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Old 06-29-2017, 08:39 PM   #21
Otaku
 
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

Oh, a lot of good ideas here. I like the idea of the soulless being tools. The question is, for who? Nothing says it has to be more than one group, either.

We could have a group of scientists and politicians, maybe within just one government, maybe within several. The soulless may be easier to mold, with positive and negative reinforcement providing predictable results. The soulless are highly intelligent and capable beasts, but still beasts. Train the dogs to obey while properly caring for them, and they can fake love and devotion through pure allegiance. Even if they are prone to more fleshly pursuits, as long as those have an appropriate outlet and their parents train them correctly, few would notice the difference from the natural born in possession of a soul.

Unknown to these people, a cabal of mystics have found a way to transfer the soul of their members to a new host body, but only if it lacks a proper soul... or maybe the other, established methods work but this way is somehow better. Maybe most (or at least enough to matter) of the soulless are problem-plagued children, but between those soulless now occupied by an old soul, and interference provided by this cabal, the results of early testing were falsified so that the process is seen as ideal.

Yes, I'm going to suggest a third angle as well. Whether aliens, demons, "others"... a third group capable of waiting hundreds or thousands of years for plans to reach fruition actually sowed the idea in the first place. The soulless are the only ones the aliens or outsiders can possess... maybe at all, or maybe without negative side effects. If there is something resembling the Judeo-Christian notion of God, who tends to be pretty big on that whole "Man is made in the image of God" kind of thing, the soulless are like a pretty big insult, which would make the demons like the soulless even more, regardless of any other benefits. Again, if this is kosher with the setting. ;)
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Old 06-29-2017, 09:24 PM   #22
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

I'm not sure it follows that they would be immune to possession. Consider a vehicle. If it has no driver for someone to pull away from the wheel, does that mean it can't be stolen?

I could see the argument that corpses (from which the soul has departed) are naturally vulnerable to possession by demons, spirits, or the like. That's why we have funeral rites: To ensure that they actually stay dead, rather than getting up and walking around. If a baby is born with no soul, it might be readily taken over in that way. In fact, soulless babies might be changelings; after all, traditionally the Fair Folk have no souls, right?
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:06 PM   #23
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

If I was going to create a world background that utilizes a concept of Soul-less, I think I'd take a cue from Brandon Sanderson's "Warbreaker".

He presents the concept of "BioChromatic Breath" as an essence that everyone has, and is the basis for magic powers in that world. A person can actually give over this essence to another person, and become Colorless. They kinda look pale-grey and sickly, become depressed, the light and spark leaves their eyes, there's a dull demeanor, they move kinda slow... it's what I'd imagine giving up your Soul (or part of it) would be like, like the description of a thrall in Viking times, or a burned out drug addict in today's world.

A main character gives away Breath and you get an inside view of what it feels like. Dim, incurious, uninterested in life (or anything really). Almost a zombie mentally maybe. In GURPS terms, perhaps -2 IQ, -3 Will, Low Empathy or Callous, unnatural Feature: "gray and tired looking all the time", -2 FP, -1 HT, -1 ST, Confused. It's rough living.

For anyone curious, having extra Breaths gives you Vitality and Stamina and basically super powers if you have enough. Rich folk pay mightily to get the poor's Breath. Giving up your Breath could set up your family financially for life! Oh, and it can't be taken by force; it has to be given up willingly. Worth the read if the concept sounds interesting btw
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Old 06-30-2017, 01:47 AM   #24
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Originally Posted by whswhs View Post
I'm not sure it follows that they would be immune to possession. Consider a vehicle. If it has no driver for someone to pull away from the wheel, does that mean it can't be stolen?
I could see it going a few ways, based on the same assumption: Without a soul, you can't be spiritually influenced in the usual way, and an influencing entity/power has to effectively take the place of the soul.

The relative difficulty (and maybe rarity) of those two abilities could be chosen based on the desires of the narrative creator.
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Old 06-30-2017, 02:11 AM   #25
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Souls interfere with some functions of the brain; their upside is that they allow some spooky action at a distance that allows conveying thoughts without explicit words (which many humans can do . . . a bit, but not as much as they tend to believe).
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Old 06-30-2017, 02:38 AM   #26
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

You could also consider that the soul might be the key to connection to the supernatural - a soulless person might well be unable to use magic and - as a corollary - immune to a lot of magic designed to work on humans (but possibly not animals, since they don't have souls anyway ... traditionally). This might also make them unable to perceive ghosts and other spirits. Conspiracy X involved some "magically dead" people (it's actually psionics in a weird hat in their setting) who suffered severe social problems as they lacked the subconscious psychic "handshake" that humans reflexively make with one another ... not only that, but they scrambled other people's ability to do it...
I've actually wondered about this myself for a setting involving widespread cloning ... but also thought that sympathetic magic might well run amok in a batch of clones...
The lack of supernatural connection might be "the reason" as well - either a rationalist conspiracy looking to break the hold of the supernatural or some deeply involved magical plot (for Laundryverse fans consider the build up states to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and how removing magical potential from humanity might alter them ... also, for the Laundryverse pseudoscientific take on it look at acrosome's post on The Flicker Men).

