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  • Why is resurrection impossible?

    The out of game reason is obvious enough. But what about the in-game one? Everyone seems to treat it as fact. Wasn't death just one of the concepts invented by the primordials?

    On a related note, reincarnation itself IS a resurrection of sorts. It's even possible for a hun to remember some things from the life right before this one. In theory you could store someone's memories, trace his reincarnation and give them back to him. Depending on how much "mojo" you have, you may be able to recreate them just like that with whatever metaphysical explanation you can come with for your spell/artifact/etc

    I guess you could argue that this method might not restore that person's capabilities (and it definitely will not restore an exaltation), but it's still a resurrection for most intents and purposes


  • #2
    Originally posted by mark View Post
    The out of game reason is obvious enough. But what about the in-game one? Everyone seems to treat it as fact. Wasn't death just one of the concepts invented by the primordials?

    On a related note, reincarnation itself IS a resurrection of sorts. It's even possible for a hun to remember some things from the life right before this one. In theory you could store someone's memories, trace his reincarnation and give them back to him. Depending on how much "mojo" you have, you may be able to recreate them just like that with whatever metaphysical explanation you can come with for your spell/artifact/etc

    I guess you could argue that this method might not restore that person's capabilities (and it definitely will not restore an exaltation), but it's still a resurrection for most intents and purposes
    Yeah it is, but for some reason they will not live well their actual death, start being mad about it, and accept the pact of a Deathlord to become an Abyssal.

    It's a narrative rule addressed to the players and ST : death has a permanent narrative consequence, even if you can undo the physical consequence, the person will never be the same because she experienced something ineffable, that will affect her forever, for dramatic purpose.

    It's the same rule as "Don't play a lazy character that stays in his sofa all adventure long doing nothing" : Yeah there are some people like that, but don't play that story because it's boring (incoming stories about how people once had the best scenario ever with their lazy character staying all adventure in a sofa doing nothing )


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    • #3
      Originally posted by mark View Post
      The out of game reason is obvious enough. But what about the in-game one? Everyone seems to treat it as fact. Wasn't death just one of the concepts invented by the primordials?
      I dunno, it probably depends on how a given group thinks that level of the setting's cosmology works, if it's ever really able to turn up. My current leaning is towards the idea that "inventing concepts" might be a bit of a simplification for how one creates a universe.

      Regardless, that alone is not really making the case for the Exalted being able to do anything about it, since they don't have a whole lot that can do things to concepts as ontological qualities.

      As for why it can't be managed, I'm thinking of something analogous to the idea of dropping a crystal of salt into the ocean and then trying to recover and reconstruct that exact crystal precisely as it was after a period of time has passed in which you had to acquire any of the resources to do so; the total living being is something complex and needs all its parts in order to be whole and functional, and once it breaks down enough to no longer function independently some of the key components are going to become so dissolute that you'd never be able to grasp and recover all of them. Even if you could, in the time since they'd have all changed enough to not really be what they once were, and you'll never have the level of precise excision to get the wrong parts out.

      Not least because, are you sure you'd even know what was a change? Are you sure you really knew that person well enough?

      One can assert the existence of some form of magic that would automatically do all of that heavy lifting on your behalf, but another can easily veto it on the grounds that it's a huge reach and a cheat.

      Originally posted by mark
      On a related note, reincarnation itself IS a resurrection of sorts. It's even possible for a hun to remember some things from the life right before this one. In theory you could store someone's memories, trace his reincarnation and give them back to him. Depending on how much "mojo" you have, you may be able to recreate them just like that with whatever metaphysical explanation you can come with for your spell/artifact/etc
      What are somebody's memories? A complete record of their life? Is it just what they remembered at the time of their death? But supposing the person died of old age and was pretty senile, how many memories do you want to recover for them? If you're using their memories from an earlier point of their life, are you really resurrecting the person that you knew? What if something important was in the memories that you left out? What if the person you knew was defined just as much by what they had forgotten as what they remembered?

      That's before even getting to the question of how much of identity is dependent on things that are not memory, that are not even conscious. If you have a favourite food, is it necessarily as a result of something present in memory? Was that also captured in the storage?

      And people are prone to remembering things inaccurately, even if those things had a profound impact on how their personality and views formed, perhaps especially so. You put in the way that the person remembered it, and you might very well get distinctly different results from the way that the person was actually shaped by it.

      Still, you're talking about loading memories into a separately existing person. If they've already formed their own personality and experiences, you're just getting a separate person loaded with another's memories. If you're doing it to a baby, well, babies can have more personality than you'd expect, and now you've got one that has a bunch of adult experiences without context or understanding pressed into their mushy little brain. Either way, you're not logically ending up with somebody even remotely resembling the one you want to bring back.

