Some groups do not like romance in D&D while other groups crave it. This article is for those groups who are considering or definitely want to have romance in their D&D game.
Romance in D&D is best done when the player initiates it. Do not be creepy or make anyone uncomfortable. Romance can be a great tool to enhance your game!
There is a little bit more to romance than just that, but those are the essentials to keep in mind when planning a romance. Romance in D&D is not a bad thing, but it needs to be used correctly. That means you need to figure out when and where to implement romance.
How romance is created
The creation of romance in D&D involves 6 points.
- Who is the romance affecting out of game?
- Have/will (without pressure) both parties consent to a romance?
- Will this enhance your game?
- How is the player initiating this romance?
- What do the players want from the romance?
- Know not to go too far.
These 6 items are essential to creating romance in D&D. If you do not follow any of these points and just forget about them when considering your romance, it can not only fail but make others uncomfortable and quit your game.
This is why you need to consider these 6 points. You do not want your romance to make the game worse. This being said, you probably want to know a bit more about how romance works in D&D.
Romance does not mean sex. Romance is a physical and more importantly, the emotional connection that 2 characters share. If sex occurs, just roll a con check and leave it at that or fade to black. This should occur when any sex happens!
Romance in D&D can mirror real life or fanfiction. You can do a slow burn, turn someone from good to bad, have a fixer-upper, and more. There are an infinite amount of relationship types, so you can do anything you want in that department.
Romances should never be forced. If you try to thrust a love interest onto a player this can only go 2 ways. Either that player is going to go along with it and possibly enjoy the romance, or be uncomfortable and possibly quit the game.
I have mentioned quite a few times that the worst-case scenario is a player or players leaving the game. This may seem scary and make you wonder if romance in D&D is worth it, but I can assure you that if you follow these 6 points no worst-case scenario will happen.
That being said, let’s get into our 6 points and make sure that your D&D romance goes well!
Out of game
Is the romance between a player and another player, or a player and the DM?
You need to be clear on this point. If romance is involved with players, just make sure it doesn’t go too far to make others uncomfortable. If the relationship is between a player and an NPC, you have a bit more work cut out for you.
You need to first make sure that the player is okay with having romance in D&D. Most of the time, this won’t be a problem if you let players initiate the romance. If you are planning to make a romance happen, it will need to be approved by the player beforehand.
This is most common when you want to re-introduce a player’s past love interest from a backstory. You can ask the player vaguely if they are open to romance in D&D, but don’t make them feel like they need to go with a specific character.
If the player is initiating the romance, then they will obviously be okay with it. Most likely the other players will be talking to them and possibly teasing the player in-game. The player’s answers should clarify if they really are intending to go through with a romance or if this is just miscommunication.
That is the first part. Make sure that your player/players are okay with it. The next part is for your players to not take the romance too far or make the game awkward.
If your players are ever trying to romance a D&D character because they have a crush on that player, stop it. This is most likely not because of their characters, and it gets very awkward. 1 party may not want to reciprocate these feelings and having a character in-game be in a relationship can confuse someone. Trust me, I have been the 1 to not reciprocate these feelings and was targeted in-game. It was very uncomfortable.
This can make others uncomfortable as well, so just make sure that everyone is okay with what is happening. If anyone who is not involved in the romance has a strong feeling against it, there is probably a good reason. If any party at any time is uncomfortable, talk to each person privately and possibly together to come to a solution.
Consent is extremely important for romance in D&D. If romance occurs and 1 person is not okay with it, then the whole game can go up in flames. This does not mean that you need to make a legal document for consent. You might not even need to ask the person.
If a player has constantly talked about romance and has tried to hook up with NPCs, they are saying that they already want romance in D&D. If a player has a past love interest in their backstory, then it is an option.
Make sure to leave an out. If you thought the player really wanted romance and brought back an old flame, they should be able to say no. If that player has decided that this NPC isn’t right for them, allow them to say no and walk away. There are consequences for sure, but the option to leave should always be there.
This also affects your NPCs. If they would not logically be with the player, then don’t have them be. If an NPC is not gay and a character is, then it wouldn’t make sense for them to be together even if the player wants it to happen. Just make sure that the NPC would consent to this relationship as well.
We do not want rape or any other terrible thing to get in the way of our romance. That is something that should only come up if the players (everyone) are fine with it in-game. Your romance, after all, is a way to enhance your game not detract from it.
If your player gets involved with an NPC they now have another associate that can and most likely will help them. If players get romantically involved with another player it can strengthen those character bonds.
That is just the tip of the iceberg though. When the romance happens organically and really connects with people, it can leave a lasting impression that enhances your game. More is at stake, and players are less likely to be bored.
These characters do not have to be just love interests. If you have made a great NPC, then that NPC is their own unique individual. They can not only help the party but also be directly involved in the plot and help the party out!
