Love and Sex in the Ninth World: A Review
  • Love and Sex in the Ninth World: A Review


    Despite the title, Love and Sex in the Ninth World, this supplement, or as Monte Cook Games calls it, “Glimmer,” could be very useful for any GM, not just those that run Numenera.



    It's also not an invitation to run an X-rated game. The suggestions and advice in LaSitNW can play out in PG-rated games, or even G-rated, not just R. With a discreet fade to black and scene change, no matter how tame a game you and your players prefer, you can use the plot hook suggestions in LaSitNW.

    Then what is the point of LaSitNW? The ideas and concepts in it can add a lot to any RPG game whose players and GMs like role playing over roll playing. While the glimmer has plenty of ideas that are tied to Numenera's Ninth World – “...Aeon Priests in a small aldeia in Seshar created a numenera device...” it would be easy enough to adapt any of them to other settings and even genres,

    LaSitNW provides ideas on the role of gender in society and how to spin that into plots. Sexual orientation as described in the Ninth World is open and understanding. The section on attraction is especially creative.

    Most fiction and game settings assume relationships that are focused on couples, especially hetero-normative ones. LaSitNW author Shanna Germain doesn't limit it to that. Not only are other types of relationships mentioned, but handfasting is suggested as alternatives to “until death us do part” relationships.

    Lust and sex are addressed while also emphasizing that it's not an excuse for violating player agency or lack of consent. The sidebar “Putting Sex in Your Game: A Guide for DM” talks about setting expectations and meeting the group's tone without explicitly explaining safety tools. That's my only disappointment, though I understand the logic in omitting it.

    Even if your players are hesitant about plots that involve love, sex and romance for their own characters LaSitNW introduces ideas you can wrap around NPCs instead. The suggestions for why the seduction of a prison guard might fail not only provides additional plot hooks, but also makes the NPC more interesting and well rounded. Similarly, the players could get caught up in the conflict between two lovers who are separated and have the opportunity to bring them together.

    GMs can (should?) consider the role sex plays in their setting. Is it casual and for fun or stress relief? Serious and a part of ritual or even worship? Only a by-product of love? A means of making money, legal or not? What happens when an antagonist is motivated by love or lust? What lengths will a spurned lover take for revenge or to regain their lover? What one of the former lovers is a person the characters serve, be it an employer, monarch or military commander? The Trojan War started for similar reasons.

    I wish Germain's sidebar “The Hard Stuff: Sex Tips for GMs” could be included in every RPG rulebook and adventure. It raises many excellent, too frequently overlooked points like how to handle sex and love without triggering players or violating their autonomy, how to work within everyone's comfort level, and how to handle players who behave badly. Above all, remember that transference is a real psychological trap, and groups have ended because players and/or GMs forgot that they or the other person are not the characters.

    At $2.99 for the PDF, Love and Sex in the Ninth World is an easy purchase even if you don't play Numenera. Its 14 pages are packed with lots of ideas to deepen and expand virtually any campaign.

    This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. If you enjoy the daily news and articles from EN World, please consider contributing to our Patreon!!
    Comments 18 Comments
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Agreed. There is most definitely a reason why this supplement keeps showing up in many Numenera bundles, box sets, etc. This supplement has received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from setting fans regarding its blunt openness and mature discussion about a topic that often gets relegated to hushed tones, comedic giggles, or engaged in a roundabout, oblique manner in most RPG books. And the author of this article cogently conveys those contributions along such lines made by the supplement. That alone makes it a breath of fresh air and a standout work, especially given its relatively small page count and low price.

      Love and Sex in the Ninth World is not so much a definitive piece on the titular subject matter, but, rather, it serves as a conversation starter, an invitation for GMs and players to consider the game world implications of how the fantastical posthumanism and science-fantasy of the Ninth World could potentially affect perceived norms surrounding love, sexuality, gender, familial relations, etc. and how to introduce these topics in a mature manner.

