Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Immortality and the Price of Death

Savage Insider volume 3 issue 1 includes another article of mine: Back from the Dead. The article discusses various different solutions for designing characters who cheat death, based on the following observations about the rules  in Savage Worlds Deluxe:

1. The "Character Creation" chapter stresses that you should play a character you enjoy.

2. The "Background Details" section encourages players to make up their own history and background.

3. The "Replacement Characters" rule states that "When a character dies, his new hero begins play with one less Advance than his last."

So by a strict interpretation of the rules, it's perfectly legal to recreate the same character (with one fewer Advance) every time they die, and simply explain in your background history that your character is immortal.  At the very least, it'll save you the effort of explaining how a new PC joins the group in the middle of the wilderness!

While many GMs might refuse to allow such a character concept, that's not really the point of the article. The point is that we can now assign a specific price to death in Savage Worlds: Death costs one advance.

Once we know that, we can extrapolate, and that's what I do throughout the rest of the article. Resurrection can now be handled with standard Powers and rules, immortality can be covered by applying trappings to existing Edges and Hindrances, immortal(ish) races such as Time Lords and the Goa'uld can now be easily balanced against other races, and so on. I finish up the article with a new Edge (Immortal) and three new Hindrances (Curse of Eternity, Dark Appetite, and Phylactery).

Further Thoughts
"You, Kallor Eiderann Tes'thesula, shall know mortal life unending. Mortal, in the ravages of age, in the pain of wounds and the anguish of despair. In dreams brought to ruin. In love withered. In the shadow of Death's spectre, ever a threat to end what you will not relinquish. Kallor Eiderann Tes'thesula, you shall never ascend. Kallor Eiderann Tes'thesula, each time you rise, you shall then fall. All that you achieve shall turn to dust in your hands. As you have wilfully done here, so it shall be in turn visited upon all that you do. Three voices curse you. It is done."
-- Memories of Ice (Malazan Book Of The Fallen 3)
The Harder to Kill Edge gives you a 50% chance of avoiding death, which (when applied to an "immortal" character concept) would mean that death now costs you only half an advance on average. A GM who wanted to explore the concept of unkillable characters (without applying it to everyone as a setting rule) could even take the Edge a step further...

Impossible to Kill
Requirements: Legendary, Harder to Kill
  You can no longer be killed, although you can still be beaten, incapacitated, captured, and even dismembered. You no longer suffer permanent injuries, they always go away when all of your wounds have healed.

Of course "unkillable" is not the same as "invulnerable"; a cocky PC who crosses the wrong people could still be put out of action, waiting out eternity at the bottom of a lake in a pair of concrete boots.