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What does it mean being Soulless?

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  • What does it mean being Soulless?

    While this question is manly comming up from M20 I think this is something that would affect the whole WoD so I ask it in generall.

    So in Mage there are some examples that you need spirit to create Live with Soul and without it, it would be just Soulless. Though now my question is, what exactly is a soul and how does it actually effect to be born without some?

    As I am from Austria I need to clarify two things.
    First my native language is german and so please point out if the english I write is broken so I can improve.
    Second I do not own VTMV nor any line after M20 because it is not out there and I wait for the translation.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Koronus View Post
    While this question is manly comming up from M20 I think this is something that would affect the whole WoD so I ask it in generall.

    So in Mage there are some examples that you need spirit to create Live with Soul and without it, it would be just Soulless. Though now my question is, what exactly is a soul and how does it actually effect to be born without some?

    in MAGE at least its a prerequesite for being a Mage. Since its something you Eat in Diablere in vampire I'd argue a souless entity cannot be embraced. And Well obviously having a soul is a requirement for being a Wraith.

    That being said there do seem to be way people have their souls "fall off" by near death experiences which allow Arcadian Changelings and Fallen to slip into human bodies. Now if one were in a particuarly crossover game you could play with the idea of some mage making souless bodies to release the Hoards of Hell....


    • #3
      Well this is a big, broad, and complex question that spiritual and theological systems have struggled with for millennia with far more capable philosophers debating then I, but it's the Internet so let's see what happens.

      Alrighty so narrowing down to the World of Darkness then we have to try and determine what is and is not a soul.

      Things which may or may not be souls: Ghosts and Spirits.

      So the Wraith question is definitely something to consider. Are wraiths the same souls as the person who died or are they after images, somehow incomplete perhaps, that persist after a person's death. I could see an argument for either side but ultimately a Wraith acts as a continuation of a person so I'm going to lean towards 'yes, soul'.

      Now spirits are similar enough to souls that I feel it probably deserves a debate all its own, but for our purposes this is the best I can come up with: a soul is something inherent to a human person while a spirit is something inherent to a natural body, environment, or concept. Is it possible that souls are merely one variety of spirit? Certainly, especially with how vague the definition of 'spirit' can be at times. But for our purposes, or at least, my purposes, a soul is distinct enough from a general spirit to be looked at on its own.

      So, let's look at souls and what we can do with them. Through vampire we can see that a soul, if what vampires perceive as souls is actually such, can be bound to the body during the embrace and consumed via amaranth. Werewolves are a fusion of spirit and soul it seems, giving them a unique ability to operate in either the Ephemeral or Material with, notably, Free Will - which may be the most important quality of a soul. Mage confirms that all human persons have a soul that is connected to a 'Avatar Shard' - which may or may not be the soul or part of the soul - which can become Awakened to grant the person greater understanding of and control over Reality. Wraiths - if we assume they are souls - tell us a great deal. They illustrate a Nietzschean or Freudian divide between the Ego and the Shadow. They also illustrate three of the potential destinations for the Wraith - soul: Oblivion (absolute destruction), Transcendence (Reincarnation? Nirvana? Heaven?) and the limbo of remaining on Creation in some form or another. Changeling shows us that the human soul can co-exist with distinct spiritual entities such as a fae mien or a garou spirit. However the Sidhe also show us something very interesting - a soul can be dislodged forms its vessel via total possession.

      The main five gamelines can potentially tell us a lot, but what the others tell us is perhaps just as interesting. I'm not familiar enough with either KotE or Orpheus to speak to the implications that it provides but I will comment upon Mummy and Demon.

      Mummy shows us that it is possible to view a complete soul as a gestalt of various parts which interact together to operate as one whole organism. Incompletion of the soul is what allows the Arisen to exist after all. This illustration may be able to present us with insight as to every non-human gameline (barring Imbued perhaps). Is it possible that a vampire's Beast, a garou's Spirit, a mage's Avatar, a wraith's Shadow, and a changeling's Mien all represent adaptions of the human soul as opposed to entirely distinct entities?

      Demon also provides us with something interesting though and serves to confirm what many other gamelines might suggest: the importance of Free Will and the soul. Demon posits that humanity are unique in that they are created in the image of The One, this is shown through their souls. This may explain why humanity has the power to generate spiritual masses such as spirits and chimera as well as explaining the potential to Awaken - as the power to mold Reality is inherent to The One and thus humanity.

