Love and the DnD experience

DonTadow

Visitor
A few days ago this would have been a rant, but I"ve managed to move on from the experience and walked away now forbidding any type of love in my games. I'll tell my scenerio in a later post, but I"m curious as to how or if others allow PCs to fall in love or have relationships in their game?

Should it be apart of the game? Does WOTC need to publish a supplement for fantasy relationships? (written by DR Phil? ) How far should it go and how much does the PC play a part in what happens with that love interest. Should the love interest be apart of the story, sit at home in the background or be used as a plot device (the Joss Whedon's reason for having love interests in fiction).
 

Henry

Autoexreginated
It depends on the group. Some groups are really into all aspects of life being told in a story -- love, death, birth, relationships, etc. Others prefer to keep it in the background and not mention it at all. Many of us from the Howard/Leiber "Ale & Whores" generation don't prefer to mix romantic fantasy with our high adventure.

Speaking from our group, I've occasionally added elements of "romantic entanglements", but they are usually NPCs in the middle of a plot device ("my fiance is being harrassed by a wizard", and it turns out the wizard is a jealous ex-lover.) Sometimes I'll put it in for players who are into their character development, but even then it's usually background.

As a major theme, speaking from a group of almost always all-males, we find it a bit uncomfortable. Most of our crew prefer exploration, mystery, combat, and a lesser amount of character development, so we don't deal with it much.
 

an_idol_mind

Explorer
Some of my best campaigns are based around PC romances. I don't know why a supplement would need to be released for romance, but I think it works very well in game when used properly. As long as a story doesn't become all about a pair of lovers, then I don't see any problem with it in play.
 
Should it be part of the game? Up to the players and DM. If the players can handle it without it breaking the fun, and the DM doesn't mind all that mushy stuff, then go for it. If the DM is a blood and guts, survival of the fittest, romance = keel hauling, then it's probably a good idea to avoid it.

Does WOTC need to publish a supplement about it? (Divinity of choice), please NO!!! IMO, if you need a guidebook to fantasy romance, you shouldn't include it in your game.

How far should it go? Difficult question. Best answer I can come up with: As far as the players and DM want to take it. I'm not going to tell someone that their style of gaming is right or wrong... for them. My own limits are well-set at the start of games I run, and if I'm a player, I talk with the DM about it first.

How much does the PC play a part in what happens to the love interest? Lots. Unless the PC is blindingly successful, he/she's going to leave potential enemies behind. And love interests make such wonderful hostages... especially if the PC neglects to rescue one. (Bob, what was your alignment again?)

Should the love interest be a part of the story, sit at home in the background or be used as a plot device? Yes. All of the above, and add "fight alongside the PCs."

Bottom Line: Define your comfort level. If you're the DM, scale your comfort level back to your players' (if necessary) and set it at the beginning of the campaign (or as soon as possible). If you're a player, have a talk with your DM about the campaign's and group's comfort level with such matters... preferably before you start playing.
 
As for whether it can/should be used in a game, I'd say absolutely (assuming everyone's comfortable with it and enjoys that kind of thing). I've run "encounters" with various "working girls", some brief (roll a Prowess check - yeah, everybody had a good time), some gruesomely detailed (The Tale of Grimbrew and the Tusked Girl-Thing is still a favorite around the campfire in my PC group). For those who go in for this sort of shenanigans, the (Net)Book of Unlawful Carnal Knowledge is pretty much guaranteed to go as far as you want to go, and probably a lot farther (for example, we've managed to avoid the "orifice capacity" tables, but the Prowess check system is pretty well-crafted).

That kind of thing is good for a laugh, but on the other end of the spectrum, the bard in our party marked the willowy owner of the local pawn broker for "seduction and discounts", and ended up with a love interest. (The fact that she turned out to be a fellow thief, and saw right through his carefully-constructed cover identity, impressed him no end.) Besides getting RP miles out of it, there's nothing like kidnapping the love interest to get a party good and pissed at the Bad Guys. It's been a rewarding plot device, so far.

