D&D General Ravenloft: Monsters vs Darklords

If you learned about souls from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer you would "know" that vampires do not have souls, and therefore he could not have a corrupted one.

My point was just that his soul was the thing that was at stake. And this is easy enough to know just from watching movies. The whole vampires cast no reflection because they have no soul thing you can learn from watching something like Fright Night. Though the lore obviously varies. Personally I always like the idea that Dracula made a pact with the devil and so his soul belongs to Satan. I haven't watched Buffy so I don't know what that show would teach you. In Strahd's case, I could be incorrect, but for some reason I thought he still had a soul. but the point is you can get an idea of what a soul is just from watching a variety of movies. And if you come to Ravenloft armed with that knowledge, you won't be confused if the people who inhabit it have souls

I haven't ever watched Buffy so I can't comment on how well that relates to this discussion

Your Deathing the Author here. You might not like or care for what an author wrote, but to understand why they wrote it and what they meant by it you need to understand their world view.

No I am not. That wasn't my point at all. I am just responding to your point that people are letting their own view of what a soul is color their reaction to the soulless concept in the module. My point was I could care less about his view on souls. That wasn't the issue for me. So it isn't affecting how I respond to his concept. But I do think his authorial intent matters in terms of describing the concept in CoC. I am not saying don't listen to the man's clarifications or attempt to understand what he was intending. I am saying I am not bothered by whatever his personal view of souls are and if that view is expressed in CoC. This isn't the issue of rme. The issue was the concept doesn't work for me in the module . I just think it is terrible idea.

But maybe the author is?

Again, I am not concerned about the author's personal beliefs. My point was in life, I not have a particularly strong conclusion about the nature of souls. But in the Ravenloft setting, I think this idea that Barovians don't have them, feels incredibly off. It just doesn't work for me. I just find this idea that only certain people in Barovia have souls to be incredibly stupid as a setting concept and not at all in line with the original setting. That is just my opinion of course. If you think it works brilliantly then that is perfectly fair. I just am not personally a fan of this at all
 
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Now all that being said, I don't necessarily subscribe to the 90% number in CoS. VRGR gives a fuzzy "most" without specific numbers. That said, if you opt for everyone has a soul, Ravenloft is the worst hell in the multiverse.
  • The mists take people, sometimes whole countries worth of people into domains.
  • Scant few ever leave again.
  • New souls would be made every time someone is born in Ravenloft, and
  • Souls cannot leave upon death.

We don't know this to be the case. If you think Ravenloft can create new souls for babies, then it is possible Ravenloft creates souls for people who inhabit a domain it just created. However we don't know where the souls come from. It is possible these are the spirit of the dead incarnating in Ravenloft (this would fit a purgatory or hell concept of ravenloft). The souls of people born in Ravenloft could similarly come from other worlds.

Do we know that souls can't leave after death?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
The one thing about having 90% of beings in the domains not having souls is that it does make it (at least in my opinion) a bit easier to swallow how many of the events across the realm could actually work.

There's that one domain for example (in the old box, dunno if it's in Van Helsing's) of the military guy Darklord who tries invading a neighboring domain over and over and over again, year after year after year. That would not statistically be possible if his army had to be made up with actual people that found themselves in the domain, because they all get sent off to be slaughtered. At some point you'd run out of able-bodied people to serve, thus the domain would need a constantly open portal to bring in more and more people from all the different settings to continually fill out his army. And at some point, all of the prime realms would possibly realize just how many people kept getting sucked away into Ravenloft and perhaps start checking in on things there and bringing that forced enlistment to a close.

At least by having 90% of the populace being soulless generative beings... that constant turnover can be justified a little bit easier. The dark powers can give that Darklord as much cannon-fodder he needs to continue this inevitable failure of a military campaign, and the few souled people can be the ones getting stuck in the middle or having to be this Darklord's advisors to come up with new plans such that they can finally win (and all the real people can hopefully be sent back home.)
 

. I haven't watched Buffy so I don't know what that show would teach you.
It would teach you that when someone becomes a vampire their soul is no more, and vampires have no souls. I think it's in episode 1.
In Strahd's case, I could be incorrect, but for some reason I thought he still had a soul.
Sure he does, because the Buffy view of souls isn't the same as the Ravenloft view of souls. There is no one single interpretation of what souls are or how they work.
I not have a particularly strong conclusion about the nature of souls.
Since you didn't write the module, your understanding of souls isn't relevant.

It's possible that the author's reasoning went like this:

1) Barovia is created by the Dark Powers, and/or the Will of Strahd. That includes the rocks, the plants, the animals, the people (apart from a few who are kidnaped from the Prime Material plane) and the monsters.

2) Only a True God can create an immortal soul. This isn't a D&D rule, it comes from Christian theology. Buddhism is different.

3) The Dark Powers/Strahd are not True Gods, ergo anything they create cannot possess an immortal soul.
 
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The one thing about having 90% of beings in the domains not having souls is that it does make it (at least in my opinion) a bit easier to swallow how many of the events across the realm could actually work.

