Wednesday, February 14, 2024

The Enchanted World: The Lore of Love

The Enchanted World: The Lore of Love
 I saw an online conversation in an old-school RPG group a bit ago. This guy was boasting that his games never had romance, sexuality, or anything at all like that. My first thought was, "How sad," and my next immediate thought was, "How boring his games must be!"

Without the stories and contributions of love and romance or just plain good old-fashioned sex, we would loose most of the works of Shakespeare, many of the Greek myths, and practically all of modern music. Ancient Greeks to Motzart's Le nozze di Figaro and Così fan tutte, to "Silly love songs" by Paul McCartney to most of Taylor Swift's catalog. Love just might make the world go 'round.

That is the topic of today's The Enchanted World. I mentioned before that I am not going in publication order, save for the first, and instead going to post the titles that have some connection with when I post them. Today is February 14th, Valentine's Day, so let's look at Love...Enchanted World style. 

Lore of Love 

by Editors of Time-LIFE Books, 1987 (144 pages)
ISBN 0809452812, 0809452820 (US Editions)

This is a later one and does not have a single author. Tony Allen is listed as "text editor" and Ellen Dupont is listed as "staff writer." Of note, in the US, the cover is purple. In the UK, this book had a green cloth cover. 

Like the others in this series the art is a mix of newer pieces with a lot of classical ones. There are for example a lot of John William Waterhouse. The bibliography for this one is also rather impressive. I imagine that as they went on there were a lot more texts collected that they could reference.

Like Wizards and Witches, this one is divided into three larger sections. These can be roughly described as "Finding Love," "Love Gone Wrong" and "Keeping Love."   That's not a perfect match, but it will do.

Chapter One: Destiny's Playthings

Chapter One: Destiny's Playthings

This covers love as a shaper of destiny. The six stories here involve the gods getting involved with the love lives of mortals to some degree.  "A Groom for the Sea-Lord's Daughter," for example, tells about the fairest sea nymph of all, Thetis, and how she spurred the lust of both Poseidon and then Zeus, only to be given to a mortal Peleus because it was prophesized that her son would defeat his father. As an aside I noticed that Thetis' requests of Peleus are very much the same as we see in later mermaid and selkie tales of Northern Europe. 

Maiden's Visions

Tales of the problems when mortals try to avoid their fate abound as in "The God of Marriages" a Chinese tale of a man who sees his bride to be as a toddler and tries everything to avoid his fate, and just playing into it. Or the Indian tale of "A Love Forgotten" of two lovers reunited at last. 

Sometimes, love, though meant to be, is also tragic. Such is the tale of a German knight in "The Cursed Embrace" whose betrothed is already dead.

Chapter Two: Blighted Passions

Chapter Two: Blighted Passions

The story of love is not always about happy endings. Romeo and Juliet aside, there was Popocatepetl and his love Princess Iztaccíhuatl. When an army could not stop Popocatepetl the Jaguar Knight, his own spread lies about his death so they could possibly claim his bride. When she heard her love had died she died herself. When the Jaguar Knight returned and learned of her death and why, he killed all his men.

Across the ocean in Spain we are treated to the story of Don Juan and his ill-fated affairs. Of the tragedies of Narcissus, Daphne, and Thisbe of Ancient Greece. 

The Warlock's Comeuppance

Though not was all tragedy. There were times when love went wrong and it was comical. Such is the tale of the Warlock's Comeuppance. A warlock found a young women he wished to put a spell on, so he convinced his young Latin pupil to get three hairs from her head. The girl caught her brother trying to steal the hairs and instead gave him three hairs from their young heffer. The warlock performed his dark arts spell and soon had a lovesick cow following all over the town!

Chapter Three: True Love Triumphant

Chapter Three: True Love Triumphant

Of course the best tales are the ones where true love wins out over all odds. Tales like Aucassin and Nicolette the Saracen Maid. They were separated by wars, pirates, and separation of years. Or of Hiku, the Polynesian hero who was so brave he went to the underworld itself to find his lost love Kawelu.  Can your characters claim that? (Yeah. Mine can.)

I am a little surprised that the tale of Cupid and Psyche is not here, but maybe that one is so well known they dropped it in favor of these other stories.

Like all the ones I have read through so far, this one is wonderfully illustrated and amazingly researched. Combining the bibliography for all of these would provide a lifetime's worth of reading.  

This one might have fewer "game-related" details than others, but there is undoubtedly a treasure trove of ideas here. 

Next time: There is a land beyond the veil


PT Dilloway said...

It's true some romance can really help perk up a story. It raises the stakes if a hero (male, female, or whatever) has to save a love interest whether from a villain or a curse or disease or whatever. And if you have two members (or more) of a party falling in love it can add some conflict to the mix.

AP said...

The Enchanted World series was one of my favorite things to check out from my local library when I was little. Those books are invaluable.

JB said...

The D&D game has been published mostly "sex free" since the mid-80s (purposefully, I'd say)...and the death of romance is just a symptom of the root issue.

It's been years since I had romance or sex in any of my table games...I'd say since the 1990s (and that was playing Vampire the Masquerade, which kind of went all in on soap opera horror in the early days). Part of the reason for it missing from my games these days is the company that's showed up at my table in recent years (generally adult men or pre-adolescent kids). But part of it is that I've moved away from "story arc" gaming and have focused on action and exploration. And while these two things CAN go hand-in-hand with romance (probably "action" and "exploration" led to all the sex showing up in the co-ed AD&D games of my youth)...well, I've 'explored' that about as much as I plan to with my life, and get all the 'action' I need from my spouse of 23 years.

THAT being said, I do intend to start putting some romantic scenarios in my latest projects. There were definite hints of it (well, more than hints, really) in the adventure I submitted for Prince of Nothing's NAP3 contest. OH...and I will say I wrote fairly solid rules and procedures for romance in my Arabian Nights-themed fantasy heartbreaker, Five Ancient Kingdoms. I might see about adapting those systems to AD&D.

RE This Time-Life Book: This is one that I've never seen before. I think Heroes & Legends (or something like that...the 4th book maybe?) was the last one I read. Thanks for the great overview!
: )

Lance Duncan said...

Romace has kinda popped up in my online games lately. Two of my players decided to have their PCs get married. One the players hasn't played in a while so I've made her an NPC. Recently she was kidnapped, and then rescued by the still present pc. After the rescue I had her ask him to be around more because she was pregnant. So he is kinda temporarily retired for the moment. Realistic romance can definitely make the game more interesting. I've of course had the raunchy players in the past who had to get with any NPC woman they met, and while those encounters were fun for a laugh, they never felt very impactful. It makes a difference if the player is actually invested.