RPGs are typically a team sport. Dates are typically more of a solo thing, depending on what you’re into. But you’d be surprised how compatible and fun date night can be when you introduce a little of that pen and paper magic. Read on for 8 reasons you should be rolling the D20 on those romantic evenings if you haven’t already started drafting character sheets.
I first started running RPGs the same year I started dating my partner. Slightly too anxious about her seeing my true geekiness, I assumed she wouldn’t be interested in my woefully nerdy new hobby. A presumptuous mistake at best, a sexist one at worst. But she’s proven me wrong time and time again, becoming a staple in my longest-running group, branching off into a 2nd game I’m running with some work friends, and even co-writing a Call of Cthulhu campaign that we’re hoping to publish.
Oddly, despite all of that, when she suggested a 1-on-1 game for the first time about a year into our playing together I quickly dismissed the idea. She didn’t really see why the game couldn’t run that way, but I stubbornly insisted it wouldn’t … despite not really knowing why. About four months ago I completely innocently presented that same idea as my own. So we lit some candles, got the snacks together and played our first game of D&D 5e on date night and … it was great! Yet again, the lesson here is that I need to listen to my partner more and also that RPGs are great.
I like having my partner at the table because she challenges me, she’s hilarious, and also because I love her. Anybody you know who roughly fits those three criteria would probably be perfect for a special 1-on-1 game, so give it a go — I promise it’ll be a pretty eye-opening experience either way.
Note: Anybody reading should think about trying a 1-on-1 session for date night, but don’t let romantic love restrict you — pretty much every point I make here, maybe except for #5, can apply to your best friend, a sibling, or anybody else you cherish.
1. It’s something different.
You can’t beat the power of introducing something fresh and fun into your relationship, and you’d be surprised how refreshing it can be for the game, too. Don’t worry if you’re convinced your partner doesn’t really want to join your table, a 1-on-1 can be the perfect way to bring something you love to someone you love without intimidating and alienating them. Can you really beat the feeling of deep dungeon delving with that special someone? … Okay, not like that.
2. You can learn something about your partner.
For example, did you know that my partner loves nothing more than a game session featuring a two-hour long conversation with colorful Neverwinter denizens by the warm hearth of a friendly tavern? And also that she also loves the opportunity to steal stuff like a kleptomaniac? Me neither! At least not before our first date night RPG. It’s things like this that haven’t just offered me an insight into who she is, but also a lot about how the minutiae of an RPG — the wallpaper — can be just as fun as the combat, the intrigue, or the grand narrative. Not to mention I now know to keep an eye on my partner’s natural leanings towards the chaotic side of the alignment chart.
3. It’s a good time to experiment with the way you play the game.
Is there a character voice you want to work on? A homebrew item you want to trial? A freshly written scenario that needs play-testing? This is the perfect time to run all of that, judgment-free(ish). Just be prepared for stifled, 100% supportive giggles and for some potentially too honest feedback.
4. You’ll create cherished RPG memories together.
If you think of a happy, healthy relationship like a long tapestry of significant moments, both good and bad, these are the ones where you tried to seduce a dragon and then usurped a Kobold fiefdom with an enchanted pickaxe all from the comfort of your home. Pretty neat, huh? It will be hard to explain to the grandkids why the family unity quilt has a draconic sigil on it, however.
5. You can be kinda sexy with it.
I don’t know about most GMs, but I tend to find those times a particularly, um, “rowdy” player insists on having detailed sexual experiences with my NPCs a little tough. Not to say I don’t assume the position with the steely demeanor of a truly devoted GM, but inside I’m usually screaming. However, when that same situation arises with my partner … I’m not saying we like to bring the bedroom into the game, but it’s not exactly off the table.
6. Playing solo as a GM, or as a player, will help you reflect on your table(s) and how you approach them.
Since playing on date night, my partner has gotten a lot more assertive at our games — demanding more “screen” time for her character and steering the story in a direction she actually wants to follow rather than the one the other, more dominant, players are careening towards. This is amazing as it’s refreshed our table and forced my oldest group to shake off some of the stale energy we were carrying into games.
7. It can give your favorite NPCs some time to shine.
In my games, my NPCs tend to play second fiddle, and that’s okay. The way I see an RPG, the players should be the stars. Not everybody can be a Hero of the Realm, after all — Who would run the taverns if everybody was busy hunting treasure? That said, as a GM who doesn’t often get to play a character, getting some room to stretch out some of my beloved NPCs is great. It’s refreshing not to have to sweep these (usually) carefully crafted characters to the side in order to allow my motley crew of colorful PCs do their thing.
8. It’s honestly just a great bonding experience.
You know that warm feeling you get when you take a look around the table and everybody’s having a great time? Those games when you can really feel the love in the room between a goofy crew of unlikely characters? Imagine experiencing that special feeling just between you and your SO, getting to bask in that warm glow alongside a person you love so deeply. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
Honestly, you’ll know for yourself if an RPG is the kind of thing you could introduce to your date nights. Maybe you can spin the game into a collaborative, epic love story between two remarkably gorgeous characters who sort of resemble the pair of you? Or maybe those good ol’ swashbuckling, dungeon delving, murder hobo antics are exactly the kind of spice you need to shake your dates up. Either way, you should give it a try.
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