Reality Makes the Best Fantasy: Aphrodisiacs

'The Merchant's Wife' by Boris Kustodiev. Watermelons are considered an aphrodisiac by some.
‘The Merchant’s Wife’ by Boris Kustodiev. Watermelons are considered an aphrodisiac by some.

Note: This article deals with things of a sexual nature. You have been warned.

*cue Barry White*

Aww yeah. You know what I’m talking about.

Many substances are supposed to help get people ‘in the mood’, and when I say ‘in the mood’ I mean the mood to have sex. The pressures of life with its anxieties, the weariness one feels after a hard days work, the ingesting of a rather delicious but perhaps too large burrito…many of these can be dampeners of the mood we hope to be in while adjacent to people we desire. Sometimes one person is ready to go but the timing is off. It’s just not really what they’re down for at the moment.

Enter aphrodisiacs. Throughout history people have reported certain things can increase libido, by suggesting sexual parts of the body, by perhaps delivering nutrients, hormones or other chemicals that tell your brain ‘ACTIVATE NETHERS.’ Some say arousal and sexual desire is more complicated than just eating a gallon of raw oysters and jumping into bed while others swear by the lusty effects of powdered deer parts, ground chilies, melted chocolate, juicy figs and other things that activate all your senses.

People want to enhance everything we get our hands on and sex is no exception. For many sex is an important part of life and we want it to be the best it can be, for all parties involved. Some want to be the best and if that means snorting a dilution of whale penis up your nose, then by Kord, bring on the whale penis. Many want harmony in the home and a happy and satisfying sex life can contribute to that. Some might think a romp enjoyed by all might increase the chances of having children while might others being amazing in the bedroom might garner favors in public society. If it takes a hack to ensure any of these, many people would be willing to try it at least once.

If there are people in your campaign, chances are some of them are having sex and some of them might want to enhance their drive, the drive of others or the performance itself. Love will drive people to do crazy things but sex? Well, look up a list of aphrodisiacs and you’ll see.

For GMs

  • What are well known aphrodisiacs in the culture? Less well known aphrodisiacs? Are the aphrodisiacs for all sexes or just for one in particular?
  • Who prescribes aphrodisiacs? Doctors? Herbalists? Midwives? Do they also make the concoctions themselves or do they hand their patients a shopping list and make them obtain the ingredients?
  • Are aphrodisiacs and sex drive spoken of openly in the culture or is it something handled behind closed doors?
  • Who is supposed to take the reigns when it comes to making sure all parties involved in the bedroom are satisfied? Who’s in charge of ‘stoking the fire’?
  • What benefits are associated with a healthy libido?
  • Where are these aphrodisiacs obtained? How do the aphrodisiacs supposedly work? Why do they work?
  • Are aphrodisiacs expensive? Who has access to them? What are some of the more hard to obtain substances? The ones people grow in their backyards?

Plot Hooks

  • A clergy member claims the deities have given them a recipe for a sacred aphrodisiac that will bless the beds of all who partake of it. The concoction is available only at the temple. The PCs are sent to investigate the mixture and its effects. Who sends them to investigate? What is the concoction? What are its exact effects? Who is buying it and is it working? Is the potion actually blessed or is something else at play?
  • When couples are found dead in their beds, further investigation points to an aphrodisiac being the cause of death. The PCs are sent to find out where the substance is coming from and prevent further deaths from occurring. What is the substance? Does it kill everyone that uses it or is something else at play?
  • A certain animal is being found mutilated in the woods, left to die after certain parts of it are removed. A poacher reveals the parts are being used for very expensive aphrodisiacs that are sent to another region where the people pay top dollar. The PCs must try to stop the poachers and deal with the demand for the aphrodisiac. What parts of the animal are used? What are the effects? What will happen if the supply suddenly stops? How badly is this substance wanted and how badly do poachers want to cash in?
  • After letting a huge shipment of an aphrodisiac across the border, the PCs get wind of a plan to ‘poison’ the capitol city’s water supply with the substance to distract key portions of the populace so usurpers can sneak in. The PCs must try to intercept the caravan without their superiors knowing they dropped the ball and in time to foil the lustful plans. What is the substance? Who is planning on carrying it out? How likely is the plan to succeed?
  • An important official needs the ingredients for a powerful aphrodisiac in the hopes that it will secure them an heir. The PCs are sent to retrieve the ingredients discretely in order to maintain the dignity and privacy of the household. Why are the PCs chosen? What must they obtain? What is their cover? What do they stand to gain by helping this individual?
  • When a conservative faction bans foods that are suggestive in nature the PCs start smuggling them into the country to meet demand. What kind of foods are banned? What are the penalties for being caught with such foods? What is the faction trying to accomplish by banning these foods? What are the results of these fruits becoming forbidden?

For PCs

  • Do you consider yourself a sexual person?
  • Do you pay attention to your sex drive? The sex drives of others?
  • Do you think that aphrodisiacs work? What do you think imbues them with their properties? Is it divine? Psycological? Natural?
  • Do you think of a lack of libido as something normal to experience or an indication of something being wrong?
  • Would you take a substance said to be an aphrodisiac on someone’s word? Or are you wary around such things?

What say you? How can you spice up your next campaign?

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