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Originally Posted by guy
Do not put your personal opinions of bigotry or bias or anything on it.

You would do well to heed your own advice here.

You are starting to come to the attention of Moderation team for consistently pushing the boundaries. You are entitled to an opinion, but you are also entitled to keep it to yourself when it is clearly liable to either cause others offence or to stir up ill-feeling. You have had a previous warning for the tone of your posting. You will not receive another. If you cannot say what you want to say without acting like an immature Edgelord, then do not post.

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
Originally Posted by Uncle Lester

I apologize for being partly responsible for the state of your teeth. I will, however, not cease to call the ridiculous tadpole apparition a "dream waifu", for that's what it is. It's imo one of those "panty shot" things Dexai mentioned that's jarring in a game that's not a dating sim or the like.

As for your other points: you say you despite the fetishism, yet you call for enabling it in BG3, since it will please people. You just use nicer words to talk about it. No matter what you call it, the game pandering to people who are in this for "sexual fan service" is just as crass.

And I may not fantasize about characters rejecting my PC, but companions hitting on it is something that DOES decrease my enjoyment of the game. By a LOT. I want companionship, camaraderie, friendship, brother/sisterhood (as kanisatha recently described it), not a horny teen party simulator.

It seems we're in agreement that the "hyper" part is utterly ridiculous though.



I dunno, I think the dream figure is very clearly meant to be seductive for narrative reasons. Like, it is deliberately showing everyone what they want to see because it wants to seduce you to its side. I think it's relevant to the story, not just gratuitous fan service. Those scenes aren't even particularly sexy.

I'm not sure how "companions are attracted to whatever gender the PC is" equals fetishes? I like romance in RPGs for numerous reasons, but not as something to be sexually exciting. I would prefer if they didn't even have explicit sex scenes, but merely fade to black. And I do think the "hitting on" part needs to be toned way down. Maybe if ONE character is like that, it would make sense. As THAT character's personality trait. (Astarion in particular would fit this.) But when they ALL do it, it stands out glaringly and immediately feels ham-fisted.


(To clarify, I didn't necessarily mean "fetishist porn-watchers" by people asking for - let's call it - "romance-related" fan-service. It's also shippers who judge a game by its romance options, for example. Not just sex scenes.)

Perhaps it's not "directly" related, but making all companions playersexual makes them seem like sexbots lined up for your harem. Even if you take the "hyper" out, it's still (potentially) compromising character writing.

What's even more important is what Ixal mentioned, that every companion needs to be romanceable. You can't have any characters that for one reason or another wouldn't want to romance the PC. You can't have "childlike, naive and wholesome" characters. You can't have chaste contemplative/spiritual characters (monks and the like). You can't have widowers who will always be faithful to their wives. You can't have characters that are simply asexual. Or ones that are not interested in relationships (or flings) at this point in their lives. Married characters on a mission to save their spouse. Hell, edgy bastards of the non-horny kind. Nihilists or certain Xan-like pessimists who wouldn't be interested in hedonism or relationships. Some narcissists for whom none is worthy of them. No-nonsense grim mercenaries. And so on. All kinds of different characters. You could make a dozen or two realistically non-romanceable characters, a whole cRPG companion cast, and it wouldn't even be obvious that this is what they have in common.

And this brings me to one of the reasons I think how the tadpole vision is handled is really bad. At the start of character creation, you HAVE to choose a dream waifu for your character. And your PC could be any of the archetypes I mentioned above - for some of them it would be absolutely jarring to specify that "oh boi, would I bang THIS!" (regardless of what "this" is). Another reason is locking tadpole content behind romance(-like narrative). This is something that imo should never be done.

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Originally Posted by Sadurian
Originally Posted by guy
Do not put your personal opinions of bigotry or bias or anything on it.

You would do well to heed your own advice here.

You are starting to come to the attention of Moderation team for consistently pushing the boundaries. You are entitled to an opinion, but you are also entitled to keep it to yourself when it is clearly liable to either cause others offence or to stir up ill-feeling. You have had a previous warning for the tone of your posting. You will not receive another. If you cannot say what you want to say without acting like an immature Edgelord, then do not post.


Myself included.

This is obviously a sensitive topic.

So I am politely asking we keep it constructive, as obviously, there are opinions on how romance is handled.

I do not have a good answer for how to express personal opinions without risking being offensive, but that's try without attacking each others beliefs and experiences.

Thanks in advance.

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Originally Posted by Sharp

For reference, when I talk about realism, what I really mean is narrative consistency, or verisimilitude. I don't mean the world needs to be ultra realistic, otherwise I would take issue with magic existing in the first place, but I mean that every effect needs to have a plausible cause. The world needs to "make sense." And yes, even in a fantasy setting this is important. Pretty much all of the best fantasy writers will tell you that it is an important concept. Brandon Sanderson for example has a youtube series on writing and its one of the topics he covers, if you are curious, I can find a link to it. Its incidentally why I think most RPGs have awful writing (including the divinity games), because in many cases they ignore this entirely, when it should be something which is taken into account. I am perfectly fine with ignoring the story and just playing the game for the combat, but I would obviously prefer it if the writing was also good :P

Just because the setting is fantasy, doesn't mean it is allowed to be implausible within the context of that world, otherwise it ruins the suspension of disbelief. Even fantasy worlds need to have rules and within those rules what happens need to be consistent. Once your setting has established rules, you had better make sure everything operates within them.

This here has less to do with my point about narrative realism and more to do with my point about how you view the creative process. There are 2 main arguments, the first is, that the creator should make things to please their audience (for example, if an artist is commissioned to make a painting, their job is to please the person who commissioned them). The second is, the creator should try to make their own vision. The story they should make is the story they want to tell. I personally hold the second point of view, I do not believe that the artist should compromise on their vision for the audience, even if it means that their art does not sell. Not a very practical perspective, I know, but you could say in some ways I am an idealist.

For those of us who hold the second view point, it doesn't matter if someone wants to romance a certain companion and they can't, we aren't making the game to please them, we are making the game to tell our own story. If people do not like that story, it is ok, there is no problem with that, because it isn't their story, it is ours. In some ways you could say it is selfish to think this way, but in my opinion, the only way you can truly see what an artist is capable of, is if you give them free reign to create the piece that they want to create. And yes, the means I am perfectly fine with the game having decisions in them which were made purely to please the artist which I do not agree with, there are plenty of those I can think of :P

You could treat video games as just a form of entertainment and that is fine, but I believe they have a potential to be a form of art as well. I would rather see the genre elevated to the level of high art, than just treated as cheap entertainment.

That would be a convincing argument - provided that making passes at companions is the only time sex comes up with Astarion. He also talks about girls back in Baldur's Gate. When he is talking about his attraction towards characters which are not even present, he only talks about women. Almost everything about Astarion suggests that he is interested in women and there is very little that suggests he is interested in men. He is a very sexually overt character. Even then of course, this does not entirely rule out the fact that he may bisexual, he might just be afraid of the way people would view him if he admitted it and so does not talk about it overtly (if the world of Faerun was similarly prejudiced as the real world), but if this is the case, it should be something brought up!

My issue is not with all the companions being bisexual, being bisexual is not the same as being player sexual. You could have a group where everyone was bisexual and it would be a plausible group. The problem is that there is a disconnect between how characters behave in relation to the main character vs how they behave to the rest of the world. If this disconnect did not exist, they would not be player sexual. It makes perfect sense for all the characters to be bisexual from the perspective of trying to sell the game to as many people as possible, but if you want to do this, they need to be written as bisexual to begin with. This is not how they feel. In many cases they feel like straight characters which happen to make an exception to the rule in the case of the main character and that is what makes them player sexual.

Shadowheart should have a strong bias against a Githyanki PC and probably not treat the player as a romance option. Incidentally, as far as I could tell from her writing she does come across as someone who could be bisexual, but she does have other trust issues and to make her a more plausible companion these should be explored within her romance. Astarion should probably be straight, if he is not, he should have a good reason as to why he puts on a difference face to the world at large to the way he behaves towards the PC and it should be explained. You get the idea. The companions should be consistent. A player sexual companion is not a bisexual companion, a player sexual companion is a companion that only behaves the way it does in order to satisfy the player. If the audience for a game was 100% male and they all hated gay and bisexual companions, the player sexual companion would be characters that behave gay to the rest of the world but act straight in relation to the PC.

I did read Niara's post above. I think I answered some of her points in my post above, but I will respond to some things.

I personally see no issue with the player not having a lot of options in terms of romance, in fact, I am fine with a player having no options at all if it matches the story the writer is trying to tell. If I was to make a game, I would probably not include any romances at all, because I am not sure I could write them well and even if I could I don't think they would fit well within the type of story I was trying to tell. In my opinion, its ok for someone to not be included within the story that an artist is trying to tell. Then it just so happens that that particular person is not the right audience for that particular story and that is fine. I dislike most music, it is very, very rare for me to find music that represents my personal tastes. That doesn't make that music bad, it just means that most music is not for me.

This is what I dislike about player sexual companions, it is arguing that the purpose of the world should be to please the player, as opposed to what I believe, which is that the world should exist to tell a story and if the story it tells is not one that the player likes, then it is not a story for them. This incidentally is also why I dislike the changing of shadowheart's personality to make people happy, because it is taking the line that, "the player's internal canon is more important than our own."

I am of the opinion that sometimes, less is more. Sometimes by taking away player choices and forcing them into a narrow box, you can tell a better story.



Sure, I get that verisimilitude is important. When I'm playing games, I complain all the time about ludonarrative dissonance, asking time and again, "Why is this this way? This makes absolutely no sense! A real world wouldn't operate like this! This is so stupid and gamey!" Why the fuck does every RPG have very small sums of money tucked away in thousands of crates and barrels randomly strewn through every environment? Who is stashing all these tiny deposits of gold in all these places, and why isn't anyone else collecting them? Why can I waltz into random people's homes (in many games) and just start taking their shit, with no argument from them? Why is every Tom, Dick, and Harry bandit in the world some kind of fanatical zealot who never surrenders or flees even when their side is getting wrecked? These sorts of things, to me, destroy verisimilitude.

Personally, I don't hold video games to the writing standards of novels. Especially not to the standards of the best novelists in the genre. Usually, in a video game, the narrative plays second fiddle to the gameplay, and is often just there to support and contextualize the gameplay. There are games where the story has primacy, but they are rare, and most often smaller indie titles. I love the idea of artists not compromising their vision and all that, but I accept that that is not really possible for any game which has a big team and a big budget. A painter or a novelist can make exactly the art that springs purely from their own creative soul, because they're not investing millions of dollars into making that thing. They don't have a ton of other creatives also working on it with them, each with their own ideas. Video games can be art (I think Disco Elysium, Planescape: Torment, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Kentucky Route Zero, and others are art), but I'm skeptical that big video games can be pure art.

I agree that some more narrative underpinning should be given to Astarion's attraction to the player, but how early does it need to be given? What if you go through almost the whole game thinking that Astarion is into you, only for him to reveal near the end that he was just manipulating you, because he's a vampire and that's what he's learned to do to survive. Maybe he was straight originally, but hundreds of years as a vampire have shifted his sexuality for purely strategic reasons. Also, some people have complicated sexualities where they are almost entirely attracted to one gender, but occasionally attracted to a different one. I have a friend who is a 43-year-old gay man. He has been gay since he was a child, totally gay, unequivocally gay. He never even questioned his gayness. Attracted only to men, that was for his whole life. But just this year, he met a woman and was attracted to her and now has a girlfriend. He doesn't even understand why! (But yes, if my friend was a character in the game, it would of course make sense for all of that to be explicitly part of the story.)

