GenCon wrap-up: Erotic Fantasy promoted heavily

Having left Wizards of the Coast, Anthony Valterra has joined in on one of the most controversial d20 ventures to date: the Book of Erotic Fantasy by the Valar Project, Inc. Drawing inspiration from the Book of Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and pointing to the Book of Vile Darkness as proof that an audience exists for adult d20 products, the Valar Project has put the hype machine into high gear. Aside from Sword & Sorcery’s Arcana Unearthed, more people were talking about Valar’s upcoming release than any other product than any other — and not always in a good way. Though as press I was able to get a free copy, many convention goers were grumbling about the idea of paying $9.95 for a preview, even a 32-page full-color one.

Cover of the Book of Erotic Fantasy previewFrom what Valterra told me at the show, the Book of Erotic Fantasy will have a variety of d20 rules that encourage relationships between characters (and yes, many of those relationships will be sexual in nature). For example, Tantric Mages will be presented, wizardly-types that power their magic through sex. So it stands to reason such a character would need a partner in the group to “power up” with. A playtest group informed Valterra of its “Dangerous Liasons between the Drow” campaign, which sounded to him like the perfect fit. The book’s section on consent in a magical world, and how spells such as Charm Person affect the definition thereof, will analyze the moral implications. All quite intriguing, I must admit.

But how many gaming groups will have the maturity to handle sexual relations between player characters? Hell, I still know players that have difficulty talking to the opposite sex, let alone roleplaying intimate acts with them. Maybe these “relationship rules” would be easiest to apply to PC/NPC relationships. Even then, a line is usually drawn that most players won’t go past unless dating each other in real life. The last time sex came up in one of my ongoing campaign storylines, we got right up to the commencement of carnal relations, and said, “Okay, we’ll stop right there, because — well, we’re both dudes.” Comfort levels for this sort of rules supplement will vary, undoubtably.

Phil Foglio and his popular comic What’s New with Phil & Dixie will help soften the hardcore nature of Erotic Fantasy with an exclusive strip. And strip they will, as this installment of the long-running fan-favorite will likely be the greatly-anticipated “Sex in D&D” story, a running joke in the strip for years.

When asked what’s next for the Valar Project, Valterra was blatantly honest. “That’s really the question, isn’t it? I get a lot of writers telling me they want to write for us, and I say ‘Tell me what our next book should be, and if it sounds good, I’ll pay you to write it.'” He shrugged. “It really depends what happens. It’s been hard to gauge how much consumer interest is really out there. There are some people who are really interested, and some who don’t ever want a product like this to exist. Maybe we’ll do a whole setting and support product line, or maybe I’ll go be business manager of a fruit stand after this. We’ll see.”

The final product, not due until October, will be a 192-page full-color hardcover that retails for $34.95. Valar’s looking into the possibility of getting the book into BDSM stores as well as hobby game and book stores, which could potentially add an unknown level of extra sales. But considering how many game retailers are likely to boycott the book, extra sales venues may be needed just to reach regular levels.


  1. I think Vileterror has let his personal life cross over too much into his gaming company life. This whole thing makes me much more suspicious of the BoVD and the “mature” line that he approved.

    I think he’s trying to use gaming for advocacy.

  2. Leaving aside the question of how many people in gaming culture don’t already agree with him, to imply that the Book of Vile Darkness also represents a kind of advocacy on Valterra’s part (if even the BoEF can be called “advocacy;” it isn’t in any way clear that the book claims real-life goodness even for most of what it portrays) is silly. And “Vileterror”? Way to lend credibility to your position. I’m sure he’s never heard that one since sixth grade.

  3. I don’t want to turn this into some kind of political discussion, which is something the term “advocacy” is often associated with. As for having the first adult-themed RPG, it was going to happen eventually. Even I often joked that with the advent of OGL, someone is going to make RPG game of sex, although my mind was along the line of the BOOGIE NIGHT movie — the adult industry (PC play either a an adult film star or producer). Of course, anyone could have done such a product with previous open rules system (e.g., Dominion rules), d20 is the more familiar open ruleset. Will this going to tarnish the RPG industry and community? I doubt it. It’s about choice. If you want it, it’s there. If you don’t, then pass it the same way I pass all those WEG d6-based games. Besides, who says all of us game have to live a credo of being squeaky-clean roleplayers from the nerd/geek gene pool? Trust me, everything in the film REVENGE OF THE NERDS is all true. We’re very good at ORAL exams. Hehehe. 😉

  4. I think it’s the bravest thing in the rpg market for years…bravo.
    anyone remember barbara cartlands game of love from the mid-80’s?

  5. Hi everyone!

    I was one of the girls at the Valar booth during convention and am very good friends with Anthony “Vileterror.” After reading the comments I couldn’t help but call him and ask if he ever had that trouble in the sixth grade. While was never subject to that kind of trauma as a child, he did ask me to thank you, pd, for giving him far more credit than he deserves. He could only hope to have as much influence over the gaming community as you seem to think him currently capable of. so thank you!

    I have to admit that I was surprised at the amount of positive feedback we received at convention. I too was of the opinion that gaming geeks would never get the nerve to venture into such social realms. Boy was I wrong! Above all the women gamers out there loved it. Finally there was a rule book out there to cater to something outside of fighting. Besides, Dai Oni is absolutely right, its all about choice. The book, when it is released, will be shrink-wrapped and given warning labels. If you don’t want it, don’t buy it. If you don’t want your kids looking at the pictures, then don’t let them buy it. But I hope you’ll give the book a chance and check it out at

    Hope everyone has a great day!

  6. I enjoyed meeting you at the convention atchika, and I applaud you trying to stick up for your friend. I’m not sure you really want to stoop to the level of responding to the various trolls that live on the net.

    More and more I’m convinced that the internet just brings out the worst in folks, and the worst elements of the gaming group. For example, all the moaning and griping about 3.5 (or 3.0 for that matter) leading up to its release, and it doesn’t seem to have affected sales at all.

    It just seems that most people on the net don’t have anything worthwhile to say, so they simply gripe.

    Anyway, my point is, designers (and their friends) shouldn’t bother giving the opinions of net trolls the time of day. They’re not worth your time and they’re not representative of the larger gaming population. Instead designers should stay above the fray and not get involved. Responding only encourages these folks, and gives them the false impression their opinions are worth something.

    Personally, I don’t think I’m going to buy the book when it comes out. Its just not something I need a rule set for in my campaign. But I’m all for you folks making it available if people are willing to buy it.

  7. Adult-themed RPG??? Parents and educators were hard-pressed for an RPG that was suitable for youth LONG before the Book of Erotic Fantasy. Valar deserves praise for honest and APPROPRIATE marketing which is above and beyond the sloppy and covert tactics of most other RPG companies. It is no secret in the industry that sex and violence sells. So let’s be realistic about integrity and not put down one of the few RPG companies who are appropriately marketing their products to adults.

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