Tabletop RPGs are perceived to have a sex problem. Either they are a pastime you engage in because you aren’t getting busy, or there are half-clothed busty women leering from the covers in a display of oversexualized content. In this, mainstream tabletop RPGs reflect our society’s conflicted views on sexuality: we either giggle in embarrassment when it comes up or pretend that our paladins and elves never get naked. In practice, however, I’ve had characters be romanced, married, impregnated, raped, and flirted with. I’ve played both men and women of various sexual preferences, and that’s just the traditional tabletop games whose rules don’t explicitly cover such things.

Numenera is one game that’s receiving recognition for changing the blind spot RPGs have regarding sex. They’ve released an entire guide to love and sex for their fantasy world that covers desire, consent, and even magic sex toys. Pathfinder is another popular game that has queer and trans characters in both the supplements they put out as well as their comic books.

There’s also a world of indie games that not only encourage players to consider the sexuality of the characters they’re playing; some of them use sex as a mechanic. Rather than relaying blow-by-blow accounts of the sexual activity, most groups use a system of “Veils” and “Lines”* to negotiate explicit content. Lines are hard boundaries that are not to be crossed, and a player may veto a subject completely; for example, a player may state that they do not want any violent sexual assault to figure into the game. A Veil is more of a fade to black; so the player acknowledges that her character is having consensual sex with the sultry witch, but nothing is described. We simply move on to the next scene.

Below are some of these fantastic games. While some of the authors have more than one game that fit the criteria, I’ve tried to use the one that has the most direct relation to sex and sexuality. The only exception is Avery Mcdaldno’s games, most of which deal very directly with queer identity.

1. S/lay W/ Me by Ron Edwards

  • Two player game where one plays the Hero and the other creates a Lover and a Monster. Sex and/or love has to occur for the game to finish, and this is a very intense, intimate game.
  • You use a handful of 6-sided dice and take turns narrating the action. Both players have the same authority in determining action and consequences during their turn.

2. Apocalypse World by Vincent Baker

Vincent Barker, Apocalypse World

  • The world may have ended, but needs are still needs, right? Each character type (playbook) comes with a custom sex move that allows you to exploit other players or NPC’s (non-player characters controlled by the game master) vulnerabilities. Character creation also allows for players to customize their look as male, female, androgynous, or transgressive.
  • Each players uses two 6-sided die and have a character sheet. The Master of Ceremonies narrates the characters surroundings, the people who populate these surroundings (non-player characters or NPCs), and works with the players to describe what happens based on dice rolls.

3. Monsterhearts by Avery Mcdaldno

  • Play as teenage monsters struggling to come to terms with raging hormones and unbearable monstrous urges. Sex moves are part of the game.
  • This game uses the Powered by the Apocalypse Engine, which means it’s about the same as Apocalypse World with character sheets and 6-sided dice.

4. Under My Skin by Emily Care Boss

  • Played in either its LARP or tabletop form, this game allows you to roleplay through the intensity of romantic and platonic relationships. You establish Lines and try to gain your Desires.
  • The tabletop version uses a GM-less system where all players can narrate action during their scenes, and they roll a 6-sided die to resolve conflicts. Scenes are played in stages, and relationships are tracked on paper.

5. Houses of the Blooded by John Wick

  • Romance and dalliances figure heavily into this subtle political dance between noble houses. This game encourages courtly romance and high passions in pursuit of your goal, although that may not always translate into the physical act of love.
  • One person is the Narrator, who describes the surroundings and NPCs, while the players use character sheets and 6-sided dice to keep track of their characters’ actions. This system uses a dice pool, so the number of 6-siders you’re rolling is different each time.

6. Kagematsu by Danielle Lewonkagematsu_danielle lewon rpg

  • In a small Japanese village in 1472, all of the men have gone off to war and left behind the women and children. Danger looms in the area just as a wayward samurai shows up who must be persuaded to help. However, a woman is required to play the samurai, and men play the village’s women.
  • The Samurai frames something threatening the village and sets up each scene for the Women. The Women roll 6-sided dice to see if they gain the Samurai’s affection (and protection), and the final outcome of the game is also determined through dice rolls before being narrated.

7. Dream Askew by Avery Mcdaldno

  • This is another Powered by the Apocalypse Engine game by Avery, but this post-apocalyptic game focuses on rebuilding a queer community when civilization fails. Sex moves are included, but far more important is the exploration of identity.
  • While this is similar to other Apocalypse Engine games, Dream Askew has a GM-less structure. Each player is able to add to a scene, although how much depends on whether it’s their turn, and no dice is rolled. Instead tokens are used to take control of narration.

8. Bacchanal by Paul Czege

  • Satyrs, gods, and wine have come to the Italian town of Puteoli, and your character is drawn into the debauchery while trying to flee town. Whenever you roll a specific die, a scene of escalating sexual debauchery must be described.
  • This game uses a specific number and color of dice to represent different parts such as brown 6 -siders represent satyrs, a white one for a lost companion, a specific purple one that represents Bacchus, and a handful more of purple that are Wine dice. These go in the wine cups that are also part of play, and the dice are used to resolve the scenes that each player narrates.

9. Grey Ranks by Jason Morningstar

  • Play as child soldiers during the Warsaw Uprising. Your fellow soldiers are as close as family, and you create a romantic bond as part of character creation.
  • Uses dice of various sides: 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12, as well as a token to represent each player. This is a GM-less game, and each player can narrate during scenes.

10. Hot Guys Making Out by Ben Lehman

  • This is exactly what it sounds like. You can play as Honoré or Gonsalvo, two very hot guys who like to kiss each other.
  • A GM-less game that uses a deck of cards rather than dice to direct the action. Each suite is connected to a action you can take.

Bonus LARP: Cady Stanton’s Candyland is a Live Action Role Playing (LARP) game focused on exploring women’s sexuality through a sex toy party taking place in a feminist bookstore in the 1970s. Both it and the follow-up game, Candyland II: Ashley’s Bachelorette Party, have games and activities designed to encourage players to talk about sex and desire. LARPs allow you to speak and act as your character, mimicking their actions and moving through space instead of simply describing it. 

*Idea originated by Ron Edwards in Sex and Sorcery, a supplement for his game Sorcerer.

Full disclosure: I am friends with Ron and play games, drink, and discuss game theory with him on occasion.