I agree that making characters feel very inconsistent with their apparent attractions should be avoided, unless that very inconsistency is addressed in the narrative. I also agree about the Githyanki thing. I have no problem with characters being racially prejudiced when it comes to romance, as I don't think players care nearly as much about the fantasy race they picked as they do about their gender. (Most people do tend to play characters of their own gender, at least for first playthrough.)

I'm okay with some characters not being romanceable, or with no characters being romanceable. Lots of RPGs that I love have no romances. But I think if they're gonna have them, they might as well write them in such a way that they work no matter what gender a player picks. Sure, if they have a specific sexuality, and you make that sexuality part of the actual story, then there can be more depth there, but I don't mind a little loss of potential depth for the increased choice on the player's part. At least in a big-budget, mass-market, broadly-focused RPG like this, where the story is about other things and the romances are honestly just tacked on as a feature.

I think taking away player choices can absolutely tell a better story, if you have the luxury of making "telling the best possible story" your primary design pillar. I'm a bit of a game designer myself, and one of the projects I'm working on is an RPG in which you can only romance one character, and in fact you don't even have the option to not get into a relationship with her, as it's one of the main things the game is about. The whole story revolves around it, so player choice is not given in that instance. But I don't have to worry about the commercial viability of my product (my livelihood does not depend on it), and don't care how many people like it or don't like it. Larian Studios simply cannot afford to think that way.

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Originally Posted by Ixal

But that defeats your own argument. If its is about power fantasies and pleasing the player then all characters should be romanceable. If some are not because if doesn't fit their character, well thats the exact argument why they shouldn't be playersexual. It does not fit their character.



But if you're intentionally setting out to make the romances playersexual from the beginning, then you can write the characters in way that it does fit their character. Which is what Larian is apparently trying to do. Whether or not their writing holds up is another matter.

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

Personally, I don't hold video games to the writing standards of novels. Especially not to the standards of the best novelists in the genre. Usually, in a video game, the narrative plays second fiddle to the gameplay, and is often just there to support and contextualize the gameplay. There are games where the story has primacy, but they are rare, and most often smaller indie titles.


I choose to hold games to the same standards as novels, because I think given time they can get there, but if we aren't critical of them, they never will. Not only that, but I think games are much better suited to tell stories and have better tools to convey information as well. You can, "show" a substantive amount, without doing any direct telling. A very good example of a game that does this is morrowind. People in each city, in each ashlander tribe even, have different ways of dressing, different cultural norms and react differently to the player. None of this is directly told to you as the player, it is shown to you through how they dress and how they behave. This is information you can intuit, without any text required to provide the additional context.

Games as a story telling medium have a huge potential, you can, for example, show emotion through facial features and NPC mannerisms rather than by telling the player directly. These are things which are not adequately taken advantage of by AAA games, but they really should be!

Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

I love the idea of artists not compromising their vision and all that, but I accept that that is not really possible for any game which has a big team and a big budget. A painter or a novelist can make exactly the art that springs purely from their own creative soul, because they're not investing millions of dollars into making that thing. They don't have a ton of other creatives also working on it with them, each with their own ideas. Video games can be art (I think Disco Elysium, Planescape: Torment, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Kentucky Route Zero, and others are art), but I'm skeptical that BIG video games can be art.


As I said, I am an idealist :P I will hold games to a higher standard than is realistically possible, because if you don't shoot for the moon, then we would never have the moon landing.
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

I agree that some more narrative underpinning should be given to Astarion's attraction to the player, but how early does it need to be given? What if you go through almost the whole game thinking that Astarion is into you, only for him to reveal near the end that he was just manipulating you, because he's a vampire and that's what he's learned to do to survive. Maybe he was straight originally, but hundreds of years as a vampire have shifted his sexuality for purely strategic reasons. Also, some people have complicated sexualities where they are almost entirely attracted to one gender, but occasionally attracted to a different one.

Good questions and I am not poised to answer them, but my complaint was more about player sexual companions in general and not about Astarion. If it is explained further within the narrative, great, it isn't a problem, if not, well then we have an example of what is in my opinion, a poorly characterized character. It is better in my opinion to raise the criticism now and hope they take note of it and address it further on in the story, than not say anything at all.
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

I have a friend who is a 43-year-old gay man. He has been gay since he was a child, totally gay, unequivocally gay. He never even questioned his gayness. Attracted only to men, that was for his whole life. But just this year, he met a woman and was attracted to her and now has a girlfriend. He doesn't even understand why! (But yes, if my friend was a character in the game, it would of course make sense for all of that to be explicitly part of the story.)

I have a friend who recently went through a divorce. She was married to a guy for 21 years and she got a divorce because he came out as gay. It turned out he was not interested in her at all, but he wanted to experience what it was like to have a family plus raise kids and so he went through all of that in order to have the experience. As you could imagine it was very traumatic for her, but in cases like this, there should, most of the time, be a plausible explanation.
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

I'm okay with some characters not being romanceable, or with no characters being romanceable. Lots of RPGs that I love have no romances. But I think if they're gonna have them, they might as well write them in such a way that they work no matter what gender a player picks. Sure, if they have a specific sexuality, and you make that sexuality part of the actual story, then there can be more depth there, but I don't mind a little loss of potential depth for the increased choice on the player's part. At least in a big-budget, mass-market, broadly-focused RPG like this, where the story is about other things and the romances are honestly just tacked on as a feature.

I am in agreement here, but with one caveat. If the artist wants to write a character which is obviously gay or straight, they should not make the character bisexual just to please the fans, they should stick to their original vision. Dorrian in Dragon Age inquisition would not be Dorrian if he was not gay for example, it was an integral part of his character (although we could argue he is probably not very well written, but that is another story entirely).
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies

I think taking away player choices can absolutely tell a better story, if you have the luxury of making "telling the best possible story" your primary design pillar. I'm a bit of a game designer myself, and one of the projects I'm working on is an RPG in which you can only romance one character, and in fact you don't even have the option to not get into a relationship with her, as it's one of the main things the game is about. The whole story revolves around it, so player choice is not given in that instance. But I don't have to worry about the commercial viability of my product (my livelihood does not depend on it), and don't care how many people like it or don't like it. Larian Studios simply cannot think that way.

I am in a similar boat, except I am too lazy to actually make anything. I think procrastination is one of my primary character traits :P

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
Originally Posted by Ixal

But that defeats your own argument. If its is about power fantasies and pleasing the player then all characters should be romanceable. If some are not because if doesn't fit their character, well thats the exact argument why they shouldn't be playersexual. It does not fit their character.



But if you're intentionally setting out to make the romances playersexual from the beginning, then you can write the characters in way that it does fit their character. Which is what Larian is apparently trying to do. Whether or not their writing holds up is another matter.

That would require making everyone bi and open to all races by default as that is the only orientation that works for player sexuality.
Or you basically write most of a characters dialogue and characterization twice, and use the one appropriate for the player characters gender.
But that means, as the game can't know beforehand in which character the player is interested in, that all companions are either interested in males or females which looks strange and "harem style".

Not to mention, even that approach limits the stories you can tell with the companions as they can't have important relationships in the backstory when their orientation is in flux. Unless you write multiple individual stories for them.

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I like how it is now with companions being bisexual or playersexual. It is fair to all. Everyone has the same number and type of romances. I like to match my pc to companions based on personality and actions/alignment. I wouldn't want a good-aligned pc to not have any good-aligned romance options. However, a companion should reject the pc if the pc has done things the companion strongly disagrees with.

They could add more companion friendship dialogue to the party. I think that would help the feeling of the party a lot.

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Originally Posted by Ixal
Not to mention, even that approach limits the stories you can tell with the companions as they can't have important relationships in the backstory when their orientation is in flux. Unless you write multiple individual stories for them.


Wyll and Gale had relationships, Astarion and Laezel likes flings and Shadowheart has flarings that could prevent her from intimacy with someone
datamining says
she had those already in the past and flarings should occur during kiss scene as well - this could be the reason she asked if it hurts and said kiss was a mistake in pre-patch3 version

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So, I am going to summarize some of the arguments being presented and try to deal with them in an even handed and general way. I think a lot of this has to do with art and how we see it, and perhaps to a degree some misconceptions on what art is and why it even applies to this conversation.

Let me start by making it clear where I stand on the topic for those of you who haven't seen my thoughts in previous romance and writing threads on this board: I have no interest in romances personally. I cannot see, and absolutely cannot conjure up, the interest in hitting on a character. Its just not for me. I can see other people are very much attached to them, however, and that concerns me a great deal. Slash fiction has existed for at least five hundred years that I know of, probably longer than that. A couple weeks back when we were discussing armor styles I mentioned that when Mallory penned Le Morte d'Arthur in the mid 15th century nobility across Europe commissioned their own side stories, reiterations, and companion pieces inseparable from the original story but with unique variation. A number of them were also erotically charged. Most concerned Guinevere, sometimes she was chaste, sometimes she was faithful, often she was not, and in many of these bespoke works her relationship dynamics were the only thing which was altered. All of this is simply to say that personal feelings aside a significant number of individuals will always be concerned with interpersonal relationships and tales of seduction. That makes this important, regardless of our own predilections.

Set that aside for a moment, I intend to elaborate on Guinevere a bit further a bit later.

Lets speak on someone specifically who very much lived and breathed to make this matter less theoretical. It is good to consider the abstractions, but often we can be lured by specious thought into the realm of the purely imaginative. There is quite a lot to admire about the masters of art, all of them, from Meade Shaeffer to Leonardo da Vinci. You know da Vinci never finished a commission, spent a considerable amount of his life being sued by his patrons for accepting their wealth and never giving them anything in return. He liked to spend every clear morning riding and his evenings in a nearby tavern where he would drink with the locals and draw caricatures of them, as well as any passing strangers and merchants, for nothing more than their delight. If I recall correctly he refused any coin or compensation. He could draw with one hand and simultaneously paint with the other, and both works would be completely different studies. His manservant was illiterate, so when he sent him to the market it was armed with sketches of those things he wished for the man to procure and when he was 24 he was arrested along with a few other youths at an orgy and charged with sodomy. He may have been gay. May have been bisexual. May have been experimenting and unsure. May have been drinking in another room by himself waiting for his friends and their imminent flagrante delecto to resolve themselves. None of it matters. The only importance in such a matter arises from our interest in him, it can become important but only when he is important to us -and perhaps not on even then. One's sexuality is but the smallest facet of whom they are as a person, the least part of a compelling whole.

If knowing da Vinci may have been queer alters your perception of him, it is not because something fundamental about he himself has changed only your own feelings about him. It isn't in and of itself important, merely important to you. There can be great comfort and satisfaction, I imagine, for some people who wish to explore those aspects of another's sexuality, but ultimately they are trivial. As inconsequential as how one might prefer their eggs. Our value, as human beings, is not tied to those things which we consume. In order for that to become the measure of someone they have to have nothing else. Nothing they have created, nothing they have accomplished, nothing at all.

That would be tragic.

Now let us return to Guinevere. She is often, and best, known for her internal, titanic, struggle between the man she loved with her very being and the other she loved with her tortured heart. . .And it was all a later invention reflecting the trends of courtly -and theoretically platonic but always true- love in ascendance at the time, as with Lancelot's chastity. In the earliest poems and tales we have of each, some four centuries earlier than the best known story with which are all familiar, she was faithful while Lancelot would wed Iblis. Does this change their characters? Very much so. Not because whether they had sex with one another was important in and of itself rather because of the struggle not the sex. We are all ultimately what we do, it wasn't their attraction that was interesting, it was their attempts to resist it and their failure and what would happen as a result.


Were we playing a video game telling their story and playing one of them, whether we chose to experience that story with heterosexual preference or homosexual it would not change a God damn thing that matters







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Originally Posted by DistantStranger


Now let us return to Guinevere. She is often, and best, known for her internal, titanic struggle between the man she loved with her very being and the other she loved with her tortured heart. . .And it was all a later invention reflecting the trends of courtly -and theoretically platonic but always true- love in ascendance at the time, as with Lancelot's chastity. In the earliest poems and tales we have of each, some four centuries earlier than the best known story with which are all familiar, she was faithful while Lancelot would wed Iblis. Does this change their characters? Very much so. Not because whether they had sex with one another was important in and of itself rather because of the struggle not the sex. We are all ultimately what we do, it wasn't their attraction that was interesting, it was their attempts to resist it and their failure and what would happen as a result.



Yes, the point being, it does change their character, and very much so.
Now imagine that Guinevere did not have this struggle with Lancelot alone, but with every member of the round table, and every maiden at the court.

That is what the romance in the game feels like right now. All characters are altering themselves, to be with your pc, and they are being scripted to be with your pc, no matter what you do, or why you do it.

That specifically is what I am speaking against.

As you, or perhaps someone else, mentioned in a previous post.
Write the character, make their story, then script in what it would take to romance the character, if, indeed, that is a gameplay option Larian feels the community wants in the game.

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Never thought this day would come, but I agree with Sharp, who also gave a nice Morrowind example...

Originally Posted by Sharp
I am in a similar boat, except I am too lazy to actually make anything. I think procrastination is one of my primary character traits :P


...and a painfully relatable quote.

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Originally Posted by guy
All characters are altering themselves, to be with your pc, and they are being scripted to be with your pc, no matter what you do, or why you do it.

That specifically is what I am speaking against.



A separate issue outside the scope of my observations here.

For what its worth I am in complete agreement. I am not interested in RPG romances myself. In as much as I am interested, however, it is in that they are so tastelessly and terribly written. I would like to see them more carefully executed even if it is content I would never bother with myself. I have spoken about the issue of every companion dry fucking the protagonist's leg in a separate thread, however, which is why I feel little necessity to discuss it any further here.

In this conversation, I am solely focused on whether NPCs should be pursued romantically, by whom, and to what extent. I think virtually everyone would be satisfied if NPCs did not initiate romances but responded rather to the direction and desire of the individual playing. If you do not care for romances, then you would never see them. If you wish to pursue someone, then you have the ability to do so and may even be successful -regardless of what you are playing and how.

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Originally Posted by Sharp
[I think given time they can get there, but if we aren't critical of them, they never will.




I agree with everything you said this time, but the quoted line is a particularly good point. You're right, we can't advance the medium without criticizing it.

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Originally Posted by Icelyn
I like how it is now with companions being bisexual or playersexual. It is fair to all. Everyone has the same number and type of romances. I like to match my pc to companions based on personality and actions/alignment. I wouldn't want a good-aligned pc to not have any good-aligned romance options. However, a companion should reject the pc if the pc has done things the companion strongly disagrees with.

They could add more companion friendship dialogue to the party. I think that would help the feeling of the party a lot.



Agreed. I really like the idea of more relationship-building-but-not-romantic dialogues with companion characters, too. It shouldn't just be "do the romance to get a lot of extra story content with this character, or get nothing". There should always be some alternate type of relationship you can pursue with them that isn't sexual. Like becoming good friends, or some kind of mentor/student thing, or like a protector/protectee thing (like Minsc and Aerie), or even rivals who compete over everything.

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
I really like the idea of more relationship-building-but-not-romantic dialogues with companion characters, too. It shouldn't just be "do the romance to get a lot of extra story content with this character, or get nothing". There should always be some alternate type of relationship you can pursue with them that isn't sexual. Like becoming good friends, or some kind of mentor/student thing, or like a protector/protectee thing (like Minsc and Aerie), or even rivals who compete over everything.


With this I completely agree. I'd love some possible non-romantic relationships that aren't simply "I'm nice to you because my approval rating is high". Like the examples you mentioned.

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Originally Posted by vometia
Originally Posted by Innateagle
I like the idea of characters' sexuality being influenced by the players' willingness to pursue them. I'm gonna be a little shit, though, and say it's 2020. People apparentely got into an uproar over female Mandalorian armor. Strong independent lesbian character turning straight because male would attract all kinds of crazies.

I remember a lot of people getting angry because you couldn't do that with e.g. Sera in Inquisition and suspect that was the likely source of a lot of the hate for her, which was often excused as not liking her "stubborn" attitude.

