Immortality: Everything you ever wanted to know, but were too short-lived to ask

Recently, a player of mine made a pact with Excrutiators (dark beings who study the deaths of mortals from other realms) to forsake her mortality and become a Lich. I like the idea that there are a number of ways you might be able to forsake the mortal bonds that shackle our lives in my games, and that all of them are available at different levels of difficulty. I'm still not quite sure how achievable I want these kinds of things to be; I think the happy middle is that the more "perfect" or rather, the less drawbacks the Immortality has, the higher level you'd need to be to get it. Potentially I want anyone at any level to be able to become immortal, its just that it won't quite be as easy as all that. We'll have to see. Immortality fundamentally changes what the game (and most importantly combat if they are that immortal, which I'd suggest you should avoid, too much hassle) is about, and what the character needs, so deploy it with caution, but I think it is very much worth deploying. The ramifications will certainly make for memorable experiences I'd wager.

The classic method. There are many ways to become a lich, and not all are as pleasant or difficult as the others. Lich is more of a catch-all term for the many, many ways to achieve immortality by removing one's soul and storing it elsewhere. There are indeed some very easy and simple ways to become a lich, but all of them need knowledge and specific materials and spells, thus it is usually only the higher-level wizards that ever achieve it, and usually only with the most complicated variations on the ritual. Eternity is a long time to be spent in a corpse after all, you want as many bells and whistles you can.

Potentially anyone can become a lich with enough effort and materials, even at first level (though the time spent gathering said materials will almost certainly be enough for a few levels as it is).

- Immortality as long as your Phylactery remains intact
- Phylactery required
- Undeath
- You can come back from bodily destruction
- More dependent on the method of Lichdom used. Some require upkeep in souls, some won't prevent rot and decay, some cause irrevicable insanity. The list will be long and complex I'm sure.

Another classic. There are exactly two ways to become a vampire; drinking the life-blood of a vampire, or by accepting the gift of the Thirster, one of the Grimm Powers of the Shadowfell, and the original source of vampirism. The powers of a vampire increase with age, and with blood drunk; initially it begins only as an inurement to death by old age and a lethal aversion to sunlight, but eventually you get all the powers such a creature of the night is rumoured and suggested to have. Most vampires are actually powerful warriors, their bloodlust on the battlefield actualised into their new curse.

- Immortality as long as you meet the upkeep
- Thirst and requirement for the blood of men
- Aversion and weakness to sunlight
- Undeath
- Bodily destruction is the end

Becoming a Lamenter
Actually totally out of a being's hands, mostly only happens to those who have a serious quest to complete when the cold grasp of death tightens around them, but potentially anyone can become a Lamenter. Of course, the shades of death often obscure the creature's original purpose, and they lose themselves in the murk of eternity. Their long grey lives are spent in pursuit of impossible tasks and ambitions, anything to stave of the inevitable monotony of infinity and the madness that comes with it. Lamenters tend to congregate in tomb-cities, and hunt the insane ones that lurk like rats in the tunnels underneath. More on Lamenters to come.

- Immortality without any requirements
- No real requirements
- Not much of anything really
- You need something to stave of the boredom or you'll go mad

All Saints are of course immune to death by old age, a God isn't going to invest such power in their agents for so trivial of a death to take them from the mortal realms. The fact that almost every Saint has been martyred within a couple decades of their canonisation is little distraction from the process of ascending for many. The powers of Sainthood are difficult to turn down, both from the magnitude of the power offered, and the fact that you have to be quite devout as it is to receive such an offer from your deity, and thus refusing the offer is off the table for such an individual.

Potentially anyone devout enough could become a Saint, though usually only Clerics and Paladins will be focused enough on their faith to ever achieve it. It also isn't quite as good as you might immediately think; while it does avoid most of the downsides associated with immortality as gained from other methods, you do have something of a responsibility to the deity that granted you the Sainthood; but of course that is seldom a downside for the type of individual to be offered Sainthood anyway.

- Immortality as long as you keep up the good rep with your god
- Divinely appointed powers
- People want your opinion on like, everything
- People want you gone because your god isn't as good as theirs
- Basically all the problems of celebrity and zeal

Alchemical Immortality
There are two main methods of achieving this, creating an undying body and transfering your alchemical soul into it, or transferring your alchemical soul into a fully-grown homunculi (though you will need to repeat this every few decades or so, homunculi aren't as eternal as the alchemical soul).

