The soul (aka spirit or life essence) is the very personification of an individual. In living beings, the soul is anchored to the body by the cosmic force of Life. When a being is resurrected as an undead through Death magic (necromancy), their soul is imperfectly attached to their body through the same Death magic.
When a being dies, their soul crosses the veil between life and death and enters Oribos in the Shadowlands, where they are judged by the Arbiter and sent off to one of the realms of the Shadowlands based on their actions in life. Every living soul brings with it a vital force known as anima.
Souls can appear as ghosts, tortured spirits who writhe in the agony of undeath. Unable to realize that they are no longer alive, they roam the trackless wastes between the Shadowlands and the physical world, seeking release from their eternal suffering. Though they are not necessarily evil, they hunger for physical contact, often causing great harm to any living beings they touch.
When a soul is consumed by the Void, an echo of the soul is all that is left behind. Neither in the physical or spiritual sense of the word would these echoes be considered alive. The echo is merely a twisted reverberation of the anguish left behind by the soul as it is consumed. These twisted echoes of the dead are merely the distorted reflections of once noble spirits.
Wielders of the Light can use Holy magic to appease or grant peace to unrested souls. Fel magic however consumes souls. When a soul is devoured by fel energies, it produces more fel and is utterly destroyed. An echo of the soul known as a soul shard (or soul fragment) can be produced by the spell caster. Soul shards can be used to power spells, or to create a connection to the Twisting Nether, pulling a demon through against its will.
Souls can also be given physical existence again. This process is called . There are two main ways to resurrect a person, through Shadow magic, creating undead, or through other means, most commonly through Holy magic. The souls of the undead are imperfectly attached to their bodies; the dark magic that sustains them is a buffer that prevents their souls from properly joining with their bodies. This is why undead feel only faint sensations of pain or discomfort from most physical stimuli, and why the Light is so painful to their existence. The primary exception to this rule are liches, as liches bind their souls to a phylactery and then use the phylactery to generate a physical form; this process is why lich bodies look nothing like their mortal bodies, and also why it is necessary to destroy a lich’s phylactery to truly kill them.
Different types of souls
- After death, mortal souls usually end up in the Shadowlands where they remain for eternity unless something prevents that from happening. Indeed, they can be resurrected, or they can be captured within soulstones or demonic soul engines. They can also be utterly destroyed.
- Demon souls are bound to the Twisting Nether. As such, when demons are slain in the physical world, their soul returns to the Nether where they recuperate and reform a new body.
- The Wild Gods that Keeper Freya liked the most had their souls bound to the Emerald Dream. When these Wild Gods are slain, their soul returns to the Dream.
- Liches are bound to a phylactery. When they are killed, their soul returns to their phylactery where they will reform.
- The souls of the titans are called world-souls.
- It has been hinted that when titans die, their souls would return to their own Order plane.
- The elementals of Azeroth were bound to the Elemental Plane by Highkeeper Ra and Helya. When destroyed in the physical world, they return to the Elemental Plane and gain a new physical body.
As a power source
- Demons and warlocks use fel magic, which requires harvesting and manipulating souls, for various spells.
- Frostmourne was a demonic runeblade created for the Lich King. An extension of his will, Frostmourne had the ability to steal and imprison souls.
- Shadowmourne and its precursor, Shadow's Edge, feed on souls.
- The dark industries Bronjahm carried out in the Forge of Souls produced tortured, fragmented spirits. To prevent their escape, and use every scrap of the damned, the Lich King created the Devourer of Souls. The Devourer of Souls hunted and consumed the stray spirits, and slowly broke them down within its terrible form. The consumed souls were driven mad with anguish and suffering, but the Devourer's hunger was never sated.
- Voodoo figurines were built and animated to assist troll witch doctors in minor, everyday tasks such as washing loincloths or scrubbing blood off the hut floor. They were often powered by flasks of mojo, troll sweat, the flesh of tribal enemies, or by devouring tiny portions of their owners' souls.
- A mortal on an unknown world sought to summon and contain Murmur. In order to do so, he devised a method to enhance his summoning through the capture and use of countless souls harvested from whole civilizations.
- The mogu discovered how to animate lifeless rock with captured souls, creating the Stoneborn. In order to gather souls, a sect of assassin-priests called the Spiritclaws mastered a deathblow which ensnares the spirit of the enemy, trapping it in a jade bottle for delivery to a Spiritbinder. Gara'jal the Spiritbinder led a band of Zandalar trolls into the Mogu'shan Vaults to learn the mogu's ancient secrets.
- Gul'dan drained the life essences of countless draenei prisoners to power the magic needed to open the Dark Portal to cross the large distance to Azeroth.
- Khadgar used souls to create portals in the Hellfire Citadel.
- Jailers use their cages to capture both the soul and body of their enemy, which they then send to the Twisting Nether to subject their victims to horrific torture and interrogation.
In World of Warcraft
Items are often "soulbound", preventing them from being traded to other characters.
Utilizing and manipulating souls is a big theme for the warlock class.
- Crafted by the titans as gifts to their favored creations, the Celestial Orb of Souls channels the powers of the Light to bring back to life those who have recently fallen.
- Within the Auchenai Crypts, many unsavory experiments were undertaken in the pursuit of a greater understanding of the necromantic arts. Many spirits were tortured or destroyed therein.
- Aessina is called the soul of the forest. She is its beating heart, the source of life energy that breaks down stone, devours ancient ruins, and fills dense thickets with mystery and fear. Aessina is the center of the web of life.
- The Spirit of Life is the essence of all living things.
- When a soul is called from the afterlife, it is free to roam the material realm unless constrained to a prison within moments of its arrival.
- text says fish do not have souls. This is probably just a joke.
Souls released after a jailer's death.
A soul in Bastion.
Spirits slumber inside wildseeds preparing to be reborn
A soul in animal form in Ardenweald.
Uther's soul splitting.
- ^ a b Legion Class Preview Series: Warlock - Warlocks harvest the souls of their defeated enemies; those specialized in the ways of demonology use this life essence...
- ^ Ezgi Pajecki 2020-09-26. Maldraxxus, Shadowlands and Beyond - Interview with Steve Danuser. Lorekeeper. Archived from the original on 2020-09-27.
- ^ a b Nyorloth 2012-09-02. Re: Death Knights and souls?. Retrieved on 2017-01-20.
- ^ Blizzard Entertainment 2019-11-01. World of Warcraft: What’s Next Panel Recap. Retrieved on 2020-09-27.
- ^ Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos Game Manual#Ghost
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. ??
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 1, pg. ??
- ^ Steve Danuser with Taliesin & Evitel - 00:40:01
- ^ Legion: Mage Artifact Reveal
- ^ Rise of the Lich King, pg. 428
- ^ The Codex of Blood
- ^ Spirit Binders
- ^ World of Warcraft: Chronicle Volume 2, pg. 116
- ^ Matoclaw: Quotes