- "The birth of one of Kain’s abominations traps the essence of life. It is this soul that animates the corpse you ‘lived’ in. And that Raziel, is the demise of Nosgoth. There is no balance. The souls of the dead remain trapped. I can not spin them in the wheel of fate. They can not complete their destinies."
- ―Elder God[src]
Souls were the eternal, non corporeal spirits of most, if not all lifeforms in the land of Nosgoth. Souls were featured throughout the Legacy of Kain series with varying presentations and were most notably seen in the Soul Reaver arc, as Wraith Raziel had to consume souls regularly to survive.
Souls resided in the body of their host until death, when they departed for the Spectral Realm. Several species of spectral-native fauna were known to prey on the lost souls in the underworld and some of these souls were apparently fed to the Elder God to maintain the flow of his Wheel of Fate.
The Legacy of Kain series often featured the souls of characters and enemies beyond their natural death, although both the design and relative sentience of the souls have varied.
Souls were first featured in Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, where the ability of Souls to live beyond the physical death of the body was part of the background to the story and an often seen part of gameplay, with souls presented as a semi-transparent figures.[Blood Omen] Three of the major characters of the story were beyond death and in the initial chapters of Blood Omen, Malek's soul was imprisoned in within his armor for his failure to prevent the slaughter of the circle, Ariel's soul trapped at the Pillars of Nosgoth by their corruption, and Kain was assassinated and his soul offered a chance of vengeance and resurrection (as a vampire) by Mortanius.[Blood Omen/1] Throughout his journey, Kain's quest would be guided by Ariel[Blood Omen/2][Blood Omen] and he would encounter Malek on several occasions[Blood Omen/4][Blood Omen/7] as well as encountering soul-manipulator Elzevir the Dollmaker, who had imprisoned the soul of the Princess of Willendorf in a doll.[Blood Omen/9] Many enemy characters were also observed after their deaths, as ghosts[Blood Omen][Blood Omen strategy guide][Blood Omen manual (Windows)] and several items and spells were related to souls and soul manipulation. (see Soul-Related items)
Souls were central to the mythology and back-story to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver with Kain having "snared" the souls of his lieutenants to revive them as vampires at the outset of the events of Soul Reaver, and this method had been continued giving rise to the vampire clans of Kain's empire[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)] - but through this relationship they had also inherited the the corruption present in Kain's soul, leading to the eventual devolution of the Vampire clans of Nosgoth in bestial forms. After his execution, Raziel was spared "total dissolution" by the Elder God and the Elder immediately voiced his objections to Kain's Empire, blaming the imprisonment of Souls caused by "Kain's abominations" for the "demise of Nosgoth" as well as stalling the Wheel of Fate and preventing souls from completing their destinies. Accepting the Elder's offer of vengeance against Kain, Raziel was revived as a wraith, native to the Spectral Realm and needing to regularly consume souls to refill his Health coil and maintain his Material manifestation (indirectly feeding the Elder and his Wheel of Fate through this process).[Soul Reaver/1][Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)] He was also able to refill his health at a special soul altar in the Underworld and at special platforms notably seen at the Underworld, Pillars of Nosgoth and the Chronoplast.[Soul Reaver]
