Immortal True Love

Does True Love require the participants to have a soul?
If so, does that mean there can be no True Love between faeries, or between magical creatures such as trolls or giants? Or even dragons?

I can't say about True Love, but True Friendship is canonically created between a magus and his familiar (ArM5 p.105), and many (most?) familiars lack a soul. My understanding is thus that True Love does not require souls either.

This is verrry tricky. See ArM5 p.50:

You have found the one person meant for you in all of creation, and the bond between the two of you cannot be sundered. <...> This Virtue may be renamed "True Friend" to cover equally close attachments which are not romantic.

Compare this with HoH:TL p.75 Cutting the Cords:

Used as a Tribunal punishment, this spell requires the active cooperation of the convicted magus. The cords connecting magus and familiar are cut permanently if <...>.

So it looks like the familiar bond only generates a lesser - magical - True Friend Virtue, which consequentially then also can be broken by magic.
I would hence reserve the original Virtue's categorical "the bond between the two of you cannot be sundered" to a Virtue of Divine origin between two immortal souls.

Bur keep in mind, that in the earlier 13th century the nature of immortal souls is intensely discussed among scholars, and perhaps a better understanding of The Limit of the Soul (ArM5 p.80) results from this in the end.

The notion that OneShot puts forward is an interesting house rule, but a few things are worth noting about it.

The first is that while creating a familiar bond also links magus and familiar with the True Friend Virtue, nothing says that magical sundering of the familiar bond also breaks that link, regardless of the fact that OneShot uses the same word ("bond") for the two things, suggesting that they are one and the same. The description of what happens to the surviving member of a magus-familiar pair when the other dies and the cords are thus sundered suggests, in fact, that the emotional attachment remains, in a way that is very reminescent of the Lost Love Personality Flaw (particularly for the familiar).

The second thing to note is that, canonically, the limit of True Feeling (True Love, True Friend -- not True Faith though) is a Lesser Limit of magic. That, is, while Hermetic magic cannot affect it, it could with an appropriate breakthrough, and thus another tradition or mystical may well affect it. In fact, canonically, anyone who has walked the Arcadian Path (GoTF p.40) and gained the Thief of Emotions Supernatural Virtue can "steal" (and thereafter grant) the Virtue of True Love.

The third and most important is that, of course, whether magic can affect something has no bearing on whether something requires a soul to exist! So, I reiterate: while you are certainly free to rule that True Love can't exist between beings lacking a soul (and Oneshot's suggestion definitely has a good mythic vibe to it), there's nothing of the sort in the rules as written.

Actually, the ArM5 (p.50 and p.104f) rules use "bond" for both. Which does indeed not imply that "bond" means the same in both places. HoH:TL p.75 has:

After the cords have been cut, both magus and familiar find each other's presence too much to bear. A familiar normally flees into the wilderness and avoids all future contact with magi. The former familiar cannot normally be rebound.

This very much says, that normally "magical sundering of the familiar bond also breaks" the True Friend Virtue, thereby contradicting ArM5 p.50 "the bond between the two of you cannot be sundered".

While in rare cases (GotF p.40) supernatural powers can steal True Love, it can be stolen or earned back: this is well in keeping with True Love in stories.

The issue with True Love / True Friendship is, that it may be challenged, but categorically "cannot be sundered". This is not the case for Virtues bestowed by Infernal, Magical and Faerie powers.
It makes sense (but is not an ArM5 rule), that Divine powers focus on True Love / True Friendship" between immortal souls. I already said, that "immortal soul" is an unclear concept in 1220.

No, it very much does not say that.
On the contrary, the strong reaction after the cords have been cut may well be due the True Friends bond remaining, but all other connections between magus and familiar having been cut.
They still have an emotional connection, but can no longer communicate and can no longer be together the way they were before - so instead of remaining close and suffer the pain of remembering what can no longer be, they stay away from each other.


Which to my understanding says exactly, that their True Friend Virtue has been sundered. Of course they recall it and react accordingly.

You can still love someone deeply, and yet feel so hurt, that you can't stand to be near them.

1 Like

Keep in mind that anything involving the limit of the soul should have YSMV branded in huge neon letters across it, as the idea of a soul is not completely fixed, and what may appear in any particular instance to be a limit of the soul may well turn out to be some other form of limit if the SG/troupe prefers a different understanding of what the soul is and how it works.