As one of the people who had an intense dislike for Sera; for me it was the personality. It felt like they'd taken internet humour and dropped it into a fantasy setting. It did. Not. Work. The lighting engine making everyone look greasy didn't help; for some reason it really didn't look good on her especially.
Anyways, my opinion on BG3: I would personally prefer fade-to-blacks for intimate scenes, and if the characters had specific likes/dislikes with what's between their partner's legs, though I can see it perhaps falling over sometimes.
Have specific preferences could be interesting beyond characterising the npcs though; Astarion for example was (I'm assuming) forced to seduce anyone his master took a fancy to. There could be interesting things with that; instead of "let's make the gay character straight" or vice versa, emotional conflict could be mined from it; how much of his attraction to the player character is simply due to Cazador's forcing him, conditioning him to go after that gender as well, and how much is genuine attraction? I think that would cost too much in devtime to do anything with even if I think it's got an interesting 'hook' to it.

Bit rambly there, sorry. I prefer Shadowheart's most right now because she's so... standoffish? She's interested in you, but even now after several full playthroughs, a few partials and yakking away on this forum, if it wasn't for reading somewhere every party member is romanceable, I honestly wouldn't say for sure if she was feeling you out as a potential friend or lover, if not for that kiss at the end of the celebration at camp. I've had lots of fun chatting with her, despite (more likely because of) the little ray of sunshine she is. I really enjoy those moments with all the characters, the ones where you're talking about stuff. When I learned there wouldn't be fade-to-blacks I was rather surprised (not pleasantly or unpleasantly, just surprised).

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Originally Posted by Some_Twerp753

Have specific preferences could be interesting beyond characterising the npcs though; Astarion for example was (I'm assuming) forced to seduce anyone his master took a fancy to. There could be interesting things with that; instead of "let's make the gay character straight" or vice versa, emotional conflict could be mined from it; how much of his attraction to the player character is simply due to Cazador's forcing him, conditioning him to go after that gender as well, and how much is genuine attraction? I think that would cost too much in devtime to do anything with even if I think it's got an interesting 'hook' to it.



Absolutely, and someone with that sort of history could go in a lot of directions, many of them quite interesting. He could engage in compulsive sexuality while being emotionally dead to anything beyond that or conversely he could be entirely disinterested in the subject of sex at all, or even traumatized to the point that he could not bring himself to share any aspect of himself with anyone ever again.

If the writing were of that caliber conceptually and carried out with equal excellence I would defend such decisions however Lorian chose to ultimately implement them whatever the restriction they might bring. This is the sort of specificity which would make the exceptions to my general rule. I don't mind a character whose romance is restricted to a single orientation providing there is justification for that beyond some arbitrary bias. No matter what shape the narrative may take, quality writing will always have my absolute devotion.

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Originally Posted by DistantStranger
So, I am going to summarize some of the arguments being presented and try to deal with them in an even handed and general way. I think a lot of this has to do with art and how we see it, and perhaps to a degree some misconceptions on what art is and why it even applies to this conversation.

Let me start by making it clear where I stand on the topic for those of you who haven't seen my thoughts in previous romance and writing threads on this board: I have no interest in romances personally. I cannot see, and absolutely cannot conjure up, the interest in hitting on a character. Its just not for me. I can see other people are very much attached to them, however, and that concerns me a great deal. Slash fiction has existed for at least five hundred years that I know of, probably longer than that. A couple weeks back when we were discussing armor styles I mentioned that when Mallory penned Le Morte d'Arthur in the mid 15th century nobility across Europe commissioned their own side stories, reiterations, and companion pieces inseparable from the original story but with unique variation. A number of them were also erotically charged. Most concerned Guinevere, sometimes she was chaste, sometimes she was faithful, often she was not, and in many of these bespoke works her relationship dynamics were the only thing which was altered. All of this is simply to say that personal feelings aside a significant number of individuals will always be concerned with interpersonal relationships and tales of seduction. That makes this important, regardless of our own predilections.

Set that aside for a moment, I intend to elaborate on Guinevere a bit further a bit later.

Lets speak on someone specifically who very much lived and breathed to make this matter less theoretical. It is good to consider the abstractions, but often we can be lured by specious thought into the realm of the purely imaginative. There is quite a lot to admire about the masters of art, all of them, from Meade Shaeffer to Leonardo da Vinci. You know da Vinci never finished a commission, spent a considerable amount of his life being sued by his patrons for accepting their wealth and never giving them anything in return. He liked to spend every clear morning riding and his evenings in a nearby tavern where he would drink with the locals and draw caricatures of them, as well as any passing strangers and merchants, for nothing more than their delight. If I recall correctly he refused any coin or compensation. He could draw with one hand and simultaneously paint with the other, and both works would be completely different studies. His manservant was illiterate, so when he sent him to the market it was armed with sketches of those things he wished for the man to procure and when he was 24 he was arrested along with a few other youths at an orgy and charged with sodomy. He may have been gay. May have been bisexual. May have been experimenting and unsure. May have been drinking in another room by himself waiting for his friends and their imminent flagrante delecto to resolve themselves. None of it matters. The only importance in such a matter arises from our interest in him, it can become important but only when he is important to us -and perhaps not on even then. One's sexuality is but the smallest facet of whom they are as a person, the least part of a compelling whole.

If knowing da Vinci may have been queer alters your perception of him, it is not because something fundamental about he himself has changed only your own feelings about him. It isn't in and of itself important, merely important to you. There can be great comfort and satisfaction, I imagine, for some people who wish to explore those aspects of another's sexuality, but ultimately they are trivial. As inconsequential as how one might prefer their eggs. Our value, as human beings, is not tied to those things which we consume. In order for that to become the measure of someone they have to have nothing else. Nothing they have created, nothing they have accomplished, nothing at all.

That would be tragic.

Now let us return to Guinevere. She is often, and best, known for her internal, titanic, struggle between the man she loved with her very being and the other she loved with her tortured heart. . .And it was all a later invention reflecting the trends of courtly -and theoretically platonic but always true- love in ascendance at the time, as with Lancelot's chastity. In the earliest poems and tales we have of each, some four centuries earlier than the best known story with which are all familiar, she was faithful while Lancelot would wed Iblis. Does this change their characters? Very much so. Not because whether they had sex with one another was important in and of itself rather because of the struggle not the sex. We are all ultimately what we do, it wasn't their attraction that was interesting, it was their attempts to resist it and their failure and what would happen as a result.


