Inside The Brothels Of Final Fantasy XIV on ffxivbook

The madam Queen Tepe met me near a bustling harbor in Final Fantasy XIV. “Will you be coming to the mansion?” she asked me. “I’d appreciate an escort,” I responded. Moments later, I’d meet five of them.

Tepe runs a seaside brothel on the FFXIV server Hyperion. These 18+ love dens exist on the raunchy role-play server Balmung and the populous server Leviathan as well. In them, players offer erotic role-play in exchange for lofty fees. In private rooms, cat girls sprawl out on beds with elves, humans, blue-skinned giants and other fantastical races playing out fantasies ranging from lighter bondage fare to all things tentacles. Anything is possible in text chat, and what can’t be conveyed in words is conveyed through emotes like /hug and /doze.

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Tepe and I rode to her brothel, Tepe’s Treasures, on the back of a feathered, white bird. Dressed in sunglasses and a red and black patched military-style jacket, Tepe looks more the part of a general than a madam. On our way, she told me that the idea to run a literal cathouse in-game started as a joke, a sort of what-if scenario that she laughingly made manifest three years ago. Tepe’s old guild accommodated the best it could, charging a meager 15,000 gil for intimate play. The front quickly attracted a serious following. As time passed, Tepe realized she had to take it seriously, too. Diligently, Tepe began researching erotic role-play (ERP), fetishes and brothel-running protocols.

“I never half-ass anything,” she said.

Queen Tepe

Tepe led me into the mansion and as the doors opened, five courtesans perched on a table slowly revealed themselves, each wearing uniforms matching Tepe’s. “How may we help you?” one said. The brothel was in service. In that two-hour window, Tepe explained, “people can come in with scarcely a waiting period” to visit whichever of Tepe’s 40 courtesans were online. Clients staying for thirty minutes would pay half the 100,000 gil fee upfront. Downstairs, dozens of private rooms designed by those same courtesans, in the style of a wooded hot tub enclave or a luxury hotel room, were available for intimate affairs.

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Dorothy Haze, a courtesan who dutifully followed us on our tour of the mansion, had only two weeks working for Tepe under her belt, but said she’d made 4.4 million gil in clients—granted, that’s only about $12 if purchased from a gil-farming site, but a large in-game sum by many players’ standards. Players who aren’t available to actively ERP will undress their avatars and program them to dance on stage for a couple of hours while they’re away from their computers, receiving as much as 10,000 gil an hour for it. The money these courtesans make, many told me, goes right back into decorating their rooms or is transformed into gifts, like weapons or clothes, for their online friends. Tepe is upfront about what she does with her cut of the take. “I spend it all on my girls.”

Queen Tepe and Dorothy

I asked two FFXIV courtesans on another server to show me how a for-money ERP session would typically begin. Here’s what they wrote.

Inside The Brothels Of Final Fantasy XIV on ffxivbook

He would slowly turn his gaze toward Vel, a soft smile forming across his lips. His arm nearest her would slowly rise up to run his palm along the center of her back as he eased in closer to place a small kiss upon her cheek.

Mr. M

Inside The Brothels Of Final Fantasy XIV on ffxivbook

Her ears fold back gently as she tries to hid the blush forming on her cheeks, tail swishing slowly behind her as she leans her head to him, a small smirk growing on her glossed lips.

Ms. k

Despite appearances, FFXIV courtesans don’t turn tricks on wordplay alone. Never had I met an avatar as expressive as Tepe. Her mastery of the game’s emote system was clear. There were no noticeable pauses between her avatar’s brash, confident writing and motions of “struts like a songbird,” “beams with delight,” or “does the Ranger Red pose.” Moment-to-moment, her avatar felt more like a live-action anime character, as opposed to anything that had ever gone on a quest or leveled up.

Rooster Lollipops

I was awed by the lengths to which these online courtesans had gone to create this illusion. My only lingering question was: Who does this?

