How to Run An ERPG

So, the following came up in a Reddit thread recently and since I’m still doing damage control on the buffer, I need to post it. It contains a snipe at GRR Martin, which is always fun, because that always brings out of the woodwork all the people who’ve never read any literary fiction before ASoIaF and are so blown away by the concept of literary foreshadowing that they assume GRRM invented it himself and is therefore an unqualified genius who can do no wrong.

So, here’s some stuff I wrote about how to run an effective erotic RPG. I’m aware the audience for this is super niche, but if that audience isn’t you, you don’t have to read it.

You need to figure out at the very beginning whether or not you want an erotic game specifically or just a game where sex can happen sometimes. You also need people who are more mature than GRR Martin and are willing to admit that they are adding in erotica just because it’s fun, rather than hiding behind excuses about realism, because those people will claim they want a game with incidental sex but actually want erotica. If you want to have onscreen sex with a random hooker (or spend paragraphs on Theon Greyjoy getting a blowjob from a peasant that has no impact on the plot at all), that is erotica, not incidental sex. It’s realistic for a soldier to hit the brothels basically whenever possible, but it’s also realistic for a soldier to regularly excrete waste. Just because something happens at all doesn’t make it important to the plot, and if you’re depicting sex for no reason except that sex is fun, you are playing erotica. That’s not any worse than stabbing goblins for no better reason than action is fun, but don’t do that and then claim you aren’t playing an action game. If you’re so mature you shouldn’t feel the need to come up with so many goddamn excuses and instead just come out and say that you fucking like erotica.

Part of the problem with my thoughts being this disorganized is that sometimes I just kind of wander off into a rant. Moving on.

If you are playing a game with incidental sex, don’t mechanize it, just roleplay it when it comes up. You seriously don’t even need to make a CON check to see how long you last or whatever, just let the involved players/GM describe the act and have a moment. The dice are there to add unpredictability to the story and an impartial mediator when people at the table can’t agree on what happens next. If the sex just happened to come up and is not a main focus of the story, then it is extremely likely that it’s only being described because of its importance to a character’s arc and how it affects how two characters relate to one another. It does, after all, make a big difference whether the sex is angry and rough or gentle and loving. You don’t need dice to tell you that, though. Just let people say what they’re doing and then it happens.

If you’re doing erotica, you want to draw attention to sex. You want to give players a mechanical reason to have it. One of the most important things mechanics do is tie different parts of the game together, for example, killing goblins means you can take their gold means you can buy a bigger castle means you can house more troops means you can kill more goblins, and that ties together a realm management and combat minigame. Being a good navigator means you get lost in the forest less often means you fight fewer random encounters means you have more resources when you reach the dragon’s cave, and that means the wilderness travel system is tied to the combat system. Without a connection between erotica and other parts of the game, it can feel like wasted time, a distraction from the main plot, players will angst about how much sex they should be having, and with no clear point of diminishing returns it will quite possibly descend into endless sex with everything else forgotten. There’s a whole other rant to have about how to do this in such a way that is fun rather than rote, but to boil it down to its most important point, don’t be afraid to fade to black on this. If you need a blowjob to get your spells back, and the wizard’s player doesn’t really want to RP having a blowjob, it’s totally fine if the party healslut just says “I give him a blowjob” and then he has his spells back. You don’t want people to feel like they’re obligated to roleplay a scene they aren’t in the mood for, even if it doesn’t make them uncomfortable.

Also, sometimes (almost always) the best way to add erotica to a game is just to eroticize existing game mechanics, rather than try to add new ones. Presuming that sex is a part of most long rests in 5e, for example, changes almost nothing, but is perfectly serviceable to give the game a deeply erotic bent. Although, again, let people gloss over if they’re not in the mood. Sometimes everyone just wants to stab goblins. We’re here to have fun, skip to the parts we’re in the mood for.

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