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Sep. 30th, 2005 @ 12:32 pm (no subject)
A few days ago it occurred to me that a lot of potentially interesting thematic elements get passed over at the game table, and don't get the kind of GM attention that they may deserve. Some types of thematic elements, like those relating to the horror and action genres, receive a lot of attention from the RPG community. Tons of articles have been written on how to incorporate elements of the horror genre into game sessions, for example. But other potentially powerful elements seem to get largely overlooked.

Lately I've been thinking about how I could experiment with alternate thematic elements, and integrate them into sessions.

The first example I can think of would have to be romance. Not stupid eroticism, wussy stuff, or goth-punk angstiness, but compelling shakespearean elements that might provide motivations, flavor, and nuances of tragedy/comedy currently unaccessible to the casual gamer. I've never seen any published material on how to incorporate love stories into role playing sessions. (Referrals always appreciated!)

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Date:September 30th, 2005 04:53 pm (UTC)

Well, see heres the thing...

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...it depends on the game your playing now doesn't it? the heavier romantic elements also entail a heavier sense of dramatics and attachment, something from personal experience, it becomes hard for players to form apart from to there favourite switchblade. The referrals, no, but this idea definitely has merit and is something i've been interested by for sometime now. If you do find any good information on the subject, let me know.
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Date:September 30th, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
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i think the main flaw with romance added to a regular session is the fact that most games are composed of sweaty gamer dudes playing them

so no matter how romantic the in-game half of things is, the real-life half would be two dudes trying to romance each other over mountain dew and cheetos
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Date:September 30th, 2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
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I think that greek-style tragedy and comedy could be very, very interesting to approach at the game table.
Date:October 1st, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
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I've thought about it as well, because damn, romance would be a good motivator if I ever saw one. The thing is, it would require a very talented DM and writer to actually convey good, delicate romance; it would also require a good player, besides.

I think the best instance in which romance could work is in a one-on-one adventure, because then you have time to focus on the player and make a genuinely ass whooping experience. If you insert romance into a regular game with a full party, I don't think it would have the same effect; the party would have its own strings pulling it in different directions, with events going on that would occupy the player's mind too much for them to really appreciate any subleties in story. It would also take multiple good players to have it work in a group setting.

Those be my thoughts.

Date:October 4th, 2005 10:26 pm (UTC)
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A small tease because i do not have as much time left as i would want:

We have a group in a setting close to historical Japan (~1100) with physical appearances of japanese mythological figures (oni, shinigami, ubume, shiryo...) and some other supernatural phenomena. The character of one of my players and my own character were designed with romantic inclinations - which are kind of working out in a quite entertaining way. There are also some other interestign aspects that already exist, as for instance the struggle of my character against the bonds imposed on her by society (which were just beginning to form in that era) and the classical tatemae / honne (duty versus desires) conflict that she is facing, her relationship to her younger (13 years old) sister who is being played by another participant of our group - the girl has precognitial powers, and my character is constantly struggling as to whether to have her use those powers or forbidding her to use them, as she fears for the safety of her sister. There are also some issues that i want to put focus on in the upcoming campaign - for instance the duality of hare and ke (cleanliness and uncleanliness in the spiritual sense in Shintoism - my character is a female Shinto priestress) and the problem that whenever we vanquish a demon some of its uncleanliness automatically is transferred to us. There are several more issues that i want to touch, but i do not want to bore you.

As for material on how to incorporate love stories in rpgs - i remember reading some positive reviews of a book that was in fact written for D&D; i will have to look those up when i find the time. I personally wonder whether it is even possible to write a good guidiance on that. You certainly need good players and an experienced storyteller (our group has but recently [about one year ago, which is fairly recent when you consider we only manage to play about once a month] progressed this far). But additionally, in romance, as opposed to other issues like for instance ethical conflicts or theological problems, you cannot force matters. Just like in real life, you can but try to offer a favourable setting and things will go on from there - or they will not. For that i believe reading some trashy romance novels and learning to predict human behaviour as well as developing a feeling for when the mood is right will help as much as any book game-designers could offer; but that is an unfounded belief and i am very willing to see myself proved wrong by a really good book on that matter.

Good luck with trying to incorporate those thematic elements - i can only say from my personal experience that it is quite worth it.

Pax vobiscum