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A demigod is a mortal being infused with divine energy. This essence comes from a divine spark in their soul that activates due to some external traumatic event. This spark is very rare, and most people with them go through life never realizing their potential. These gods are super-human in a way similar to Captain America, and are smarter, stronger, longer-lived, and tougher than regular mortals.

On the rare occasion that a god dies, through murder, war, etc., their soul departs to the afterlife. However, their bodies are incapable of rotting, and remain in perfect condition. Their organs and genetic material are still super-charged and continue to remain viable. Because of this, there is an black market that trades in these organs and other body parts. An individual can use these parts to replace their own, gaining the benefits of those supercharged organs, such as kidneys, liver, eyes, etc. A human will never be able to achieve the full benefits of these transplanted parts, due to the divine essence being dissipated. Nevertheless, they will be leagues ahead of any other mortal.

Ignoring law enforcement and cost, I need a reason for why the sale of these organs in the underworld isn't more widespread. A god's superhuman body parts and organs are fully compatible with other mortals. Anyone with the money to pay for these illegal transplants would be able to supercharge their own bodies with them. While it has been outlawed, there will always be a black market for them. Despite the benefits of their use, they are not widely preferred compared to mortal organs. There is a significant failure rate to the process, even though most transplants are successful. Why would this be the case?

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  • $\begingroup$ When you say "I" do you mean yourself as in the world builder? $\endgroup$ – user42528 Mar 2 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ "[In] what ways can I prevent etc.": you, the writer and storyteller, are the paramount supreme implacable divinity of the world you build. Your will is unbreakable law. Maybe using demigod bodyparts makes men impotent. Maybe it is a great unwashable sin. Maybe the gods smite the impudent mortal. Maybe it engenders a deadly curse down to the seventh generation. Etc. Etc. This is what primarily opinion based means. Ah, and the sentence beginning "because of this" is a non sequitur -- the conclusion does not follow logically from the premise. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 3 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ What tech level is the setting? If surgery is more likely to kill you than not there is not going to be much demand for it. The transplant may take but if the person dies of infection anyway... $\endgroup$ – John Mar 3 at 18:23
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    $\begingroup$ Do note that you'd likely have the same problem with black market even if body parts didn't do anything at all. Just look at the world we have now - poachers are driving species into extinction because of the wrong idea that these animals can help with a bunch of stuff they don't actually help you with. So, I can see a demigod being organ harvested even if this did nothing at all. Also, I agree with @AlexP - there is no way to answer this within the confines you've put forward. Any answer would just be an exercise in creative writing and just made up, not based on anything. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Mar 3 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ "Incapable of rotting" doesn't mean "indestructible". You okay with funeral pyres doing away with remains? $\endgroup$ – The Nate Mar 5 at 17:44

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An elaborate black market would be inevitable. What also would be inevitable would be the backlash from the demigod community. 500 year old supermen will know each other and keep tabs. Loki knows at some level Thor will have his back and vice versa. They show up at each other's funerals, shared pain of watching friends die.

When one of them dies under mysterious circumstances, and the body isn't fit for burial, one of them is going to be curious enough to look around. When they figure out what the mob was up to, it's simply a matter of getting the gang back together.

When they win, they will find the leaders of the organ ring and do things that would make Marcellus Wallace say "That's a bit too much." In hundred years it will be rumors, but it will be enough to keep people honest.

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  • $\begingroup$ "I'm going to get classical on his ass." -- Heracles $\endgroup$ – The Nate Mar 5 at 17:43
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Cults.

Not the modern meaning of that word where "cult" stands for "abusive organization that takes your money and saps your free will." I mean the cults of old that were extremely dedicated individuals coming together as adjuncts to religious organizations.

If gods die infrequently, there wouldn't be that many of them. Each dead god would have its own cult of caretakers. They would build a monument (or at least a small shelter) to protect the body and guard it day and night. An entire religious community would spring up around each god's body, just like various Catholic communities organized around having relics (pieces of the bodies of people later deemed saints).

While theft wouldn't be impossible, there's a huge difference between getting ahold of a body lying in a basement vs managing to get to one that is the center of an entire church.

The most vulnerable point is the transition between death and establishment as relics in a new church. The existing religious establishment would step immediately and guard the body while figuring out what to do with it. They would provide funds for the new church buildings and staff. Years later, the new church would be self-sustaining and able to contribute funds back to the larger religious organization.

