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BevH

So You're Going to Write a Romance

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Heh, my two cents would be:

 

Start with summarizing what differ your romance from all other BioWARE's and custom ones. Stick to it.

 

Prepare the game plan: how many lovetalks do you want? Write down at least 75% of the topics for the lovetalks before starting to write your Anomen conflict :cry: and LT1. Otherwise you risk to run out of steam on LT8 when they discussed PC's Bhaal's heritage, dramma in NPC's past, kissed and got into bed together.

 

Build a storyline for the romance: how it started, how it developped and how it ended.

 

Do not try to stuff your entire romance storyline into 1 lovetalk - try to stay with one topic discussed per talk. You always have LT the next to present another idea.

 

Make sure PC has the ways to express him/herself. Options and expositions of PC feelings that one can chose from will not be objected to by anyone. A page of description of how PC feels which is forced upon the PC will be objected to by some players. Chose few PC's voices and stick with them throughout (ie chivalrious youth, mischevous brat, dreamer... etc) in the options.

 

When you write your dialogue, remeber that PC can only chose one option out of the ones you offered to him/her, so even if it looks to you like there is a lot of text it can be that PC only gets a one-turn exchange.

 

Make sure that PC does get the key point in every exchange so she/he can follow the storyline w/o difficulty.

 

Try to avoid the topics every other romance use. Try to solve the "obligatory" encounters in a different way.

 

Choose your style: do you want dialogue only or volumnous descriptions of settings and feelings? Stick to it.

 

Make every dialogue count - avoid fillers. If you have nothing more to say - do not. Nobody said that it *has* to be 30 talks in SoA.

 

Stay in Faerun. Research lore. Use appropriate racial features/options. Too many exceptions from the rule becomes a rule. A poetic and melancholic dwarf can be interesting, but not entirely dwarvish...

 

Do not try to mask character's flaws. Or invent them and then do not use.

 

Do not write your Anomen's conflict before everything else...

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Various: Noted.

 

One idea I like, and am trying to develop in the romance for the NPC I'm writing, is making "honesty" a criterion, rather than allowing the PC to bluff his/her way through the LTs by telling the NPC what they want to hear. In other words, setting the romance scripting up so that the PC needs to choose dialogue options that actually fit the PC's alignment and/or past actions (and possibly class/race, but that's kinda iffy); otherwise the NPC will eventually catch on that they're being BS'ed, and generally won't be happy with it. Hence, there won't be one right path through the romance; which path is the right one depends on how the PC is.

 

This is part of a general effort to make the PC *think* about the romance, rather than presenting a formulaic "romance by numbers" where the right option out of a set of stereotypical options is always the same number (1...1...1...1...1...).

 

Beyond that, one thing I really appreciated about the Imoen Romance (in abstract; I never really explored it) is a "friends, but not lovers" state, distinct from the romance=3 ("dead") state where it's just business between the PC and the NPC. This provides a chance for character depth and positive interaction for PCs who are romancing another character or who aren't eligible for the romance for other reasons (IE, wrong gender). I'm working this concept into my mod's romance, too...

 

[EDIT]PS: you mentioned lore/research. Any sources you'd recommend? (My wife and 17-month-old assure me that sources that don't involve shelling out money are preferred...)

Edited by Azzathoth

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you mentioned lore/research.  Any sources you'd recommend?  (My wife and 17-month-old assure me that sources that don't involve shelling out money are preferred...)

 

A good place to start would be the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Home Page, not least the Downloads and Archives sections.

 

http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/fr/welcome

 

With the help of Google and some patience you can find loads of other sites of FR lore.

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Some more lore sources:

 

www.candlekeep.com

www.myth-drannor.net

 

And, yeah, what Princeps said.

 

Most NPC mods coming out now have this friendship route you mentioned.

 

As for limiting choices, I, personally, would not like the player's choices to be limited by stats/race/alignment, since basically it would mean having two, maximum three replies instead of four or five, which can possibly lead to less interactivity and linear writing. I see nothing wrong in adding clas/race-specific dialogues, however, if they are more than: "So, PC, you are a kensai/mage. Tell me, how did you come to this decision?"