1 Like

I cannot see why not.

That is, I can see why souls could create a unique kind of bond, called love, which other beings cannot experience.

However, this is a rather loosely defined virtue. You can (canonically) replace «love» with «friend» which makes it even looser. There surely must be some variation of this which could suit faeries or magic beasts. For a faerie, it would be part of its role, which could not be complete as long as the bond exists, but that seems plausible enough for some faerie.

1 Like

True, the True Friend between Mage and Familair is the only canonical instance I am aware of involving someone/thing that is not human.

OTOH when the Familiar Bond is established, both Mage and Familiar "share" aspects of each other. Who is to say that the Familiar shares part of the Mage's soul, thus closing the loophole. The Limit of the Soul prevents Hermetic Magi from being able to detect if this is so, or not.
And is it destroyed when the Familiar Bond is broken?

If one wanted to go really wild, we know the magic that Bjornaer the Founder brought "breaks" the Limit of Essential Nature. Can we really say that Merinita the Founder did not bring a magic (the Familiar Bond) that broke the limit of the Soul in such a way to invest a Familiar with something like a soul. YMMV.

OTOOH, is there anything to suggest that a soul is necessary for True Love? Or for ordinary love for that matter.
I don't see anything to suggest that it is necessary to have a soul in order to have emotions and feelings - animals have no soul in ArM5, but I think we can all agree that animals can be happy or sad or angry for example, so they obviously have emotions.

I would not say emotions. Isn't it just humours? That is the bodily fluids which influence our beings?

True love is an eternal bond which transcends the flesh. It has nothing to do with carnal humours.

Sure, this is a flashy interpretation. What I feel we can read from RAW though, is that True Love is grand, and grander than we can fathom. It is reasonable to think of more than the carnal reactions that we find in animals. No evidence that the soul has to be the eternal anchor for True Love, but not an unreasonable assumption,.


I agree that animals and supernatural creatures have emotions, mechanically expressed as Personality Traits.
I am unaware if any canonical non-human creature is written up with the True Love virtue.

I am not a medieval theologian, but I was under the impression that God handed out souls only to people, and the average animal can not express any of the cardinal virtues. So where does True Love exist?

It depends on your theology. There were branches of Islam which held that the djinn also possess souls. Which potentially complicates the heck out of things.

Thanks for the reminder. Angels are pure souls, no? As are demons?

Demons have souls, but I don't think they are pure ...


There is also a strain of Kabbalistic thought that believes trees, if not other living things, have souls. In the game setting this seems to not be the case.

I am not particularly convinced that a soul or even the game mechanically "backed by god" sort of Free Will that humans seem to have but magical humans do not means that a magical human (or any other being) can't experience True Love/Friendship. Obviously demons can't experience a "true emotion" but angels might despite not having the free will backed by god, though they are souls rather than have them. I could definitely see a magical being where its true love was part of its essential nature being good enough to experience it. Faeries might be able to emulate it but it would be part of their role, most likely, but I believe a human might experience it towards the faerie and the faerie reciprocates in its own manner which could be mechanically similar or not.

I believe that True Love doesn't require a human soul in the mythic europe paradigm. Bear in mind the belief that animals, and in particular, animals of virtue, represent virtues and sins that the humans can learn from to better understand god's will which can often be thought of as examplars for humans to follow, or avoid. Therefore, yes, if animals embody sins and virtues, they can embody love, and if they can embody love, I see no reason why the examples that god put on earth to represent what love should be cannot have a true love virtue. After all, how could mankind learn from false embodiments of love? I would point to the turtledove as an example animal that was praised for a number of virtues, including loyalty, chastity and true love: ,

Edit: I wouldn't allow faeries to have it, however, because their emotions aren't true, typically, however a faerie story could be about true love somehow - a human's true love.


I agree that like most things faeries could not have true love but could emulate it.
As to demons there are certain "pure" emotions they could easily have- pure lust, pure greed, pure sloth, pure anger(hatred), etc.
regarding a demon being a pure soul, I believe they meant by content (aka not soul and something else mixed in) rather than morally pure. However even this would not be correct, since ROP:I indicates that demons have physical bodies. ROP:D indicates (page 18) that angels are beings of pure intellect and life, nothing about a soul, though they do have divine might...

1 Like