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View Full Version : Help with cross gender RP and romance in a new group



Talakeal
2015-02-26, 06:32 PM
So I am DMing for a new group of people, all of whom are male and all except one are fairly new to the hobby.

The other night we had a session in which a few instances of flirting and talk of mature relationships came up. Nothing graphic or profane; one player (the only one who was playing a female PC) flirted with a male NPC to distract him while the rest of the party snuck by, and another player slept with a prostitute (off screen) and then RPed the pillow talk afterwards to get some information from her.

To me this is fairly old hat and nothing out of the ordinary, but some of the other players seemed to have a problem with it. Most of them couldn't stop laughing and making immature jokes, while a few seemed really creeped out and genuinely uncomfortable with the situation; even though they weren't directly involved in either of the above situations they still seemed very put off of the game by them.

Anyone had a similar experience or feel the same way? Any advice for how to handle the situation in the future?

Blackhawk748
2015-02-26, 06:53 PM
Anyone had a similar experience or feel the same way? Any advice for how to handle the situation in the future?

If it makes someone uncomfortable, just handwaive over it. The one time i recall doing something like this, my Wood Elf Sorceress distracted a few guards so the party could do whatever it was they were doing. I rolled Bluff, gave a brief description (i believe i said "flirting seductively") and then we went from there. Needless to say they were very distracted.

dps
2015-02-26, 07:10 PM
Roughly, how old are the players involved?

BootStrapTommy
2015-02-26, 07:14 PM
{{scrubbed}}

johnbragg
2015-02-26, 07:26 PM
So I am DMing for a new group of people, all of whom are male and all except one are fairly new to the hobby.

The other night we had a session in which a few instances of flirting and talk of mature relationships came up. Nothing graphic or profane; one player (the only one who was playing a female PC) flirted with a male NPC to distract him while the rest of the party snuck by, and another player slept with a prostitute (off screen) and then RPed the pillow talk afterwards to get some information from her.

To me this is fairly old hat and nothing out of the ordinary, but some of the other players seemed to have a problem with it. Most of them couldn't stop laughing and making immature jokes, while a few seemed really creeped out and genuinely uncomfortable with the situation; even though they weren't directly involved in either of the above situations they still seemed very put off of the game by them.

Anyone had a similar experience or feel the same way? Any advice for how to handle the situation in the future?

Gotta have a talk OOC with the whole table. I'd want to hear from the ones who were (or seemed) squicked out. Seducing people to get your way is a common feature in stories, going back at least to Aeneas and Dido. It's a common enough feature that it gets played for laughed in Tangled, as Flynn Rider's "smolder" has absolutely no effect.

The immature joking may or may not be a problem. Did the joking inflate the two scenes to the point that they dominated the session? I could see people being put off by "Beavis and Butthead play D&D". (Yes I am old).

Vitruviansquid
2015-02-26, 07:36 PM
Do nothing until one of your players brings it up with you.

I find, in social groups in general, being offended or outraged on behalf of someone else just leads to a lot of unnecessarily drama. There is always the possibility that you misread your players, and nobody at the table has an issue, but you offended on their behalf made an issue. There is also the possibility that your players will think you are being unnecessarily strict, and take offense at your assumption of control over the group. There is even the possibility that the person who felt uncomfortable feels silly or guilty for being uncomfortable, and so didn't bring it up with the group, and now feels uncomfortable that you did. And so on, and so forth.

Frozen_Feet
2015-02-26, 07:37 PM
This is business as normal. It doesn't necessarily need any special measures. Just make sure the players who are put off by the situation have enough things of their own to do in the game. This could've happened just as well with a swordfight or a scene of political intrigue - not everyone is as pleased or interested with everything that happens.


Roughly, how old are the players involved?

In my experience, bawdy humor doesn't look at one's age. I've had this situation happen with 7-year-old girl scouts and with men pushing thirty. In the former case, it was not the girls who were mortified.

Talakeal
2015-02-26, 07:43 PM
Do nothing until one of your players brings it up with you.

I find, in social groups in general, being offended or outraged on behalf of someone else just leads to a lot of unnecessarily drama. There is always the possibility that you misread your players, and nobody at the table has an issue, but you offended on their behalf made an issue. There is also the possibility that your players will think you are being unnecessarily strict, and take offense at your assumption of control over the group. There is even the possibility that the person who felt uncomfortable feels silly or guilty for being uncomfortable, and so didn't bring it up with the group, and now feels uncomfortable that you did. And so on, and so forth.

