Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Value of the Soul (in FRPG)

This one might get a little controversial. What’s the value of a soul (in a fantasy role-playing game)? In literature, we always hear about some foolish mortal selling his or her soul to a demon. This is considered bad. Sure, he gets power in the mortal realm, but he is tortured for eternity. Sometimes, he sells his soul a couple of times over, and the demons rip him to shreds when he dies. What do you get for a soul? and is it always bad to sell it? If you “sell your soul” to a good god or angel, do you earn heaven? I mean - if the missionary spends his entire life dedicated to bringing new folks to the religion of a good god, wouldn’t he earn a spot in heaven? In a FRPG, wouldn’t that missionary be gifted with priestly magic? Did he sell his soul for his magical powers? Reverse that. Bad guy spends his life toiling to corrupt the foolish to worship his demonic lord. The demon gives him power in life. Wouldn’t the demon reward the mortal on death? He might still go to hell, but wouldn’t he be one of the tormentors and not one of the tormented? So then he sold his soul and still sort of wound up on top! What about sacrifices? Can you buy yourself a better afterlife? In our modern Judeo-Christian culture, we see the concept of sacrificing as bad, but if it grants any benefit to the pagan gods (who actually exist in FRPG) then couldn’t they be bought? My campaign allows one side to sacrifice folks from the other side to their gods, and this binds the soul of the sacrificed. This usually lasts about ten years, so eventually, you get to go enjoy (or suffer) your eternity, but for ten years, you are a slave to the god you were sacrificed to. What about a more figurative view of sacrifice, such as toiling on behalf of the god. Well, go back a couple of paragraphs. But what’s it worth? These are games where divinities can have a certain number of points at which point they die. (I hate this! but a lot of games allow it) How do we put numbers/stats on the value of a soul? Game balance is the big question. and wouldn’t characters that were more powerful sort of be more valuable? So would you get more for your soul if you waited, or do you get more soul coinage as you advance (gain levels)? I think it matters if there is a form of purgatory too, but now I’m probably getting WAY too complicated. I’m wrapping up Gods and Demons, so you can see where my mind is at. Still, I’m weighing different ways. I think the most important part is going to be if eventually you run out. In other words, at what point do the divine creatures decide there isn’t enough of your soul left, or they have you anyway and don’t need to bargain? Tied to this is whether the other side will be forgiving. In the Judeo-Christian culture, last minute, honest repentance can work. I don’t think I’ll allow that in game!

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