”
Given that warning, I might have a) elected to play another character, or b) said, “Okay, I’m up for leaving my comfort zone — let’s do it.” No warning meant I never got to make that decision, and that’s the point of the anecdote: using sexual themes in your game should definitely be part of your group’s social contract — never spring them on your players.
What do you think about this issue? I didn’t make this a straight-up question post in part because I wanted you to be able to consider it from any angle — the two I presented are just starting points.
(I’m at GenCon from Wednesday, August 15th through Sunday, August 19th — two trips in a row makes for a busy month! As before, there will be a new post every day, but I won’t be able to respond to comments or reply to emails. I’ll be back with a full report next week — have a good time without me! — Martin