Machinations: Adult Vs Mature

The great thing about Lamentations of the Flame Princess is that it is an unquestionably adult game and there’s no need to agonise over whether to include gratuitous sex and violence, not that I do particularly anyway.

I think part of the problem when it comes to this sort of content is the interchangeability of the terms ‘Adult’ and ‘Mature’. You can’t know – very well – whether you’re getting something that that is serious and grown up or is a cavalcade of blood and tits. Just to confuse matters you can also have things that are both.

Let’s try and give these a better definition then.

When something is ‘Adult’ let us say that the content it has in it is the sort of thing you wouldn’t necessarily want kids looking at. Nakedness, sex, ultra-violence, pornography, that sort of thing. It’s not saying it’s bad, but that the content can be uncomplicated. Sophomoric one might say if one were being uncharitable.

When something is ‘Mature’ let us say that the content in it is ‘serious’. That it is the sort of thing kids may find deadly boring. Politics, relationships, ‘grown up’ stuff. This is kind of nebulous, it’s like the difference between comics and art, literature and genre fiction, the subject of much debate. Still, this is a good starting point.

Of course, the existence of ‘Adult’ material also allows greater exploration of ‘Mature’ material in the repercussions of sexual relationships, the aftermath of violence and so on. It’s perfectly possible for something to be both ‘Adult’ and ‘Mature’.

My aim in, hopefully, making Machinations of the Space Princess will be to hit the ‘Adult’ button hard enough to let the ‘Mature’ part take care of itself through play. My model is the likes of Heavy Metal/Metal Hurlant, adult (if not always mature) continental comics and magazines.

Reclaiming the Succubus

The succubus is a much misused and abused monster. At best, most of the time, they’re just placeholder sexy demons a million miles from the seductresses and manipulators of men that they could be or should be. The same goes in reverse for the Incubus.

These are creatures that can know and fulfil your innermost, most secret, shameful desires and use them to twist you up and make you do the devil’s bidding. These creatures should be more like cenobites than busty playboy models.

They should be the embodiment of transgressive desires, of the kinds of things people might be ashamed of, the kind of things they might have trouble getting.

There’s a useful list of paraphilias HERE on wikipedia, but let’s take a closer look at a handful of them, Needless to say, this is going to be a bit adult.

Continue reading

Is FATAL Redeemable?

FATAL is legendary, as is this review of it. More legendary than RaHoWa and probably even Synnibar for being an unplayable, rubbish, obnoxious, even ‘evil’ game. This loose series of articles is about examining these supposedly irredeemable games and seeing if there’s anything of worth to be salvaged in them.

It doesn’t hurt that one of the reviewers who savaged FATAL is epic level cock-mongler Darren MacLennan. He’s such an irredeemable fuckwit that the instigator of FATAL, Byron Hall, can’t help but come off more favourably for the fact he was savaged by a helmet.

Actually one of the better racial comparison illos I’ve seen.

What’s the Problem With FATAL?

FATAL has a shitload of problems and there’s no getting away from it. Even if it were the best game in he world, at nearly 1,000 pages it would be unwieldy even if the game were perfect, wonderful and without flaw. It isn’t.

FATAL is most notorious for three things. It’s obsession with a level of detail that most games wouldn’t bother with, it’s obsession with sex and rape and – coming in third – the puerile nature of a lot of its spells.

Taken as a whole it’s an obsessive mess but without the sexual element it probably wouldn’t have drawn the comment, ire or infamy that it does. Because it’s so infamous for being shitty I think people are afraid to admit that there’s anything that might be of value in there. I think there is though.

Art Redemption

The few bits of art that were commissioned for FATAL really aren’t that bad at all and while there are nipples, wangs and muff galore it’s really not that shocking at all. It seems to fit, overall, with the Heavy Metal aesthetic that bleeds out of the few bits of readable text. I’d use much of this art without any sort of compunction and it wouldn’t be out of place, at all, in games like Lamentations of the Flame Princess or anything with a weird fantasy or horror BDSM style. Other pieces of art are good enough to be used in just about any fantasy game and it’s a pity the artists involved didn’t get more work and more exposure.

The art definitely speaks to Lotfp or even Barbarians of Lemuria. Going on the art alone, this is something I might want to play. Shame about the rest.

