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Thirsty Sword Lesbians
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Thirsty Sword Lesbians

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Swords Cross and Hearts Race...

A sword duel can end in kissing, a witch can gain her power by helping others find love, and an entire campaign can be built around vagabond matchmakers piloting their sentient gay spaceship from system to system. Even when swords are crossed, they have the potential to connect more deeply than anyone expects.

Thirsty Sword Lesbians celebrates the love, power, and existence of queer people. If you love roleplaying games and angsty disaster lesbians with swords, you’ve come to the right place. 

In this book, you’ll find:

  • Flirting, sword fighting, and zingers in a system designed for both narrative drama and player safety
  • An innovative take on the Powered by the Apocalypse family of games
  • Nine character types, each focusing on a particular emotional conflict
  • Guidance and support for running the game, including how to make appealing adversaries
  • Starting scenario seeds and multiple campaign settings
  • Variant rules to highlight different identities, emotional connections, and setting elements
  • Strategies to adapt any setting where swords cross and hearts race for thirsty sword lesbians

Ready? Let’s go!

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Reviews (2)
Discussions (14)
Customer avatar
Kelly W June 23, 2022 3:04 am UTC
Is this possible with 1gm and 2 players?
Customer avatar
Sean N June 23, 2022 5:58 pm UTC
Hi Kelly, yep. TSL works great with two players. It even works with a single player! April gives some advice on this in the supplement Advanced Lovers & Lesbians. I'll copy/past that advice here:

Two-Person Play If you want to play with just two people, you can either have one PC and one GM, or make two PCs and share the GM role of introducing complications
and narrating down beats for each other.

One PC, One GM
At character creation, invent two or three NPCs and answer the relationship questions for your playbook as if they were PCs. Assign them zero, one, or two starting Strings, as you would for a PC.

Without other PCs, you have fewer options for clearing Conditions, since no one can roll to give you Emotional Support. As a variant rule, each time that you are vulnerable with an NPC who is offering you emotional support, give them a String on you and pick an option from the Emotional Support move as if they were a PC who had rolled 7–9.

Two...See more
Customer avatar
Joan H May 16, 2022 1:51 pm UTC
I wish I could do this ... I wish I could buy this game and read it because I want to believe it's fun. PbtA-games often are.

But ...

I'm homosexual, and everything about this game, based on title and premise alone, turns my stomach on its head, plays hackey-sack with it and drop-kicks it into oblivion and here's why:

In a world where we, as members of the LGBTQIA+ community (henceforth simply the community), are vilified as "groomers" -by default-, and where the #metoo movement has amply demonstrated how objectification and hyper-sexualization of minorities by cishet people is a very real, lived problem, this game takes female homosexuality and turns it into a -feature- of the game.

In a world where female homosexuals are generally not even believed to exist in the gaming community, because we're usually assumed to be males with a fetish unless we either meet people face-to-face or provide more-or-less sleazy evidence of our gender on demand, this...See more
Customer avatar
Sean N May 16, 2022 5:03 pm UTC
Hi Joan, as project manager of the project, having worked with all the creators, I can say every person on this project came to it from a place of love and a desire to be seen. Thirsty Sword Lesbians is all about embracing and celebrating queer love and making space for those stories. There are free community copies available on I'd welcome you to get a free copy of the PDF and review it for yourself.
Customer avatar
Joan H May 16, 2022 6:33 pm UTC
Thank you for the reply, Sean.

I've done as you suggested, though I admit I do so with -tremendous- hesitation and with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I will look at the rules and give them a once-over but honestly, the -first- thing I spot when opening the playbooks is the Scoundrel and I cannot say that the whole "revealing attire"-thing is exactly helping me feel less apprehensive about it, or any less sure that my initial reaction was the correct one. But ... as I said ... I'll read through this and leave a review based on what I find, when eventually I'm done with it.
Customer avatar
Joan H May 17, 2022 5:55 pm UTC
I have read through it now.

I must say ... words fail me. I said I'd leave a review but I can't bring myself to do so. Once I got to page 11 and read that, I felt a sinking sensation in my stomach, that anyone would be so naive. Do people really -believe- this is going to be respected by the bros and the bastards out there?

The glossary, the paragraphs on trans characters and the inclusive language are clear and definite positives. I will say that. But this game ... no.

A game where, conceivably, you can convince the big, bad TERF villain that they were right all along with a romantic, swashbuckling kiss in the middle of a Gilbert & Sullivan-style, chandelier-swinging scene?

