Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Quick Thoughts on Thirsty Sword Lesbians

 It mechanizes things I don’t normally want mechanized but doesn’t get stupid about it.  The rules are simple and not overbearing.  They mostly focus on individual personal relationships, and while they’re lacking a bit in nuance (there’s basically friendship and being “smitten” and nothing else) this also means you don’t feel railroaded by them.  

In spite of the art and the examples, there’s really nothing here insisting that the PCs be thirsty or lesbian.  Heck, there’s even a section on replacing the swords with anything else that inspires personal, one-on-one combat, like wrestling or mecha (Achilles Shieldmaidens, anyone?)  That said, characters who are not “thirsty” for romance and messy interpersonal entanglements will be missing a lot of the fun.

It would be dreadfully easy to run this as Lesbian Stripper Ninjas: the RPG.  Even one of the example settings involves holy stripper warriors who use their polearms as dance poles.  You’re going to want the right group to play this with.

The mechanics work best in a “hothouse” environment, where they’re forced to encounter the same individuals over and over again.  Which kinda works contrary to the free-wheeling, swashbuckling mood the game is aiming for.  The result is probably like a French novel, where no matter how far the characters travel, they just keep encountering each other again and again.  But I can’t help thinking it would work best in a constrained setting like a generation starship, a prison, or a harem.  

The game really wants you to acquire insights about your foes and then use those insights to either seduce them towards goodness, or help them find true love (and, it’s assumed, they’ll start being good after that).  It’s got a lot to recommend it as a gameplay loop but leans very, very heavily on the GM to bring novelty to each iteration and doesn’t provide much help in doing that.  

What does mitigate this somewhat is that the “classes” of the game (playbooks since this is a PBtA game) are all based on a personal conflict, mostly revolving around the individual’s relationship to society.  A player who’s getting bored can resolve their character’s conflict and either retire them to a happily-ever-after, or transform their conflict into another (and thus start playing with a new playbook).  There are rules for how that would work mechanically as well as suggestions for making it feel organic in the fiction.  

What’s really interesting is what’s not here: no equipment lists, no vehicles, no skills or weapons or treasures (other than, of course, the friends we make along the way), which does kinda run counter to the whole swashbuckling adventure thing.  This game is extremely Old School in its reliance on rulings, and I wouldn’t recommend it as the first game you GM.  I’d want a lot more detail about the PCs backgrounds than the game demands, and would likely include a handful of questions to give me some idea of what the PCs are about beyond their trauma.  This game really doesn’t want to get hung up over how fast your starship can go or how many cannon are on your pirate ship, which means the GM is going to be winging it pretty heavily while trying to steer things towards emotional moments that will have the PCs going through emotional wringers and then turning to each other for support.


StuRat said...

Hasslefree makes figures that will work for the polearm strippers:

Maybe NSFW.

Dick McGee said...

Hasslefree also does a fair few figs that would fit nicely in that harem game that the post mentioned - some of them armed guard types rather than lounging/bathing nudes, so there's some swashbuckling for you.

"But I can’t help thinking it would work best in a constrained setting like a generation starship, a prison, or a harem."

Start the PCs on a ship, have the antagonists on a another ships, due some swashbuckling to introduce everyone, then have both ships caught in a storm and wrecked on a lost island. Scatter the survivors all over the place so you never know who's still alive until you meet them or their drowned corpse. Add your favorite mysterious island elements so there's more to do and let the PCs do their sandbox thing. Which would work fine for just about any game, but it fulfills the "constrained" part of the order.

trollsmyth said...

StuRat: Thank the gods for work-from-home. ;)

Dick McGee: Oh, nice! Yeah, that would work really well, especially if the end of the campaign was our heroes vs. everyone they didn't seduce to the Light Side + Sleestaks to escape the island.

Dick McGee said...

I like the way you think. Everything's better with sleestaks. :)

Don't know if you're a minis fan or not, but if you are you know about Interloper Minis definitely not sleestak figs, right?

Forge of Ice makes some too:

Between Interloper being up in Canada and Forge being Alaskan, it appears that the nearer you get to the North Pole you get the more sleestaks are on your mind. Probably psychic waves leaking out of the Hollow Earth opening up there. :)

trollsmyth said...

Dick McGee: Big fan of minis, though I don't use 'em much when playing RPGs.

That said, I am thinking of getting into Stargrave, so I may talk more about minis soon.

Very cool sleestaks! Thanks. :D

JB said...

This feels like yet another 'story game' [TM] meany to occupy that dusty shelf containing Polaris, Fiasco, TrollBabe, HillFolk, etc. in my gaming library.

I appreciate the review. Even five years ago I probably would have purchased this just to support the author(s) in the hope it would incentivize MORE creatives to push boundaries and explore possibilities. Now...not so much. I just don't get the same charge out of "shared narrative building."

Yay. Represent! all ye Horny Violent Lesbians!

But you can make your bog-standard D&D character a horny violent lesbian, too (if you want), even without the need for a 5E-style "background." Will the D&D game revolve around issues relating to your particular character? Um...maybe? (depends on the gaming group) But if THAT'S the *need* here (design-wise), well, that's a real niche market of the RPG community. I mean more niche than most RPG niches.

[which does NOT mean one shouldn't write such a game. Hell, let's write games for EVERY niche niche]

@ Stu:

Ha! Those are some pretty wild minis. Good work finding ones to fit the bill (no pun intended).

Dick McGee said...

"That said, I am thinking of getting into Stargrave, so I may talk more about minis soon."

Stargrave's a lot of fun. I'd been doing blog posts about it myself for a while but took them back down when I realized they were shoving out my roleplay content - and attracting some very nasty commenters whose posts I had to keep removing.

Dead-meat said...

Honestly, TSL is more like a collection of Twitter memes rolled into a game than anything else...Of course, it's completely fine if one enjoys it.