Thursday, June 8, 2017

[Spoilers] Speciality of souls

I advise players of mine to not read further. Just to be sure, here are your discord nicknames: darthzeus, Lendagan, Rhadamanth Nemes, Serifina, Gerven, Pancake, Staub, Moradin and anyone who wants to play in my games.

This is a big one, so strap your belts and keep your arms and legs in the vehicle at all times.

What is a soul?

A soul is a spirit of sorts inhabiting normally inanimate matter. It's the part of a creature that can reason, can perceive its surroundings (and use magic) and feel emotions. It's what each creature would call "I". Just for comparison, here are few things one's soul is definitely not - one's body and one's mind - both of these are left behind at the moment of one's death. Here are a few questionable aspects that very possibly both are and are not part of a soul - one's character, one's desires, or even one's memory. A soul is immortal.
The most physical representation of the soul would be the breath of a creature. Some consider the physical manifestations of the soul a creature's heart, or even their lungs, but these are very questionable. To steal someone's breath and store it in a container is to capture a sample of their soul.

Souls feel lost without a body or guidance, which is why there are two kinds of guides for the souls in the Ether called Psychopomps. One is the Psychopomp of Life, another one is the Psychopomp of Death. Little is known about these, it's not even known whether there's just one of each, or a whole nation of these.

Psychopomp of Death. Or maybe Life one. Who knows.

Cycle of souls

One could start describing this cycle anywhere, but there's one place I consider the best to start at. When new life is made, the Psychopomp of Life takes one of the souls from one of the planes of afterlife, resets it completely, then sends it into the body of the child before it's born.
The child grows up and develops a mind of its own. This mind is the closest the material could be to a soul and it's the place where memories, personality and desires of the body are kept. It's what animates the bodies for spells such as Speak with Dead or necromantic corpse-animating spells.
But first, the living being has to die. At that point, it's visited by the Psychopomp of Death, who determines what afterlife the soul should go to and leads it there. Once the soul arrives there it gets a physical manifestation and becomes an outsider.
If the outsider dies outside of its corresponding afterlife, it travels there. However, if it dies in its own afterlife world, the Psychopomp of Life takes it prematurely, keeping it by hand for the next being that will be made.
Either Psychopomp can be persuaded to let the soul stay in its place for a bit longer. The only catch is the way in which it has to be persuaded - a game.
The Psychopomp can be challenged to any game, it's master of them all and they all have same mechanical rules when playing against one of the Psychopomps. You roll skill challenges against the Psychopomp, first one to get five successes wins the game. You apply any attribute modifier and proficiency bonus applicable (usually Intelligence + proficiency, if you are proficient in that game), and the Psychopomp adds +18 to its rolls. Unfair? Kinda, but they don't really do anything else to relax.

Soul Brand

It is a well known fact that when someone experiences something powerful, it leaves a mark on them. In the world of Sivobog, these marks take form of tattoos that are generally called soul brands. Some of these soul brands are well known even among the poorest farmers, while others could be studied for years before their meaning could be figured out fully. The stronger the experience, the larger and more complex the soul brand gets. They are caused by the source of magic and strong emotions that bend the Weave itself to attract it (unless I change my mind and decide to make the source of my magic different from Weave some other time... not that the label of the source matters). Sometimes, gods themselves choose to brand the souls. Below are some examples of most well known brands.

Brand of Unfavoured is by far the most common, and most well known of the soul brand. Granted only by the gods, it takes a form of a circle in the middle of the forehead of a creature. Usually, creatures that can polymorph or formerly favoured people are branded with this to be easily told apart from the rest, but cases of extreme resemblance of another favoured race by an unfavoured one are not an unheard reason of such branding either. Guards usually check for this brand at the gates to determine whether someone should or shouldn't be let into the city.

Death starts off as a tally mark on your chest, right above the heart. It shows up the first time someone returns from afterlife using magic such as Resurrection or some other special abilities, bypassing the Psychopomp of Life. The more times someone dies, the more tally marks show up, eventually becoming a complex pattern. In the history of Sivobog, the most complex Death soul brand recorded was held by the Kitt of 9 Lives, who has returned from the afterlife nine times. Shortly after that though, he died, and never came back.

