Jump to content

Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?


Acroyear II
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hey guys,

Some time ago I introduced a neferious NPC / villain into my campaign who would grant favors to anyone who made a deal with him. The deal is always for the person to repay the favor at a later date. The person is told that the favors (either the ones that are asked of the NPC or the ones the NPC asks of them) can never be to inflict any harm on another person, and the favors must be something that is within the realm of possibility (i.e. one cannot ask for a cure for cancer or end starvation throughout the world, but could ask for help in locating someone or something, or with getting something done they can't do themselves. The catch is that the person who makes the deal must comply with the favor that is later asked of him/her or lose their soul to this mystical being.

 

So far, three of the heroes in my campaign have succumbed to asking the mystical being for a favor (in two of the three cases it was to do good for others, the last case was to further that hero's own fame).

 

The first case was a hero who asked the mystical being to give him a spell that could transfer the team's butler's soul from a robotic body back into the butler's human body. The mystical being called on those who owed him favors and summoned Lord Thorne of DEMON to cast a spell to do as the hero asked. Lord Thorne had no choice but to comply or lose his soul to the mystical being.

 

The second case was a hero who asked for a script for a smash-hit movie be written about him and that he would star in it (he is a hero and a television actor). The mystical being called in a favor and a struggling writer changed his action movie script to fit the needs of the hero and gave it to the hero for free.

 

The last case was a female hero who needed a genetic cure for her brother's condition. The mystical being called in a favor and a serum was delivered to the heroine with instructions on how to use it to cure her brother. In this case (as with all of them) the person doing the favor is not required to show themselves, so the heroine has no idea at this time who supplied her with the serum.

 

The time will come soon when the mystical being will call upon the heroes to return the favors to his other clients. These favors will be to further the goals of Evil (the PCs are not aware that the return favors will be to aid Evil, but suspect the favors will have some consquences). If the heroes decline to perform the favor, they immediately lose their souls to the mystical being.

 

At this time I am still undecided on how to address the loss of the PC's souls should they decline to perform the favor. Could a PC lose his or her soul and still be allowed to continue game play? I'm sure there may be some comic book characters who function without a soul (heck, didn't Spike and Angel on the television series Buffy The Vampire Slayer fight evil and both had no souls, right?). But, in that case then the PCs suffer no immediate penalty for not completing the favor asked of them. So, no real downside until the character actually dies, right?

 

My first plan was to have the PCs immediately die when (and if) they lose their soul for not completing the requested favor. But, then the question remains, how does the PC come back from this? They are not being cheated, as they made the deal fair and square, so there is no trickery involved by the mystical being (but make no mistake, he is evil). But, as a GM I want to be fair to the Players, as the favors that will be asked of them will have grievious consquences, so they may want to break their deal with the mystical being to do the greater good, even at the cost of their souls.

 

The point of this idea was to create a situation for the PCs in which they would be asked to do something that would have dire consquences to others or the World down the road (and the heroes would know this). Would they save their own souls by doing the favor, or would they sacrifice their souls (and possibly their life) by doing the greater good and not perform the favor. That is the moral dilemma.

 

So, as you can see, I have kinda painted myself into a corner as far as how to handle the loss of the soul should the PCs decline performing the favor. I'd like to hear the suggestions you guys and gals have out there on how you would handle this in your own campaigns.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 61
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

Well, for many probably the loss of soul is worse than loss of life. I have always interpreted that the way it should be handled from stories on such matters, that probably their soul is to be given to this entity at the time of their death. So, they could go on fighting crime until they die. But at death he gets it. Maybe as a consequence, when they die they become part of his "unholy army" and after they die maybe they could come back as a mindless enslaved enemy as a plot device.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

The real answer is mostly up to you, and how your campaign cosmology works.

 

Ive been in campaigns that operated under a lot of different assumptions. It seems to me that the soul should be (ultimately) both indesctuctible, and unavailable for permenent "claim" by anything short of God Himself. (Thats how it works in my campaign, currently).

