With the wedding of two great friends at hand I can’t help but return the stables of the amorous. We originally released the Heartbound Heroes pdf wanting to add a mechanical answer to romance in the Pathfinder Roleplaying game. Sometimes people aren’t exactly sure how to approach these situations in appropriate manners and the ruleset is meant to present a frame work for simplification of those decisions to either A) reduce the role-playing element to a more mechanics-driven level to minimize… awkward… out-of-game consequences or B) reward characters who do role-play the hell out of an in-game romance. But just because we can do something in game doesn’t always mean we should.
Before cupid lets loose in your games consider the following:
* How mature is the group you game with? – If the group is mixed ages and/or emotional developmental stages, it might be best for your love to quietly simmer in-game. A lack of respect or seriousness to the subject might result in inappropriate sexual content or exaggerated caricatures that will be distracting and damaging to overall game play.
* How real is the romance? – While the idea of a in-game vehicle for real romance (ala Unicorn City) is conceptually cute… It is most often creepy and awkward. Its fine in the girl who played the ranger is also smoking hot, but maybe ask her to pizza before next session instead of stalking her character through the woods with charm spells prepped… ew.
* How similar is the situation to reality? – Similar to but different then the prior question, it pays to know a general idea of the real world relationships of your gaming friends before diving into in-game romance. When you and Dave get into a hot and heavy relationship (with mechanical benefits) between your zen archer and his magus, remember that the circumstances of their meeting are all too similar to those with Brian and his real life ex-wife.
* Will this make the game more rich? – Ask the GM whether or not a love subplot is good for their story. See if they are planning a sweeping high fantasy that would be enriched by the Prince and the Necromancer falling into a forbidden affair or if the dungeon-crawl, slaughter-fest they have in mind is just likely to make one of your characters forlorn right away.
* When in doubt, did you ask the group? – If you aren’t sure of the above, for the love of love gods… ask. A supportive group can make romance threads in the greater story an awesome and rewarding piece of a game’s composition. but there are players that just don’t want it at the table at all. Best to know before your elf tosses her eternal heart to the wind.
I do promise you that love handled well can make your game deeper and more rewarding, and speaking of Love’s Promises…
Vows of the Heart (Heartbound)
Prerequisites: A Heartbound Partner, Constitution 13+ or Wisdom 13+
Benefit: Upon selecting this feat may make a Vow of the Heart. For a number of times equal to the number of Heartbound feats you possess you may swear a vow of love to the keeper of your heart. As you make each Vow record the wording and roll a d20, also recording the results. A number of times per day equal to the number of Heartbound feats you possess, you may as a free action substitute an Vow roll in place of a roll for a saving throw, so long as failing the save would interfere with your Vow. If you gain a new Heartbound feat or somehow fulfill a Vow, you may swear a new one to your maximum limit.
Note: For more on the Heartbound feat type see Transcendent 10: Heartbound Heroes.