Setting Redemption

FATAL’s setting is just your bog standard fantasy setting, pretty much. Much of what’s there is nothing new, it’s just often ‘nasty’ and much of it is inferred from the monster descriptions and spells. Many of these are pretty puerile and childish but the idea of taboo things having power isn’t exactly new or controversial. FATAL just doesn’t shy away from laying it out directly, rather than hinting.

FATAL’s content seems to describe more of a medieval fantasy setting, a dark and more urban oriented set of ideas that aren’t worlds different to those found in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. There’s a disconnect between the presentation and thought and the career/role options but the second set aren’t so terrible, really.

System Redemption

Quadratic equations? Penile thickness tables? Anal circumference? There’s virtually nothing redeemable about the system. Although…

Much of the game is based around a d1000, rolling 3d10 in much the same way as you would with 2d10 to produce a d100. This is unwieldy and mathematically would slow down games but the level of granularity it opens up in a rules system is potentially a good thing.

Gamers who like their mathematics and granularity aren’t particularly well served at the moment though, for some people, it’s definitely an appeal of the games. Millenium’s End, Rolemaster and others have been extensive and comprehensive and have taken an intensely simulation-oriented viewpoint. A d1000 would certainly allow gun-fetishists to tweak each and every fraction of a percent out of every modification and bolt-on. It allows little things to make a real, statistical difference and while that may not be to everyone’s taste there’s definitely a wing of the hobby that loves the crunch.

The one thing that FATAL does really well – and is probably taken from someone else’s work – is in its career/occupations section. There’s a really comprehensive list of medieval occupations and guilds that are easily portable to other games and systems and saves you hunting down an old copy of Central Casting.


Even FATAL has some useful stuff you can drag out of it. A more savvy look at a d1000, simulationist system might be worth doing as an exercise (though I think I’d approach it as a d100.0 system). Much of the research/desperate justification is useful, as are some of the tables and lastly, the art that had been commissioned was of a generally good quality and would be worth rescuing, or finding the original artists to give some employment.

Speaking of which, if you know: Adam Briggs, Andrew Dobell, Kimon, Lazar Stojkovic Steven MnMoorn or Steve Willhite, feel free to send them my way.

While FATAL’s approach is obsessive, self-contained and troublesome there’s no doubt that there’s a desire for more adult oriented media. Game of Thrones, Spartacus, the rise (again) of the erotic novel into public conciousness, these are all things that are heartening to see in a time when we’re also seeing a lot of financial and social censure and prudish pressure.

Maybe it is time for a genuinely adult game.

Censorship & Future Projects

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in my personal life as those who follow me more closely will know. I’m not going to be able to do a great deal of work for some time while I recover, but there’s at least one thing I wanted to talk to you about.

If you’re not already aware from other sources Paypal has decided (perhaps under pressure from credit card companies) to use its financial pressure to censor the publication of certain erotica.

This has not yet impacted on games and comics material, but it can only be a matter of time before it does. As a producer of games that include adult material and themes I am at risk of being censored.

This is already having an impact on many small press authors of erotic material and while you may not have a taste for such material it is setting a dangerous and disturbing precedent where you potentially can’t spend your own money on what you  want.

This is now directly affecting me. One project I wanted to do this year (health permitting) was a Science Fiction/BDSM game which would touch on a lot of transhuman themes and the boundaries of human sexuality enhanced/perverted/changed by technology.

In this current environment, with margins being what they are and with the risk looming of being unable to sell this material I don’t think I can take the risk at this time.

This means:

  • You don’t get your game.
  • I don’t get to make an experimental game.
  • The artist I was going to employ doesn’t get her money.

Needless to say, this all fucking sucks.

I’m looking into other ways to go about it, such as crowdsourcing funding and releasing it for free, but to do it justice and be worth the effort I’d need to get something like £2,000. So we’ll see if that’s remotely possible.

Meanwhile, the art in this post is taken from Satine Phoenix’s portfolio, give her some work, admire the pretties and here’s hoping this problem goes away in the near future and freedom of expression wins out.

Please support Satine and please think about getting involved in the fight against financial censorship.


Cthentacle: Spankham Asylum Preview!

Only the clean stuff, obviously… here’s some inks of the characters, clicking should show you the bigger version: