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All religions in our world teach us that the soul is the sum of a human being and is eternal. It is a metaphysical form that exists separate from the body, and yet is intrinsically tied to it. The body is the shell that our souls inhabit in order to interact with the physical world. These shells are called avatars, for they house our souls and protect it from outside forces. When our avatar dies, our souls depart to the spiritual realm, no longer having the shell to anchor it.

Technology has reached a point in which our souls can be transferred to different avatars. Various shells can be made of an individual through a magically chemical process. If a person dies before their rightful time (i.e., accident or misadventure), their soul immediately transfers to an alternate avatar, and the person wakes up in their new body within seconds. Private insurers offer this option to their customers. There are certain rules to this system:

  1. The avatar must be a genetic clone of the original, or the soul would not be compatible with it.

  2. This process isn't a form of immortality and doesn't protect from aging. While the body may be in perfect condition, souls have an expiration date in this life, and it carries its years with it from the old avatar to the new one.

  3. Avatars are tattooed with a magical rune that the soul uses to link to it after death, allowing the transfer to take place. Wherever a person happens to die, the soul can use that rune to transfer itself anywhere in the world.

There are problems with this system. Cloning an individual is relatively inexpensive due to advances in technology to the point where it is no longer exclusive to the rich. This can cheapen the importance of life in many ways. Murder or torture would not be as serious a crime as it is today, as a person would simply be transferred to their new body. This could also encourage people to be more reckless and take dangerous risks without thought to the consequences, as careless mistakes can be solved by slipping into a new avatar. Some people may simply want to experience what death is like, or kill themselves when in pursuit in order to escape law enforcement or prison.

I want this cloning process to be used as a last resort, as a form of private insurance. Say if someone suffers a grievous injury that medical science cant fix, or contracts a terminal illness that can't be cured, this would be an option. How can I make this possible?

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    $\begingroup$ Torture would be a MORE serious crime. Scarring the body is temporary in your world, Scarring the soul is far more permanent... $\endgroup$ – Demigan Feb 2 at 20:16
  • $\begingroup$ When someone is cloned, do they get the memories of their previous body? Where are these clones stored? Does everyone get a clone? Why wouldn't law enforcement have access to these cloned bodies (sort of like a hospital)? Can you have multiple clones? There would be so many ways to abuse a cheap cloning system that I doubt there wouldn't of been any laws formed during the rise of cloning. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Feb 4 at 5:54
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For every thing we desire, we must weigh the cost.

  • I want to buy a new car but this requires not just the cost of buying it but higher insurance too.
  • I want to switch jobs but the cost of that to me is that the commute is longer and I won't see my kids as much.
  • My kid wants to go to a long summer program. The cost to her parents is mostly money but the cost to her is she will miss out on seeing her friends and having a carefree summer.

You talk about the financial cost, but that's never the only cost. Depending on the thing in question, finances might rule it out for most people but, those other costs are always there.

So what is the cost of using a clone should my body suffer a fatal injury or illness?

  • A legal review every time it happens? I'd make this a minimum. No one should be able to escape the law by committing suicide then waking up in a new body. Paperwork man! There's always paperwork. Just getting your fingerprint records transferred is a hassle.
  • A rehabilitation period? You say the soul wakes up in the new body within seconds, but that doesn't mean they're ready to go. Every body is different. My new body might have the same DNA but it doesn't have the 95% healed broken leg from 5 years ago or the muscle pulls from last weekend's dance-a-thon. It will take some getting used to. Plus the psychological adjustment. Make rehab a requirement and you stop the most frivolous uses.
  • A limit on how many times you can switch bodies? This is perhaps the most helpful one for your needs. I wouldn't hesitate to switch bodies if I had terminal cancer or was in a horrific car wreck. But if I could only do it once or twice in my soul's lifetime, I wouldn't do it for a bum knee or a case of chickenpox that left some scars on my face.

