GURPS Sex in the Adarian Campaign

Part One: Introduction

Sex is a topic that has been infrequently brought up in role-playing games, and it is high time that the matter was dealt with in a bold, straightforward manner. In games, violence is glorified and excruciatingly detailed. Each rulebook for an RPG has pages and pages of combat rules, damage rules, and creative ways to really mess somebody up. The example comes to mind of Arduin's critical hit charts, which were graphically descriptive.

But few games address the issue of sex. Why? Lingering Victorian sensibilities? A desire to protect the minors from moral corruption, while at the same time encouraging combat? Who knows?

In GURPS Basic, we are given the skill Sex Appeal, defined as "the ability to impress the opposite sex". It is a Mental skill, based off of HT, which leads one to believe that it has something to do with physical action. This becomes slightly more noticeable as one reads further and comes across a reference to harems. But overall, the skill appears to be merely what it was defined as the ability to impress through good looks, charm, and attitude. The image that comes to mind is that of a pretty girl hiking her skirt to show a bit of leg and flag down a taxi, or a dashing bandit giving a wink and a grin at the lonely old widow to get her to let him sneak out the back door of the inn. It may be the precursor to getting someone into the bedroom, but where are the rules for what to do once they're there?

The Basic book also includes three disadvantages that are sexual in nature. One of these is Eunuch, which has the briefest description of all the disads. It does not differentiate between loss of manhood before or after puberty, which can have different game effects. Lecherousness appears as a disadvantage, a sort of compulsive behavior, but it could be taken a step farther. And last but not least, there is a reference to a vow of chastity under the Vow disadvantage (which is considered a minor vow worth 5 points). All of these could stand a little modification and enhancement.

In GURPS Cyberpunk, there is a reference to the "geisha" or "cowgirl" chip under Occupational Chips. All of the other chips give detailed listings of the ads, disads, and skills that the chip possesses, but this one clearly states that "this chip includes skills not detailed in the GURPS Basic set." So what does it let you do?

In GURPS Callahan's, there is the skill Erotic Art (P/H), which defaults to Acrobatics and is defined as a "general knowledge of advanced sexual techniques", with "the exact game effects left to the GM's discretion." Where are the basic rules?

These examples all have one thing in common. They are all written in a way that is rather vague and carefully worded, and can be confusing. The time has come to quit dancing around the topic and take a serious look at sex in the role-playing game.

Now, some people might wonder exactly what kind of game you would have to be playing to need these sorts of rules. But any dynastic game, where marriage and continuing a family line, will have a great emphasis on connective ability. Any modern game, if it is any reflection at all of our modern culture, will be riddled with sex because it fills every aspect of our media. And, basically, any game with a real emphasis on character interaction will have some sort of sexual activity going on. How many times have characters tried to seduce a barmaid?

It is, admittedly, a difficult thing to handle in a game. It's hard enough for a male player to have his character flirt with a female NPC run by a female GM, but when both the involved parties are male or both are female; there may be a certain awkwardness. But we're role-players, darn it all, and if we can threaten villains without taking it personally, we ought to be able to have an intimate conversation with a lover in the same manner.

In GURPS Witchworld, we find the disadvantage of Parthenomania, a phobia involving loss of virginity. A note follows that the GM should use great care "to insure that this is not used to harass players", and that "adult subjects should be handled tastefully, not viciously". That same guideline should be used for all of the rules suggested by this article.

Any GM feeling that sexual content is inappropriate in his or her game should feel free to ignore these rules. And players should be discouraged from taking all manner of sexual disads in a game in which they will not come into play. That should go for any sort of disadvantage anyway. Nobody should be allowed to get away with taking fear of oceans in a game set on a desert world where the largest body of water is the size of a small swimming pool.

Part Two: Sexual Skills

(Note: Most Sexual Skills will be Mental, because attitude is everything Also, the Shyness disadvantage applies to all Sexual Skills.)

Sex Appeal

See GURPS Basic, page 64.

Flirting (Mental/Easy) Defaults to Savoir-Faire -2.

This is the ability to flirt with the opposite sex. It includes making small talk, compliments, and flattery, sincere or not. It is also the ability to determine if someone is only flirting or is seriously making a pass. Modifiers: -2 for cultures very different from your own, +1 if you have the Poetry skill at 12 or higher, +2 if you have Poetry at level 20 or higher, and any bonuses for Appearance, Voice, or Charisma.

