As with most BioWare games, both male and female player characters may pursue a romance in Jade Empire. Dawn Star is interested only in male players, but Silk Fox and Sky are willing to pursue romance with players of either sex. Pursuing a romance is completely optional and has no impact on gameplay besides additional dialogue, cutscenes, and epilogues. All romances are advanced through conversation with the character in question, and require that the player character take an interest in the other character's thoughts and background. Saying the wrong thing can cause the other character to lose interest, ending the romance plot.
Dawn Star and/or Silk Fox
Dawn Star and Silk Fox are both possible romance options for male player characters, and Silk Fox is also a possible romance option for female player characters.
Dawn Star is the first of the romance options to be encountered in the game, although interactions with her in Chapter One are not critical to the romance plot. In Chapter Two, however, the conversations become more important. After completing various major events of the chapter, Dawn Star will want to talk to the player about her experiences — if players ask how she is and listen to what she says, the romance plot can continue, whereas if they tell her that they are not interested, the romance plot will stop. The three conversations of importance correspond to the three sub-areas which can be accessed from Tien's Landing — Gao the Greater's pirate lair, the ruins of Old Tien's Landing, and the Great Southern Forest. The order of the conversations will depend on which areas the player visits first.
In Chapter Three, the romance can be continued in three further conversations around the Imperial City. On arrival, players can talk to Dawn Star about how the loss of her home has left her feeling overwhelmed and out of place. Players can either try to make her feel better, or encourage her to be more assertive, depending on whether they wish to see Dawn Star follow the Way of the Open Palm or the Way of the Closed Fist — the latter requires persuasion to make it work, with failure ending the romance. The romance can continue either way, but will end if players are not interested in her concerns at all.
After Silk Fox joins the party, another conversation is possible. Dawn Star and Silk Fox do not seem to like each other, and the player can suggest that one sees the other as a rival for the player's attention. Dawn Star is reluctant to make any definite statement of her feelings — the player can let her think about the matter (Open Palm), or can try to persuade her to be more aggressive in seeking what she wants (Closed Fist). The romance will end if players try to persuade her but fail the skill check, or if players express irritation at her raising the matter at all.
When players have completed the steps necessary to infiltrate the Lotus Assassin Fortress, another conversation with Dawn Star can occur. She will express concern about the what the player may have to do in order to pass as a Lotus Assassin, but her outlook will be different depending on whether the player has successfully converted her to the Way of the Closed Fist or not. The romance will end if players choose options which contradict the philosophy she has adopted at this point.
From this point, the romance plots of both Dawn Star and Silk Fox follow the same basic route.
Silk Fox is a possible romance option for both male and female characters. She is first encountered at the start of Chapter Two, but is not initially an ally — she only joins the party in Chapter Three.
When players arrive in the Imperial City and are met by Silk Fox, they are presented with a gift (an essence gem called Imperial Favor). Later, when Silk Fox has joined the party, the player can talk to her about this gift. If players are dismissive of it, she will decide that "it would be best if we restricted this relationship to business", and the romance plot will not advance. If players are more appreciative, or simply ask questions, the romance can advance.
The next romance conversation can occur once players have progressed further through the chapter. Silk Fox warns the player against becoming too close to the Lotus Assassins, pointing to the power Death's Hand now has over her father. This eventually leads to an opportunity for the player to ask about Silk Fox herself. In order to move forward through the romance plot, players need to take an interest in what she says, and to avoid offending her by selecting the wrong option. The romance will end if players tell her that her father is weak, that she is uninteresting, that she is too harsh to be appealing, that she will be useful, or that the player is not looking for anything more than simple friendship. If players are able to navigate through the conversation without selecting any of these options, Silk Fox will express a wish to talk with the player again at some point.
The third important conversation that players can have with Silk Fox is available once players have obtained what they need to enter the Lotus Assassin Fortress. Players are able to ask Silk Fox about various aspects of her life, including her activities as Silk Fox, her time at court, and her childhood. While talking about the latter, players can ask about her first love — her response will depend on what has been said previously. Even if she agrees to answer, she first requires players to answer a question themselves, asking them whether they are romantically involved with anyone. The answer does not actually matter — whatever the player says, Silk Fox will compare it with her own experiences, saying that due to her position, she is not free to act on her wishes. In order to continue the romance, players have two options — they can ask whether she wants them to withdraw and then pass a Charm check when she replies, or they take one of two different approaches to convince her that tradition need not restrain her. One approach is to point out that in her position, she will be able to ensure respect for tradition without restraining people, and to pledge to always be there to support her in the endeavor. The other approach is to deny the importance of tradition and attempt to convert her to the Way of the Closed Fist, which requires passing a skill check. The romance will end if players fail any of the skill checks, or if they tell Silk Fox that they are only interested in her as a tool, as part of a game, as a friend.
From this point, the romance plots of both Silk Fox and Dawn Star follow the same basic route.
Assuming that the conditions for at least one romance have been met, there will be a conversation when players approach the Lotus Assassin Fortress in the Necropolis. The conversation begins automatically — if the relevant characters are not already accompanying the player at the time, they will appear. The conversation can take two forms, depending on how many romance plots the player has been pursuing.
- If players have only been pursuing one of the two, the chosen character will approach to express concern about the player's safety during the upcoming venture. Unless the player dismisses her before she has said this, the romance will continue.
- If the player has met the conditions for both of the romances, Silk Fox and Dawn Star will confront the player at the same time. The player can choose between them, or can keep both romances alive for the time being by refusing to make the decision (which requires passing two skill checks, one for Intuition and one for Charm). Alternatively, the player can say that the discussion is a waste of time, which causes both romances to end.
Once players have returned from the Lotus Assassin Fortress and are preparing to go to the Imperial Palace, they can speak again to Dawn Star and/or Silk Fox. In the case of the former, it is possible for players to end the romance by selecting the wrong option (telling her that they don't have time for her, or if they have converted Dawn Star to the Way of the Closed Fist, telling her that they dislike the change). The conversation with Silk Fox is shorter, and does not contain any options which would derail the romance plot.
In Chapter Four, as players are approaching the throne room of the Imperial Palace, there will be another conversation. If players have committed to either Dawn Star or Silk Fox, that romance will continue just so long as they are not dismissive of her. If players have not yet decided between Dawn Star and Silk Fox, they are given another opportunity to do so, although they are also able to postpone the issue.
There is no interaction with either Dawn Star or Silk Fox in Chapter Five, but their romance plots come to a conclusion in Chapter Six. If players successfully completed one (and only one) of the romance plots, there will be another conversation with that character. At this stage, it is no longer possible to derail the romance, and the conversation will end with the player character and the love interest retiring together for the night. If the player refused to choose between Dawn Star and Silk Fox, however, the conversation is more complicated, and success is not guaranteed. Silk Fox approaches, and says that after the player's apparent death, she and Dawn Star were able to talk to each other about how they felt. She asks whether the player can choose between them, and if so, who the player would choose. At this stage, however, both Dawn Star and Silk Fox will reject the player if the player does make a decision — with their new understanding, neither is willing to let the other be hurt because the player delayed the matter so long. Therefore, choosing either Dawn Star or Silk Fox at this point will end all active romance plots. The only way to continue forward is for the player to again refuse to choose — the player retires for the night, accompanied by both of them. (The screen fades to black when they accompany the protagonist, although the outcome is made explicit in dialogue which occurs if players keep Death's Hand without having turned Dawn Star or Silk Fox to the Way of Closed Fist.)
Sky is a romance option for both male and female player characters.
After Sky has joined the party in Chapter Two, players can speak to him about his quest for vengeance against Gao the Greater. Provided they listen to what he has to say, the romance plot can be advanced (even if players call Sky a whiner). The only way to damage the romance at this stage is for players to tell Sky that they have no interest in hearing his story.
In Chapter Three, when players have arrived in the Imperial City, further conversations can occur. The first such conversation is about Sky's thoughts of the future. Provided players do not tell Sky to leave them alone, the plot should continue. After Silk Fox has joined the party, another conversation is possible. This time, Sky asks why players are pursuing the dangerous course that they are — players need to answer the question in order for the romance plot to stay active, but it does not matter which answer they give. Sky then expresses concern about how the player will deal with the infiltration of the Lotus Assassins — provided players are willing to listen to his worries, the plot advances.
At some point, there may be another conversation in which Sky's serious interest is more explicitly stated. This conversation is different for male and female player characters.
- For female characters, Sky talks about the legend of the Eternal Companions, and provided players listen to him and have met all previous requirements, he will conclude by saying that the player character is important to him and that he will do anything he can to help. Players can either accept or decline his approaches.
- If the player character is male and is not pursuing a different romance, Sky asks players why they are not showing any interest in Dawn Star or Silk Fox. Players have various options to respond, but the romance plot can only continue if players say that they they are more interested in him. Unless players then say that they weren't serious, the romance plot will remain active, with Sky saying that he needs time to think. Note that since it is easy to trigger Dawn Star or Silk Fox's romance accidentally, male PCs may need to firmly end one or both of those romances prior to talking to Sky.
Provided players have met the necessary requirements, another conversation will automatically begin when players approach the Lotus Assassin Fortress in the Necropolis, regardless of whether Sky is accompanying the player at the time. Sky wishes to express concern about how the player will deal with the Lotus Assassins, and as long as the player does not dismiss him unheard, the romance plot can continue.
In Chapter Four, as players are approaching the throne room of the Imperial Palace, there will be another conversation, but Sky will not openly express his feelings. Players have four options — take the initiative by spelling out their own feelings, tell him that they know what he means, tell him that he should be ready to say what he really means later, or tell him that since he can't be honest, he shouldn't bother. The latter option ends the romance, but the other three all allow it to proceed.
There is no interaction with Sky in Chapter Five, but his romance plot comes to its conclusion in Chapter Six. If the plot is still active, there will be another conversation with him after the reunion. At this stage, it is no longer possible to derail the romance, and the conversation will end with the player character and Sky retiring together for the night.
In an unmodified game, some romances culminate in scenes where the player characters and their love interests kiss, but others do not. Specifically, female characters romancing Silk Fox and male characters romancing Sky get a fade to black. A game mod exists to change this, available here.