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Lichdom through the Arcana

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  • Lichdom through the Arcana

    Magical immortality: One of the myriad forbidden fruits of Awakened society, pursued by probably far more than who'd ever admit to it. Prolonging one's lifespan is simple enough with the proper spells (and usually doesn't even require Mastery to get decent mileage out of it), but willworkers are nothing if not also innovators, and the twin daggers of obsession and paranoia create fertile ground for increasingly esoteric variations on a same, grim theme.

    I wanted to create a thread to brainstorm ways outside the obvious that a mage might attain Lichdom, examining methods through the lenses of the ten Arcana. I'll put my first ideas here; feel free to contribute yours. Hubris is a Fallen concept, after all.

    Death: One of the more straightforward choices for the path, but maybe you think ghost mages are getting a little dépassé (and you've seen what the Underworld does to a person, thanks but no). You could always try shunting your deaths onto others (especially if you've been brushing up on Space, Fate, and Time). A Shielding spell should keep the fatal moment at bay (though of course none of the agony leading up to that point, so it might be best to make arrangements in advance). Perhaps you could turn your soul stone into a kind of phylactery, hm? Or, if you're feeling brave, maybe you could try replacing your soul with one of those curious half-ghosts who are always wanting a second chance in the world of the quick, or maybe just turn yourself into a corporeal undead and be sure to perform regular magical upkeep.

    Fate: A clever, Witch-thought means of avoiding death is to ensure that it happens on your terms. It may seem counterintuitive, but Patterning a Doom for yourself that requires specific, obscure conditions to fulfill means that most of the time, you don't have to worry about stray bullets, virulent diseases, or errant bowling balls. Just make sure you word your prophecy wisely; Macbeth got screwed over because he didn't know what a C-section was. Or what if you turned yourself into a Destiny? What would that even mean? Only one way to find out.

    Forces: Other Liches might be all ephemeral this and lifespan that, but you know what can't be so easily dispelled or bound into servitude? A thunderstorm. Sure, turning yourself into an extreme environment or weather pattern might put a damper on your social life, but it turns out the stratosphere is also chock full of Mysteries to uncover, so distant and unknown to your landbound peers. Or maybe convert your body into electricity, and upload yourself to a computer mainframe. Surf the Internet forever. Delete your enemies' Twitter accounts. Live forever as an arcane meme.

    Life: It's probably the first that comes to a mage's mind, in general strokes. But it's in the specifics where all the possibilities reveal themselves as a smorgasbord of undying delights. Keep your body young and healthy by purging it of toxins constantly is a reasonable step one. How about Weaving into yourself the biological immortality of Turritopsis dhornii next? Thinking about Unraveling the cellular death programmed into the building blocks of your being? Not a bad idea, though it might require a balancing act to avoid riddling yourself with cancers. You could try stealing the lifeforce of others for an unexpected strain of vampirism. Or just Make a clone of yourself from time to time and transfer over your consciousness and soul for some guilt-free body swapping.

    Matter: The main dilemma for an Alchemist who wants to live forever is whether they want a tricked-out robot body made of the most durable metals known to any realm, or an ultra-refined synthetic form nigh-indistinguishable from the real deal. After that point, the world is really just yours to explore as you see fit. If you're still attached to your flesh and blood, you're still in an ideal position to dabble in Fallen alchemy, and add your own personal twists to lifespan-extending potions and the like. Everyone knows that colloidal silver is a dangerous fad, but what happens if you Perfect it first. . .

    Mind: Every Mastigos flirts with becoming a pure thoughtform, divorced from the crude material realm, at some point or another. For those not ready for pseudo-Nirvana, there's always the way of the body thief. It's more than a little unsavory, of course, but you'll get used to it (or use magic to modify your sense of morality). Plus, you'll get to experience life from some many different viewpoints; that's got to be worth something. That said, why do all the work yourself? Cast Social Networking to get five dots of Allies (Immortality Experts) and see what your instant braintrust has to say on the matter.

    Prime: Honestly, you're a little stunned at all the freaks out there who don't think that transforming oneself into an entity made of pure Mana is the Awakened's true birthright and destiny. You exist in your Nimbus, your magical tools, your Hallow, the ley lines making up that Hallow, and every Grimoire you've ever scribed and item you've Imbued. The Truth you sear into the Fallen world will last forever if you're courageous enough to master the proper metaphysical laws. At the very least, you're all set to counter your jealous peers who try to dispel your great works.