Raziel would encounter many souls throughout his journey, depicted as floating green globes. Upon the death of a Human or Vampire enemy, their soul would be liberated and could briefly be consumed in the Material Realm before it they faded into the Spectral Realm, where many "lost souls" lingered after death. Raziel could also feed on Souls of humans non-fatally by 'sipping' at their soul energy[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver strategy guide (Prima)]. Most significantly however, Raziel could feed upon the souls of his brothers after defeating them and he would then gain their abilities, enabling him to further explore Nosgoth.[Soul Reaver/5][Soul Reaver/8][Soul Reaver/11][Soul Reaver/13] Along with this the legendary Soul Reaver blade returned, wielded by Kain against Raziel in their confrontation at the Pillars and ultimately broken, shattered against Raziel, providing him with the Wraith Blade, his own symbiotic version of the Soul Reaver blade.[Soul Reaver/6][Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver] After, Raziel was able to meet with the long trapped ghost of Ariel, who would help guide Raziel.[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver/6]
Souls were again featured in Soul Reaver 2 with Raziel's need to consume souls and several related aspects returning. As before, souls could be found in abundance in the Spectral Realm, where they were preyed on by Sluagh variants, or could be gained by defeating enemies in the Material Realm.[Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2 manual][Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)] Souls in Soul Reaver 2 now came in distinct variations, with plain yellow globes for human and animal souls, and blue skulls for demon, thrall and mutant souls; with Spectral enemies maintaining a semi-transparent form when defeated.[Soul Reaver 2] The souls of the Sarafan commanders (who would go on to become Kain's lieutenants) were different to other souls, appearing similar to other human souls but were colored blue and they quickly rose away, preventing them from being consumed by Raziel.[Soul Reaver 2/9] Raziel would also encounter two 'ghosts' in the Era following Blood Omen - first the apparent spirit of Moebius [Soul Reaver 2/5](subsequently confirmed to be an illusion) and later whilst at the Pillars, Raziel would once again encounter the spirit of Ariel.[Soul Reaver 2/5]
The Soul Reaver blade also took on a new significance in the story, with the Wraith Blade beginning to compete with Raziel for consumption of souls (turning its hunger on him if over-aroused)[Soul Reaver 2/1] and the revelation of its ability to create potentially history derailing Paradoxes when meeting another version of the blade.[Soul Reaver 2/5] Raziel would use the wraith blade to trigger several history-altering paradoxes, with it ultimately revealed that the deranged soul devouring entity within the blade was Raziel himself.[Soul Reaver 2/Epilogue]
Souls returned in Legacy of Kain: Defiance once again they were heavily involved with Raziel's ability to consume the souls of his enemies, with him now able to physically 'rip' the soul from a downed enemy. As in previous titles, Raziel could recover souls from the Spectral Realm among several spectral fauna or gain them by defeating enemies in the Material Realm though he was also able to fill his health from special Soul basins.[Defiance][Defiance manual][Defiance strategy guide] Souls in Defiance were more 'humanoid' than previous appearances in the Soul Reaver arc, featuring full bodies (and occasionally faces) appropriate to their species, with Raziel able to observe both human and Hylden souls (when encountering Possessed Revenant enemies).[Defiance] Raziel could once again encounter fully sentient ghosts of Ariel[Defiance/6][Defiance/12] and the original Ancient vampire guardians and he could use their souls to power special Soul conduits to upgrade the Wraith Blade,[Defiance/6][Defiance/8][Defiance/10] itself once again a significant part of gameplay and the back-story.[Defiance][Defiance manual][Defiance strategy guide]
Death and the Wheel of Fate
Souls apparently had their origin in the Wheel of Fate - the "purifying" cycle of life, death and rebirth to which all souls were bound.[Soul Reaver/1][Soul Reaver 2/3][Defiance/2] The soul of a Human, Vampire or other creature inhabited their body until death, when the soul departed for the Spectral Realm, though some could be observed in the Material Realm for a brief period,[Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver 2][Defiance][Soul Reaver/1] with certain souls able to manifest in the Material Realm as ghosts at will. In the spectral Realm 'lost souls' could be fed upon by agents of the Elder God, such as Raziel and the Archons,[Defiance strategy guide][Soul Reaver/1][Defiance/2] - indirectly feeding the Elder and allowing the souls to presumably be re-spun in the Wheel of Fate and be reborn, ignorant of their former lives.[Defiance/13] Whilst in the Spectral Realm however, the souls were vulnerable to soul scavengers such as Sluagh[Soul Reaver/1] and Vampire wraiths.[Soul Reaver/4]