Kissing (Mental/Easy)

This is the ability to kiss well, in a way that is pleasing to the subject. It includes kissing a lady's hand and being able to determine what sort of kiss is appropriate in a situation. A successful kissing roll will prevent unduly sloppy or suffocating kisses. A critical success on this skill may cause a lady to swoon! Height differences should be taken into consideration if attempting a standing kiss. If the subject is eight inches taller or shorter than you are, a DX roll may be required. Modifiers: -1 or more if you have a cold or bad breath.

Kissing in combat -- a character wishing to kiss his or her opponent (like Bugs Bunny, or Sorcha in Willow, or Arnold's character in Red Sonja) must enter close combat and treat the kiss as a Grapple with a total DX modifier of -2 for the called shot. If the Grapple is successful, a Quick Contest of the kisser's Kissing Skill versus the victim's IQ is required. The victim is then Stunned for a number of seconds equal to the amount by which the Contest was failed. Should the victim win the Contest, there is no effect.

Seduction (Mental/Hard) Defaults to Fast Talk -4 or Flirting-5

This is the ability to consciously seduce someone, possibly against his or her better judgement. It is treated as a Contest between the seducer's skill and the subject's IQ plus or minus Will. The subject also gets a +1 for each 5 points of disadvantages that would go against being seduced. For example, a vow of chastity (5 points), would give the subject a +1 to resist, while Fanaticism (15 points) to a religion that frowns on that sort of thing would give a +3 to resist. Modifiers: The seducer gets all bonuses for Appearance, Voice, and Charisma, a +1 if the seducer has the Psychology skill at 12 or better, a +2 for Psychology at 20 or better, and a +3 if the seducer has the Empathy advantage.

Wearing down resistance -- Over a period of time, a determined seducer can win even the most reluctant lover. Treat this as a +1 to the seducer's skill for each attempt (one attempt per day in which at least one hour of contact occurs) or a -1 to the subject's resistance roll. This may be viewed in two ways, either that the seducer is learning what tactics are most effective and tailoring the seduction to fit, or that the victim is tiring of resisting. One of the best film examples of this skill is in Dangerous Liaisons, in which the sly Comte pursues Michelle Pfeiffer's character relentlessly until he has overcome not only her Strong Will and good Christian piety but also her marriage vows. Of course, along the way he also falls in love with her, so this skill can be dangerous to the user as well.

Foreplay (Mental/Average) Defaults to Intercourse -3 or IQ-5

This is the ability to arouse and satisfy a partner without actual intercourse. It covers everything between kissing and penetration, including the varieties of oral sex. Modifiers: +3 if you know your partner well, +1 for DX of 12 or higher, +2 if DX is 16 or above. There are no bonuses for Appearance or Charisma at this point, because the partner is obviously attracted to you enough to get this far. The DX modifiers assume that a graceful person will have better control of his/her body and be able to use it more efficiently.

Default use -- the IQ default assumes that you have seen/read/heard enough about the topic to have a general idea of what to do. This may vary for characters depending on their background. A 20th century American will have a lot more available information than someone will in Victorian England, for instance.

Intercourse (Mental/Average) Defaults to Foreplay -3 or IQ-5

This is the ability to satisfy a partner and yourself in the complete act of sexual intercourse. It includes knowledge of basic sexual positions and techniques. Modifiers are the same as for Foreplay: +3 if you know your partner well, +1 for DX of 12 or higher, +2 if DX is 16 or above. If you wish to prolong the experience, the GM may require a roll of HT + Strong Will in addition to a skill roll. The explanation of the default use is the same as for Foreplay.

Advanced Sexual Techniques (Mental/Hard) Defaults to Intercourse -6

Prerequisites: Intercourse at 12+, DX at 10+
This is the ability to successfully complete complicated sexual acts, including knowledge of athletic positions and other techniques. This skill is a rewrite of the skill Erotic Art from GURPS Callahan's. It is not generally available to the average person, since books or instruction may be required to learn it properly. Modifiers: +3 if you know your partner well, +2 if your partner also has this skill, +1 if DX is 16 or above, +1 if you have the advantage Double- Jointed.

Dominance (Mental/Hard) Defaults to IQ-6, Acting -6, Interrogation -6 or Intimidation-3

This is the ability to be the dominant partner in a bondage relationship. It includes knowledge of ties and gags, familiarity with various equipment, and the ability to inflict slight pain without causing injury. Modifiers: +3 if you know your partner well and he/she is willing to go along with it, any bonuses for Strong Will. Note -- Characters with Sadism who are adept in this skill are likely to get carried away.

Undressing (Physical/Easy) Defaults to DX-3

This is the ability to get out of your clothes smoothly and gracefully, and is also the ability to undress others. Modifiers: -1 to undress in the dark, -1 to undress in a hurry, -2 to remove unfamiliar or complicated garments.

