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Metaphysics and All its Fabulously Gnarly Implications

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So in the pitch video, Josh mentions that magic in the setting is going to revolve around characters' souls (this will also play heavily into the game's plot, allegedly). Not only is this a potentially interesting point of origin for magic, but it establishes something like a system of metaphysics for the game's setting, something that can be explored in interesting ways.

 

Some examples: So people in this setting have souls. Therefore we can ask:

- What is the substance of a soul? Is it connected to the mind, or the body, or both? How can you even read a person's soul?

- Does one soul differentiate from others based upon someone's characteristics? Do different races have demonstrably different souls? Do different genders?

- Do one's actions affect his/her soul? Does experience in the world foster soul growth? If I commit senseless violence, does my soul reflect that as well?

- Can a person's soul be damaged, removed, controlled or captured? If so, what happens to that person? Can that malady be mended?

- Do all creatures and living things have them (failing that, a "spirit")?

- It's already been said that the PC and his companions will have "high-quality souls" (paraphrasing here). How does one make that determination? Is a high quality soul born or made?

- What of people with "broken" or "anemic" souls? Are they naturally incapable of the things that people like the PC can achieve? Do strong-soul'd individuals pass on that trait to their progeny or is it random? Would we see social caste systems emerge from this "natural order" favoring those with better souls?* What if a race does not seem to have a detectable soul? Are they thought of as monsters, as animals to be exploited at the whim of the soul'd?

- Can one's soul be sick, or abnormal? What terrifying or intriguing ways can that manifest?

 

Just riffin' here, but I think there's a lot to explore here!

 

* - I don't much like the show and I think it completely squandered its potential w/r/t exploring this sort of thing, but Last Airbender: Legend of Korra touched on this sort of dynamic with the whole "bender / nonbender" political subplot.

Edited by Pop
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:facepalm: How could I miss the info...guess too much attention to written info... :p Anyway, thanks for directing my attention to this.

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More!

- Are these "souls" in the commonly understood way? Are they quintessentially "you" in a way that your mind and body are not?

- Where do they go when you die? Are they born in a new body? Can souls persist in the absence of a living vessel? Can a persistent soul be malevolent (ghost) or benevolent (angel)?

- Can one's soul mismatch with their physical body or their mind?

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Anything that discusses the soul in concert with magic and has ties to Obsidian immediately puts me in mind of MotB. This is an absolutely good thing.

 

As for OP's actual questions, I especially like the idea of everything having a soul/spirit and having that link in with the magic system. Animism is a concept ripe with potential for really interesting extrapolation within a fantasy universe, and I'd love it if different magic-using classes were mostly differentiated by how they approach the problem of altering the world through interaction with the spirits that inhabit it. For instance, one class might make deals and pacts with spirits of various types, trading them shares of his soul or potential favors in exchange for power, while another uses those spirits themselves as a power source, exerting her will over the souls embedded in the world around her in order to rip them to shreds and fuel her own machinations with them. Just an idea.

 

That said, this is a lot of heavy philosophical consideration. I'll be coming back to this thread often from now on. Well posited, Pop!

Edited by LadySpace

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It's metaphysical in our world, so we can call it metaphysical when we're discussing the fantasy world. It's the same logic that applies to magic; no matter how well-studied and "unmagical" it is in-universe, the fact that it goes against our physical laws means it's still magic.

Edited by LadySpace

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Still it's unclear if this is considered as aminism or something like veneration of the dead, which can be seen in many cultures.

 

Do material items can have souls in a way or another (Aminism)? Or, is that possible for the players to contact with souls of historical existences, whom can be considered as legendary hero/heroin, saints and/or deity from some (veneration of the dead). Also, is that possible to bind contract with such entities and/or living NPCs (companions especially) like the example of Oath spell of cult of Humakt?

