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Old 07-04-2017, 11:12 AM   #41
Otaku
 
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

Thinking it over, an earlier suggestion has become more appealing to me; while being soulless will make a difference to the individual, and can enable the plans of various organizations (some even at odds with each other!), our real world actually could use this "truth" to explain various present-day demographic shifts, changes in values, etc.

The big thing would be difficulty or even a total lack of appreciating higher causes and/or long-term thinking. Still, you raise a soulless in (for example) an evangelical Christian church, keep reinforcing these beliefs, and that soulless will remain in that church... even if concepts like "eternity" are mostly just words to it. Anything it doesn't really grasp, it will just try to ignore while "going with the flow".
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Old 07-04-2017, 11:38 AM   #42
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Originally Posted by malloyd View Post
I'd actually be more inclined to the other extreme - a soul that does anything detectable is not a soul. Souls are a residue of Platonic philosophy - they're the "essence" of you. Anything you can detect is an "accident". A significant part of their philosophical function is to distinguish between you and an utterly identical copy that cannot be told apart from you, as a refutation of an interpretation of resurrection as creating you "again".
I might agree that you can't directly detect it by purely materialistic means, using most definitions, but if it's important enough to care about, it presumably has some effects. The 'essence' of you is 'you', after all.

Some stories and faiths hold that the soul is quite literally you, you don't 'have' a soul, as a possession, you 'have' a body as a possession. That can certainly work in stories, but it conflicts with the effect of things like alcohol, drugs, and brain damage on the mind, too, so clearly the mind is still at least partly of the body too.

So try this idea: the mind/personality/'you' is partly of the body, partly of the soul. For most people, while their mortal spans last, you can't really divide them neatly, they're fused into one. At death they separate (usually), and the body shuts down and begins to decay.

But they can exist apart, after death, or under special circumstances.

So consider this vampiric scenario: Sally Jones is a 40 year old mortal, wife, mother of three, trained as a lawyer and employed by a modest corporation somewhere in middle America. She's faithful to her husband, though she has a hidden desire for a couple of other guys in town or at work that she would never dream of acting upon, she's a good mother, a good employee, and generally law-abiding. She also has a hobby, she's a quilter. She attends the annual quilting convention in Paducah, Ky. every year.

She's attacked by a vampire, which drains her and leaves her dead, and she rises a few days later as a vampire. But what exactly has happened to her in that transition? Her soul left when she died. From the power behind vampires, Something Else took its place. You can call it a different soul or a demonic extension or whatever, but it's what's changed.

From it come whatever supernatural powers 'Sally' now has. Since Sally's brain did not decay, all her memories are still there. She still has all of Sally's legal skills, knows everything that Sally knew, even has a lot of her mannerisms and habits. It's likely her favorite music, favorite color, favorite perfume, favorite clothes are the same (Modulo changes introduced by supernatural factors. If her hearing is now amplified way high, for ex, she might no longer enjoy the same music or sounds.)

She'll still casually answer to the name 'Sally Jones', and might even sincerely believe that she is that person. But her motives are now radically different.

She might still lust after her husband sexually, but no longer loves him. She'd feed on him as readily as anyone else. She might still find her spouse sexually appealing, and refrain from feeding on him because of that and his utility as 'cover', but now she'll bed anyone or anything else that appeals to her, because she no longer cares about her husband's feelings or needs, except pragmatically. Likewise she no logner cares what the neighbors think or moral laws or the like, except pragmatically. Those guys mentioned above that Sally quietly fantasized about, now she may well act on it.

She might restrain herself to preserve her 'cover', but only as long as that 'cover' was useful.

Her kids mean nothing to her, except potential food and whatever pragmatic utility they have, same deal as with her mate. They're just potential food or useful tools.

She'll steal from her employer whenever it suits her, and act against their interests in court or out, whenever it suits her and she can get away with it.

She'll give pragmatic deference to the law, but nothing more, at all scales. She'll just as readily steal her former best friend's favorite bit of costume jewelry, just because it's shiny, or commit GTA because that new Ferrari is cool looking.

I say she has only pragmatic interest in her family and friends...well, maybe it's worse than that. If the demonic 'thing' that displaced her soul is sadistic, she might actually get a real charge out of tormenting them, the more the late Sally Jones loved someone, the more the vampire might enjoy hurting them.

One other thing that might change in this scenario: 'Sally' might lose her creativity. She might still have all of Sally's legal skills and knowledge, but her performance might suffer somewhat because she can no longer come up with new creative ways to use it. 'Sally' can still quilt...but she can't come up with any new patterns, any new ideas for it. She can duplicate past work, or copy others, but that's all.

Yet the vampire can pass almost any test of identity that doesn't play directly into its supernatural weaknesses.