What is this? Tales from the Floating Vagabond: The Gay Years?!

I think I can see what it is the creators have -tried- to do, but the sad fact remains that making light of the absolutely horrific tragedies that so many of us have to live with every day of our lives, with...See more
Customer avatar
Sean N May 17, 2022 6:08 pm UTC
Hi Joan, thank you for taking the time to read through the book. I'm so sad to hear you feel the game is awful. It was created by all queer team who were speaking their truths and celebrating their identity and community. Many (maybe all) are activist that work to make the world safer for for people at the intersections of many marginalized communities. I am sorry that you see it as something harmful, but please know it comes from a place of love.
Customer avatar
Jesse H May 28, 2022 9:44 am UTC
"It's not a joke. It's life-or-death. It's people trying to kill us for who we are. It's denying our most basic human rights."

Most people play games to escape from reality, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's healthy.
Customer avatar
Szjudo G May 08, 2022 4:17 pm UTC
I am writing this with all due respect, I am a bisexual person myself. I would like to ask if I have found a double standard by chance. In the described magic cafe setting one of the adventure ideas is something like that "Cishets came to your cafe during the speed-dating event and they want to have heterosexual relationships, see if you have enough magic to awaken queer in them?" In the LGBTQ + world, saying and trying to change someone's orientation (especially without the knowledge and consent of that person) is a big no no. Why did the author of this idea think that it would be a cool idea if we use it on people who are straight.
Customer avatar
Sean N May 09, 2022 4:22 pm UTC
Hi Szjudo, thanks for reaching out and bringing this up. I think Lesbeans Coffeehouse is a setting similar to The L Word or Our Flag Means Death that envisions a world where everyone is at least a little bit (and sometimes a lot bit) queer. A vast majority of the book works to be as inclusive as possible, including the sections early on about building consent and using safety tools and the sections that include "What if...not Thirsty?" and "What if...not Lesbian?" which make space for folks playing the game to adjust it to their comfort level. In the context of this larger inclusive work, the author made a bold assertion that we feel punches up rather than down, and we support them in doing so. We believe the rest of the book prepares the reader and/or players to see the good faith in the writing, to adopt the premise if everyone at the table is comfortable with it, and to adjust it or use another one of the settings if not. To address your concern at the end, I don't think any of the authors...See more
Customer avatar
Patrick B August 09, 2021 3:40 pm UTC
The kickstarter for this game said "The game plays with themes that are common for all sorts of people who are marginalized on the basis of gender and sexuality" and my question about that is how strongly emphasized is the "on the basis of gender and sexuality" part? My partner and I are a heterosexual couple that duo RPGs together and the swashbuckling romance appeals to us as well as playing with themes of people who are marginalized because we fall into that category ourselves with both of us being disabled. So I'm wondering if this can be turned into Thirsty Sword Disabled People. I know the game description said you could be thirsty sword cishets, but that would be throwing out the themes of marginalization. We don't want to do that, we want to keep the theme but change it to our form of marginalization rather than marginalization by sexuality. Does the game support that?
Customer avatar
Sean N August 09, 2021 6:49 pm UTC
Hi Patrick,

