Soul Shifter

Also known as a Charon or Ferryman, named after the mythological figure who ferried souls across the river Styx, a Soul Shifter practices something called Soul Shifting. At its most basic level, soul shifting involves extending one's own soul out of one's body. They do this through water, which is the conduit between the realm of the physical and the aetherial realm of the soul. By infusing the water with their own souls, they can control it in many mystical and magical ways. Furthermore, they can also forge a connection with the soul of another. This enables them to assess the thoughts and conscience of the other, examine any arcane properties of objects in the water, and the most powerful can actually swap bodies with another.

Career

Career Progression

Novice Soul Shifters are adept at transferring portions of their soul into and out of water. With this ability, they can use water to heal or to harm another and can even produce some magical effects. A novice Soul Shifter is capable of forming a Soul Sword by infusing water with their own soul and freezing it into a supernatural blade. This Soul blade can take any shape the weilder wills, but once formed it must remain in that form until it is dismissed and formed anew.   A seasoned Soul Shifter is able to make a connection with another soul through water. Both the shifter and the target must be in contact with the same body of water for this to occur. One of the most common uses of such a connection is the ability of the caster to share the physical injuries of another and even heal them through the power of spiritual energy alone. This is called empathic healing. (in game mechanics: shaken status is removed and each wound is reduced to a shaken. Once reduced, every two resultant shaken conditions is considered a single wound. The caster is also then inflicted with the same result. If they still suffer from wounds, both the soul shifter and patient reduce one wound each and become shaken. If they were just shaken without any active wounds, then they are both cleared of shaken status. An additional wound or shaken status is removed for every raise). Soul Shifters may also use this connection to read their targets' thoughts and even identify and examine magical aspects of objects in the water.   Furthermore, a seasoned Soul Shifter is capable of forming a soul-infused ice armor if they are in contact with enough water.   A veteran Soul Shifter can put so much energy into water as to make a controllable vapor cloud of it that may serve the same purposes as liquid water for all their soul-shifting abilities. (in game mechanics, they can produce enough vapor to support full capabilities 6' away for every XX PPE involved in the effort). This reach can penetrate small cracks. In addition, a Veteran Soul Shifter is able to detach a soul completely from its body and into a body of water. They can do this to themselves or another. Once detached and in the water, the soul may enter the aetherial realm where it can see the souls of all others, whether they are in their bodies or not. The soul is not restricted in its movement in any way by the physical realm, and can leave the water, but in order to return to the body, it must go through water again. Detached souls can be restrained by acane wards,however. Removing a soul from a body is one way of keeping someone alive who has suffered a mortal wound or disease. This allows time for healers to repair and cleanse the body in preparation for the soul's return. To prevent possession of such a vacant body by other spirits, it is typically warded; which also prevents the owner's own soul from returning to its body until the wards are removed.   Mastering water vapor also permits veteran soul shifters to form their soul sword by pulling water out of the air around them.   At Heroic levels, a soul shifter is able to swap bodies with another, forcibly if they must, as long as both are in contract with the same body of water. They are also capable of seeing into the aetherial while still in the physical. They may form their protective armor and enable spell-like effects by pulling water vapor out of the air.   If a legendary Soul Shifter existed, it would be able to create soul-filled supernatural water constructs capable of acting independently, and even animate soulless bodies with portions of her own soul.

Payment & Reimbursement

Soul shifters are most commonly sought after to provide potions. Their soul-infused potions are capable of healing wounds or causing them and can be marketed as either healing potions or as poisons.   Empathic Healing is another service they provide, in which they literally take their patients' wounds unto themselves before healing both them and their patients. While this may sound more dangerous and certainly more painful for the soul shifter, there is actually less risk to their souls since they do not need to separate a fragment of themselves to do it, nor would they require wards or talismans or specially protected vessels to protect the deatched souls and emptu bodies. Furthermore they can actually fully heal a person suffering from a number of wounds in this manner.   Besides healing, Soul Shifters' ability to detect thoughts and assess guilt have seen them employed as truth detectors, interrogators and counselors.   Finally, the most advanced and rare soul shifters capable of swapping bodies with their targets can be employed covertly as spies and excel at infiltration. This ability also has the added benefit of providing immortality as a soul can be shifted from body to body. Such a service is in extremely high demand among those who know of its existence and who are willing to sacrifice another person's soul to make it happen.

Other Benefits

Soul Shifters naturally engender a certain unease in those around them. Of course, this is dependent upon the level of trust and personal moral character of the soul shifter; but their ability to make contact with another's soul past all social defenses and see the core essence of a person is understandably intimidating at least and downright threatening to some.   Soul Shifters who have earned trust are well esteemed and may even be worshipped by some. Soul Shifters who use their abilities more nefariously are capable of instilling the most base petrifying fear in people and enjoy the perks such a reputation carries with it.

