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Thorn Explains: Vampire Souls

Thorn Explains: Vampire Souls published on 15 Comments on Thorn Explains: Vampire Souls


Leif: Thorn, it seems like Ceannis has a lot of soul-related magic . . . Can you answer the mystery of “whether vampires have souls”?

Thorn: Ooh, that’s a tough one! Let’s look at the evidence.

People definitely change when they get turned — but what does that mean for the thing we call a “soul”?

(Which we can only measure indirectly in the first place.)

  • Original soul, but de-humanized?
  • Displaced by non-human soul?
  • Displaced by soullessness?
  • Original soul, not altered at all, we just can’t prove it?

If someone was turned who had a soulbonded animal, you could check whether the bond still existed.

Leif: I can’t find any record of that happening.

Thorn: Any record of someone getting soulbonded when they already are a vampire?

Leif: None of that either.

Vampires can make their own connections with animals, but those don’t seem as nice as soulbonds. It’s more like “putting them in thrall.”

Thorn: Heartswords are a reflection of your soul — that’s why a person can keep drawing the same one over multiple incarnations. If someone with heartsword training was turned, you could check if their sword was the same.

Leif: Hm . . . can’t find any confirmed examples here either.

Thorn: What if an already-turned vampire went through training? If they have non-human souls, maybe they’d draw a kind of sword we’ve never seen before.

Leif: No records! With this, I’m not surprised. From the way you talk about heartsword training, I feel like most vampires would be . . . not very good at getting through it.

Thorn: And the North does have long-runners, just like we do. So you’d already know if vampires who get killed are ever reborn as humans again, with their soul’s past memories.

Leif: We’ve had some humans who say they’re reincarnated vampires. I’m pretty sure those were all scams. The story always seems to fall apart when “their” old friends show up to check it out.

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15 Comments

Love this great detailed explanation of what can be summed up as ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
(Seriously I do love a good theology/world building)

Agree. Also, the heartswords were already mentioned, but looked as unlikely thing to work: there is not that many people who went through training and yes, vampire is unlikely to.

And regarding long-runners, it’s plausible that even if the soul was unaltered, being killed as vampire is more fatal than being killed as human.

Meanwhile, soulbonded animals … that sounds like something worth testing. Getting soulbonded animal doesn’t take years and it’s not hard. It might be cruel to that animal (depending on results) but, like, not genocide cruel, not even long torture cruel, so it’s plausible someone will consider it worth testing it.

They certainly seem to become massive assholes when they change. Imri was a fanboy, but the implication is that when he was changed he went into asshole mode pretty quick.

Violet is a long-runner? Or is this more of the hypothetical “what-if”, since Iona is still a child in-universe?

As I understand it, everybody reincarnates in this world. Long-runners are just those who remember their past life(s).
And for Iona it’s either what-if or foreshadowing.

Just *about* everyone reincarnates. It sounds like the word is still out on vampires.

That said, there’s another check that wasn’t listed there:

If someone was a vampire and then reincarnated as a long runner *before* the vampire died, that’d be pretty indicative. It wouldn’t indicate whether the vampire was soulless or had a vampire soul, but it would be clear it wasn’t the original person’s soul… Unless, of course, there’s the possibility of soul shards.

That said, if vampires here work like they do in the Order of the Stick, then the original person would never reincarnate before the vampire died, because the original person’s soul would be captive by the vampire soul.

Violet isn’t a long-runner (this time around, anyway), but she(plus Thorn, Rowan, and Peach) IS someone whose heartsword appears in historical record, allowing a ‘lineage of the sword’ to be traced, same as Rhódon’s Rose Blade. Though in Thorn and Violet’s case, the personal information on the previous bearers in those records was lost to physical decay of the text.

I think it’s less “information was lost” and more “it only appeared once so far and not many interesting things were recorded.

The image of Violet’s broadsword in the page Khyrin linked looks like a scan of a degraded physical document; note the projected image in the fourth panel having uneven jags both around its edge and through the image, where the blue of the smartcrystal base projection shows through and breaks the blade of the sword.

Smartcrystal images haven’t been shown to have artifacts like that if they’re, say, a live video call in the present day, as in Family Deserts 5/33, so the image reads to me like a digitized document.

Sure, but just because it’s “barely legible” doesn’t mean information was lost. It’s a scan of physical document which is hard to read, but the sword is still recognizable, so you can probably tell roughly what the text is about as well.

Hard to say though if the change was inherent to vampirism or the psychological results of a culture that says you are better than “mortals” and murdering them is ok if you get away with it

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