RPT #10: Romance In Games – It’s The Chase That’s Fun

I had the opportunity to have a very enjoyable roleplaying discussion with a few Roleplaying Tips Weekly subscribers this past weekend. And the topic of character romance in games came up. I put in my 2 cents worth and absorbed all I could. Here is a brief review of what was said and some tips for handling romance in your own campaign.

It was agreed by all that romance can be a great addition to a roleplaying campaign. It allows new conflicts and story lines, new types of NPCs and fun interactions. But there are good and bad ways to deal with it.

If the situation just devolves into sex, then just roll a dice and get on with the story. If the player wants to explore a fantasy of this nature then draw the line and give that person a 1-900 number to call–then get your game back on track.

Roleplaying romance, in my opinion, is just like a treasure hunt. And just as rewarding. The fun is in the chase and the challenges along the way. When I think of romance, I conjure up images of Victorian times where society put a large number of restrictions upon acceptable relationships between men and women. And this is where the fun and challenge lies.

It’s one thing to have a goopy conversation between lovers, but it’s quite another to try to win some “alone time” with a another, protect reputations, prove your worthiness as a suitor, be polite and unoffensive, win over the parents-in- law, gain community acceptance, and find a truly compatible partner.

Imagine a scene where the player must figure out how to pass a secret note to someone they are attracted to in order to arrange a meeting. Then the party must act as a team to protect the two during the meeting from being discovered. As a GM you can probably think of many wrenches to put into those plans.

And then, after the meeting, what will happen when the two meet in public–at a party for example. They must act as if the secret meeting never occurred or raise suspicion. Yet they really did have that meeting and will feel compelled to converse intimately instead of as strangers. A true roleplaying challenge!

And what about the lady’s father? What if he’s a 19th level paladin? Ouch.

And think about this. If a person who bristled with weapons, smelled like an orc and had some kind of dungeon-crawling, treasure seeking deathwish came up to you and asked your hand in marriage, would you accept? And get a load of their name. Would you want to be known as Mr. or Mrs. Thromgar The Barbarian?

As you can see, romance can become a very complex and entertaining endeavour in your games.

For your campaign, think of the Victorians and come up with a few social rules that govern (and restrict) relationships between men and women, dwarves and elves, etc. What kind of social roadblocks does your society have that would make romance like an exciting treasure hunt?

And as I said, if things should progress beyond conversation, just roll a dice and get on with it. It’s the chase that counts.

What kind of challenges do you face when considering romance for your campaign? Perhaps I, or other readers, can help.

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