There's that one domain for example (in the old box, dunno if it's in Van Helsing's) of the military guy Darklord who tries invading a neighboring domain over and over and over again, year after year after year. That would not statistically be possible if his army had to be made up with actual people that found themselves in the domain, because they all get sent off to be slaughtered. At some point you'd run out of able-bodied people to serve, thus the domain would need a constantly open portal to bring in more and more people from all the different settings to continually fill out his army. And at some point, all of the prime realms would realize just how many people were getting sucked away into Ravenloft and perhaps start checking in on things there and bringing that forced enlistment to a close.


People are born in the domain though as well. And Falkovnia has one of the larger populations of the domains (the second largest settlement is located there). However I doubt they thought through the numbers here and I am sure if you crunched them realistically, you could find problems in Ravenloft (also it is generally a lower population setting than most other settings). Personally I am not particularly worried about counting people or grain harvests in Ravenloft. For me it just isn't that kind of setting where I expect naturalistic logic to prevail (I expect horror movie logic). But I think just because a setting is using horror movie logic, I don't think trying to explain it through a mechanism like people not having souls, adds anything. You just end up with a weird: most of the people don't have souls head scratcher

On the invasions though, I don't think we know the actual numbers of people died in those. We just know that by the black box, he launched four invasions. Falkovnia was created in 690 and the present year is 735. So that is roughly one invasion every eleven years or so. Which means anyone who was ten when a given invasion occurred, would be fighting age by the next invasion. But we know that when his domain was created, a bunch of refugees poured in from places like Darkon. So I am sure he used many of those people in the first wave of invasions. Again, I doubt the numbers pan out as Ravenloft is not a world like Harn where the focus is on logic. But I don't think just because a setting hand waves, means you have to take those handwaves to their logical conclusion.
 

M.L. Martin

Adventurer
Has anyone asked Tracy Hickman about this? The 'soulless/trapped souls' elements came in with Curse of Strahd, which he consulted on, and it resembles some of his ideas from Dragonlance's War of Souls.
 

Since you didn't write the module, your understanding of souls isn't relevant.

I agree. But again the reason I brought this up was because you made the point that we were allowing our view of souls to interfere with our appreciation of the author's take. I am making the point that I don't have a dog in that fight. But I also don't think my own personal view of souls is it all relevant to the discussion
It's possible that the author's reasoning went like this:

1) Barovia is created by the Dark Powers, and/or the Will of Strahd. That includes the rocks, the plants, the animals, the people (apart from a few who are kidnaped from the Prime Material plane) and the monsters.

2) Only a True God can create an immortal soul. This isn't a D&D rule, it comes from Christian theology. Buddhism is different.

3) The Dark Powers/Strahd are not True Gods, ergo anything they create cannot possess an immortal soul.

Sure, I am not suggesting his logic wasn't sound. I just don't think the idea is a satisfying one for a game like Ravenloft. I am sure he thought through the idea and it made total sense to him. But I don't have to like an idea simply because an author had reasons that made sense to them for introducing it. All I can do is give my reaction to an idea. I don't like it. I think it makes for silly setting fluff and doesn't work for Ravenloft. I also think it reduces the impact and meaning of actions in the world and sucks out some of the emotional weight.
 

It would teach you that when someone becomes a vampire their soul is no more, and vampires have no souls. I think it's in episode 1.

Sure he does, because the Buffy view of souls isn't the same as the Ravenloft view of souls. There is no one single interpretation of what souls are or how they work.

I wasn't ever making the case that vampire lore or movie lore about souls was uniform. I mean some American movies, even ones that share a view in one God and heaven, feature reincarnation and some don't. Movies take liberties. Books take liberties. Writers bring a variety of views to the table. The only reason this came up was as push back to you saying that people who didn't grow up going to sunday school or church would not understand the notion of souls in Ravenloft anyways. My point was simply that souls and how souls might pertain to vampire lore, are something people can easily pick up through movies and books (and just living in a culture or being exposed to it). Like I said, my wife grew up in a Buddhist country and fully understood what the threat to Lucy's soul was when they staked her in Dracula
 

Has anyone asked Tracy Hickman about this? The 'soulless/trapped souls' elements came in with Curse of Strahd, which he consulted on, and it resembles some of his ideas from Dragonlance's War of Souls.
I don't know if he has commented on this specifically but I think I do remember there being an interview where he talked about his role.
 

Sure, I am not suggesting his logic wasn't sound. I just don't think the idea is a satisfying one for a game like Ravenloft. I am sure he thought through the idea and it made total sense to him. But I don't have to like an idea simply because an author had reasons that made sense to them for introducing it. All I can do is give my reaction to an idea. I don't like it. I think it makes for silly setting fluff and doesn't work for Ravenloft. I also think it reduces the impact and meaning of actions in the world and sucks out some of the emotional weight.
The thing is, to people within religions, such things are Self Evident Truths. Expecting them not to write it is like expecting them them not to write about green grass. You can't write something else if it doesn't occur to you that something else is possible.

Once made aware, I expect that is why the idea was quietly dropped in VGR. And in more recent D&D products, they tend to talk about "essence" rather than "souls".
 

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