      In short, it highlights how conventional notions of "love and sex" are so easily deconstructed by the fiction inherent in a setting. The reviewer is quite correct in their observation that this insight the book provides on the matter could (and perhaps should) be easily applied to other game settings as well.
    1. AriochQ's Avatar
      AriochQ -
      The James Bond 007 RPG had a seduction sequence. If memory serves me correctly it was: The Look, Opening Line, Witty Conversation, Beginning Intimacies, When and Where. Players had to roll to succeed at each step. Describing failures was the best part and led to many laughs.
    1. Aiden_Keller_'s Avatar
      Aiden_Keller_ -
      I bought this....also thinks its funny it is reviewed and posted of Valentines Day...
    1. Immortal Sun's Avatar
      Immortal Sun -
      I'll support anything that will get non-violent "adult" elements included and discussed within RPGs.

      It is annoying as an adult that the closest most games will ever get to sexual themes is the running gag of a bard and any given tavern.
    1. lyle.spade's Avatar
      lyle.spade -
      I get enough sex and romance in my real life (true statement: my wife was actually prom queen). What I want from my games is the stuff I don't get: limitless violence and destruction; court intrigue; monsters. And heaps of gold. Spaceships. Magic. Stuff like that.

    1. talien's Avatar
      talien -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aiden_Keller_ View Post
      I bought this....also thinks its funny it is reviewed and posted of Valentines Day...
      Sometimes, we plan things.
    1. Aiden_Keller_'s Avatar
      Aiden_Keller_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aiden_Keller_ View Post
      I bought this....
      Now for my personal review....it was my assumption a chart or explanation for HOW players fall in love would also be included....It was not...However the rest is still well written and useful.
    1. Aiden_Keller_'s Avatar
      Aiden_Keller_ -
      Quote Originally Posted by talien View Post
      Sometimes, we plan things.
      LOL...NOT ASSUMING YOU DON'T....just liked the timing...
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by talien View Post
      Sometimes, we plan things.
      You should plan on having @brimmels write more quality articles like this one in the future.
    1. Jacob Lewis's Avatar
      Jacob Lewis -
      Name: r895pt7.jpg ► Views: 587 ► Size: 86.3 KB
    1. gyor's Avatar
      gyor -
      Quote Originally Posted by lyle.spade View Post
      I get enough sex and romance in my real life (true statement: my wife was actually prom queen). What I want from my games is the stuff I don't get: limitless violence and destruction; court intrigue; monsters. And heaps of gold. Spaceships. Magic. Stuff like that.

      You married the Prom Queen, I feel like should high five you.

      Anyways, I saw nothing to interest me in this book either. It sounds like it's not titilliating in the least on a reading level, and filled with stuff most players will never use or need. Perhaps it's just the review making it sound as exciting as a cup of luke warm water covered in bubble wrap.
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by gyor View Post
      Anyways, I saw nothing to interest me in this book either. It sounds like it's not titilliating in the least on a reading level, and filled with stuff most players will never use or need. Perhaps it's just the review making it sound as exciting as a cup of luke warm water covered in bubble wrap.
      It's fine if this book does not interest you, but one should probably avoid making assumptions off that disinterest. I have actually used this supplement quite a lot in my Numenera games and kernels of the ideas for non-Cypher games. And another GM we had run Numenera had also used this book for our game.
    1. Lylandra's Avatar
      Lylandra -
      This book isn't meant to be titillating, on the contrary. It is meant to invoke mature thoughts about the nature of love and sexuality in fictional settings and how to handle them at your table.

      Far too many games simply take assumptions from our world and carbon-copy them onto a given fantasy or sci-fi world. To me, that's always been weird and, if (negative) stereotypes pile on, it can be a deal-breaker as it creates immersive dissonance (Yeah, even the highly lauded Golarion falls into this trap when it comes to Asmodeus and his relation to gender. Ugh.).