Edited by Wombat

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Just throwing out an idea there for what happens to souls when they pass on. Maybe they get purified, sort of scrubbed clean of all that accumulated personal experience, reprocessed, and packaged up into a new body? Kind of like reincarnation, but you don't really get any of the past lives influencing your current life thing going on.

 

Could their be a finite amount of 'soul' material? Maybe that's why their are a lot of people with "anemic" souls, to use Pop's idea; their's just not enough spiritual mojo to go around, so their souls are stuffed with filler material (like adding breadcrumbs to hamburger to stretch it out).


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Interesting idea, HangedMan. Are the denizens of Eps (Eternity Project Setting = EPS = Eps) blissfully unaware that the dwindling potency of soulstuff is bringing the world to a crisis point? What is to be done about these "Thinsouls"?

 

- Keeping with the multicultural discussion in the "Breaking the mold" thread, would we see different societal perspectives on this whole "soul" business fin different cultures? Would the nomads living in the Windswept Marsh Plains venerate their Big Soul folk as wise men and natural leaders? Would the elves of Wise Haegan's Pit of Darkness fear and revile Big Souls as potential dangers, exiling them into Certain Death Cove? Do the inhabitants of Pinkwipe Citadel give up their Big Soul infants to the State Ministry of Deadly Assassin Training?

- Moreover, if you can cultivate a soul toward some specific purpose, do different cultures do so? Are the Big Soul gnomes of Tinpan Alley the best musclemages in the world? Can your PC learn the secrets of musclemagic soulcraft from them?

- Is there some special technique to seeing / reading souls? Do Big Souls know each other on sight? Is this actually the Highlander?

- Is all this soul business part of some sinister plot?!?!

Edited by Pop

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The Kickstarter video where Josh Sawyer talks about it makes it sound like the soul, along with being tied with magic, is related to a person's drive or will.

 

Does that mean that a person with a "broken" soul was someone whose will was broken? Does this mean a person's magical capability can be dimished because of mental trauma, or that you can't force someone to use magic against thier will?

 

Would that also mean that an ordinary person is capable of having a "mother lifts car to save her child," moment, where thier magical or supernatural ablity goes well beyond what they are normally capable of if something or someone precious to them is threatened?

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Just throwing out an idea there for what happens to souls when they pass on. Maybe they get purified, sort of scrubbed clean of all that accumulated personal experience, reprocessed, and packaged up into a new body?

And if this is the case, what would people think of that? I rather like having memories myself, thank you. Not that the denizens of that world necessarily know the nature of their afterlife.

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- Can having a soul be dangerous, beyond the simple fact of potentially being able to use powerful and dangerous magic / abilities? Are Big Soul folk susceptible to certain personality flaws, or certain illnesses? Do they have a tendency toward schizophrenia, or violent bouts of rage, when their size 10 soul stirs within them? Can they start to affect other people's souls at will, or by their mere presence?

- Can a particularly big soul exert influence over mind or body, changing it? Can it turn you into a monster? A God?

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Just throwing out an idea there for what happens to souls when they pass on. Maybe they get purified, sort of scrubbed clean of all that accumulated personal experience, reprocessed, and packaged up into a new body?

And if this is the case, what would people think of that? I rather like having memories myself, thank you. Not that the denizens of that world necessarily know the nature of their afterlife.

 

It sounds a lot like the dreamsleeve concept from the Elder Scrolls, by the way Sharmat, I'm playing Morrowind at the moment...my Nerevarine is coming to break your toys :bat:

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Just throwing out an idea there for what happens to souls when they pass on. Maybe they get purified, sort of scrubbed clean of all that accumulated personal experience, reprocessed, and packaged up into a new body?

And if this is the case, what would people think of that? I rather like having memories myself, thank you. Not that the denizens of that world necessarily know the nature of their afterlife.

I suppose it would all depend on the life you lead. Some people might be upset that they don't get to remember all the cool things they've done, or the fact that they are the reincarnation of a Super Cool Hero/Villain/Sidekick/etc.