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  • $\begingroup$ The relics aren't quite sacred. The precedents of multiple heads of a single saint stored in different monasteries are widespread. You can never be sure it's exactly the demigod's body the cultists store in that sarcophagus, since you only have their word for it. Moreover, the high price of the body provides additional incentive for the cult members to replace either several organs or the whole body. It could even be done openly, with the cult leadership declaring that Father X has so distinguished himself in his service to the gods that they themselves allow him to use the body parts. $\endgroup$ – DrunkenSailor Mar 4 at 10:51
  • $\begingroup$ @DrunkenSailor Relics are often on display though, protected like a museum piece. In other cases, they are brought out once a year for people to see. While you're absolutely right on how this could go, it would be up to the author. There are ways to make it impossible to get away with theft of the body parts (or near impossible if the author so chooses). Some good/creepy pictures here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relic $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 4 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ Sure! What I'm saying is, if OP goes with that solution, they'll have to put up some explanation why the cults are so incorruptible. $\endgroup$ – DrunkenSailor Mar 4 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @DrunkenSailor Indeed. "True believers" works for the most part, coupled with the fact that it's highly illegal to use god bodies for personal gain. If there are exceptions, that is up to the author. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 4 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ They don't have to be incorruptible, they just need to control the rate at which the black market consumes the parts to answer the question. $\endgroup$ – The Nate Mar 5 at 17:47
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1: Graft vs host disease.

Of course if I have a kidney transplant, I might reject the kidney. My immune system must be suppressed to some degree to prevent this.

But in some circumstances and especially bone marrow transplant, it is the graft itself that is the threat. If I take on a bone marrow transplant, that foreign immune system might reject the rest of my body.

So too these god organs. The organ might object to the circumstances it finds itself in. But a semi divine organ is more subtle than an immune system. It might attack. Or it might start remaking and revising the rest of the body to suit its preferences. At first that might seem like a good thing. But the personality, inclinations and other aspects of the new host are on the list too. The recipient of such a graft might find that he or she was gradually becoming someone other than the person who initially agreed to receive the graft.


2. Ascension.

When demigods die, the body heads upwards. The bonds holding them to earth are gone with their lives, and the divine stuff of their bodies has kinship with sky and heavens more than earth. Hercules is a good example - a demigod who on death physically ascended upwards from his pyre.

If you want a piece of a dead demigod you need to be ready when he dies, because his body is going to move upwards at a good clip. Even parts cut loose from the bodies experience a sort of antigravity and need to be kept in lead boxes. Presumably there are accumulations of the dead demigods somewhere high in the sky, indestructible, immutable, floating around forever.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for Graft vs Host. I wouldn't upvote the "Ascension" idea though, I feel it goes against OP's intentions ("[their bodies] remain in perfect condition" - not perfect condition while floating in the stratosphere! ;) ). $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Mar 4 at 13:59
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Well, it's the old "everything has a price" saw.

Compatibility

I know you said they are fully compatible, but if you want a bar to doing it, that's the way to do it. Ever try to use an American plug in England? It's just a completely different system. Ever try to put car engine spark plugs in a lawn mower? It's not about full benefit, it's about compatibility, so it might not work at all, and most people might actually die in the process, with a very few being able to benefit. The organs might be supercharged, but people AREN'T. In fact, some unscrupulous folk might just sell an organ more than once, as it keeps killing recipients. Put that in the contract...

Weaknesses/Shorter Life Span

If a God's heart is much stronger, by a huge amount, wouldn't that put stress on all the other systems? You might be God-like, but you also might have a shorter life span or your super-organ might put stress on everything else. If the heart beats harder, maybe your veins can't even handle it. That's just one example. But you can do it with literally any organ.

Transplant Rejection/Dependence

Goes along with compatibility. In this case, your recipients NEED something to keep the organs from being rejected. Study real-life organ donation. Recipients are often on a drug cocktail for the rest of their lives just to keep from rejecting the organ. Can be magical instead or something like ambrosia.

God delusions/Hosting a GOD

You say the genetics are supercharged. OK. So maybe there's an extra problem. You want to use the organs, but instead, the organs use YOU! Basically, the god genetics and such now have a living HOST. Little by little, piece by piece you are being replaced. Maybe, eventually (if magic allows for it) you begin to have their God memories and begin losing yourself in the process. This might not happen all the time, and it might not happen fully, but if the God was killed for good reason, that might be enough for people to be motivated to destroy it or lock it away, especially if the transfer in the past has resulted in "growing a new God." So insanity might be an issue...

Energy Requirements Might not be a bar but is an extra thing. More food is needed to power it all, so anyone using these organs has to be on an extreme high-calorie diet, otherwise they could starve to death. When it's altogether in the God, this doesn't happen, but as it's only ONE organ out of many and only one thing in a HUMAN (or animal) system, the god organ requires more to run. Without this extra energy, the human's own system will be taxed to run the organ.

Taint

With the supercharged genetics, there's a chance that you will stop looking like an ordinary human. Your skin might turn blue, your eyes might change to an unnatural color...in short, people can SEE that you've done this and you have to hide it as it is illegal..

