There are few forces as powerful as love. There is no world, no place or time or story that is devoid of love in one form or another. Without love there is no action, no movement, no desires, no goals, only stagnation. With that in mind this month's theme is Love. All month long we'll be looking at how love fits in your campaign, why it matters, what forms it can take, and what it can do, and we'll look at some great ways to utilize it.
So if we're going to talk about love, let's talk about all the different forms of love, and some related ideas that can serve similar roles to love.
Romantic love: This is one of the most common types of love that people associate with the word. Romantic love is a beautiful and powerful force. It is a devotion to another person that exceeds even ones own personal needs. Romantic love is something different from sexual attraction, even if the two are often related they can both exist without the other. Romantic love can be entirely chaste or celibate, it can be directed at once or more people and may or may not be reciprocated. It's also possible to feel a romantic love towards something inanimate or of a lesser intelligence, but these types of feelings are almost always unhealthy in some way for the person feeling them.
Platonic love: The most common form of love in most roleplaying games. Platonic love is the powerful love you feel for friends and companions. The desire to spend time with the people who make you the happiest. Longing to hear your friend play their music, wishing your brave leader were here to help guide you, already knowing what your smarmy criminal friend is going to say, but wanting to hear them say it anyways. Platonic love is a powerful form of friendship, the formation of a strong bond with someone else that you'd risk your life for.
Love of something: This kind of love is to take incredible exhalant enjoyment in something. This is an often underappreciated form of love and yet it can be every bit as powerful. The child who grows up watching horror movies works hard and saves money and then winds up making those movies when they grow up. It can be something as simple as a security blanket that you'd run into a burning building for. It can be complex as a certain feeling evoked by a set of circumstances that are nearly impossible to explain. This love is one of the keys to making a really real feeling character. Love of something can also include dedication to an ideal. A hero who puts justice and goodness above them self has a deep love of those ideals.
Familial love: This type of love is one of duty and obligation. It's a love that one must feel. In most cases one must love their family. They are the people who raised you, who take care of you, who you have known longer than anyone else. More than the other's it's also a love of forgiveness. Familial love includes the idea that no matter what you say or do, it can still be repaired and healed and forgiven. These powerful traits however can also be dangerous. Sometimes family doesn't deserve to be loved. Sometimes they use that obligation as a weapon to trap and harm you. The idea of always forgiving can easily be turned into the idea that you need to be forgiven for something. Familiar love is something that is forced and foisted onto someone involuntarily. The idea that you have no choice but to love your family, any family, no matter what is powerful, but that power can be for good or ill.
Obsession: Obsession isn't true love, but rather a twisted mirror of love. It's a need, a driving consuming overwhelming focus on something. Obsession is dangerous because it cannot self sustain. It is fire that always needs to burn something to survive. Obsession is like addiction. The high is always followed by the need for a greater high. You think you love someone so you watch them, and watch them, and watch them. Soon watching isn't enough, you need something of theirs. A discarded piece of trash, a dropped key, a towel they left behind. You have it and it makes you happy, you feel fulfilled, but then it fades. It's not enough to hold that towel, you need to dry yourself with it. You need to keep that trash forever and build a monument to it. You need to feel that key sliding perfectly into a lock. You use the towel over and over again, afraid to wash it for fear of loosing that high, but it eventually becomes too appalling to use. That stolen piece of garbage rots or decays away and you need something else to replace it. You change the lock on your house to match that key, but soon you lose the giddy thrill you feel every time you lock or unlock it. Then you're looking through their trash, you're following them to the gym to get a new towel, you're using the key to open their lock. It never ends, it never fades away, the obsession just keeps burning. This is an incredibly powerful narrative tool for players and storytellers alike.
Lust: Lust is not love but is often confused or associated with it. Lust is a powerful desire for something. The most common use of lust is a sexual desire or a desire for sexual satisfaction but one can lust for anything. Lust is similar to obsession though much more manageable. One can lust for something, achieve it, and then turn their attention elsewhere. Lust can be dangerous if it's too powerful, if it causes someone to ignore their own or someone else's needs. The key different between lust and love is that love is putting someone or something else first, lust is putting the need for something ahead of anything else.