Honestly I didn't even pick up on it at the time. But then again I am pretty oblivious to social clues. The one player whom I know outside the group brought it up to me after the game and was surprised that I hadn't noticed how uncomfortable it was making them.

Honestly I don't know enough about the people involved to know what are why they are being uncomfortable. It might be sexuality in general, it might have to do with cross gender role-play or some combination of the above or maybe something else entirely. I just don't know.



Roughly, how old are the players involved?

Late twenties.

Frozen_Feet
2015-02-26, 07:57 PM
The player who brought it up wasn't any of those who were made uncomfortable? Did they make a guess as to what could've been the issue?

Nalak
2015-02-26, 09:42 PM
First check with the ones who looked uncomfortable. It doesn't have to be a big thing just get a hold of them before the next game and mention that someone said they looked really uncomfortable at a few points and you wanted to check see if they just misread things or if there was something gong on. If there wasn't an issue then no problem and you just tell them to remember to ask since they're new and so the group hasn't adjusted to their presence and nobody wants to make someone uncomfortable. If there is a problem then you can find out what the issue is and how to deal with it.

If its just a matter of certain scenes being uncomfortable like rping pillow talk then you just mention and the group should be able to adjust. If its something like seducing the barmaid and its all just "Okay roll your diplomacy. Okay you two hit it off and your off to do your thing." I'd imagine it might fine as long as its not constant the player can learn to deal with the occasional bit of discomfort. Just like how my group will forever spring giant spiders on the arachnophobe in our games. IF the issue is stuff like "I flirt with the guard to distract them." The player needs to grow a thicker skin.

Jay R
2015-02-28, 02:34 PM
You've left out the details. That description could fit a game in which I hardly noticed it, or a game that was so blue I'd walk away in the middle.

In any event, the issue is that it makes some players uncomfortable. It doesn't matter why. Talk about it before the next session starts, and play the game in a way everyone will enjoy.

Donnadogsoth
2015-03-01, 12:05 PM
So I am DMing for a new group of people, all of whom are male and all except one are fairly new to the hobby.

The other night we had a session in which a few instances of flirting and talk of mature relationships came up. Nothing graphic or profane; one player (the only one who was playing a female PC) flirted with a male NPC to distract him while the rest of the party snuck by, and another player slept with a prostitute (off screen) and then RPed the pillow talk afterwards to get some information from her.

To me this is fairly old hat and nothing out of the ordinary, but some of the other players seemed to have a problem with it. Most of them couldn't stop laughing and making immature jokes, while a few seemed really creeped out and genuinely uncomfortable with the situation; even though they weren't directly involved in either of the above situations they still seemed very put off of the game by them.

Anyone had a similar experience or feel the same way? Any advice for how to handle the situation in the future?

I GMed a female NPC once who had a serious but non-sexual conversation with a male PC. I did my best to capture a verisimilar feminine mien. Later one player took me aside and said, "Some people were a little uncomfortable". I said, "Better they're uncomfortable than bored." He took the point.

Seto
2015-03-01, 12:41 PM
Immature jokes can also be a sign of unease.

I'd suggest you talk, separately, to the players that seemed uncomfortable. If they tell you they were uncomfortable, scrap such scenes off the campaign (if need be, explain the reason to the players that have no problem with it). If they don't tell you they were uncomfortable, but it happens again and you still feel that it hinders their fun, scrap it off the campaign too.
Better to have everyone into the game than only half the players.

Talakeal
2015-03-01, 01:12 PM
Immature jokes can also be a sign of unease.

I'd suggest you talk, separately, to the players that seemed uncomfortable. If they tell you they were uncomfortable, scrap such scenes off the campaign (if need be, explain the reason to the players that have no problem with it). If they don't tell you they were uncomfortable, but it happens again and you still feel that it hinders their fun, scrap it off the campaign too.
Better to have everyone into the game than only half the players.

This is a bit easier said than done. In both cases it was the players, not me, who initiated the scenes.

Furthermore how am I supposed to run a game world with no element of romance in it? Even Disney stories have an implied sexuality behind them that the players can dig up if they look for it.

Seto
2015-03-01, 01:41 PM
This is a bit easier said than done. In both cases it was the players, not me, who initiated the scenes.

True, but as DM you're coordinating the collective fun of the game. Of course it's easier said than done, and talking with players to rectify potential problems in your game is never super fun, especially when you yourself have no problem with this content, but I'm just saying that this seems the ideal answer to me, and that's what I'd do.