Dealer's Brand is a complex abstract brand that appears on the left hand of someone who makes at least one deal with a fiend, genie, fey, celestial or similar extraplanar powerful being. The more deals someone makes, the larger this brand gets. For a fiend, it reaches at first halfway up to the elbow, after the second deal it reaches all the way to the elbow, third reaches halfway up to the shoulder, fourth reaches to the shoulder, and so on. Similar applies to the other creature types, just on different parts of your body. Most often, these deals are two-way - the dealer does something for you, and you do something for the dealer. When you do your part, the brand goes away more and more until all that's left is a small symbol on your left palm (or other appropriate body part depending on type of dealer), forever marking you as someone who made a deal.

Promised Afterlife is yet another soul brand made only by the gods. It's located on the back of one's neck, and depicts one of several different symbols, each corresponding to one afterlife. When the Psychopomp of Death comes to collect anyone bearing this soul brand, they will ignore any other guidelines and guide the soul to the promised afterlife. It can be a blessing from the gods, or a curse.

Brands take up various spots on one's body and manifest when one goes through something big, something that changes them forever. Whether it's a farm boy saving his mother from an orc attack, or a noble regretting burning down the whole city along with their family, a soul brand shows up.
What happens if someone gets their hand cut off though? Or loses skin that bears the brand? Well, the physical signs of this brand may be gone, but the spiritual part is not - the brand is present on the soul until the Psychopomp of Life resets it fully, removing all the brands too.

Kinds of Souls

Gods of Sivobog did not create all the souls the same way. Some of these souls weren't even created by them altogether, which is even stranger. Here's the list of the strange and unique souls of creatures that inhabit this world (in no particular order), as well as short descriptions of what's unique about their souls.


Since Feywild was created by gods that were not sober at the time, it makes sense that the Fey souls are not normal. Feywild overall is its own world with no afterlife, even if the Psychopomps can reach it. That's because the Psychopomp of Death has learned to ignore the Fey, for they have a way to put themselves back together.
Each Fey contains multiple souls. All that's needed for a Fey to be born is for enough fey souls to meet somewhere. Sometimes the Psychopomp of Life could assist in that, while other times an Archfey forms her followers, seeming as if she pulls them out of thin air. Most of the time however the Fey form by themselves.
When a Fey dies, its souls fly into the Feywild and there look for other souls to clump up with. When enough souls meet up, a Fey appears. Based on the numbers of souls, different kinds of Fey manifest. For example, one would need four souls to form a fairy, but twenty five to form a nymph. Speaking of...

Nymph and Liches

What could these two have in common? Well, their souls are actually stored in an object. For nymphs it's either a tree (dryad), body of water (undine) or mountain, cavern or other mineral deposit location (oread), while for a lich it's a phylactery. It may be silly to put these two together, but the resemblance is uncanny - when either of those dies, its body regenerates near to the object that holds their soul, as long as this object exists. However, there's a price both of them have to pay for eternal life. Nymphs are created by the archfey when someone wrongs them in an extreme way as a punishment. A lich on the other hand has to ritually sacrifice people in order to live longer because of the agreement between the Psychopomp of Death and the lich. This contract is established when one becomes a lich - someone still has to die though. The Psychopomp agrees to take a soul of another being from the lich's phylactery whenever he dies and the lich gets to live on.
Nymphs and liches are instantly killed if the object that keeps their soul inside of it gets destroyed. Nymph still counts as a fey, which means that it has multiple souls.


When someone or something dies in the Elemental Chaos, there's no way for the Psychopomp to reach this soul. That's why the soul is left in the Elemental Chaos, trapped forever. Well, at least until elements start to stick to the soul. Depending on the areas where the soul resides, different kinds of elements stick to it. Eventually over time, enough material is gathered. The soul is either overwhelmed by it, or starts to command it to form shape. In the case of former, the soul is lost to the elements, but in the latter, what we know as a genie takes form.
What makes these genies special is that they can gain their form back as long as they die in the Elemental Chaos. As soon as they die outside of it, the Psychopomp comes to collect their soul and brings it into the afterlife, making the genie dead forever.


Denizens of Heaven, Hell, Infelix, Fortuna, and Shadow are all manifestations of their souls in the most basic way. Through a mysterious process that takes place on the way from Prime planes into Afterlife, they gain a body that is not quite made out of elemental matter, a body that protects their soul. It's the closest representation of their soul that there could be. When it's destroyed, two things can happen based on where it is destroyed. If it's destroyed outside of their plane of origin, their soul travels through Ether there and the soul gains its body back. If it's destroyed on their plane of origin however, the soul is fired out into the Ether for the Psychopomp of Life to find. One exception to both of these is when an outsider dies in the Elemental Chaos, in which case it's very likely it will turn into a genie.


