Sunlight is the Best Disinfectant (NSFW)


Sarah Darkmagic - Posted on 31 August 2015

Content Note: Rape, Sexual Assault

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” - Justice Louis D. Brandeis

Recently a product was added to DriveThruRPG that has caused quite a bit of controversy. The pdf, "The Tournament of Rapists," claims to detail a group of sexual predators who all participate in contest (with a multi-billion yen fight purse) in which they kill and rape to win.

The Tournament of Rapists details the sadistic Rape Pure Fight circuit, expanding on what you've seen already and introducing dangerous new sexual predators. The sadistic bloodsport takes place in abandoned office buildings and atop Tokyo rooftops. An assortment of superhumanly powerful and inhumanly misogynistic men, and even worse women, step into impromptu fighting arenas, killing and raping the weaker in search of a multi-billion yen fight purse provided by a half-oni billionaire in thrall to dark impulses.

I'm not going to sugarcoat things. This is horrendous in and of itself, and people were right to complain about it, especially when it originally was added to the store with the Pathfinder flag set even though it violates the Pathfinder guidelines. However, as is often the case in situations like these, the response from DriveThruRPG was worse than the original incident.

For days I read comments on social media from an employee at the company. I want to make it clear that he said we as speaking for himself, not the company, and I will not directly quote him here or release his name. However, he was speaking about the concepts that surround this controversy, specifically that people pointing out that this existed were doing the wrong thing and questioning whether or not they or anyone should be gatekeepers of content. That's right, he was blaming the people offended by this pdf. One of the claims he and others made would be that if people didn't comment on it, it would just fade into obscurity and that the creator would realize it wasn't profitable and hopefully stop.

Except there's one glaring issue with this. As the product copy says, this pdf "expand[s] on what you've seen already and introduc[es] dangerous new sexual predators." This means that there are already sexual predators in the setting and this work is just an expansion of that. While it doesn't mention it in the copy, this sourcebook is part of the Black Tokyo setting. It's hard to know exactly which books are part of Black Tokyo on DriveThruRPG, but when I search for Tokyo and Urf, I get 43 items.

One item on the list is Black Tokyo: Chastity and Depravity. The product copy for that book starts with:

Black Tokyo began as a passing whim, evolved into a complete gaming supplement, and somehow, against all the odds, became one of the best selling products ever released by either Skortched Urf Studios or the fledgling Otherverse Games. Despite the extreme subject matter, and adults only purchasing restrictions, Black Tokyo has sold... and sold... and sold some more. So we are now pleased to announce the long-awaited follow up to Black Tokyo

Another work in the game is Black Tokyo Legends -Sex and Story. Here's the product copy for that book.

Sexuality defines Black Tokyo- enjoying wet pleasure with willing (or not) new lovers, exploring the limits of the body and the limits of morality itself are as important of challenges as slaying oni and battling Amakaze minions. Convincing a cute 19 year old bishonen to offer you his virginity is a function of social skills- especially Diplomacy, though less honorable and more sexually predatory characters can try their luck with Bluff or Intimidate.

The Tournament of Rapists is not the first work in which rape is made a part of the game. Across multiple product descriptions, part of the setting is that the PCs don't have to be good people. This is definitely true in The Tournament. The text allows for PCs to join in the bloodsport or otherwise ally with the participants and it's not even clear that they would have to fight the characters listed therein. So people who are trying to position this book as a group of bad guys that the PCs are to fight against are just flat wrong. While groups can decide to use it that way, it's not a position the work itself takes.

Finally, I think it's important to understand what is actually in the book. Especially for people who like to "give the benefit of the doubt," it's easy to argue that what is in the book can't possibly be that bad and believe that like many other works that deal with adult content, there is a fade to black before things get really bad. So here are a few examples.

Phallic Swarm

They have an ability called Triggering:

Phallic Swarms are basically the raw concept of rape incarnated, and are especially fearsome enemies to those who have suffered previous sexual abuse. Any creature that has ever been raped or sexually abused is considered paralyzed for 1 round if it falls victim to the Phallic Swarm's distraction ability.

That's right, they made PTSD into a mechanic. Also note how under Melee, they do 1d8 pleasure damage. WTF?

MRA Woman-Breaker

Oh look, an MRA character that just had to go to Black Tokyo to participate in the competition because it's everything he's ever wanted. Charming! But also notice that none of this description undercuts the MRA. For instance, his sense of fragile superiority gives him an actual bonus against women. It's not included in this screenshot but the text also says he's handsome, even saying "of course he is."

Why go through this exercise? Because it's important to understand the actual product and the fact that it comes from a setting with other products that explore these same concepts before we can discuss the impact of the comments, especially those made on twitter by the CEO of DriveThruRPG. You can see the majority of those comments in this post.

First, notice that the Pathfinder tag and age restrictions were added by DriveThruRPG, I believe after the initial round of complaints. Had no one said anything, I believe it's likely it would have stayed as originally submitted, but I may be wrong on that.

Then we get this interchange between Jessica Price and Steve Wieck.

I'm going to give Steve the benefit of the doubt and suggest that he may have believed the false narrative that this is a book of bad guys for the PCs to beat up. However, that doesn't excuse the actual response in the context of the original question. If that is what he was thinking, then he should have responded, "Hey, I think there's a misunderstanding here..." and stated his understanding of the product. Instead, this seems to perform a false equivalence on the two types of adventures, suggesting that to ban on would necessitate the ban on the other.

This is the comment that made me decide not to use DriveThruRPG or the family of OneBookshelf in the future. The argument here is just maddening and shows that he not only doesn't understand the product he is defending but also that he fails to understand the objections to said product. The Tournament goes multiple standard deviations beyond the Book of Vile Darkness, so much so that the only proper first response to this tweet is to roll on the floor laughing.

I get that with Twitter it's hard to have nuanced arguments, but then the best thing to do is not to get into them on Twitter. And if you decide to anyway, it might be a good idea to make sure you understand both the work and the arguments being made by the other people. In addition, try not to make false equivalencies during your argument or oversimplify if what you are arguing is that the other people are oversimplifying.

Additionally, don't make arguments that ignoring a product will make it go away when it's clear that the product in question is a continuation of previous products that people have ignored that had similar themes. It's already clear that the publisher is not going to cease creating this type of product. And even if it was created solely for the purpose of getting attention (I'd argue that is possible since it seems to be the first work in the series that doesn't have the author's name on the cover), understand that ignoring it doesn't suddenly make our community better. Instead, what will happen is that it will be whispered about among those who are offended and even harmed by it and one day the whispers will get out and everyone else will feel blindsided and argue that such things can't possibly exist.

I care less about the arguments over whether or not the ban the product than I do this hurtful reaction that happens nearly every time something like this happens. Please, stop blaming the people who are harmed by the product and get educated on the issues so you can discuss this without doing even more harm.

Send feedback using the contact form or through twitter, @sarahdarkmagic.

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