      Originally posted by mark
      it's still a resurrection for most intents and purposes
      "I did it; I brought my drinking buddy back! All can be forgiven for that punch in a drunken rage. Ah shit, it turns out that they're a real lightweight now on account of being several hundred pounds lighter and not having a fully developed metabolism. Hmm, nothing at all about this seems to recapture the relationship that I wanted to ensure didn't end for me."


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      • #4
        With the Liminals added to the setting, a simple reason why resurrection is impossible could be that the Dark Mother unfailingly hijacks all attempts at resurrection to create her Children of the Soil.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Epitome View Post
          With the Liminals added to the setting, a simple reason why resurrection is impossible could be that the Dark Mother unfailingly hijacks all attempts at resurrection to create her Children of the Soil.
          That the resurrection is a futile and desperate endeavour appears to be a key part of the mythology of the Chernozem.


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          https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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          • #6
            Originally posted by mark View Post
            Wasn't death just one of the concepts invented by the primordials?
            I'm of the opinion that this premise is something of a noose. Even if you don't care about the pre-history stuff Oblivion seems to have its own existence independent of anything the Primordials made.


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            • #7
              Heck, I'd argue that the possibility of a permanent cessation to existence as an entity seems to be more of an emergent property of existence as an entity being meaningful, than something that was necessarily intentionally designed by any one being or beings.

              ​(And if your definition of resurrection is cast so wide that Exalted's model of reincarnation counts, then so does that Penny Arcade strip where Tycho, having accidentally killed his wife, paid twenty million dollars to a "mad scientist" to create a "cybernetic replica" of her.)
              Last edited by TheCountAlucard; 02-04-2020, 02:01 PM.

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              • #8
                Exalted metaphysics also introduces degrees into the category of things that might be called resurrection.

                Are the Autochthonians more of a reincarnation of their previous lives because the Hun and Po are still joined? Is a person with the same higher soul and celestial exaltation more of a reincarnation of the former exalt than someone without the same higher soul?

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                • #9
                  Is ressurection possible?

                  In the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, ressurection is a casual thing. The least peasant in the Culture can be restored to life, a perfect genetic copy with all their memories intact. No, more than that, the least peasant can just give that technology away to ressurect randos.

                  But is that ressurection?

                  It's Thesus' Paradox (explored as a sub-theme in Surface Detail, well worth a read).

                  The same for ressurection in Exalted.

                  What is life? What is death? What is ressurection?

                  Can you step in the same river twice?


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                  • #10
                    As a few others have pointed out how we're defining resurrection is probably important. Like I grab my buddies ghost and just have it possess a copy of his corpse that all the biological aspects functioning does that count? If I create an AI with a copy of all the person's memories and let it run loose have I brought them back? Does it only count if I use something like DnD's True Ressurection where you can call the person back from the afterlife so long as you have a severed limb or something to use as the basis for body reconstitution?*

                    Now when the whole cycle of reincarnation thing is working properly then the easy answer is that there is no where to call the old soul back from even if you make the body functional again. The person died their soul reincarnated and has been scrubbed clean. Even if there are old memories or impressions that were missed putting the higher soul back in wouldn't have the old memories of their identity. If the person is a ghost, then I feel like it depends on that definition on whether or not possessing your own corpse counts as being brought back or not.

                    As far as the Primordials inventing death goes my thoughts are that they designed how it works for Creation. Like in 2e its noted that Rhaksha could die all the time in the Wyld and would just shrug it off like it never happened. The whole part where dying in Creation or as a result of things from Creation (still 2e) was new to them. So it could be interpreted more as a scenario where as opposed to them inventing the idea that an entity can be ended, so much as making it a scenario where the end of an entity meant they stayed bloody ended and couldn't just pop up later with an "I got better."

                    *Huh, apparently 5e you don't even need the body parts anymore. Helpful.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by JohnDoe244 View Post

                      In the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks, ressurection is a casual thing. The least peasant in the Culture can be restored to life, a perfect genetic copy with all their memories intact. No, more than that, the least peasant can just give that technology away to ressurect randos.

                      But is that ressurection?
                      When I think about things like this, I find that they all go even simpler than Theseus' ship, depending on the answer to a single question:

                      Is this a setting that integrates an apparent concept of a soul?

                      If not, then no, it's not resurrection. Nothing you do well change the fact that the actual person in question experienced a cessation of consciousness from which there is no return.

                      Still, a key subject in several narratives about the subject is who the resurrection is being done for the benefit of, the person whose life was lost or those they leave behind. There might well be people who are quite satisfied with this identical copy as a means of getting the list person back in their lives, but you've but really done the person that died a favour.

                      ...Wait...