As the vampire races were immortal their souls were "imprisoned in the flesh" and could not be re-spun in the wheel,[Defiance/10][Defiance/12] which would eventually cause the wheel to stagnate in the late events of Soul Reaver[Soul Reaver/1] thus the Elder considered them an "abomination"[Soul Reaver 2/3] and actively sought to eliminate them, covertly manipulating "All the conflict and strife throughout history" to ensure the flow of souls to the wheel of fate.[Defiance/13]
The Elder God appears to feed off the souls in the Wheel of Fate, but his claims to be "the hub of the wheel"[Soul Reaver 2/5][Soul Reaver 2/3] are questionable. Beginning in Soul Reaver 2, Raziel repeatedly voiced his opinions that the Elder was in fact merely a hungry parasite[Soul Reaver 2/5] and that he did not truly resurrect him.[Soul Reaver 2/9] When questioned about Raziel's resurrection Amy Hennig commented "What you're hearing is that character's opinion and subjective interpretation. So if you mean: "did Raziel just drop into the EG's lap by coincidence, or did the EG have something to do with his resurrection?" Let's just say Raziel doesn't know everything yet, and neither do we.". Daniel Cabuco would later clarify the Elder's role in the wheel: "The Elder God is a demiurge, a false god. The wheel is a form of soul recycling that occurs on Nosgoth, and he is a parasitic element to it. Claiming to be the wheel itself when in fact he siphons souls out of the wheel growing more powerful with each passing age", suggesting that the Elder is an external force within the wheel, but one that is nevertheless "powerful enough to hook itself up to the wheel of time/universe and manipulate its energies".
Soul-Related Items and Abilities
Throughout the series several items and abilities have involved the use or manipulation of souls, perhaps most significant among these was the Soul Reaver blade noted for consuming the Souls of its victims and the several soul-displacing Possession abilities.
- In Blood Omen, souls were mentioned in dialogue relating to several items and spells. The Wraith smiths responsible for the Spirit forges were acknowledged to "forge their items with forfeit souls"[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] and Elzevir was noted to manipulate Souls, imprisoning the soul of the Princess of Willendorf in a doll.[Blood Omen/9][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] Kain could also extract Souls himself using the Spells Spirit Death, Control Mind and Spirit Wrack; all of which forcibly displaced an enemies soul (with the latter two allowing Kain to control the vacant corpse).[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] Alongside this, the Soul Reaver blade was noted to "feed on the souls of any creature it strikes"[Blood Omen/8][Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] and the Wraith Armor as "tempered from the seething agony of tortured souls".[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous][Blood Omen/8]
- In Soul Reaver, Raziel would gain many of his abilities (Phasing through gates,[Soul Reaver/5] Scaling walls,[Soul Reaver/8] Swimming[Soul Reaver/11] and Constricting[Soul Reaver/13]) by consuming the souls of his brothers.[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)] Raziel would also gain a version of the Soul Reaver blade when he gained the Wraith Blade (and the additional Fire Reaver), though the blade was extremely powerful it was fragile, dispersing after a single hit, and the souls of dead enemies remained for Raziel to feed on.[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver][Soul Reaver/6]
- In Soul Reaver 2, the Wraith blade returned in a prominent role. Initially it was as fragile as its previous appearance but after meeting its former self in the Soul Reaver it was reinvigorated and could be summoned at will, but would consume the souls of its victims if over-aroused, eventually turning its hunger on Raziel.[Soul Reaver/1] Through the story Raziel could imbue the Wraith Blade at special forges with several elemental enhancements[Soul Reaver 2] (Dark,[Soul Reaver 2/3] Light,[Soul Reaver 2/4] Air[Soul Reaver 2/6] and Fire[Soul Reaver 2/8]).