    Space: Sympathetic connection shenanigans are just the first step. Everything you touch is you. Everything with a connection to you contains a portion of yourself. They kill you, you just shunt your existence to one of your compatriots. Or vice versa: All the tribulations and degradations you should suffer are instead experienced by others.

    Spirit: You could turn yourself into one, sure. Or, find or make your own with the proper Influences and Numina, bargain with or bind it to serve you. Every kind of Resonance is possible; get yourself an immortality spirit as a Familiar for a symbiotic relationship. Do a controlled Claiming for extra Paradox-free powers. Hell, turn yourself into an idigam. Go nuts. You've got this.

    Time: I'm just saying, Veil of Moments is right there as a basic Shielding spell, but you probably already knew that. Mess around with Temporal Summoning to give yourself cyclical rejuvenation. Maybe you could steal the allotted lifespans of the undeserving, those windowpane-souls who'll never do anything great anyway (you know, you checked). With Mastery, spin yourself more time to your heart's content. Divination + Shifting Sands is the precursor to never having to deal with or care about the consequences of your actions. You probably have quite a few Hung Spells set to go off at various contingencies, just in case. You can never be too careful, you know? If there's ever a thin, blurry line between Lichdom and just being careful, you're the one to walk it.

  • #2
    I mean, why choose? I see no reason not to stack like 20 different types of immortalities just to cover your bases in case you run into something that can counter one of them.


    • #3
      You could mix up Life and Death to do it. First you make a Patterning of Life and Death to make sure you stay alive and your soul bound to any piece of yours that hasn't started decomposing. Then you heal that back to normal. If you preserve clones, blood samples or similar batches in different locations using a Shielding of Death, then you become very hard to kill. Darth Krayth demonstrates how terrifying and awesome this can be. Pair that with a Weaving to remove the Hayflick limit and alter new cells to become ever closer to your prime to achieve immortality.

      Another application is to find a ghost and use a Weaving to bind your life to their Death. So long as they aren't destroyed or pass on, you cannot die. Hopefully the caster is smart enough to use a Reach for a one way link. Thrysus are naturally equipped to do this with spirits.

      You could also do a Weaving (or Patterning perhaps ? Not sure) of Life/Death so all the damage you take is shifted to someone else. Fate could do this too, but also into an object, like a guardian effigy.

      You could also make lucky amulets using a Shielding of Fate. You name [Potency] hazards and luck keeps you away from mundane sources of it, with supernatural ones causing a clash of wills. If it does happen, you can use a charge to avoid it once, but lose the passive protection for that hazard.

      You could also take inspiration from the Russian folktale of The Soldier & The Vampire. With a Patterning of Life & Death, all damage becomes animals with an instinct to flee and reform, possibly ghosts too or spirits for a Thrysus.

      You could use a Life version of Shaping to....procure....spare parts and adapt them into your pattern.

      A Weaving of Time can make an object age instead of you. Combined with a Veiling to make sure you "age gracefully" means you can continue to spend XP.

      Lastly, you could use a Weaving of Forces to lower the required temperature for your body to function and its overall heat production. Not only would this lower aging and disease progression to a negligible degree, but also render muscle fatigue a lot lower. You would need a cryogenic suit to not suffer from Extreme Heat at room temperature (or a combined Shielding spell) , but its still an option.
      Last edited by KaiserAfini; 03-31-2020, 12:42 PM.

      New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

      The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
      The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)


      • #4
        Some of the limits on Supernal magic can also be circumvented by summoning entities from the Supernal Realms. They have infinite Reach and are not bound by the same restrictions as the Awakened.


        • #5
          Another approach is to use Life magic to engineer a plant that doesn't mutate and produces copycat stem cells. Once they are in a human body, they substitute degraded cells by becoming new ones that replicate the user's in their prime. Now you have an elixir of immortality that can exist independently of you (especially if you make it pass on this characteristic). Can this be abused to create horrible mutations ? Looks at Rapture Be extra careful to add the anti mutation part, would you kindly ?

          An unorthodox approach is to encode yourself into a Legacy, similar to what the True Soul does. Its creepy, but not Left-Handed. Its slower to make backups, but so long as one initiate or Daimonomikon exists, you are legion. Its arguably possible that if they walk like you so much that the universe has a hard time telling you apart, then a summoned entity could complete the process. Such a miraculous revival might be worth the effort. The main challenge is to find adopters, to create a hook to entice hopeful disciples. It could be a lot of work to build a myth or image to do so, but the potential benefits might be worth it.

