BEYOND D&D: QUEER GAMES
Written by: Shrimp Fried Dice
For Beyond D&D this month, I wanted to highlight some queer indie games as there is a whole world of queer game designers, and by extension, queer games. Games where queerness is centred in the design, baked into the mechanics and something that is frequently unavoidable during play.
The goal here is to highlight some LGBTQ+ Games that are genuinely great fun to play and provide inclusive frameworks that can be neglected and avoided in some TTRPG spaces.
To start: I want to acknowledge that just because a game has queer themes, inspirations and narrative beats doesn't mean that these games are exclusive to queer people - gaming is for everyone and I really do implore anyone who is interested in any of the games about to be mentioned to go and give it a shot. It does mean however, that some of these may be a little bit difficult to introduce to your table, however, most of the games about to be mentioned do have safety implementations and rules to make sure the games stay fun for all.
These games bring new concepts to gaming tables that can really help you find more games to fall in love with- narratively, mechanically or simply because it clicks with your gaming group!
Swords cross and hearts race…
Thirsty Sword Lesbians is a game using the Powered by the Apocalypse engine about narratively propelling and emotionally compelling sword fights, relationships and melodrama. It aimed to focus on queer-centric stories as the designer, April Kit Walsh, felt there was a gap in gaming, which was totally true. The game is focused on investing in narratives, your characters and creatively solving your problems through individual move-sets that open storytelling avenues!
Despite the name you do not need to be thirsty or a lesbian to play this game! You just have to be open to sword fights ending in kindness, emotional narratives, and having fun with friends!
The Year is 2069…The setting is Great Britain. The Tories have been in power since 2010.
Lichcraft is a rules-light game that uses the Forged in the Dark system about being a Trans person in the UK trying to access healthcare and turning to becoming a lich to achieve it.
It's a satirical look at the very real trans healthcare crisis in the UK however It's incredibly light-hearted and a right laugh to play. You collaboratively make a dystopian world, explore where your magic comes from in fantastical yet mundane settings while playing an individualistic spellcaster with the metaphors of undeath following your stories.
If this sounds interesting, definitely give it a go, you can play it with as few as 2 players - and you can grab it digitally too!
There are a lot of Bisexuals…
Visigoths vs Mallgoths is a game with dating simulation elements that splits the players into one of two character types- Visigoths, who are warriors that sacked ancient Rome and have time travelled to the 1990s; Or Mallgoths, your typical spooky teens.
The backdrop for your adventures is a suburban Los Angeles mall in the year 1996. With inspirations of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, and Clueless, Visigoths vs Mallgoths provides multiple maps, an Open World RPG inspired approach to storytelling and questing, as well as plenty of NPC Clerks to get to know (and possibly romance)!
Play as a queer and/or trans person who is (badly) processing a recent breakup
This Party Sucks is a game of honesty and tenderness of trying to navigate identity and confusing times as a 20-something-year-old. The game is a print-and-play zine that plays out across three acts and puts the players in a position to share the character of The Protagonist. This allows for an interesting atmosphere and shared storytelling as the game flows with the influences of each player's experiences guiding the main character.
A bit of a tonal shift here but games like This Party Sucks allow for emotional storytelling just as much as Thirsty Sword Lesbians, but reflect a much more realistic approach to reality- and when played in the right company can be really cathartic and funny as you play out a bit of a disaster character that as a group you build together!
A Game of Horror, Dreams and Summer Camp.
Our final game, Sleepaway is a horror game built on the Belonging outside Belonging system (coined by Avery Alder and Benjamin Rosenbaum) that follows the players as they all take on roles of summer camp counsellors of a particular camp that is haunted by an eldritch being known as the Lindworm, which represents themes of loss of identity and a variety of traumas of your choosing.
The game, being on a collaborative storytelling system, pises collaboration at its core. All players contribute to creating your world, the summer camp and its various quirks. The game utilises a deck of cards to act as prompts for both the players and the Lindworm, which acts on random occurrences. The game encourages questions to be asked and the vulnerability of the characters at play to careen its story along.
There's a lot in Sleepaway, but at its core, it's a game about belonging, while playing as a marginalised character in a temporarily safe space, defending yourself and others from an oppressive force.
This list is just a fraction of queer games! There's so many of them where designers are making spaces for queer stories to flourish, or personal memoirs to share with people.
Queer games are everywhere and are, in my opinion, pushing the boundaries of storytelling in TTRPGs. Which is ultimately just really cool to see. TTRPGs are more than dungeon delving and elves and dragons; I hope some of these gay-as-hell games that defy expectations of gaming tables took your fancy.
Want to look further beyond D&D? Check out the first article of the series; An Intro To Powered By The Apocalype, here!