Also note that the fair folk are traditionally soulless as well ... are they involved?
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:58 AM   #27
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Originally Posted by LokRobster View Post
A main character gives away Breath and you get an inside view of what it feels like. Dim, incurious, uninterested in life (or anything really). Almost a zombie mentally maybe. In GURPS terms, perhaps -2 IQ, -3 Will, Low Empathy or Callous, unnatural Feature: "gray and tired looking all the time", -2 FP, -1 HT, -1 ST, Confused. It's rough living.
My version of Warbreaker has commentary on each chapter, where it's revealed that being Colorless isn't quite that bad - the reason she was suffering those effects was because a part of being Colorless (particularly going down to that from the sheer number of Breaths she had previously) leaves you more susceptible to disease, and she actually caught something nasty pretty early on living in the streets. Being Colorless just dulls things slightly - primarily your own senses (particularly the innate "life sense" all characters have in the setting, which is lost by being Colorless but also doesn't work to detect the Colorless), but at wost -1 Per - makes you more susceptible to getting sick, and probably results in healing more slowly. -1 Per, -1 HT might cover it, although honestly that's probably pushing it. Loss of the innate life sense and being immune to it (particularly considering those with large numbers of Breaths have a much more precise version of it) works out to at worst a Feature, and possibly a net Advantage.

As for soulless in general, it's something I've played around with a bit, but mostly as related to magic. For the particular scenario in question, I once came up with (but never ran anything in) a bare-bones setting with the concept that teleportation technology actually kills the original person, and the copy assembled at the destination is without a soul. Such people had fewer inhibitions (loss of Truthfulness, Honesty, Pacifism: Reluctant Killer, and likely any Vow/Code of Honor; possibly the addition of Quirk-level Bloodlust, Lecherousness, etc) and were more susceptible to brainwashing. The idea was to have an "evil empire" that utilized soulless shock troopers, using the strategic benefits of teleportation in a manner their more morally-inclined foes couldn't. Something similar could work for soulless IVR babies, but you don't really need a conspiracy - so long as the difference isn't immediately apparent, IVR will at least seem like a good solution for couples with fertility issues.
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:02 AM   #28
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

Another example would be the main plot of Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity, SPOILERS AHEAD, where children throughout a region start being born soulless. The "hollowborn" have no drive if their own and behave almost as if in a vegetative state. Since the setting's entire mythology and magic system is based on soul-manipulation, a group of animancers (soul-scientists) come up with the idea of binding animal souls into hollowborn. Initially it works, allowing the hollowborn to move, feed themselves and such, but only at the most basic, instinctual level. Eventually, they all go feral and roam the countyside in murderous packs as "wichts."

The inhabitants of the afflicted land call this event Waidwen's Legacy and consider it to be punishment for then blowing up the avatar of a god in a recent war. The main plot involves discovering that the Legacy is manufactured by an ancient cabal who use animantic relics of a long-dead civilisation scattered throughout the land to redirect souls returning from the Wheel, and use them as fuel to empower their own goddess - a conspiracy that the avatar tried to stop before being blown up! In turn we also discover that gods themselves are (relatively new) animantic constructs made from mass ritual sacrifice by the aforementioned ancient civilization.

So, in conclusion, you can do lots of stuff if you treat souls as blobs of energy parasitizing human bodies. Children born soulless isn't much of a plot seed by itself, but its implications are many.
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Old 06-30-2017, 11:58 AM   #29
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Souls interfere with some functions of the brain
I actually think that route is more interesting than the soulless are in some way crippled. And potentially more scary - how big do the advantages have to be before ordinary people start looking for a way to get rid of their souls in a manner that allows them to claim those benefits too?
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Old 06-30-2017, 12:15 PM   #30
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I actually think that route is more interesting than the soulless are in some way crippled. And potentially more scary - how big do the advantages have to be before ordinary people start looking for a way to get rid of their souls in a manner that allows them to claim those benefits too?
A fairly traditional version would be to turn the soulless into cinematic psychopaths -- smart, charismatic, and without conscience.
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