It has all of Sally's memories in its brain. It can pass the bar exam as easily as Sally could, because those memories and skills are still there. It still has most of her former little mannerisms, except for those forced to change by her new nature. She could chat with her best friend in from grade school and remember everything Sally could, she could meet up with her first boyfriend and remember their first kiss as well as Sally.

The memories are of the brain, but the motives of the soul, so the creature is totally completely 100% different than Sally...and yet it would be very hard to demonstrate any difference if you didn't have the necessary esoteric knowledge, or didn't know her very well, and associate with her long enough to notice the little changes that come from totally altered motivations.

How does that play into the soulless baby concept? Well, we can assume that whatever it providing the motivations, the 'essence of you' is not the same as the one that 'should' have been. It would be hard to prove it, because in this case there would be no 'previous' version of the person for comparison purposes. But the 'person' in question would be radically not the person who should have been, even so. He won't do the same things, think the same things, want the same things, hate the same things.

He's like the vampire above, except that instead of 'inheriting' an already formed existence, the alienness forms one from the start, in the place of the human that should have been there. But good luck testing for it, or demonstrating it, unless you have access to some very esoteric knowledge.

What sort of creature we end up with, in the 'essence of you' scenario, depends on what's there in the place of the human soul to give the creature motive and shape. In this scenario, there would have to be something there, or the resulting creature would be driven purely by physical and intellectual appetite and nothing else. That would quickly become obvious, though it would likely be mistaken for mental illness or developmental disorder rather than a metaphysical issue.
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Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 07-04-2017 at 11:43 AM.
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Old 07-04-2017, 12:04 PM   #43
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Originally Posted by Otaku View Post
Thinking it over, an earlier suggestion has become more appealing to me; while being soulless will make a difference to the individual, and can enable the plans of various organizations (some even at odds with each other!), our real world actually could use this "truth" to explain various present-day demographic shifts, changes in values, etc.
These things happened long before IVF existed and meaningful demographic shifts involve way more people than the tiny fraction who were conceived in-vitro.
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:20 PM   #44
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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These things happened long before IVF existed and meaningful demographic shifts involve way more people than the tiny fraction who were conceived in-vitro.
There are many ways to play it for the setting, and some are downright complimentary:
  • The twist, for players and GM to enjoy, is that it turns out soulless humans barely cause a difference in how history unfolds.
  • Soulless predate IVF, but IVF just has advantages over other methods of producing these soulless humans.
  • IVF is not new; some group or groups have had access to it before it was really invented in the real world, and "officially" invented in the fictional timeline.
  • IVF is not rare; even if new, it has been put into mass production. People just don't know they are having children from this procedure, due to a conspiracy that includes replacing existing babies or simply tricking couples into mistaking a child conceived through IVF was born naturally.
  • The setting is about to significantly diverge from the real world because of the soulless. Where we are about to see things rewind, progress forward, go sideways, etc. they will go down one of the other paths.
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Old 07-05-2017, 09:36 AM   #45
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

A few people have brought up the idea of the soulless being "possessed" or otherwise having something else inhabit the "space" left by the missing soul. The assumption seems to generally have been "demons" but lets play with other options:
  • Alien parasites
  • Angels
  • Animal spirits (which may be just a variation on Nature Spirits, Daemons, or Ghosts, depending on the setting and details)
  • Cthuloid extradimensional entities
  • Daemons - aka divine servitors from non-dualistic systems.
  • Demons, of course ("evil spirits", oni, what have you)
  • Fae (and/or is a changeling)
  • Ghosts, the undead
  • Loa, fragments of divine-level entities, or flat out a god decides to wear you around to incarnate for a century or so.
  • Nature spirits (kami, spirits of place, natural phenomena)
  • Other spirits (hopefully covers "everything not already on this list that is at least sometimes intangible")

For an extra twist, have multiple options.
The obvious one: angels and demons inhabit the children; they are readying themselves for the Final Battle between Heaven and Hell. For a bit of nuance add fae changelings caught up in the middle, alternately courted and persecuted by both sides.
Another combo package: Animal spirits, nature spirits; a divine-level entity takes pity on the soulless children and fills them with bits and bobs lying around the shop floor, so to speak.
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:04 PM   #46
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

I remember a setting I started but never finished about how all the sapient races were animals infused with elemental energies or bits of elemental spirits.

Like many such pseudo-races of D&D.
You could just go further with their entire souls being non-human/animal.

(Trolls were of fire, aggressive and always hungry; male dwarves were of earth and females of metal; mermaids of water; humans lightly of wood and elves heavily. We are grass, common and adaptable for good and ill.)
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Old 07-05-2017, 12:08 PM   #47
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Default Re: Horror Scenario: Babies without souls

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Another combo package: Animal spirits, nature spirits; a divine-level entity takes pity on the soulless children and fills them with bits and bobs lying around the shop floor, so to speak.
Maybe in this setting otherkin were all IVF babies.
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