      So I'm happy that this guide is out there, even if I found that, personally, we kind of live and play much of what is mentioned inside. And having characters who come from different cultural backgrounds (in relation to love, sexuality and marriage, but also in relation to everything else) clash can be really exciting. But that only works *if* you have cultural differences that also kind of differ from what we know from our world.

      TL;DR: Book isn't meant to spice up your imaginary love life, but to think about concepts of love and sex in fantasy/sci-fi
    1. epithet's Avatar
      epithet -
      Is there a means described in this supplement that can help me determine whether or not a player character is successful in seducing a compatible NPC, and whether or not that seduction will lead to, for example, obtaining the secret info the PC is seeking?
    1. Lanefan -
      Having not seen the book at all, I'll ask of those who have read it:

      - Does it go into inter-species (e.g. Human-Elf or Human-Orc) attraction and-or sex?
      - Does it give any details as to what species (beyond just those two pairs) can successfully breed with what, e.g. a Human and a Dryad?
      - Does it go into any detail regarding shapeshifter and-or divine coupling with mundane races (e.g. the myths around Zeus or Loki) and how that's to be resolved?
      - Does it give pregnancy chances in any situation?
      - Does it go into any level of detail on genetics and their effects - how your character is different if Grandma is a Dryad, for example?

      These are the sorts of things I want to see a book like this delve into, because surely a professional designer can do better than my house rules.
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      Having not seen the book at all, I'll ask of those who have read it:

      - Does it go into inter-species (e.g. Human-Elf or Human-Orc) attraction and-or sex?
      - Does it give any details as to what species (beyond just those two pairs) can successfully breed with what, e.g. a Human and a Dryad?
      - Does it go into any detail regarding shapeshifter and-or divine coupling with mundane races (e.g. the myths around Zeus or Loki) and how that's to be resolved?
      - Does it give pregnancy chances in any situation?
      - Does it go into any level of detail on genetics and their effects - how your character is different if Grandma is a Dryad, for example?

      These are the sorts of things I want to see a book like this delve into, because surely a professional designer can do better than my house rules.
      Most of these things aren't covered by Love & Sex because they are not applicable to either the Numenera setting, Cypher System game (i.e., pregnancy chance tables), or from the limitations of being a 12-page supplement. And your questions seem more oriented towards running a breeding program than how to deal with the topics of romance and sexuality in your Numenera games.

      Numenera is a far-future science fantasy setting without orcs, elves, dryads, divine heavenly gods, or other standard fantasy creatures. Most non-human species are referred to as "Abhumans," genetically-engineered creatures far removed from what humanity they may have once claimed; and "Visitants," representing extraterrestrial aliens who have "gone native" possibly millions of years ago. The game (mostly) presumes that you will be playing humans, though visitant options are available. Visitants, however, are truly alien from humans. This renders most your questions non-applicable. Humans with mutations are available to play, and there are tables for rolling for your mutation. But there are no rules about genetic side effects or hard, concrete rules for genetic mutations and their effects across successive generations.
    1. Lanefan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
      Most of these things aren't covered by Love & Sex because they are not applicable to either the Numenera setting, Cypher System game (i.e., pregnancy chance tables), or from the limitations of being a 12-page supplement. And your questions seem more oriented towards running a breeding program than how to deal with the topics of romance and sexuality in your Numenera games.
      Ah. From what's been written about it I was hoping it would be more generically applicable across many game systems; kind of like a Book of Erotic Fantasy only done right and written better.

      And - fortunately or unfortunately - romance and sexuality sometimes do lead to breeding.

      Thanks for the reply.
    1. Aldarc's Avatar
      Aldarc -
      Quote Originally Posted by Lanefan View Post
      Ah. From what's been written about it I was hoping it would be more generically applicable across many game systems; kind of like a Book of Erotic Fantasy only done right and written better.

      And - fortunately or unfortunately - romance and sexuality sometimes do lead to breeding.

      Thanks for the reply.
      Sure. There is a lot of generic advice. It just turns out that the fantasy-based questions you are more genre-specific, which is at odds with Numenera's genre-specific issues.
    Comments Leave Comment