A warehouse destroyed copies of She Bleeds because they thought it was disgusting. Written by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul for the RPG Lamentations of the Flame Princess, She Bleeds was a supplement about menstruation and dark packs with strange powers.
The incident sparked plenty of conversation in the tabletop roleplaying world.
Now, Chaipraditkul is planning on releasing a full ‘microgame’ all around menstruation. Bloody Demon Slayers is essentially a magical girl game about people who get powers on the periods. Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Sailor Moon.
The game is being written with Steffie de Vann and will first be available to Patreon backers of Steffie and Liz. Afterwards, Bloody Demon Slayers will be available on DrivethruRPG. It’s expected to be in the hands of Patreon supporters in February.
Geek Native spoke to Elizabeth Chaipraditkul about She Bleeds and Bloody Demon Slayers.
Why do you think She Bleeds encountered such hostility from quarters of the RPG community?
In general, I think the idea of a person menstruating is still a taboo subject to talk bluntly about and taboo body ‘issues’ are often linked to sexual activity. In actuality menstruation is a normal bodily function roughly 50% of the population has to go through at one point in their lives. Today people still struggle with what to do when menstruating – some having to stay home rather than go to things like school or work because they don’t have the proper sanitary items at their disposal. These issues trickle down into our games, into our community, which is why talking about them (no matter how you feel about them) is so important and destroying books is just about the least productive thing you can do.
During one point in the various conversations people had, I saw it mentioned that the cover of the game was provocative. That two legs with blood running down them was intended to provoke people, because of sexual connotations and this is what made people angry. In part I agreed with what was said, but not in the sentiment. The cover was meant to provoke thought and conversation. It’s meant to say – this is a gaming supplement about menstruation. I hoped that it’d push people to question their own biases when seeing the image. If someone saw it, thought it was gross, but looked inside and ended up buying a gaming supplement based on periods to try and use in their games – that’s a win for me.
I saw comments from gamers pledging their support to you and promises to buy more of your books in response to the warehouse incident. Did any of this support get through to you and how did it make you feel?
I believe how kind people were reflects the vast majority of the role play community to me. Gaming is very much the best hobby and how supportive people are just exemplifies that – so thank you to everyone who was so supportive! Sometimes things happen, like She Bleeds copies being destroyed, but this is the outlier rather than the rule and by talking about these issues our community only gets stronger.
Who’s going to enjoy playing Bloody Demon Slayers? What sort of RPG is it?
She Bleeds was a dark supplement about eldritch horror and heartbreaking choices. In contrast I created Bloody Demon Slayers (BDS) to be a tongue-in-cheek, light-hearted, mini-game – with a few kick-ass elements. It’s a mix of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sailor Moon – two of my favourite magical girl shows. The intention of the game is to triumph over evil and have frank conversations about your character’s period and what the character is going through. At the end of each session players sit down, discuss how their menstruation affected them, and gain experience points based on what they learned.
I’m very much assuming it is going to attract people who menstruate who want to slay a few demons while talking about their periods, but I’d encourage people who don’t menstruate to try the game as well. If talking about menstruation makes you feel icky do something to challenge that feeling and have a laugh while doing it!
Isn’t this just opportunism? Would Bloody Demon Slayers ever have been written if She Bleeds hadn’t hit the headlines?
Creating BDS is opportunistic. When I heard about the books being destroyed the base of BDS got written within three days fueled by a mild rage simmering in my stomach. I wrote Steffie, the co-creator working on our Patreon with me, told her what I was doing to do and she said, “do it!” When I pitched the idea to a few other women I know they laughed and said, “do it!” She Bleeds being destroyed was the impetus, but it feels like BDS needed to be brought into the world. When writing there was a little voice echoing in my mind, standing on her soapbox yelling, “Well if they didn’t like a game which incorporated menstruation – just wait till they see a game that’s all about menstruation!”
Would BDS be here if She Bleeds wasn’t destroyed? I’m honestly not sure. Then again, She Bleeds was the second piece of RPG writing I’ve done which involves menstruation, so may be a theme I needed to revisit for myself.