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The Power of a Soul

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Lynea, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Hey guys,

    I've been thinking a lot about an endgame plot for this book idea, and it involves soul magic. I'd like to gather opinions and see what the general consensus on using soul magic is in fantasy. If you have interest, share your thoughts on the questions below to help me construct this idea.

    1. If someone has a soul, does that automatically mean their soul is immortal?
    2. Can souls truly die or be destroyed?
    3. How powerful can a person's soul be in terms of dealing damage? Should there be limitations?
    4. Can souls transfer from person to person without killing their original host? Basically, can a creature live without a soul?
    5. Can a soul be powerful enough to level a big structure like a tower? What would the aftermath look like in terms of destruction?

    Thanks XD
     
  2. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Auror

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    1. Depends entirely on the afterlife I think. Or if even they fade away in time. Maybe with a deity behind them and heavens and hells they can go on forever.
    2. If taken by oblivion, I think so. Even then souls of particularly strong willed or powerful one or one with great love (love saves much) could survive it.
    3. I figure that's all connected to will. Though innocent souls stuck in magical machines seem to be quite powerful, but even they have limits.
    4. Sure some can. Either through accepting it or through a splice. And sure a creature can live without a soul.
    5. See 3. Once those things go off, they tend to cause a lot of damage.
     
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    It all depends entirely on the setting but since my book is basically about souls and what they do, I’ll answer these questions based on my setting.

    1. Yes but souls aren’t really “alive” in the same way a physical body is said to be “alive” so the term “immortal” kind of means something different to a soul.
    2. No but they can be changed. A once strong soul can be weakened or changed into a different state to the point where they can’t be called a “soul” anymore.
    3. Dealing damage is a superficial way to see power. The “power” of a soul is seen as something greater than causing physical damage.
    So, short answer: no damage at all.
    4. It’s believed they can be but in reality, transferring a soul just causes a soul to be shared between two hosts. Death is, as far as I can tell, the only definitive way to separate a soul from a body.
    Some creatures do exist without a soul but they aren’t in the mortal plane. There’s only one known creature with a material body in the mortal world who is totally soulless.
    5. See answer 3
     
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  4. joshua mcdermott

    joshua mcdermott Scribe

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    your world so a soul can be anything you want. but a few things to think about:

    1. What has a soul? humans, humanoids, trees, rocks, goats? Often in fantasy a human might have a soul, but other things have a spirit.
    2. related to 1, what is the difference between a soul and a spirit (if there is one). Often, just as you infer, a soul is immortal, but a spirit is ever changing and cycling. but you don't have to go that way.
    3. I would think that a soul could only deal damage by hurting itself- through sacrificing something of what it is. that would be interesting to me. I am not of the opinion that a soul would do any "damage" unless somehow doing something it should not be doing.
    4. Mind, soul, spirit, will... this is a fun question to explore.. if you do that transfer.. what is left behind.. and what is changed and new?
    5. same as 3, a soul is as powerful as you want it to be... but i'd probably not buy/be interested in a story where one could use ones soul to destroy things without an equal consequence. (but just one opinion f course)

    Hope that is of some use
     
  5. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

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    Here are my thoughts about your questions, LyneaLynea :

    I find those ideas unrelated. One thing is to have a soul, and something else is the nature of the soul itself. Of course, this will depend on how you want to approach this detail in your worldbuilding and the narrative possibilities you want to extract from it. I would consider the following questions:
    • Are the souls born together within the body or, like in some religions, are eternal entities that keep on switching bodies through the ages for the sake of learning and evolve to superior levels of being?
    • How is a soul linked to the body? How that connection works?
    I think that, by answering to yourself those questions, you might find a soul nature more or less fitting to your story.
    Being immortal or eternal doesn't imply being invulnerable. Damage to a soul could be anything ranging from dissipation to some sort of crystalization, or just the corruption or poisoning of the soul without really breaking it. So yeah, you could kill the soul or, at least, hurt it somehow.
    It depends on what kind of nature you decide for the souls in your world. If they're born with the body, you can make them progressively stronger the older the being gets. And I'm not just referring to deal damage. If we imagine the soul as a flame, it can be born small but bright and become larger and even brighter the more mature the being becomes.

