Motivated by what he describes as a disappointing trend in sexually-explicit material in the table-top fandom, the prolific writer of one of the most popular OSR blogs decided to try his hand at writing a book with similar themes. Booking an exclusive interview, I managed to coax out some interesting tidbits. Held during a Skype call yesterday, it was the first time the two of us communicated face-to-face, or at least monitor-to-monitor.
"Sex, dungeons, and dragons are often not a good fit together," Erik began, "and there's decades worth of live play to back it up. We had the Book of Erotic Fantasy back in '03 breaking open the doors, but in spite of Wizards of the Coast cracking down on it by forcing them to not use 'Dungeons & Dragons' anywhere in the title, we still got creators churning out product for years to come. But sad to say, most of what we've got is far from good."
Scrolling through the back catalog of OneBookShelf and KickStarter, the recently retired police officer shook his head in dismay at recent controversies and scandals between sips of finely-brewed Irish whiskey. "Tournament of Rapists? Alpha Blue? World of Gor RPG? Is this how low we've sunk?"
He glared, fist tightening around the whiskey glass; at one point I thought he was going to break it. "Amateurs! Where's the finer ideals of a good old-fashioned horizontal naked romp? I even tried looking at older material, hoping to find wisdom in the past."
Right-clicking open a new taskbar, sending me a link to RPGNow's entry on Shelzar: City of Sins. "Look at the authors tag," Erik said. "Written by none other than the JMal himself! And what did I discover? Well, let's set one thing straight, this left me feeling almost as disappointed as Dwimmermount."
"The extent of eroticism in this fantasy-counterpart Sodom and Gamorah are public orgies and brothels everywhere, repeated across multiple pages as though us gamers have short-term memory loss! And the mechanics, oh boy the mechanics! A prostitute prestige class; ooze-like vagina creatures created for the express purpose of being copulated to death by perverted wizards?! He expects all this to be used in actual games."
An uncomfortable silence hangs in the air, before he mouths three simple words. "Full. Stat. Blocks."
At this point Erik got up from his chair to open the curtains, letting in the mid-day sun. "You know, what the industry really needs is a higher class of erotica. Time and time again I see other writers repeat the same mistakes. Just look at the social media outrage earlier this month, and over what? Over easily avoided mistakes! It won't be hard to make a product which is tasteful, yet without hemorrhaging in the throws of political correctness."
"And how will you avoid these mistakes?" I asked.
"Simple," Erik said with utmost confidence. "I have two major pieces of criteria. One, every NPC in my product's a consenting adult. Two, appeal to broad tastes instead of specific niches. Ask me, what's considered hot among geeks today?"
"Skintight outfits and anime girls?"
I was answered only with a deadpan stare.
"Look at the top-selling romance novels, look at the top-grossing line of Dungeons & Dragons stories, look at their major tabletop competitor going back to the 90s. These troubled souls wrestling with their darker natures is something we can't get enough of, an archetype which appeals to all gamers. Male and female, Old School and New School, these anti-hero hunks and bombshells will make you an instant fanbase..."
"Are you talking about...?"
"What?" Truly I was taken aback; I could summon up no other words in response.
"My OSR erotica's gonna be about everyone's favorite spider-worshiping elves getting naked and getting dangerous, and not necessarily in that order. We're going beyond the dungeon delve into a realm just as deadly as any trap-filled monster lair. Forbidden romances between rival houses; clerics of the Spider Queen showing off their ample magical tattoos covering every inch of their body; commoners clawing their way out of the slums and into the pleasure palaces of Lolth's favored! All this, and more, can be yours, with Sexy Drow Vampires in Trouble!"
One could call Erik Tenkar's idea many things, but conventional is not one of them.
"I did some side work for publishers like Occult Moon, but this will be my first major stand-alone project. Mark my words, I'm gonna show all those poseurs how a real gamer writes a sexy rulebook!"
"I wish you luck in this endeavor, Erik," I said.
"Oh I don't need luck," he said. "I'm just that good."
And so our interview concluded. What are your thoughts on this idea? Can tabletop erotica be saved, or is it a lost cause? Feel free to share in the comment section below!