Spirits and Souls in D&D Next elves have no souls.

ok so in the AD&D Deities and Demigods, it outlined the difference between a spirit and a soul. In essence elves, dwarves,  and other demi humans did not have souls (and could not be resurected but could be reincarnated) and in essence never really moved on eternally to the higher or lower realms (always they would return to the prime or the fey, etc.) I really kind of liked this distinction to the humans, in our games we expanded on that premise to say that human souls provided greater power to their deities (to explain why there were only a hand full of demi human gods/goddesses, as well as explain why palidins had to be human, and to help explain how human cities and settlements could survive in a world filled with wandering monsters)


since I'm not too familiar with 3 or 3.5 and I never read too much background fluff in 4th... has this been changed? is it still the case? if not I'd sort of like it to going back to the elves have no souls days.

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I don't think 4th addressed the question at all. In the 3.5 Complete Divine, I think it treated races all the same in regards to souls. In neither edition was there any problem with resurrecting demihumans.

it's an interesting notion and I could see that as a nifty module or campaign setting element, but it definitely didn't endure as part of the general game. Oriental Adventures dabbled in spirit magic but it was a bit blurred at the edges and was difficult to work into the rest of the game unless you went out of your way to make spirits a thing.

I always hated that elves have no souls idea.  I don't even know the mythical basis for that.  It always seemed like a half-assed justification for giving elves lots of other benefits.  I don't sleep, I am not paralyzed by ghouls, I get more raical bonuses, I can see in the dark, I am virtually immune to sleep and charm, I can multiclass better than anybody else, and I even have the best racial level limits next to humans (who can't multiclass).  Oh, but if I die, I don't go to heaven.  (I can still be raised, reincarnated, and resurrected, though.)

Meh.  if you want elves to be soulless, make that a fluff background in your campaign.  Did that even carry into Second Edition?
well, as D&D is just kind of a rip of Tolken.. that was all part of the middle earth mythology, elves being immortal and such, I kind of liked it as a racial distinction and it made sense to me. I'll be re-including it even if its not addressed etc.

and no, that was kind of the point, you could get raised but NOT resurected, for raised the body had to be mostly intact, with res you only needed a fingernail etc. also level caps and class restrictions could be pretty severe (I never did understand the elves cant be druids or rangers thing though)

oh and one more thing... racial animosity and suspicious villagers were two BIG reasons not to be an elf in our games, something I think gets lost when you've got drow, half-devils and half dragons (etc) walking around every town... dont think I'll ever get to finding that as ok.
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Not just Middle Earth. Medieval folklore had a general rule that magical creatures, even humanoid ones, had no means of transcending to the underworld or what-have-you upon death (dieties were apparently the exception, strangely enough). Cue justifications for mermaids lacking souls.
well, as D&D is just kind of a rip of Tolken


Were elves soulless in Tolkein?  I don't think so.  According to the Tolkein wiki both men and elves had a soul.

I think it was more a reference to the Hans Christian Anderson version of the Little Mermaid, in which faerie creatures (including merfolk) had no souls.  (Except, merfolk in AD&D did have souls...)
I think wiki is wrong, heres a little copypasta from another website...

The original difference between "spirits" and "souls" in AD&D derived from a combination between the mythology of Tolkien's Middle Earth and elements of historical myths about faeries and elves.

In Middle Earth, the "life essence" of elves and men were very different. The spirits of the elves, when they died (by willing themselves to death or by violence) ended up in Valinor, in the Halls of Mandos. There they could wait out the rest of the existence of the world and join the heavenly choir (really!) after The End with the Valar, Maiar, and Men, who would sing the song of creation to Eru, the One... or, they could reincarnate to Middle Earth.

The mystery of the death of Men is that no one, not even the Valar, knew what happened to the souls of men when they died. It was believed that Eru has a special place prepared for them, elsewhere, outside the World but not in the Outer Darkness (where Morgoth was cast), but it was known that the souls of Men, too, would join the heavenly choir after The End. Note that there was no resurrection or raise dead in Middle Earth; the only way for men to continue on past their Eru-granted lifespan was through sorcery, or as wraiths...

Hobbits were considered as Men, so they had souls.

Dwarves were an odd case, as they were a creation of Aule, not Eru. However, Eru gave them true souls, and so apparently the souls of the dwarves went on to wherever the souls of men and hobbits went.

Orcs are another matter entirely, again, as Tolkien never stated specifically where they came from; I don't think he was rightly sure, as in, he had not fixed the nature of their creation in his mythos. The common belief now, with orcs believed to be twisted elves (and thus having spirits) is that whatever spirits orcs have remaining to them are either reincarnated directly into newborn orcs or become shadowy spirits of least sort, like wraiths or shadows.