      The other fascinating - and controversial - element DtF provides is an exploration of the Soul and Free Will. Demons are only capable of possessing those humans with weak souls, or rather, they are only capable of possessing those whose souls have a tenuous connection to their physical vessel. Demon posits that the body is just so much clay and that the soul's connection to it is ultimately based upon Free Will (as well as possibly Belief and Life - the soul is bound to the body because it believes it should be and can only maintain use of the body as a vessel while it lives and is active). Demon offers example of the most commonly possessed groups - the Deeply Depressed, the Insane, the Suicidal, the Comatose, those Near Death, and those who willingly accept possession.

      Focusing on those former groups - what Demon posits they all have in common is either a disinterest or inability to express Free Will in their lives. Whether or not they could recover is of little interest to the demon - the Fallen exploit their vessels for possession while they are at their most vulnerable. From this we can see that Free Will and the ability to express it is intimately tied into the nature of WoD's soul.

      [To be Continued...]


      • #4
        So looking at all of this information, what picture can we create?

        The soul in inherent to humans, perhaps not only to humans, but certainly to humans. The soul is manifest strongest through the expression of Free Will. The acts of Magi seem to confirm that. The soul may be composed of several parts which further maybe altered to accommodate adaptions to the soul due to external spiritual influence.

        The soul is capable of being transcendent or being destroyed but either course relies ultimately upon an act of that souls Will to be done and are more commonly returned to some cycle of ephemeral life within Creation.

        As to your actual questions, I hope the above should work as an example of what I believe a soul is in the WoD (YMMV). Let me try to handle the question of Mages and the Soulless next.

        As to the creation of souls, it naturally varies depending on the Mage but I can think of a few general principles that would be useful imo. Obviously the magi requires sufficient arete and spheres (Spirit and/or Prime I would imagine) to be capable of such a thing. They would then go about the process of generating the spirit however they do, however my reason for thinking that it is possible for humans to create a soul is two-fold. The first theory is general and is that all humans have the genetic potential to create potential to create life - most commonly through sex and as a child who is born is human and would have a soul it may stand to reason that humans have the power to generate - or at least align as necessary to serve as a medium between the created person and external forces - a soul. The second reason, if one is to believe DtF (and MtA to an extent) that all humans were created in the image of The One and thus, even in their fallen state, possess the potential to create as The One creates and therefore to create a soul as The One has for them.

        The metaphysics and theology of actually generating the soul aside, here are my theories:

        A human body without a soul would be ultimately incomplete and incapable of Free Will. It would be capable of carrying out mental processes and following biological compulsions, but only to the extent that it is programmed to be able to. It would be without the ability to manifest it express Free Will and would thus be bound by instinct and design alone - closer to our understanding of an animal then a person.

        Furthermore this Soulless would not have the capacity to create as a human person can. They may be able to generate works of art, according to the designs of their maker, but their true ability to create is actually limited. The vessel would not create the energy necessary to generate anything but the slightest of effect in the Umbrae. In the High Umbra, Middle Umbra, and Low Umbra it would have just as much impact as the average ape would. It may not have any impact in the Dreaming at all.

        It might not possess and aura and thus be invisible to aura reading abilities. It is likely to be a prime vessel for spiritual entities who need fear no interference from a soul. It could never Awaken and I would doubt whether it would ever be able to become a vampire, wraith, or arisen. It could house an Arcadian Sidhe but provide little in the way of protection from Banality and almost nothing in the way of protection from Torment.

        It would be something that I imagine most human people would recognize intuitively as being somehow strange. A sort of uncanny valley effect as, no matter how perfectly it replicates human behavior or instinct, it is forever recognized as something other by humanity.

        But hey, that's just my take - YMMV. Hope it was helpful. Either way it was a lot of fun to think about and write.


        • #5
          Reincarnation of at least Avatars seems to be confirmed by Mage ...


          • #6
            Aye, the Avatar Shard at the very least definitely reincarnates, however the question is how intimately any particular shard is tied to any particular soul and whether or not the reincarnated shard would be accompanied by a reincarnated soul or if the shard carries on to a new vessel and soul while the previous soul goes off to wherever it's bound while the shard reincarnates.


            • #7
              It means the character is fit for a career in law, politics, real estate, or as a pundit.


              • #8
                Don't forget insurance sales!