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Monday, March 10, 2014

Love in Dungeons & Dragons

Magic Cloak: Letterman's jacket of D&D
Some people include romance and sex in their D&D games, and some don't. I include it, both as a story device and as a source of funny and stupid mini-games. It became so popular with my players that it almost completely de-railed my Skull & Shackles campaign.

My Al Qadim campaign from the early '90's ran for over 2 years. We had about 118 sessions. It was a solo campaign which sometimes included up to 4 other players. The final adventure ended with our hero rescuing his wife from his genie double on a rocky bridge inside a mountain that was collapsing because The Tarrasque was in it battling all of the hero's NPC friends. His wife was cursed to kill the next person she kissed. They were faced with certain doom. He kissed her... they died.

It was awesome. His wife was his NPC sidekick. They went on many adventures together. Sometimes he saved her. Sometimes she saved him. It was by far my best campaign, up until I ran Scales of War some 15 years later.

How do you do this? It can be so awkward. Well first off, don't do it if your players aren't interested in it. If they are interested, then talk about it and see how you want to play it. Maybe it's almost completely abstract. Maybe you play out a date as a sort of skill-based mini-adventure (which is what I do).

Warduke's heartstone!

The mini-adventure could include all sorts of fun stuff. It's almost mandatory that a bar fight is involved, probably started by some scoundrel trying to hit on your date. Or perhaps a foe takes the opportunity to poison your drink.

In Knights of the Dinner Table #106 there's a great "seduction" chart to roll on. If you have approached an NPC and successfully seduced them, you could roll on this chart to see their situation. It's made for a d24. Here's a d10 version to give you an idea of how it works:

1. Curious about your intentions
2. Interested but wary
3. Interested not in you but a member of your party
4. Amenable but involved
5. Amenable, has strict parents
6. Flirting
7. You remind them of an old lover
8. Madly in love with you
9. Madly in love with you. Tattoos your name on their person.
10. They are a polymorphed dragon

Then you can take it from there. You could use inspiration from perhaps one of the most dysfunctional relationships in D&D lore: Graz'zt the demon lord and Iggwilv, daughter of Baba Yaga.
I believe that began with her summoning and imprisoning him, and then having his child - Iuz the Greyhawk demigod of of Deceit, Evil, Oppression, Pain, and Wickedness. Graz'zt escaped and they fought, she banished him into the Abyss and he splintered her into two forms - an old crone and a "raven-haired beauty".

Sailing on a Sea of Cheese
There's a lot of great things about having an involved NPC romance in your games. You get:

- An NPC ally who can save your PCs if necessary
- An NPC who can spy or gather information for your PCs
- An NPC who can help make your PCs care about your game world
- An NPC who could have kids of your PC, and perhaps give birth to a future PC, creating a link to previous games
- An NPC who, if things don't work out, could turn against our heroes

You should try to avoid having the NPC get captured or threatened too much, because when that happens players are reluctant to get involved with your NPCs. They start to see NPCs as tools of the DM to screw them over. Instead, the NPCs are best used as support. The PCs should be happy to see them.

If you take a look at movies and books, there is almost always some kind of love story at the heart of it. You should definitely consider adding it to your game.

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