Mages of Skyrim, explain to me about Soul Gems!

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I know how to enchant things, so you don't need to worry about wasting your time giving me a tutorial. No, instead I want to waste your time on a moral debate about soul gems and how ALL mages are inherently evil, even with their obligatory code of ethics which they use to justify their insane crimes against existence its self.

So, necromancy is illegal and these mages go about culling them. Because, you know, 'necromancers are evil'. But really, compared to confining a soul and exploiting it until there's basically no essence left, isn't necromancy not really all that bad? To it's core, it's just using an empty husk as a servant. Distasteful, yes, but at least the body is being put to some use. And then we go on to soul gems. In Elder Scrolls, souls aren't just an abstract idea that may or may not exist (which they don't in my opinion) in that world, they certainly do exist and it's quite inarguable that the soul is the very essence of their being. As a crime this is steps above murdering someone. Because, well, you're doing far worse than murdering them. You're murdering AND obliterating every part of them. And sometimes the greatest crime of this individual in question might have been being an animal.

I can imagine some people would defend this by saying 'well, what if you do this to bad people.'

Which, to this I declare just plain wrong. Here's an analogy, someone being a thief doesn't give you the right to rape them. And if you happen to catch them and they don't fight back, then you don't have the right to murder them. So, basically, no matter how 'evil' an individual may be, stealing their soul will always be the greater evil. And not just that, it'll be an unjustifiable, irreversible one.

A justification for the culling of necromancers is that they're hungry with power. Well, with my arguments I proposed I'd like to believe the same can far easier be said for any mage that has ever used a soul gem. Even funnier is that I can only wonder how much of these mages would still use soul gems, even with the evil that's involved with them. Maybe I misunderstand how soul gems work, but if anyone can correct me I certainly wouldn't mind. Until then though, I'm thinking of going on a crusade to purge the land of mages that use soul gems.

If you do have a better understanding of how they work, then please give me a source.

TL;DR I think soul gems are evil.

Captcha - Twenty Eight Days

all right, I guess that'll be the mount of time before I go on my great endeavor.

I have no idea, but I'd like to point out that I feel really bad about stealing that one chicken's soul and condemning it to eternally bringing misfortune to others. :/

lSHaDoW-FoXl:
I know how to enchant things, so you don't need to worry about wasting your time giving me a tutorial. No, instead I want to waste your time on a moral debate about soul gems and how ALL mages are inherently evil, even with their obligatory code of ethics which they use to justify their insane crimes against existence its self.

So, necromancy is illegal

Not in Skyrim!

and these mages go about culling them. Because, you know, 'necromancers are evil'. But really, compared to confining a soul and exploiting it until there's basically no essence left, isn't necromancy not really all that bad? To it's core, it's just using an empty husk as a servant. Distasteful, yes, but at least the body is being put to some use. And then we go on to soul gems. In Elder Scrolls, souls aren't just an abstract idea that may or may not exist (which they don't in my opinion) in that world, they certainly do exist and it's quite inarguable that the soul is the very essence of their being. As a crime this is steps above murdering someone. Because, well, you're doing far worse than murdering them. You're murdering AND obliterating every part of them. And sometimes the greatest crime of this individual in question might have been being an animal.

One thing you're glossing over is that only souls of animals, daedra, and monsters are used commonly. Human souls require a black soul gem, which might well be illegal as they're fairly difficult to obtain. I don't think anyone's going to weep over that dremora's soul that's powering my Awesome Bow of Killing People Very Fast.

In general, the people of Tamriel probably see it as no big deal to exploit the soul of a non-human, non-mer creature. They see it as little more than using every part of whatever they kill. Waste nothing!

I can imagine some people would defend this by saying 'well, what if you do this to bad people.'

Which, to this I declare just plain wrong. Here's an analogy, someone being a thief doesn't give you the right to rape them. And if you happen to catch them and they don't fight back, then you don't have the right to murder them.

In TES games, yeah it pretty much does. :p Alright so it depends on the severity of the crime, but your bounty gets high enough they won't even bother offering to take you to jail. They'll just run you through. :p

Captcha - Twenty Eight Days

all right, I guess that'll be the mount of time before I go on my great endeavor.

At which point you will encounter many many zombies! :O

Necromancy isn't illegal in Tamriel. At least, not in Skyrim during the time that game takes place.

My memory is that it wasn't actually illegal in Cyrodil during Oblivion either, it was just that it was banned by the Mages guild.

The use of black soul gems (which are capable of holding a human soul) was also heavily frowned upon during Oblivion.

A crusade against soul gems character could be interesting... though you'd have to play that character on PC in order to "de-essential" a number of mages guild npcs.

