hit counter code Sex in Role Playing
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Sex in Role Playing
Author: Keith Haney

She moved with the grace of a cat. Under her heavy tunic and rigid leather plates you can see her womanly form is not entirely disguised by the bulky trappings of her trade. Her face seems young at first glance, but her eyes belie experience beyond her years. The sword at her hip is well used and smells of clove oil. McKenna was her name, the locals knew her reputation well--deadly, beautiful, and difficult to approach. Across the room you notice she glances briefly your direction. A permissive sort of glance that only a trained eye would perceive. It was now or never…

Encounters such as these are not an uncommon in the environment of role-playing. After all, in a fantasy setting it is not just glory and riches we seek. As a game master you will find that few tools of manipulation are stronger than that of a female protagonist. Regardless of her characteristics, her involvement and your portrayal can enhance the gaming session immeasurably.

As a male, playing the role of female character has long been an area of discomfort for me, to which I can say that I make every effort to stay true to the emotional characteristics of real-world women I know. The interesting thing I notice is that it seems like for the time that I am playing a female character I have a better understanding of a woman’s perspective, motives, and vulnerabilities. Not a bad tool for dealing with the opposite sex (outside game time).

One of the main barriers to overcome when role-playing in general and assuming uncomfortable roles in specific is to discard self-conscious notions. As a game master you set the tone. If you appear hesitant and unsure your players will not likely risk authentic role-playing either. The boundaries and limits of acting are different for each group, but the more you let yourself go the more rewarding your role-playing will be. I often reflect on a game session and wonder how an untrained observer might view our interactions. I suppose that is the only time I allow my self-conscious speek.

Female Form
I have mentioned before that I like to run a mature game session where the places and events may be beyond belief, but the people who inhabit my worlds are realistic and believable. This rule holds especially true for the women in my worlds. As a GM, respect the female NPCs in your care and make your players do the same. If the female NPCs are the dime store hooker variety they will lose their luster quickly. Like all NPCs their goals and aspirations will guide their actions and interactions.

In portraying characters I like to have a drawing of them on hand and a catch phrase that I can use to quickly remind me of their accent or mannerisms. I doesn’t hurt to be able to show your players an image of the NPC either. An example of a catch phrase, and how it aids in role-playing go as follows. If I am trying to maintain a soft French accent for a female character I might repeat to myself “omelette du fromage”, you might wonder what a cheese omelet, has to do with mindset. For me it quickly reminds me of the stereotypical French cadence of speech and inflection. The actual phrase was engrained in my memory from one of Steve Martin’s stand-up comedy acts, but it provides me with a starting point to blend the dialogue the NPC will engage in. Mix that with the visual reference and I have given myself several reminders of this characters mannerisms and speech patterns.

To go where few men have gone before
Role-playing amorous relations in a room full of guys can be extremely awkward if you allow yourself to step out of character. The level of detail your group gives to these moments will vary. I tend to stick to the rule that “The suggestion of sex is far more intriguing than a graphic description”. What is remarkable is how conversations regarding the interaction out of game always refer to her and how she acted and not how I was acting as her. This is a pretty good gauge that I am giving an honest portrayal. My players will start to talk to me about an NPC and the say something like I can’t tell you about my idea then she’ll know what I’m up to. When you have created a convincing portrayal of a female NPC you will quickly see that her importance in the group grows significantly.

Relationship No No’s
I mentioned that females make useful tools to entice and lure the players where you need them to be, for the sake of the story or some political agenda. Try not to fall in to the trite and cliché position of having your nemesis NPCs kidnap or otherwise leverage the women in your player's life unless or until it is important to the story or is a logical outcome of the players actions. If your players think you are merely placing women in the party to use them against the party, in the long run they will resist future interactions and diminish what might otherwise be a great relationship tied to an interesting story.

In the final analysis it is your portrayal of NPCs that will make or break a convincing world environment. Since relationships with the opposite sex are a part of our every day real-world, it would be logical to include them in the fantasy setting. Your NPCs are a reflection of you, as a result carry your best and worst qualities. Present valuable rewarding goals to your players. Give them interesting complex NPCs to interact with. After all, the love of a respectable, charming woman is coveted in any world.