Author's Note: I must say beforehand that I assume you already know the ABCs of good free form RP. If you are new to this gaming system, you may want to wait till you know what I'm talking about before putting what you read here into practice. I'll also be using a lot of common roleplaying terms that I'll not be explaining in this article.
In Character, or IC relationships, are something that I've watched in morbid fascination for years. Perhaps the examples I've seen weren't very good ones. For most parts of my early roleplaying years, I had the distinct impression that a lot of people take this as an opportunity to do some IC chatting up. Either that, or they do one of the classics - woo, marry and disappear. There is also the "serial dating" trick - marry, loose the spouse, marry again. With such conclusions sown into my then-fertile mind, it was little surprise that none of my characters ever tied the knot.
The truth is, as I later discovered, IC relationships are no different from RL (Real Life) ones. The ingredients are similar to what you'd expect in a real relationship; communication, commitment, and friendship. It takes work and a bit of planning from both parties to maintain it. The difference here is the line that separates IC and RL. This line allows us a bit of control over what happens. A privilege that we don't have in the case of RL relationships, yet one that most people may subconsciously ignore. After all, we don't go up to people and say "Hey, let's fall in love!" Sometimes, it can be a surprise and a pleasure if something favorable develops. The most wonderful thing is that you'll have a consistent and regular RP partner. One you might even get so familiar with, that you can just roleplay with them without worrying about all the thing you might think of while playing with someone new.
If you rarely roleplay with the same people for long and don't intend to, this is not for you. Stick to tavern & inn RPs and flirt with the serving wench. For those of you who have passed the basic hurdles of roleplaying, a serious IC relationship may be just what you need to flex those roleplaying skills, and to spice up the life of your character. How does it happen? How does it effect us on a RL level? Read on and you may find some surprises here.
It Takes Two To Tango
The most essential ingredient in an IC relationship is a partner. Remember how this is supposed to work in RL. You may not find someone right away, or you may not have thought that he or she would be the one. All you need is some patience, and perhaps a little luck. You need to mix with a lot of other characters, get to know them, and form a friendship. Then who knows, something special may happen. Yup, just like real life.
On the IC level, you need someone whom your character can relate to. I find that in the most successful IC relationships, both character and player communication play a big role in making the RP proceed without any avoidable hitches, as well as making the time spent together fun and exciting. I kid you not when I say you'll get to know your partner very well; both the character and the player behind it. Seeing that you'll be spending a lot of time together, it's important to find someone you are comfortable with. Someone who, in turn, is comfortable with you. When I say "comfortable", I mean that both of you are able to speak openly with one another, respect each other, be friends and compromise.