Well, this post – What’s Love Got to do with It – at Geeks Dream Girl got me thinking. How had we used romance in the campaign? At first I considered writing a reply at her post, but quickly the answer grew and grew. In the end it came out as a separate post instead.
Love and Marriage in the Wizard Campaign
The main element to keep in mind is that, the campaign focuses on a group of students at The Great School of Magic. All the characters are human or elven wizards, and they acquire XP from attending classes and passing exams (The campaign and a series of it’s house rules are detailed here).
Embarrassing Moments at the Opera
One character was a fine young noble lady and like her parents she is a wizard, though still just a student (at level 5). In one session it was planned to create an embarrassing and sticky situation. The character had been courted by a bumbling, rich merchant, who wanted the joys of noblesse by marrying a noble lady. Our character hadn’t the slightest interest in the NPC but tolerated his presence. However one night at the opera, he had hired a wizard to create the perfect moment. During the romantic climax of the opera, he would propose in full public to the young lady. We had a hilarious scene with the character turning down this inappropriate character in full public embarrassing both him and her (and earning her an enemy for later).
Your parents want you to date…
Her troubles however were far from over. As the daughter of a fine noble family, her parents had arranged an alliance with another fine family. The basis for the alliance would be the marriage of their children. I had the parents appear and demand their daughter – the character – to go on a date with the son in the other family. We played out a series of amusing scenes with the two teens truýing to date, neither being very interested and the boy being a nervous wreck, who were assisted by a butler hiding in the bushes whispering him advice on to say.
Since the dating didn’t work out and since the character protested gravely to her parents, they ended giving up on having the two kids to date. However as the GM I wasn’t quite finished …
The Kid has a Sister
Months later the aforementioned kid’s older sister returned from a journey abroad. She is a popular girl with powerful friends and an accomplished wizard (being a year ahead of our characters in school, she was a higher level spellcaster). Now nobles being nobles she felt slighted that the character had refused to date her younger brother, so at a great ball she approached the character and demanded, that the character assumed dating her younger brother or she would face the character in a wizard duel.
Now the players were worried. The older sister was a formidable opponent. Beating her on the social arena was next to impossible were her allies, and in a duel she would be more powerful, than the player character.
The character being a proud, young noble lady refused to date the boy, and a devious scheme were planned by the players. They looked around at their NPC-friends and allies, and found a promising young wizardess of a minor burgher-family. The acquired two Philters of love and held a party where both the kid and the young wizardess were invited. During the party the characters slipped the two vials into the two youngsters drinks, and made sure they fell in love with each other. Since the younger brother now was interested in another girl, there would be no need for him to date our player’s character, and therefore no risk of having to duel the older sister. Thus they solved the problem of the involuntary dating.
Yet our character ended up married, and not to someone she loves …
A New Diplomat in Town
Much later a new character entered the campaign. A young (in Elvish terms) diplomat from the Kingdom of Wendar arrived at the capital in the campaign. His situation was quite complicated, as the post were originally considered a joke at the court back at home in Wendar, and he had received the post without knowing that it was a joke. Things however changed when the nation, where he resided, The Principalities of Glantri, suddenly were at war with a distant empire. Suddenly the local nobles wanted him to entreat a military alliance, and what had earlier been a joke suddenly became a very serious thing and another noble were sent from The Kingdom of Wendar to replace him. This the character had no intention of accepting, and the player began planning on securing the post as the diplomatic representative.
The plan was simple: Create a military alliance between the two nations. However a marriage was necessary to finalize the treaty, so he had to find a wife – fast.
Enter our young noble lady, who had no interest in getting married. The two players negotiated and they planned, that their characters would enter the political marriage and keep it loveless (as the treaty did not stipulate any heirs between the married).
Other Romantic Events
Love, dating and marriage plays a great role in the campaign:
One of the characters got her hands on a powerful magical item, but it could be activated by three drops of blood from her true love. As such it was no great challenge – he would gladly give the three drops, but it required the player to choose someone in the campaign to be her character’s true love.
Another character met a fine young and rich lady, that he decided to date. She fell in love with him, and on a journey to her fathers estate – where the character got to meet his fiancee’s three huge brothers – he was almost forced into a magical shotgun marriage, but he succeeded in talking himself out the instant marriage, but he had to be careful, as he discovered that his coming father-in-law were none other than the magister handling the taxes of his parents domain – and tax-fraught in the magical wizard nation is a capital crime. He had to make sure, he insulted no one and avoided being married faster, than he had planned.
Another character discovered that his beloved had another suitor, who was a young and dandy nobleman allied to enemies of the characters. He had thusly a powerful and troublesome rival, that he had to oust.
At the Heart of the Love Story is the Character
The romantic plots all share the fact, that one of the player characters are in the center of the plot. Sometimes love or marriage is demanded by the surroundings, sometimes it is the character looking for a partner only to find new trouble. These challenges easily lasts one or more sessions and they are the result of much mirth among us. The above mentioned stories can be summed up briefly and in a more generic sense, so that they can be applied in other campaigns.
- The challenges are rather simple in their nature, and it is the context that might make them sound complicated:
- Rich merchant asks noble woman for marriage in public. Accepting or turning the proposition down will generate embarrassment on behalf of the one or the other
- Magic item only works with true feelings
- Parents wants to engage their child in a political marriage
- Older sibling wants you to date their younger sibling or they’ll beat you up
- In order to keep your position, you must negotiate a deal, and the deal can only be finalized with a wedding
- The girl you’re dating is the daughter of man, whose political power can tumble your parents position.
- The girl you’re dating haves the attention of another, whom she may not like, but remains a problem until properly ousted