Love potion: bless or curse?

Hi there!

One of the stapple features pf magicians, witches, spirits, and the average supernatural dude out there in fantasy literature deals with love. Love potions or similar effects. I am interested to know what do you consider those to be. Do you consider them to be a boon or a curse? Something that Hex could cause or something that only divine-inspired virtues could grant? Something in between (likely)? Both? none?

I am quite curious here :slight_smile: How do you see it?


Being not at all familiar with non-hermetic and hedge magic, I'll just address love potions as concocted with the "charged items" rules.

Iirc, hermetic magic can't instill "true love." Best it can do is give infatuation, a crush if you will, or make you think you're in love (ReMe base 10).

As to whether it's a blessing or a curse, I'd say: it depends on how the target and the target's target react while the target (let's call him "Romeo") handles his new-found infatuation, and how Romeo's new love ("Juliet") reacts, not only to Romeo's advances but the fact that he did so under the influence of a love potion.

On the one hand, the potion could give Romeo the courage to pursue Juliet when he was too shy, nervous, or what-have-you before, which could lead to the development of the real thing. On the other hand, both Romeo and Juliet could react badly (to put it mildly) to find out that they've been manipulated by whoever gave them the potion.

Massive rp opportunities, and too much depends on the characters to give the Love Potion a blanket Thumbs-Up/Thumbs-Down.

Yeah, I'd consider infatuation a simple ReMe effect.

I would allow a Hex of "love", but then it would be a very twisted, carnal, infatuation, and surely one that will land the character in sin in one way or another.

A Divine power might grant True Love, but not mere infatuation.

Faeries would be interesting in that they could not grant True Love directly, but I could see a Faerie whose "shtick" is manipulating people to make True Love blossom.

I think it depends on the intention of the potion-brewer, but instinctively a love potion is a blessing.
If you use infernal powers or hex you would know that you are making a lust-potion, which of course doesn't stop you from selling it as a love potion :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:

Infatuations and such is probably what magic and faeries can make (in addition to the knowingly sinful and carnal potions), and they might very well believe they make love-potions.

In my saga you cannot achieve a True Love potion in any way as that is a divine gift building on Free Will and the Divine will never force it on anyone. At most it will open the eyes of the subjects to see what is there to love, but the choice to follow true and let True Love blossom is on the two parties. (Yes, I'm a romantic :wink: :laughing: )

Well, soe further explanation. Why I ask? because I have no idea, really :laughing:

In the different supplements there have been a number of traditions that can grant V&F using spells, items and abilities. Samples include Cursing for Folk Witches, Give Bless (virtues) and Give Curse (flaws) for gruagachan and the Folk Magician abilties, as well as stuff in ROP:F and ROP:M to achieve basically the same.

As said, a love potion is a really common feature of fantasy stories. Since you could grant it as a blessing or curse someone with it I am unsure how to treat it in canon.

think about the shy maiden that wants to get the cool guy in the village to notice her for what she is and asks the local cunning folk (or hermetic magus, or infernal witch, or godess in the fountain, or whatever) to help her in achieving his heart's love. What kind of effect would you invoke?

I do not see a witch saying "thou shall fall in love desperately within the month!" and spitting in front of you as a very Hex-y thing to do, but one never knows...


Well, xavi, this is a curse!!! :wink: Being desperately in love, that is. The fact that your attentions are reciprocated in marginal, especially as the other can tire of you, whereas you can't (and will then suffer, and despair, and commit suicide :smiling_imp: )

And in stories, love potions are done by witches anyway :wink:

I agree.

Nonetheless, True Love is rare, and it doesn't mean that ordinary love doesn't exist (in fact, I think we can all say we've at least known the later).
So, although True Love potions aren't (IMO) and shouldn't be possible, love potions surely would. Yes, call that infatuation if you want.

Then, I'd say that, as the love is not desired by the victim, these should most often be curses. Lust potions would be, but potions that make you love someone you don't? This is "evil", so a curse (think Tristan and Iseult. They weren't happy with it), especially if this overrides all reason and becomes an obsession. Blessings, IMO, could only help love blossom, "open the eyes", but nothing else, certainly not force love where there can't have anything.

You and me both :confused:

So Hex/Curse/Flaw it is.

Thx :wink:

I would point out two things.

  1. Whether making someone fall in love is a blessing or a curse depends entirely on the context -- it can be either. Just like a spell to make you warmer: it's a blessing if cast on cold winter day, a curse if cast on a hot summer day. Hedge Witches can explicitly use their "Curse" ability to create love in any context (just like they can use it to create other effects that may be occasionally beneficial to the user): that's because their "Curse" is a collection of specific effects, rather than a generic "harm others" ability. Hex is different, in that it's a generic ability that causes "harm", so any love it causes must be detrimental.

