Sex

A concept sketch

For our local version of Game Chef, my friend Martin (co-author of Itras By) once designed a game called Sex. I played it at HolmCon, and found it to be a strange and anemic experience. But I liked the core idea: to make a collaborative storytelling game about fucking.

I’m sure there are a number of freeforms that already deal with this, but of the top of my head I can only think of Martin’s game, Jonas Trier-Knudsen’s 600 and Tobias Wrigstad’s Gang Rape. The latter two look at negative aspects of sex; the absurd alienation of a record gang-bang attempt in the porn industry (inspired by Chuck Palahniuk’s “Snuff”) and rape. I guess  you could say rape is more about violence than sex, but it’s a related topic.

I’d like to see a game that was more about the everyday interactions of sex, both the positive, quirky, tricky and weird. But not “gruesome”.

I think I’d like there to be some kind of facilitator/GM function. I also envision some cards feeding the game. Maybe scenes. Maybe topics.

Examples:

Negotiation
May I?
Would you?
Please
Be gentle
Be rough
Should we…
Please don’t

I think the actual intercourse is the core theme of the game, but it might also be interesting to deal with some of the immense amount of stuff “around” sex. The rules lovers make for each other, the negotiations you enter, conditioned cultural responses, forbidden desires and taboo subjects.

Sex is one of the most powerfully emotional things we do. I’d like the game to enable both giggles and laughs, but also more profound interactions. It could be a two-player game, but I think the intensity of that would be a bit too much for my tastes. I think three is a good number, with one player serving as facilitator, giving cues and hints, cutting & establishing scenes, describing setting and other stuff besides what the characters do.

I don’t know if I’d use pre-written characters, I think maybe the players can workshop some sketches, loosely based on themselves or people they’ve had sex with. Maybe you just play one single intercourse, maybe there are 3-5 scenes total. I think it should be a brief game, 2 hours tops. I read somewhere that the average intercourse lasts 11 minutes? I don’t know if that’s supposed to include foreplay, but I guess some people are skimpy on foreplay.

From 600, I’d steal the warm-up exercise where the players talk about “the weirdest porn they’ve seen”, but I’d change it into “relate some sexual experience they’ve had”. Maybe one positive and one funny? Taking turns to describe? There should probably also be some trust-building exercises. I think it’s a non-touch game, strictly verbal “sitting around a table talking”. Semi-larping like in “600” was maybe good for that game, but also very awkward.

I seem to recall “Gang Rape” (I never played it) having a rule about looking into the victim’s eyes as she narrates what your character does to her body? Some variation of that might work, but I’d like the characters in this game to have agency and for the sex to be completely consensual (but part of the game might be figuring out what you actually want and how to relate that). But eye contact is good, and maybe playing around a bit with who’s actions the players get to describe. Or that could be one of the cards: you describe what your partner does, he/she describes your reactions, or some similar weirdness.

I’m not particularly interested in making it “educational”, but I think you could learn stuff from such a game, or that it’d foster some kind of reflections.

I think it should be voluntary whether you play a man or a woman, whether it’s gay, heterosexual, group sex or something else. But I believe the intensity will increase with “close to home” play, riffing of your own experience and body.

Would I play it? Yes, I think I’d like to. Like many “intense topic” games, I don’t know if it’d be ideal with “random awkward nerd at festival”, but if we design it the right way, I think it could be robust enough for that to work as well.

Will I actually design it? Not sure. But you could, if you want to.

Night Air

“Evening falls over the siege camp. We’re getting ready to make some money. Quick and sometimes easy. We fuck soldiers and merchants in their tents. Maybe not the best job in the world, but the one we chose under the circumstances.
 
But this is just us getting ready. Talking before we go.”
 
Setup: Describe your character in one sentence. Leave some stuff out to discover during play – your gender, whether you have kids, how you got here or whatever.
 
Play: Talk in character. Talk about practical stuff, emotional stuff, your history, your make-up. Details and chatter.
 
Rule 1: You can talk about anything, except specific men. This is not about your relationships to or with men. If one of you forgets that and starts talking about men, just clear your throats and pretend it didn’t happen.
 
Rule 2: Whenever one of you feels like it, say goodbye to the others and go into the night, off to work. The game ends when there’s only one character left.
 
Epilogue: Close your eyes for a moment. Feel the freedom of walking into the night with the cold air on your face. Take a deep breath, open your eyes. Say goodbye.

 

Deal

1. it is possible there is love. let us pretend there is. but not in this game.
2. you still need love. or money. or something else. you need.

characters
your character wants something. they are driven by it.
they might admit it to themselves.
they might not.
you will play with one other person.
their character also wants something.
you have it.

examples
you want love, to be loved. you work hard and make money.
they want money. they can fake love.
you want to be good. you can provide a house, stability.
they want safety. they can fake that you’re a good person.

the lie
you never, ever, ever say out loud what you want. you never, ever, ever say out loud what you provide.
neither do they.

the scenes
1. you meet. you talk about whatever, do whatever.
underneath it all, the animals inside you sense that the other can provide what you want.
keep on talking about whatever.
do whatever.

2. you are apart.
the need.
you have found someone who can provide.

3. you meet again, and again.
let’s see some short scenes. montage. just sentences, vignettes.

4. now what?
how long do you keep it up?
let’s see some more scenes.
and more.
and more.

5. did you say it out loud?
did you mention it?
what happened?
what happens now?

6. can you live with each other, and with yourself?
this might be a happy ending.
or a redemption.
or splitting up.

7. epilogue
fun! will you fall into the same pattern?
will you break free?
who the hell are you, really?

Small talk the RPG

A conversational role playing game for 1-∞ players.

Characters: The player’s play themselves, so there’s no particular character set-up process.

Small talk is a game of conversation for its own sake. It’s a collaborative game. The reward is opening for deeper conversations, affirming relationships and avoiding silence.

It’s good practice to play the game with new acquaintances.

The game can last as short as a casual greeting or as long as it takes to get your hair cut at the hairdresser’s. Or the length of a taxi ride, as the case may be.

Some rules:

* Greet the other players in a friendly way.
* Try to keep the conversation upbeat and positive.
* Casual compliments are ok, but keep it superficial. Don’t get creepy.
* Try out some casual eye contact now and then, but don’t stare.
* Smile.
* Respect the other player’s personal space.
* Be polite and respectful.
* Find common ground. Be politely inquiring about the other player’s interests, and see if you can find some topic of conversation that will interest you both. Or that you can endure listening to.
* Ask open-ended follow-up questions starting with words like «how…» and «what…». Or make relevant statements.
* Share some stuff about yourself and your day, but don’t over-share. Don’t get into symptoms, diseases, sensitive subjects and extreme negativity.
* It’s ok to bitch and complain as long as you don’t do it about sensitive topics. The weather is a very good topic of conversation.
* Notice your surroundings. You can riff off of them for further conversational topics.
* Avoid sensitive subjects like religion, politics and sex. You can also drop death, divorce and diseases. You know what I mean.
* Humor is good. Just remember the taboo topics.

You can even play the game without anyone knowing you’re playing a game.

To round of, here’s a quotation from Keith Johnstone’s “Impro – Improvisation and the Theatre”, which you may or may not find relevant:

“Many people will maintain that we don’t play status transactions with our friends, and yet every movement, every inflection of the voice implies a status. My answer is that acquaintances become friends when they agree to play status games together.”

Sources: Slik blir du god til å småprate, How to make Small Talk, Wikipedia.

Qualia

«How can the flux of ions and electrical currents in little specks of jelly the neurons in my brain generate the whole subjective world of sensations like red, warmth, cold or pain? By what magic is matter transmuted into the invisible fabric of feelings and sensations?»
–    Ramachandran, Blakeslee & Sacks: «Phantoms in the Brain»

 

“Qualia” is about

immersion.

 

Download the rules here.

 

(Thanks to Ole Peder Giæver for inspiration!)

Archipelago cards

Jamie Fristrom has made some cool cards for use with Archipelago II! Check them out:

You can buy them via Gamecrafter – here’s the link.

Dru


Author
Anders Nygaard
Rules
We know almost nothing about the druids. The Romans wrote, and the
Celts did not.

But the name “druid” is associated with oak trees, kingmakers,
prophecy and magic. Druids taught that the soul wanders from body to
body, and that death is not to be feared. They are said to have been
so respected among the people that they could stand between two
armies, and stop a war.

This game is written for three or five players. Read the roles one by
one, and wait until one player has chosen a role by raising his hand
before you proceed to the next role. If you are three players, discard
one of the kingmakers, and one of the seers.

