Poor oblivious Elf Princess. She has no idea that she’s been herded into the tempestuous corral of an equine love triangle. Let this be a lesson to the rest of you about prioritizing your Perception scores! As important as proper monster identification can be, I think that there’s actually a more important lesson at play here. And to illustrate the point, I need to tell you about an NPC blacksmith.

Her name was Aesa. She was an immigrant to the campaign’s dungeon-adjacent town, having come from the land of the ice and snow. As a proper daughter of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, she was more than a match for the local swordsmen. Tall and fierce, her strength had been built by years at the forge, and her flashing blue eyes held all the frost and cold beauty of her frozen homeland. Yet they melted when they fell upon the party’s paladin.

“I will sell you new steel,” she said. “And it will cost you dear. Or you might earn it.”

“A quest!” exclaimed the pretty man with the exceptional CHA score. “What do you ask of me?”

“Buy a girl a drink?”

“Yeah, no. Just sell me the sword.”

Aesa was not accustomed to being denied. She was a rare beauty, and her forward manner had served her well in the past. Yet this paladin refused! Was it some holy oath? A deliberate insult? She decided that she would pursue this would-be lover, and so spent the better part of three levels in a very one-sided love affair. She jacked up her prices; played an unsubtle hard-to-get; tried to sow the seeds of jealousy by dating the wimpy bard in the anti-party. None of it worked!

Finally, perplexed by my player’s rejection of the love interest, I asked him what the deal was.

“You said she’s some huge viking chick, right?”

“Yeah. She comes from warrior stock.”

“And you’ve been doing this goofy Swedish accent the whole time.”

“What’s wrong with Aesa’s accent?”

“Why do you think I’d be interested in her!?”

We went round and round like this for about fifteen minutes before we finally got to the root of the problem. I don’t recall my initial description, but somehow I’d failed to convey my vision of Aesa. My buddy the paladin thought that I was doing a joke character. As it turned out, he was under the impression that Aesa looked a little something like this. The whole time my poor player thought I was Pepé Le Pew-ing him with a bad opera stereotype.

We laughed long and loud when we both realized what had happened, and I quietly retired the Aesa/paladin ship. As it turns out, you need both parties to be on the same page when you want to add a romantic subplot. In retrospect, I suspect it doesn’t help that we’re both large bearded men IRL. I guess I’m not so great at portraying hot warrior chicks.

So how about it, gang? Have you ever encountered a failed romance in one of your games? What killed it? Sound off with your tales of good lovin’ gone bad in the comments!


ADD SOME NSFW TO YOUR FANTASY! If you’ve ever been curious about that Handbook of Erotic Fantasy banner down at the bottom of the page, then you should check out the “Quest Giver” reward level over on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon. Twice a month you’ll get to see what the Handbook cast get up to when the lights go out. Adults only, 18+ years of age, etc. etc.