So a Hermetic Witch could create a romance between the shy maiden and the ugly guy, even if it's a "good" thing. A love Hex on the shy maiden will, instead, guarantee that she falls in love with the worst possible person -- someone who does not love her and will bring woe and ruin upon her and all she holds dear.

  1. I do not think that only the Divine can grant True Love -- binding a familiar does grant both parties the True Friend virtue. The way I see it is that True Love is a combination of two factors: love, and a "perfect affinity" for each other's nature. Only if there is such perfect affinity can True Love blossom (and in general, love between two people sharing such an affinity tends to turn into True Love).

Thus, in general magic cannot create True Love between two people, because two random people are extremely unlikely to have their essential natures sufficiently "in sync" -- and to change that, you'd need to change the essential nature of at least one of them. However, if two people are already "in sync", simple love -- including that engendered by magic -- will easily become True. That's why True Friendship blossoms between a magus and his familiar: their nature must already be "in sync" to allow the familiar bond to form (and indeed, you can't just bind a random animal as your familiar).

Generally, it´s a curse because it tries to force something onto another which they may or may NOT want.


Ezzelino, under which conditions would you consider being made to love someone you don't love a blessing?
Sure, once under the enchantment, you may be "happy" if with the object of your affections, but, in a way, this is still mind rape. The fact that the person using the love potion is good/bad changes nothing to that simple point.

To take back your answer, the ugly grog may be a good guy, or a brute that'll mistreat her. But in both cases, she wasn't helped to notice his true qualities, which she learned to love. She was, against her will, be made to love someone else.
=> A "good" witch will maybe help a kind, ugly grog, while an evil one will help the brute. But in both cases, the magic is the same, and the act as morally questionnable :wink:

A fun discussion :smiley:

After reading (and thinking a little more), I think I would actually base the use on the intention of the witch and the purpose of the potion.

It the effect is any sort of "make A fall madly in love with B" (or a "sure bet" love potion) I agree this is a curse. It might still be a curse with a rather nice payload (if the two are meant for each other or could live reasonably well together) but it is a compelling. If this curse is powered by the Infernal it would always have bad side effects or never work on a pair who actually will turn out to love each other anyway. If it is based on magic of faerie it would work as some variant of creo/muto/rego Mentem.

If the effect is a very nice "let love blossom if it has something to grow in" (or a "maybe, if God wills or I'm lucky" potion) I would say it is a blessing. But while lacking the possibilities of a forced and bad relationship it is far from certain. If the targets don't match the potion will simply fail, or at worst (at least on of) the targets see the other for what (s)he is and definitely and permanently realizes that this is not the one.

I actually quite like this little example as it shows that even outside the Hermetic system Ars gives us many ways to solve a single problem which each can be valid and viable, but with differences in taste and mood. Thanks for starting this one, Xavi :slight_smile:

For example, if you are married to that person. In some of the versions of Tristan and Iseult, the love potion that they imbibe (and that leads them to adultery and ultimately to tragedy) is as a wedding gift meant for Iseult and her future husband, king Mark. I think this is a perfect example of how such love magic can be a blessing or a curse depending on the situation.

I'm not sure what you mean with "mind rape" -- I tried looking it up on UrbanDictionary and there are a lot of different meanings. I think the closest boils down to "(emotional) manipulation". If so, sure, a love spell is emotional manipulation. But is that necessarily evil, particularly to medieval sensibilities? Because in that case the parish priest who scares his congregation away from sin with his sermons on the Final Judgement would be evil. The chaste maiden who inspires a knight to noble deeds with her beauty would be evil. The chieftain that rallies his warriors with his exemplar bravery, the parent who praises his child for a task well done, the merchant who shames his colleagues into a generous donation to the church would all be evil.

If I remember well medieval people considered love is a kind of illness.
So love cannot be a blessing at all. :laughing:

Curse. Love potions are basically magical date rape drugs.

In my current saga, the local blacksmith was rebuffed by another villagers wife, so he went to the local witch who brewed him a love potion so the woman would lay with him. In direct terms, he gave a woman a drink that made her have sex with him against her will... and that's rape, plain and simple. Needless to say, this did not end well for the blacksmith.

Hi there!

Been watching legend of the seeker, as recommended in the movie/series thread. Besides some effects like looking at what a combat with an invisible opponent would be, or the power of the ReTe magus (I always forget how cool it is to have the equivalent of the armor of the zephyr with KNIVES in it instead of wind), there is a clear definition of a love potion effect (ReMe) as a clear malediction. The effect of the confessor characters is more or less what we have been thinking about, and yes, it is total mind rape.

The series is totally B series and quite cheesy but there is also the effect of true love mixed into the story, so it is nice to see how you can mix and match V&F into the story :slight_smile: Oh, and they also have the paradigmatic "InIm distance writing system" that we have discussed several times in the forum.

Nice to know we reached a consensus on that one. Hex / Curse for you :slight_smile: Bring the evil forward! :smiley: