Monday, February 4, 2013

Romance in Games

One element that I always try to include in most of the games that I run is romance. To me, romance plays such an important role in the real world that I feel it should have some representation in the game world as well.

However, there are some who hate the inclusion of romance in games and will go out of their way to exclude it for one reason or another. Usually, the most common reasoning is that it is awkward to roleplay romances at the table.

Because of this, I thought it might be useful to talk about some ways you can handle romance in games without it devolving into awkward situations and making everyone uncomfortable.

I think the best thing you can do to help relieve some of the awkwardness of the situation is have the two participants in the relationship (whether they be two players or a player and the GM) sit down and discuss the best way to handle the relationship and figure out where everyone's comfort zones are. If your party finds explicit depictions of romance awkward, you can decide to go with more subtle depictions that hint at the romantic relationship between the two character, but all of the explicit stuff happens "off-screen."

Second, never introduce a character for the sole purpose of being a love interest and only a love interest. If you do this, your players may think you are trying to force one onto them and they will most likely rebel against it. A romantic interesting in an NPC should be something more akin to a happy side-affect instead of a desired destination. When designing a character for your game, you might think, "Player A's character might be interested in this character," but that should never be the only desired result. If it is, then you probably haven't created a well-rounded character.

Finally, I think the most useful piece of advice I can give you is to not jump all the way into romance at first, but to just dip your toes into the water and slowly submerge yourself over time. If you are unsure about how your players will react to romantic subplots and the like, add little pieces of it here and there and try to gauge their reactions. If they seem interested, increase those elements. If they don't take the bait, just shrug and move on.

While romance, like horror, can be a difficult element to add to games, I believe it can also be one of the most rewarding elements if don't correctly. I hope this advice helps those who have been hesitant to add romance to their games and make it a lot easier to do.