Creating such new bodies is horrendously hard, and ludicrously expensive. At least the Stone of the Philosophers has actually been confirmed to have been created more than once, though of course homunculi are somewhat common among master alchemists, its just that transferral of the alchemical soul is the hard part. Creating an undying alchemical body has yet to be achieved, as far as is known.

The other aspect of Alchemical immortality is that the alchemical soul isn't as rigid as you might think. It is just as changable as it is whilst in the body, and while the person who appears in the new body is literally speaking the same person who went in, that doesn't mean they won't emerge changed to one degree or another.

Golems and other such constructs have been known to be used in place of Alchemical bodies, but it is a rather lesser form of immortality. Golem bodies are much less flexible than Homunculi in many ways.

- Immortality as long as you aren't killed, and can maintain the body you live in
- Transferring your Alchemical soul might change it in certain ways, some small, some unavoidable
- Doubtless others will seek you out and demand you do the same for them

Demonic Apotheosis
The end result of many fiendish pacts, the giving over of your soul utterly to hell is tempting for many of the more boring and less gifted members of the human race. Of course, most will not make it, struck down by zealous do-gooders before the ritual is ever reached, and often the Demon who made the pact will often try to get the pactee struck down themselves (though indirectly of course) before they transfer the terms of the pact they bound them to.

Once Apotheosis is reached of course, the mortal shell sloughs off, and a new form of demonic proportions emerges, grand in power and dark majesty. Most who do achieve it find it to be less glamorous than they imagined. The potential to advance is there of course, the Demon said it would, but the newly minted demon didn't quite realise that they would start as low on the ladder as they would, nor that they would have to take orders from a liege. This isn't to say that they are weak at all, or not free to do much of what they wish, but many find it not as they quite expected.

- Immortality, as a Demon, with all that entails
- You start off as a reasonably middle-ranking demon, you must earn your way up
- You have a Demonic Liege-lord, usually the demon you made your pact with, until you overthrow them
- You do have a lot of free time, but also obligations you must fulfil

Draconic Apotheosis
With the heart of every Dragon-born is the spark of a dragon. When they die, it can (and often will) gutter and die within them, but every so often, a Dragon-Born of sufficient stature and power will kindle the spark into a raging flame, fanned by their cult of followers in a ritual specifically bred to increases the chances, and as their mortal form expires, they instantly reincarnate into their new semi-divine form, rising from the ashes wreathed in magic, and power.

This is of course, limited to Dragon-born.

- Immortality as a Dragon
- You are a Dragon
- A Dragon is you

Becoming a Death-Knight
The path of the Paladin is hard, and not all can make it. Of those that do, there are some that stumble and falter at the last, break their oaths, and fail to atone. From this stock, a Death Knight might be born. Words are power, more than people know, and breaking one's word twists and distorts that power, fuses and suffuses it to the soul, blackens and crisps it up like thin meat in the pan. These cracked and broken souls do not work right, and are the main source of an Anti-Paladin's power. Should they die, there is a chance that the crooked soul left within can't leave, and thus is the Death Knight born, the unholy powers of a broken oath sustaining it and corrupting it further. Redemption is the only way to permanently destroy a Death Knight, but the longer one remains as it is, the less and less likely redemption ever becomes.

This is usually only available to Fallen Paladins, but others who make mighty oaths and break them may achieve it too.

- Immortality unless you redeem yourself, which is unlikely
- Basically everyone hates you
- Your Anti-Paladin powers are enhanced, as your undead body can handle the negative energies of your magics more easily
- You can recover from bodily destruction eventually, but it takes longer and longer each time, and each time it takes and greater and greater tax on your mind, until eventually you go insane and dormant

The connection of a Druid to the Land itself is strong, and grows with the centuries. Eventually, the bind transgresses life itself, and the Druid becomes a part of the living world in a very literal sense. As one steeps themselves in the webs of alliances of the earth and the living things within and on it, the more one becomes tangled within themselves. Thus, a Druid who remains within their chosen Grove long enough will eventually never leave, becoming something of a part of it themselves. They live on as long as the Grove does, existing in symbiotic harmony. It is immortality of a sort to those outside it, but to the Druid themselves, it just the next step of life.

This is mostly the domain of druids, but any animist can achieve it eventually.