 

In my campaign, if a person "sells their soul" they are basically damning themself for 100 years and a day. However, time in the Hells works differently than you might expect, and a Damned Soul can suffer 100 years torment in a week of Earth time. Souls are bartered and traded by the Powers, but ultimately they cant be -permanently- possessed by anyone other than the Almighty (who never makes direct appearances).

 

Reincarnation has also been seen to exist in the campaign. However, because the "ultimate truth of the universe" is more complex than mere mortals can comprehend, Players have seen a reincarnated soul talking to their own predecessor, as well as having encountered an Angel working alongside the Egyptian God Anubis. (Both quite happily). A character whose soul was damaged regrew the lost part, while another character whose soul was stolen was turned into an NPC for a time.

 

In my campaign (which Im just explaining because...well...its the example Im most familiar with), when a character loses their soul, they lose all sense of compassion and empathy for other people. They do not necessarily act -logically-, but they act totally selfishly. They might realize that it is in their best interest to curry favor with other people, because large numbers of angry people can be hazardous to your health. But everything they do they do for their own selfish reasons, with NO regard for the feelings of others (beyond what other people might do in retaliation, etc).

 

In other words, they become soulless b*st*rds.

 

 

 

[infodump] (For the record, in "Buffy", Angel's soul was restored as part of his Curse; otherwise he would have felt no remorse for his actions. Without the soul restored, Angel is like any other Vampire in the Buffyverse; a Demon's spirit inhabiting the shell of a mortal that the Demon killed, and using that mortal's memories.

 

Spike was, in fact, soulless, and thus a Demon, for a long time. But apparently the mortal he consumed was deep enough to affect the Demon over long exposure. Also, he was an impressive vampire, having killed 2 Slayers in 100 years; one during the Boxer Rebellion and the other in the 1970s'. No other vampire we saw came close to that level of accomplishment. So clearly Spike was special.

 

Eventually Spike recovered his soul (without the side-effects Angel suffered, btw), because he thought it was what he needed to do to win Buffy). [/infodump]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

You have to define which cultural and theological assumptions define the meta-reality of your setting before we can answer this question. Different cultures and faiths have different beliefs about the inherent nature of the soul and the cosmological underpinnings of reality. The correct answer according to Christian lights may not be the correct answer according to Jewish or Muslim lights, let alone Hindu, Bhuddist, Pagan (etc) will vary. In general, most settings narrow it down to a simplistic, objective set of assumptions based on just one faith/culture. I say simplistic, because mechanics only have so much give, and not everyone at a gaming table will necessarily be a practitioner of the system adopted, let alone a scholar. You could theoretically try to come up with a subjective set of underpinnings, but without outlining the principles it operates on, we can't model that, either.

 

Summation: Need More Data.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

You have to define which cultural and theological assumptions define the meta-reality of your setting before we can answer this question. Different cultures and faiths have different beliefs about the inherent nature of the soul and the cosmological underpinnings of reality. The correct answer according to Christian lights may not be the correct answer according to Jewish or Muslim lights, let alone Hindu, Bhuddist, Pagan (etc) will vary. In general, most settings narrow it down to a simplistic, objective set of assumptions based on just one faith/culture. I say simplistic, because mechanics only have so much give, and not everyone at a gaming table will necessarily be a practitioner of the system adopted, let alone a scholar. You could theoretically try to come up with a subjective set of underpinnings, but without outlining the principles it operates on, we can't model that, either.

 

Summation: Need More Data.

 

Which is why I tried to invent a set-up where virtually every religion got -something- right, but none of them got it -all- right :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

Good question.

 

No, I would not kill the characters.

 

Could go the Ghost Rider route, the PC's body becomes a host for a lesser demonic servant of the neferious NPC. Multiform, with no control over their other form.

 

Or they know that while most people reincarnate, they will not. When they die they will never be reborn/brought back/resurected.

 

But I think the way I would go is they would use all joy. CvK disappears, they suddenly realize they no longer care for/about their DNPC, any "protective of" disads go away, and they enrage in every combat. The character becomes an emotionless combat machine. Teammates must try to bring them back.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

A lot of my initial thoughts have been covered, but here are some mechanics that occurred to me.

 

New disads, slowly escalating:

  • Unluck: Week 1, 1d6... week 5, 5d6.
  • Enraged: Chance to enrage starts at 8- on week 1, 9- on week 2, etc. Upon reaching 14- it becomes berserk 8- and starts to build again.
  • Psych disad: Uncomfortable on holy ground (or some such), building slowly to a painful Susceptibility to holy ground.

It also might be intriguing to see some benefit from being soulless.

  • DECV or Mental Def: Mind is harder to grasp or get a hold of.
  • Def PRE: Character is not nearly so easily impressed.
  • Def or Dam. Red. vs. STUN: Pain...feels good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

I think that the above posts have outlined pretty well the three major possibilities for what could happen to characters who lose their souls within a game context:

suffer various increasing penalties/Disadvantages;

become GM-controlled NPCs;

die and be taken out of the campaign.

 

None of these options are likely to please the players in the long term, unless they either enjoy the role playing challenge (in the first case) or are ready to retire their PCs and take on new ones. However, this being a game based on comics, the loss of a soul need not be permanent. It's very much within genre for superheroes to journey to Hell/the land of Death/etc. to fight for the soul of a loved one.

 

My suggestion would be to have the affected PCs suffer whichever of the above consequences you think they'd be most satisfied with (in the case of increasing penalties, make it clear that there's worse to come if they can't reverse the trend), but also let the heroes become aware that there's a way they can recover the lost souls. A very difficult and dangerous way, but then that's the one that heroes usually choose. ;) Such a journey can also be a great role playing opportunity, as in the source material it often involves confronting them with visions of their greatest fears, the consequences of the major mistakes they've made and people they've hurt, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

One possible way if they can somehow trick Mr. Evil into owing them a favour - thus allowing them to cancel out their debt. Not easy, but something they can do if they're clever.

 

Another possibility would be to do the task appointed to them - but in such a way that it doesn't actually help Mr. Evil at all - kind of the reverse of the Monkey's Paw scenario.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

Well, as stated, it basically depends on your universe's cosmological constants.

 

Firstly, you've established that souls exist. This is a logical starting point, as that isn't a truism in every game.

 

Secondly, you must determine what a soul is, at least in the abstract. To follow up on Kristopher, is the soul merely a packet of energy independent of the mind, or are the two linked? Does the presence or absence of a soul affect emotional responses (see Log's entry)?

 

There's also whatever applications of whatever mythology you prefer uses for side effects of such, such as 'no reflections in mirror' or 'casts no shadow' or whathaveyou.

 

I generally default (on those rare occassions that I play around with metaphysics) that losing one's soul has no discernible effects to the bulk of humanity ... they get Power and Mental Defense that only works against Soul/Spirit-Affecting Attacks, and in the rare event of requiring a resurrection (my games have very low body counts), well, then they can't be resurrected. But it has no effect on their emotional well-being/personality/et cetera. You sell your soul for the power to conquer the world because you're evil; you don't become evil and want to conquer the world because you sold your soul for power.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

What is a soul?

 

1.

 

In a real sense, the "soul" of a player character is the player. Therefore, a player character that loses its soul becomes a non-player character.

 

 

2.

 

Soul is Will. A character with no soul becomes an Automaton - no EGO. The Psych Limits become very important at this point, and you should write down any personality traits or quirks that were not taken as Disads, because the character's personality as of the point of soul loss becomes their base "programming" from which they can no longer deviate - no EGO, no EGO rolls to overcome psych lims. It may be presumed that this programming always includes a "survival instinct" so the character will still eat, drink, act to avoid harm, etc. Not because they care - they don't care, any more. They just act automatically. Whoever "owns their soul" is probably the source of any other instructions, will be obeyed, well, automatically. Possibly the other player characters may find other ways to input instructions, and very possibly the character will simply do what anyone instructs as long as it's not overridden by "base programming" or the malevelent entity. Eventually, said possessing entity will probably "re-write" the personality program to suit itself.

 

Ironically, having a low INT could be a benefit here. Higher INT just allows the demonic being to impose more programs.

 

3.

 

Soul is Life Force. The character no longer has a RECovery, and perhaps no CON. Wounds cannot heal, and even END cannot be replaced. Inevitably, the character will weaken and eventually die, unless the soul is restored. (This matches the concept of "soul loss" as I've encountered in some sources, especially as reported in Paleopagan/tribal settings where a shaman or the like must retrieve the soul.)

 

 

In any of the above cases, other drawbacks like Distinctive Features (no shadow, no reflection, percieved as soulless by those with spiritual perceptions) are quite possible.

 

Lucius Alexander

 

The palindromedary has four soles

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

3.

 

Soul is Life Force. The character no longer has a RECovery, and perhaps no CON. Wounds cannot heal, and even END cannot be replaced. Inevitably, the character will weaken and eventually die, unless the soul is restored. (This matches the concept of "soul loss" as I've encountered in some sources, especially as reported in Paleopagan/tribal settings where a shaman or the like must retrieve the soul.)

Oh, i like where this is going. The way i would work it is that END and STUN still recover normally (though there might be a gradual penalty to REC), however BODY does not recover, cannot regenerate, and cannot be aided. The life force itself cannot replenish with the soul.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

What is a soul?

 

1.

 

In a real sense, the "soul" of a player character is the player. Therefore, a player character that loses its soul becomes a non-player character.

 

 

2.

 

Soul is Will. A character with no soul becomes an Automaton - no EGO. The Psych Limits become very important at this point, and you should write down any personality traits or quirks that were not taken as Disads, because the character's personality as of the point of soul loss becomes their base "programming" from which they can no longer deviate - no EGO, no EGO rolls to overcome psych lims. It may be presumed that this programming always includes a "survival instinct" so the character will still eat, drink, act to avoid harm, etc. Not because they care - they don't care, any more. They just act automatically. Whoever "owns their soul" is probably the source of any other instructions, will be obeyed, well, automatically. Possibly the other player characters may find other ways to input instructions, and very possibly the character will simply do what anyone instructs as long as it's not overridden by "base programming" or the malevelent entity. Eventually, said possessing entity will probably "re-write" the personality program to suit itself.

 

Ironically, having a low INT could be a benefit here. Higher INT just allows the demonic being to impose more programs.

 

3.

 

Soul is Life Force. The character no longer has a RECovery, and perhaps no CON. Wounds cannot heal, and even END cannot be replaced. Inevitably, the character will weaken and eventually die, unless the soul is restored. (This matches the concept of "soul loss" as I've encountered in some sources, especially as reported in Paleopagan/tribal settings where a shaman or the like must retrieve the soul.)

4.

 

Soul is the ability for abstract thought. Character no longer recognized figures of speech, cannot comprehend hypothetical questions, loses all ability to plan further into the future that the satisfaction of current biological needs.

 

5.

 

Soul is the ability to experience joy and love. Character becomes clinically depressed, thoughlessly hurts loved ones, begins to berserk in combat.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

I just think it's weird that most responses to this are purely to the negative. :)

I think you'll find that I indeed did post that there would be a benefit to this. :tonguewav I think I'm doing pretty good for someone who doesn't actually believe in souls. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Re: Characters Losing Their Souls - How To Handle It?

 

I think you'll find that I indeed did post that there would be a benefit to this. :tonguewav I think I'm doing pretty good for someone who doesn't actually believe in souls. :)

 

I did say 'most'. ;) And I'm in the same boat, which is why I'm surprised so many of the reponses are to the negative.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...