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  • $\begingroup$ Eyes? "I see too well, so I died" $\endgroup$ – Redwolf Programs Mar 3 at 15:29
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    $\begingroup$ @RedwolfPrograms Eyes: "I was driven mad by seeing what man was not meant to see with his tiny moral brain." Eyes are processed through the brain. So yes, literally ANYTHING. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Mar 3 at 19:28
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The supply is limited.

There is only a limited amount of these demi-gods and not all of them end up in the market. At least not fully. Whatever killed them might have outright destroyed large parts of the body. The body might have been lost. The body might have been "acquired" by the people responsible for the death. Or by the government sponsoring the hero. Or it might have been reserved for scientific study.

As such the fair market price for such body parts would be fairly high. If we then assume they are "single use", that after being implanted the divine power dissipates as part of the organ becoming part of the mortal body and the organ cannot be simply recycled using them as an implant becomes expensive. It becomes more profitable to keep the body part than to use it.

The value of the organs should be high and fairly stable or even rising. After all, they are eminently collectible. It is not a "hand, left, of a demi-god" it is the "the left hand of Captain America, the famous hero who..." They are all unique artefacts with an unique background.

There is actually a historical precedent for this in the form of the highly profitable trade of religious relics during the middle ages. I'd expect you could make lot more money by building shrines around the bodies or their parts than by implanting them. Or simply by collecting and trading them like people are doing with other collectibles. Reasonably with the parameters you give you'd have a mix of both.

Given that these body parts are literally divine and "metaphysical", scientific study of them would almost certainly have high potential for fundamental scientific breakthroughs. Even if you hand-wave that "the divine" is beyond science, careful observations of it interacting with your experiments would give you an entirely new way to test things that are well within the reach of science.

These two factors combined with the limited supply mean that if implantation spends the part, the market value of the part, unspent, will almost always be higher than the value of using it. Seeing better than mortal is nice and for the right people it even has high value but that value is limited and "the right people" for whom the value is higher than the market value are rare.

Note that if the market value of the part is not higher than the value of using them people will use them until it is. So as long as the supply is reasonably limited and the parts are single use, implants will always cost more than they are worth and will be limited to the very rich with excess money to burn and people with specific and rare needs. Which is more or less what you wanted.

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The Brightest Candle Burns Half as Long

Sure god parts will supercharge you but just like a supercharger in a car, it adds additional strain on the of the body.

  • A god's eyes will allow you to see much more but the extra sensory input will drive you slowly insane.
  • A god's heart will allow you to run and exert endlessly but increase your chances of a stroke
  • A god's liver detoxifies everything perfectly which means you can't take drugs to treat other ailments or even get drunk.

Basically there is a cost which offsets the benefits foremost is a shorter lifespan and not many people want to live less.

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Divine Retribution.

Pretty much every Demigod sees this act as sacrilege - they only allow organ donation to other Demigods under extreme and unusual circumstances, and a Mortal claiming a Divine Organ is the sort of thing that can make even the fiercest of Nemeses put their conflict on hold to "honour their brethren" and engage in a bout of cooperative smiting.

So, trafficking the bodies could make you a lot of money - if you can find a buyer. Because, the transplant will turn you into "Humanity 2.0" - but in doing so you'll become the target of a very hostile "Humanity 2k"

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Borrowing from Chinese web novels, Heavenly Tribulations. Someone going against the law of the heavens(universe) has to go through the tests of the heavens to be able to fully wield the power of a God. The tests can be physical or mental.

I think this could create an interesting dynamic in your world where there are some who have surpassed the Tribulations and many who haven't.

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  • $\begingroup$ So, if someone transplants an organ, then they have to be tested by the heavens or else the transplant fails? So bad people always fail, so it's not something that they persue? $\endgroup$ – Mathaddict Mar 5 at 16:54
  • $\begingroup$ I wouldn't say "bad" people always fail. The tests can be anything, for example if someone gets an arm transplant the test will be physical based. Maybe a lightening based trial where the strength of the organ/body part determines how many lightening bolts you have to withstand. $\endgroup$ – CptLasky Mar 5 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ So I'm confused about how that addresses the problem of the organs being sold on the black market. $\endgroup$ – Mathaddict Mar 5 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ For example say a black market dealer somehow got an Eye of Superman. Anyone who would attempt to purchase it and try to transplant it would die to the Heavenly Tribulations due to the intensity of the tribulations(whatever they may be), thus lowering the black market demand. However this does contradict the point in the OP where most transplants are successful. $\endgroup$ – CptLasky Mar 5 at 17:31
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Misinformation

Perhaps people of this world have specific beliefs, such as a body needing to be whole to enter the afterlife, or that tainting it with that of another would have significant consequences, even if it does not. It could be simply 'common knowledge' that these drawbacks exist, so that few consider the idea, and most are horrified at the suggestion.