    On the other hand, yes, like anything in life, there should be limitations. Centering this question on magic usage, you can make the soul the middleman for accessing magic, in a way in which the stronger your soul flame is, stronger will be your connection to the magic. The price to pay would depend on the kind or strength of the magic used. I imagine that using easy magic wouldn't make the soul flicker much, but trying to invoke a massive black lava dragon would put a massive strain on the soul, even to the point of dissipating it (like a strong gust of wind would do to a candle).

    Another possible limitation, and a very interesting one, is the one you can find in the thread The beginnings of a magic system, started by ChasingSunsChasingSuns. There, ChasingSunsChasingSuns is talking about how is making sanity the price to pay when dealing with magic. So, if we combine that idea with your souls, you could make that any magic user risks insanity the weaker their souls become. Well, it could be insanity or corruption, depending on what kind of magic they use.
    I'm inclined to say yes, but I would make the transfer something really dangerous to do, not only for the two individuals going under the procedure, but also for the wizard/sorcerer themselves. The procedure could imply that, for a moment, the transferring soul has to reside in the wizard together with the own wizard's soul. This could give you interesting dramatic possibilities in your story. Also, you have to consider how hard is the connection between the soul and the body, maybe some connections are extremely hard to break even for the most skilled of the sorcerers.

    A creature without soul could fall into a coma, becoming a husk or zombie that just responds to certain stimulus, or turn crazy. The insanity option is, I think, the one that can give you more narrative possibilities. Imagine a character which her soul has been stolen: the longer she remains soulless, the crazier she'll become.

    The idea of the soul transfer also makes me think about other concepts that you might like to explore: soul vampirism, soul fusion, soul sharing and soul healing. Excuse me if I won't go into detail with them, but I think their names are rather clear.
    Based on the ideas I left you above... Yes, the magic spelled through a very strong soul could be truly devastating. Now the aftermath would depend on the nature of the magic used (you could destroy half a planet in your story if you wanted to!), but what you shouldn't forget is the tremendous strain that such magic would put over a wizard's soul.
     
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  6. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Alright, thanks for all that input. :) I like your system, WooHooManWooHooMan. It's so constructive to read your take on it.

    joshua mcdermottjoshua mcdermott, I totally agree with you. I don't think I've quite figured out what the big consequence is, but your input is valuable on that front. So, thank you.

    Eduardo LetaviaEduardo Letavia, just for discussions sake, what if people's souls didn't become more powerful over time. How could I power up a soul enough to level an entire holding? I'm leaning towards a soul fusion type thing, but I fear it won't work with my system mechanics too well. It's kinda complicated, but fusing souls together doesn't really work unless it's through a dark magic technique. But my protagonist is all about light magic, so it's not a 'realistic' idea to do that. Do you have any other ideas on that front?
     
  7. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

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    I understand that you ask for some sort of instantaneous way of powering up a soul. In that case, if you don't want fusion, use soul sharing instead. This sharing could be done through a ritual, or just simply by touching the one receiving the share. With the touching mechanic you can also have chains of soul sharing people, and probably opens many other interesting narrative venues for your story.

    By the way, I'm not implying that soul sharing can be done by anyone, training must be required. For instance, a wizard needs more soul power and she has by her side a couple of untrained friends. She must be the one guiding the whole process, while the other two just touch her and keep calm through the entire process. Any disruption in the contact, either physical or mental/spiritual, can affect the process and the wellbeing of the participants in the sharing. Also, you could imagine that a seasoned wizard could be able of stablishing soul sharing contact from a distance, and sync faster to other people's souls.

