About a year ago, I backed the Kickstarter for Shadow of the Demon Lord, a dark fantasy/horror RPG from Rob Schwalb, who’s done a lot of great stuff in games. The rewards for the Kickstarter seem to keep coming in, the latest being a novice adventure called One Perfect Moment, written by Colin McComb.
This post isn’t a review of that adventure, but an expression of disappointment about some of its content. Now, Demon Lord is a dark game, as I mentioned, and includes some elements that some gamers may consider disturbing or that crosses a line. And, to be clear, I’m okay with most of it. Some of the artwork in the books and adventures is pretty gross, but may be considered contextually appropriate.
I skimmed through the adventure when I first got it, noting some of the plot points and such. And adventure-wise, it’s fine. There is mention in the module [SPOILER ALERT] of an orgy, and it’s only mentioned very briefly.
My complaint, however, is that on one of the pages, there’s a half-page piece of art that is straight-up pornographic: naked bodies engaged in various sexual acts. There’s nothing demure or coy about it; there’s no suggestiveness or cleverly-placed elements. It’s just there, and lots of it.
I get that Demon Lord is a game system with mature elements. And I suppose that someone might conclude that if you’re going to include artwork that portrays violence, like severed body parts, gouged-out eyes, and the like, that pornography is part and parcel to that whole sphere, so why not include it?
But I think we all know, or have at least observed, that violent imagery doesn’t have the same kind of arousal effect as sexual imagery. (I can do without the violent imagery in the material as well, but that’s another discussion.) It just strikes my as a gratuitous and unnecessary addition to the adventure material. It doesn’t add anything, and feels a lot like a case of “let’s see if I can get away with this”.
For me, this has crossed a line, and I won’t be including this adventure in my library. I’m really disappointed.