Stripping (Physical/Average) Defaults to DX-5 or Dancing -2

This is the ability to remove your clothes sensually to music and evoke an erotic response in an audience. Modifiers: +1 if you have Double-Jointed.

Professional Skill, Courtesan (M/A)

See GURPS Callahan's.

Professional Skill, Prostitute (Mental/Average) Defaults to Streetwise -3 or Merchant-5

Prerequisites: Foreplay 12+, Intercourse 12+
This is the ability to be a common prostitute, streetwalker, gigolo, house girl, etc. You make take a house as a Patron, or a pimp as an Ally. You will have a -1 reaction modifier to any average person who knows you are a prostitute, and a -2 from anyone with strong moral, legal, or ethical objections. Occupational hazards include STDs, pregnancy, and arrest.

Professional Skill, Madam (Mental/Average) Defaults to IQ-5 or Administration -4

This is the ability to organize a "house" of working prostitutes. It includes dealing with clients, collecting fees, and taking care of all of the details that go along with running any business. But, unlike other businesses, it also involves the ability to avoid legal problems.

Professional Skill, Pimp (Mental/Average) Defaults to Streetwise -2 or Intimidation -3

This is the ability to operate a small ring of prostitutes and collect a portion of their earnings.

Part Three: Sexual Advantages

Multiorgasmic (+1 for women, +5 for men)

You are able to climax more than once during a lovemaking session. This will make you a valued and sought-after partner. +1 on reaction rolls for women, +2 for men, once others learn of the advantage. As a drawback, some may find the knowledge intimidating and feel uncomfortable with you. You may also encounter jealousy.

Responsive (+1/level)

You are very easy to arouse and take more pleasure in sex than the average person. Your levels of Responsiveness are added to your partner's skill at either Foreplay or Intercourse. But, your levels are subtracted from your resistance roll to any attempt to seduce you.

Part Four: Sexual Disdvantages

Vow of Chastity (-5)

Rewritten from GURPS Basic
You have sworn a vow to refrain from sexual contact. You are at a +1 to resist any attempt at seduction. This vow may be traded for Wedding Vows (see below) if the character becomes married, with no point loss.

Wedding Vows (-5)

You have sworn a vow of fidelity and faithfulness to your spouse. You are at a +1 to resist any attempt at seduction. If you break this vow, you must either atone for it or acquire the disadvantage of a Reputation, Adulterer or Adulteress (-1 to all reaction rolls, -5 points).

Frigid (-5; women only)

You are unable to enjoy sex. You must make a Will roll to go through with any sexual act, and even if you succeed you will remain tense and unable to climax. Any attempt to seduce you automatically fails.

Impotent (-3; men only)

You have difficulty reaching or maintaining a state of necessary arousal to have sex. There are two different causes, and you must determine which one applies:

  1. Physical problem. You have a physical or medical condition that inhibits erection. If you wish to attempt sexual behavior, you must make a roll at HT-2 to begin and another HT roll each minute of the session.

  2. Mental block. You have some stress-related condition that interferes with your sexual performance. This stress can either come from the encounter itself, or can come from external causes such as job stress or threat of approaching doom (something common to adventurers). In a spontaneous sexual situation, roll vs. Will. But in any stressful situation, you must roll at Will -2 to begin and again each minute to continue. The GM may assess penalties for your partner's behavior. For example, an unsympathetic, laughing woman will give you a further -4 to continue. A stressful situation is defined as any in which you are trying to impress someone, have a time limit, or other event that can cause worry and concern. If you have the disadvantage Shyness as well, you must include your minus for Shyness into your roll.

Impotence may (and should!) be added to the Fright Check. Effect Table as a minor physical condition, which may be bought off once the character has been able to get over the fright (GM's decision).

Premature Ejaculation (-2; men only)

You have difficulty controlling your orgasm. When you are about to engage in Foreplay or Intercourse, you must roll vs. HT or Advanced Sexual Techniques. The amount by which you make your roll determines how long in minutes you will be able to last. Some people (Jocks, Knights, malicious women, etc.) may react to you at -1 if they find out.

Eunuch (-5; men only)

Rewritten from GURPS Basic
You have lost some or all of your genitalia, either accidentally or through deliberate action. This can mean two different things:

  1. Prepubescent. You were castrated before reaching puberty. Due to the lack of hormones, your voice remains high and you have sparse facial and body hair. You have no interest in sex, and any attempt to seduce you automatically fails. Others who are aware of your lack react to you at a -1. Overweight and Fat are also common traits.