- Immortality connected with the area of the World you are bound to
- You can only be destroyed if the area of the World you are bound to is destroyed too, which is really hard to actually pull off
- You have some influence over the area, but it is somewhat democratic, and you must convince the world it is in its best interests to follow your suggestions
- You can't ever leave the Grove you are bound to

Becoming an Iron-Wight
Just as the blades of mighty warriors soak up magic with each life they take, so to does the wielder. Just as the blades of the greatest warriors must eventually become magical from the slaughter they enable, so to does the wielder become less and less capable of anything else. Finally, they leave behind the comparatively frail flesh they once trusted in and become infused within their arms and armour, a metal gestalt consciousness, a sack of useless dried meat and rattling bones within the true iron-exoskeleton-creature. This is not what most warriors would want; you are lost utterly to the thrill of battle and the glory of the slaughter, but even the most grizzled veteran will usually hold other things dear, and existence as an Iron-Wight means forgoing those other things.

But there are enough with the lack of anything to live for that the most profane battlefields have been known to be stalked by immortal engines of death, empty armour still fighting for the sake of fighting and the spilling of blood.

Only the mightiest of warriors will even approach the level of slaughter needed to transcend their mortal skin and earn their iron-skin.

- Immortality as long as your Steel Body survives
- Slaughter is the only response you can have to just about anything
- You are bound to the arms and armour you had when you became an Iron-Wight, you can never change them. To do so would be like amputating a limb, potentially fatal.

Leave Behind thy Mortal Flesh, be Changed
There are many peoples beyond our lands that are not human in the least, they exist long, far longer than us. They are not human at all, but they can make us like them. Perhaps you could find them, convince them to make you like them. Lesser than they are, but greater than you are now. Or perhaps they'd just suck out your innards and discard your empty skin-sack as garbage, or enslave you to build their cyclopean cities for all eternity. Hey, its immortality of a kind.

- Immortality as long as you aren't slain
- If you can persuade them to actually do it for you, and I can't see why they ever would really
- And you need to live as an aberration now, not a man

A rather specific form of immortality, taught to men by dry and bright gods. Somewhat inconvenient for most in that death must be tasted first before life can begin again, immortal and imperishable. The flesh must be preserved, the organs removed and stored in ensorcelled jars, charms and pendents secreted throughout the funerary wrappings to guard and protect the immortal soul. Then, and only then, life will reignite within like fire, and the newly forged immortal rises.

Unfortunately, the preservations of the flesh will one day fail, the organs one day rot away to nothing, the charms and pendents battered down over millenia until the soul within is exposed, withered and weeping to the elements of the afterlife. You do get a millenia or two of perfect existance, the better the team that performs the ceremonies and rituals, the longer you will live; but one day, eventually, it will wear down, leaving you a husk, mad and cold and forever clinging on to life by the broken nails of your metaphorical finger tips.

Anyone who knows the rites and rituals, and has a team willing to perform them to their corpse, can become a Mummy.

- Perfect Immortality (or at least, your ego is inflated enough that you never see the drawbacks)
- Vulnerability in that you exist only as long as your organs, charms, and flesh remain
- Those same organs, charms, and flesh will deteriorate eventually, nothing you can do about it

The Stone of the Philosopher
More properly the elixir derived from it, and one of the pinnacles of the Alchemists Art alongside perfect transmutation, and Homunculi. To sup of that gold milk is to live eternally, and perfectly. That's it, no catches or drawbacks, except for dependence on the stone for your life. Unfortunately, should it ever get out that you managed it, then that is only the start of your troubles. There will be many who wish to propitiate you for some for themselves, who wish to take it from you, who wish to take for themselves the methods of its creation. Oh, and keeping up the supply of ingredients and reagents you need will probably be a bit of a hassle too. Maybe its not quite worth it except as an academic exercise.

- Immortality, with no drawbacks
- None, really.
- Okay, there area a few social knock-ons but thats it really

Amassing Words of God
Few will ever even come close to finding one, let alone the number that would be required to ascend to become a god themselves. The Words of God are those divine exaltations that force the world to exist as the speaker wishes it, the engines of deific movement and thought. To speak them is to control them, to make the world as you see it should be. Some mortals know one, maybe two, mostly the Saints granted them by their divine patrons. Knowing more attracts all sorts of attentions from those that see the attempt to become more than you are as perversion of the natural order. Should you learn enough though, even Death may become too intimidated to attempt to destroy you, and your divine domain becomes evident from the words you know, and you ascend shining and glorious.

Of course, you'll also need followers, but those come easily when the very elements of existance bend and contort to your whims.

- Immortality as long as you aren't struck down before you can fully ascend to godhood
- Power over the ELEMENTS THEMSELVES as long as you know the word for it
- Some people might be a bit upset by what you want to do
- Some people might be really for what you want to do

Using a Wish
But that is sort of cheating isn't it.