    A last thing I'd like to point out about this soul sharing alternative is that any soul could be reached for sharing (or fusing, stealing, etc). Let's suppose that the planet itself has some sort of soul, you could make your wizard touch that spirit to increase their magic power. Now the price of that touching could be mental instability, which could go worse the longer the contact is.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  8. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Alright, I like that. :) Thanks for coming up with all those ideas. The soul-sharing should work much better with the characters and the story and whatnot.
     
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  9. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

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    In my setting;

    Sorta. The soul is a complex system of magical and spiritual organs. How immortal some aspects of it are is as much of a mystery and subject of speculation as souls are in real life.

    The aspect most people think of when you say "soul" is a perfect record of the person. It's part of your magical immune system. It ensures that after you've been cursed into a frog you know what to turn back into when the princess kisses you. Of course, like your physical immune system it can be overpowered at times.

    That aspect of the soul is made up of magical energy and would naturally dissolve back into the environment after death. Gods and other forms of magic can preserve them more permanently though, and the reasons ghosts tend to go bad is because they can't truly add anything more to their records. Every new experience and interaction can only be recorded by overwritting something that already exists.

    See above. For some aspects of the soul it's unknown, but for the aspects most people are familiar with then it certainly can be.

    There are limitations, but honestly the limitations are whatever is needed for the plot. ~(=-=)~ If I need an explanation I'd say that it's not the force of the soul, but how that force is applied. Maybe sacrificing your life and your soul to kill the dark god results in the magical equivalent of a landslide? The effect is far in excess of what it'd be on its own. Alternatively maybe using a non-virgin's soul in your dark ritual is the equivalent of trying to run straight through a brick wall but a virigin's soul is like going through the window instead?

    Yes.

    Selling your soul means one of two things.

    Either;

    A) You've basically given your user name and password to some entity and they can bypass a good chunk of the protections on you. Best case scenario? They give you cool new hell powers? Worst? You're extra vunerable to any curses from them.

    B) You "lose your soul" or at least lose the aspects responsible for the magical immune system. Pros? The entity you sold it to doesn't have a direct line to mess with you afterwards and though it could take years or decades you can grow a new soul as you build up life experiences. Con? The soul is the single most dense and magically nutritious part of the human body and now some entity has that power in a convenient travel package. Naturally your magical immune system is also compromised and depending the circumstances can result in amnesia, loss of emotions or other fun stuff.

    Sure. Fire's fun. The Dragon God of Flames in my setting is all about rage, revenge and letting no injustice stand. He's the easiest route to gaining the ability to burn away your soul for massive destruction. Basically think hellfire with the serial numbers filed off. Afterwards you'd need a specially geared team to decontaminate the area. You'd have living smoke coiling like vipers, embers hidden among the ashes that wait for someone to pass by in order to flare up and undead blast shadows stalking tresspassers.
     
  10. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Wow QueshireQueshire, your setting is really complex but full of neat possibilities :) In my setting, there isn't such thing as 'hellfire', but there are a few beings who can wield elemental power using their soul as a mana source. My question is: how can a soul physically turn into something like flame energy? To me, a soul is like a non-elemental magic, but it probably has the potential to become elemental if certain conditions are met. Do you have any ideas about that? I'm not sure how to fill in the details.
     
  11. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

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    Since a soul is something concrete, not just abstract energy, that resides in a sort of parallel dimension connected somehow to our own, we can argue that souls have spiritual "matter". And since any matter in the universe is just a form of energy, you can play physics with it. I mean, you can imagine that your wizards are able to channel and concentrate soul matter/energy in their hands (or in front of them somehow) to turn it into some real-world phenomena like fire, ice or whatever. To exemplify this procedure, picture in your mind how diamonds are created: by extreme heat and pressure, but in a certain way. You can then do something similar in your story with the soul energy: by concentrating and shaping that energy in certain ways, a wizard can turn it into whatever they want.

