Sunday, May 19, 2013

All For Love

"If love's a word that you say, then say it, I will listen"
- Start the Machine, Angels and Airwaves

In stories everywhere, we see love being a huge motivating factor for many characters.  Yet in games such as D&D, I've seen it very little.  PC's either have romances with NPC's that don't really go anywhere.  So far in my games, there's little romance between PC characters.  I'm hoping that will change soon (especially when you throw a couple into a game).

How do I incorporate that change?  By thinking about what love actually is, means and how we feel it.

Psychologists will tell us there are many different kinds of love.  I'm not trying to analyze each aspect/difference in a relationship, but just in general.

When we are in love, we feel invincible, especially if the task at hand is related to the one we love.  Slaying a dragon, is easy when it holds our love in its sinister clutches.  With love, we will face any fear, accept any challenge, and go at any lengths for the person we hold so dear.

In 4E game terms, I think this represents a bonus to Will.  Will tends to represent mental fortitude, which could also be called Willpower.  As a DM, if a character was in a situation where their love was driving them, I would give them a +2 bonus to their Will defense, and possibly a +2 bonus to attacks relating to their love.  Think of this representing Peter Parker saving Mary Jane.  He's fighting all out just for her.  Failure is not an option, because if he fails, he loses Mary Jane.

For D&DNext, I would simply assign Advantage.  It's a great game rule with so many possibilities.

Being in love can also be difficult.  I remember watching Disney's The Sword in the Stone as a child and Merlin talking about how love is the most powerful force in the universe, to which Arthur responds with "More powerful than gravity?".  Yes, Arthur, more powerful than gravity.

Love can affect us negatively.  What happens when we lose the person we love, or something horrible has happened to them?  What if they were transformed into a vampire, like Lucy Westenra in Dracula?  Such a thing would have a profound effect upon a character, giving them a -2 penalty to Will and attacks in 4E, or giving them disadvantage in D&DNext.

I think the whole concept is really interesting.  First, involving a love interest brings out a better character story and a deeper roleplaying experience.  Two, I think giving out bonuses to players is a lot of fun, especially if the odds are stacked against them.  That being said, invoking penalties while fighting a vampire, or zombies can be just a moving for a player as their character is too grief wracked to be of much use.  Combat needs to drive story and have a purpose, and a character who can't really fight creates an interesting party conversation all of its own.

Let me know what you think in the comments below, and check me out on Twitter @artificeralf

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