Furthermore how am I supposed to run a game world with no element of romance in it? Even Disney stories have an implied sexuality behind them that the players can dig up if they look for it.

Key word is "implied". From your description, sexuality was pretty much implied (and not explicit), but it can be even more implied. Of course it'll exist, how else would people be born ? But it doesn't need to be mentioned or hinted at in any particular way. I know as much because I'm actually having the reverse issue as a player :smallbiggrin: I always consider my characters' sexuality (in the broad sense) while building them, because I think that's an important part of a personality and it helps me add depth. But our games are pretty silent about this kind of thing, and don't let me explore it as much as I'd like.

Dire Moose
2015-03-01, 02:00 PM
This is a bit easier said than done. In both cases it was the players, not me, who initiated the scenes.

Furthermore how am I supposed to run a game world with no element of romance in it? Even Disney stories have an implied sexuality behind them that the players can dig up if they look for it.

I've never needed to include romantic subplots in any of the games I've run. Most of the time, the conflicts between the PCs and the different factions fighting for control of the game world have been enough to keep the story interesting.

Toilet Cobra
2015-03-01, 02:21 PM
Without knowing what was said it's hard to know who exactly was being immature, but the bottom line is you have two groups of players, those who want to include the possibility of flirtation, romance, and liaisons, and those who don't. Split the difference: the next time it comes up in game, let your first groupers portray whatever seduction/dalliance/courtship subplots they want, of any scope they please, but let it be known that actually playing out those scenes in full is making the game bog down and you want to keep things moving quickly. Move smoothly past those scenes with hand-waiving and keep the pillow talk short and strictly business. If they ask you for descriptions, make them brief and to the point.

It seems like you might prefer giving those scenes more air time, and I don't blame you, because it can be a good way to get to know characters more fully and make them seem more real (if handled with maturity, anyhow). But you just don't have the group for it. Commit to the communal enjoyment of the game and just move on.

Sith_Happens
2015-03-01, 07:54 PM
Just a shot in the dark, but my first guess is that the problem is one of insufficient character-player separation. I.e.- one of your players decides to use his character's feminine wiles, then realizes/thinks "Wait a second, I'm flirting/sleeping with a dude right now" and can't stop self-inserting enough to squick himself out.

Maglubiyet
2015-03-01, 08:27 PM
They probably just aren't familiar with the mechanics of these activities and feel embarrassed by their ignorance. Perhaps bringing visual aids, pictures, videos, etc. next time might ease their discomfort.

Your thoughtfulness and preparedness will certainly make a lasting impression on their opinion of this game...

Jay R
2015-03-02, 05:35 PM
Furthermore how am I supposed to run a game world with no element of romance in it?

Nobody has suggested anything remotely like "run[ning] a game world with no element of romance in it". Neither prostitution nor flirtation as a tactical tool is romance.

I have run and played games for decades, and never needed to role-play pillow talk with a prostitute. Run a game in which prostitutes don't have any useful information, and skip any discussion of them. Don't role-play the flirtation, since it's not anybody's game goal. Just announce it and move on.

Kami2awa
2015-03-02, 05:48 PM
In my experience, running any social encounter is made a million times harder by immature players sniggering away in the background, regardless of whether there is romantic/sexual content or not. Unless they are laughing IC (ruining the party's chances of successfully influencing the NPCs, by the way) they should shut up, or do the RP themselves.

Talakeal
2015-03-02, 08:41 PM
Nobody has suggested anything remotely like "run[ning] a game world with no element of romance in it". Neither prostitution nor flirtation as a tactical tool is romance.

I have run and played games for decades, and never needed to role-play pillow talk with a prostitute. Run a game in which prostitutes don't have any useful information, and skip any discussion of them. Don't role-play the flirtation, since it's not anybody's game goal. Just announce it and move on.

It wasn't my idea though. We are playing a western game and one of the NPCs was a prostitute (honestly it seems weird to have a western town without a bordello) and the players decided they needed to interrogate SOMEONE in the town for investigation and they chose to try and seduce the prostitute. Likewise I didn't suggest that they flirt with the NPC, they needed him distracted and that's how they chose to go about it.

It is fairly simple for me to write a campaign where player romance / sexuality isn't a factor. It is a far more difficulty thing to design one where it can't be a factor.

goto124
2015-03-02, 10:49 PM
Handwave it. Roll Diplomancy to see if they got anything from the prostitute. Similarly for the NPC. Say 'you flirt with the NPC', roll up, and move on. Did players complain it was too simplistic? There were other players who were uncomfortable with going into any more detail and spoke up about it right?

