This is Our Game: Romance in your campaign

Every month our group of contributors circulates a point about running a D&D game, or some other RPG-centric problem to address. We all stew and think about it for a while, then write up a response. At the end of the month we compile our responses for your reading pleasure.

With the polarizing pseudo holiday of Saint Valentines day being this month we thought a great question would be: How do you run romance in your campaigns?

DreadGazebo: Simply put, I dont. However if a player wants to explore a romanticism I don’t deny them that and will improvise as best I can, but you won’t catch me doing any first person elf maiden voice overs either. When it comes to hard writing it into my games I may leave a tale of an old flame, a love letter, or a flirty NPC but something along those lines but it’s really just a means to an end for me. Wish I could have contributed more to this but, yeah that’s about all I’ve got.

Geek Ken: Romance in a game is definitely an aspect of character development that is essentially ‘me’ time for a player. It’s a chance in a way to allow a player a little bit of the spotlight, or at least be able to focus some story time on them. One rule I follow is not allowing romance at the table between players.

While some might think it a natural way to RP these situations, too commonly real life issues creep into the game table. Get a couple RPing their relationship and you end up risking real life fights, about something completely unrelated to the game, adding tension between players at the table. Even worse, something in game eeks over into causing actual relationship problems (‘But baby, I just figured sleeping with a succubus would be something my character would do.’). We like to think we’re all adults, but oddly little tiffs like this can blow up. After all, it may very well be issues in game that bring to light problems couples have in real life (and definitely vice versa).

However, the typical interaction with the DM vs. the player is also something that should be avoided. Commonly the DM is running a NPC as an adversary. I think it ideal allowing the player to have more control over how their ‘romantic’ partner would interact with them. I’d ask the player to describe what they would do while courting each other. Occasionally I’d throw in how the NPC might react to such romantic overtures, but the player is really the person in control. Remember though, romance is something to use sparingly. You’ve got several other players, so don’t let the one guy take up the whole night describing his dream date with some noblewoman.

Romance can make for some interesting plot hooks and can add complications to player plans. Does a player stick with the party and try to stop an evil ritual? Or does he make an effort to save his wife and family first from the evil cultists? Many players might have an old mentor from their past that might call for aid. Having a husband or lover do the same works just as well. It can also make for some refreshing takes on character motivation. One’s love could be cursed, or they have to prove thier bravery to win the respect of the family. Hence, the player has a reason to risk their life for someone very dear.

Another interesting take is the pressure to stop adventuring. A character is torn between staying with their love and settling roots. All the while the thrill of adventure and excitement calls them. They end up torn as they pine away to be with their partner and having a stable life, while still having that wanderlust urge.

So my final take is don’t throw romance away at the table. In moderation for certain players, it can add a lot to the game and give the DM some interesting story hooks. Just don’t let it allow a player to hog the spotlight constantly.

Thadeous: Aside from the random “Are there any girls there? If there are I want to doooo them” jokes I had never actually encountered romance at the gaming table until I was playing in Chris Simms “Welcome to Darksun Bitches” adventure, where it was dropped in my lap.

I was given a character whose back story included the fact that he was secretly involved with one of the other player characters. At first this was awkward because I didn’t know the other player very well (see Derik Gruder), but as the first combat wrapped up there was instant reason for my character to want to help his and for his to help mine. With out having to get into the deeper details of romance both of our characters were drawn into the story.

After my experience with Chris’s game I have had less trouble incorporating romance and character relationships into my game. Anything that helps tie players to the story is something worth working on. I will draw the line at gratuitous sex and lewd behavior with NPCs only for the sake of doing it. It’s a fantasy game yes, but not that kind of fantasy.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.

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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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