Badger Game
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Basic Information

The badger game extortion is a confidence game often perpetrated on married men. The mark is deliberately coerced into a compromising position, a supposed affair for example, then threatened with public exposure of his acts unless blackmail money is paid. Sometimes this involves a more elaborate romance fraud or other long con, but in an era with instant cameras (or with a timely accomplice) it can also be done fairly quickly and bluntly without a lot of set up.

This con has been around since at least the early 19th century. There are several variations of the con; in the most typical form an attractive woman approaches a man, preferably a lonely, married man of some financial means from out of town, and entices him to a private place with the intent of maneuvering him into a compromising position, usually involving some sort of sexual act. Afterward an accomplice presents the victim with photographs, video, or similar evidence, and threatens to expose him unless blackmail money is paid.

The woman may also claim that the sexual encounter was non-consensual and threaten the victim with a rape charge. It can also involve such things as the threat of a sexual harassment charge which may endanger the victim's career.

In the days before photography or video, the accomplice would usually burst into the room during the act, claiming to be the woman's husband, father, older brother, etc., and demand justice. The con was particularly effective in the 19th and earlier 20th century when the social repercussions of adultery were much greater.

Variants of the con involve luring the mark with homosexual acts, underage girls, child pornography, bizarre sexual fetishes, or other activities deemed to have a particular social stigma.

Another form involves accusations of professional misconduct. In an example of this form of the con, a "sick" woman would visit a physician, describing symptoms that required her to disrobe for the examination, require the doctor to examine the genitals, or ensure similar scrutiny from the doctor. During the examination an "outraged husband" or "outraged father" would enter the room and accuse the doctor of deviant misconduct. The "sick" woman, who is of course part of the con, takes the side of her accomplice and threatens the doctor with criminal charges or a lawsuit. This form of the badger game was first widely publicized in an article in the August 25, 1930 edition of Time magazine.

The con is usually committed against married men but can also be used on married women, public figures, religious leaders, etc.

Non-sexual versions of this con also exist, particularly among ethnic or religious groups with strong social taboos; for example, enticing a Jew or Muslim to eat pork or coercing a Mormon to gamble or drink alcohol.


The vast majority of the text above came directly from wikipedia:

Game and Story Use

  • A player character who is something of a Lothario might find himself the victim of a badger game extortion, particularly of the type where an "angry relative" of his latest conquest interrupts the act. Heck, it wouldn't even have to be a con, just bad timing.
    • Rather than ending up in a blackmail or bribe, this could result in a duel, chase, or fight scene, depending on the PC.
  • An allied NPC who has fallen victim to a Badger Game scheme might hire the PCs to steal back the compromising photos before his deadline on the blackmail payments.
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