Anyhoo, that's Tolkien.

The spirit vs. soul element from historical mythology deals with elves, fairies, and such being non-Christian beings, not quite demons and devils, but not humans, either. As only humans have souls, so then the animating essence of the faeries was something else altogether, a spirit, which could not countenance prayer or hymns or such sung by a true Christian. Thus, the historical element of the difference between human and elven souls and spirits.

"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
I think wiki is wrong, heres a little copypasta from another website...


The wiki doesn't contradict what your unsourced websits says about Tolkein.  The afterlife was a mystery, but not because elves lacked souls.  Elves had souls, very clearly.  It was all very much delineated in the Simarillion.  Their souls simply migrated to a specific afterlife and then they either returned to Eru or got shoved back into a new body (that looked like their original body).

Men had the same soul as elves.  but these souls were not as tied to Earth as elven souls were and didn't fit the bodies as well, so men were restless, less peaceful, they aged, they died of natural causes.  And when they died, their souls migrated someplace else.  Elevn souls transmigrated because elven souls were more comfortable on Earth than human souls.

Gygax may have been inspired by Tolkein, but he certainly wasnt' using Tolkeinesque conceptions of elven souls.  He just declares that elves had no souls so they didn't go to the outer planes.  That's his invention, not Tolkein's.

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.


"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 
I respect Gary Gygax a lot, but I'm in favor of all of the basic PC races having souls. It might be good in mythology and literature, but in a game it won't really work to flat-out say that humans are special and the gods like them better.
i don't think it matters.

i am however opposed to core rules being changed because of some stupid fluff artifact from forty years ago. if resurrection is in the game, it should be available to all the core races by default.

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.





Gary was wrong about a lot of things.

And yes, that changed.  Hell, it changed in 2nd Edition, if I remember right.

But if you want to house rule that, go right ahead.  I've houseruled that nobody has souls, so you can change it up if you want to.
"X Have no souls, only Y have souls" is a really, really uncomfrotable way of putting it.  "The souls of X and Y work differently" (which is more in line with Tolkien-as-source anyway) is not only less horrifically reminiscent of RL racism of a former age, but more tennable for X being PCs that just happen to interact with bringing-back-the-dead effects differently.

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Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.

Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?



So, how's that Model T you're driving holding up?
Even if Gary did decide elves have no souls in First Edition, that's not a feature of any other edition. I don't even think it was a feature of OD&D or BECMI.  I mean, I'm all for tradition, but this tradition has almost no traction and hasn't been in the game at all for... 25 years.  It has all the historical intertia of racial level limits and alignment languages.
  It has all the historical intertia of racial level limits and alignment languages.



And the scary thing is, there are people who think those were good ideas.  *shudder*
Even if Gary did decide elves have no souls in First Edition, that's not a feature of any other edition. I don't even think it was a feature of OD&D or BECMI.  I mean, I'm all for tradition, but this tradition has almost no traction and hasn't been in the game at all for... 25 years.  It has all the historical intertia of racial level limits and alignment languages.



+1
I much prefer Elves to have souls and be subject to Resurection, just like all other races.

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.





its not just Gary that said it.   Try reading "The Broken Sword" by Poul Anderson, Elves aren't nice in it and they don't worship gods.   Souls... why would they need em, they live forever.   Nasty nasty elves.

Being as D&D is a game, why not let players opt in on whether their characters even HAVE a Soul OR a Spirit?

-DS

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.





its not just Gary that said it.   Try reading "The Broken Sword" by Poul Anderson, Elves aren't nice in it and they don't worship gods.   Souls... why would they need em, they live forever.   Nasty nasty elves.




But in D&D Elves do die of old age, and they definitely worship gods. Correlon Larethian has a nice plane for them to go to when they die. Taking away their souls now would remove much more tradition and lore than adding them in did in the first place.

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.





its not just Gary that said it.   Try reading "The Broken Sword" by Poul Anderson, Elves aren't nice in it and they don't worship gods.   Souls... why would they need em, they live forever.   Nasty nasty elves.




And nobody cares what that guy said, either.

If gary said elves have no souls....


elves have no souls.





its not just Gary that said it.   Try reading "The Broken Sword" by Poul Anderson, Elves aren't nice in it and they don't worship gods.   Souls... why would they need em, they live forever.   Nasty nasty elves.




And nobody cares what that guy said, either.



Gary did apparently.  Anderson's work was influential on Dnd, its in the inspirational Appendix Something list of books.    Good read, better than Tolkein.

Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



+2
"The secret we should never let the gamemasters know is that they don't need any rules." Gygax
Whether or not elves have souls is the kind of fluff that should stick to setting books and stay out of the core mechanics.
Whether or not anybody has souls is the kind of fluff that should stick to setting books and stay out of the core mechanics.



