Thursday, 12 December 2019

[OSR]D66 Mad wizard's research into immortality

D66 Mad wizard's research into immortality 

The Circle of the Lustful: Paolo and Francesca, from Dante's Inferno, Canto V


I was reading the introduction of "return to white plume mountain" yesterday and Keraptis, the wizard bad guy was said to be researching in the field of immortality, following 8 leads (one of them detailed in the book and relevant to the plot). I started wondering what were the other leads he was following and this is the result of my bedtime musings.

Immortality as a trigger for madness

Wizards and magic user in general make very good enemies.
Often, their pragmatism, thirst for knowledge, hunger for power are their tipping point. Each of these traits is all right, even combined, as long as they don't bring you to the point where you start twisting the accepted moral principles.
Research is a point which might tip the scales and bring a magic user to "the dark side" when they start considering that their "crucial research" is worth more than human lives, for example. The research into immortality, for the magic user's own use or for one of his patron's, is a characteristically commonplace goal for extremely powerful magic users. And test subjects are needed, else the magic users won't be able to rework their experiments if they don't work from scratch...
Magic users reaching for immortality are not even bad, per se, just overly enthusiastic (and generally insane).
Here is a table to determine which area of research your batshit crazy big boss was looking into. For really crazy results, roll 3D66 and COMBINE !