                      {Levi, in a cosmology where there's no existence after death, do you not think that an instance of reviving life in the original brain and body of the lost person constitutes a return of life? If so, how is that functionally different from replicating those patterns otherwise? Doesn't a purely materialist world view become one in which the only meaningful definition of life is the instance of the person that is present and active?}

                      Okay fine, I'll grant you that, but that still raises a question about the value and attachment that we place to the lives of others. It's hard not to feel as though that focus on a person as a material component has implications for how we conceive of and interact with people in general, alive or dead. There's something very transactional about it to me.

                      Originally posted by nalak42 View Post


                      *Huh, apparently 5e you don't even need the body parts anymore. Helpful.
                      Surely that's how True Resurrection always worked? It goes Raise Dead for a fresh and fairly intact corpse, Resurrection for restoration from as little as a body part, True Resurrection for just springing them back from nothing.

                      A cleric needs to be like, level 18 to learn that spell, don't they? Did Fifth Edition lower that?


                      I have approximate knowledge of many things.
                      Watch me play Dark Souls III (completed)
                      https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDtbr08HW8RW4jOHN881YA3yRZBV4lpYw Watch me play Breath of the Wild (updated 12/03)

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                      • #12
                        Personally, I must admit that I'm rather unhappy with how resurrection (and, incidentally, time travel, and Yozi escaping to Creation) are handled in Exalted. The fact that they are simply impossible, period, seems to me just irritatingly heavy-handed, especially that reincarnation and weird time anomalies are a thing in Exalted.

                        While I understand the reasons to remove these elements from the games as something casual, I really regret the rich body of tropes which are removed with them. Now, if you are desperately trying to bring back from dead your loved ones, you cannot make this struggle appropriately dramatic, since everyone at the table just know you will fail.

                        I think it would be much better if the writers would simply leave this as a sidebar: "Why you should avoid resurrection in your games and why this will never be a published spell" and simply explain how DnD-esque spells would completely ruin the drama of death. But I definitely wouldn't remove plot-hookiness and rich context of that very trope (we houseruled that potentially resurrection and time travel could be a thing in the setting, but for all what we know in-game, they are impossible).

                        Philosophical problems of continuity of self as an in-world justification for impossibility of resurrection seems a bit of a stretch here, since you could have them even in a setting with explicitly functional DnD-style resurrection.

                        Notice, that you could pose analogous problems concerning continuity of, say, buildings (and the object-continuity problems are also discussed in philosophy in such contexts). Meanwhile, we have no sidebar saying "no magic can bring a wooden chair to existence once it was burnt down, because how ontology works in the setting. However, you can reconstruct that chair perfectly." and indeed such a sidebar would be extremely awkward. I could imagine some deeply mythological justification for why resurrection could not happen (some Dark Mother or Oblivion involvement is an interesting suggestion though), but bringing in philosophy for justification of that fact seems nitpicking.

                        I mean, philosophical discussion here is important and fascinating in real life, but used here seems rather irrelevant. The notion of causality is also discussed and yet no one sane would ever write in the book "magic cannot cause object to move, since causality as a concept is fishy".
                        Last edited by Lanic; 02-04-2020, 04:42 PM.

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                        • #13
                          If I had to come up with an in-universe reason why resurrection is impossible, I'd say it's because the Celestials enforce the rules of mortality upon Creation as an immutable function of their very Essence.

                          Alongside their geas to never harm the Primordials, the Celestials were also instilled with a geas to ensure that all denizens of Creation who aren't Primordial must not be able to recover from death and dissolution, to ensure the Primordials could get rid of their enemies permanently.

                          Although the Primordials have been defeated, the Celestials can never stop obeying the rules the Primordials bound them by, and thus mortality will remain in Creation so long as there are gods in the firmament.


                          Cue mad Circle of Exalts going on a quest to destroy all Celestials in order to defeat Death

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Isator Levi View Post

                            Surely that's how True Resurrection always worked? It goes Raise Dead for a fresh and fairly intact corpse, Resurrection for restoration from as little as a body part, True Resurrection for just springing them back from nothing.

                            A cleric needs to be like, level 18 to learn that spell, don't they? Did Fifth Edition lower that?
                            17 according to my check. I don't know if that was always the thing, whenever it came up in my experience it was treated like you needed part of the body for it function. (To the extent of one group carrying around locks of eachother's hair in case the cause of death was fell into a volcano, disintegrate, or the like.)

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by nalak42 View Post
                              I don't know if that was always the thing, whenever it came up in my experience it was treated like you needed part of the body for it function.
                              True Resurrection has never, since D&D 3e days, needed any body parts, just the name of the person. I believe True Res was introduced in 3e, but I don't know for certain, and it's possible it worked differently in earlier editions. But it's definitely been "you don't need any part of the body" since 3e.

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