Edit: A romance supplement? With rules, and tables, and DCs for hearts and bird and bunnies? Yeah, no thanks. I'm saving my cash for the new supplement expanding the epic-level knitting and crocheting skills, those never were detailed enough for me.
 
Last edited:

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I agree with Henry. Like most dramatic elements, how much of it should be in the game depends upon what the group wants. Right up there with whether they want comedy elements, or the gritty vs four-color adventure question. Love is, after all, one of the more prominent things that drive real people, so it makes sense to at least consider its inclusion.

Romance is difficult to do well, though, and it is generally not a rules-driven element of role-playing. While I'd not be against a romance supplement in principle, in practice I'd not expect such a supplement to be good or useful. Game designers are... designers, rather than acting coaches.
 
I've never really used romance in my games, it's not an area I tend to think about. However I would be interested in the possibility of adding it, just to increase variety in the types of situations my players get involved in. For that reason I'd like to see the ideas of others, though I don't think I'd buy a supplement about it.

Just to be clear, we are talking about dramatic romance right? Ie soap opera style with improbable twists and turns, rather than a contented relationship. The latter doesn't seem to have much to offer a roleplaying game other than the possibility of kidnap, which is a bit too obvious for my taste anyway.
 

Cor Azer

Visitor
I've used love and romance in my games before, but I usually let the players take the lead on such things, and I never force them to pursue it. Usually its PC-and-NPC, but has on at least one occasion been PC-and-PC.

It's not always a plot hook, although I'm not averse to using them as such. It is, however, a strictly comfort-level and role-playing issue, and not something that needs to be addressed in a gaming supplement (although I'd note that discussion on a messagboard is quite useful, particularly to gain other insights into character motivations and the like). For those that progress, it's always innuendo and fade-to-black though.

In my various games, I've had:
- a PC married to an NPC before the campaign started (only factored in as giving the PC an additional reason to protect their home base
- two PCs asked to commit to (two separate) political marriages; one blossomed into love (complete with jealous stalker (ways to get the PCs involved in noble intrigues)
- one sexually tense PC/NPC duo where the NPC's (unavoidable) death spawned a large change in the PCs outlook (one-on-one campaign before joining the PC to another game)
- another PC/NPC romance (completely player driven at first) that went through initial bliss, then separation anxiety (NPC wasn't an adventurer), reconciliation, and then tragedy (NPC turned out to be a lycanthrope, and PC cleric dropped a flamestrike to prevent others from being infected) - likely the most fun I ever had with a subplot
- a PC paladin, raised cloistered, falling for the mysteriously charming PC bard
- a PC falling for the strongly independent ruler of a major town (player driven)
- in my current AGoT game, the noble characters are expected to enter political marriages (love is a secondary concern), but nothing has been arranged yet

I have had several NPCs fall for PCs on occasion, either for humour or in seriousness, but never press if the player/PC isn't interested.
 

DonTadow

Visitor
My experience.

the campaign took a six month recharging break. I told the players to come up with what hteir characters were doing during the 9 months of downtime (actual months in game). All of the stories were well detailed and interesting. The most different one was one players account that there character was now being tested because of his fame. He faced all the challenges except one challenge, a young woman had beaten him with a very unique fighting style. The backstory was not plot moving like the others, but it ws interesting enough for me to want to include it into a subplot. It made since to me that the woman sought out such a famous warrior as a spy for aresistance force ( the party has been working for the government). She ended up falling in love with the warrior but she still hd to keep up her resistance ties.

I thought this would be a good idea so that the background of the pc played a part in some storyline. A chance came where i needed a terrorist group to try to sabatoge a treaty signing and thus, used the npc character as one of the people hired to pull it off. The PC found out and a series of long ,drawn out dialogues occured between the two. They were very melodramatic and little was accomplished plot wise during the dialogue other than notifying the PC that his lover was in a resistance movement, one that he was suppose to stop.

