(Mature Themes) Conception - at what point does a Golarion soul / spirit come into existence?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Nawtyit wrote:
I'm not going to be the one to tell Cthulhu he's not a god.
Lovecraft did it. ;)

And now he's dead. Coincidence? I think not.


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There is at least one real-world culture that believes that a baby doesn't have a soul until three days after it's born, so there can clearly be a variety of beliefs on the subject.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I got to thinking about this topic quite a bit a while back in a Ravenloft context, and decided to go with the folk tradition of the "quickening," which refers to the moment the mother first feels her unborn child kick in the womb (around the end of the first trimester), and was held to be the moment the soul enters the unborn.

To extend that real-world folk belief into more of a basic fantasy/horror context, prior to the quickening, the unborn is alive but soulless, essentially sustained by the mother's life force. As an empty vessel, a pre-quickening unborn is vulnerable to spiritual possession and eldritch influences (including any present from the moment of conception). If the unborn's mother is afflicted with lycanthropy prior to the quickening, the child will be born as a natural lycanthrope, for example. Exposure to other curses, planar energies, and so on may result in children born with sorcerer bloodlines or as aasimars, tieflings, fetchlings, dhampirs, geniekin, calibans if we're talking Ravenloft, etc., etc.

After the quickening, the unborn has its own soul and is for all intents and purposes a living, individual person (though still physically dependent on its mother, naturally), with all the spiritual protections that entails.


bodhranist wrote:
There is at least one real-world culture that believes that a baby doesn't have a soul until three days after it's born, so there can clearly be a variety of beliefs on the subject.

Given the historical prevalence of infanticide I'm surprised that sort of belief isn't more common in societies with population pressure. But I guess societies like the Greeks & Romans which had a lot of infanticide didn't put much emphasis on the concept of a soul.

I think I'm going to stick with the soul arriving pre-birth, probably 30 days after conception, though 'first breath' would fit closest with modern Western moral norms and so be the easiest for Alignment issues etc.

Liberty's Edge

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Who says all souls are equal? A baby isn't sapient, and a fetus certainly isn't. If we assume that, say, animals have souls (just much less complex ones than people) then it can follow that, when they are born and prior to birth the souls in question are closer to those of animals than people. They'll develop into more later, certainly, but they aren't right now. So...killing them isn't necessarily morally equivalent to killing a sapient person.

Indeed...is it Evil to kill an animal just because someone might cast Awaken on it later? What about if you know someone will cast said spell? And, come to think of it, that spell strongly implies that animals do, in fact, have some sort of soul.

Personally, I think potential people, those who will, barring death, become people should be treated as people morally speaking, and have all the rights of such...unless doing so directly contradicts the rights of an actual person (a situation very applicable as long as they're in the womb...and pretty much never thereafter), in which case the rights of an actual person trump those of something that simply has the potential to become one.


Being a mom, I am pretty much against abortion personally. But I'd never think to judge those who are more or less forced to do it (for a variety of reasons).
If they're not forced but just take life lightly... Well, that's another thing.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
S'mon wrote:
bodhranist wrote:
There is at least one real-world culture that believes that a baby doesn't have a soul until three days after it's born, so there can clearly be a variety of beliefs on the subject.

Given the historical prevalence of infanticide I'm surprised that sort of belief isn't more common in societies with population pressure. But I guess societies like the Greeks & Romans which had a lot of infanticide didn't put much emphasis on the concept of a soul.

I think I'm going to stick with the soul arriving pre-birth, probably 30 days after conception, though 'first breath' would fit closest with modern Western moral norms and so be the easiest for Alignment issues etc.

I've yet to see a reason to address the question for my campaigns, and until the necessity arises, I won't bother.

Silver Crusade

Deadmanwalking wrote:

Indeed...is it Evil to kill an animal just because someone might cast Awaken on it later? What about if you know someone will cast said spell? And, come to think of it, that spell strongly implies that animals do, in fact, have some sort of soul.

Personally, I think potential people, those who will, barring death, become people should be treated as people morally speaking, and have all the rights of such...unless doing so directly contradicts the rights of an actual person (a situation very applicable as long as they're in the womb...and pretty much never thereafter), in which case the rights of an actual person trump those of something that simply has the potential to become one.

Considering that soul stones, though not as powerful and expensive ones, exist for animals it stands to reason they have souls.

Though Pharasma's Stance on the whole thing also points to anything that is alive having a soul. Her stance on the whole thing also brings up some very interesting questions.


RJGrady wrote:
I believe the soul comes into existence when you roll the character's ability scores.

Does that mean that if you decide mid-way through character creation you'd rather play a bard, that you just aborted your character's life/soul? :P

If the OP is concerned about raise dead and when aborting is murder in D&D, I hope that he doesn't look at remove disease anytime soon which specifies that it also removes parasitic entities in the host body. Fun fact...that includes unborn children, since they are a separate organism that attaches itself to its host, feeds off of it, and offers no appreciable benefit to the host organism's health (abstract benefits like love of the parasite, or propagation of the host's species in the long term notwithstanding).

That said, the alignment rules (oh god, here we go) have a middle ground between good and evil, which means that the midwife/abortionist in RotRL is quite likely to be Neutral Good. If she's aborting for altruism and stuff, that's good. Killing and stuff is evil, doing both is...in between. >_>

So she does neutral stuff, but is probably overall NG, because she wants what is best for everyone and does the best that she can to fulfill that ideal, even if she doesn't think of it as an ideal. *shrugs*

We could just roll on a table. :P


LazarX wrote:


I've yet to see a reason to address the question for my campaigns, and until the necessity arises, I won't bother.

I've been GMing 30 years, this week was the first time it came up in one of my campaigns!


Ashiel wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I believe the soul comes into existence when you roll the character's ability scores.

Does that mean that if you decide mid-way through character creation you'd rather play a bard, that you just aborted your character's life/soul? :P

If the OP is concerned about raise dead and when aborting is murder in D&D, I hope that he doesn't look at remove disease anytime soon which specifies that it also removes parasitic entities in the host body. Fun fact...that includes unborn children...

I'm not sure that's RAW!


S'mon wrote:
Ashiel wrote:
RJGrady wrote:
I believe the soul comes into existence when you roll the character's ability scores.

Does that mean that if you decide mid-way through character creation you'd rather play a bard, that you just aborted your character's life/soul? :P

If the OP is concerned about raise dead and when aborting is murder in D&D, I hope that he doesn't look at remove disease anytime soon which specifies that it also removes parasitic entities in the host body. Fun fact...that includes unborn children...

I'm not sure that's RAW!

Fortunately, the GM could rule that it doesn't, since it says it removes some hazards and parasites, but it's generally accepted that remove disease is generally the tool used to get rid of parasites.

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