Bad Sex: The Roleplaying Game
Welcome to the collaborative roleplaying game where consenting adults narratively roleplay out situations and scenes of bad sex. There are many guiding principles to Bad Sex, but if you want to feel the cringe, embarrassment, and humor of sex that goes bad, this may be a game for you. The author’s elevator pitch sums this up nicely.
Bad Sex: The Roleplaying Game is a roleplaying game about bad sex. If you want to feel the cringe, embarrassment and humor of sex that goes bad, this is your game. In Bad Sex, the sex is always between consenting adults. They want to have sex with each other but for whatever reason, the results are mediocre at best, mortifying at worst.
Several points need to be made upfront before we get into the review itself since this is not the type of game we regularly review.
- This is not a game for minors!
- This is a game about sex between consenting adults within a narrative framework.
- This is not a game about having real sex between players.
- This is a game that is designed to be uncomfortable.
- This is a game designed to elicit a range of emotions and emotional bleed.
- This is not meant for an audience.
- Safety tools are a must.
- Know your fellow players
Bad Sex: The Roleplaying Game involves a group of consenting adults partaking in the roleplaying game experience, led by a facilitator who will arbitrate and guide the game. Each person creates a simply defined character, which consists of name, appearance, concept (think occupation), why they want to have sex, why it is probably bad, and what motivates them to continue even when the sex sucks?
Once characters are created, the players will embark on their journey through a small number of scenes where they explore and delve into bad sex. The composition of each follows some basic tenets: Who are the characters? Where are they? What are they doing? How does it lead to bad sex? What kind of complications can arise? The game’s author, Juhana Pettersson, having had some experience in the film industry, provides lots of industry tips and tricks for players and especially for facilitators to make the most of each scene and to amplify the emotional bleed.
Players need to be aware, if it was not already clear enough, that every scene will focus on sex and bad sex at that. In some scenes, the sex will take on a more prominent role than in others. Juhana offers two very different five-scene sequence outlines for facilitators to use. They are designed to bring all the players into the game during one or more of the five scenes.
Setting the mood and getting to the right mindset is critical for a game such as this to be successful. Juhana provides several “workshop exercises” designed to help get players into the headspace to play the game. Added to these, there are plenty of examples of “real” bad sex scattered throughout the book that can also be used to good effect.
Facilitators have an important role to play. Not only are they framing scenes and moving the story forward, but they also serve as a safety net, watching and monitoring players’ actions, words, and physical activities to ensure boundaries are maintained. To do these things, facilitators will set the scene and then step back and let the players narratively do their thing. They will interject to pose questions that will further prompt the players and propel the scene forward toward its climax (pun intended). Once the players find their groove, the facilitator will not need to intrude in the scenes with “steering” questions as often and can sit back and monitor things.
Juhana Pettersson includes lots of advice for both players and facilitators on playing out sex scenes and bad sex scenes within the context of the game. There are several examples of play scattered throughout that help to drive these and other points of advice home.
The book includes two scenarios to get players into the game with structured frameworks. Several pages are dedicated to creating your own scenarios. These pages are filled with examples of bad sex scenes to use, and you can create a scenario framework. Juhana further provides advice for those who want to take the game out of the modern-day and play it in alternative settings such as “Midsummer Night’s Dream” or “Slumming Elf Girls,” to name just two.
A supplemental deck of cards, Bad Sex Deck, is used to randomly create playable scenarios, including the location, the characters, and why their sex is bad. This deck of cards is not included with the book and must be purchased separately.
I want to switch gears and talk about the PDF layout used by the publisher. The layout is a little avant-garde and shows that some poor design choices were made. The avant-garde vibe comes from the copious amounts of fleshy fruit images used. While they are thematic and imply sensuality and genitalia, it comes off a bit sophomoric. One or two strategically placed would have had a better impact. The poor design choices in the layout stem from lots of unused “white space” and copy being placed over top images, making it hard to read. Had the copy been laid out differently, the page count would likely be slightly different, though it is unclear if it would have increased or decreased. A different layout would have given it a cleaner, more professional appearance. In doing so, it would have made it much easier to read.
When I review games, I make an effort to play them, or as a result of the review process, I am motivated to get the game to the table. Bad Sex: The Roleplaying Game is not one of those games for me. That is not to say that it is a bad game, just that it is not the type of game I would be comfortable playing with any of my game groups. Your mileage may vary.
The indie game scene has such a wide array of genres; this is but another. While this is not a game for me or likely for a broader audience, it does have a place within the gaming community and should be recognized accordingly.
That being said, some readers may find that telling stories of bad sex with close friends they are comfortable with at this level of openness is an exciting and emotionally satisfying gaming experience. To the readers who might enjoy this type of game, everything you need to explore bad sex safely is provided to you in this book. Just remember those points I posted at the top of the review!
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