  2. Postpubescent. You were deprived of your masculinity sometime after reaching puberty, so your voice has already changed and you have the build and body hair of any adult male. You no longer have the ability to perform sexually, although you might remain very interested in sex. Any attempt to seduce you does not automatically fail but will prove embarrassing and unsuccessful. Others who are aware of your lack react to you at -2.

Erotophobia (-5/-10)

See Phobias, GURPS Basic page 35
You are afraid of sex. You will resist getting into any situation where sexual content is high (a spicy movie, a sultan's harem, a stag party, etc.). If you do find yourself in such a situation, you must make a Will roll to stay. You do not discuss sex and are uncomfortable in the presence of overtly sexual people. Erotophobes are reluctant to admit that they might have sex, so they are not likely to take precautions should it occur.

Homophobia (-5/-10)

See Phobias, GURPS Basic page 35
You have an irrational fear of homosexuals. Any reference to homosexuality makes you uncomfortable, and you will resist going to any place known to be frequented by homosexuals. If you are the object of a pass, you must make an immediate Fright Check at -2 for a mild phobia and -4 for a severe one. In a modern game, this may also be combined with rupophobia, the fear of infection, and the mistaken belief that all homosexuals are carriers of AIDS. Please note that this is different from an Intolerance. You do not necessarily hate homosexuals; you fear them.

Sterile (-5; men only)

You are unable to father children, either due to an illness, accident, or by surgical choice. Note that if you have had a reversible vasectomy, this disadvantage may be bought off, but there will be a sizeable medical bill. Some people (Jocks, Knights, malicious women, etc.) may react to you at -1 if they find out.

Barren (-5; women only)

You are unable to conceive a child, though you have no problems with your sexuality. Depending on your culture, you will be blamed, pitied, or envied. In modern and futuristic societies, technological alternatives will be available at a substantial cost. In a medieval society, any potential suitor aware of your condition will react to you at -2.

Homosexuality (varies)

This in itself is neither an advantage not a disadvantage, but it is a lifestyle that is different from the norm in many cultures. The character prefers the sexual contact of members of his or her own gender. Depending on the culture, a homosexual may need to take a Social Stigma (minority group, -10 points, -2 reaction from others but +2 from your own kind) or a Secret (-5; see GURPS Cyberpunk page 25, where it states that if a Secret is revealed you acquire new disads equal to twice the value of the Secret).

Hypersexuality (-20) Also known as Nymphomania or Satyrisis

You cannot get enough sex. This is a stronger version of Lecherousness. A Lecherous character must try to obtain the favors of another; a nymphomaniac (female) or a satyr (male) must have some form of sexual contact daily. Sexuality overshadows all other concerns and interests, to the point where it interferes with your job and home life. This behavior can lead to dangerous risk-taking and promiscuity.

If you fail to satisfy your urges, you will become physically ill, characterized by a -1 to DX and IQ, Insomnia, and persistent headaches. You must roll vs. Will -4 to avoid indulging yourself in a sexual situation, but there is no minus for Appearance of the other person as per Lecherousness, because a hypersexual individual will not be very discriminating about his/her affections.

Most people will react to you at a -2 or more if they know about your habits, depending on your culture.

Part Five: Sexual Variances


A fetish is any object or stimulus that is linked to sexual arousal. Media fetishes involve some sort of substance or material (silk, leather, lace, etc.), while form fetishes involve objects and shapes (shoes, boots, stockings, etc.)

If a character is merely turned on by the presence of something, this is only a Quirk, worth 1 point ("Likes women in high heels"). But if the fetish is so strong that arousal is not possible without the object present, it becomes a 2-point disadvantage ("Cannot have sex without silk sheets"). Fetishes may also be taken as Secrets, worth only a few points due to the embarrassment caused if a fetish is discovered.

The following are some other sexual variances that could be used as Quirks, Compulsions, Secrets, Social Stigmas, Odious Personal Habits, or other disadvantages. Some of them are of such a nature that most cultures consider the pursuit of them to be criminal acts.

It is strongly suggested that the GM forbid any of these that are inappropriate to the game, or offensive to the players on a personal level.

Transvestism - the character is aroused by wearing clothes traditionally considered to belong to the opposite sex. Most often a Secret or a Social Stigma (minority) unless done for entertainment (e.g. female impersonators).

Sexual Sadism - the character is aroused by inflicting pain on his/her partner.

Sexual Masochism - the character is aroused by receiving pain.

Voyeurism - the character is aroused by watching other people, either observing them nude or actually engaging in sex. Strip clubs and movie houses allow an opportunity to engage in this behavior, otherwise, it can lead to arrest.