    Now, the particular detail of this angle is that a soul can be considered really thin matter. If you turned someone's soul into real world matter, like into a crystal, such crystal could be rather small, like no more than a few grams or a couple of kilos (up to the writer, of course). So, for instace, to create a pure soul-forged sword would require the souls of several people/beings, something that can give you interesting narrative choices.

    Also, you can imagine places in which natural vortexes appear and can be used to harness spiritual energy (anything alive should have a soul, right?) from the environment, and also help in its processing (you could give those vortexes a tendency to shape soul energy in a certain way). The danger of this is that extracting too much soul energy from the environment can dissipate the vortex and affect those places in a similar way your characters are affected by abusing their own soul energy. On the other hand, an expert wizard could be able to also generate a vortex, albeit smaller and shorter-lived than a natural one.
     
  12. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Ah, ok. I've never done research on what vortexes really are. What makes them important to shaping magic?
     
  13. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

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    First of all, this vortex concept is just some extra idea that came up in my mind while thinking about your question regarding the materialization of soul energy in our realm. What I was imagining as vortex was something like what's described in wikipedia, at least visually. I'll try to explain it better, although in a quite improvised way, in the next points:
    • A vortex could be a particular manifestation of the connection between our reality and the souls' one, in a way that some vortexes could be natural springs of mana while others coul be natural sinks of matter.
    • The sinks of matter could be gentle black holes, so to speak, in which drops of dust, water and other small particles fall and dissapear into the other side.
    • The springs of mana could be then considered something like white holes (a concept that, at least some time ago, was speculated in physics in contrast with black holes), from which the soul energy emerges not fully materialized and that usually vanishes without consecuence converted into regular energy on our side. You could imagine mana dripping almost like shiny water.
    • Why this transmutation happens is because, in their trip between our reality and the spiritual one, mana and matter are under some sort of "pressure" or force exerted over them by the wormhole they travel through.
    • How wormholes and vortexes are formed naturally? One option could be that they happen in or near places in which extraordinary forces come into play, like geological faults, volcanos, etc. Of course, depending on how you want play this out in your worldbuilding, you might prefer to locate these vortexes in more convenient places for your characters to reach them (but what would be the fun in that?). Also, events in the spiritual side would affect the creation of vortexes.
    • Natural vortexes appear spontaneously, meaning that there's no necessary correlation about the number of vortexes that could appear in one place, what type they could be, or even how close could be from each other.
    • Natural vortexes can be very unstable and last very little, or be rather stable.
    • Abusing a vortex can have consecuences: from dissipating the vortex, to affecting the souls of beings that are close by (without killing them).
    The beauty of this vortex notion is that it gives you the possibility of giving mana its own nature that has to be understood. This way you can have raw mana that could be used for anything, including healing or harming the souls of living beings (you could have mana bullets for instance!). And, of course, the presence of a stable vortex or a combination of them anywhere, makes such place a very special one for wizards or any organization with skills to handle mana. Finally, if someone understands how the vortexes work, they could try to make their own, something that could be a real gamechanger for the characters and organizations in your story.
     
  14. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Thanks for explaining that Eduardo LetaviaEduardo Letavia. My plot line is really starting to come together in my head. :) As it happens, I currently have a fairly unstable vortex set up in the location that it needs to be. The MC doesn't really know what it is, but she knows that there's a strange anomaly in the sky. Her story line basically revolves around this mysterious 'white hole' and understanding how it came into existence. I guess I was just kinda lost on the properties of this whole vortex thing, so thanks for spelling it all out for me :) I understand how to make it work now!
     
  15. Eduardo Letavia

    Eduardo Letavia Scribe

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    Glad you found it helpful. Just be aware that I improvised the explanation, so you might realize other properties for the vortexes convenient for your story. Also, something else I've just realized in that setup is that living beings could be considered stable vortexes of a very particular kind, which is why they're connected to and influence their own souls. Well, I'll leave it here, good luck with your fiction!
     
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  16. Lynea

    Lynea Minstrel

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    Thanks! I'm sure I can craft this into my story, even with some tailoring and such. :)
     
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