Online Text RPGs: Roleplaying Relationships

text relationships

By Chris J. Johnston

As with any MMO roleplaying game, relationships between characters are very important. If characters do not interact at all, why not just go play a single player game? Though 'relationship' usually implies romance and love, it also covers any other form of bond between players; friend, foe, family, et cetera.

All roleplaying games require relationships, but not all of them require or even allow the (rare) text romance because of the maturity required in roleplaying such a relationship. A majority of casual text MUD players have a difficult time separating the personality of their character from their own personality. Consequently, developing an intimate relationship with another character can be dangerous. Here are a few tips for having your character form a successful and safe relationship with another character.

Be Different IC From OOC

The dangerous part of a text game relationship stems from the blurring of the in-character and out-of-character boundary. You must remember at all times that your character is not you, and that the character whom your character is roleplaying a relationship with is also just that; a role! Your text partner is not just the screen name of another person on the internet. Obviously there is a real person playing that character, but there is absolutely no way to know how similar to their character they are. What if they don't understand the point of roleplay? Whether you like to believe it or not, you should not trust anyone at (text) face value in a game until you know how strongly they separate themselves from their character. You need to be adamant that your character is not you... in case your text partner does not.

Establish OOC Boundaries

As with any relationship, in real life or otherwise, communication is important. Assume that nothing is implicit, and be very clear about what you want out of a text relationship. There is no problem with sending a friendly out-of-character message to your partner stating your boundaries. You should be sure to make a few things clear: 1) Your character is not a copy of you, 2) You are not interested in an out-of-character relationship at this time, and 3) If you ask them to stop something and they refuse, you can and will contact the admins, who will quickly intervene. Regarding the second item, I included "at this time" because it IS possible to decide that you are interested in an out-of-character relationship after roleplaying. Just be careful, as with any internet dating, and make it clear that the text relationship does not mean anything in itself.

Be Smart About Roleplaying Intimacy

If you want to roleplay having an intimate relationship with your text partner, make sure that you are on the same page about how in-depth your roleplay will go. Understand that you should never have to roleplay any degree of intimacy, physical or emotional, that you are uncomfortable with; it is perfectly acceptable to roleplay up until a point, and then "fade to black" and pick up with your roleplay after the scene or conversation. Finally, make sure that your motivations are clear; in entering this relationship, you are roleplaying out your characters' feelings and desires, and it doesn't imply anything special between you and that character's player. I suppose you could take all of the stuff written above and condense it into three words: BE CAREFUL and ROLEPLAY. And don't forget to have fun while you're at it!

Now that you know how to be safe about it, go get text-married today on some of the best online text RPGs available today!

Chris J. Johnston is a text game enthusiast and currently plays games from

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Considering Daryn alone has had over 20 intimate and exhilaratingly fantastic romantic relationships in his 90+ in-game years... I like to think of myself as a master of Achaean Relationships. And then I slap myself and remind myself that thinking like that makes me an idiot!


Kinda glad I got outta the Casanova habit though. The Drama was getting out of hand.

I dunno why this comment gave me a giggle.

I thought playing multiple characters at the same time was against the rules too

That's why you giggled.




Wasn't there a longer, but fairly similar article about roleplaying relationships a while ago?


I sort of feel like I remember it, now that you mention it.

This cannot be said enough:

"As with any relationship, in real life or otherwise, communication is important. Assume that nothing is implicit"

I've seen how amazingly well even bad IC situations can go with good, clear, honest OOC communication, and I've seen how horribly things can fall apart without it... which isn't to say OOC communication, beyond the establishment of boundaries as mentioned in the article, are a necessity, but it's been my experience that... it can be amazingly beneficial. As impermanence tends to be a consistent thing on the IC side of things, and the coming of an end to an IC relationship so easily brings an excess of drama with it... a bit of good OOC communication can mean the difference between potentially hurt, jaded, players on one or both sides... and long term OOC friendships that can last years.

I stay away from romantic text relationships, but the many friendships I've made have carried over into my real life, and lasted years.


So important to talk with the person, unless you're good at completely staying purely IC. Since there's almost always at least a bit of OOC, to ensure that everyone's comfortable and there aren't any impacts on roleplay itself, you definately both have to be on the same level.

Oh man. That picture ruined my day.



hrm. I've already commented on this one.

but i haven't yet, so here goes.

Text game relationships... I had one that lasted six months in one MUD. My character cheated... good times... but then the entire mud hated me OOC for hurting the woman. So to be honest I am not overly keen on them, the argument "It's just a game" really doesn't sit well with a lot of Mud players out there.

It's much less likely to break your heart.

NPCs don't give you the sweet loving.

You'd be surprised how much you can do with a good looking NPC.

Besides, NPCs don't talk back! :P

It really depends on the people and how they manage it. I suppose it can be a great way to express your feelings and imagination.


It's easy for the lines to become blurred

good article

never bothered with them myself

Always felt like too much drama.

Unrequited love is fun to RP, too, IMO.

Establishing and keeping that boundary is so incredibly important

some ooc communication can go a long ways to helping make an ic relationship work for everyone involved