Were we playing a video game telling their story and playing one of them, whether we chose to experience that story with heterosexual preference or homosexual it would not change a God damn thing that matters



This is a very nice post, filled with thoughtful commentary and analysis, and with a lot of information to share as well. There's really only one sentence that I take specific issue with, but we'll get to that.


I'm now probably going to use the word "fucking" a lot. When I say "fucking", in this context, I don't necessarily mean just fucking. I don't necessarily mean fucking at all. I mean all romantic or sexual interaction between two people, whether it includes actual fucking or not. It's just a shorthand I'm going to use for a wide range of experiences, mostly because I just like the word "fucking".


For me, the reason I prefer RPGs to have romances is because when they are absent, it feels completely wrong. The whole dynamic of the group feels fake and weird. I don't know about anyone else, but in my life experience, people like fucking. They like it a whole lot. In fact, it's one of the main things they think about, talk about, and seek to do. In any group of people I've been a part of, whether social, professional, educational, or other, people within that group were flirting, thinking about their relationships with each other, talking about their relationships with each other, hooking up (whether secretly or openly), dating and breaking up, and in general, doing a lot of fucking. Theoretically, co-workers aren't supposed to fraternize in that way, in a lot of cases, but let's be real: they do. In my life experience, you put some people together (who are capable of being attracted to one another) for any length of time, and at least some of them are gonna start fucking each other.

When I see a party of adventurers in an RPG and there's no romantic stuff, I feel like these are strangely asexual beings. I mean, if being asexual is specifically part of their character, then that's fine. Nothing wrong with being asexual. But most of the time, these people are not presented as asexual. They're presented as regular old red-blooded (usually) young, (usually) good-looking men and women. And they're facing death together. Every day. Narrowly escaping death. Every day. And saving each other's lives. Every day. And spending all their time together. And sleeping in close quarters. Probably treating each others' wounds which will often involve some state of undress and touching. Possibly changing clothes in front of each other, possibly bathing in front of each other, But even if neither of those things are true, in some respect being in a party like that involves a certain level of intimacy. By my assessment of how human beings behave, there's just no way some of those adventurers wouldn't be hooking up. Unless they're some highly-disciplined unit of intense professionals or some monastic group with a strict religious or philosophical proscription on "that sort of thing".

From a story perspective, I find it weird when a story is willing to go into extreme amounts of depth, detail, and quantity about who is killing who, but not who is fucking who. (Should some of those have been "whom"? I dunno.) In my casual observation of the human species, we do a lot more fucking than killing. I think if we didn't, we would be extinct. Most people (probably everyone I know) have fucked more often than they've killed. Probably a whole LOT more. And they've definitely TALKED a lot more about fucking than about killing. I think it's safe to assume that in the privacy of their thoughts, they've also THOUGHT about fucking more than killing. There could be some exceptions, but I have to think (and hope) that they are rare. So why are stories about killing more interesting than stories about fucking? A story that dwells at great length on violence, but not at all on love, seems like a very inhuman story to me. And one that does not represent the actual motivations of people as I understand them.

So when you're in a party with these people going through all this shit together, and literally NO ONE in the group is ever like, "Hey, we should fuck off some of this stress, eh?" or "Hey, our close proximity and shared intense experiences have caused me to develop some feelings for you", for me it hugely strains credulity. It breaks my immersion. It makes me think, "this is not how the dynamic would be in any believable group of people". So that's why I think RPGs, in particular, should have at least a little bit of intra-party romance as part of their stories. Because without it, the characters don't feel real to me. The situation doesn't feel real to me. Like an entire (major) dimension of humanity has been stripped away from these characters, and its absence is glaring.

Now, it doesn't HAVE to be romance involving the PC. It could be NPC + NPC romance, and that satisfies my verisimilitude test. In The Outer Worlds, you can't romance any companions, but one of the companions DOES have a major subplot entirely devoted to her love life, and her budding relationship with an NPC outside the party. It's cute, and more importantly, it forestalls the feeling of "why don't ANY of these people have genitals and/or hearts?" because at least one person is showing a normal, relatable interest in fucking. (Although, the specific character and specific questline in that game is so sweet and wholesome it kinda makes me feel bad for using "fucking" there.) I think it's probably BETTER, in a lot of cases, to have some of the romance involve the PC, though, because that's something that draws their character more into the story and particularly into the sense of relationship with these party members. Also, if you have all the other characters hooking up, but no one wants to hook up with the PC, it kinda makes you wonder what's wrong with your character. "Am I playing an uggo here or what?"

Obviously it can be overdone. It can be done badly. It has definitely been done VERY badly at times. And particularly ham-fisted romance is generally worse than no romance at all. But I don't think it takes MUCH to make it at least passably decent. The NPCs don't need to be overly aggressive about it. They don't need to hit on the PC. For various reasons, it's probably best to let the PC do all the initiating. (Some people already receive too much unwanted sexual attention in real life, and don't want to deal with that shit in a game, too.) So when people say, "man this party scene where suddenly all my companions tried to get in my pants felt really weird and bad", I can totally see why. It's not well-done. It needs improvement. But at least it's somewhat believable, to me. I've been to plenty of parties IRL where practically everyone was trying to get laid with SOMEONE, and desperately so. Especially when everyone's drinking. But the scene is still too much.


Now, Stranger, to the one thing you said that I was like "hold up, there" to. It was this: "One's sexuality is but the smallest facet of whom they are as a person, the least part of a compelling whole."