Gritmonger
2015-03-02, 11:13 PM
I could see people being put off by "Beavis and Butthead play D&D". (Yes I am old).

Butthead: I ... uh... I kick him in the nads. Huh hhuhhuhhuhhh
Beavis: Yeah! In the NADS!
GM: Uh, this is the king who is trying to send you on a mission...
Butthead: So, uh... these round thingies? Look like blue nads...
Beavis: Yeah! The ones you kicked him in!
GM: Those are twenty-sided dice...
Butthead: Dye-ess? Uh. They look like nads.

Coidzor
2015-03-03, 01:30 AM
Do you have to RP out pillow talk or can you ask them what kind of information they try to get, roll for it(or don't) and then tell them what information they get, possibly with a passed note?

Do you have to RP out what form the flirtation takes or can you have 'em roll after they declare what they're trying to achieve with their flirtation and determine success or failure?

The Grue
2015-03-03, 01:54 AM
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Segev
2015-03-03, 09:59 AM
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Frozen_Feet
2015-03-03, 10:14 AM
Immature jokes can also be a sign of unease.

Oh, they certainly are, because humor is a coping mechanism. Or to put it other way: the ones who are joking or laughing to said jokes are coping. The ones you need to worry about are those who are not.

The Grue
2015-03-03, 01:10 PM
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Mark Hall
2015-03-03, 02:15 PM
As others have said... talk with the folks who looked uncomfortable. I would suggest in private, via e-mail or text. Figure out why they were uncomfortable... it may be that they don't want to see that stuff in the game, it may be because it was two guys, it may simply be "Oh, no, how far is he going to take this?" Find out what their issues were, and address those.

Set firm boundaries for yourself, too, and tell others about them. It's one thing to say "I get a prostitute. How much? Ok, after we're done, I'm going to pump" [insert laughs] "her for information." It's another to flirt with the NPC a bit. But there's the horror stories of people whose out-of-game romances (or frustrations) turned the game into a REALLY uncomfortable situation for pretty much everyone at the table; letting folks know your boundaries can reassure them that it's not going to turn into "Talakeal's Frustrated Libido: The Role-playing Game".

Knaight
2015-03-03, 02:25 PM
{{scrubbed}}.

This sort of thing varies highly between cultures, generations, etc. If we were talking about a different group of people (e.g. American Football fans) I'd be inclined to agree wholeheartedly, but in this context? I'm not sure it's even a plurality.

Geddy2112
2015-03-03, 02:33 PM
It really depends on what the RP is for, what is at stake, and what is gonna be accomplished. Some flirting with random NPC#37 when there is downtime in a bar is not as important than say, a love affair between a PC and the queen.

For trivial and minor things that don't relate to a quest and that players just do for fun, handwave it. Unless your group really likes detail nobody cares if you simplify a hot night with a half elf down to a diplomacy roll or just saying "you flirt/spend the night with the barmaid." Some groups like detail, but you rarely need to say "Well you can get elven IPA or dwarven stout", its just ale at the bar. Going into too much detail over things with no bearing on the game is a waste of time.

If there is something on the line like information or a quest, let it roleplay a bit more. Quests should not be solved by"roll, if you get X or more you pass, Y or less fail" overuse of diplomacy, intimidate etc make social situations lose the RP aspect. Leave out any major details, and if a player really wants to go into that do a side RP. Playing that out at the table wastes time and discomforts most players. Then again, if your group is all good with it then follow rule of fun. In one game I was an Aasimar bard, and through several sessions I developed a girlfriend. Eventually I ended up wanting to retrain some skills into ranks in escape artist. Other players only knew that this NPC and I were a thing, and that if I was in my cabin on the ship, she might be there.

Sometimes romance is a major plot element. In the same game with my Aasimar bard, one player was a secret lover to the princess of the kingdom. He finally reunited with her, only to find out he had a son. These elements had major plot elements, and when we were at the capital he would often be away from the party. We all knew, but there was no RP at the table. His connection and romance saved the party, but also provided lots of troublesome encounters to those who disagreed with his actions. Romance can make a game better, and this one swayed the course of the party and history, but again we did not RP the mechanics at the table.