Exhibitionism - the character is aroused by exposing him/herself to others. This can be a criminal act (a flasher), or a source of income (a Playboy centerfold).

Bestiality - the character is aroused by animals. Common in rural societies, or in fantasy worlds where human/animal hybrids are common (mermaids, for instance).

Gerontophilia -- the character is attracted to elderly people.

Necrophilia -- the character is aroused by corpses. This behavior is considered extremely deviant and psychotic by most cultures.

Pedophilia -- the character is attracted to children. This behavior is also considered extremely deviant and criminal in most cultures.

Part Six: Virginity

Depending on the time, the culture, the character's gender, and numerous other factors, virginity can be an advantage, a disadvantage, or neither. For a noblewoman in medieval times, her virginity is a valuable commercial asset to help secure herself a good husband, and if her reputation is tarnished, she may be utterly disgraced (as in Much Ado About Nothing). To a teenage boy in modern-day America, virginity is often considered an embarrassment to be gotten rid of as soon as possible.

In a fantasy world, a virgin may befriend unicorns (good), but may also be chained to a tree to feed a dragon (bad!). Virgin blood is a common ingredient in charms and potions. The spell Sense Life, which states that the caster may determine the specific sort of life he or she is seeking, can be used to test virginity.

Virginity can have spiritual bonuses and side effects as well. Sir Galahad, known throughout his life as Galahad the Pure, is defined in GURPS Camelot as a "spiritual" knight, as opposed to Lancelot and the others, who were considered more "worldly". His rewards for purity included winning the Holy Grail.

When it comes to resisting a seduction attempt, a virgin may be either better or worse off, depending on the rest of the components of his/her character. A strong-willed virgin who is determined to keep his/her virginity is at a +1 to resist, while a virgin who is naive and unprepared is at a -1.

The GM might wish to rule that a virgin could not learn certain sexual skills or even make a default roll. Only so much can be learned from a book, after all. Someone can read a thousand cookbooks and still might not be able to turn on the oven.

Part Seven: Aphrodesiacs

Any substance believed to increase sexual desire or ability is an aphrodesiac. Many of these have gained the reputation by suggestive forms and shapes (rhinocerous horn, banana, oyster). Other substances, such as cantharides (commonly known as Spanish fly), have the reputation of being aphrodisiacs but are in reality dangerous or poisonous.

Alcohol, in small quantities, has been found to decrease inhibitions and subsequently increase sexual desire or activity. But alcohol in large amounts has an adverse effect on sexual ability. Users of marijuana claim that it acts as a sexual stimulant, though there is no documented proof of this. Thus far, with a few exceptions in the science of pheromone research, no true aphrodisiacs have been found. The power of an aphrodisiac is therefore purely psychological. If the user believes that it will work, it most likely will.

In a game, it is the GM's decision if true aphrodisiacs exist. The following are some examples of possible aphrodisiacs:

Jasmine Oil

Perfume or scented oil gives wearer a +1 on all reaction rolls by a member of the opposite sex and a +1 to Seduction or Sex Appeal. Cost: a bottle with ten applications is $20.

Caraway Seeds

When ground into a powder and mixed with water or wine, caraway seeds can give the user a +1 to any roll to overcome Impotence, Frigidity, or Premature Ejaculation. Cost: one dose is $10.

Dried Ninta Berry

This innocuous purplish-blue berry grows in temperate coastal regions. Ninta berries are sweet and juicy, and can be eaten fresh, made into jam, cobblers, and even wine. But dried ninta berries are a potent aphrodisiac, temporarily giving the user the advantage of Responsiveness at one level per berry with a maximum of three. The effect of dried ninta berries lasts 1d6x10 minutes per berry. Cost: $50 apiece for dried berries.

Priapus (Elixir of Lecherousness)

From GURPS Magic, page 90. Subject suffers the disadvantage Lecherousness for 1d6 hours. Any form. $200 in materials; 10 days. Cost: $500/$700.

Venus (Elixir of Desire)

Subject becomes irresistible to members of the opposite sex. Gives a bonus of +4 to Seduction and Sex Appeal rolls. Removes all negative reaction modifiers for Appearance and Odious Personal Habits. Effect lasts for 1d6 hours. Any form. $500 in materials; 3 weeks; -1 to skill to create. Cost: $750/$1000.

Eroto (Elixir of Lust)

Subject temporarily acquires the disadvantage Hypersexuality, overriding any Shyness or other disadvantages that would normally curtail licentious behavior. Effect lasts 1d6 hours. Any form. $400 in materials; 3 weeks; -2 to skill. Cost: $1000/$1500.

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