- Souls did not explicitly appear in Blood Omen 2, though they were mentioned in dialogue. The Soul Reaver returned and was an extremely powerful weapon but was stolen for much of the story by the Sarafan Lord. Similar to the method Raziel used to gain abilities in Soul Reaver, Kain could gain Dark gifts from an enemy vampire by Absorbing their veins, which seemed to resemble consuming their soul.[Blood Omen 2]
- In Defiance, Raziel was deprived of Planar portals and began to use Possession of corpses to reach the Material Realm, encountering similar Hylden enemies using the same method.[Defiance/4][Defiance] The Wraith blade also returned as Raziel's only weapon, this time Raziel could actively feed the souls of enemies to the Reaver enabling more powerful Charged attacks and Reaver spells.[Defiance][Defiance manual][Defiance strategy guide] Through the story Raziel could enter sealed forges in the Vampire Citadel and gain several elemental enhancements for the Wraith blade (Dark, Light, Fire, Air, Water, Earth and Spirit) many of which were gained by the Wraith Blade consuming the souls of the former ghost Circle of Nine.[Defiance/6][Defiance/10][Defiance/12][Defiance/8] When Raziel finally met and defeated Turel, as with his other brothers, Raziel was able to consume his soul, gaining Enhanced telekinesis.[Defiance/10] In addition, Raziel could also gain the Soul Stealer spear in Vorador's Mansion - named for his own Soul-devouring wraith incarnation.[Defiance/8]
Many enemies encountered in the series were related to souls in some manner, particularly related were those inhabiting the Spectral Realm.
- In Blood Omen, after Kain had killed enemy combatants he could re-visit a room and it would be populated with ghost versions of the living inhabitants, which could be fed upon when defeated, providing Blue Blood which filled Kain's Magic energy.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen strategy guide][Blood Omen manual (Windows)] The exact relationship between Soul and ghost is particularly unclear and it is unknown how some are able to retain their appearance and sentience. In Malek's Bastion, Kain was also able to encounter Malek's warriors, wraith enemies whose souls had been fused to their armor much like Malek himself.[Blood Omen][Blood Omen/4]
- In Soul Reaver the inhabitants of the Spectral Realm (including Raziel himself) fed on the lost souls therein. In this realm, the souls were vulnerable to consumption by Raziel and other soul devouring Spectral creatures such as Sluagh (natural scavengers of the Spectral Realm)[Soul Reaver/1] and Vampire wraiths (vampire souls that had adapted to the Spectral Realm and were able to drain soul energy at a distance)[Soul Reaver/4] though the soul energy of these enemies, seen as semi-transparent figures, could be fed on in the same manner as ordinary souls. If allowed to re-inhabit their corpses and the instrument of their death removed, Vampire Wraiths would return to the Material Realm as Revived vampires, bringing their soul-draining prowess with them. Both Sluagh and Vampire Wraiths would become semi-transparent when defeated, however they could consume souls to recover damage at any time.[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)][Soul Reaver]
- Soul Reaver 2 had two variants of Sluagh scavenging souls in the Spectral Realm. The Lesser Sluagh were bipedal and humanoid, whilst their Greater sluagh cousins were powerful quadrupedal beasts. As in Soul Reaver both would become transparent upon being defeated, but could devour souls to recover themselves at any time.[Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2 manual][Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)] Shades, creatures created from the fragments of coalesced souls,[Defiance strategy guide] also debuted in Soul Reaver 2 although their soul energy could not be fed upon.[Soul Reaver 2][Soul Reaver 2 manual][Soul Reaver 2 strategy guide (Prima)]
- Defiance featured another variant of Sluagh scavenging in the Spectral Realm, more deformed than previous Sluagh. As before, Sluagh would become transparent upon 'death' but could be restored at any time by consuming souls or even other defeated sluagh.[Defiance][Defiance strategy guide] Defiance made clear that the Elder God viewed the Sluagh as "vermin"[Defiance/2] and introduced his soul-devouring agents, the Reaper and Dreadnaught Archons, who like Raziel consumed the lost souls of the Spectral Realm feeding them to the Elder and the Wheel of Fate.[Defiance][Defiance manual][Defiance strategy guide][Defiance/2] Defiance also featured Lesser and Greater shade variants both formed from the coalesced remains of malicious souls; and several Revenant variants (the Possessed, Transformed, Human revenants, Vampire revenants and Hylden revenants) - created by Hylden souls possessing various bodies.[Defiance][Defiance strategy guide]
In the Soul Reaver alphas publicized in 2020, Souls had a slightly different effect, made up of green crackling energy rather than the uniform green light seen in later versions.