People, even smart people, believe all sorts of things that aren't true. Da Vinci once claimed that salamanders ate nothing but fire, simply because he had read it somewhere.

Predators

If the gods can defend themselves, then maybe eldritch abominations (or whatever) don't risk eating them when they are alive, but are happy to do so when they are dead, even if their bodies are being guarded by lesser creatures, like people.

Such a creature might have its own form of divine spark, predate modern humanity, or simple be so alien that its motives are unknown. Perhaps it is sentient, and chooses not to attack gods for its own reasons, such as kinship or curiosity, but harbors no such restraint against normal people.

Or it could even be a person, or organization, or different type of god. They don't need to eat the meat to hunt it. Perhaps they collect it to protect it, or use it as fuel, or dispose of it, to prevent normal humans from getting power they are unworthy of.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Divided By One, please take the tour and read up in our help centre about how we work: How to Answer As a first answer is's pretty good in my view. It would benefit from giving a single answer and justifying it rather than multiple options - I get the temptation to do that. If you have more than one answer at your fingertips, well, you can always write more than one answer - no law against competing against yourself here. $\endgroup$ – Chickens are not cows Mar 19 at 2:06
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Total destruction

I'm actually puling from Doctor Who on this one, but I think it's a fair extrapolation. When a Time Lord dies, his body is cremated. "A Time Lord's body is a miracle, even a dead one. There are whole empires out there who'd rip this world apart for just one cell", says River Song.

Presumably, a similar process would render a (demi)god's body inert and useless.

Of course, even the ashes would likely be seen as tremendously important to a follower of said god, even if their no scientific data to be retrieved from it.

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A demigod glows with mana (or insert name of magical energy here). All gods, demigods, and even high level mages can track this energy.

The will of a demigod suppresses the emanation of this energy. When the demigod dies, the suppression stops and they start glowing like a beacon to anyone with the right sense.

The demigods have a pact that they will truce until all the remains are properly dealt with. This truce can be dictated by the gods (only our children are allowed a part of our energy), self interest to prevent competition, or to prevent calamity (the human with divine energy may be like a nuclear power plant without control rods).

Heck the pieces themselves may be volatile and be dangerous to the world (like radioactive waste).

This would have the effect that every living demigod would know that one of them died and maybe who (based on the energy signature).

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Because the mortals' body is not prepared, compatible is not necessarily suitable. I find it almost the same that you put the main battery of 16-inch guns of a battleship on a small fishing boat.

I'm aware that human body could reject donated organs, even if complex matching procedure is been done before the transplantation to ensure best match. Our immune system will simply hate exogenous organs (sometimes even our own body parts!) and attack them, so we usually suppress its power to ensure the transplantation to be successful. However, OP is talking about a world that 'most transplantation is successful', so the reason why demi-god's organ is not widely used that I can think of is more of compatibility with other organ/system, not just the immune system.

For example, a demi-god's heart can pump hundreds of liters of blood in a blink of an eye, while our puny blood vessel will completely be destroyed; a demi-god's eye can collect light of all wavelength than no human brain can process properly; kidney of a demi-god might filter human blood so well, that after going through the kidney, the blood basically becomes pure water; and do you remember how Clark Kent was disturbed by his super hearing?

Not to mention their organs might have a very different metabolism process than ours, so glucose is not necessarily the energy source for those transplanted organ. Even if it's the same, with great power comes great energy consumption, so unless the digestive system is also capable (demi-god's intestine?), this single organ will starve, and so will the mortal.

TL;DR: Put an engine with insane power on a normal car will probably just ruin the car; it might not have the same fuel requirement; and even if it's a FTL engine, the energy consumption might be ridiculous for people to actually use it.

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God meat?.. no thanks The process of acquiring super powers through using the organs involves physical and psychological hazards, it involves a painful transformation that very few are willing to undergo. Failure of this process can result in insanity, death. The akira anime comes to my mind, but foremost,this reminds me of how in some ancient asian alchemy texts the consumption of mercury was advocated; but secret alchemical preparation processes and spiritual advancement were necessary (to achieve the superpowers and avoid death/insanity).

** Operation cognitive dissonance ** It would be logical that the powers that be don't want the populace knowing all this stuff that gives a john doe superhero status. So layers of disinformation hide the truth. This doesn't stop the black market since the elite-related people and conspirancy theory investigator types could eventually find about it.

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Supply and demand

Can't sell what you don't have.

Tracking is easy.

Any form of handling will leave traces. Everywhere a body or organ goes leaves an indelible and easily tracked and somehow timestamped trace on people, places and things.

This doesn't make it impossible, but certainly makes it expensive and tricky, which will reduce who is willing to try it, or even receive it.

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