I got emails from a couple of players that complained that the pc drew out the diialgoue a bit too much considering most of his dialogue was "why? why? why? why?" . And there was a too described scene wher ethe two watch the sunset. Eh, it was all in the spirit of roleplaying so Idecided to just run with it.

Finally the climatic scene comes down and the npc unleashes her plans, the pcs thrawt it, but not before another soap opera dialgogue between the two where nothing happened. The NPC completed her plan and escaped.

I thought this bolded well, considering i had to cut the dialgoue short acouple times to get to the action, which is what hte other pcs wanted.

After the game I get an email from the player criticizing how i played hte love interest wrong (second time I've been told i played htis npc wrong by this player) and that I ruined the players love story by making it look like Les Miserable.

I've included love in my games before but on a minor level, in particular the sociliate of the group enjoys dating the wealthy nobleman of the city and has quite a few established suitors. But this type of romance left a bad taste in my mouth. The dialogue just didnt feel like it belonged in an RPG, the player seemed a bit too into it, and i felt uncomfortable playing a woman and talking to another woman (the player is a woman playing a man). Thus afterwards I sent a note to the player indicating that the lover is going to disappear for a while and that i probably won't revisit romance especially with cross gender characters.

I think a romance supplement would be another wasted wotc supplement.

I believe that romance can be done right in an rpg, but it takes a good player, good group and good DM. I still think the game hsould be about the pcs, and that pcs shoudln't have their families belongside them while their adventuring.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
What you described sounded awesome and fun, and generally my group eats that stuff up. . . But to each his own.
 

iwatt

Visitor
DonTadow said:
The dialogue just didnt feel like it belonged in an RPG, the player seemed a bit too into it, and i felt uncomfortable playing a woman and talking to another woman (the player is a woman playing a man). Thus afterwards I sent a note to the player indicating that the lover is going to disappear for a while and that i probably won't revisit romance especially with cross gender characters.
I share your disconfort. Roleplaying women is hard* enough for me without the added romance twist. Add in the fact that the PC was a woman playing a man, and it would have been pretty difficult to me to actually get into character.


* One of my great failings. I start overthinking, trying to avoid cliches and trying not to be "guy trying to play a girl and getting it all wrong". The end result being that I can't get into character at all. Also, I'm no thespian in the first place. ;)
 
DonTadow said:
The dialogue just didnt feel like it belonged in an RPG, the player seemed a bit too into it, and i felt uncomfortable playing a woman and talking to another woman (the player is a woman playing a man). Thus afterwards I sent a note to the player indicating that the lover is going to disappear for a while and that i probably won't revisit romance especially with cross gender characters.
On this front, I purposely created a very sarcastic, tomboyish female character for the NPC love interest in my game, one that I felt like a) I could play convincingly, and b) wouldn't likely use dialogue that would make everybody squirm in their seats. (It should also be noted that, while the player character in question fancies himself a ladies' man (he's a bard, go figure), the player in question is probably the player in my group that's the least comfortable with playing out the "physical" aspect of the relationship in-game, so I boiled the initial encounter down to a single roll (Prowess check from the BoUCK), and left all following "encounters" of this nature off-stage.)
 

DonTadow

Visitor
DestroyYouAlot said:
On this front, I purposely created a very sarcastic, tomboyish female character for the NPC love interest in my game, one that I felt like a) I could play convincingly, and b) wouldn't likely use dialogue that would make everybody squirm in their seats. (It should also be noted that, while the player character in question fancies himself a ladies' man (he's a bard, go figure), the player in question is probably the player in my group that's the least comfortable with playing out the "physical" aspect of the relationship in-game, so I boiled the initial encounter down to a single roll (Prowess check from the BoUCK), and left all following "encounters" of this nature off-stage.)
I thin kthat was hte problem and actually was related to another thread I posted a while back. This was an NPC the player created (without my knowledge) and through at me. She had already introduced it in game so I didnt want to retro something that could be worked out. All of a sudden I find myself stuck playing this NPC I Didnt create and whom seemed a bit out of place in the world.
 

