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Are souls atomic?


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There's something I wasn't clear on in the game, and I was hoping there was something I missed in the game, or one of the developers could shed light on this...

In the world of PoE, is a soul an indivisible unit, or is it composed of smaller segments of "soul stuff"?

We know from one of the possible endings that you can shred a soul up, but my question is in the normal course of reincarnation, is the soul reborn intact in another body, or does it dissolve into the "soul stream" and intermingle with the souls of others, and a newly formed soul is deposited into the new body, made out of the components of many other souls?

 

Because I find it strange that the Watcher has so many memories of his time as Thaos's toady, since it happened such a long time ago (at least 20+ generations ago, right?)

It's also interesting that when communing with the souls of other people that the Watcher never finds that they had a previous soul in common at some point (which might've been a better way for the flashbacks, since it would be like The Nameless One recovering memories, and would give the player an impetus to touch the soul of all the backer-made NPCs)

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I get the sense that they're nebulous (cloud-like) entities that have sufficient integrity to possess a unique identity and store information.

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There's a book in the game that answers this question; I think it's something about Rymgard. In general, souls stay more or less intact, but not completely -- there is some entropy in the system so they tend to lose (and sometimes gain, but losing is more common) small pieces along the way until there is no longer enough of it at which point it goes to wherever the Pale Elves in the temple were trying to get to. However, there are some souls which stay completely intact, at least for a time. It is implied that the Watcher's soul is one of these.

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The soul is very clearly divisible in this game:  [spoilers ahoy!]

 

 

Hirviras meets a person who has the other half of his soul on the island.

The animancer in the asylum cobbles a soul together.

The game mentions picking up parts of souls and losing parts of your own.

You can destroy souls like Thaos or the druids in Twin Elms.  It's Rymrgand's job to destroy souls.

I'm pretty sure they mentioned that animals have less complex souls, and Persitaaq came back as one.

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Souls predate the gods and therefore where not created by them.  PoE raises more question than it answers.  Which I like.

We are not given as far as I know any explanation of what a soul actually is.  I think it quite possible that souls are atomic energy or  some form of energy.

 I have but one enemy: myself  - Drow saying


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The way it was portrayed with Thaos, Iovara and others it's like as a Watcher, a god, or a very skilled animancer you can essentially act as a brain surgeon:

Preserving the mind/personality ( the statue in the Sanitarium, and at Caed Nia)

Uncovering hidden secrets of the mind( past lives/awakening)

Destroying the mind while preserving certain parts ( IIRC there was an option to return Thaos an Iovara to the cycle but preserving their memories to torture them)

Destroying the mind completely and turning it into pure energy( entropy, and strengthen endings)

 

Whereas a standard death seems to act more like alzheimer's with the person losing their memory with some being worse off than others( the occasional destroyed soul) and some being "better" off than others ( those that become awakened)

 

Of course the morality of all this is very confusing and open to interpretation like:

Should I feel worse about killing a living person or destroying a soul? ( in Heritage Hill using meta knowledge you have to decide between destroying hundreds of souls or killing hundreds of people by letting the Leaden key later reactivate the machine.)

 

Should I really feel bad About the babies not being born? The souls themselves are still alive and they are just people that had lives in the past.... Now with Woedca defeated they will be reborn into new babies anyway, depending on what I do and if I do choose entropy or strengthen is that so bad? There will be new souls and there isn't much benefit to actually remembering your past lives since most people just go crazy... Wouldn't it be healthier if all souls were grinded down and destroyed when they died since there's no real benefit?

 

Also what happens with Sangani's tribe if Persoq's or their other chiefs souls all get destroyed?

 

Just so many questions and subjective ideas.

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Based off both lore and events in the game, souls in PoE are definitely not atomic. By Maerwald's account - as well as what little is revealed about the cycle of reincarnation from lore books in the game and such - every ordinary soul is actually a composite of fragments shed by countless other souls and the more turns the soul goes through the cycle, the more parts of other souls it picks up. The standard course is that less and less of the original soul remains over time, though some reincarnations are born as 'something more', which I suppose could be those same fragments finding their way back to the soul they split off from in the same way they got removed from it in the first place.  A soul making it through reincarnation entirely as it was is an extreme oddity, the only confirmed cases being Thaos and that one village of pale elves. Soul can also be broken down to energy and infused into other souls (as seen in the Strengthening ending and Thaos's original plan for those souls), detached from one body and attached to another (as with the steward, Ethelmoer, and Blights), split between two different births resulting in soul twins (as with Hiravias an the Aumaua, or that Orlan in Twin Elms who shares his soul with a cat), and artificially splintered (as the animancer in the Sanitarium did to one of his patients). So yes, whatever the exact rules are, souls in PoE are definitely composite and subject to entropy of some description.

The reason the inquisitor memories become dominant is that that personality is the only one that was awakened during the course of the game, and as with the two personalities awakened inside Maerwald, an awakened personality with unresolved issues will actively invade its host's consciousness until those issues are resolved. Whatever other past lives the protagonist carries with them don't result in visions because their memory hasn't been triggered and therefore they're still dormant.

 

Finding parts of your own soul inside others could be an interesting extension of the watcher storytelling, especially if there was also a moral choice involved where you could reclaim them to strengthen yourself, but since the backer souls were all designed by backers rather than the storywriting team, it makes sense that they're pretty standalone and uninvolved with the central plot.

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The way it mentions how 'destroying souls', destroyed souls going to Rymrgand's realm, etc makes me wonder if the destruction of what is called the soul in Pillars really is the end of the person or if it moves them outside the cycle somehow in some way that isn't perceived.  I mean, how can the total obliteration of yourself, your identity, at an atomic level really bring you peace?

"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

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Souls are energy.

 

Each person born from the energy is a new person, seperate from the others. But when they die, their memories can remain in the energy (soul) but they are dead and gone. When awakened they think they live again and can drive the new person using the same energy mad.

 

Souls break apart upon the death of a person, mostly energy is lost but sometimes the soul manages to steal more energy than it lost. So the souls are actually many soul parts of different souls. And this doesnt matter because the soul is just energy.

 

In the watchers case however he has a strong soul, it doesnt break apart as much as others. The energy is more stable so he can use it to do things others cannot, namely manipulate energy (souls) in many ways.

 

But someone elses memories is still in the soul. The inquisitiors who argued with thaos. The memories are awakened and it must be fixed or madness will be the end result.

 

Many people of Eora however think the soul is the person (crucible knights look for freedom souls that fought the aedyr empire for example, but souls are fragmented and just because a piece of energy was in a freedom fighter doesnt mean anything but the people of eora dont really understand this but rather think that the "so called gods" tend to the souls and create them, when in fact they are just energy from souls given an agenda like a machine from machines created by the engwithans)

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And the engwithans thought the souls (energy) was the pathway to the gods but when their scientists showed it was only energy they got crushed.

 

Their science could never get past the deadend of souls, that they are just energy and so they thought there is nothing more. The world is empty and pointless. They used the energy to create the "machine gods" and commited ritual suicide.

 

 

 

What they failed to see was that all the energy, the planet etc has to have a Creator. The first natural thing must come from the supernatural. But the engwithans were so sure of their ideas and science and so noone questionened their faith, instead they commited ritual sucide like a sect to try and force their world view upon all others.

 

Thaos then works hard to see it done. But the "machine gods" turn on woedica (the engwithans didnt realise this could happen, they overestimated their machine gods) and so thaos has to work even harder to spread the engwithans "machine gods".

 

He needs more and more desperate measures to stop people from learning what the engwithans learned.

Edited by Tennisgolfboll
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The Souls in this game are not very logic. It's said that souls live over and over again in a cycle and they go into babies. So what if there are more babies then souls? Does it mean having sex can creat a Soul? No ^^

Souls can be created and destroyed as part of the reincarnation cycle. The game has a few mentions of 'soul twins', where two people have souls that were once a single soul. A conversation with Hiravias has him specifically talk about how souls splitting apart accounts for populations being able to increase without available souls running out.

 

It's also mentioned that souls rarely remain unchanged. When a person dies, that soul may lose bits in the transition. Maybe those bits will get attached to another soul, or fade away. Souls that don't change through the cycle are referred to as 'strong souls, and it's hinted that the Watcher may actually have one of those.

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