- Immortality, probably
- It probably won't end well for you, you'd probably end up with some sort of "figurative immortality" like that "Oh, but your story and name will live on!" tripe.

Living in the Undying Lands of the Fae
Beyond the bramble bush, beneath the standing stone, within the flowing of the waters, the bright shining land of the Fey-Lords blossoms like a flower of fire. There, all that is exists to its utter pinnacle, beautiful and glorious and dangerous. You won't be immortal to start with, you'd still only be human, but the longer you remain, the more and more you take on the traits of their brilliance and vitality. You'll leave behind your frail humanity, and become more like them. In the Undying Lands, you cannot die unless it is utterly appropriate, which for the cunning individual is nearly the same. If you were sick and on your death bed, you would not die unless all your family were there, tear stained cheeks and puffy eyes telling you how much they'd miss you. However, if they were to gather, it would then be completely unavoidable that you would die. Its a tricky balance to strike. You could not be struck down in combat, except by your arch-nemesis, and only then at the climax of your rivalry, but one of you at least, is guaranteed to die. Thus the endless scheming and stagnant rivalries of the Fey-Lords, none of them wants to risk such a confrontation.

The Fey-Lords are also the other main obstacle to immortality through this route. There are enough immortals trying to enforce their domains throughout the feywilds. They don't wish to have another potential competitor.

- Immortality outside of very specific circumstances
- You need to spend a long while in the Feywild first, and avoid getting curb-stomped by anxious Fey-Lords
- You won't be a man anymore, you'd become a Fey yourself

Dwelling in the Thin Lands of the Grimm
Grim are the Thin Lands, dark and cold, always on the brink of death beneath the ever dimming soft-red sun. Always on the brink, never quite tipping over though.

Unlike the Undying Realms, immortality on the Shadowfell is easy enough to attain, no-one cares about you, or how long you stay. The only thing is whatever it is that ails you, it will never leave you. It will progress and worsen and make every moment agony, but it will never kill you. There are stories of men you have degenerated into piles of flowing cancers, or ever spilling out their guts and blood, or who have wizened and wrinkled down to tiny ancient pygmies. It is immortality, technically. I wouldn't though. Some might though, if truly desperate enough.

- Immortality as long as no-one actually murders you
- Your existance will not be pleasant
- Oh and the Grimm may try to snap you up like a leftover party snack

Practice the Rites of the Red God
There is one god who hides in the dark and forgotten corners of the divine spheres, the last of his family. He killed and ate the rest. He ate all sorts, his home, his family, other gods, men, beasts, trees, dirt, stone, anything to quench the unquechable. He ate and ate and ate until nothing was left, not even a name. His is the Cannibal god, red and raw, bleeding and bloody.

His rites and devotions remain among the mortal realms, and you can follow them too if you wish. Each morsel you swallow down is a silent prayer, each gulp a libation, the tiny scraps and drips that run down your chin and stain your chest and darken your cheeks is an exultant psalm. Feast on flesh, glut yourself on liquids, gnaw on muscles, chew bone, crunch eyes, slurp fingers, these are the holy doings of the Eaters of Men, the glorious ministry of the Sanguine Church. You too can live forever, as the Red God does. Do unto others as he did unto himself.

Just don't let anyone catch you at it.

- Eat (one is the number of mouths)
- Eat (two is the number of his sets of teeth)
- Eat (three is the number of throats of his neck)
- Eat (four is the number of family which he devoured)
- Eat (five is the number of what was eaten when he ate himself)
- Eat (six is the number of years he ate from the history of the world)
- Eat (seven is the number for which he was consecrated)
- Eat (eight is the number of teeth he severs meat with)
- Eat (nine is the number of times you will eat to be like him)

Eat of the Fruit of that Perfect Garden
It was so that when the first of men crawled from the sea, they were perfect and immortal, they dragged behind them a sack of the kelp-fruits from the garden in which their first childhood was spent. The sack ran out, the immortal fires within them guttered and died, they became mortals. Now we all must die.

Or perhaps it was over the horizon whereon lie those final mountains upon which all souls must crest on their way towards their eternal destination that the Garden lay, guarded by burning angels. Or maybe in the sky itself, some other land held fast in the grand firmament of the sky. Perhaps it is closer than we think, among us at this very time. Or maybe it exists no more, trampled beneath the cities and factories and monuments of man.

But if there are fruit left, and you ate of them, your immortal fires would surely be reignited. Surely.

- None can say, but they who dwelt when light was first made by young until-then-unlit stars.

1 comment:

  1. I've got a few others on my blogs (but you have a few i never considered and really like)
    Thanks for this !


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