While April's emphasis in this game is about creating a game that celebrates queer love, she took a lot of effort to make spaces for people at the intersection of many different marginalized identities to find parts of the game where they could see themselves. One section that we reference often is the Adjusting the Premise in the Customizing your Game chapter on page 194. There April discusses changing the games to meet your needs in the game, including headers of What if...Not Magic? What if...Not Thirsty? What if...Not Swords? and What if...Not Lesbians?
Customer avatar
frankz B July 10, 2021 8:24 pm UTC
I want to start off by saying that while did not purchase this book at drive-thru rpg a wonderful friend bought it for me unfortunately I find this book is to be really problematic and I would not recommend. It triggered my dysphoria as well as another players. The way non-binary identities are addressed comes of as very appropriative, fetishistic, and “girl 2.0”. The one single NPC that uses he/him pronouns is an antagonist, I myself am an afab that uses he/they pronouns so I find this really distressing. I would complain about how trans-masculintity is non-existant but the way they treat trans-femininity is atrocious 95% of the characters adhere to hetero/cisnormative feminine presentation (this is a problem with NPcs as well as the artwork) and those that don’t are few and far between shoved into the background, . My group is 80% trans and enby people they all felt the same way after reading through it, this book came off as very exclusionary to all of us. If you’re a butch transwoman, an enby who...See more
Customer avatar
Sean N July 10, 2021 10:12 pm UTC
Hi frankz B, thank you for sharing this. The team that created Thirsty Sword Lesbians includes many trans and non-binary creators throughout the project including writing, sensitivity reading, and art development. The intent was to create a game that is inclusive to many queer identities and I'm sad to hear that you and your group don't feel seen or represented in the book. That said, our hope is that Thirsty Sword Lesbians is not seen as THE definitive queer focused RPG but that it belongs in a large body of work that continues to grow in breadth and representation.
Customer avatar
David V June 27, 2021 12:31 am UTC
I like how the game uses the Apocalypse framework to bring forward player actions like Flirt and center them in play instead of having these things hang off of a generic Charisma stat. If you like the Blue Rose setting for its inclusivity but want more modern settings, this content will appeal to you.
I did find the use of generic 'cishet' for the antagonists in one of the setting descriptions to be offputting. It seemed (to me at least) to cut against the grain of inclusivity that the book was trying to achieve. It seemed to pull the content away from "let's celebrate who we are and what our stories can be" towards "our queer clubhouse, no cishets allowed". It would be easy to fix, and in general would be a nod towards acknowledging straight people as friends and supporters, not interlopers.
Customer avatar
Adrian S June 21, 2021 10:26 am UTC
I have a question about the print-on-demand product. Is this the regular size for gaming books, or more hardcover novel, digest size? It's an odd question, but for some reason my brain sees this in the same size as Bubble Gum Shoe, Summerlands, and Dresden Accelerated. Not sure why, though.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 21, 2021 3:15 pm UTC
96% or so of our product catalog is in the 6"x9" format, which might be what you mean as "digest size" (which for me has always meant 5.5x8.5, which has more of an impact on narrowing the usable text area than you might initially suspect). TSL is also 6x9 — like, as you note, BGS and DFA, but also like Fate Core, Monster of the Week, Blades in the Dark, etc, etc.

Outside of the D&D/traditional games space, 6x9 is more of a "regular size" than the 8.5x11 you're calling regular size. :)
Customer avatar
Adrian S June 22, 2021 11:56 am UTC
Thanks for clarifying, this is fantastic. I like this 6x9 size for gaming books, sorry for the imprecise format words, but this clears up my question very nicely.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 22, 2021 3:17 pm UTC
My pleasure. :)
Customer avatar
Phillip G June 15, 2021 3:24 am UTC
Thank you for form fillable playbooks. I know it's a small thing, but I really appreciate it and I know my players do as well.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 15, 2021 3:26 pm UTC
My pleasure! Feels especially crucial for games in the PBTA family, IMO. (We've also got a full implementation of the playbooks on Roll20.)
Customer avatar
Phillip G June 15, 2021 12:14 am UTC
So far this is possibly the best swashbuckling adventure rpg I have encountered. My only complaint is that one of the moves for the beast playbook has an offensive name that may upset some of my players.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 15, 2021 12:19 am UTC
That was a reappropriative use of the term by the author. I hope it's seen as an in-community use (as that is its context) rather than a slur by an outsider!
Customer avatar
Phillip G June 15, 2021 12:23 am UTC
I understand the intent, but unfortunately, certain words may have a traumatic history for some players and that comes as a bit of a curveball after the game having done such an amazing job of being sensitive.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 15, 2021 1:24 am UTC
No argument to that, but same time, I wasn't going to tell the author she couldn't reappropriate terms that are hers to reappropriate. Not my place. The game's her vision.
Customer avatar
Grant H June 14, 2021 2:01 am UTC
I was here for all the comments and oh boy were people mad. It's rather amazing, we've got games on Drivethru that glorify Murder, Sexual Violence, Slavery and yet the game that says "Yay gays!" is just a step too far for some people.

I actually got the book on early access although I missed the actual kickstarter. I was wondering, as a cis male who has had shall we say 'minimal' exposure to the LGBT community but has several gay players and friends who've expressed interested in this game. Do you have any tips or resources that you'd recommend someone like me to look at to properly represent these groups. One of my greatest fears is for my ignorance to result in hurting someone's feelings.