Yeah I've always thought capturing souls, especially those of humans, and using them to make an enchanted weapon is pretty sinister. Although I think there's something kind of sinister about the souls of humans themselves in the series. Animals all have "white" souls, while humans have "black" souls. I don't think there's anything in the lore pointing to humans' souls being intrinsically evil, the fact they're called "black" and involved in the dark art of necromancy does make it look suspicious. Although, as you stated necromancy isn't really particularly evil in comparison in the games. It even used to be a legitimate school of study before it was outlawed.

Also, when you use a soul you don't obliterate them. As was revealed in the Dawnguard DLC, once a soul has been used up it goes to the Soul Cairn and exists in eternal purgatory, always being watched by the Ideal Masters, left to go insane over time.

Necromancers are fine in Skyrim. But I see your point.

To be fair not all soul gems can hold human souls, most are filled only by animal souls, which I'm assuming people don't mind about much in Skyrim.

Mostly the Black Soul Gems, that can hold human souls are hidden in caves with actual evil people. And these soul gems I believe are illegal.

You would think though that Nords, being great believers in an afterlife, and haters of magic, would be completely against Necromancers raising the dead.

All the same I don't think a guy who goes around slaughtering bandits and wiping out dragons has much worry about other's souls....except for Vignar Gray-mane.

Scrustle:
Yeah I've always thought capturing souls, especially those of humans, and using them to make an enchanted weapon is pretty sinister. Although I think there's something kind of sinister about the souls of humans themselves in the series. Animals all have "white" souls, while humans have "black" souls. I don't think there's anything in the lore pointing to humans' souls being intrinsically evil, the fact they're called "black" and involved in the dark art of necromancy does make it look suspicious. Although, as you stated necromancy isn't really particularly evil in comparison in the games. It even used to be a legitimate school of study before it was outlawed.

Also, when you use a soul you don't obliterate them. As was revealed in the Dawnguard DLC, once a soul has been used up it goes to the Soul Cairn and exists in eternal purgatory, always being watched by the Ideal Masters, left to go insane over time.

. . . That sounds even worse than what I thought happened to a soul. PUUUUUUUUUUURGE!

Well this one user on the Elder Scrolls forum had a theory that it is not really a soul you are capturing, just some sort of magical energy everyone seems to have. Like how you could capture skeleton's souls but they don't have souls or that your detect life detected undead. I just go with that.

Edit:

Random question time: aren't daedra in TES immortal? I think I remember something being mentioned about them being sent back to their oblivion plane after they die. What happens if you soul trap them? Dose this prevent them from coming back permanently?

The way I figure it, the soul is immortal and indestructible. Using Soul Gems simply sucks out any residual power of the creature that is still in the soul. At worst, the soul is "delayed" in the Soul Gem for a while before moving on. At best, the Soul Gem simply absorbs the residual energy and the soul moves on.

I just realized something. That annoying giant black soul gem in Oblivion that was confined to your character forever after the Mage's Guild questline still has the soul of the Archmage in it. Which means that, technically, he is a permanent (while still useless) companion in Oblivion. I just really wish you could drop him in non-PC versions.

EDIT: On topic: I never use soul trap spells (except to force my conjuration to level faster in Skyrim, and that's on dead bodies), and I only use gems that I find. So...I didn't do the soul-condemning, if that makes sense.

Jandau:
The way I figure it, the soul is immortal and indestructible. Using Soul Gems simply sucks out any residual power of the creature that is still in the soul. At worst, the soul is "delayed" in the Soul Gem for a while before moving on. At best, the Soul Gem simply absorbs the residual energy and the soul moves on.

They move on to the Soul Cairn, as shown in Dawnguard. They get to be watched forever by the Ideal Masters. I wonder how many I put there...

OT: Everyone's beaten me to it.

Captcha; blue ribbon. Don't patronize me.

Jandau:
The way I figure it, the soul is immortal and indestructible. Using Soul Gems simply sucks out any residual power of the creature that is still in the soul. At worst, the soul is "delayed" in the Soul Gem for a while before moving on. At best, the Soul Gem simply absorbs the residual energy and the soul moves on.

I've always thought it'd be this as well.

DementedSheep:
Random question time: aren't daedra in TES immortal? I think I remember something being mentioned about them being sent back to their oblivion plane after they die. What happens if you soul trap them? Dose this prevent them from coming back permanently?

What happens when you kill them while they're in Oblivion? Do they just rematerialize somewhere else?

I think of it more as a Soul Hotel, or Soul-tel. A soul gets captured and remains in the gem long enough to power your awesome sword then it goes on its merry way to chill out with Jesus and Kurt Cobain.

