14 thoughts on “Out of the Dungeons: Representations of Queer Sexuality in RPG Source Books”

  1. > Bunnies & Burrows (1992, inspired by Richard Adams’ novel Watership Down)

    Specifically the reference is to GURPS Bunnies & Burrows written by Stephan O’Sullivan and published by Steve Jackson Games, not the original or second edition written by B. Dennis Sustare, and published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1976 with a second edition in 1982.

  2. I’m a little surprise you didn’t mention Seraphim Guard’s Heartquest shoujo manga RPG (2002), which included a same-sex couple, as well as a transsexual magical girl in the Revised Edition.

  3. I’m sure everyone will chime in with their favorite game references, but I would like bring up Glorantha. Since its beginning it has been more of a Bronze Age fantasy world which may explain why gender and sexuality have gotten a less narrow treatment. Also the creator of the fantasy world was a Californian neo-shaman.

    I don’t remember specific queer references in the earliest sources, but at least from King of Sartar (1992) onwards, sexuality has been given a broader treatment. In the Orlanthi culture for example, there are sacred roles which transgendered people can fulfil.

    “…many cultures (including the Orlanthi) say sex is anatomical, gender is social role. So sex would be male, female, neither, both. Gender would be male roles, female roles, males in female roles, females in male roles, neither role, both roles. All are acknowledged, all have recognized positions in Orlanthi society.” – Jeff Richard

    Inclusive Glorantha – Gays, Lesbians and Queer folk in Orlanthi culture, Polyamory, love and sex.

  4. One of the key points articulated in the conclusion is that sexuality and queer themes in RPGs are most prominent when a game borrows heavily from pop culture. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG (Eden Studios) is an excellent example of this trend. The characters of Willow and Tara are, unsurprisingly, the most obvious queer inclusions. The rulebook also addresses sexuality in a broader sense, acknowledging that the TV show is, at its core, a teen soap opera with supernatural elements. This puts romance, sex, and personal identity front and center for themes to explore in-game.

  5. Hi, I’m lead developer on the new edition of the Trinity Continuum (which includes Aberrant).

    It is absolutely my intent that we continue (and improve upon) the existing track record of queer characters within the setting. I’m proud to be one of the inheritors of White Wolf’s legacy. You already noted Divis Mal, and I like to point out that Aberrant also had London Fog aka Elizabeth Barton, was trans. The QNA was admittedly a bit too on-the-nose. We can always do better. Gay, bi, pan, trans*, agender, polyamorous, whatever. More representation all around.

    Thank you for the excellent article!

  6. Hi,
    I´m one of the moderators of a Sexual/Gender Diversity Roleplaying Community in Brazil. We’ve been promoting events, debates and online forums to discuss sexism, misogyny and homophobia in RPG books and groups, and also to empower women and LGBT gamers all over the country. We would like to make and publish a Portuguese version of this article, in order to make it accessible to non English readers. How can we proceed?
    Best regards.

  7. This article is fantastic, and I had no idea that there was a piece exploring queer themes in role playing games this thoroughly. Especially seeing the Satyr pic from Changeling 2nd edition made me really happy. I co-host a Changeling podcast and we just did an episode on queer themes in the game, and how to use them when crafting character and narrative. I thought some of you might be interested, especially since there is so much White Wolf content in this article. http://walkingawayfromarcadia.podbean.com/e/queer-themes-in-changeling-the-dreaming/

  8. It may be worth mentioning that the Central Casting books (Heroes of Legend, Heroes Now!, and Heroes for Tomorrow) were all written by Jennell Jaquays under her former identity as Paul Jaquays. According to her wikipedia entry, she came out as trans and lesbian in December 2011.

    From her recent Women in Tabletop Gaming interview with Chaosium:
    “Q: What has been the most enjoyable/rewarding gaming product you’ve worked on, and why?

    A: Enjoyable… Possibly my Central Casting series of books about creating character histories. It’s rare that a designer has full ownership of the projects they create. Central Casting had been a pet project since my earliest days of gaming in college. I played around with it for over ten years. The first book in the series about fantasy characters saw print nearly 30 years ago, followed by two more books (science fiction, and modern-day characters). The publisher went out of business nearly 20 years ago and the rights reverted to me. Time for an update, I think.”

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