Roleplaying Romance: 5 Tips for the Aspiring Casanova  

Posted by Dristanel in

As I mentioned earlier, I plan to dedicate the blog specifically to roleplay-related posts on the weekend. Whether this becomes my Friday post or is left as a secret bonus snakes post on Saturday or Sunday remains to be seen. For the time being, you’re getting an extra post. Go you!

In the spirit of the holiday, I'm writing about something that’s near and dear to my heart. In case you didn’t know, I’m a girl irl *blush*, and sometimes I actually, you know… act like one. When I’m not swigging beer and cursing like a sailor, I like to read trashy romance novels and replay games just for their romantic sideplots. I also love romantic RP. In fact I’m probably the guild’s biggest whore. Or the guild’s biggest monogamist, since two of my characters are married and one is pretty settled down.

Why go through the trouble of three separate, developed relationships? It’s not because I am lonely and pathetic, though I am that too. It’s because character development, in my mind, is at its best when you introduce another character. There’s a reason so many stories, even in games, have a romantic subplot. It speaks to us on a basic human level, and it tends to make a compelling story even more interesting. I’m not going to identify with the guy who’s saving the world just because he’s a saint. I am going to identify with the guy who doesn’t really have a choice in the matter and is saving the world to save the woman he loves.

But there is some practical etiquette to follow regarding in-character relationships. You want it to be fun and enriching, but often-times it can get tedious and overloaded with awkwardness. Here are my five tips for making an in-character relationship work:

Communication

I’ve had people ask me how I can keep up with three different romantic plots and have them not absolutely laced with drama. There’s a pretty simple answer to that, actually: All three are played opposite of dear friends with whom I communicate regularly.

When I first rolled a character on the Scryers over a year ago, I met a lovely person who quickly became a very good friend. Over time it was fairly clear our characters were moving down a path of mutual attraction, and so he sent me a friendly PM entitled ‘Lines and where to cross them’. We discussed what we were and were not okay roleplaying, and moved on from there. Fortunately we are both of the ‘let the characters do what they want’ mindset, but it’s very important to have that conversation early on.

If your character is starting to get that lovin’ feelin’, make sure you speak to the other player OOC to get an idea of what is and isn’t on their agenda!

Realism

I know a lot of people may not agree with this one, but I’m laying it out there. Epic love is fine. This is a fantasy world in a game, and it’s expected that everything will be far more interesting than real life. But sometimes it’s the little things that make a relationship fun and refreshing to roleplay.

One of my characters has been married for over a year now. They have two children together, all while trying to fend off the Lich King’s armies. We could go back and forth with the ‘omg epic battle’ motif, but I find domestics to be a far more epic struggle. Our last two RP conflicts? Fighting the stigma of the ‘old married couple’ and wrestling with the strain having two young kidlets puts on a marriage.

Conflict

Tying into the above, you have to remember that in a medium such as this, there isn’t really an ‘end’. The end is basically when both players quit the game, and that tends to happen rather abruptly. Yes, you can technically sideline one relationship, but where’s the fun in that? The challenge, in my mind, comes in playing a relationship past the honeymoon stage. Movies, television, even books tend to cut off development after an initial milestone – first kiss, marriage, kids – but you don’t have that luxury in an ongoing setting like WoW.

Conflict is what keeps a story moving forward. In traditional narrative, you have a series of conflicts building to a climax that leads into a resolution. In an ongoing narrative, you need a series of conflicts building to mini-climaxes that end in resolution – for the time being. If you’re at a loss for possible conflicts, take a look at the above rule (realism!) and then consider the world around you. Circumstance breeds conflict, so take advantage of the world Blizzard has built!

Do keep in mind, however, that once you’re resolved a conflict, you don’t want to keep revisiting it. Your character may be incredibly insecure, but there’s only so many times you can play the fidelity card before it just gets old and annoying. The point of conflict is growth – if your character doesn’t grow from it, you’re just stirring up drama for the sake of drama.

Variety

They say variety is the spice of life, and anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship can tell you that changing things up every now and again is a good thing. But I’m not talking about your characters, in this case. Players need variety too!

Most WoW roleplay is done in /say or /party. But eventually you’ll want to explore things a bit deeper than an instant rhetoric can manage. Take the time to work on a storyline via collaborative writing, or integrate a questline into your roleplay.

Recently one of my characters decided to do something nice for his gal. We had discussed some loose plot threads a while back, and I proposed the idea of tying one of them up, more or less, via this little excursion I had planned. My character intended to track down an old mentor of hers, but kept getting the run-around from the Dalaran mages. A few days before, I had been questing in Netherstorm and stumbled across the Violet Tower. With such a nifty atmosphere, I couldn’t pass it up, so I led a personal quest there and we roleplayed the storyline in a very cool setting with some great ambiance.

Detachment

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or in this case, not too fond. The internet is one big, rose-colored glass, and it’s very easy to get attached to someone. There are success stories far and wide of couples who met online and progressed to a real-life relationship, but for every one of those there are at least ten horror stories of disrupted marriages and broken hearts.

Understand and respect the difference between an in-character bond and an out-of-character bond. This may seem like a no-brainer, and you may believe you would never be susceptible to such a thing, but let’s face it: most of us play this game – and roleplay in it – as some means of escapism, and it’s very easy to find comfort in another person.

Don’t be one of those people who gets jealous when their RP counterpart does other things. Just like any roleplay, an IC relationship is about having fun and developing a character. Keep an open and honest OOC friendship, and spend time apart!

If you’re considering romantic roleplay as a means of developing a character, one thing is absolutely paramount: you’re playing with another person! Respect them, respect yourself, and you can both have a positive experience.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 13, 2010 at Saturday, February 13, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

3 comments

Not too long after I first started playing WoW on a RP server (almost 5 years ago, yikes), and I was leveling my paladin in Redridge, I ran into another pally questing around. He RP'd (which not all folks on an RP server do, shockingly), I RP'd back...and we struck up a friendship. Everytime we were both on, we'd quest around with a third person I got to know in game and eventually it was just the 2 of us.

At some point we both realized our characters were moving down that romantic path and I vaguely recall we talked here and there about how to handle it and if it was akward. We took great pains to put our OOC talk in (( )) so that any stray whispers or comments NOT in brackets was taken as in character. He's married IRL (he was constantly afk'ing because of his new baby in fact) and I think neither of us wanted to cross any inappropriate lines. Our characters got married in a lovely ceremony I still remember 4.5 years later and anytime our toons wanted to err...get frisky, we'd just fade to black. We'd celebrate their anniversary every year by exchanging gifts and RPing a bit (we didn't do it as often as in the beginning, alas)

Even now, having transferred my pally to another server last summer, when I'm on another toon and talking to one of his, we use (( )) out of habit.

February 18, 2010 at 12:03 PM

@Endyme - That's great! I've met so many interesting people and made great friends through RP. And especially in something like that, there's a level of trust that has to develop.

February 18, 2010 at 12:14 PM
Anonymous  

I have started Rp-ing for the first time few months ago, and I find it of great fun. I play LoTRo, not WoW, but that doesn't make any difference. Now someone sugested a romance role play with my char after few days we meet. The level of friendship between us is really low, we don't really know each other too well and also my lack of role play experience makes everything harder for both of us. Is a continuous struggle and I tend to ruin things all the time. I started to search over the internet for more "hints" and so far this article was the one that set me some things very clear.
I will have an OOC chat with him and set some things clear cause seems like there are some misunderstandings.
Thank you.

March 31, 2011 at 8:24 AM

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