Aus_Snow

Visitor
If the whole group is mature, well adjusted, OK with the idea, and in fact interested in doing this kind of thing (er, in character) - then yes, there is of course nothing wrong with it, and it can work. I've been in groups where it has worked, and worked well, as central focus, or alternatively as a minor yet occasionally prominent element and plot device.

However, I (along with many others) have seen the other side of it too. When it's bad, it can be really bad - all the way from excruciatingly uncomfortable to extremely embarassing. . . to creepiest gamer thread material. :eek:

Generally, I'm pretty easygoing as GM, in this area. But I always 'let the curtain fall' early in the piece: sordid details are *not* required.


And yeah, the cross-gender thing can make it even harder to deal with effectively, for sure.
 
Last edited:

ScardPtori

Visitor
Just as a reference, there is a RPG book for this sort of thing. The Book of Erotic Fantasy by Gwendolyn F. M. Kestrel and Duncan Scott. I remember coming across this in the book store and being amazed someone actually published such an item. One of the things I remember it had was the length of pregnancy of an ogre. I dread the day my character has to worry about how long an ogre is going to be pregnant . . . :confused:
 

Gold Roger

Visitor
Here's how I see it for games I play in:

PC to PC:

1) If it's between PC's of other players, it's up to the players. As long as they are mature about it, keep player and PC distinquished and don't disrupt the game.

2) If one of the PC's is mine, I'd prefer to either: not do it at all or, if the PC's just fit and I trust the other player I'd keep it on the low and mostly in the background.

NPC to PC:

1) Somebody else is the DM and it's not my PC: I'd treat it just like PC to PC between other players.

2) It's my PC: I'd keep it on the low. Little things played out. Mostly one sentence in between like: My character pays love interest xy a visit. My character has love interest xy along for the great festival. Generaly I love it when the DM uses character specific stuff for plots, so I'd be delighted if my chars love interest was used as plot hook. But I'm not gaming to improvise romantical theater.

3) If I'm the DM: I'd expect my players to handle it like I do. Not every love interest would be killed and turned into a Vampire, actually be a succubus or be kidnapped, but I'd expect my player to accept that for me love intersts are story elements and possible plot hooks just like any other NPC.


To your expirience I can only say "ouch". I guess you should have talked it out with the player in question earlier, but the main problem lies with her: expecting the DM to read ones mind, setting high expectations and not communicating them to the DM, not trusting the DM, trying to dictate the games course on the DM, hogging spotlight, derailing the tone of the game and then more or less bitching around that things aren't how one wants them to be is not what I call being a good player.
 

ruleslawyer

Registered User
Look, if you want a PC with +6 Strength, +2 Con, and reach for ECL +1, you have to be prepared to make some sacrifices. ;)
 

Goldmoon

Visitor
Ive played both male and female characters that were romanticly interested in both PC's and NPC's. PC to PC is rare since it seems every damn male has their male PC hit on my female PC's. (I get so tired of that) When it does happen though, it works out O.K. most of the time. My rogue got involved with the party cleric once and he began neglecting the other characters with healing and buffs concentrating mainly on me.

On a somewhat similiar subject: Do you guys tend to roleplay more with/have characters who hit on females who are more attractive in real life?
 

pawsplay

Visitor
DonTadow said:
A few days ago this would have been a rant, but I"ve managed to move on from the experience and walked away now forbidding any type of love in my games.
Even brotherly love? :)

Should it be apart of the game? Does WOTC need to publish a supplement for fantasy relationships? (written by DR Phil? )
Dr. Phil is very irresponsible. His advice is terrible and his attitudes deplorable.
 

Advertisement

Top