If your players become notorious for hiring prostitutes or wanting to sleep with NPC's, throw in a trap. A classic geisha assassin might be cute and laugh at your jokes, but is a deadly warrior. A fighter without his armor on or weapons nearby is gonna have a tough time. Or maybe the suave gentleman sipping a martini is a James Bond type, always sleeping with a gun under their pillow. Vishakanya make excellent traps, as they have venomous saliva that can put foes to sleep. I was DMing a game where the party sorcerer hired what he thought was a half elf. Fast forward to what he thinks is first base, he fails a fortitude save and is out like a light. One ring of protection and some gold lost later, nobody ever tried that again in the campaign.

veti
2015-03-03, 03:39 PM
Immature jokes can also be a sign of unease.

Or they can be a way of, y'know, having fun. "Players making immature jokes" is not, in itself, a danger sign. Unless, I guess, it starts to dominate the entire session, so that it becomes impossible to have a serious scene... but there's no indication you're anywhere near that level.

If you've got new players at the table, maybe some of them just aren't cut out for roleplaying. There's no law that says "an RPG is something that everyone can enjoy". Sure the DM is supposed to make sure everyone has a good time, but that doesn't absolve them of the responsibility to make sure they're in the right place doing the right thing.

Yes, of course you don't want to go into more details than necessary. But some details just plain are necessary, and you shouldn't be crippling your game just because someone doesn't quite know how to deal with that. If the level of PG content you've described really makes them uncomfortable, then maybe they need to either build a bridge and get over it, or find something else to do with their afternoons.

BootStrapTommy
2015-03-03, 11:00 PM
{{scrubbed}}

The Grue
2015-03-04, 02:08 AM
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Storm_Of_Snow
2015-03-04, 05:03 AM
For trivial and minor things that don't relate to a quest and that players just do for fun, handwave it. Unless your group really likes detail nobody cares if you simplify a hot night with a half elf down to a diplomacy roll or just saying "you flirt/spend the night with the barmaid." Some groups like detail, but you rarely need to say "Well you can get elven IPA or dwarven stout", its just ale at the bar. Going into too much detail over things with no bearing on the game is a waste of time.

If there is something on the line like information or a quest, let it roleplay a bit more. Quests should not be solved by"roll, if you get X or more you pass, Y or less fail" overuse of diplomacy, intimidate etc make social situations lose the RP aspect. Leave out any major details, and if a player really wants to go into that do a side RP. Playing that out at the table wastes time and discomforts most players. Then again, if your group is all good with it then follow rule of fun.

Agree to an extent, but IMO playing out the minor things adds to immersion - especially with recurring NPCs, and prevents the players from thinking "ok, so we're going into detail, this must be important".



If your players become notorious for hiring prostitutes or wanting to sleep with NPC's, throw in a trap. A classic geisha assassin might be cute and laugh at your jokes, but is a deadly warrior. A fighter without his armor on or weapons nearby is gonna have a tough time. Or maybe the suave gentleman sipping a martini is a James Bond type, always sleeping with a gun under their pillow. Vishakanya make excellent traps, as they have venomous saliva that can put foes to sleep. I was DMing a game where the party sorcerer hired what he thought was a half elf. Fast forward to what he thinks is first base, he fails a fortitude save and is out like a light. One ring of protection and some gold lost later, nobody ever tried that again in the campaign.
Well, if the party are always doing the same things and letting their guard down, any personal foes will be able to exploit that, no matter what it is.


Being uncomfortable with others' uninvited and unwelcome public displays of sexual content is not "prude".
And that's the crux of the issue - everyone has personal boundaries on all sorts of subjects, and some of them got crossed here. Now, whether they're hard boundaries that people don't ever want to cross again, or softer ones that are crossed by the players simply now knowing where you were going to with it is up to your players.

Another vote for talking with them, and I'd also suggest you arrange the next couple of sessions to move away from where that sort of thing is possible, just until your new players get used to you playing different NPCs.

Segev
2015-03-04, 11:00 AM
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The Grue
2015-03-04, 11:14 AM
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VincentTakeda
2015-03-04, 11:57 AM
Its the misadventures of Brown Chicken and Brown Cow

Segev
2015-03-04, 12:02 PM
{{scrubbed}}

Mark Hall
2015-03-04, 12:07 PM
The Mod Wonder: Closed for review, though it may take me a bit to get back to it.

Mark Hall
2015-03-04, 06:35 PM
The Mod Wonder: We are back open for business. Provide advice for how to resolve the issue, not argument about whether or not others are posting "correctly".

Sith_Happens
2015-03-05, 01:36 AM
Huh, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a thread actually get reopened. We did it guys, we managed to only screw up a little bit!:smallwink: