... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Troll Questions: Demi-Human Souls

Another post on the top ten troll questions.

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?

I don't even have demi-humans. As I said before, I hate that term. They are just "other races" or maybe "humanoids" to me.

This is mostly inspired by later editions, which explicitly stated that Raise Dead could not be cast on an elf, for example, because they do not have souls. The funny thing about this is: in OD&D, it wasn't elves or dwarves who couldn't be raised, it was halflings. And honestly, I figure that was just an omission, or perhaps it was done out of spite, not because of any deep cosmological principal.

I pretty much think of anything with a personality as having a soul. Not that it matters much, because aside from a small repertoire of spells, "souls" are not really part of the system. It doesn't matter if elves have souls or not. So why worry about it?


  1. Pretty sure this was a thing that got schlepped over from Middle-Earth with all the LotR setting baggage. Tolkien's elves don't die the same way humans do, so if they get killed, their ghosts just fly off across the sea and never come back. The groups I played with in the AD&D days were rife with that sort of weird cross-fictional canon.

    The other main theory I've heard recently is that it might be a half-assed attempt to nerf the "play an elf so you can cast haste and wish all you want without worrying about dying from old age" thing people were reportedly doing in 1e AD&D. I can't speak to that, as no one in any of my early groups ever thought of it.

    1. Nope. May have been a later attempt to nerf elves, but in OD&D, the Raise Dead spell reads: "This spell works with men, elves, and dwarves only." There's no mention of halflings, but also no mention of souls, and later editions allowed halflings to be raised while simultaneously banning elves, which is why I suspect the halfling exclusion was not, originally, deliberate.