  • The first druid has created the king from the north.
  • The second druid has created the king from the south.
  • The third druid has seen what will happen if the battle stands tomorrow.
  • The fourth druid has seen what will happen if the battle does not
    stand tomorrow.
  • The fifth Druid is the guardian of the grove where you are meeting.

Tomorrow at dawn you must decide whether it is right to stand between
the two armies or not, and who should do it. Only one who knows that
he is right, that the gods are on his side, and that he can not die,
can do it and survive.

The Guardian of the Grove determines when speaking is permitted, and
who can speak, when to take breaks, when the talks should resume, and
when it is morning. During the breaks each player must tell the other
players something only his role knows. Apart from this, the other
players decides what happens during the breaks and the Guardian’s
player decides what happens during the speeches.

The game begins as the Guardian’s player describes the grove, and
welcomes the other roles. When morning comes, the player gets to tell
what happens when the druid stands between the two armies. Thereafter,
or if no one intervenes in the battle, each player narrates one of the
consequences of what has happened.

Going Galt

Author
Anders Nygaard

Rules
Ayn Rand was her nom de plume, and she had Opinions. This author from
the interwar years has become a popular source of slogans for the U.S.
right. Presumably, Jesus had finally had enough, and wouldn’t play
with them anymore. Some are fond of calling her a philosopher (among
others, Norwegian politician Siv Jensen, who refers to her as a
favorite), but on this subject, scholars differ, sometimes with
unscholarly intensity.

One of the more recognizable lines of her followers is the slogan – or
threat – of “Going Galt”. For the uninitiated the nature of this
threat may seem somewhat obscure. However, for our purposes it is
sufficient to know that Rand uplifted the lone wolf, the free,
creative genius, as society’s real producer of value, and explored the
consequences of this idea in a series of novels. So: When the world’s
Galts decides to take the ball and walk away, the rest of us will be
left foundering, directionless and alone. What kind of society Those
who Move the World could conceivably build has most recently been
explored in the computer game BioShock.

In the following game sketch, players may explore what the acts
involved in cutting off all dependency on their fellow human beings
may entail. Apologies and the Obligatory Generic Parody Disclaimer
go out to the Objectivist purists, if you have stayed with us this
far.

You need at least three players. One of the players are Mr., Mrs. or
Ms. Galt. The player can choose a first name, or use their own.

The game has five rounds, one for each of the steps in Maslow’s
hierarchy of needs. The other players can challenge Galt once each for
each step of the hierarchy. This is done by setting a scene where Galt
is dependent on someone else for his needs. Galt then gets to narrate
how he frees himself from this dependency using any and all of the
means available to him. When each round is finished, Galt can explain
how he or she can make do without other people helping to meet the
need currently under consideration. Remember that after the events in
the scenes you played trough earlier, no one can – or wants to – help
Galt with that particular need anymore. But as a superior human being
it is his moral right to use all of the assets available to him to get
what he wants. Because he is one of those rare people who creates and
brings something new to the world, it is, after all, in everyone’s
best interest that he gets what he wants. Incidentally, Galt’s player
also gets to decide what Galt’s assets are.

The steps of the hierarchy of needs are:

Self-realization: Other people often hold the key to the achievement
of your full potential. In what ways can you lose opportunities to
grow as a person?

Recognition: Most people feel a need to have the respect and goodwill
of others. People who do not respect you will often prevent you from
getting what you want. In what ways can you lose others’ respect?

Social needs: to listen to and participate in a group, to love
somebody, to be accepted, is necessary to stay alive and in good
health. Friends and acquaintances are the first safety net you hit
when society can not or will not help you. In what ways can you get
rid of this support?

Security: The true, creative man is strong enough to stand on his own
without other people, or government intervention like health care, law
and police, but supports himself as a free agent in a perfect free
market. How can you release yourself from the basic compassionate and
civic bonds that ordinary, non-productive people fall back on when
disaster strikes?

Physical needs: Everyone needs maintenance – air, food, water and heat
– to exist. Throughout human evolution, those who move the world have
been dependent, forced to submit to other people, to waste effort on
the needs of unproductive parasites to gain access to these
necessities. In what way can you make others keep these essentials
from you, so that you can truly live a life of freedom?

When Galt has found a way to meet this last requirement, leaving no
way in which those who are lower on the intellectual pyramid can deny
him anything, Galt has won, and the game is over.