Soul Witch

Also known as a Charon or Ferryman, named after the mythological figure who ferried souls across the river Styx, a Soul Witch practices something called Soul Swimming. At its most basic level, soul swimming 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.



Some say soul witches are born, not made, but others disagree. Regardless, soul swimming can only be performed after intense years of training and discipline. A soul witch can not graduate from their school without being able to form a soul-infused ice sword called their Soul Sword.

Career Progression

Novice Soul Witches are adept at transferring portions of their soul into and out of water. Using this ability, they can rapidly heal their own bodies merely by dipping themselves in water. In addition, they can use water to heal or to harm another and can even produce some magical effects. A novice Soul Witch 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 Witch is able to make a connection with another soul through water. Both the Soul Witch 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 Soul Witch 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: First, the Soul Witch takes half the wounds of the patient upon herself. Second, the Soul Witch makes a healing roll (arcane) for both her own wounds and the patient's. Note that penalties due to having wounds or being shaken apply to the healing roll. (On a critical failure, the target of the healing attempt regains the full extent of the patient's original wounds).
Soul Witches may also use this connection to read their targets' thoughts and even identify and examine magical aspects of objects submerged in water.   Lastly, a seasoned Soul Witch is capable of forming a soul-infused ice armor if they are in contact with enough water to do so.   A veteran Soul Witch 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-swimming 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 Witch 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, a disembodied soul may enter the aetherial realm at will. A disembodied soul must go through water again to return to a body. Disembodied souls can be restrained by acane wards whether in water or in the aetherial realm.
Removing a soul from a body is one way of keeping someone alive who has suffered a mortal wound or fatal 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. (see Conan the Barbarian for an example ofwarding a body near death) Warding a body also prevents the owner's own soul from returning to it until the wards are removed.
  Mastering water vapor also permits veteran Soul Witches to form their soul sword by pulling water out of the air around them.   At Heroic levels, a Soul Witch is able to swap bodies with another, forcibly if they must, as long as both are in contract with the same body of water.
While swapped, there is a cumulative chance of the body rejecting the soul. If this occurs, the soul will not return to the aetherial unless the body is in contact with water. Without contact with water, both the body and the soul begin to decompose when the soul is rejected. One way to avoid rejection is to periodically switch back or switch to another new body.
Heroic level Soul Witches are also capable of seeing into the aetherial while still in the physical as a free action. They may form their protective armor and enable spell-like effects by pulling water vapor out of the air.   If a legendary Soul Witch 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. A legendary Soul Witch may be able to reside in a body without fear of rejection.

Payment & Reimbursement

Graduates of most Soul Witch schools are capable martial artists and can be found wandering, doing good deeds and helping people defend against villains, outlaws and supernatural threats. They usually ask for nothing in return but some food and a place to lay their head for a night. They are also commonly sought after to provide potions, especially those who have taken up a residence in a set location. Their soul-infused potions are capable of healing wounds or causing them and can be marketed as either healing potions or as poisons. Not all Soul Witches are wandering do-gooders, however, as some have submitted to the darker impulses and temptations that come with having such power.   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 is certainly more painful for the Soul Witch, there is actually less risk to their souls since they do not need to separate a fragment to do it, nor would they require wards or talismans or specially protected vessels to protect their separated soul fragments and empty bodies. Empathic healing is also capable of healing a greater extent of damage all at once compared to soul-infused potions that typically only heal a little bit at a time.   Besides healing, Soul Witches' ability to detect thoughts and assess guilt have seen them employed as truth detectors, interrogators and counselors.   Finally, the most advanced and rare Soul Witches 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 indefinitely. 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 Witches 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 Witch; 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 Witches who have earned trust are well esteemed and may even be worshipped by some. Soul Witches 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.



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


Soul Witches first appeared on Rifts Earth during the period of Rifts after the Great Cataclysm. Only those who had lived lives dedicated to spiritual martial arts became Soul Witches, and only a small number of them. Whether others could have become Soul Witches will never be known, for apparently a life of mental, spiritual and physical discipline is one of the prerequisites for soul swimming.   Ever since then, Soul Witches have started schools to pass down the traditions, discipline and, hopefully, teach students with the ability. Most such schools can be found in isolated areas of south and eastern Asia, but there are surviving schools in Europe and the Americas as well.   In North America, there is a school named "The Way of Water" in Lazlo. Human and non-human graduates of this school are highly trained martial artists who's mission is to travel the land to find more recruits. Many graduates are actually Ley Line Walkers but some are Soul Witches. Those who have no arcane abilities will often augment themselves with cybernetics and technology or adopt spiritually charged regalia like shamanistic fetishes.



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

Provided Services

A Soul Witch 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 portion of the Soul Witch's soul will use this connection to heal it. Once released, the donated portion of soul then returns to the Soul Witch at the speed of thought.   When someone is mortally wounded, a Soul Witch 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 before 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 Witch to contact another person's soul through an aetherial connection, they can get a good feel for the other'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. Ideas, plans and memories are somewhow grounded to the physical mind, however; and these things are just as obscure to a Soul Witch in the aetherial as they are in the physical. Because of this ability to assess someone's conscience and emotions, Soul Witches are often employed to interrogate subjects for everything from criminal guilt to employment suitability.
Interesting note regarding Soul Witch potions. First, because Soul Witch potions include an actual fragment of the Soul Witch'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 Witch herself other than the permanent loss of the PPE that had been put into the potion.   Because a Soul Witch potion contains an actual fragment of soul, each potion is capable of acting autonomously. People who are aware of this are often reluctant to use the healing potions. Not only is the soul fragment in the potion able to evaluate the soul of the recipient, which is itself unnerving, but based on this evaluation the soul fragment may independently decide to punish the target with an additional wound rather than healing any existing wounds. Note that while the Soul Witch herself is unaware what the detached soul fragment is doing, the potion's action should be consistent with the character of the Soul Witch when determining whether the potion decides to heal or harm when it is used. After the soul fragment performs its action to heal or harm, it returns to the Soul Witch at the speed of thought, retaining nothing of its own experience. Even though the returning fragment retains no memories of the person it was used upon and the Soul Witch is unaware what transpired with the potion, the intimate exposure experienced by the use of a Soul Witch potion is enough to make some recipients reluctant to ever use one again. On the other hand, some recipients report a sensation of such inner peace when taking a Soul Witch potion that they yearn to take another.   This phenomenon is actually relied upon by some religious sects and cults who use Soul Witch potions in the ritual of reconciliation. The potions of particularly 'saintly' Soul Witches 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 Witches themselves. It is rumored that the rulers of the city of Lazlo and perhaps even some elements of The Federation of Magic use Soul Witch 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 Swimming? A water elemental can be used as a Soul Witch's conduit even though it has a spirit of its own. In fact, an advanced Soul Witch can even vaporize a water elemental without harming it.   There is no evidence that water elementals are okay with such use, but they can be used so.

I've been toying with the idea that Soul Swimming is actually an ability granted by the essence of a godlike water entity who is nourished by the infusion of Soul Witches 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: by 大葱君 (Da Congjun)


Author's Notes

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

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