D66 Research Topic
Clone: this spell is a way to immortality. But, what if the spell doesn't exist, though? Or if you didn't have the time to grow your clone to a suitable age before you were to die of natural causes?
Golemization: create an indestructible or very durable golem and transfer your consciousness into it. Who cares if you now are now a construct? They don't have to drink, eat, breathe or sleep! That can't be a bad thing, even if it means losing your humanity, right?
Reversing the "fall of man": this highly theological theory is based on the common creation myth than humans were immortal until they angered God (or a god) and were stripped of their immortality as punishment. Maybe if you ask God nicely?
Conscience imprinting into a spell: Keraptis' main research effort was to imprint his consciousness on a spell that would replace any reader's consciousness with a copy of the caster's consciousness. Since this process doesn't kill the caster, his consciousness could be around more than once at the same time. What could go wrong if the separate consciousnesses of a megalomaniac were to antagonize each other?
Controlled rebirth: this one is morally darkisk-gray. Trying to not forget anything before being reborn is not too bad. It starts getting dodgy when you also choose to which unborn child you want your consciousness to be sent to, after your death. And what happens to the soul of the unborn child?
Near Death Experience: If there is a way to go to hell/hades/the underworld, why not try mapping it and its surroundings, looking for a way back to the living. What can go wrong during a near death experience anyway?
Parasitizing: Your body is old and used. Why not using someone else's? If their will is weak enough, you could impose yourself into consciousness around 90% of the time. What could your host do against you in his 10% time anyway?
Alchemy: This has been a standard since the beginning of this discipline. Finding the right ingredients can be an infinite source of quests. What blight do failed potions cause on the test subjects?
Dragon blood: Drinking it? Bathing in it like Siegfried? How do you get the blood anyway? And how fresh must it still be?
Find the source of immortality: Is it a wellspring of Longevity? Do you have to eat Idunn's apples, or the Hesperides’ golden Apples. Do you have to go to the source of the river separating the lands of the living and those of the dead?
Life draining: mythic evil swords often drain health from the enemies of the swordbearer. Draining youth, life expectancy is rarer, but worth much more to an aging dodgy character. Draining the life force can be ritually done, too. Is the life given willingly or unwillingly? Is the ritual cabalistic, demonic, bloody, amorous, spiritual? And how much youth is drained? What does an 8 years old page look like after having got 30 years of his life-span drained?
Vampirism: Why drain life if you can be immortal drinking blood? Who needs a reflection in the mirror? Can you tame the thirsty beast within? Can you be a "light"-vampire drinking only animal blood? What about sun tan? Can you become an immortal vampire without losing your humanity, without becoming a Monster?
Stealing Cat Lives: It is well known the feline bastards have multiple lives. Some say 7, other say 9. Fact is: are they gonna miss one? Will Bastet suddenly pay you an unfriendly visit? Or will the reduced lifetime of the cats cause a plague outbreak?
Lichdom: Eternal life is too difficult to reach? Try eternal undeath! Raise your family, or raise yourself a new family, or servants, or an army! The graveyard's the limit! Just be caful with your Phylactery...
Body function control: eat healthy, harden your mind, be ascetic. Live like a Monk. Supposedly, their timeless bodies can age very slowly. And if the dieting, asceticism, and constant meditating get on your nerves, maybe dissecting a few monks will help understand how to emulate that slow aging without the exhaustingly boring lifestyle...
Pact with a higher patron: There are very powerful beings roaming the material plane, which are no gods, but not far from it. Some will exchange some of their Magic for your eternal servitude. But if what you seek is not borrowed magic power, they will certainly exchange some life energy for your enslavement. Is the Queen of the unseelie court not immortal, herself?
Stasis: there are certain drawbacks to being immortal in stasis. You can’t do anything physical and imposing your will and the world is a tiresome “mind over matter” activity. It’s a bit cold and boring, but you’re not ageing, so there’s that. Who’s the poor person that acts on your behalf? Willingly?
Dorian Greyism: Find an object that ages in your place. What happens if the object is destroyed? What happens if your connection to the object is broken? What if you are on another plane? Maybe that bag of holding is not the safest place to store it...
Grafting: What about exchanging your old body parts against new ones? If a family sells you their kid, you can do whatever you want with that kid, couldn’t you? Anyway, you need those organs more than he or she does… A certain Doktor Frankenstein seem to be able to graft anything… Marvels of this age… A Dr. Miguelito Quixote Loveless grafts mechanical improvements, maybe that’s better? And if you don’t like metal, have his Excellency Momir Vig graft you the cytoplasted hand of an owlbear, claws inclusive...
Decorporation: in this case you would not cheat death, just the “go to another plane of existence”-part of it. After your death, your point is to stay around as an unchanged spirit, forgoing the “getting mad” process. Sure you lose some part of your ability to interact with the world, but now you can go through walls, that counts for something, doesn’t it? Your laboratory might be haunted by a lot of angry spirits though...
Cryomancy: everything decays slower when you keep it cold. Maybe that’s the secret? Keep your body cold but functioning? Maybe you should move to a polar location… Do not forget to get rid of the ice statues of your test subjects before leaving, though...
Gem-Embedding: Dwarves are capable of doing incredible stuff with gems. You might want to embed your consciousness into an incredibly valuable gem. Whoever wears the pendant holding the gem would then be your puppet. Better not lose control or that gem might land in a very lonely safe...
Godhood: Gods are more or less immortal. You just have to ascend to godhood. Easy peasy. Maybe you should kill an unpopular god and take over his place in the pantheon? Be ambitious!
Alcohol: You can preserve a lot of stuff in Alcool. But there is one alcohol that will keep you alive for years: Ambrosia, the wine of the gods. Who cares that they use souls to fertilise the divine grapes? Who’s your dealer anyway? And what does he want in exchange?
Blight: How about harnessing the power of the land and transform its energy into life force? Tapping into the leylines sounds a bit dangerous for beginners, but you are able of mind! And the withering of the land around you is a small price to pay to live a few centuries longer, isn’t it?
Corruption: Everyone has a price, any powerful ruler knows that! Even the ferryman can be bribed. That might be a quite heavy tribute, yearly, but what the heck, if you have the money it’s worth it. Even if the price includes a soul every year. As long as it’s not yours...
Dark dealings: There is a life force exchanger, just around the gates of hell. Sure he does look like a devil, and his price in souls is steep, but it’s worth a yearly pilgrimage… And those kids would soon have died of famine anyway...
Timenapping: Steal your younger body from the past and implant your consciousness into it. Who cares about time paradoxes? It’s always easier to implant your consciousness into your own body. It’s a bit traumatic, but nothing you couldn’t handle, right? Or is that the reason you keep experimenting on others?
Chronolooping: This is another time trick to cheat death, sending your consciousness into your younger body, decades before. You relive the same years again and again, but you can relive your life and try to avoid the mistakes you made… Maybe you’ll find another way to live longer along the next try...
Law: you can try foolproofing a wish spell. Read all laws of hell, heaven and the planes. Try to find a dumb Genie. Try your hypotheses on your poor apprentices. The genies were always wiser, up to now...
Augment durability: Statues can overcome millenaries. Stone is just durable. If you could become stone without losing your mobility, that’d be perfect… With “flesh to stone” and “animate statue”, you can try to cast everyday until the effect is permanent… Might work one day. Sadly, you missed one “animate statue” on Igor and it seems it does not work on his statued self anymore...
Reverse aging: There is a legend that if you are able to reverse your blood flow, you will get younger again, reversing the aging process. Just have to find a way to do that. And do it again once you’re much younger… It would be sad if you’d forget the ritual and die of getting too young...
Devilish pact: you’d have to have a really yummy soul for a devil to grant a longer life. Unless he thinks you’d die of unnatural causes before your time anyway. The strings attached might be really daunting. Are you sure you read all the fine print?
Self-mummification: Mummification is a long process. Find the right bandages, not too itchy, but still long lasting… And once you’re ready to never rot, there’s the mess with having your bowels removed. And all this gold for your mask! A pity everyone that worked on you gotta die...
Angel’s grace: Angel are immortal, thank to their grace. It is not easy for a mortal to extract it, and even more trickier to ensnare it. You have to consume it with parsimony, but one grace won’t last for long… How many Angels are you read to kill over your immortality? Do you think you’ll go anywhere else than directly to inferno?
Gambling: Death is a gamer, but the odds are always in his favor. He will always accept a game before taking you. The more you gamble, the more death is interested! Cheating death, now, is quite another matter… Maybe you should challenge him to survive the original “Tomb of Horrors”, with unloaded dice...

Other Topics?

Immortality is not the only crazy topic an unstable yet overpowerful magic user can channel his efforts towards...
If you want other crazily impossible topics, i recommend having a look at Tristan Tanner's d66 table of experiments that go terribly wrong (on his bogeymanscave blog)

Do you miss any kind of fantasy research in this list?
Then, add it in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. It just goes to show you, magic users reaching for immortality are beyond the pale!