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Sex in the Shadows (serious thread; don't be a heel)

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HarshRhettoric

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« on: <04-24-14/1031:34> »
I've been playing this game for a long time, and as I get older, I find that the games I run tend to be more detailed in terms of scene and background, giving players the maximum opportunity to explore their characters.  To this end, I was sitting in the bathtub reading my Shadowrun 5th ed book (it's how I keep my players from overborrowing it) and I was particularly interested in the lore where it describes sex in 2070.

Except it doesn't.  Well, only in the broadest terms.

My table consists entirely of legal adults, and I want to take the generally rising level of sexual tolerance in today's world forward into one where governments have less power to restrict and more people can dictate markets with their credsticks.  While corporations undoubtedly police internally for unapproved deviance, they would certainly not let an untapped market escape them.  That said, I think the world of 0f 2070 is about as sexually liberated as technology allows.

I want to portray this to my characters as an everyday thing--something so pervasive, it's normal.  While it won't be the center of the plot, I would like to be able to drop in some ready-made window dressing to make my players go 'huh.'

Moving the timeline forward: these are some current fetish/sexual/social trends that I thought of just off the top of my head, and I would ask the community to (tastefully) add anything they might have thought of.

Tame stuff: male and female enhancement?  That happens even today (as I listen to China White by the Scorpions).  Breast augmentations, total body sculpts and permanent male performance enhancement are just the tip of a very insane iceberg.  Does your job require you to move around a lot, or do you like to cross-dress?  Why not get expandable breasts so you can scale them back for work or family?  Are you naturally all straight lines?  You can get air bladders that make you look rounder, then scale it all back in when you go home to visit the family.  Did you like Total Recall?  Why not a third breast?  Are normal girls/getting boring?  Why not a cat girl, or a green alien?  Always wanted to try it with a troll, but were afraid of dermal deposits?  Ultra-smooth trolls (think Amazon Eve) have got you covered.

Simsense:  Where to even begin?  Simsense (and by extension BTLs) could be used to show you how the opposite sex feels, what love feels like, what hate feels like.  You could experience moves in simsense that your normal partner would never approve of, or you and your normal partner/s could be doing whatever you normally do and each slotting a different simsense porn feed.  You could experience sex as animals, as people or even as different metatypes.  In fact, home-brewed simsense porn could create sensations that aren't feasible IRL (sex while skydiving, zero-g, underwater, while on fire, in a speeding vehicle, etc).

Trans: Even today, gender is not a binary proposition.  In 2070, they don't have to say, and you might never know.  That's the tame stuff.  Cyber and bioware can make it so you can reassign your gender on the go.  On the fence about gender?  You can just be androgynous; completely sexless and able to accommodate your choice in partner/s.  Are you a player?  Challenge yourself by intentionally getting the wrong pheromones implanted, then turn them off for work.

Amp: amputation fetishists have always had it hard.  Parts don't come back once you have removed them, and maybe that's part of the charm.  But in 2070, you can be completely subsumed by your partner/s with your arms and legs removed.  When it's time for work, you just plug them back in and you're ready to grind through your day.

Magic: Woof, this one is tough.  Mind control bondage immediately comes to mind.  Chaotic world/entertainment spells could enhance the experience for groups, and the list of services that can be performed by spirits and elementals is by no means exhaustive.  You could have an all-magic using invisible orgy, or healing through sex.  Astral sex?  Sure, why not?  What seductive alien creatures lurk in the dark corners of the astral, captain Kirk?

What is weird in 2070?:  Tentacles?  Vaginal/anal fangs?  Extra-long tongue?  Vibrating software for cyberlimbs?  Extra sex organs?  Different sex organs?  Inflating/modular sex organs?  Alien/highly unusual/technological sex organs (cybermember designed by HR Geiger, anyone?) 

I don't normally make this disclaimer, but this is sex and it is not all things to all people.  If I have unintentionally misrepresented or mocked any group or individual, I will happily edit/delete my post.  I think, however, that an intelligent discussion can be had on this topic.

Have you ever had a dream where you were standing on a pyramid in sort-of sun god robes with a thousand naked women screaming and throwing pickles at you?

