Keeping with the theme of Sex and D&D and Romance and D&D we will be looking at the deep personal relationships between the different player characters. These characters are evaluated mostly in their traditional OSR settings. Like all old people I have no time for modern relationships. What the heck do you even do on a first date anymore? Anyway this is how it used to be done and so of course how it should be done.
This is a tank, also called a brick or a meat-shield. Tanks can be build around any big, tough, heavy armor using class. They also generally use a shield but if they are badass enough or just don't care about getting hit personally, they can forgo the 'sword and board' for something bigger to whack monsters with.
He is the neglected girlfriend and over-looked husband. He's not glamorous does not normally cast spells or not many. But he's always there doing the dirty work right in front. He's in front for a reason because he has the grit to stand there and get hit. Yes, that's right get hit.
Some of the time he's doing damage any good tank should be able to dish out the pain but he's there to keep the bad guys from his soft squishy friends. How does he relate to the others? Being as he is usually taken for granted by everyone and his sister in the party the tank is the Rodney Dangerfield of the RPG world. He gets no respect. In early games sometimes he was never named, dying at first or second level as a 'Fighting Man' without ever being anything else.
This shadowy character here is the thief or rogue. Sometimes called the 'back stabber', 'knife guy', 'trap guy', burglar etc. This lady's relationship to the other characters is at best complicated. She is the high maintenance girl that is particular about everything. Four hours to get ready for a dinner date? Standard for the thief. A place for everything and everything in its place and she's going to make sure it's just what it appears to be.
She brings more to the relationship than just her meticulous manner and careful eye to detail. She notices those little traps that can stop a party before it gets started and defuse tense social situations with a sure hand. Yes, she can sometimes be greedy and self-centered. There is often tension between her and the other party members.
Occasionally other character's items might go missing which can lead to some tense moments. Her main job is to keep the party safe from pitfalls, darts, poison gas, tripwires, sliding stairs, dead falls, spiked walls etc. Her secondary job is scouting and opening locks quietly. If she can do that much else can be forgiven. Every so often she is called upon in combat. This usually requires she slips out from behind the meat shields and does a 'back stab'. Her one serious offensive attack and it usually eclipses the meat shield's damage if she succeeds. Otherwise her role is to stay alive until she's needed to navigate the deadly shoals of the dungeon world. Think of her as a specialized, needy, but useful companion. Also in the picture above you will notice you can see her. This means she's doing it wrong.
This is your standard issue wizard, also called a 'glass cannon', their relationship to everyone else is to keep their behinds, behind. While they can lay down the hurt or put the enemy to sleep at lower levels that's about it. One or two spells a day a couple cantrips and 'get your behind to the rear'. They are neither very tough nor very hard to hit hence the 'glass' part of 'glass cannon'.
If the thief is the needy one always insisting everything be in its place the wizard is usually the timid retiring type at first. Having only one really useful spell will do that to you. Some suggest that they carry oil to throw or daggers. If I'm the meat shield the last thing I want is a guy who has myopia from reading dusty tomes throwing stuff from behind me. The wizard is passive aggressive. While he has to hide from the badguys most of the time he has to insist his party stop and let him 'study his spells' if he wants to contribute to the next fight. The wizard runs hot and cold when he wants you, he really needs you. When he doesn't you are more boring than his dusty books. Also he wants all that great magic loot at least to look at, at first. And a magic book or scroll? He's yelling, 'dibs!' before anyone else can open their mouths. At higher levels if he is lucky he can turn people into toads. At lower levels he's happiest with his sleep and web or charm person spells. Watch out when he finally hits his 'midlife crisis'. He's had years, (maybe real years) to get where he's at and he's not going to take guff from anybody. Sure they still stand behind the meat shields but they might cast a 'shield' of their own that is mightier than any fortress walls. Milquetoast to earth shaker in one person.
If he's at a low level you keep him in the back next to the next character our cleric.
Here is the cleric. She is the last person picked for everything. Each player at the table is hoping someone else will play the cleric. Everybody. Especially the player who usually plays the cleric. She's the one that wants to fix everyone. Doesn't matter who you are in the party she's taken it upon herself to not only stand there in her armor between you and danger but to put down her mace, flail, club or other blunt instrument to heal you when you need it.
She's that last girl asked to dance. In fact nobody dances with her unless they really need to dance with her. The worst part is that she really wants to 'dance'. She's got these healing spells she's got the big whacking mace, she's got a good shield and armor. She could do stuff but if she gets hurt then she's healing herself instead of the glass cannon or the meat shields. Nobody heals the thief, she's on her own out back stabbing someone where nobody can see her.
The other time the cleric is wanted is when 'party crashers' come. When the undead show up the first thing you do is get her out in front with her holy symbol and her faith. A good roll means half or more of them are just gone, running for the hills. A great roll means -poof- undead dust and a few rusty swords rattling on the ground.
But when she's done it's back to the back of the party next to the glass cannon. Nobody to talk to and no reason to. All she has to offer is platitudes or proselytizing. Sure she might have a friendly smile and kind word but you're embarrassed to be seen with her. She's the pity date.
The final character type I'm going to look at is the ranger.
This is a ranger. He's the bow and arrow guy or elf. Sometimes half elf. Depends on the system. What you need to know is that he's like Aragorn with a little Robin Hood thrown in. Now some of your newfangled rangers have 'animal companions'. This is not a true ranger. No, a ranger puts arrows into stuff and tracks, he can cast a few spells now and then but his main job is to move quietly in the wilderness, scout, track (again in the wilderness) and shoot arrows. He's supposed to shoot lots of arrows because you need a distance weapon after your magic user uses his sleep and magic missile spell.
If your thief was high maintenance and your fighter was the neglected husband, the ranger is the loner. He doesn't want your attention, he wants to hunt things down, surprise them and shoot them where they stand. He is really a loner and you cannot have more than three together at a time. They just won't come to the party. Maybe they don't like everyone wearing the same faded greens and browns? Who knows they just don't get together in big groups. When he's with you in a dungeon you know he's not out patrolling the wilderness looking for threats to the free folk everywhere. So does he. He also loses a bunch of his wilderness related bonuses and goes to being a fighter of some kind. So again, he would rather be somewhere else. He's just not that into you.
Now we get to the actual possible romantic relationships between player characters. Remember when I said this will mostly cover OSR type systems? Well in OSR type systems if you have enough time to worry about whether or not Gnort the Fighting Man is dating Melinena the cute thief you're doing it wrong. No, you're there to kill things and take their treasure. You're a bunch of murder-hobos who occasionally do something good like rid a village of orcs or clear out a nest of ghouls.
But for those of you who have stuck it out this long to see how these should be handled we'll go with the Giant's rule. G rating on everything and immediately 'fade to black' when anything else is suggested. If Cindy Loo Who wants to flirt with Brad the hunk they can do it on their own dang time. I worked hours on this dungeon and there are kids in the house. Get a room.
Let me know what you think. Leave me a comment. If you thought there was too much graphic information let me know. I'll tone it down next time.
As always all pictures are the sole property of whomever owns them and I make no claim nor challenge to anyone's copyright of anything.