View Full Version : Role-Playing Romance

Talonne Hauk
19 January 2002, 03:24 PM
I was recently having a discussion with a friend of mine. He's DMing a D&D campaign, and I'm GMing a Star Wars campaign. We were discussing various pitfalls of role-playing, and we disagree on including romance into a role-playing game. I feel romance is too difficult a nut to crack in real life, and it's much too much for a RPG. I'll admit, some of this is my own personal bias. My players are all guys, and I would rather not even pretend to vamp and seduce another guy. But I've seen it where a boyfriend and girlfriend (or wife and husband) are playing their characters as paramours, and that works fine until they have a bad day and bring their personal life into the game. Granted, everyone knows that's a big gaming no-no, but you all know it happens anyhow. My friend saw my point, but he also pointed out that if not for the possibility of a romantic interest, it's doubtful Luke would have tried to rescue Leia. Plus, Attack of the Clones is being billed as a romance movie as well, so obviously romance is part of Star Wars, and should be included in the game that's based on it. He admitted it was hard to DM romance, but he's played games where a character had to rescue the princess from the evil dragon or whatever, igniting the romance fireworks. I've never seen it done well, though, and feel it's more of a vicarious thrill than anything relevant to a real role-playing session. So I was wondering what you, my respected Star Wars colleagues and peers, feel about this issue.

Aaron B'Aviv
19 January 2002, 03:41 PM
I've never played a tabletop rpg that had a romance involved, so I don't know how well it would work.

But I'm a veteran of yahoo club-based rpgs, and there I've seen romances worked into plenty of games. Some children have even been born. One Jedi couple gave birth to three children, currently being rped by other roleplayers who had gotten sick of their old characters. Other children are rped as npcs by the parents.

The yahoo club format is vastly different from a tabletop rpg, assuredly. Firstly, the scale is different- you have many more players. Secondly, there are often large spaces between battles- time for peaceful interaction among characters, or machiavellian manipulations. Thirdly, both the good guys and bad guys are roleplayed by actual people, and the GMs are more faciltators than anything else. Nonetheless, what works in one type of rpg might very well work in another type, if you're willing to work at it.

Note: I'm a ceaseless fan of the roleplaying that goes on in Yahoo, both in chat and in clubs. It's very versatile and very fun- I encourage all of you to go exploring in Yahoo clubs- category roleplaying games.

19 January 2002, 03:44 PM
Originally posted by Talonne Hauk
I was recently having a discussion with a friend of mine. He's DMing a D&D campaign, and I'm GMing a Star Wars campaign. We were discussing various pitfalls of role-playing, and we disagree on including romance into a role-playing game. I feel romance is too difficult a nut to crack in real life, and it's much too much for a RPG.Well, I haven't had too much trouble with this. Granted, I usually handle MOST of the gushy stuff off-camera, but it's still there at times.

So far I've had the best luck with PCs falling for NPCs and vice versa. Typically I'll introduce someone in the same line of work as a PC, and sometimes that NPC will be of the opposite sex, if only for variation. Every so often a PC gets fond of their friend, and something happens.

I do try to keep scenes involving "naked PCs" out of the session, tho. :)

Don't forget that it's easier to press PCs or manipulate them and so on if you know what they care about. Just like damaging a smuggler's ship is a sure way to get to his emotions... try injuring his main love interest.



19 January 2002, 04:11 PM
To be honest, I think it depends on the maturity of the group when it comes to the question of including romance in your game. I don't believe it should be included at all if it's only going to be used as a get laid tonight option since this usually detracts from the seriusness of the game. ( Not to mention it just encourages more antics that are even more immature from what I've see in games.)

The romance card becomes a great tool for a GM because of a couple of things. First off, it forces the Player to think about someone/ something else other than his own character's personal wellfare (I'ver seen far too many players only care about their own character in RPGs... to hell with the other PC's characters...) Also, it gives the GM an interesting plot device (a lot of things a GM can do with the romance interest being captured/ kidnapped/ or hurt... or maybe even the romantic interest gets pregnant...) Another thing that many people miss with the love interest is that it further develops the character; the character seems more realistic, more alive...

Now, one thing to deffinitely keep in mind is that if you as the GM are uncomfortable with the subject, then I personally would not touch on the subject. While you may think you can hide it, most likely your players will pick up on it. Also, you most likely won't be able to put your fullest into role playing the romance if you're uncomfortable with the subject.

(There are also a couple morerelevant threads in the General SW RPG Forum fom a couple of months back... I shall try to find them and link them to you...)

19 January 2002, 04:57 PM
Alright, I finally found one of the threads... so here's the link to it:

Characters & Romantic Interests (http://holonet.swrpgnetwork.com/showthread.php?threadid=3919)

I hope you will find the above thread helpful...

Emperor Xanderich II
19 January 2002, 06:46 PM
We've included romance in our adventures- though never between PC's (we were all blokes). So it can work. One of the characters (played by Ronin) has a relationship going with a female gunner. Nice lass.