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martinchaen

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« Reply #1 on: <04-24-14/1112:58> »
Cool idea; sex isn't something that comes up often in my games, but certain topics have come up and it seems that you've got a pretty solid basis. I'll try to add some of my own thoughts, and expand upon what I've experienced in our games. I'll start by saying that I think sex can be a topic that can throw some people off in ways you didn't expect, so I'd just advice caution regarding too much detail and/or the way a topic is broached.

That being said...

Experience at table
Sexual preference; this one was pretty straight forward, I think, at least for me personally. Our players range from early 20s to early 30s, and I don't think anyone really batted an eye at the idea that one of the characters is gay and living with his boyfriend.

Based on the fluff I've read throughout editions, social liberties at least in this area seems to have moved on significantly; you still have your hate groups, but at least according to Runner's Companion these seem to focus more on metahumans and certain ideologies than sexual preference. Should be pretty tame, unless someone at your table is uncomfortable with the subject, in which case a real-life issue could become an in-game issue.

Sexual assault; this one is definitely a whopper. Potential Season 2 missions spoiler ahead, you have been warned: during one of the missions in SRM02, the team discovers a "farm" where Ork women are being forced to carry implanted zygotes to term as part of some sort of diabolical Tamanous operation. This definitely threw some of my players off, and they still play up their characters hatred towards the ghouls who were running the operation.

Sexual assault, both physical and mental, and especially if magic is used, is to my mind something that has the potential to be incredibly shocking. It's definitely a mature subject, it's definitely a dark subject, and it's certainly something I wouldn't broach if I wasn't sure that my players were able to deal with it. That being said, this subject does have the potential to set up a truly villainous antagonist or group of antagonists, and in certain circles it could even be tolerated as "just a fact of life". Shadowrun is a dystopian setting, after all.


Own thoughts:
Any sexual fetish you can think of (and a quick google search can probably give you some ideas you might not have considered ;) ) that exists today is likely to have been accepted and commercialized in some way or another.

You already mentioned simsense, and this is a big one to my mind. Studios are creating "mainstream" porn these days that only 40-50 years ago was considered scandalous and completely taboo (doesn't mean people weren't doing it, just means it, whatever it was, wasn't accepted in society). Take pretty much any fetish that's considered "edgy" today (again, google is your friend, because this varies greatly by country and even region, as San Francisco is certainly more liberal than say, Houston) and introduce it to your game as part of a storyline involving a simsense studio branching out from their normal operations, perhaps, and you have a good start.


What's weird in 2070?
I have no freakin' clue, to be honest. Cross-metatype/sentient metacritter relationships seems to be accepted, but we had a chuckle at our table of how a sexual encounter between a pixie and a troll would work out.

Mojo throws a big 'ole monkey wrench into the "what is normal" thing, but don't forget Hot-Sim VR. Both have the possibility of making anything and everything we "know to be true today" to go all topsy-turvy. Essentially, take any modern day sexual activity and/or fetish, add a sprinkling of magic or matrix enhancement, slow cook for 30 minutes, and presty; weird, freaky stuff.

[EDIT]
By all accounts, SURGE Level 3 and sapient metavariants are still pretty rare; I'm sure you could think of something involving the more extreme modifications that would be considered odd, if not taboo, in the seedier parts of town.

Also, bunraku parlors. While having another human being surgically altered to look like your favourite sim star and have a chip implanted in the subj... victims brain is "acceptable" by the fringes of society, it's still seems pretty vile and somewhat shocking to my mind. Something I'm sure a crafty GM could run with...

Also, this topic

Thanks for broaching a mature subject in a meaningful way; I look forward to seeing where this discussion goes (fingers crossed!)
« Last Edit: <04-24-14/1130:56> by martinchaen »

Bushw4cker

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« Reply #2 on: <04-24-14/1118:15> »
I think as long as it involves consenting spirits/AI/sentient critters I think pretty much anything goes in 2075.

I think bunraku parlors probably raise some eyebrows..That is kind of a grey area around consent. What if the person agreed to be Parlor Doll but new personality is non consenting.. The things that will and always should be taboo are animals, kids and non consent.

