Friday, March 31, 2017

Heaven, Hell, and the Souls Betwixt

I started writing a post about the various psychopomps who come to collect your soul after you die, and how you can fight them off and live forever, but I realized that I need to write a bunch of background first, about souls and the afterlife.  So consider this a preamble.

I’ll write the psychopomp one next.


Heaven and Heavens

Everyone knows that Heaven is located in the Immortal Mountains.  I mean, if you stand in the right place, you can fucking see it.

The big heaven—the Heaven with a capitol ‘H’—is of course the Hesayan heaven, ruled over by Zulin and his court.  But there are other heavens: some small, some secret, some dead, and some still thriving.

<sidebar>Remember that Centerra tries to avoid using planes.  What would be another plane in another setting’s cosmology is instead a specific location on the Centerran globe you can walk to.  What Centerran wizards call “The Plane of Air” is actually the Sirium nation of air spirits, located in the air high above Outer Basharna.  Similarly, the Hesayan Heaven and all the lesser heavens are also located on the map somewhere.</sidebar>

Most of the Fire Cult heavens have been discovered and razed by the Hesayan Church.  After the Fire Gods were killed, there was nothing to stop the Church from finding these heavens, rounding up all the resident souls, and sending them to whatever corner of hell is reserved for unrepentant pagans.

Most of the old Fire Cult heavens were beneath volcanoes, now dormant and mostly collapsed.  They’d make good dungeons.

The Heralds of the Immaculate Morning have their own private heaven.  It’s rumored to be even nicer than the Hesayan heaven.  It's certainly less bureaucratic.

Even Zala Vacha has their own heaven, although it is technically located somewhere in the Underworld.

The Underworld

The Underworld isn’t the Underworld because it’s bad.  It’s the Underworld because it’s literally underneath the entire world—everything trickles down there eventually.  It’s the psychic drip tray beneath the continents.

The Underworld is bad because everything trickles down there eventually, except the souls who are saved by their religion and transported to their appropriate heaven.  Unless your deity makes an effort to scoop you out of the River of Souls, you’ll end up there.

<sidebar>The River of Souls is located on the eastern side of the continent.  It empties into Greywing Bay, near the Abominable Colossus.  Mortals view Greywing Bay as a placid bay ringed by mud flats and sea birds, but on the Ethereal Plane it is a screaming vortex of struggling souls.  It’s a hole in the psychic world, and the negative spiritual pressure it creates pulls souls in from all over the continent.  Unless you die deep in the Madlands, your unclaimed soul will end up here.</sidebar>

And because decent, caring people tend to band together and form religions, they tend to be the ones that go to Heaven (or at least, one of the heavens).  And since all of the decent folk don’t trickle down to the Underworld, and most of the terrible people do, the Underworld ends up being a pretty horrible place.

Hell, by the way, is only a small part of the Underworld.  It’s merely the known fraction, populated by the psychic ejecta of the Hesayan religion.

The rest of the Underworld is full of the architecture of dead civilizations, dreams whose dreamers have died, and souls who have forgotten who and what they ever were.  Lost continents, some impossible and some merely forgotten, grinding through eons of abyssal geology.

The Underworld is enormous.  Zulin didn’t arrive until about a millennia ago, at the end of the Time of Fire and Madness.  And since Heaven wasn’t constructed until then, most clerics believe that everyone who died prior to that has ended up in the Underworld.

The Soul

You have seven, according to Church Doctrine.

The first three are the lower souls.  They stay with the body when you die.  The last four souls are the upper souls.  They 

Identity is a more nebulous concept in Centerran culture than in our own.  Don't think about it too hard.

Mineral Soul

This soul stays with the corpse.  Its the deepest soul, and the oldest soul.  It's the type of soul that stones have.  It is the one you are talking to when you use speak with corpse.  It knows facts about material interactions ("A knife entered the ribs and blood filled the space where air once was.") and a few facts (“I am the corpse of King Amontep the Illuminated.  This body was born on the island of Mesos.”)

Vegetable Soul

Molecular biology doesn't work the way you think it does.  This soul is the second oldest and the second deepest.  It builds cells and tissues.  It formed you in the womb.  It knows a lot about your endocrine system.  It's what animates a zombie, if your body is ever a zombie.  

Animal Soul

Concerned with istinct, food, shelter.  Sex and violence.  Maybe a little bit of rock and roll, if its played loud and enough.  Elves lack this one.

Purple Soul (Memory)

If you lack this soul, you have total amnesia.  You are a stateless mind.

Red Soul (Personality) 

This is the soul's syntax.  Not so much what you say as much as how you say it.  It's the one that most people would most strongly associate with style and individuality.  Are you a good fuck?  That's something your red soul handles.

It is said that dwarves lack this one.  (They all fuck the same.)

White Soul (Goals)

This is your intellect and your goals.  Not so much the knowledge you have (that's purple soul), but the machinery that pumps that knowledge around.  It's also the part of the soul that wants

Blue Soul (Spirit)

This is the highest and most important of the souls, because this is what allows your connection with the divine and the magical.  This is the religious soul, the intuitive soul.

15 comments:

  1. Interesting that you (or the hesayan church) say that the blue soul is the most important, because when you lose that you lose essentially nothing as long as you aren't a cleric.

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    1. Any Christian will tell you that their connection to the divine is of the highest importance.

      Oh yeah, that's also the part of the soul that interacts with magic. So no spellcasting.

      On the plus side, if you get ride of it, you get a whopping +4 to save vs. magic.

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    2. >their connection to the divine is of the highest importance
      well, yeah, but I also don't want my flesh sloughing off (vegetable), or to lose my particle individuality (mineral) while I am adventuring.

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  2. And clearly you'll need various rituals or something like the intercision (from the Golden Compass) to sever various portions of the soul; either as an attack, or a ritual to make a better person, who can say?

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    1. Also if you sever a certain soul, you could probably replace it with a spell like a Spellborn Homunculus (http://goblinpunch.blogspot.com/2015/11/two-spells-and-class-spellborn-homunculi.html). Or, if you are me and like the magic words system, replace the soul with a magic word.
      Also, what happens when the vegetable, animal, or mineral soul is severed? I imagine it hurts a physical stat, Con/Dex/Str respectively.

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    2. Exactly! You can cut out the vegetable soul, which is great because then you're immune to all poisons and diseases, but then you'll die in 1d6 hours because all of your cellular functions have stopped. (No RNA is being transcribed, effectively.)

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    3. Remove the mineral soul, and your chemical bonds start breaking down. Immune to transformations, but you rapidly lose cohesion in a matter of minutes. Like turning a firehose on an overcooked porkchop.

      If you lose your animal soul, you lose all emotions and instincts.

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    4. Does that mean the Four Winds (and all the others) lack a Mineral soul?

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  3. Could you concievably chop off parts of different souls and stitch them together? Make soul golems? Carefully replace the ruler's white soul with one that you agree with?

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    1. And on that note, could you have more than one of a soul? Either as an effect of magic or as a "natural" spiritual disorder. (Whether you must replace one of the seven with a duplicate of another or if you can have like nine souls if you can just fit them in.)

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    2. Yes, yes, and yes.

      The whole reason I want to complicate souls is to make them more exploitable. The more understandable the soul-concept, the easier it is for players to exploit.

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  4. "The first three are the lower souls. They stay with the body when you die. The last four souls are the upper souls. They "
    You are missing a bit.
    Amazing as usual.

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  5. Which soul would cover unconscious body functions like breathing- vegetable or animal?

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  6. I love this, but think i'll condense it into just 6 souls to line up with the 6 stats of D&D.
    Spirit's kind of nebulous so I think I'll fold it in with memory to create the Intelligence soul.
    I'll also put the Charisma soul at the end of the list because it psychology is at the far end of Munroes' scientific spectrum (https://xkcd.com/435/) from physics and chemistry.

    That leaves me with this:

    Mineral - Con

    Veg - Str

    Animal - Dex

    Mental faculty - Int

    Reasoning - Wis

    Individuality - Cha

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  7. So the magically inept blue-skinned ladies that lack qualia and are conceived with a special magic item... Lack a blue soul?

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