There will be many more. Find one or more and incorporate them. There will still be more risk-taking (and probably more cigarette smoking) but you can keep nearly everyone from using this insurance except in dire conditions.

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I expect this question to be VTC'd because it is completely to your opinion what answer is the best, regardless...

Its not about money, but about time. You have only a select amount of people able to perform the rituals, and they can only do so many rituals per day. This means people wont be as careless or thrill-seeking, as you'll be on a list that determines when you can get your ritual done. People with circumstances (I'm about to die/I'm seriously injured/maimed for life/handicapped) will go up this list and are handled sooner or right away. Ofcourse for your next ritual you'll be at the bottom of the list again so dont have any accidents that kill you within minutes before anyone can repeat the ritual...

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I think the easiest way to make this a scarcer last resort type of thing would be to make the soul-rune a touch more problematic.

So, maybe the runes take some cost on a soul as long as they exist - it's sorta constantly tugging one away from the body, yes? Even if it can't draw someone out prematurely (which would be an awesome counterbalance even if rare), it may cause, hm, wear or other side effects while the rune exists. Fewer people would want to suffer something now for something they're aware is a maybe-in-the-future, the fewer the more (potentially) severe it could be, but it would still be very attractive to those who know they have cause to fear. And even for those with clones, they would want to not have the rune activated until they have a reason, which would be pretty close to time-of-use - maybe even some have delayed too long, and didn't make it (plot points).

To prevent more than one backup (for those deeply paranoid), maybe having two soul-runes in existence conflicts somehow... increases the soul-burden or wear, or makes it possible for souls to get "lost" once dead (confused between two runes or possible destinations).

This could also possibly work to make the soul-backup a once in a life thing, since the replacement body one already has, of course, has a rune on it. So crafting another replacement body means at some point there are two soul-runes in existence, or else none for the overlap while one is being erased and the other built... which can increase the possibility of something going wrong, either an extra burden before or after or some greater possibility of an interrupted or incomplete transfer, delays, difficulty attaching or remaining attached to one's body (old or new), etc.

Of course, if the option you go with just increased the odds of something going wrong, you could still have a second-clone-situation occur but very rarely and in only the most desperate situations - plot points :)

Probably neither would completely solve the problem, especially for those desperate or crazy enough to feel the cost is worth it, or who is reckless or arrogant enough to think it won't matter to them, but they might go quite a ways into making it less likely to be used frivolously.

And if you combine it with Cyn's excellent answer, and have other non-monetary costs going along with the transfer, social costs, medical ones, time lost, and other things... well, you could probably keep it to something almost always reserved for medical necessities, and for the rest of the time, well, drama means plot points.

PS - if there's anyone interested in limiting the use of clones-as-backups in universe, well, these suggestions need not necessarily be quite true as long as they're common enough beliefs to work as a control. Maybe by law enforcement authorities concerned with those creating dangerous situations or gaming consequences, maybe by spiritual authorities concerned with what arrogance or recklessness will do to people's natures, maybe record-keepers concerned with how it might be used to slip obligations or interfere with the records of one's life, I dunno. They could have the same concerns you do :)

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I note that your question at the end of your post does not seem to be the question which you asked in the title, and you should really change one or the other. As to the question in your post:

That would seem to be fairly simple. The process requires close proximity or even contact between the policyholder and the shell at the moment of death. Since you (the author) invoked magic, you can simply invoke this principle - that's just how the magic works.

So, if you get shot by a jealous husband, or your sky-scooter crashes, you're out of luck.

However, I think you need to reexamine or restate your basic idea, especially "dies before their rightful time". So, what determines it? How is

suffers a grievous injury that medical science cant fix, or contracts a terminal illness that can't be cured

dying before their rightful time? What does "rightful time" mean if your examples are something else?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think a request for information and/or a suggestion to reexamine the basic idea really belong in an answer. They are more comments. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 2 at 20:02

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