The desire for immortality is a common one, given our innate fear of death. We share the same desire for immortality of our characters. Potions of immortality are often fakes, while spells of unending life invariably turn the caster into a vampire, or a liche or some other evil creature.
What if there was a genuine ‘potion’ that granted the consumer longer life? This could be as mundane as simply drinking elven wine to something as exotic as spice harvested from the lairs of dragons. Each dose added some years to the consumers life, but only to a certain amount. Immortality requires regular doses of the ‘potion’ with a frequency dependant on the strength of the potion. Dragonspice might only be needed once in a decade, adding another 10 years of youth and vitality to the consumer, while the elven wine would need to be comsumed daily.
How would this change your world?
Additional Ideas (6)
Well those who control the anagathics can control the world, they can barter their anagathic agent for temporal powers or immense wealth (with which they can buy more power). They can shape society to their whim by the nature of their distribution.
If anyone can have it, if the have enough Life chips... then they can oppress the poor by keeping them poor.. by dangling immortality infront of them... pushing them into lottery or gambling for Life chips.
If they set up a tournament of champions, only those that survive the gladiatorial and other contests win a dose. Entertainment for the masses and selective development.
If only the rich can have it, then the rich will eventually become poor... as they pour their wealth into anagathics.
You see the point.
In Kerren, they would limit or ignore the existance of the anagathics agent. The existance of anagathics is so against their creedo (and they come from a world where medical life extension through nano-tech is just a bit rarer that common place) that they would purge the knowledge of the anagathic agent from the computer's database and take steps to ensure that people did not learn of it. Sounds fantatical? In many ways, the colonists were fantatics, and the descendents are much the same way.
In Arth, the existance of such substances would cause the Imperium to crumble,and chuck a bit of chaos and war into the Known World. In the Imperial Court, experience determines power and respect. Experience is a serious function of age for the Immortal High Elventi. Certain standard Elventi mutate into High Elventi - showing their divine right to rule (mutations occur due to no tracable factors). High Elventi become court officials based upon their aptitudes and their age/ experience. Do you see the issue brewing?
The existance of anagathics would disrupt Elventi culture. Elventi never wanted to claim that immortality makes them special, thus their right to rule. They claimed experience is the determining function. (Though many do believe that ascention the key factor.) Those who were effectively immortal through the use of the anagathic could upsurp the existing status quo... by becoming surplanting natural immortals... and seizing power... without the divine mandate of ascention (acheiving high elventi status).
This is not that much of a problem now, given the slow Elventi birthrates. Eventually it would create a top heavy government, with too many chiefs and not enough indians.
Now if the anagathic worked for any other species, then the Elventi Imperium would eventually collapse. Immortal Humanti, Dwarventi, et al would eventually bring radically different ideas to the Imperial table and tradition would demand that after a time they be given appropriate powers in the Imperium... yet these people are not living in "The graceful flow of days"/ Elventi time. They live in Humanti time.
(Of course, living a human scaled life with an immortal lifespan will lead to madness, depression, and other insanities. (See Highlander or Forever Knight for good examples) Which these immortals will bring into the imperial government. Given that all Elventi respect the "experienced" without thinking about it, and most Imperial citizen would probably go along with any immortal's orders.... Chaos. The known world will come to a crashing end and a new radically different culture would eventually emerge after all the death, dying, war, plague, etc.
For the record, the life expectancies in Midian (without agathics) are as follows:
Dwarf: 200-350 years
Elf (or other Fae): Immortal
Firp: 40-60 years (legends talk of much older Firps)
Ghoul: unknown; estimated to be at least 100 years outside of hibernation
Hobgoblin: 50-80 years
Human (all varieties): 50-110 years
Killian: 50-800 years (upper end reputed from antiquity)
Ogre: 150-300 years (estimated)
Orck: 100-200 years (cut them in-two and count the rings)
Troll: 40-400 years
What if suddenly it was possible to ressurect people, if it wasn't before? Maybe they had to be dead for only a short time, maybe anyone could be brought back. Maybe it requires a special ritual, maybe only the priests of a certain deity can do it... or maybe any wizard powerful enough.
In any way, the power to bring back one's friends (or enemies) could upset the society much like that genuine medicine. Or even more, as those who die can still come back.
So, what would happen?
Those that control Life and Death, control the world.