Other characters have had various encounters, some of them quite amusing- for the other players anyway!:)

19 January 2002, 07:08 PM
Romance with an all-male gaming group is, indeed, a sticky wicket. But, at the same time, it can REALLY be great for getting people involved in the gaming world. Nothing really causes a player to become engrossed like the possibility of romance. Besides, it makes fora more vivid story.

19 January 2002, 08:21 PM
Everyone talks about how love interests can be used as plot hooks. This is fine, but usually what ends up happening is the PC has to go and rescue the significant other every second adventure. Not only does this get dull, it teaches players that relationships are a liability. Instead, I try to reward players for roleplaying complex relationships by letting those they are involved with help out from time to time. If the PC gets rescued more than he/she rescues, then the problem is alleviated.

Of course, all of this depends on players that think this way. If your group is good enough that they will develop their characters despite the disadvantages, you don't need to worry about 'rewarding' you PCs for good roleplay.

19 January 2002, 08:43 PM
Well, sure, rescue is one motivation, but what about betrayal? What is the PCs significant other turns to the Dark Side? Or, worse yet, turns out to be a spy for the other side?

What if that character has a thirst for vengeance? What if the character gets killed? What if the character commits a heinous act? What if the character feels strongly about a moral issue?

19 January 2002, 08:46 PM
I try to avoid the 'damsel in distress' adventure hook as much as possible. However, having the PCs care about some particular NPCs who are important to them (romance or not) can have wonderful effects on the characters and potential plot hooks.

Rather than having something happen directly to the love interest, what if the NPCs organization is getting pressured by a rival group?

I like it when these key NPCs are just about as well developed as the PCs are, then I can dig through their backgrounds for adventure hooks too.



Talonne Hauk
19 January 2002, 09:07 PM
Hmmm. You all have definitely given me some food for thought. And that link to the other thread was helpful, too. I suppose I should have more faith in my players ability to roleplay it well. After all, I'm the youngest in my group, and I'm approaching 30, all too quickly. However, if it starts to turn into a consistent "Fade to Pink":p (That just cracks me up.) I'll probably leave it on the cutting room floor.

19 January 2002, 10:20 PM
In our table top games ramance has occured a couple of times . and its fine as long as no one gets their feelings hurt it does all depined on the maturaty of the players envolved. it can either destroy a game or make it truly what role playing is meant to be.

Donovan Morningfire
20 January 2002, 06:00 AM
I've had a varying amount of experience with the inclusion of romantic inclinations in the RPGs I've played in (mostly table top). Like dragonseye said, it pretty boils down to the maturity level of the players. If your group is a bunch of teenage guys, then it's gonna get really bad, really fast. Even with a mixed group it depends on the players involved. I myself have gamed with a past girlfriend whilst we were dating, and we were able to include some of those real-life feelings into the game and create some memorable experiences. I've also seen the reverse, where as stated earlier if a couple has a bad day, they bring it into the game and all hell breaks loose. I've also been in groups where it's all guys, with one or two playing a female character, and romantic relations have sprung up between players (BTW, that's when you know your gaming group is quite secure in it's masculinity :D). Granted, it's never gone to being a XXX game; that stuff is handled strictly off camera; the most that might happen in game is some kissing or major hugging (and never live-action unless the players in question are already dating/married).

As for it's general inclusion, romance can drive a character to great lengths. My strongest example is the Crow character I played in White Wolf several years back, whose love for one girl was so powerful not even death could stop it. Love can make for a great motivation; what better way to drive a character to accomplish some task he might otherwise avoid entirely than to dangle a love interest in front of said character (either pushing him to the mission or needs to be rescued as part of the mission). For Star Wars, twisting romance and love can steer a Jedi down the path to the Dark Side with little effort on the GM's part.

I guess all in all, romance boils down to a tool with which to help tell a story. It doesn't work for all groups

20 January 2002, 06:47 PM
One thing to keep in mind is that relationships shouldn't just be plot points. I personally feel it's a bad idea to keep the romantic interest (as an NPC) as someone who either needs help or can provide help in the current campaign. If romance is going to be roleplayed, it needs to be the full impact: you have to spend time with your virtual SO, help them with mundane things, provide opportunities for them to interact with your character's life, etc. Sometimes that can be a plot point, but for the most part it's better as character development. And that's the best part... when you see how the player treats their character's romantic interest, you get a better idea of that character's personality and can develop new aspects to your story to take advantage of that. Are they reluctant to involve their SO in their own job? If so, is it to protect their romantic partner, to hide something from them, or just because they feel it'll be a distraction? There's so much to use here, it's a shame when these people just become plot points.

20 January 2002, 07:13 PM
Kesh has an excellent point here, and it's certainly something I'll have to consider for my game. However, I'm concerned about how well it'd actually work in practice, specifically: what do the rest of the players do while the one player roleplays all of this? Thoughts, anyone?