Original Cover of Naughty & Dice
I waited for years to get my hands on Naughty & Dice: An Adult Gamer’s Guide to Sexual Situations for a number of reasons. At first, I simply couldn't find the book. Even though I saw references to it on various message boards, I never found a copy in any gaming store and never met anyone else who had seen it, either. When I finally found Naughty & Dice online, it was at a price I wasn’t very happy with, especially since I wasn’t sure if I would need it or use it. I fell to checking online sporadically and finally snagged a modestly priced copy - which is why I’m here at last.
Years ago, I said that I would read the book and review it, ideally with the same kind of dedication I gave to my review of the Book of Erotic Fantasy. I never forgot my initial intentions. I bought Naughty & Dice because I wanted to see the way another set of authors handled the subject, not just in tone but in depth, usability, and overall quality. I’ve remained open to expanding my repertoire and I’m always on the lookout for books that provide ready gaming inspiration. I also wanted to see why some people online have touted it as the better guide to sex in gaming. Was its choice to remain systemless a major boon? Was it the more mature product? Here's what I discovered.
I have to say that my first disappointment with Naughty & Dice was how short the book was. Its 103 pages seemed all too brief, particularly once the artwork, quotes, and layout were figured in. Another source of dismay was the art, which starts out on a high note but swiftly sours. The opening piece pokes fun at the content and is nicely done, but the other pieces are greatly lacking in comparison, until I found myself wondering why they were in the same book. I did enjoy the quotes about sex from historical figures that are scattered throughout and thought they were a nice touch, particularly given the history discussed later on.
The first major section is bewilderingly assembled around a selection of things that are called “turn-ons” and “turn-offs,” but which actually revolve around a number of not-entirely-related concepts. They are supposed to enhance or depress a character’s sex life, their reproductive abilities, and/or the attitudes of others. The entries themselves give ideas for how these aspects will affect a character in-game (such as wedding vows giving a bonus to resist seduction). They give short shrift to elements that aren’t always expanded upon later, but which could really use further insight (like sexual orientation).
The skills section lists many different sexual acts as individual skills, from foreplay to undressing, in a nuanced fashion that only the most sexually-focused campaigns would be able to use. For most games, it’s easy to wager that there simply wouldn’t be enough need or skill points to go around. There wasn’t a solid rationale given for why so many divisions were called for or how to best scale them back, either. The character archetypes that follow are so well-known as to be cliched and rather unnecessary, a criticism I continued to have with other sections. The item list might be of most use out of the early half of the book, since it gives some idea of what things like wet nurses and steam-powered sex machines might cost.
The magic and alchemy chapter gives brief, systemless ideas, though it’s hard to imagine that a sexually active person couldn’t have come up with these things quite easily on their own. The pregnancy section is likewise common knowledge, with little to inject a sense of gameiness to it. I will say that Naughty & Dice made me aware of something I have come to treasure in the best roleplaying books: They organize ideas clearly, present them with flexibility so they'll fit into many different scenarios, and translate everything into gaming terms. They don’t leave you wondering how you might actually use something in a game but give examples of how it can work. I have come to think of this as gameifying the material, and while it can be done in any roleplaying book, even systemless ones, it was not accomplished nearly enough in Naughty & Dice. This flaw made the supersitions in the folklore of sex chapter seem disconnected, as well.
Some of the ingredients for love-related spells could easily be added to a game, however, especially the rarer ones, like tiger whiskers. D&D Next is being refined as I write this and I’ve seen a number of people expressing a desire for compelling spell components in the next magic system. The ideas given in Naughty & Dice could help to scratch such an itch and lead you to review monsters in your game according to a theme (such as figuring out which creatures would be used to produce aphrodisiacs).
The section covering sex in the bible and mythology might be of use to someone who has no background in such things, but for me it was all review and lacked any gameification. I had the same basic problem with the sex in history section that came later on. The opportunity was there to translate many historical practices into workable story hooks, statistics, charts and suggestions. Instead, the chapter remains a summary of events and left me with information I already had. By the time eight historically-inspired scenarios were detailed further down the line, it was almost too late for me to get excited, but several of them were rather engaging.
If you need a sexually-open priesthood in your game, the authors offer the Talopeans, but similar coverage of the basic character class types would have been nice. The review of sex, horror, and the paranormal (a.k.a. , everything you already knew about vampires being sexed up) that comes next offers nothing we haven’t been aware of via mainstream books and television shows for decades. The sex and the future section actually has some intriguing ideas, especially in the creatures it suggests. The sex and fantasy races write-ups are longer but easily anticipated.
The final chapter of OGL material has a few sexually-themed classes with full stats, but little explanation or imagination to recommend them. A few of the spells are useful (though statted more fully in the BoEF) but several have little to no real effect (such as the Satisfy and Mass Satisfy spells). The offerings are so brief and underdone, in fact, that it almost seemed like a waste of effort to have dealt with the OGL’s restrictions.
I ended up taking a break from the book so I could digest it, take another look, and then make my evaluation. By the time I completed my notes for this review, I already knew I wasn't going to keep Naughy & Dice, and it’s taken me this long to finish because I don’t want to seem mean-spirited. It’s been good and refreshing to see books printed about sex in gaming, despite any naysayers or controversies. Considering how difficult it is to get a book printed at all, Naughty & Dice is an accomplishment. With such a vast topic, it can be difficult to know where to begin, what to cover, and where to end such a project. There was no way to cover everything and a number of people have found what they were looking for in Naughty & Dice’s pages.
In the end, however, I have to admit that I was not very entertained or inspired by Naughty & Dice, though I had wanted and tried to be. What’s worse, it didn’t have anything I would need to refer to in the future, so I passed it on without regret. I didn’t find that it had a more mature tone than the Book of Erotic Fantasy; if anything, it had a similar sense of humor about the subject and was created with a similar amount of professionalism. If you have little experience incorporating sex into tabletop roleplaying games and/or you really need a systemless approach to doing so, the book might be of help. Otherwise, you can find the Book of Erotic Fantasy on drivethrurpg.com, you can find my fan-written material here or on other sites, and you can always have fun creating it yourself.
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