You might have already listed some resources in the book itself but I forget! If so if you could just give me the page that'd be swell.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 14, 2021 2:51 am UTC
Hey there, the game contains a lot of what you're looking for. Check out the GMing chapter (page 84) which is chock full of advice on how to run the game thoughtfully and considerately. If you're concerned that you're not a fit for the defaults of the game, also check out Adjusting the Premise on page 194.
Customer avatar
Grant H June 14, 2021 3:14 am UTC
Thank you! I figured there was a section on advice but I forgot where, I really should go over the book it's been awhile. And while I'm not a fit for the default premise my players definitely would be. I'm the only person they know who runs things that aren't exclusively 5e and I'd like to put together something they'd enjoy. So that's why making sure I can run it thoughtfully and considerately as you put is on my mind. But yeah I'll definitely give it a reread, thank you!
Customer avatar
Brett K June 11, 2021 8:44 am UTC
Just had to look at this a little more after it popped into my periphery.

Not my cup of tea, but it is interesting to see such things exist. I'll just keep to having my characters just be NB.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 11, 2021 1:59 pm UTC
FWIW, from the book: "What if... not Lesbians? We’ll let you in on a secret: you don’t have to play a lesbian. The game plays with themes that are common for all sorts of people who are marginalized on the basis of gender and sexuality, as well as feelings that go beyond the queer experience. If you want to play thirsty sword cishets, we’re not going to stop you—just don’t be surprised if the game turns them queer."
Customer avatar
Brett K June 13, 2021 8:19 am UTC
Thank you for the response, but the game just isn't for me. Even though I am NB, the game just doesn't interest me. I do hope it does well though.
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 13, 2021 3:37 pm UTC
No worries, Brett. Thanks for dropping by!
Customer avatar
Christopher D June 09, 2021 2:50 am UTC
The book has been up for how long and then this message from staff... and now only 3 comments remain? Jesus.
That's... wow.
If it's preemptive that makes more sense but this pushed that many people's buttons?
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 09, 2021 3:18 pm UTC
There were a handful of comments from less than a handful of armchair philosophers of the "if you're against bigots and fascists, then you are yourself a bigoted fascist" camp of... let's call it "logic". Mostly it looked like they were mad the book existed.

But enough about them. Any questions about the book we can answer for you?
Customer avatar
Christopher D June 09, 2021 8:02 pm UTC
Can you play Bisexuals or it is it only lesbians? Also how does the games use of Apocalypse World vary from other interpretations?
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 09, 2021 8:29 pm UTC
Tons of info is available on the game's Kickstarter page specifically about these questions, you may do better reading there, but I'll see what I can pull together to address your questions. In the interim:
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 09, 2021 8:30 pm UTC
Re: "Can you play Bisexuals or is it only lesbians?", this excerpt:

"What if... not Thirsty? The game fundamentally assumes that the characters crave connection, but that connection doesn’t need to be sexual or romantic. We offer you options for changing how the game addresses connection in our variant rules section.

What if... not Swords? It’s simple enough to swap out a different hand-to-hand combat option. Your campaign or your character can use a labrys, the double-bladed axe that became a lesbian icon in the late 20th century. You can use different styles of unarmed combat or even grapple using telepathic self-projections. It’s also possible to replace the swords with mecha, starships, or guns, but it requires some thought and the book will help you think about how to ensure that it stays intimate and relationship-focused. The conflict doesn’t have to be physically violent, either; you can use any kind of conflict that’s adrenaline-inducing and close-quarters....See more
Customer avatar
Fred Hicks ( June 09, 2021 8:34 pm UTC
Re: "How does the games use of Apocalypse World vary from other interpretations?"

I'll first note that every single PBTA game, if doing it right, custom fits rules and moves to suit the premise and goals of the game. PBTA is more a method of game construction than a prescription of specific moves and so forth.

As to how it differs, there's lots to get into there. I'd recommend you take a look at the free downloadable handouts from our website as a starting point — here's a link straight to the handouts:

The resource page contains more than that tho, including playbooks and so forth that may give you additional insight:
Customer avatar
Meredith G June 08, 2021 8:19 pm UTC
Hey friends!
Any comments that do not generate discussion about the book itself in a constructive way will be deleted. Thank you!
Customer avatar
Phavina L June 07, 2021 9:09 pm UTC
Just purchased! After reading into it, this seems right up my alley, and I'm super excited to play an adventure in this with my group.

Thank you for making ttrpg systems less bigoted and more inclusive. Thank you for Page 198 and the Glossary. Looking forward to seeing other inclusive ttrpgs your team may publish!
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This title was added to our catalog on June 07, 2021.