Okay, so a couple weeks ago I responded to an open call over at Dice Monkey for guest writers. I finally came up with something decent, entitled The Character of Souls and it was posted recently. It's further thoughts about souls which I started in an earlier post on this blog.
For those of you too busy to click on the link to Dice Monkey, here's what I offered up:
So I’m slowly working on my “ultimate” campaign world. This time I’m
going to do it right (no, really). One of the core concepts is that
the world is a magical/divine one, not a scientific one. The world is
flat, the sky god really does travel across the heavens in his golden
ship each day, typhoons are the wild wrath of the sea god, etc. So all
creatures in the world have a soul, that divine spark whose presence
makes a living thing alive.
But this brings up basic question: where do souls come from? Who
created them? Are they still being created or were they all created in
discrete past events or eras? Where all created by one entity or by
several? And if several, jointly or separately? Can they be
destroyed? And what level of power is necessary to destroy a soul? Or
can only a soul’s creator destroy it?
And there is the question of what exactly a soul contains. It is the
spark of life, but does it have a character of its own? Since my new
world is for a high fantasy campaign, I plan to use the classic D&D
alignment system. So then, does a creature’s alignment come from the
characteristics of its soul? Are there chaotic neutral souls and lawful
evil souls and so on?
A D&D type world has creatures which are typically of a certain
alignment. That argues that all creatures of a certain type would have
souls of the same character/alignment. But how would that happen? Why
would all orcs be chaotic evil? Would chaotic evil souls gravitate
particularly to orcs in the womb? Is it perhaps that when each type of
living creature was formed by its divine creator each individual was
given a soul of a particular character? Did formation of the
race/species thus included creation of a particular type of custom soul
for them and now only one type of soul can fit that species, like a key
only fits a certain lock?
Or perhaps souls were created by certain deities and because those
deities had fixed divine alignments they were only able to create souls
with alignments similar to their own. The chaotic neutral earth mother
can only make souls which are chaotic neutral. All her creations are
thus chaotic neutral in alignment, or either ethically chaotic or
But this leads to a big problem with creatures with highly variable
alignment such as humans. If humans were created by one deity and that
deity can only create souls of the same alignment, then all humans would
be of one alignment. But clearly they are not.
In my new campaign world there is a hierarchy of deities. The original
primal gods came first. They created the divine guardian dragons and
the five nature deities. The primal gods created the three core mortal
races (humans, elves, and dwarves). The divine guardian dragons created
the mortal dragons who in turn created the smaller, humanoid
drakkar. The nature deities first created the animals of air, sea,
and land as commanded by the primal gods; later these deities created
intelligent species and races for reasons of their own. Lastly a group
of newcomer, lesser deities entered the world and created the fiendish
(tiefling) and angelic (aasimar) races by interaction with mortal
So that makes for several tiers of souls:
2b. divine dragon-created
3a. mortal dragon-created
3b. lesser deity-created
Each tier will have its own characteristics and in the case of the
2nd and 3rd tiers have distinct sub-types. I’m positing that the souls
in each later/lower tier are more set in their alignments due to the
nature and power level of their creators.
1. The First Races were created by all the primal gods in concert.
The primals used select divine essences and a unique blend of the five
elements for each of the three First Races. This is why they have the
widest range of alignments but with each race having a typical
“personality” beyond alignment. There is a reason dwarves love gems and
metals and humans covet landholdings.
2a. The nature deities first created the plants and animals of the
world. Because these deities are morally neutral the plants and animals
are morally neutral (neutral on a good–evil scale). Much later they
created the beast races (such as minotaurs) in imitation of the other
races they saw around them. This second phase of creation was done in
haste and driven by fear and hatred of the races and entities wreaking
devastating war across it. They were birthed as weapons and their souls
were tainted with the fear and hatred raging in their creators at that
2b. The divine dragons created their mortal avatars, the worldly
dragons. The earliest mated pairs were actually immortal despite being
formed of physical flesh and blood. The five divine dragons were
originally formed to guard the five elemental poles holding the world
together. They naturally partook deeply of the characteristics of their
corresponding element, two being lawful, two chaotic, and one neutral.
The souls of the later worldly dragons were the same ethical alignments
as their creators, based on the element of that ancestor.
3a. The worldly or mortal dragons later created the humanoid drakkar
peoples. The drakkar were infused with the element of their ancestor
divine dragon and their souls partook of its essence. That is why the
earth dragons are balanced and neutral while the fire drakkar are
passionate and chaotic.
3b. In the final aeon of the world, powerful beings entered from
elsewhere and warred with each other. Though immortal and insubstantial
like deities, they were less powerful than the five deities of nature
or the divine dragons and nowhere near in power to the primals. They
could not create entire races or species, only rare individual
entities. They could, however, create physical avatars of themselves
modeled on the First Peoples and in this way interact with them. These
beings were generally neutral ethically (law vs. chaos) but with
variations, but strongly morally aligned, apparently due to their planes
of origin. So their physical avatars could mate with the First
Peoples, but their offspring were influenced physically and morally by