          New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

          The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
          The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)


          • #6
            I wrote a legacy for accidental Prime/Space lichdom that seems relevant here:

            Some other thoughts:

            Matter - Brewing an elixir of immortality may step in Life's purview a little bit, but you know what? It's also firmly in Matter's thematics. Alchemists have been trying for millennia - and you can succeed where they failed. Moros are literally called Alchemists. Turns out you didn't need Mercury, you needed perfected mercury to create the Philosopher's Stone.

            Forces - Again borrowing a bit of Life's purview here, but the difference between a corpse and a person is about 100 watts. It feels entirely plausible that a Master of Forces - perhaps with Life 2 to supplement it - could turn their body into a self-sustaining dynamo. Thematically, this looks like a person overflowing with vigor, so much that it infects their surroundings. A Forces lich has fire in their eyes, static in their clothes and heat in their touch. Think "barely tamed lightning in a human body" and you've got it.


            • #7
              Building on that idea, technically it should be possible to make a battery that never decays, maybe with perfected materials. Then so long as you recharge it periodically, a Ruling of Forces should be enough to safely move the energy throughout the body.

              However, that method does not account for decay due to age, infirmity or deep wounds. So you might be able to force your body to keep going while being in agonizing pain, similar to Darth Sion.
              Last edited by KaiserAfini; 04-03-2020, 05:30 PM.

              New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

              The Agathos Kai Sophos, an Acanthus Legacy of strategists (Mind/Time)
              The Szary Strażnik, an Obrimos Legacy of Scholars of the Glyphs of Fate (Fate/Prime)


              • #8
                It's a horror-themed game so I feel like any path to life extension or immortality should require some sort of debased sacrifices, incur some terrible side-effect, or both.

                On one hand the magic system provides plenty of routes to effective immortality for players that are uncontroversially within the written rules, and on the other the theme and setting of the game spells out pretty clearly that immortality is elusive and mages who pursue it as an obsession come across as suspicious to most mages. The game expressly wants to have it's cake and eat it too on this particular subject.

                "Why is immortality so hard to achieve when it seems like it should be fairly easy" is a decent mystery.
                Last edited by galivet; 04-04-2020, 12:20 PM.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by galivet View Post
                  The game expressly wants to have it's cake and eat it too on this particular subject.
                  This is why 'immortality' is such an issue on the forum, it's not just the game that wants to have its cake and eat it too. Obviously there have been threads on it before. And a recurring theme is those wanting immortality to also want to be, beyond their immortality, mortal. So while becoming part ephemeral and gaining immortality through that was an option early in first edition, it's traditionally seen as an unacceptable method. The other clause they seem to dismiss is something that can be dispelled or otherwise circumvented, like espritdecalmar's Fate magic description. Death on your own terms even a thousand years from now wasn't accepted as immortality since it ends in death, and can be brought about by a particularly wily antagonist. One of the easiest of options, the Time one (mentioned in this first post and the one in the link) was dismissed in the second one because it's dispelled and has some sort of drawback. I think this thread managed to avoid the trap of 'What's the way to perfect immortality?' by posing it as 'Other ways of immortality,' which was smart and obviously leads to more creative ideas.

                  Even the developer pointed out that immortality is within reach (and there's an example mage in the first chapter of the second edition core who's been around for over a thousand years), it's just going to lead to changes that, while not involving public baby-eating, are still going to have flaws and cause the Orders to try to keep you out of their politics. The only real thing keeping you from doing it is your own estimation of the cost and willingness to pay it, and in turn your PCs.

                  To throw a couple cents in, making deals with ephemerals of the appropriate power level and theme can also lead to immortality.


                  • #10
                    I dont know if it would be forces, but what about manipulating gravity to where it does not slowly cause aging? Maybe not complete immortality, but maybe it helps


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Primordial newcomer View Post
                      I dont know if it would be forces, but what about manipulating gravity to where it does not slowly cause aging? Maybe not complete immortality, but maybe it helps
                      Gravity doesn't cause aging.

                      Mentats - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Mind/Forces) built around being a human computer; Thaumatech Engineers - a 2e Free Council Obrimos Legacy (Matter/Prime) focusing on the creation of Imbued items and the enhancement of Sleeper technology


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by proindrakenzol View Post

                        Gravity doesn't cause aging.
                        Gravity affects you physically over time, but then again, so does lack of gravity. I just meant that making to where gravity does not negatively affect you could make you last a bit longer, at least in terms of physical shape


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by galivet View Post
                          It's a horror-themed game so I feel like any path to life extension or immortality should require some sort of debased sacrifices, incur some terrible side-effect, or both.
                          It does. It's just that the game relies almost entirely on the ST to actually come up with the consequences to their players' actions. Because it's an ST-driven RPG.