Perception

Purpose

The ability to make a connection between or even shift souls has a number of interesting uses.

Operations

Tools

Water and containers for it.   Warding talismans and warded containers for soul water are a necessity for the safety of the Soul Shifter and those who seek the help of Soul Shifters.

Provided Services

A soul shifter has the ability to store a portion of his or her soul in clean water. The more pure the water, the better. Typically they will use vessels that have been warded and sealed to prevent spirit vampires of all sorts from identifyng the contents. When someone is injured, they can pour this soul-infused water on the wound and the soul shifter will use this connection to heal it. Once released, the donated portion of soul then returns to the soul shifter.   When someone is mortally wounded, a soul shifter also has the ability to remove that person's soul from his or her body and store it safely in a vessel of pure water. This permits the body to be repaired enough to support life again and the soul is returned to it. While the body is soulless, it is a good idea to ward the body from possession by other entities until its host soul can be returned.   With the ability of a soul shifter to contact another person's soul through an aetherial connection, they can get a good feel for the soul's ethical formation, the amount of guilt it carries and happiness it feels. Emotional states and matters that affect a person's soul such as bonds of friendship, love and hate are easily assessed. Thoughts and ideas, plans and memories are products of the physical mind, however, not the soul; and these things are just as obscure to a soul shifter in the aetherial as they are in the physical. Because of this, soul shifters are often employed to interrogate subjects for everything from criminal guilt to employment suitability.
Interesting note regarding Soul Shifter potions. First, because Soul Shifters' potions include an actual fragment of the Soul Shifter's soul, they typically use runed and warded container vessels to protect their soul fragment from any essence vampires. Psi-Stalkers and true Vampires are just two of the entities that would happily gobble up an unprotected soul fragment. If this happens, the soul fragment is lost permanently. Permanent loss of a soul fragment has no effect on the Soul Shifter herself other than the permanent loss of the PPE that had been put into the potion.   Each potion is capable of acting autonomously, so people who are aware of the power of soul shifters are often reluctant to use their healing potions. Not only is the soul fragment in the potion able to evaluate the soul of the recipient, which is itself unnerving, but the soul fragment may independently decide to punish the target with an additional wound rather than healing any existing wounds based on that evaluation. So, while the soul shifter himself may be unaware what the potion has experienced, the potion's action should be consistent with the character of the soul shifter when determining whether the potion heals or harms when it is used. After the potion is consumed, the soul shifter reforms the fragment that had been allocated to that potion. Even though the returning fragment retains no memories of the person it was used upon and the soul shifter is unaware what transpired witht he potion, the intimate exposure experienced by the use of a Soul Shifter's potion is enough to make most recipients reticent.   This phenomenon is actually relied upon by some religious sects and cults who use soul shifter potions in the ritual of reconciliation. The potions of particularly 'saintly' soul shifters are given to worshippers who partake in the rite of reconciliation. If they are truly and sufficiently remorseful they will be healed; but if they are not, the potion will likely harm them or even kill them. Needless to say, the uses of such an item can be as varied as the morality of the soul shifters themselves. It is rumored that the rulers of the city of Lazlo and perhaps even some elements of The Federation of Magic use soul shifter potions in a similar test of sorts.
Alternative Names
Charon, Ferrymam, Soul Seer

An additional note regarding Water Elementals: Water elementals exist as pure spirit water. Their existence can not be separated between the spirit and the water, they exist as water and spirit in one. As such without the entity there is no water and without the water there is no entity. But what does this have to do with Soul Shifting? A water elemental can be used as a soul shifter's conduit even though it has a spirit of its own. In fact, an advanced Soul Shifter can even vaporize a water elemental without harming it.   There is no confidence that water elementals will be copacetic with such use, but they can be used so.

I've been toying with the idea that Soul Shifting is actually an ability granted by the essence of a godlike water entity who is nourished by the infusion of soul shifters and the soul energy they manipulate. Maybe the leeching of soul energy is miniscule and imperceptible by practitioners, or maybe theres a chance for a permanent reduction in a small amount of PPE whenever soul shifting is performed. If enough soul infused water is created in this plane of existence, it allows the entity to come through. Perhaps the legendary water constructs are animated by a fragment of such an entity. Just brainstorming this and am open to suggestions.


Cover image: unknown by Elana Kalis

Comments

Author's Notes

Note: This occupation was inspired by the 2022 Korean Drama "Alchemy of Souls"


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