OP, I completely agree, soul gems are pretty messed up. That's why I like to stick to less immoral magical pursuits, like skewering my foes upon bolts of lightning, creating magical lights, and burning things. Yeah I want cool stuff, but not at the expense of any non-draconic being's eternal soul (and frankly if the dragons were willing to not burn things to the ground and generally make life inconvenient, I'd probably spare most of them too). It's one thing to kill everything and render them small piles of faintly glowing matter, but to prevent them from receiving the afterlife due a warrior, even if its the due of a warrior foolish enough to fight me, now that's just wrong.

samaugsch:

DementedSheep:
Random question time: aren't daedra in TES immortal? I think I remember something being mentioned about them being sent back to their oblivion plane after they die. What happens if you soul trap them? Dose this prevent them from coming back permanently?

What happens when you kill them while they're in Oblivion? Do they just rematerialize somewhere else?

I believe they're then lost to the Void.

The soul gems are only really evil when used on humans, thats why necromancers are bad, the "good" mages in Oblivion banned black soul gems and only used the souls of species with white souls, non-sentient species that is, in skyrim they tell you necromancy isn't illegal or banned by winterhold, and in any case these are just fictional characters.

Ah, but if you are roleplaying as an evil necromancer, then there is no issue.

I purposely trapped the souls of every major enemy NPC I went up against and placed the gem as a trophy upon my mantle in Riftin, never to be used, trapped for eternity within their crystal prison.

My first dragon, giant, and Ulfric Stormcloak all glare at me from the fireplace while I sit down at the table and eat Lydia's awful cooking.

PROBLEM, MORALLY JUST?

COME AT ME, I'VE GOT PLENTY MORE SOUL GEMS IN MY INVENTORY!

Yeah, there's a reason why people don't like black soul gems, because normal ones can only trap souls of animals and the like.
And yeah, there's a reason why I named my soul-trapping Daedric Battleaxe "Torment".

You're damn right its evil.

Why do you think I do it?

Once I collect just a few more black souls, I am going to begin killing each and every citizen of skyrim. I will then build a cathedral of skulls and black soul gems, held together with daedra hearts and human flesh.

Yeah, I agree that the whole thing is pretty evil and worse than actually killing something, but I have to say that soul trapping some bad guy, while BAD, is not as bad as burning up some innocent mudcrab souls.

That's why I try to buy as many black soul gems as I can. If I need enchanted junk, the bad guys are going to be my first line of supply. I don't know how I justify any of it from a roleplaying perspective... but I suppose my character gets by knowing he's doing more to correct it than all the mages are. That's what I'm going with. 1% better is enough. If everyone chipped in some efforts to rid the world of atrocities like I'm doing, everything would be much better :D

But yeah, presumably burning up all the essence of what something is or ever will be again is pretty bad. You could go around killing 100 people but at least you aren't causing "permanent" damage robbing a soul of the afterlife and its overall existence.

Anyway, I consider soul trapping daedra to fuel my life drain bow in oblivion to be a pretty efficient way of permanently dealing with daedra that otherwise just get sent back to oblivion with a slap on the wrist. What if they just come back? Pretty dumb.

I know four things about Soul Gems.
-When I shoot mages between the eyes from the shadows 900 yards away, sometimes they have Soul Gems crammed someplace horrible as 'loot'.
-Sometimes those crafty mages leave Soul Gems as traps for me. I steal them, and cram them someplace horrible for safekeeping.
-If I cram enough Soul Gems into my bow, somehow that prolongs its ability to freeze people in place when I hit them with arrows. This both amuses and perplexes me to no end.
-If I shoot someone with my other bow or stab them with my "special dagger", I can steal their soul, cram it into one of these rocks, and then cram that rock into my bow. See the point above.

Hell, I'm the dragonborn. I eat dragon souls, destroying the life essence of aeons-old god-creatures. Compared to that, stuffing the odd bandit or undead skeleton into a Soul Gem is barely even rude, much less evil.

Scrustle:
Yeah I've always thought capturing souls, especially those of humans, and using them to make an enchanted weapon is pretty sinister. Although I think there's something kind of sinister about the souls of humans themselves in the series. Animals all have "white" souls, while humans have "black" souls. I don't think there's anything in the lore pointing to humans' souls being intrinsically evil, the fact they're called "black" and involved in the dark art of necromancy does make it look suspicious. Although, as you stated necromancy isn't really particularly evil in comparison in the games. It even used to be a legitimate school of study before it was outlawed.