Here is some Ware I posted a While ago
« Last Edit: <04-24-14/1131:55> by Bushw4cker »
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Namikaze

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« Reply #3 on: <04-24-14/1355:59> »
I find that sexuality is an under-discussed topic in Shadowrun as well.  In my campaign, I plan on introducing some rather mature topics into some of the games by having the team assist/hinder the Triads in their sex trafficking operation.  Not sure exactly how it's going to play out yet, but I know my players can handle the subject matter so I feel like I can push the envelope a little bit.  Needless to say, I'll be following this thread and contributing as things develop.
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farothel

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« Reply #4 on: <04-24-14/1414:28> »
In our group we never had any problems with having the characters have sex, although we don't go into details of course.  We even had 2 PCs being in some sort of mind control (this was not in shadowrun, but the same applies here) have sex with each other and it didn't give any problems.  I think it's mostly a question on how mature your players are.  We do keep away of the more disturbing topics as rape and such, or at least only have it happen in the background.  But we've arrived at crime scenes where it happened or had it in a character background.  As long as it stays like that, I don't think it's a problem to have even those topics in your games.

One of the things that can make things difficult in Shadowrun is the presence of Lael and Laes.  Most often used by shadowrunners as a way to make knocked out guards forget they were there, their potential as date-rape drugs cannot be underestimated.
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The_Hyphenator

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« Reply #5 on: <04-24-14/1751:16> »
I'm not sure how comfortable I am with my PCs having sex (either with each other or NPCs) as part of the game, but the first adventure I ran for my group was actually rather sexually charged. Basically, the setup was a hooding mission; they were hired by a Barrens street doc who was worried that an abnormally high number of her female patients had been going missing for the past six months.

The one lead they had was that the last girl who vanished had been working at a night club in Bellevue (which was unusual, since she was SINless) The PCs investigated, and found out that the club was a front for the Vory, and that the Vory were hiring these SINless girls, abducting the ones they wanted, and putting them to work in a secret bunraku brothel called the Dollhouse, where they were surgically altered to look like famous female celebrities, given personafix programs to match, and then switched over to a docile, obedient personality when not "on the clock."

I also eased the players into the adventure by kind of playing up the sleazier side of the sprawl. The fixer who brought them on for the job met them, along with the street doc, at an all-elf "dancing revue" called Tir-La-La, which got some laughs out of them but kind of set the tone for the content of the rest of the adventure. The club where they PCs found the leads was an Orxploitation-themed club called the Savage Land. The club was designed around a kind of "Neil the Ork Barbarian" theme (which I pictured as being similar to Conan the Barbarian's Hyborean setting), and the servers were all attractive orks or humans being made to wear false tusks and ork ears, and the wait-staff uniform was essentially loincloths and coconut bras (for the women). Again, kind of goofy and garnered a lot of laughs, but it also kind of set the tone for the sleazy, exploitative content of the adventure so it wasn't as mentally jarring for the players.

Everybody had a good time and the build-up really made them want to stick it to the Vory who were running the brothel (the adventure ended with them torching the building and killing the thugs with an improvised explosive after they had gotten the bunraku girls out). So, I think sexual content can play just fine, given the right context and given that you know the players are okay with that kind of subject matter ahead of time.

Senko

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« Reply #6 on: <04-24-14/1936:53> »
Not to much to add here ...

1) Shadowrun online/returns (whichevers the one that's already out) had a brief encounter with bunraku puppets who when freed indicate they didn't consent to what was done to them (the man screams my god what have they done to me, then you leave them there).

2) I can see a villain mage who uses control actions to rape people so they appear willing on the outsife but he knows their hating every minute. Especially if he uses genetech to alter their bodies first.

3) Animals are a bit of a gray area with the small shifter population who are intelligent shaoeshifting animals. If one of then has a kink for a human who has a kink for them in their animal form?

