Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Saving Throw Down

Explicit Content Warning! This post is NSFW and contains explicit sexual references and profanities; it is not suitable for anyone under the legal age of consent and probably not anyone over the legal age either. Do not attempt to play this game with strangers or friends, or at all, really.


I think it might work with someone you were fucking, though.

Whores on the Orient Express

This game does for published scenarios what the porn industry does for Hollywood: it turns them into porn. That's the whole premise of the game, which is intended to satirize... something or other, I don't know; look, they can't all be deep, socially relevant metaphors because sometimes all you want is a good shag.

So, first off , get some players who are prepared to actually do this, but choose very carefully: this isn't just about being sensitive to other peoples triggers and limits, but to your own too. I've had the misfortune to become the vector for someone else's sexual fantasies in what was otherwise a perfectly innocent role-playing session and it left me feeling dirty & used (and not in the good way; you know what I'm talking about.) Yeah, we're all British here and get really uncomfortable talking about sex, but this is a comedy game, you see, so that makes it all fine and we can laugh uncomfortably and pretend we don't occasionally want to jump some of the other players.

You're reading this so you're going to be the GM; yeah, you try telling someone else about this game and asking them to run it for you, see where that gets you (in court, possibly; still, maybe this would work as a pick-up line in the right gaming circles.) First thing out of the gate, you need a published scenario... no, wait, don't go away, this isn't a trad game, it just uses trad games as a tool, like a sort of oracle. Take your scenario (or "module": I'd forgotten that was even a thing until I started doing some research for this game) and give it a porn name. Oh yes you do know what I mean, don't look so innocent, it's the way Saving Private Ryan became Shaving Ryan's Privates or Brokeback Mountain became Bareback Mountain. I've given you an example in the header for this section and I'm sure you can think of more; you can even make it part of the game setup, asking the other players to brainstorm a name and that's actually a much better idea, I should go back and re-edit this paragraph to make myself look cleverer, but I can't be arsed. Some other examples are Keeping It Up on the Borderlands, Pale Ass of the Silver Princess and of course Journey to the Cock; I would suggest that modules like Slave Pits of the Undercity and The Secret of Bone Hill might not need any alteration.

Character Procreation

Instead of creating characters as you normally would for that scenario, just don't do that; yeah, just skip that shit and tell everyone who you're playing. Use your imagination, really go to town, Mary Sue the arse off your character and don't really worry about it; I mean, this is a goddamn story game, who needs any of that stats and shit? Don't forget to give them some porn potential though, because they are mostly going to be having sex with a variety of other characters.

Some of you are going to want to have 'comedy' characters with silly names... yeah, ok, if you must; personally I think it works best if you play the characters seriously (or as seriously as they can be played in a porn movie) and just emphasize their sexual characteristics. Yes madam, your Paladin can have an enormous codpiece! And I can't recall the last time I saw a Barbarian who didn't look like they were in a stripper costume.

The same rules apply for non-fantasy adventure scenarios and in fact it's probably a bit easier to take investigators of cosmic horror as porn stars seriously, but please don't mention the tentacles. Oh, OK then, if you must.

Live Action

The first rule of Saving Throw Down is that you do not talk about-, wait, that's something else. The first rule of Saving Throw Down is that you don't need rules for Saving Throw Down: you're only using the scenario for its plot, so ignore anything it says about rolling dice, tracking scores and so on. You don't need combat rules; you don't need to hold back clues until the characters ask the right question of the right person at the right time in the right way and roll the right result; forget that shit, just play the game. If you're a thief, then you're going to sneak past shit unless there's a good reason not to; if you're a pugilist, then you're going to win a fist-fight 90% of the time. When you're GMing, obey Wheaton's Law and don't be a dick: let the PCs be good at the stuff they're supposed to be good at.