When I asked around, the courtesan Johbi’ya Jhosre said he got into for-money ERP through his IRL partner of ten years. Jhorse’s partner, he told me, plays “a female courtesan that is married to the female miqo’te over there,” she said, gesturing to a player portraying one of the game’s cat-like race of avatars. “We’ve always maintained that in-game is not IRL,” he said.

Jhosre says that ERP gives him a chance to shed inhibitions he has and make a few friends along the way. Ms. K told me that she’s actually trained as an IRL dominatrix and has picked up a few extra bucks flogging and spanking people after her day job. Since she already has an outlet for her sexuality, she says, her sex work in FFXIV provides an outlet for her writing.

Tepe’s Treasures

On the Leviathan server, a blond madam in a red coat with tails by the name of Mistress led me on a tour of her brothel’s library, showroom and private chambers. The mansion had a burgundy hue, embellished with gold and furs. In most rooms, sparkling cakes and treats were laid out. She referred to her courtesans as “the entertainment.” Up front, johns approach Mistress’s call girls and boys with specific requests and fetishes. The madam accommodates, matching customers to courtesans who might share their interests.

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The brothel is the flip side of the Leviathan server’s mafia, a group of players who role-play gangsters. Behind the basement stage, where a dancing cat girl in a black bikini churned through her routine, was the mafia’s “sweatshop.” There, players crafted “bootleg” items that, because it’s a game, actually work. When I was introduced to the brothel’s godfather, he sat alone in an oxblood-colored room, contemplating a fire. I asked whether I could talk to him about the sex industry in FFXIV. All he said was, “We just provide entertainment.”

Mr. M and Ms. K

The courtesans don’t disclose their real-life genders, even when asked. “If you’re a guy playing a female character, that’s your character. It shouldn’t matter to the client what your actual gender is,” Mistress explained. “That’s our main rule.” Mistress, who said she is a stay-at-home mom with a 14-month old, said she had “no reservations” about starting the brothel and spends her days kicking back with a glass of wine and enjoying her empire.

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Sex workers on FFXIV tend to be open about what’s off the table for them. It isn’t much: often, dismemberment, mutilation, necrophilia and what’s referred to as “age-play,” or sex between avatars of wildly different ages. Would-be customers playing as the FFXIV race Lalafell, who resemble toddlers, are rarely serviced. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Ms. K said that, once, when somebody asked for an age-play session, “I looked at the screen, I smirked and I played straight through it.”

At the end my tour of Tepe’s Treasures on Hyperion, Tepe confided that she had never had an interest in ERP before she’d started the brothel.

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“I used to think this was just ‘Smut for losers who can’t get a real girl,’ like most people,” she said. Now, she said, she gets it. It’s not about getting off, at least not entirely. It’s an expert mode challenge not entirely unlike finishing a high-level raid, though in this case, it’s solving a writing puzzle that the game empowers even if it doesn’t explicitly endorse.

“Half the times a client comes in here, I have no sexual interest in their fetishes,” she said. “I do it anyways, I learn their fetishes, figure out what makes them tick, and try to write it so well that nobody would know it wasn’t my fetish.”

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This Week's Final Fantasy XIV Patch Is Pretty Exciting – ffxivbook.com

Final Fantasy XIV gets its biggest update since the Stormblood expansion tomorrow, with the launch of patch 4.1, “The Legend Returns.” Not only are players getting new player housing, NPC dungeons and a continuation of the main storyline, they’re also taking a trip to Final Fantasy XII’s Rabenastre, courtesy of guest creator Yasumi Matsuno.

When we last left our stalwart warriors of light, they’d just finished performing some pretty amazing feats during the end of Stormblood’s main storyline. My character, the Red Mage Clan Destine, has basically been sitting still since she completed the liberation of Ala Mhigo, with the occasional break to mingle with some Yokai.

But that all changes tomorrow. With the 4.1 patch it’s time to figure out what the citizens and leaders of the newly-liberated city state are going to do next. The best thing about Final Fantasy XIV’s ongoing story is that it goes on long after a non-MMO’s credits would have rolled. I’m looking forward to seeing where the plot takes my godlike conquerer next.

