What makes you fall in love? (with an NPC)

Weirdly enough, the one surefire way to make me fall in love with an RO is the game telling me that I already was/am. It’s easier to rebuild a bond that was already there in the past than form a new one. Like your villain ex spouse in that wip where you’re a reporter (forgot the title). And Sailor in the wip Checkmate in three moves. And Jun in Samurai of Hyuga series.


Speaking strictly romantic interest, writing and depth of character/character development aside? Generally any character that’s affectionate, caring, intimate and honest.
Not necessarily blatantly so(except the honest part). It would be enough, at least for me, if the reader is just told that even if the RO doesn’t show it a certain way, that’s what they really meant when they said/did x, y or z. Vague example I know but I can’t think of any better way to phrase it, sorry.

Now, while the above examples would be an instant positive… on the flipside, an instant negative for me as a reader are extensive or detailed physical descriptions, even minor details to be honest. Examples; the shape of someone’s nose, how curly their hair is, how thick their fingers are or how bulging their muscles are, etc. you catch my drift.
I can understand why some writers do this(ofc if you want to do it you should), for me though… first of all it’s instantly immersion breaking if that’s not how I initially imagined that character. Unless the intro for that character didn’t literally start with physical descriptions, but this has its own problems. Second, all I can think when I see this done, is that the writer imagined for me what I would find attractive, tough luck if you don’t fit in any of the boxes.
Maybe that sounds a bit… entitled? I don’t know, that’s not my intention, at least.
It’s just strange to try to put people in boxes of attraction when the reader’s choice is supposed to be the whole point, in my mind anyway.

Personalities are much simpler in that regard, because you can paint with such a wide brush. And you can basically fit in enough different personalities in less than 5 ROs that would fit almost any readers personal preference. I don’t think this is even remotely close to being the case when it comes to physical traits and attraction, that’s the summary I guess.

I hope the negatives aren’t too off-topic? Since it was supposed to be what makes you “fall in love” not what makes you “not fall in love”, lol.

Maybe I’m in the minority on this… and maybe this just comes off as whiny. That’s not my intention. Always write how you wanna write, ofc.


I see that A Study in Steampunk has been brought up, and Grace has been dismissed. However, I would say that the scene where you had to decide between…

I also like Grace, but if I’m to be honest with myself, she is kind of unnecessary to the story. When you don’t choose to romance her, she just disappears and you can still pursue all of the main plot points and conflicts regardless - all you’d miss out on would be a few lines here and there saying ‘btw, Grace is here too’. The spoilery scene that you mention is legit the only scene you cannot access without her. And while this scene makes a powerful opening to certain paths, it’s not the only opening the game offers you. So all in all, unlike Alexandra or Finch who both actively contribute to the story, Grace… just doesn’t need to be there.


@Sel_Lee Do you mean MODEL CITIZENS? https://dashingdon.com/play/definitelynotrena/model-citizens-unmasked/mygame/ Because I LOOOOOVE that ex relationship as well! Your wip provides a very similar feeling with the husband/wife. <3 I love those pre-established ro’s too!

Also…whenever an ro hits on my MC in a flirty/funny/charismatic way - I am like “Whelp. Guess they are my 1st romance…” so I am pretty easily pleased. Also the pining friend/acquaintance? Playthrough 2. I don’t really dig an angsty slow burn, but when a game is well written, I try all of the romances and will usually come around eventually. Same with the ones who are openly mean to you in the beginning…you have to be pretty charming and/or sexy to get away w that shite…or if they are secretly soft underneath? WIN (aka…I guess I am pretty easily swayed hahaha)


Hmm, this is an interesting topic, partly because I have also had the thought before about how weirdly intimate it can be romancing characters in IF. It is kind of trippy when you stop to think about it, haha.

IMO, it’s better if a writer doesn’t try to predict too much what specific things will “Work For Me”. For me, when I find a character meaningful in a romance context, it’s usually because that character happened to tap into some personal experience or life situation I relate to, and as a writer, it’s not really possible for you to predict or know something like that. In many cases, I gravitated towards a particular author because something about their style or themes resonates with me. That’s kind of unpredictable.

But that’s just it…the player is doing part of the work already, projecting meaning and reading into that specific character themselves. So, IMO, a writer could give the player a little bit of room to freely interpret dialogues or interactions. By that I mean, not being too overly possessive of that character and how they should properly be read/interpreted, and letting the reader have a little bit of participation in that, engaging their own imagination. So yeah, a little bit of mystery is part of what makes it work.

Writers, in my opinion, who do this well, are writers that have a good grasp of archetypes and symbolism and use them effectively to draw readers in towards certain characters. So that when I, as a player, have that magical “a-ha” moment, it’s because I’m recognizing some underlying theme or archetype that character evokes, and I get to project a little bit of myself into them as well. It feels uniquely meaningful to me, because I know instantly…oh this character is my type…I’ve seen variations of this character type dozens of times before in other works of fiction…I identify with this character or connect with this particular theme, etc.

By archetypes, I don’t necessarily just mean tropes, but the spirit of that character and what kind of energy they bring to the story. For me, it always starts there.


Wooh, I hope I’m still on time to offer a handful of thoughts on the issue. While I can’t give an all-encompassing, all-explaining answer like I did last time, I started to think about some key moments that captivated me, which hopefully might be useful.

I think the atmospheric writing of the scene is something that particularly hooks me and settles me into romantic moments, and into the sweeter, more intimate intros of RO routes in CoG games. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be descriptive: Creme de la Creme isn’t a very verbose game in that sense, but there are plenty of images and places that stuck to my head, even after reading it many months ago. I think I careful description of places like the ball in Chapter… 4, I think, can really lead the reader and immerse them into the moment more easily.

I also like when the MC has a chance to take a peak into the life of the ROs, when we as readers are able to get a more full grasp of what the ROs like and do, their lives outside of the main story and setting. It’s true that this is a minor thing, but I think it helps create a more full version of a human being, of someone who isn’t orbiting around the MC all the time. The big example that jumped out to me comes from Creme’s ROs, like Delacroix’s interest in the occult and Karson’s life as a servant.

The last observation is a bit of a particular preference, but I like to be a bit surprised in romance scenes, and for that might involve branchier conversations. I’m not sure how useful this feedback is - I think we can all agree that more complete and full scenes are better than shorter ones - but I do think that the back-and-forth between an RO and the MC can be much more interesting if the MC has a fuller spectrum of reactions avaliable, and that doesn’t necessarily needs to imply a bigger scene. Maybe connecting reactions to stats might be an idea?

And that’s about it. Like some others have mentioned, I do think Creme, Wayhaven and Cakes & Ale lean into some of the best practices in CS writing when it comes to ROs.


I have been code diving for a couple of days and realized another thing that made the romance special. It is from the Keeper of the sun and moon. It is a lot of extra work but nearly every Scene where the RO is in has extra text, sometimes only some words that are different from the normal Text.

That makes even normal Interactions Special and different.