The mechanics for Saving Throw Down kick in for that other 10% of the time, when the PCs are up against a difficult obstacle that they don't have the right skill-set to overcome or when they confront NPCs and have to find a way to deal with them. There are three techniques that a PC can use to overcome such obstacles, these being Innuendo, Filth and Sweet Talk
  • Innuendo: suggestive, subtle and euphemistic, Innuendo is about expressing yourself obliquely, so you can always pretend you meant something else if challenged.
  • Filth: raw, upfront and direct, Filth occurs when you express your lustful desires in a crude way to the object of that lust.
  • Sweet Talk: charming, seductive and persuasive, Sweet Talk is a way to express your admiration or affection for another... and get them into bed.
All three techniques have their place in the game and are triggered under different circumstances, with their own unique resolution systems: find the one that suits your character the best and push your luck with it as far as you can.


This is self-triggered when the GM presents you with an obstacle outside your skill set that you wish to overcome or when you meet a friendly or neutral NPC you must negotiate with; it doesn't work on hostile NPCs, but it does work on other PCs as a means of negotiating with them. Yeah, it brings a whole new meaning to PvP, baby!

Innuendo is resolved with verbal sparring, between you and the NPC/PC or between you and the GM for inert obstacles such as locks, traps, rickety bridges and so on. The PC who triggered the Innuendo Duel always goes first, by coming up with some witty, original and apt innuendo:
For example, a non-thief PC tries to pick a lock  and triggers an Innuendo Duel by saying "I'm not sure my big tool will fit in there..." or tries to sneak up to a guard to knock them out and says, "One blow is all it takes for any man..."

If the target doesn't respond with an innuendo of their own, then the PC succeeds; if they do respond, then the ball is back in the PCs court;  the duel continues back and forth until one side fails to respond.
With our second example, the GM responds by saying, "Well, this guard is harder than most..."; the PC says "I can finish him with a couple of strokes..."; the GM is left speechless, therefore the PC succeeds.

A response is only legitimate if it is an innuendo, if it is original and if it is apt to the situation; it's not an innuendo if no-one gets what you mean or you speak too directly ("Well, I'll just fuck him then!"); it's not original if it's already been said in this duel or the same dialogue has been used during this session; it's not apt if it doesn't refer to the current situation. Anyone at the table can object to the use of an innuendo on any of these grounds; if the consensus agrees with that objection, then the innuendo is disallowed and the player loses the duel.


This is self-triggered when any PC uses crude, sexual language, including but not limited to (look away now!): boobs, cock, cum, dick, fuck, prick, pussy, shag, tits, wank, etc. Also arse or ass, depending on which side of the Atlantic you're on; intent counts as much as the word itself, so referring to a well-fed pair of parus majors by saying "Look at those Great Tits!" doesn't count. I won't censor your language, use whatever terms your group is comfortable with, but don't complain to me when you get thrown out of the hotel.

Filth is an attack move, so you use it on NPCs whom you want to best in combat or some other physical challenge; you can also assault inert obstacles this way, overcoming them by brute force. When you use Filth, you must immediately engage in a Filth Challenge with whoever or whatever you directed your words at. A Filth Challenge is resolved by both parties playing Rock-Paper-Scissors, or in this case Fist-Spank-Finger: I'm sure by now you appreciate the theme I'm working up here.

If you're not familiar with Rock-Paper-Scissors, this is called the internet, so just fucking Google it, ok? For the purposes of Saving Throw Down, the three hand gestures are rebranded, therefore Rock=Fist, Paper=Spank and Scissors=Finger; Finger beats Spank, Spank beats Fist and Fist beats Finger, Jesus Christ what have I become? I hope my mother never sees this. Anyway, the winner of the challenge also wins the fight or conflict and gets what they wanted from it; when an inert obstacle loses a Filth Challenge, it is also broken as a result.

