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Natural20's Random Thought Table - Falling in Love, In Character Print
Written by Brian Nisbet   
Jul 10, 2009 at 05:48 PM

This fortnight, we do something we none of us ever thought we'd do, and we take love lessons from Natural20. Be afraid! At least for your characters...

This topic is very, very different to that of gaming relationships, which would take every column I'll be allowed to write from now until the crack of doom, so we'll stick to relationships that happen between characters in the game. Mostly.

There are two main types of romantic relationships in most RPGs, NPC – PC and PC – PC. While both of these are relationships between fictional characters, it's likely that the PC – PC kind will get more airtime and probably have the opportunity to develop more naturally and reach a deeper level. Generally speaking NPCs, whether played by another player or the GM, will come in and out of a story, whereas another PC will be there almost all the time. That said, there are certain rules that cover both kinds. For a start, everyone must be ok with it. This seems obvious, we're talking about a consensual RPG, but relationships are one of those things that people are funny about and it's always worth checking, out of character, that the PCs are ok with the way things are possibly going. This is especially important if one or more of the players is playing a different gender. It's also pretty important if one of the players is going out with another and their boyfriend/girlfriend isn't playing the romantically entangled PC. Maybe it will all just happen and all be ok, but it can often be better safe than sorry. This also gives you the opportunity to set boundaries. I've been in situations where two players are more than happy for their PCs to fall madly in love, but everything after some brief words of affection is required to fade to black. I've been in other situations with no such issues, but then, of course, you've got to think about just how much the other players want to know!

Speaking of going further, as I mentioned, NPC – PC relationships are always going to get less time than PC – PC, on average at least, of course every game is different. While it can be a little excluding if two PCs are having long and involved conversations about their feelings, it is even worse if it's a player and the GM. NPC – PC romances should be important things, they shouldn't just be a word here and there, there should be advantages, disadvantages and, most importantly, consequences, to all actions, especially important ones like falling in love. You can't just call up your NPC boyfriend and expect him to drop everything for you, without accepting that he'll expect you to spend some time with him, and rescue him when the Big Bad comes calling. Relationships are like any alliance, there has to be give and take, and while you might be able to push your loved one that bit further, eventually things will go wrong. PC – PC relationships have some similar characteristics. Nothing is going to ruin a cohesive party like a love affair gone sour and falling madly for another PC hands the GM one of the biggest and easiest plot hooks they'll ever lay their hands on.

Playing out a romantic situation can be one of the most rewarding roleplaying experiences, whether it's for a moment, an evening, a campaign or forever. Moments when you pour emotion into a situation should be treasured in gaming and I firmly believe you can never have enough. But remember, in any good game it'll never be a free ride. Love can lift you up when you need it, give your hero the faith to keep going or bring a truly twisted villan to life, but paramours are not disposable assets and, at the end of the day, you'll have to decide just exactly how far you're willing to go for the one you love!

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Last Updated ( Jul 10, 2009 at 05:49 PM )
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