Hey friends, have you seen Discourse on D&D lately, that imply that the blessed and sainted arrival of Gay People into D&D’s player space has brought with it this blissful enlightened period where player characters want to try seducing everything in sight, and how hilariously, entire encounters with major boss monsters are interrupted by bards rolling to seduce. The Monster Manual is Basically Tinder, the joke runs, which
Look, I’m old, I guess? In D&D terms, I’m old. I played some 2nd edition online, I played 3rd edition and 3.5, I played 4th edition, and then the transition from 4th to 5th revolted me and I instead opted to stay happily in my older generation of an edition I personally think of as ‘superior,’ just like the old beardie dude who only played Basic while I was looking for people to talk about 3rd edition with. And that means that for me, it feels like there are these people who have recently got into D&D because they started being alive after I started playing D&D, and they want to talk authoritatively about the way the game works in general, and they say these
Things that I want to holler at them about because you darn kids.
I’m not getting off to a good start.
Gay D&D, or as we in the cool club know it, Good Dungeons & Bad Dragons, is great and I’m super glad we have a lot more people playing it and more open about playing it and that’s great, but hey, queer friends.
You didn’t invent Horny in D&D.
In fact, Horny was kinda in D&D from the start, it was just a middle-aged Christian fundamentalist’s horny, and the horny of the people he hired. And that meant there’s this whole host of kinds of horny throughout D&D’s history that has all been pretty much built around this nudge-nudge, wink-wink, say-it’s-not-there, but-we-know-it’s-there. A great example of this is that old chestnut, the Girdle of Gender Change. That’s weird, isn’t it? It’s this cursed item, that like, changes your gender, and in all the official stories I found where a character gets changed, it’s a dude being turned into a woman, and she’s hot? That’s a weirdly specific thing to put in multiple stories and include on loot tables. And the loot table, and cursed nature of the thing lets it skate on through in the space, where it’s suddenly an item that punishes you for your hubris of wanting magical items to show up in loot.
You, you wanted magical items? Well, here, have the thing that turns you into a hot girl, and you might put it on, by accident, without knowing any better, tee hee hee.
There’s a really good like, nesting doll set of examples, and which I considered doing an extensive drag on for this article, of the setting of Faerun. Faerun is a setting made mostly as the byproduct of one Ed Greenwood, a man who Says Trans Rights, but also, has at best dubiously expressed opinions on age of consent laws, and look, Ed is not a great storyteller or worldbuilder. There’s a lot of stuff to his work that’s more interesting because of how it betrays fundamental biases and worldview, rather than necessarily because it’s meaningfully engaging in its own right. You read enough about Faerun and you start to notice the patterns.
In Faerun, Magic is a hot girl, who the author’s player character can fuck. And he’s so good at fucking he gets to be the best mage. And also he has sex with other goddesses, because again, he’s just the best. There’s a whole range of Ed Greenwood Player Characters who have gotten laid with a variety of Very Important NPCs, and while that is ostensibly not a bad thing per se, it strikes me as a fairly boring thing to put in worldbuilding and long form fiction books because the aim of these worlds is to provide me a place to play in and be important, and not necessarily a place where I want all the details of every important figure already mapped out because we needed to see the notches on people’s bedposts (so we know they’re good at fucking).
There’s also a few prominent women in the setting, who aren’t necessarily obviously fucking anyone, which, it turns out if you talk to Ed off-the-record as a D&D author, means they are fucking everybody. Once you know how incredibly horny Ed Greenwood thinks his setting is, it gets harder to look at without knowing that. Suddenly all the women in power leading elaborate, conflicted courts are reduced to being held in check not by cunning and maneuvering but by strategic distribution of days on the fuck calendar.
This also serves, of course, as a defense: Horny doesn’t make stories good, look at all the boring horny we have. It also doesn’t make a story bad, because look at how successful all those boring horny settings were. The reality is that if your game wants to kiss dragons and save dungeons, that’s what you should do and the stories you shape in that space are going to be great, and meaningful, and fun.
D&D is a game and it’s a communication medium, which based on my study, indicates that it is going to be used for fucking. Guaranteed. Any technology developed and distributed to any scale, will be going into some human’s butt. That’s just a thing we humans do. Your games are not horny as a new, breathtaking break from tradition. You’re just better at telling stories now, and you own that history and can shape it anew in good and helpful ways.
I really am just mad at a tweet person for being young here, aren’t I. Oh well.