Innately magical beings, dragons are one of the few truly immortal creatures. When a dragon reaches adulthood, its soul is strong enough to keep it alive indefinitely, allows the dragon to change shape and gives the ability to cast powerful spells. Dwarves and elves figured out a way of trapping a dragon's soul in a soulstone using a long and complicated ritual. Ever since Dragonslaying, the many soulstones are used to power machinery and keep up spells forever.
Dragons in the present times are very rare and hide away from people as much as they can, for they know that otherwise they would be hunted down and put into soulstones. When a dragon is in a soulstone, it can't really do anything besides observing everything within a certain radius and communicate telepathically with ones it can see.


When Eldur created the first primordial oozes, he bestowed upon them the divine gift of digestion. Thanks to that, these seemingly non-sentient creatures have some of the worst souls one could imagine, one that devours other souls. When a creature dies inside of an ooze, its soul is trapped within ooze's soul until the ooze is killed. Not even the Psychopomp of Death can take the soul that's inside of an ooze out, because it's all slimy and gross and who would ever want to stick their hand into that.
This however results in most oozes suffering from multiple personality disorder, taking on many perspectives on the world and acting more conflicted the more souls it gathers.


Whenever a lower undead forms, it takes one component of the being(s) it's made of. When it's just the body, we are dealing with physical, also called "aethereal" undead - zombies, mummies, skeletons and other such undeads. When it's the soul, the undead take spiritual, also called "ethereal" form of a ghost, specter, and other. This is why lower undead either lack a soul, or consist of just their soul. Higher undead can have both body and soul, or even have a body that simulates the remains of its soul by being animated and possessing an intelligent reasoning mind.


One of the rare races of the Sivobog's Material plane. Warforged are a mystery to most when it comes to the question of whether they have a soul or don't. There are four possible answers to this question, each with its own reasoning.
First and foremost the statement that warforged do not in fact have a soul. Some of the earliest models that can be still found roaming the world lack a soul completely, and thus are not detected by any soul-seeing abilities. That is the reason why this is the only certain option out of the four.
Second option, one that is still fairly probable, is that shardminds infuse the warforged with the souls of the fallen. Warforged do show sentience, personality, memories and sometimes even emotions, and tend to register as if they possessed a soul. Reasons why this option may not be true are for example the lack of tales of warforged in the afterlife, or any warforged created with soul brands on them.
Another possibility is that shardminds managed to simulate a soul, creating a new kind of soul - an artificial one. This kind of warforged could get soul brands and is detected by the magic as if it was a standard soul any humanoid could have. Once the warforged dies however the Psychopomp of Death would simply... not take its soul into the afterlife, knowing that it's completely artificial and does not belong into the natural cycle of souls.
Last but not least, there is the possibility that shardminds created a perfect immortal soul. If this was true and the truth came out into the public, the tables would turn into the shardminds' favor and most would be afraid of their power to create true living machines. Shardminds would show signs of both previous warforged that possess the soul, but they would at the same time be picked up by the Psychopomp and brought into the afterlife.
Which of these options is true is to this day unknown. The first one is confirmed for some warforged, but for those that have a soul in them... any of the last three could be true, with the last one being the least probable. This is possibly the greatest secret that shardminds have ever kept, and nobody can tell for sure what is true, not even warforged themselves.


These are by definition beings gods themselves did not make, and thus their souls should not have the same properties as the rest. The Psychopomps of Life and Death shy away from these souls, for they are hideous, ugly and forever cursed by being something that does not belong into this world. An unlucky fact is, that there are many, many more kinds of souls that the aberrations possess, some of which are named above too. Here are just a few of them I could conjure up and comprehend that weren't mentioned yet:

  • The antisoul is a soul made out of the exact opposite of whatever standard soul is made of. If a normal soul was to come into contact with this, both would disappear in a flash of light forever.
  • The physical soul is the soul of an aberrant that is physically located in the Ether. When one contacts this aberrant, it in fact interacts with its soul while its body is where souls of others are located. It is deadly and should be avoided at all costs, for its attacks do not harm your physical body, but your soul itself.
  • The parallel soul is the soul of an aberrant that's so large it reaches throughout the multiverse, seeing all possible timelines. (a concept I stole borrowed from Arnold K. of GoblinPunch, it's amazing)
  • The dominating soul are a kind of soul that are seen in mind flayers. These souls are in fact made out of combining mind flayer tadpoles with other creatures. The soul of a tadpole overtakes the creature and dominates its soul just as it dominates its body, changing it completely both outside and inside.