Fixed that for you.
Whether or not anybody has souls is the kind of fluff that should stick to setting books and stay out of the core mechanics.



Fixed that for you.



Agreed. Setting thing. But I've never heard of that.

Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



+2




There is so many creatures that are not in the original form... I mean, just because it changed doesn't mean it sucks.

At this point DnD means nothing. So many changes have been made that it no longer represents anything other than a brand name.

Yes 2e had elves without souls. Who cares if that is brought back? It is hardly the worst cosmology change in the game.

I mostly agree with this, but a couple of minor corrections:

I think wiki is wrong, heres a little copypasta from another website...

The original difference between "spirits" and "souls" in AD&D derived from a combination between the mythology of Tolkien's Middle Earth and elements of historical myths about faeries and elves.

In Middle Earth, the "life essence" of elves and men were very different. The spirits of the elves, when they died (by willing themselves to death or by violence) ended up in Valinor, in the Halls of Mandos. There they could wait out the rest of the existence of the world and join the heavenly choir (really!) after The End with the Valar, Maiar, and Men, who would sing the song of creation to Eru, the One... or, they could reincarnate to Middle Earth.

The mystery of the death of Men is that no one, not even the Valar, knew what happened to the souls of men when they died. It was believed that Eru has a special place prepared for them, elsewhere, outside the World but not in the Outer Darkness (where Morgoth was cast), but it was known that the souls of Men, too, would join the heavenly choir after The End. Note that there was no resurrection or raise dead in Middle Earth; the only way for men to continue on past their Eru-granted lifespan was through sorcery, or as wraiths...

Hobbits were considered as Men, so they had souls.



All quite correct.


Dwarves were an odd case, as they were a creation of Aule, not Eru. However, Eru gave them true souls, and so apparently the souls of the dwarves went on to wherever the souls of men and hobbits went.



Dwarves have spirits like Elves.  That's because the "Gift of Men" could be given by Eru and Eru alone.  If you read the Simarillion, you find that Dwarven ancestors go to "The Halls of Durin" to meet their forefathers which happens to be a section of Mandros reserved just for Dwarves.


Orcs are another matter entirely, again, as Tolkien never stated specifically where they came from; I don't think he was rightly sure, as in, he had not fixed the nature of their creation in his mythos. The common belief now, with orcs believed to be twisted elves (and thus having spirits) is that whatever spirits orcs have remaining to them are either reincarnated directly into newborn orcs or become shadowy spirits of least sort, like wraiths or shadows.



Actually he does state it (or at least strongly imply it) both in the Simarillion and elsewhere.  Orcs are corrupted Elves (like Trolls are corrupted Ents).  As such Orcs are considered Elves for this purpose and are immortal...or would be except their society usually kills an Orc off before he gets very old.

Just nitpicking a bit.

-Polaris
Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



Oh sorry, i didn't knew that you liked the Star Wars prequel...because they were made by George Lucas himself...
Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



Oh sorry, i didn't knew that you liked the Star Wars prequel...because they were made by George Lucas himself...



Or that Greedo shot first....

Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



Oh sorry, i didn't knew that you liked the Star Wars prequel...because they were made by George Lucas himself...



You know that Lucas was not solely responsible for the original trilogy right? *facepalm*
Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



Oh sorry, i didn't knew that you liked the Star Wars prequel...because they were made by George Lucas himself...



You know that Lucas was not solely responsible for the original trilogy right? *facepalm*



Lucas was solely responsible for Episodes One through Four. He had help with the scripts of Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

Gary is dead... I think his opinion is completly irrelevant now 




Yes! And next let's write a book about Middle-Earth where dwarfs are 10ft tall and elves can shoot laser from their eyes.
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?
As long as we keep the "brand" we can just throw everything else down the drain!

It's worked wonders for Hollywood... that's why we have so many horrible sequels.



Oh sorry, i didn't knew that you liked the Star Wars prequel...because they were made by George Lucas himself...

Who doesn't like Jar Jar? Tongue Out

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D&D, like elves and souls is a subjective topic.  The game has changed with numerous approaches here and there.  As I've said on other topics, it should be an optional bit of fluff you can ignore easily.  If you want mechanical justification, then perhaps there's the possibility of a tack on option.  If not, DDN already seems pretty homebrew friendly.

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  • RESPECT PEOPLES' PREFERENCES
  • JUST ENJOY THE GAME!
Because who cares about the creator's view of his own work?



tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Deat...

So I guess the answer to your question is: "some people, but not everyone".
Whether or not anybody has souls is the kind of fluff that should stick to setting books and stay out of the core mechanics.



Fixed that for you.



Agreed. Setting thing. But I've never heard of that.



It's been SOP in my games for about a decade.
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