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.

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!!

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels


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.


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.


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.


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.


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