Instigating ROs

Instigating ROs

There’s been some different discussions on the topic of ROs instigating relationships/flirts in different forms, but I wanted to get closer to something hopefully like a consensus by doing polls on the matter:

Examples of instigating ROs—

  • ROs being the first to flirt (without the MCs or possibly the players expressed consent)
  • ROs confessing (before the MC. Or possibly without having to show direct romantic interest)
  • ROs romantically/intimately touching the MC (without expressed MC or possibly player consent)

Basically it comes down to: do the ROs act more independently (and in someways realistically) especially in romance. Or do the ROs and MC exist in a very controlled puppeteer environment where the players holds all the strings.
—Then if one is okay with the premise of ROs acting independently, the question is to what degree.

Let’s start with a low level of instigation and see how people feel about that—

Situation: You meet a brand new RO. They match your preferences and you match theirs. They are interested in you.

Poll 1:

  • I would like them to be able to flirt with me first
  • I would only like them to flirt with me first if I indirectly agree to it*
  • I would only be comfortable with my MC doing the first direct flirt

0 voters

*with indirectly I mean things like:

  • The player agrees but not the mc (Choice: The new RO takes your hand and kisses it)
  • The MC has implied an interest (Choice: You look at them and bat your lashes)
  • The Player chooses for the MC to think (Choice: I find this new RO very attractive)
    (Ignore bad examples…)

Have you thought about making that simply a choice for the player?
Like :

  • Flirt with RO
  • let the RO flirt with you
  • 3rd Option that I am too lazy to think about

The same could bei used with Dates:

  • ask RO for a date
  • get asked by RO for a date
  • meet as friends

Milon and Lada from I, the Forgotten One initiate flirting with MC, and MC has the choice to find it romantic or not. Rejection of Milon/Lada is a valid response and story branch. However, the setup that you’re describing is very different from ITFO (because you specified that initiation occurs only when MC has compatible orientation).

Me personally, I don’t mind initiating ROs, if there is an option to reject them immediately. Pushy ROs (like Milon, who’s one of my all time favorites) work under specific circumstances and if MC’s acceptance/rejection of their advances is a (side) plot (and the game lets MC meaningfully reject them, and the RO accepts this) in itself.


I don’t think you’ll get a consensus, I’m afraid! But this is a very interesting topic and one that can bring up a lot of feelings because when NPCs initiate romance without player or PC input, some players can feel that the NPC is harassing the PC, or that the NPC romance is being “forced” on the player or is considered more “canon” than others in some way.

I personally enjoy when an NPC initiates a romance, flirting etc. It can be something fun to bounce off. That said, if they pushed further after being rejected that wouldn’t feel great. And I like to be the one to initiate too.

I’m not particularly interested in less explicitly consensual physical touch in games unless it’s written by someone I personally know and trust. There are ways of having the player express that they’re interested in the NPC physically though - some of the “indirect” ways you’ve mentioned. A choice like “I can’t help thinking how much I’d like her to kiss me right now” or similar means the player can “tell” the game that’s what they’re interested in, have the NPC initiate, and for it not to be stressful as a player. Without that, it falls into potentially making a player roleplay as their PC rejecting someone trying to kiss them, and that isn’t something I want to do as a writer.


I voted for option 1, but this one:

needs to not be a thing, unless you have a disabling toggle at the start of the game or something.


While I see your point, it really bugs me that, once it’s established that you’re all-in on a RO, there’s text that either asks for consent to even throw an arm around the MC or constantly shows the RO checking in the text and waiting for a nod or go ahead from the MC.

I get that some people see any touch as rapey, even if it’s from a SO, but some of us get yanked out of the story really quick when every single touch is preceded by “mother may I?”. Especially if you intentionally put your MC with someone who is very physical and more forward.

Being able to toggle that shit on or off would be nice so those of us who don’t require constant asking to be comfortable can be more immersed in the story and romance.

Some people (obviously not me) see that as rapey, too. No touching the MC at all without begging for permission first.


Uhm, I’m pretty sure Doriana meant things like holding your hand or moving a strand of your hair. Not being molested or doing anything rapey :upside_down_face:


if you are in a relationship, it should be in the package of ‘I rather the RO do all the moves on me’. But outside of that, as the question is asked…it is a ‘Don’t know you from a whole in the wall, but let me pull a Trump on you’.

Mmm, toggles work sometimes, I see it sort of like the second option in the poll. But say you have a character that would flirt with the MC and it does not make sense for them not to? Not to mention that it could be a lot of extra work (tho that depends on the scene).

That’s interesting! I’ll check it out <3

Yeah-- that’s why I wanted to have a poll because other threads like this usually get a bit rowdy and I wasn’t sure if it was simply a loud minority or the majority that hated ROs flirting first.

I would say I feel the same way :smiling_face: I just think the possible variation is nice.

Does that not depend on the touch?
What if it is a comforting hand on a shoulder, a hug, or a kiss on a hand–these might be unwanted, and realistically the game would profit from having the option to reject these or say they were unwanted after, but I don’t think they are so bad, are they?

Frankly, I have no idea why you would assume such things. It was not what I intended at all.

I can agree, that at times it can feel stiff—when things get asked and asked and asked in a way that wouldn’t really happen in real life.

yes. yes I did.

I am afraid I don’t know what any of this means… :smiling_face_with_tear:


Feelings can run high on this subject as I mentioned, and I understand that.

That said - I enjoy talking about this, there are few wrong ways of handling it in a game, and it’s an interesting topic. Please treat each other and their tastes in games/romance dynamics with good faith in this thread, so there can be constructive discussion.

@Doriana-Gray has clarified that when talking about “romantic touches”, she means “a comforting hand on the shoulder, a hug, or kiss on the hand”; that’s the kind of interactions being discussed, not anything untoward.


I think as a writer this is an interesting thread to see/read through because I know there are stories (mine included) that has touch averse options, and even without them, it’s always difficult to know when there’s a point when the ro can ‘stop asking permission’ for casual touching as @EvilChani pointed out—so, maybe when an ro is locked in then there could be barriers removed, in that sense.

I agree with what @HannahPS and @JBento mentioned in terms of an ro instigating flirting, and then the player choosing how to react with that. Not only does it help with a coding in terms of the choices the reader can make, but it also doesn’t steer too much into unwanted territory if done correctly. It also helps with authenticity when writing romance too.


I think, from the OP and the context of she having asked similar question in her WIP thread, Doriana’s question refers to the RO touching BEFORE you’re together.

I actually know people that will go into a freeze-panic state if hugged at all, by anyone. :grimacing:


If a RO is interested in the MC, and it fits their character, they should be able to flirt to make that clear to the MC, even if the MC doesn’t flirt first to signal interest.

If a RO enters a relationship with the MC, they should have a talk about whether the MC is comfortable with unprompted displays of affection with revokable but assumed consent within the relationship.

If the RO is not in such a relationship and has not had such a talk with the MC, non-consenting romantic/intimate touching is something the player should be able to toggle a safety filter on so that it won’t happen, but others can allow as it communicates something important about the RO that might make them reconsider (EG, this person is more interested in their passions than my comfort or consent).

I played a game recently that allowed the player to determine whether the MC minded being touched by others, specifically said that they were not comfortable with others touching them, and then the game proceeded to have nearly every character they met grab them by the shoulder, take their hand, manhandle them, etc. Very uncool.


I think if the player has indicated an interest, then the RO should feel free to flirt to their heart’s content! I don’t necessarily mind if the RO flirts without that directive, it could just be a bit awkward, depending on the RO and the MC in question.

That being said, their are certain ROs where flirting without this direction would make sense. If the character is a flirt, it would be weird if they don’t flirt with us. And a character who has a crush on the MC, and it’s brought up no matter what RO path you’re on, then they should try flirting at some point.

So my answer is: I don’t really mind the RO flirting without prompting. Sometimes it would work even better. But sometimes it can make things weird… so I guess I don’t care THAT much. Just do what works for your story


No, that is not what I meant. And I’m technically not talking about the character here that I have talked of in my thread. so see it more as a general discussion :heart:

I think it would be cool if this could be RP in a game tbh. Hopefully the protective barrier of this being a game could make it still comfortable enough–and still then not be not too restrictive for writers.

@Keller I love your ideas/boundaries you propose–I agree with all of them.

Yes! So one character I had in my mind while thinking of this is a flirt–and I can’t see them not flirting :sweat_smile: (Though I mostly proposed this thread for general purposes–I find it a very interesting topic)


I really liked the way Keeper of the Sun and Moon handled it where Astrid flirts with the MC under specific conditions and the MC can choose to accept or not. And if MC doesn’t go for it then Astrid just kinda shrugs and says “Well I tried.” or something like that.


I like all of your suggestions, and can see why some people would be bothered by the above.

That said, this is one of those times where I think the character foundation should play a part. Some people are very touchy-feely. It’s how they communicate. It’s not my thing, but it doesn’t bother me (in a casual sense, anyway) and I know a lot of people who constantly touch your arm or crap like that when talking because it’s how they like to communicate and makes them feel more secure when talking.

So, while I agree the casual touching should be a choice where appropriate, if that is a characteristic innate to the RO/NPC, I think it should be slapped up as a warning. Give the player the opportunity to shut it down before it happens (they “see” the NPC is about to touch the MC and stop them) with the understanding that it may shut down any possible romance of that character. And it would work the same way reversed, where you couldn’t romance a character that is touch averse (and they shut the MC down if they try it) if you insist on touching them. Just my opinion, though.


This is why I mentioned it being an optional safety filter. For some people, being touched without consent (even in the context of a game, and yes, even in a casual manner) can be triggering in real, harmful ways. Nobody who would have such issues should be forced into those situations, and so either it should be made very clear up front with trigger warnings so the game can be avoided or added as a safety filter for them.

That said, if the player is comfortable exploring those things, it can be worth exploring a character who is touch-averse and how they interact with people who don’t respect that. Some people have thresholds where they are touch-averse with strangers and casual acquaintances but can even enjoy it with romantic partners they are comfortable with (with some times where it can still be overwhelming for them).


I think this is an elegant way of doing it, it also keeps the interaction ingame/immersive. It can also show something about the NPC, if it’s an onscreen interaction, and might spark off a discussion. “oh man! I had no idea I did that so much”, “woah I didn’t realise if I did that it would stress you out, sorry”, “I guess I do it to punctuate what I’m saying”… etc. (I don’t know why this hypothetical NPC sounds like a Californian surfer. Never mind.)

I’m thinking a bit more as well about when characters have got to know each other better. There’s nothing wrong (in fact there’s a bunch right!) about a friend or romantic partner who knows a PC isn’t touchy-feely, saying “hey, PC, I’m naturally quite a huggy person, would you like me to ask you about hugs or would spontaneous hugs be fun for you”. That way a PC can express themselves about what they do and don’t want, it might lead to a discussion, and the characters are learning more about each other; the writer is also able to tailor the hug-ometer and check-ins to a level that everyone feels good about.


Touching and flirting is fine if it fits the character of the RO, but I’d like an option for MC to be touch averse and communicate it w others (and well, if the RO is still touchy feely ig I respect the realism and commitment to character, but I won’t romance them in that playthrough or any other; wouldn’t want my MC ending up w someone who only respects boundaries as long as it fits them).

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