Shortly after Kort’thalis Publishing’s Alpha Blue sci-fi RPG was published to DriveThruRPG, it was suspended. People complained it was inappropriately adult. The suspension was soon reversed, and now it’s a Gold Best Seller and maintains a 4/5 star review after nearly 30 reviews.
This week Alpha Blue was toppled from Kort’thalis’s hottest seller as author Venger As’Nas Satanis latest RPG, Cha’alt, took the top spot.
So, who is buying these games? One assumption is that it’s sexually frustrated young men who need the dice to roll up some light relief for them.
The “Heavy Metal It Up To Eleven” table (page 54) in Alpha Blue has a Wardrobe malfunction as its first entry;
The nearest female’s clothing is either flimsy or fatigued by the physical strain. It comes apart and now her star and planets are enjoying a nice space breeze.”
The last entry on the table allows your character to become a muscle-bound barbarian with a 10-inch dick or transform into a voluptuous woman.
Crazed Sheep has kindly agreed to speak to Geek Native about the merits of Alpha Blue and Kort’thalis Publishing’s adult range.
Is there a shortage of sex-focused adult RPGs on the market?
Shortage? No. We saw what happened when AB hit the market. Most people are just offended. It’s a niche. I think Venger did a pretty good job and right now I don’t see the need for more of that niche. Which goes for a lot of settings, if you will, in the RPG industry.
Do we really need someone else to write us sexy encounter tables?
In all honesty, I wouldn’t have known how to set up such a game. So, a definite yes in my case. I can’t speak for others though, of course.
I used a very memorable encounter in one of my games with a pineapple in places where it usually wouldn’t go. I’m a pretty imaginative GM, and still I was glad I stumbled upon this. And we had a good laugh.
I guess it all depends on your “tv/comics education”. I loved watching those satirical movies when I was younger. Barbarella, to name the most prominent. Everyone knows it’s basically a joke, totally exaggerated. But it’s hard, for me, to make this into a game, just because of the tabu-ish taste.
Do you think the stereotype that the primary buyers of such games are sexually frustrated young men is an unfair and inaccurate one?
Life isn’t fair, so I want to call it at least inaccurate. On the one hand, I’m absolutely certain there ARE sexually frustrated young men buying the product. And honestly: Why not? Who are we to damn someone for this? On the other hand, I’ve run games and played games of Alpha Blue with the definition of normal men. Normal, in this case, meaning middle-aged, and, as far as I know, happily married men. Open-minded individuals who enjoy the occasional chucklefuck session of craziness. So, yes, very inaccurate. In my opinion, there is a huge variety of players and GMs who like to play those games. Not every day and with varying degrees of explicitness, of course.
Did you know Alpha Blue is among DriveThruRPG’s top 5% selling games? Who do you think the primary buyers are?
I actually didn’t know, but I’m very happy for Venger!
I think the primary buyers are people who want something funny for a change, something that might seem inappropriate to others. A lot of people apparently think that AB players enact orgies of sexual explicitness in total seriousness in those games. Like porn (if you can call that serious). Well, you can certainly play it like that. But, to be honest, who is REALLY comfortable doing that in front of 4 or 5 others? If I want porn, I watch porn and don’t game porn. Or I grab my significant other and do what I have to do.
Long story short: People who buy AB just want to play something different, make inappropriate jokes for once and scratch on the surface of pruderie. And just because it’s dangerous to say things in general in this time and age: It’s all fine, no matter how you want to play your game! If you want to play super safe, great. If you want to be riské, great as well! Do what floats your boat.
But I guess the question really is the following: Do ONLY men buy AB? My answer: Yes, mostly. The “Why” is a little bit more difficult to answer, because there can be many reasons. Type of character. Upbringing. Men tend to discuss sexual themes way more freely than women do, in my opinion. Women’s sex drives are different compared to those of men. And hell, that’s not a bad thing. It just means there are legitimate and benign reasons for more men buying AB.
Alpha Blue has rules for men and women. For example, page 31 has “Which Part of a Woman Do You Like Best?” with results like ‘Breast’ or ‘Butt’ and its accompanied by “For the Ladies and Gay Dudes… What’s Your Type?’ with outcomes like ‘Rugged’ or ‘Clean cut’. In your opinion, does the game get the gender and orientation balance about right? Would you change anything?
So, first of all, nobody stops us from including our own stuff. This is what GMs (and players) do since the beginning of RPGs. As I stated before, the focus is on the male player. Of course, you aim the content at men. And most men are attracted to women. From a business perspective, it’s totally legitimate and SMART.
Do I want more stuff for me as a female who is into males? Sure, bring it! But that isn’t something I would complain about.
You’ve run Alpha Blue for your YouTube channel. What tips would you give other female GMs, based on your experience, for the game?
Well, first of all, I’m very aware of the dangers. You certainly don’t want to play AB with a total creep. And if someone turns out to be a creep, make sure to get him (or her!) removed from your table. But to be honest: That can happen in “normal” games, too. So, I’m not too concerned about it. Online games are a totally different story. You can just kick them out of Hangouts, and you’re good.
In general, my tips would be: Don’t play with strangers. It’s like an ONS. Could turn out awkward. Secondly, I don’t like X-Cards. But, if you feel better with them, then use them. In my opinion, it’s enough to mention that nobody has to go into details (if that’s what you want). If it turns out a player is going a bit too far, just tell them!
Women in Alpha Blue are frequently described as sluts, whores or slaves. Is this because the setting is a space brothel and part of the game’s attraction? Couldn’t a few encounter ideas have female customers encountering submissive men?
That. Space brothel and part of the game’s attraction. Considering history though, yes, why not include female customers and submissive men or male customers and submissive men? Men worked in brothels in Greece, later in France, just to name a few examples. Mainly for male customers, not for women, but still. So, sure, bring it. But, again, include it if you’re the GM. Just because men as customers are targeted doesn’t mean you have to go with everything Venger puts into his books.
Female empowerment or the lack of it is a political hot potato in the States and Alpha Blue’s author, Venger Satanis, has used his blog to support Donald Trump. Do you think there’s politics in Alpha Blue? Does the game promote a fantasy ideal of women and men that are held by a political tribe?
I really don’t care which author supports who. I love Lovecraft. He was a terrible racist, and I despise his views. Still, I love his stories. They are great. If I would make a background check on all the authors I like, just to see if I have to ban them from my shelf, I’d probably be very disappointed and end up with a very empty library. We tend to forget we’re all human beings and we can’t agree on everything. And no, I don’t think there is politics in the game. It’s a satire of the human sex drive, history, and human psychology in general.
Don’t get me wrong. There are men (and WOMEN) who fantasize about women being their whores/sluts/servants/whatever. And guess what: Let them. They can fantasize as much as they want because that’s all that it is. A fantasy. But are you really suggesting there is a political tribe aiming for an AB space brothel themed earth? I don’t think there is. Not even remotely. And if Venger would actually promote such a party/tribe/world view, his wife would do bad things to him.
Lastly, is this all marketing? I began this interview by asking whether you thought there was a shortage of adult sex-orientated RPGs and whether we needed someone’s help to write them, but perhaps this is all about appealing to certain corners of Reddit and the ‘Chan’ bulletin boards online?
I’m sure it’s in part marketing. I’m sure it’s appealing to certain Reddit and 4chan users. I know it’s appealing to my friends and me, although I wouldn’t consider us being part of the aforementioned groups. That classification doesn’t sound right to me, though. It sounds like it is a bad thing to like certain types of genres. Nobody is being hurt, only offended. And that’s on the individual, not the consumer or the author.
Join (or start) the healthy debate. Share your observations below.