That should be all for the types of souls for now. Who knows, maybe I'll think up some more in the future. I've got my scopes on sphinxes, giants and some specific undeads, so we will see in time.

Soul Parasites

As it tends to be with all life, souls also have parasites of their own kind. These parasites attach to particular souls and don't let go, unless particular circumstances are fulfilled. Knowledge of these soul parasites is extremely rare, limited to gods and probably very few enlightened folk.
Parasites however have their etiquette. First and foremost - they won't latch onto a folk already inhabited by another soul parasite, that is considered very rude. Secondly, they do not even try to attach to gods and their souls because gods are immortal and immune to all kinds of diseases, so it would be useless to try and overcome this immunity. Thirdly and finally... they do not try to destroy one another.
I won't bother detailing mind flayers, because they are pricks. I'll just mention that they are in fact soul parasites.


Hearts are beneficial soul parasites that channel Weave. They are technically a concentrated source of magic from their own plane. Each plane has a heart, so there is a Heart of Material, a Heart of Feywild, a Heart of Heaven, etc.. While it's mostly believed that the heart chooses souls it gets attached to, there are legends of some powerful beings tying the powers of the heart to themselves. When a heart doesn't find any suitable bearer, it takes form of a magic item (most often an amulet). The item can be picked up by anyone and be attuned to to grant amazing powers such as the ability to concentrate on any number of spells, cast any spell in existence, be immune to magic or even cast wish as many times as one desires.

Heart of Material currently takes the form of a pendant.

Psyche Controller

Most mysterious of all soul parasites, known truly again just by gods and few creatures. These can be highly unpredictable and take perfect control of any soul they latch onto. All worlds (but not all planes) have very few of these, and oftentimes they're known for working in groups. They share a constant telepathic connection that is not magical in its nature, since it can work even in dead magic zones or antimagic fields. This inherent connection allows them to know of one another's general state and possibly their thoughts too. Usually they latch onto humanoids, and they stay with them more than often until the moment they die. It sometimes even seems like they choose a specific soul to latch onto based on the past of that certain character, their current state and other unknown conditions. A humanoid they latch onto is not aware of this since the Psyche Controller perfectly simulates its thoughts and actions as the soul itself would do them.
There are also known cases of a Psyche Controller controlling more than one soul at a time, either switching between them at whim or controlling multiple at the same time.
The worst part about all this is that the Psyche Controller did not realize what it is until it read all of this.

Soul Sight

People have long ago figured out a way of seeing others' souls in the most straightforward way. The easiest way would be to use detect magic, but that shows only the soul brands a creature has. If there was a creature with no soul brands (and there are a lot), one could not tell whether they have or don't have a soul just based on that. For more complicated kinds of detection, there's soulsight.

4th-level Divination (ritual) (Cleric, Druid, Paladin, Sorcerer, Warlock, Wizard)
Casting time: 1 action
Range: Self
Components: V, S, M (vial or another tiny container holding your breath)
Duration: Concentration, up to 10 minutes

For the duration you can see souls of every creature within 60 feet of you as if it's a brightly shining ember.  As an action you may peer into a soul of your choice and read what soul brands or soul parasites affect it, as well as the type of the soul.
The spell can penetrate most barriers, but can be blocked by a thin sheet of kalenite. It also does not detect anyone with a special protective platinum amulet made exactly for this purpose.

What exactly is kalenite? Well, it's a subject of a future article of mine. Until then though, feel free to replace it with another fitting material of your choice.

Truesight includes soulsight in it, since it's about seeing things as they are.
One last note - some creatures have innate everlasting soulsight, seeing the souls of creatures at all times. They can tell what kinds of soul brands the creatures possess, sense their presence, and... they can tell which creatures have the Psyche Controller parasite on them.

Thank you for reading and have a nice day!

P.S.: Special thanks to my proofreader Hoff! You're awesome!

P.P.S.: And to my people who I can discuss ideas with, thewickling and Lotrein, as well as all others! Thank you all!

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