Well those who control life and death can control the world. If the process is "easy" and performable on any recently dead person, those who can will have an insane amount of influence over society. They could sculpt society to their purpose, as they could selectively wield their ability.
This is similar to what I said about Anagathics, If anyone can have it, if the have enough Life chips... then they can oppress the poor by keeping them poor.. by dangling immortality infront of them... pushing them into lottery or gambling for Life chips.
If they set up a tournament victories, contests, or quests that must be met before the person is deemed worthy. You could limit who gets the "reset" and have them achieve any goal you want... Nobody wants to die.
If only the rich can have it, then the rich will eventually become poor... as they pour their wealth into resurects.
Now this gets even worse. Inheritence? What inheritence? People will be able to keep it for even longer, and they won't die off so the young can get it.
Revolt between the have (Those that continue to live) and those that have not (the young and those who can not resurrect) will eventually occur when the differences between the two groups grows too great. Thus we will have a revolt. A civil war like no other.
If the provider of the ressurection is not careful, they will be destoryed. If they simply change their criteria for ressurects, allowing the disenfrancised access to it, they might survive the revolt.
In Kerren, this would be eliminated. It is against their belief system. These people honestly believe that life and death are part of the natural cycle and the natural cycle must be preserved at all costs.
On Arth, this will lead to the same kind of issues that anagathics would. However, all it would do is take a simple law, that your birthday resets to your rebirth date, to prevent the reborn from taking advantage of their extended life. You will have those of great experience (with extended life) who will no longer count for positions of power by that simple law.
(there might be some special laws to not reset the birthday in the cases of assassination... because you could circumvent a person by killing them off, but since they don't stay dead, you don't feel bad about it).
Many thanks for the quote Moon!
The interesting thing about large systems, be it an organism, or society, or in our area of interest, a game world, there is a constant effort towards balance. Things that upset the balance have a natural tendancy to smooth themselves out in sometimes spectacular fashion.
Welcome to a somewhat complete summary of Toynbee's work. Society is an interplay of competing inputs. The Society/ group develops various adaptions to fufill the needs of the society and group. In times of crisis, the structures break down... things unimportant are stripped away... and the surviving structures form the foundation of the society/group.
Toynbee, Arnold Joseph
1889-1975, English historian; nephew of Arnold Toynbee.
Arnold Joseph Toynbee (April 14, 1889 - October 22, 1975), British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934 - 1961, (also known as History of the World) was very popular in its time.
Toynbee, a prolific author, was the nephew of a great economic historian, Arnold Toynbee, with whom he is sometimes confused. Born in London, Arnold J was educated at Winchester College and Balliol College, Oxford. He worked for the Foreign Office during both World War I and World War II. He was Director of Studies at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (1925-1955) and Research Professor of International History at the University of London.
Toynbee was interested in the seeming repetition of patterns in history and, later, in the origins of civilisation. It was in this context that he read Spengler's Decline of the West and although there is some superficial similarity, both men describe the rise, flowering and decline of civilisations, their work moved in different directions.
Toynbee agreed with Spengler that there were strong parallels between their situation in Europe and the ancient Greco-Roman civilization. Toynbee saw his own views as being more scientific and empirical than Spengler's, he described himself as a "metahistorian" whose "intelligible field of study" was civilization.
In his Study of History Toynbee describes the rise and decline of 23 civilisations. His over-arching analysis was the place of moral and religious challenge, and response to such challenge, as the reason for the robustness or decline of a civilisation. He described parallel life cycles of growth, dissolution, a "time of troubles," a universal state, and a final collapse leading to a new genesis. Although he found the uniformity of the patterns, particularly of disintegration, sufficiently regular to reduce to graphs, and even though he formulated definite laws of development such as "challenge and response," Toynbee insisted that the cyclical pattern could, and should, be broken.
Toynbee's books, huge in scale, achieved wide prominence but he was more admired by the History reading public than by fellow historians, who criticised him for contorting information to fit his alleged patterns of history.
The ideas he promoted had some vogue (Toynbee actually appeared on the Cover of Time magazine in 1947). They have not however proved to be of decisive influence on other historians. Toynbee's work was subject to an effective critique by Pieter Geyl and an article written by Hugh Trevor-Roper, "Arnold Toynbee's Millenium" - descibing Toynbee's work as a "Philosophy of Mish-Mash" - dramatically undermined Toynbee's reputation.