Soul Magic (or Animism) is a school of magic closely related to but distinct from Necromancy. Where Necromancy involves controlling the deceased, Soul Magic deals with the manipulation of the spirits of (often) still living people. To be able to control the spirit of any human, living or otherwise, requires immense power and concentration. Consequently, most arts within the class of Soul Magic equate to Advanced and Master levels of the other classes. Soul Magic can be divided into multiple subsections, conveniently starting with the first letters of the alphabet.
Soul Absorption: Absorption deals with forcibly stripping a soul away from its resident body. While this technique does not offer direct control over a living person, it does offer a lot of indirect control via leverage. After all, any normal person would do anything to regain his/her soul, right? With that said, it is exceptionally difficult to sever a soul's connection to its living host (and who knows what the effects on the body might be afterward?), so this technique is generally done to the recently deceased - those bodies whose souls are making their way to the afterlife. It is possible to have a living person 'willingly' 'sign' his/her soul over to you via a magical contract, which is significantly easier than taking the soul by force. This technique is the basis for all other types of Soul Magic, and as such is the first art that aspiring Soul Mages study, as well as the only technique within Soul Magic that could be classified as 'Novice'. Expert or Master Rank if the mage is seeking to take the soul of the living, on the higher rank if the target is strong.
Soul Binding: After a soul has been taken away from its owner, it needs to be bound to something to prevent it from passing on into the afterlife. Often times this 'something' takes the form of an everyday object like a weapon, piece of armor or a book. Objects affected in this way bear curious magical properties and are generally more powerful than they were beforehand. The next logical progression, then, is for experienced practitioners to bind souls to themselves in an attempt to become more powerful, although doing so can lead to negative consequences. While severing a soul's connection to something is relatively simple, restoring a similar connection takes significantly more effort. As such, Soul Binding is an Advanced level technique, Master in the event of binding a soul to oneself.
Soul Conversion: This refers to the conversion of souls into a tangible energy that can be used to attack opponents, or, more rarely, to heal allies. Accomplished Soul Mages can also form this spirit energy into other shapes, from swords to giant creatures. While its destructive powers are no more dangerous than other branches of magic, its true powers lie in the fact that this energy can quickly be reabsorbed by the caster, resulting in near limitless attacking potential. Transforming souls into energy is an Advanced Rank technique, while shaping this energy can, depending on the shape's form, range from Advanced to Master. Foolhardy sorcerers can convert their own souls into energy, although this can lead to...negative consequences.
Soul Direction: One of the more difficult sub-techniques, Soul Direction refers to directing and commanding (absorbed) spirits, bending them to do your bidding. This can take the form of apparent telekinesis by commanding invisible spirits to move and affect things on the physical plane. Any object that has had a soul bound to it can also be commanded in this fashion. Soul Direction is a Master Rank technique; while manipulating an energy formed from souls is (relatively) simple, controlling the souls themselves (which are often reluctant to being removed from their owner) requires intense focus. Theoretically, it would be possible to direct someone's soul while it was still attached to that person, resulting in effective mind control, although such a technique would take a level of concentration far beyond the threshold of the Master Rank. As with the previous techniques, direction of one's own soul is possible, though it could lead to - you guessed it - negative consequences.
Soul Elimination: The complete and total annihilation of a person's soul. In the event the person happened to be living, not only does this result in that person's immediate death, but in the removal of that person's chances at the afterlife as well. The victim of this technique is essentially wiped from any plane of existence. As well as being the ultimate technique in this class of magic, it is the aforementioned negative consequence that befalls anyone who abuses Soul Magic for an extended period of time. It is significantly simpler to destroy a soul unbound to anything than otherwise, but either case is akin to playing god. As such, Soul Elimination is on the upper limits of the Master Rank, with the elimination of souls still attached to a person in a special rank of its own.
As you can see, while Soul Magic is not necessarily a dark art, its effects - both intended and unintended - cause many to consider it far too close to necromancy for comfort.