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I agree with Kulyok that overly restricting options might not be such a good idea. I liked how Jastey handled things in Ajantis Romance, with Ajantis tracking the "bad" decisions PC made, *and* PC's reputation, and would talk to PC about it, before doing anything drastic. :)

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I agree with Kulyok that overly restricting options might not be such a good idea. I liked how Jastey handled things in Ajantis Romance, with Ajantis tracking the "bad" decisions PC made, *and* PC's reputation, and would talk to PC about it, before doing anything drastic. :)

 

Let me clarify: what I mean is, for example, if your character has a Neutral Evil alignment, and takes dialog options that present themselves as decent and caring, she'll see through it (in other words, players acting drastically out-of-character in an apparent attempt to appeal to her are assumed to be "smooth-talking" rather than simply poorly roleplayed). All the options (aside from class-specific stuff like you mentioned, for example...I like that idea, especially with stronghold-specific dialogs) are still available, but how she'll react to a given reply varies with the player's alignment and certain major decisions in the past. This won't kill the romance instantly, but it'll increment a "bulls--t counter" or something to that effect, which will kill the romance if it gets too high. [EDIT]This also applies to--and will probably be more noticeable on--the law-chaos axis.[/EDIT]

 

And yeah, I had something partially analogous to whatyou describe with Ajantis in mind already...

Edited by Azzathoth

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But why can't a Neutral Evil character be decent and caring towards the one they love? See Viconia.

 

Also, the side effect of such extensive and lenghty checks is:

1) even on my fast laptop, Ajantis had problems compared to, say, Coran - his player-initiated menu had a 3-4 seconds delay before showing on the screen;

2) it may feel creepy rather than realistic, i.e. that NPC is spying and evaluating you, instead of falling in love with you.

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But  why can't a Neutral Evil character be decent and caring towards the one they love? See Viconia.

 

Also, the side effect of such extensive and lenghty checks is:

1) even on my fast laptop, Ajantis had problems compared to, say, Coran - his player-initiated menu had a 3-4 seconds delay before showing on the screen;

2) it may feel creepy rather than realistic, i.e. that NPC is spying and evaluating you, instead of falling in love with you.

 

Because A) I suppose that wasn't the best example, but B) she's not so myopic as to judge a person's character solely on the way the person [overtly] treats her. Her background has given her plenty of reason to be wary. [EDIT]Faced with a generally evil person who's nice to her specifically, she (like me, and most people, I suspect) would consider it more plausible that the person (really) wanted something from her, rather than truly valuing her as a friend and companion, than that she alone out of all Faerun happens to have a *secure* place in the PC's icy heart. It is, I suppose, possible that a PC could genuinely be played that way (a person who has no empathy, hence no compassion, for those viewed as "sheep" but relates well to specific individuals comes to mind, though this is not a personality that would impress her much).

 

[EDIT] Although, reflecting on her personality, it makes sense that she'd be somewhat more tolerant of a person who's openly self-centered than one who's two-faced...[/EDIT]

 

As for the checks...the only thing I've found that ever stalled before loading was the custom music in the Imoen Romance. Sure there isn't any kind of music on those menus? I find it difficult to believe that the game can't do a simple dozen-odd variable checks without hiccupping... [EDIT]Unless, of course, the modders didn't use a properly modular design to keep the game looking at one part of a complex system at a time...[/EDIT]

 

[EDIT]And in terms of her wariness being creepy...I dunno, I find the idea of someone falling in love with a facade rather more disconcerting, especially considering the experience some of my acquiantances have had with it. Trust takes time, especially for her, and she definitely isn't about to trust blindly. That's reasonable, and in-character. *shrugs*

 

[EDIT]0wnage! Myth-drannor.net's half-elf resources are just what I was looking for...aside from stuff on the histories of major Amnian organizations. I'll check Candlekeep for the organization stuff...

 

Damn, now I have to redo my timeline. ;/

Edited by Azzathoth

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