A love interest should never take the spotlight from the players if they are involved in the plot. Similarly, a love interest should never take the spotlight in roleplay. Love interests can have their moments, but they are just that. Love interests, not love plots. If something happens it happens, but do not make a whole arc revolving around how these 2 get together.
It does not benefit the rest of the party and doesn’t add more to your game than a simple side-plot would add.
Romance is a wonderful way to add depth to the world and other characters, but you do not need to make that the primary focus. The same goes for player to player romance.
Player to player romance can be a thing that happens. Romance in D&D can be fun, but it shouldn’t be what those characters solely become. People are complex and this should add to their complexity, not define them.
But how do you know if a player has initiated a romance in D&D?
Player initiation doesn’t have to be them telling you that they want a romance with x character. They might have already put forth a romantic option that they don’t even remember.
Backstory contains love interests all the time, but what about love interests during game? Players do a lot of things that might involve saving people or having others fall in love with them. In these cases, I would suggest giving the player some indication of blossoming love.
This might be through love letters or an easily embarrassed/shy potential romantic interest. At this point, the player can go further with this or be disheartened. If they do not want a romantic interest and don’t want to talk to the NPC, have it die off or use it for something comical.
You can give the opportunity to have romance in D&D with backstory characters, NPCs that are intended to do so, or more than likely, a poor unattractive NPC that gave 1 line. Players are weird and if they want romance they WILL fight to make it a thing.
Here is the formula. First, have the player’s efforts be noticed even if it is just them being themselves. Second, gently let your players know of the romance and give them the option to initiate it. Never force your players into a serious romance. It should always ultimately be their choice.
If the players have initiated a romantic relationship, then they want something out of it.
Why did the player want this?
Players are strange creatures. They want things that do not make sense and will take 2 real-life hours trying to get through a door. Only to be defeated by a simple wooden door.
Each player thinks differently and has different interests. That is why you need to figure out what the player wants from these romances even if you are not involved.
If you are not involved, it is a player to player romance. Figure out why they are doing it and possibly help them along their way. Most of the time you will not need to talk to your players outside of game for this since the motive should be obvious. If not, then talk to them.
When a player wants romance in D&D with an NPC, you really need to know what they want. You should talk to these players and keep up to date about their feelings on the situation.
Do they like this NPC and think it is a cute story for their character? Great. You can have some lovey-dovey descriptions about how flush his/her cheeks are and how they stutter. You don’t need to get dirty, just have some cringy flirtations.
Does your player want to use this NPC as a resource more than a romantic interest? If so great! You know what the player wants and will not go too much into the flirtations. They might happen, but you don’t have to rp cring flirting which is a win/win.
Figuring out why your player wants a romance will change how you should treat it, so make sure you know why your player is trying to romance an NPC of yours. Just do not go too far.
Going too far
This is a NSFW video, but it is a great example of taking things too far. This may not be romance, but it is a great example of taking too far in a sexual manner. You have been warned, and skip ahead to the timestamps in the video.
I hope that you were able to watch the video. If not, it is a cring worthy watch to make your skin crawl. No DM should impose their sexual fantasies on people, and that goes the same for players.
Sex should be a fade to black or just a simple roll to let the players laugh at it, either way, the roll goes. In no healthy group should you go into sex at D&D. Someone will be uncomfortable even if they don’t speak up. No one at the table spoke up in the video, and they were all uncomfortable so never assume people are okay with sexual acts in D&D.
This does not just involve full-blown sex! Rape, foreplay, and even groping in any manner should not be allowed at the table. It is very rare for a player to be alright with their character being raped even if it would naturally happen. Foreplay is just uncomfortable, and groping is disgusting.
Keep it to light flirtations and maybe a kiss or 2. Don’t even go into detail with the kiss. Just go into detail a little bit with the flirtations and how they act as a person.
The rule for going too far is: If you can view the other person as an object OR the action as something you ‘want to do to that character’, don’t do it!
This should be an obvious section, but it needs to be here. This happens too much when romance is involved with horny teenagers and we don’t need to become horny teenagers again at our table. We may act like children and have the brain capacity of a toddler when making decisions, but we do not need to act like this. That is not romance in D&D.
I hope that this article helped you understand how to use romance in D&D to further enhance your game. These 6 aspects of romance in D&D should always be thought of before love blossoms.
As long as you always let the player have the final say, know why they desire a romance, and don’t go too far, your romances should be good.
Romance is able to enhance your game by adding depth to characters and giving players something new that they want. I know that it is a little bit cringy at times. If you are not fine with it, you do not have to have romance in D&D. If you are fine with it, I highly encourage you to add some romance to your game.
Romance in D&D is not all bad fanfiction. You can make an amazing relationship for your players. So go out there and enhance your game by adding romance! Or just let it happen.
This has been Wizo and keep rolling!