 

Now, venturing intoa topic that is likely to get bent out of shape, how would knowing this stuff effect something like suicide? Would people, knowing that they can well and truly start over from scratch, who are experiencing lives of misery, be much more willing to kill themselves? How does society handle that?

 

Or, if memories and such can be preserved, how does killing oneself (and maybe not even through genuine suicide; what about martyrdom?), how does this affect a persons soul in the long run?


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I could see a plot/subplot of someone trying to retain their knowledge after death. But this is pretty far off speculation at this point, and I'm in danger of turning the plot into Planescape: Torment now.

 

It sounds a lot like the dreamsleeve concept from the Elder Scrolls, by the way Sharmat, I'm playing Morrowind at the moment...my Nerevarine is coming to break your toys :bat:

Good, I welcome you. And bring Wraithguard. I have need of it.

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I'm no philosopher, but generally all talk of the soul and of things that are purported to exist despite not having any physical substance, all of it is metaphysical talk, yeah.

 

It's metaphysical in our world, so we can call it metaphysical when we're discussing the fantasy world. It's the same logic that applies to magic; no matter how well-studied and "unmagical" it is in-universe, the fact that it goes against our physical laws means it's still magic.

 

But it would no longer be metaphysical in the context of that world if it's explained/reduced/quantified too much.

 

For example, in PS:T, belief can shape reality but they don't explain why it's able to do that or how much belief is required for things to change. If instead they had said that belief is quantified as neural activity in the brain and that once a certain number of neurons start firing in a certain way, it creates some kind of interaction with the latent energy field of the multiverse, which causes the change in reality, then you take away too much of the mystery and ambiguity, and the story wouldn't work as well.

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Hmm, can it be ripped out, stored, stolen, bargained, like "I would sell my soul for..."?

 

If so, what's the market value of a soul, does it have mass (28 gram)? If it can be damaged or injured, are there healing that targets the soul rather than the body? If not, is it transdimensional/planar thing?

 

Lots of questions that hopefully gets elaborated on as the work progresses and hopefully some lore will get shared before too long. Speculating is fun though.


“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.” - Albert Einstein

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Maybe "high-quality" souls could mean that the person is more connected to his true nature, a God in himself...

 

By the way, great original post.

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I'm wondering what kind of exposition we're going to get on the subject. Does everyone embrace these metaphysical implications as fact? I.e. is there room for intepretation on what this 'soul source' is, or has the subject been analyzed to a point beyond any doubt. Is this a world like Faerun, where gods, souls, and the afterlife are indisputably present in everyone's life, or is the presence of this 'soul force' purely a result of armchair philosophers and introspection.

 

A lot of these metaphysical quandries will depend on this.

 

So, if souls are established as factual empirical truths, here are some things to think about:

1. If there is empirical evidence on the existance of a soul, who are the ones that present these facts to the world? Does everyone have access to knowledge concerning their own souls, or are there certain figures who have authority on the subject?

2. Speaking of authority, what does this imply for religion? Empirically speaking, will worshipping certain dieties have specific effects on one's soul? If it doesn't, then why do people follow these religions?

3. If souls are absolute fact, and souls are a great source of powerful energies, what's taboo? Is procreating purely for the creation of souls ok? Using the souls of others to power lightsources or machinery? Can people have a utalitarian view on souls now that there's less mystery and superstition involved?

4. Even if souls are factual, could people still reject the idea? How might others in the world view these poeple? Would their lack of belief have any adverse effects, or lead to any sort of distabalization in society?

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The ability to empirically quantify and measure these metaphysical properties does open up some interesting story telling possibilities.

 

For example, if heaven and hell do exist then conceivably, you would be able to measure the amount of good deeds that it would take to get into heaven and the amount of bad deeds to get into hell.

 

So the clergy would almost be like accountants where people can go to audit their souls and calculate how close they are to heaven or hell and how many good deeds they would need to do in order to escape from hell and get into heaven.

Edited by Giantevilhead
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