- Souls in the Legacy of Kain series appear to have been inspired by traditional beliefs about Souls and life after death.
- Souls have varied in appearance throughout the series: Blood Omen originally showed them as a transparent and humanoid and early.[Blood Omen] Early Soul Reaver videos depict souls as humanoid, but this was ultimately abandoned and in the final game, souls were depicted as green globes surrounded by green energy.[Soul Reaver] Soul Reaver 2 developed this concept, featuring two types of soul - ordinary human and animal souls were green or yellow globes, while Demon, thrall and mutant souls had skulls embedded in them.[Soul Reaver 2] Defiance returned souls to a humanoid shape and variants were seen for different races.[Defiance]
- The relationship between Souls, Specters and Ghosts are particularly unclear and it is unknown why or how some souls are able to maintain a relative degree of sentience and awareness after death whilst others did not. Many other creatures and creature families also seemed to be related to souls in some way: Sluagh and Archons were Spectral-native soul-consumers,[Defiance strategy guide] Wraiths were spectral-native and often soul-based entities, many Undead creatures (including Revenants[Defiance strategy guide]) were formerly dead and re-animated in the Material plane presumably using souls, Shades were formed from half-devoured coalesced souls.[Defiance strategy guide] Other entities such as constructs and Poltergeists may also have been related to souls and soul-manipulation but were not confirmed as such.
- Many Possession-style abilities throughout the series were related to souls and soul-displacement. In Blood Omen, Kain's incantations Control Mind and Spirit Wrack forcibly displaced an enemies soul, allowing him to possess an enemies body and causing the host body to die.[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] Soul Reaver was originally to have featured a Possess ability described as 'Spirit Projection' but this was ultimately cut.[Soul Reaver/Cut content] Blood Omen 2 would feature Charm, which was instead described as 'subjugating minds'[Blood Omen 2][Blood Omen 2/4]. In Defiance, Raziel was able to 'project his spirit' into corpses to enter the Material Realm, with Revenants able to use the same ability to possess both corpses and living hosts.[Defiance][Defiance/4]
- Some sorcerers in Nosgoth were known to manipulate souls. In Blood Omen's Spirit forges, the Wraith smiths forged their items with forfeit souls[Blood Omen/Miscellaneous] and both Elzevir[Blood Omen/9] and Mortanius[Blood Omen/1] showed talent for manipulating them. Indeed all of the vampires in Kain's empire were created by snaring souls and using them to inhabit corpses in a similar method to Mortanius' revival of Kain.[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)]
- Though not explained in-game, the Pillar tokens of Balance Guardians were their souls and this presumably explains Ariel's imprisonment at the corrupted Pillars of Nosgoth
- In Defiance all humans have the same size soul, regardless of the humans body size.[Defiance] Some Demons in Defiance do not have souls,[Defiance] but this not plot related and they were not included for issues of gameplay balance.
- AGGREGATE Legacy of Kain Series FAQs - Blood Omen through Defiance at Eidos Forums (by Ben Lincoln)
- Question and Answer with Jen, Richard, and Kyle at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- So many questions at DCabDesign (by Luke27), post #4 / #10 (by Daniel Cabuco)
- Salvation, Revelation, Deceit at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Answers to questions from the Defiance team at Eidos Forums (by Chris Bruno)
- Possession at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Souls at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)