Also, when you use a soul you don't obliterate them. As was revealed in the Dawnguard DLC, once a soul has been used up it goes to the Soul Cairn and exists in eternal purgatory, always being watched by the Ideal Masters, left to go insane over time.

Hmm, but does the Soul Cairn apply to Daedric souls? I figured Daedra would eventually return to Oblivion.

Mortai Gravesend:

Scrustle:
Yeah I've always thought capturing souls, especially those of humans, and using them to make an enchanted weapon is pretty sinister. Although I think there's something kind of sinister about the souls of humans themselves in the series. Animals all have "white" souls, while humans have "black" souls. I don't think there's anything in the lore pointing to humans' souls being intrinsically evil, the fact they're called "black" and involved in the dark art of necromancy does make it look suspicious. Although, as you stated necromancy isn't really particularly evil in comparison in the games. It even used to be a legitimate school of study before it was outlawed.

Also, when you use a soul you don't obliterate them. As was revealed in the Dawnguard DLC, once a soul has been used up it goes to the Soul Cairn and exists in eternal purgatory, always being watched by the Ideal Masters, left to go insane over time.

Hmm, but does the Soul Cairn apply to Daedric souls? I figured Daedra would eventually return to Oblivion.

I didn't see any Daedra while I was there. All humans and one horse. There's a dragon too, but he's not a soul. There's also zombie-skeleton type creatures and some massive human looking things that wear dragon armour. No idea what those are, but they turn to dust when you kill them.

Ah yes, forgot to mention, one book I read in oblivion that I forget the name of and refuse to look up said that daedra that visit nirn and are killed just get sent back to oblivion. Ones that inhabit ruins and dungeons and are not summoned are most likely permanent residents and killing them actually kills them.

Daedra killed in the planes of oblivion actually die since that's where they live.

Being a mage and always forgetting to use Soul Trap there are a hell of a lot of already full soul gems that can be stolen or permanently borrowed seeing as they seem to get left around, even black ones. Does it still make you a bad person if you are using them unsure of what souls are in there or what happened to them before hand or should you be personally trapping any souls to ensure it's only animals or like murders?

mental_looney:
Being a mage and always forgetting to use Soul Trap there are a hell of a lot of already full soul gems that can be stolen or permanently borrowed seeing as they seem to get left around, even black ones. Does it still make you a bad person if you are using them unsure of what souls are in there or what happened to them before hand or should you be personally trapping any souls to ensure it's only animals or like murders?

Presumably a truly righteous person should avoid trapping any souls and retain any soul gems they "find" looking for a way to release them rather than burning away the contents forever powering some frivolous garbage.

Trapping animals and people are probably both just as bad with the only difference being perspective and how much juice you can get out of the particular soul.

Standard soul gems use animal and beast souls, not human ones I thought. In oblivion you didn't even have useable black soul gems because they were evil.

Besides, I have never once used soul trap because there are so many filled soul gems already out there.

Standard gems do only use non-person souls.

Black soul gems were in oblivion, but it seems a necromancer's person were the only place you could find them for obvious reasons.

Yes, soul gems are morally questionable.
Which makes Black Soul gems stupid to me, yeah as someone said they were introduced in Oblivion.
But they weren't in Morrowind, in there a soul is a soul no matter who from. I think the only restriction was you couldn't fully contain a God's soul(Vivec and Almalexia) without Azura's star.

But after Oblivion, some of the greatest immortal Daedra souls pale in comparison to the lowliest peasant who has accomplished nothing soul. Which is stupid to me.
Also in Skyrim Falmer are elves, they are driven mad by their mushroom diet maybe, but they still are elves. Their soul is nothing in comparison to the Altmer, who they both stemmed from.

I thought the same thing and didn't use soul gems because of that. My dragonborn was a good guy and harvesting the souls of poor animals just didn't fit him.

Theres a mission in Skyrim where you go into a soul gem , and straight up kill the inhabitant. According to the guy you did it for, his soul was obliterated, wiped from existence. But, the greater good and all that.

Then again, that guy also summons Daedra inside the Gem, and when you kill them you can take their hearts and other possessions. You even keep them in the real world. So maybe you shouldn't take the whole Soul Gem thing too seriously, because the developers clearly don't.

It's this quest, I spoilered it in case you don't want to know.

Can someone confirm whether you can trap the guy's soul while in his soul gem? Because that wouldn't make a lot of sense.

Soul Gems when used by the Dwemer were not seen as souls, rather, they create an electrochromatic imprint within the gem that drew power from whatever plane of oblivion it comes from to power their steam deelies boilers using the 'soul trap' spell.

Who're you asking if it's amoral?

Personally i don't give a rats ass. I steal the soul of things that are trying to kill me, they had it coming.

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