Souls are the immaterial essence of all creatures of the World of Darkness.
Virtually every individual of the World of Darkness has his or her own particular understanding about the nature of the soul. Below we offer some guidelines as to how the supernatural races generally face this kind of subject. As each race's views on the soul differ, its exact nature is a matter of intense debate.
Vampires are living souls in dead bodies, kept present and animate by the curse of Caine's blood. When vampires Embrace a mortal, some of the sire's soul is transferred to the childe, and vice versa, forming a profound, intimate, and eternal bond between the two stronger and deeper than any mortal union, which may be parental, fraternal, romantic-sexual, or some blend of these depending on the vampires involved. (Indeed, this bond is even capable of surviving the Final Death, as some vampires have felt the presence of their Sire or Children long after their destruction.) However, the Embrace also changes the Childe's soul for the worse, merging them with Caine's essence in blood and spirit and forever condemning them in the eyes of God. Vampires can further corrupt their souls through the practice of Amaranth, devouring the soul of another vampire to lower their Generation, gain power, or even just for pleasure.
The half-spiritual nature of the Changing Breeds makes their souls fundamentally different from that of regular humans. After a Garou's death, its soul does not vanish, but becomes an Ancestor Spirit residing in their Tribe's Tribal Homeland. Only extremely shameful acts ban the spirit of a deceased Garou from their Homeland; most such spirits fall to the Wyrm after a short period of time.
Among the Fera, the Mokolé cannot contact their Ancestor Spirits, relying instead on Mnesis to achieve the same results. The Ananasi, Rokea and Ratkin, as well as many Bastet tribes (with the exception of the Swara and those Khan allied with the Beast Courts) have no way to contact the spirits of their ancestors. The Silent Strider Garou tribe were rendered unable to contact their Ancestor Spirits after they were cursed by Set.
The soul of a mage is joined with an "Awakened" aspect, called the Avatar by the Traditions or the Genius by the Technocrats. It is theorized that every mortal soul contains a dormant Avatar that can Awaken in an auspicious moment, opening the mortal to the greater world. Most paradigms teach that these souls (or at the very least the Avatars attached to them) reincarnate if the mage is slain. Souls as well as Avatars can be influenced through the Spirit Sphere, most drastically demonstrated through Gilgul.
Wraiths could be argued to be souls in their purest state, without concealing flesh that binds them, instead existing as plasmic entities within the Dark Umbra. The essence of a Wraith is divided into three parts, roughly corresponding to the psychic apparatus defined by Sigmund Freud. The Eidolon, quietest and subtlest of the three, acts as a higher self and strives for Transcendence. Arranged against the Eidolon is the Shadow, the wraith's inner destructive drives that seek Oblivion. In-between stands the Psyche, which has to fend off the Shadow, follow its Eidolon and resolve its Fetters to achieve liberation from its existence in the Shadowlands.
In a twist of the standard tales of faeries, Changelings are fae souls that have taken up residence in mortal flesh in order to survive the growing banality of the world by adopting the Changeling Way. As such, their internal essence, or mien, is of the Dreaming, and must be balanced against their mortal selves, or Seeming. (The part of the Dreaming usually reveals itself during the Chrysalis, although glimpses can be caught beforehand.) To preserve their own chimerical spark, Changelings must balance both parts of their existence against each other; failure may result in their fae soul's Undoing, their becoming a Dauntain, or their descent into the inescapable madness of Bedlam.
Kindreds of the East
Like Wraiths, Wan Kuei souls are divided, though only in two; their rational Hun, or High Mind, and their primal, instinctual P'o, or Demon Mind, war for control. Similar to a Shadow, the P'o is sentient and malicious, seeking to drive the Kuei-jin back to Yomi. However, both soul parts depend on each other; a Kuei-jin without a P'o will soon find himself in a diminished and vegetating state. In order to bind their souls to their bodies, Kuei-jin need to feed on chi, as they no longer produce it themselves.
The Hungry Dead -at least the majority- seek to redeem themselves before Heaven. To this purpose, they proscribe themselves to Dharmas that will eventually allow them to reach Hundred Clouds, where they will cast off their physical shells and transcend to Heaven. The road of salvation, however, is long and arduous and many fail or are dragged back to Hell.
The moment of their Imbuing safeguards the Hunter's soul against supernatural depredations and destinies. An Imbued will not rise as a Wraith (or Kuei-jin), cannot be targeted by a tem-akh, spirits or Fallen for possession and never Awaken or receive the Embrace. Otherwise, Hunters remain ordinary humans for all purposes.
Demons are purely souls, lacking physical bodies of their own unless they take a human vessel through a flaw in their soul known as Hamartia. In the process, the original soul is overtaken by the essence of the Demon, giving it access to the memories and abilities of its host.
In ancient Egypt, the essence of a human was divided into nine parts that defined a human being. The Spell of Life drew on this ideal by joining the parts together in such a fashion that they do not separate after death. The original, flawed Spell of Life put the mortal body under enormous stress, resulting in grotesque half-living creatures that resembled zombies more than champions of virtue. The new, reformed Spell uses a mortal who had a particular weak soul part and replaces it with a spirit shard, a tem-akh.
Parts of Being
- Khat, the Physical Body, was often preserved to allow a smooth resurrection
- Ba, the part of the soul that ventures into the Underworld, akin to a Wraith; aspected to the Khri-Habi
- Ka, the part of the soul that remains close to the body and guards it from desecration; aspected to the Kher-minu
- Ab, the Physical Heart, the seat of consciousness
- Khu, the physical and mystical representation of a being, akin to an Aura, that ties the spiritual and material parts together; aspected to the Sakhmu
- Ren, the True Name, a vital part of existence and the soul, a "brief" summary of what the person is
- Khaibit, the Shadow, which represent the darker urges and emotions of the soul, akin to the Shadow; aspected to the Sefekhi
- Sahu, the indestructible part of the soul that will dwell in the fields of A'aru, akin to the Eidolon; aspected to the Mesektet
Between these parts flows Sekhem, the force of life itself that binds the other soul-parts together. Each modern Amenti Dynasty is aspected to one of the soul parts, except for the Ab (as they all share a heart), the Khat (as they all possess a body) and the Ren (for a True Name is something highly individual).