                          I've said it many times before: in Mage, everything is possible, and the only question is what it costs. The easiest expression of this is stuff like Mana and Reach and Willpower: basic fundamental game mechanics. Social costs of various kinds are built into the setting, but it's up to the ST to not only implement them but convey it to the players as a cost. Interesting metaphysical costs are also entirely possible; it's just that it means the ST has to get particularly creative, or happen to read of a good idea they can make relevant.

                          Immortality is just one of these things. Become immortal? It's entirely doable. No problem. If you want consequences, people can suggest those. The best ones are built off the details of how you became immortal. And then you have a story. So if you want to play out a story about immortality, figure out how you'd do it, talk it over with your ST, make it your long-term Obsession, and react to the consequences.

                          I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
                          An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
                          Guanxi Explanations: 1, 2, 3.


                          • #14
                            espritdecalmar Why stop at one Arcanum? Let's mix and match!

                            Life + Death: Your physical form exists in a blurry state between alive and dead. Your very soul isn't quite occupying a specific coordinate of your Pattern, it's evenly distributed throughout your every single strand of DNA, kinda like how Plasm interacts with the cells of Sin-Eaters. The only things which can cause lasting damage to you are those which lie outside the dichotomy of life and death entirely, because whenever your Life-Pattern can't handle something, it transfers the work to your Death-Pattern, and vice-versa. And from a Supernal perspective, something which is both living and dead but neither? That's probably Abyssal, or maybe something from the Strange Spheres.

                            Another side-effect of this approach to Lichdom is that your every inch of thanatological tissue has Persistent Resonance (Death) and also counts as a universal Ghostly Anchor, thus you can use your own pseudo-flesh to prepare Essence-meals for ghosts and death-spirits. Maybe even create permanent vessels for them, why not? Furthermore, you don't really have Health anymore: you have Corpus. For the most part, this is identical, but certain spells and equivalent supernatural abilities which would directly mess with the mechanics of Health also need a Death component.

                            The biggest drawback to this type of of immortality is that the interplay between Life and Death has essentially turned you into an unstable and erratic undead-blob. You need regular sacrifices to maintain physical and metaphysical coherence. Such sacrifices consist of consuming tissues similar to your own, which can be done by growing specialized Homunculi (i.e. creatures similar to those made via Matter 4's "Golem" Rote, but with Life instead of Matter).

                            This wouldn't be so bad, if it wasn't for the fact that you need to put a ghost of at least Rank 2 inside the Homunculus for it to work at all, which is destroyed in the process of consumption. Even if you are a Master of Death and can create ghosts from nothing, you're still bringing an innocent and self-aware entity into the world who will only experience a brief period of nothing but agony and horror. In other words, better join the Tremere if you don't wanna go Rapt.
                            Last edited by GibberingEloquence; 04-13-2020, 02:49 PM.

                            Let Him Speak.


                            • #15
                              Formalized presentation of the method of Lichdom described in the previous post.

                              Paradoxical Flesh (Life ••••• + Death •••••, Befouled)
                              Practice: Unmaking
                              Primary Factor: Duration
                              Suggested Rote Skills: Medicine, Crafts, Occult
                              Withstand: Stamina
                              The Mage is both alive and dead, but also neither at the same time. For the spell's Duration, he is considered to not have a Health meter at all and thus cannot be physically destroyed. Even reducing him to atoms does not work, all damage and Physical Tilts are merely cosmetic. If seemingly annihilated, he emerges from the nearest Avernian Gate within one day. He can still be affected with magic in other ways, such as immobilizing him or depriving him of his senses. In fact, he is considered a valid target for both Life and Death spells, including any attempts to Counterspell his Paradoxical Flesh. Furthermore, he is considered to have Persistent Resonant Condition (Abyss) for any Abyssal Entities which subvert, violate and corrupt the Arcana of Life and Death. If the Mage would have been destroyed at least once while under the effects of this spell and later it is Counterspelled, baseline reality returns to his Pattern and he dies immediately.

                              +1 Reach And 1 Mana: The Mage has Open Condition instead.
                              +1 or +2 Reach: The Mage selects which Avernian Gate he will emerge from, within a radius of [Potency] in kilometers. If spending 2 Reach, he is not limited by distance. Instead, he can choose any Avernian Gate at all which he has imprinted with his Nimbus within the last [Potency] days.
                              +1 or +2 Reach: The Mage emerges from the nearest Avernian Gate within one hour or one turn, respectively. This may be stacked with the previous Reach option.

                              Let Him Speak.