That's painting with a pretty broad brush there, my friend. That . . . assumes a lot. Maybe that's true for some people, but for others, their sexuality is a very large facet of who they are, and much more than the least part. Especially people whose sexuality has been demonized or outlawed or subject to social opprobrium. People who have been hated specifically for their sexuality, people who have had to fight for basic rights denied them specifically due to their sexuality, people who have been in fear for their life, just because of their sexuality. For such people, their sexuality is not some trivial little detail, some irrelevant line on a form somewhere. It could be pretty central to their whole life experience.

And of course, sex itself is of greater or lesser importance to different people. You have asexuals and demisexuals, who mostly don't give a fuck about fucking, and then you have nymphomaniacs and sex addicts and sexual predators, whose thoughts may be almost entirely consumed with matters of fucking. Sexuality, AND the importance of it, is a deeply individual thing, and I don't think we can blithely say that it's just "the smallest facet of a person" indiscriminately.

I object to that sentence, but I don't find it, or you, offensive. I'm sure you didn't mean anything harmful by it. So we cool.

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Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
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Originally Posted by Dexai
Originally Posted by Firesnakearies
You talk a lot here about realism, it's kind of your central thesis as I can tell. But I don't know that we need realism in a fantasy video game. I mean, the word fantasy is right there. I dunno about you, but in my fantasies, everyone I'm attracted to is also attracted to me. I don't sit and fantasize about someone saying, "Sorry, I'm not into you." Also video game. Which is a form of entertainment, right? So when you say the purpose of "people" in the "world" is not to please you, I think maybe it kind of is? In a video game? Now of course different people will be "pleased" by different things, and it's impossible to please everyone. So I think they have to try to assess which option pleases more people. And I don't know which one it is. But it might be playersexual characters, mightn't it?


I'm sorry to cut this right out of its context but I really think this hits the heart of the argument: I don't play video games for erotic or fetish fantasies. I don't watch tv shows for fetish purposes either. I don't read books for it either. It's not the kind of entertainment I want. It's not the kind of "fantasy" I want.

Honestly, there is a big problem with how rpgs have come to be burdened with an expectation of appealing to fetishes with their "romances" these days. It's the video equivalent of blatant panty shots and ridiculous boobiting in anime. I think alice was right in invoking the Miyazaki meme but maybe not for the same reason as you. There's always been this weird, toxic fetish culture part of nerd culture but I certainly do not think it is what most people approach the media, whether anime or video game, for. It just gets a lot of attention because it's what people who spend an unhealthy amount of time on the internet obsessing about media clamour for.

I don't need a video game waifu. I don't need the game to fuel my fetishes. I don't need constant sexual fan service. I don't need characters to be defined by being vehicles for my sexual fantasies. I think media suffers and becomes less good from having these as pillars of their design philosophy.

I want strong characters. Strong characters does not mean characters with muscle mass or 12+ in their Strength attribute. Strong characters mean characters with a well defined, realistic characterisation, the more depth the better. I want characters that have their own goals and aims, and that don't just lull around behind the PC regardless of what you do. I don't want characters that bend around your character like spineless sea churning.

The main problem as I see it isn't that just that the characters are player-sexual. This would in itself be a weakness of characterisation, but can be overcome with good writing (something Larian lacks). The main problem is that they are hyper-player-sexual. They're throwing themselves at the player like cats in heat, like I was actually playing an hentai harem-collecting game instead a high fantasy adventure. It's not exciting, it's certainly not romantic, and it's not even enrousing. It's laughable. These aren't characters. These are vehicles. These are anime panty-shots. The only word that can describe it is cringeworthy.



Who was talking about fetishes? I wasn't. In fact I agree with everything you said about fetishism in gaming. I find it distasteful as well. I find fan service crass, and I grit my teeth any time someone says "waifu". (I feel dirty just having typed that word.) I think the stuff you're talking about is gross, too.

I'm just talking about, in a game which is already a massive power fantasy in every other respect, having the character your character likes also like your character seems pretty reasonable. When people fantasize about being a character in a fantasy world, they probably don't fantasize about people NOT being attracted to that character. I could be wrong, maybe there's a bit subset of people craving some good rejection experiences in their RPGs.

I also agree with you about the hyper part. That's a very different thing from merely being playersexual, and I think it's definitely a problem. The part where suddenly every party member wants to sleep with you (or talk about sleeping with you) at the same time is really poorly done, in my opinion, and I hope they change it. It comes across right now as very weird.


Perhaps I should have avoided the word fetish, it is perhaps a little too negatively loaded, but I can't think of a better way to express the kind of sexually loaded fanservice it appears to me as. The act of making characters player-sexual reduces them to vehicles for the player's sexual fantasy in that aspect.

But I do, even if I dislike it, understand the resource argument which I believe is the main reason they make it like that. I went on a bunch about it before because I guess I had some hot air to vent about it, but the main reason I decided to post in this thread wasn't the player-sexuality in itself but said hyper-ism of it, like you say. When I saw this thread's title, "dial back the romance", that to me means first are foremost make it less hyper. Player-sexuality can stay for all I care, it's not the worst. But the cringeworthy party scenes, I really do wish they rewrote that part.

The bolded part -- I am currently replaying the DA games, now I'm at DA2 (currently romancing Anders, by the way, speaking of cringeworthy dialogue -- the player character really acts like the most horrible douche if you select the romance dialogue choices for him) and during it I remembered how one of my favourite things -- maybe because of how everyone else are just at your whim -- from it was selecting the romance dialogue option with Aveline and having her repeatedly pass on the hot hot piece of mass murdering asshole I was wink

But that is just a fun story. I don't think I would like rejection simulator either. You have a point in that, but to me that does not outweigh my wish to have characters rather than vehicles.


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