And there's always the darker possibilities offered offered by simsense and gene therapy but i wont go into those here.
« Last Edit: <04-24-14/1942:14> by Senko »

Voltron64

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« Reply #7 on: <04-24-14/1956:27> »
The club was designed around a kind of "Neil the Ork Barbarian" theme (which I pictured as being similar to Conan the Barbarian's Hyborean setting),

Funny, I always pictured Earthdawn.

Bushw4cker

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« Reply #8 on: <04-24-14/2005:46> »
The new player in my group just made a Transgender Street Shaman for my Street/Mid Level campaign. Gremlins level 4, thank God group has Technomancer instead of Decker. She is only girl player in group, so I warned her the games can get a little adult..
"Stupid men are often capable of things the clever would not dare to contemplate." -Terry Pratchett

Kincaid

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« Reply #9 on: <04-24-14/2138:52> »
Like Critias said in the other thread, as long as you're doing right by your players it's all good.  In my experience, it takes the right table.  I'm sure we've all played with the guy whose character is a fantastically-promiscuous female elf who derails things in his effort to play out his browser's history.  That is, to say the least, lame.

At a table with people I knew (so obviously not Missions), I think an exploration of the darker side of things could be interesting and would allow me to present all sorts of moral dilemmas to my players.  Getting specific (It's Horror-themed porn!) to add flavor and dimension to the setting is one thing, but getting overly specific (the GM goes on a 7 minute monologue detailing exactly what the Juggernaut does) detracts from the storytelling.
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Michael Chandra

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« Reply #10 on: <04-25-14/0640:07> »
One of the books at some point made clear that children are still a taboo. Benraku Parlors are partially accepted, unless slavery is involved. Snuff SIMs (and I imagine rape SIMs too) are a problem. Mental Manipulation creeps people out and gets the cops called on you. But for the rest, only the racists care about things too much, every taboo that doesn't bypass human integrity has probably been crossed off the "waaah, kill them, the freaks!" list as long as you keep it private.
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martinchaen

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« Reply #11 on: <04-25-14/0709:56> »
<znip> But for the rest, only the racists care about things too much, every taboo that doesn't bypass human integrity has probably been crossed off the "waaah, kill them, the freaks!" list as long as you keep it private.
Hehe, isn't that how things are these days; nobody cares what you do in private, it's only when something becomes public that the outcries begin, neh?

Oh, and on the topic of gender; it is at least hinted to in the Run & Gun book that Plan9 has undergone gender reassignment (somehow or another) at least once or twice, and nobody seems to bat an eye at that;
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>  Plan 9

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>  Turbo Bunny

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>  Plan 9

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callmedinosaur

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« Reply #12 on: <04-25-14/1448:17> »
honestly, given that the time period of shadowrun is only 60 years ahead of us, i honestly don't think much will have changed, especially with how busy and in some cases culturally regressive those 60 years have been.

Trans: Even today, gender is not a binary proposition.  In 2070, they don't have to say, and you might never know.  That's the tame stuff.  Cyber and bioware can make it so you can reassign your gender on the go.  On the fence about gender?  You can just be androgynous; completely sexless and able to accommodate your choice in partner/s.  Are you a player?  Challenge yourself by intentionally getting the wrong pheromones implanted, then turn them off for work.

ok...so i understand you're talking about the sexy bits of the sixth world and very specifically fetishes being manifest as societally acceptable and out in the open... but folks who are trans are just people... really normal boring people... and the fact that they're trans is not a sexual thing at all.  they're already fetishized really grossly already in our day and age and pretty out in the open at that, so it hardly seems to fit.

also it's not just the 2070's where trans people have no obligation to tell you, and you wouldn't know they were trans otherwise



rawr rawr

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« Reply #13 on: <04-25-14/1658:07> »
Aww, what a shame I saw this thread late.  I really enjoy mature discussions about sexuality and such, and in such a mature setting as Shadowrun, I think it's important to establish that they do have a place in the world.  Of course, it's then up to the players and GM as to whether or not that place also happens to be the same as their game sessions.  Still it's a very important topic to me and I'd love to add what I can to the discussion.

Trans: Even today, gender is not a binary proposition.  In 2070, they don't have to say, and you might never know.  That's the tame stuff.  Cyber and bioware can make it so you can reassign your gender on the go.  On the fence about gender?  You can just be androgynous; completely sexless and able to accommodate your choice in partner/s.  Are you a player?  Challenge yourself by intentionally getting the wrong pheromones implanted, then turn them off for work.

ok...so i understand you're talking about the sexy bits of the sixth world and very specifically fetishes being manifest as societally acceptable and out in the open... but folks who are trans are just people... really normal boring people... and the fact that they're trans is not a sexual thing at all.  they're already fetishized really grossly already in our day and age and pretty out in the open at that, so it hardly seems to fit.

also it's not just the 2070's where trans people have no obligation to tell you, and you wouldn't know they were trans otherwise

Being transgender might not be a specifically erotic thing for them, but it's definitely related to sexuality.  But yes, HarshRhettoric's point would be more about gender-play than transgender people.  The older books though have mentioned that sex-change operations are completely possible and prettymuch perfected.  Compared to the other stuff bioware can give humans (gills, chemical glands, making your own skin into 'smart insulation) changing someone's sex organs is easy-peasy.  It's likely that this, along with the fact that society has become accustomed to even more "abnormal" situations with SURGE, sapient critters like Nagas, and spirits, that it's just fallen a bit to the wayside.  It's only 60 years, but an unbelievable amount of turmoil has happened in that time.  Magic, technology, politics, epidemic, natural disaster, terrorism, etc.  The Sixth World is older than its years.



I make use of Bunraku parlors in stories rather often, actually.   Not like a common occurrence or as a place to meet up, but that when the Yakuza come up, it's known that people who become too indebted to them often end up there, just like how the previous ages of Japan, daughters would be forced to become geisha.  Everyone I know is bothered by those parlors--  Not offended that I would bring it up (because they know I'm not just making offensive stuff up), but in that it is a great way to let them know who their enemies are.

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Jeeze.  It would almost sound stupid until you realize we're talking about an immortal elf clown sword fighting a dragon ghost in a mall.

emsquared

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« Reply #14 on: <04-25-14/1808:59> »
Being transgender might not be a specifically erotic thing for them, but it's definitely related to sexuality. [snip]
dinosaur was rightfully pointing out the difference between gender and sexuality, the two are completely different and separate: unrelated things. You can be transgender and straight, transgender and gay (or bi, etc. etc.), just like you can be male or female and be straight or gay (or bi, etc. etc.). "Mainstream society" confusing - or rather conflating - the two (gender and sexuality) is pretty much the summation of the whole problem faced by the LBGTQ community. Even the conflation of gender and sex-organs is a painful thing for some people to have imposed upon them by others.

Now, on-topic, in retrospect it's surprising to me how sexually charged/vulgar our groups dialogue can be, but sex acts rarely (if ever) come up in play. We have a gay player, have had gay NPCs, have hookers and potential love interests come up regularly, have off-handed flirting between PCs and PCs, and NPCs and NPCs, and between PCs and NPCs, but I don't think we've ever had sex acts pursued or enacted by anyone in play. Not even in a fade-to-black kind of way. I think this is mainly because sex can be a powerful story-telling tool, but it can also be an incredibly lazy or cheap one.  Especially in the cases of sexual-assault or rape, IMO, it is real easy to use this as a cheap tool, at which point it can become a pretty repugnant form of emotional exploitation - even having played with the guys I game with for over 4 years now (we all know each other really well), I'd be very very careful how I used those elements. For it to be the powerful tool, you can too easily bump up against the borders of too dark or too personal.

As others have mentioned, I think things like changelings (fur, tails, scales, all that) and 'ware-augmented sex (multiple or unusual sex organs or limbs, obvious cyber-"abdomens", etc.), and just about anything you could dream up as an Icon and in your cyberspace Node would be among the popular things in the sex-trade in the 6th World. What about sex-bots, is the technology there? That would seem to be a means for lots of otherwise taboo (violent) behaviors. And you could probably do magical bondage, have your body under the control of your Awakened Mistress, but still be allowed to have control of your voice to use that safe-word?
« Last Edit: <04-25-14/1811:39> by emsquared »