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Even more exciting than that, however, is the “Return to Ivalice” alliance raid event. It’s penned by Yasumi Matsuno, writer of games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII. Matsuno’s adventure takes players to the legendary land of Ivalice, where the aforementioned games are set, where they’ll do battle with creatures designed by prolific Japanese designer Keita Amemiya.

I’m also looking forward to finally being able to bring my Adventure Squadron into battle. Players have spent the past several months sending groups of recruited non-player character adventurers out on timed missions. With patch 4.1, players can now take their team out into select dungeons, fighting by their side while issuing commands.

And for those who enjoy spending virtual currency on things that ultimately do not matter, the new housing area opens tomorrow, offering players and free companies the opportunity to desperately attempt to secure one of a limited number of real estate plots.

There’s also new raid encounters, revamped combat mechanics, treasure hunting, the return of fan-favorite inspector Hildibrand Manderville, new minions, hairstyles, emotes and much, much more. Check out the official “The Legend Returns” website for a full accounting of the new stuff.

I guess I will see some of you in Eorzea (and beyond) tomorrow, as my free company leader hunted me down on Twitter to drag me back.

ffxivbook – Another Final Fantasy XIV Player Housing Nightmare [Update]

Several small plots were still available on Goblin around noon, but they are tiny and sad.

Today’s 4.1 update to Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood introduced new player housing in the scenic, Far Eastern-themed district of Shirogane. Servers went online at 6AM, putting 720 new housing plots on the market. The choicest locations were gone before many players could even clear the login queue.

In order to acquire one of the new housing plots, players had to be fast. Grabbing one involves making their way as quickly as possibly to the area their preferred plot is located in and staking a claim before anyone else. One helpful tip circulating for players hoping to score a home this morning involves setting their character to busy, so other players can’t attempt to interrupt the purchase by opening a trade window. It’s a cutthroat game that’s over in a flash.

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The login queues did not help. The launch of a new update is a busy time for any popular MMO, and the 4.1 “The Legend Returns” update is pretty huge. According to reports gathered in game and in the Final Fantasy XIV forums, many players who had prepared for today’s land rush found them stuck in login queues, their hopes of a new home ticking away with each passing minute.

The new Shirogane district features its own hot springs, suitable for bathing and fishing.

Final Fantasy XIV’s housing system is notoriously bad. Where other games allow players to carve out a private space for themselves or their guild as they see fit, Square Enix’s MMO keeps available housing limited. Up until today’s patch there were three housing areas in each server. Each housing area features 12 wards, with 60 plots of varying sizes in each. That’s 2,160 spots for players and free companies (guilds). Taking into account players who like to horde housing or free companies attempting to buy up plots en masse, that’s not a lot of space.

It’s a rough system, to be sure. It’s been rough for years. When housing was introduced in Final Fantasy XIV back in 2011, I was excited at the idea of owning my own little home and decorating it with all sorts of virtual FF items. Then I saw the exorbitant prices for player homes and the relatively slim chance of actually getting one, and I gave up. I am a bold adventurer. I have conquered gods, demons and kings and averted world-ending catastrophe on several occasions. My home is wherever my sword or fishing rod takes me.

To be honest, my character can’t even afford an apartment.

Seriously though, please fix this, Square Enix. I am fine with anything. Build us a Final Fantasy-flavored slum and I will live under a box, as long as I don’t have to fight for it.

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Update October 12, 11:45 AM: This morning game producer Naoki Yoshida addressed the housing problem in a post on the official forums. Yoshida apologized for failing to prepare sufficient land plots in the Shirogane region, along with the server stress that resulted in players not being able to log during the land rush.

According to Yoshida, plans are now underway to strengthen the game servers to facilitate the introduction of new plots in all game areas with patch 4.2. The team is also considering changing the way wards are sold.

We’ve also received considerable feedback as to how they should be added, and we will be making an announcement outlining the number of new wards and how they will be sold after reviewing said feedback. To prevent speculation, we will refrain from releasing information until absolutely necessary.