Wednesday, November 23, 2005

RPG article: Approaching Romance in RPGS
by Tobie Abad
March 6, 2001

Storyteller: She looks away from you, but you believe you caught a slight smile creeping on her face. Her hands seemed to tremble for a moment.

Player One: I slowly walk up to her, and reach for her hands and say-

Storyteller: She pulls away and shakes her head.
"No... no... this is wrong.. You can't.. You don't mean that..."

Player One: "But I do. I have loved you for so long that I always wondered if you ever noticed."

Storyteller: She finally looks at you and you see her eyes sparkle with joy. There is a smile on her face and although you find yourself realising wholly that she does feel the same way, there is a bitterness that you cannot ignore. "You cannot... you must not leave your wife."

Such scenes can be more dramatic than the way you have expected them to run... when mood is built around the scene very carefully.

As roleplaying gamers, we all know the importance of mood and mindset in creating an immersive game. But alas, it seems more common for gamers to shy away from portraying love-passion related scenes than expected. Even if there is a romantic element in the game, it seems rare that a player would actively pursue the romantic element with emotional depth and instead state things that have obviously been done time and time again in movies.

Lines such as:
a) I have always loved you
b) I love you with all my heart
c) I really love you
d) You have no idea how much I love you
and so on and on...

Want depth? Want to make the love scene more empathically romantic and dramatically immersive? Want to make the other players swoon and chide and even wish to have a romance as "wonderful" as the one in the game?

Here are some tips.
(oh, and though it may be tempting to use them in real life romances, be warned... the best real life romances are those that happen spontaneously)

1. Get over self-conscious worries
If you're too preoccupied about being mistaken as gay, or if you'll be laughed at, and so on and so forth... it will show and the scene can be tossed to the trash bin. You have to get your shyness out of the can and into the bin. That's why you're the Storyteller buddy!

For Players, well, you got yourself into this scene, so you better act it out well. Stop worrying about what the other players will think. Block them out and focus on the game. Transform your "performance worries" into "answer anxiety" as to worrying about how the paramour will take what you are about to say.

2. Don't try to be creative.
This is one of the times you should STOP "roleplaying" dialogue and start belting out emotional bullshit. Don't try to be creative unless you're really the type (or your character is) who is during a romantic moment in life. But it feels more real and has more depth if you portray it as naturally as possible.

3. Try to be creative.
Enough with the usual cliches. Try using wonderfully created lines of passion. Movies actually are ironically, a great source of better lines as well.

From the "You complete me" of Jerry Maguire, to the "I'm ending our friendship" kissing scene of With Honors, there are loads of wonderful things to use in a game to make the romantic element more interesting.

Just avoid using the ones from movies your co-players are too familiar with. Spoiling the illusion invites the worst enemy in a romantic scene: Laughter.

A storyteller device. Music can really help the players ride the emotion and dive deeper into love. Notice how all of us have certain songs that still remind us of past lovers, or previous relationships...

Try looking for instrumental music, to avoid the "sing along syndrome" many players have. Perhaps the score of "Il Postino" or a movie like "Great Expectations" can fit the bill. Keep in mind the main tip: Use SCORES

Players, though, can join the fun if they actually roleplay their changing the music as an element in the scene.

I had a player stop my CD player during a romatic scene, complain "You know, listening to all this classical crap isn't going to show you who you really love" and plugged in Ronan Keating's acoustic version of 'When You Say Nothing At All', and proposed.

That, I must admit, froze us all into silence and sighs.

Never forget, the most realistic romances are never perfect. Everything from "Not having enough time," (But the Technocracy must be stopped!) to merely having pets, (Darn dog senses I'm Cainite!) can add wonderful plot twists to relationships.

Check out the following films for atypical relationships and twists to try adding to your game.

These are films that strangely, my players haven't seen. If yours have, well, try finding a few good ones. I'd love to hear your suggestions.
a. Pyromaniac's Love Story
b. Music From Another Room
c. As Good As It Gets
d. Some Kind of Wonderful
e. Goonies
f. Fifth Element

Keep on loving!

Nikki Alfar
Tobie Abad
Gabby Lee
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos

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