Sweet Talk

This is triggered by either the GM or a PC when, in character, they express their admiration for someone else and what they would be prepared to do for them, such as "I would not stand in the way of that perfect body, you may proceed as you wish, but first, a kiss perhaps?" When you Sweet Talk, you don't have to be all lovey-dovey with the hearts & flowers, you can express yourself how you wish, as long as you are direct without being crude, so another acceptable form would be "By Crom, never have I seen such mastery of the sword! I will fight at your side, if you will fight at mine!" The conditions for Sweet Talk are that it must include both sincere flattery or admiration and the offer of an explicit deal, which triggers a Sweet Talk Negotiation.

Sweet Talk Negotiations are just that: both sides talk about what they want from this deal and come to an arrangement that suits them both; the one thing you cannot do is turn down an offer flat: once the negotiations have been opened, you must conclude them to the satisfaction of both parties, even if what they get out of it is merely a token of what they requested or offered.
For example, Melinda congratulates Jennifer on the excellent quality of her fruit scones and asks for the recipe; Jennifer demurely suggests that she might part with the secret, in return for Melinda promising to play the harpsichord at the next music recital that Jennifer is organising. They engage in some genteel discourse, at the end of which it is agreed that Melinda will star in the music recital, in return for both the recipe and some of Jennifer's home-made blackcurrant preserve. They then get down and nasty with each other on the parlour floor.

Ménage à trois

Duels, challenges and negotiations are separate entities, so keep them apart: it can be hard to avoid Innuendo when making Sweet Talk or to avoid descending into Filth when you're meant to be engaging in Innuendo, but whichever form was first is also last. If a conflict starts as Innuendo, then it also ends as it and any deviation into Filth or Sweet Talk by either party is seen as a failure for them; the same applies to Filth and Sweet Talk. In the latter case, if you deviate from your Sweet Talk Negotiation into Filth or Innuendo, then the other party instantly succeeds and closes the deal on the terms they last offered.

Wait, What About the Sex?

I was just coming to that: the porn aspect of the game comes about at the end of any and every conflict involving two or more characters, since every such scene always, without fail, ends in sex between the parties concerned. All sex that takes place is consensual; there is an implicit pact between the GM and PCs that they will never portray their characters as being sexually unavailable, all characters are open to sexual escapades with all other characters. If that doesn't float your boat and you want more say in who your character gets off with, you're perfectly within your rights to exercise that option, but do it in another game, otherwise you're choosing to play in a wargame as a conscientious objector.

At the end of every conflict (a Duel, a Challenge or a Negotiation), the winner of the conflict closes it by framing a sexual encounter with the loser; this should never be represented as the loser being forced into sex with the winner, though there may be some element of coercion, such as in closing a deal. The winner gets to frame a single aspect of that encounter, whereupon the loser can build upon that in a standard back-and-forth dialogue. Start small, if you like, with unbuttoning a shirt or sharing a kiss; on the other hand, you can cut straight into the action, with the two characters stepping under a waterfall together, naked.


I'm not trying to squick out anyone playing this game and neither should you be (though you have to question anyone who signs-up to play and then gets squicked out by the mere mention of sex), so there is a safety net rule that should be employed often and without hesitation. The moment anyone at the table feels that a sexual encounter has gone on long enough or has become too graphic, they can curtail it immediately by saying "Boom-chick-a-wah-wah!" The scene closes and the game moves on.
For example, Kristana of the Blue Veil has emerged victorious from a Filth Challenge with her arch-foe, Nekrothor the Enshrouded, so they now move on to a sexual encouner; Kristana banishes all of Nekrothor's artifacts to another dimension, which happens to include his robes, leaving him naked; he responds by snatching her blue veil to cover his member, only to discover she too is naked underneath; with a mystical gesture, she commands her veil to weave itself around his wrists, forcing him to reveal his aroused for the love of God, won't someone say "Boom-chick-a-wah-wah!"?

Continue playing in this manner until you reach the end of the scenario; as there are few encounters that need extensive implementation of game mechanics to resolve them, with combats being decided on a combination of the PC's skills and a quick game of Fist-Spank-Finger, plus the GM giving away clues and information as opposed to hiding them, you may well get the whole scenario resolved in a short space of time.

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