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In my world, a form of magic exists which allows a person to be revived after death. Prior to death, a ritual is conducted which tattoos a rune onto a person's soul. This rune is connected to a large crystalline structure kept in storage at a secure location. When a person dies, their soul is transported to that crystal, where it gestates for a period of 1.5 years. During that time, their physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died. When the process is completed, the person regains consciousness and is decanted, being reborn at the same age that the person was at death. This process is performed in the case of accidental death, or murder. The process can be done as many times as necessary, providing an unlimited number of lives, but cannot prevent dying from old age.

Companies offer this as part of a life insurance package. A person pays for the ritual to be done, then pays premiums every month to keep their crystal functional. Maintaining this is exorbitantly expensive, which can only be afforded by wealthy individuals and their families. Being able to be revived has become a status symbol among the super rich. It has also led to the creation of royal houses, such as House Kardashian, which are made up of wealthy elites and their families.

What I want is for this system to not lead to a situation where the reality of death is cheapened. As the process is expensive, it obviously leaves out the majority of the population. However, a member of House Kardashian, House Buffet, or House Beyonce are likely to get careless if they know they have unlimited backup lives. This can create a situation similar to Altered Carbon, in which people have backup lives and see death as a relative inconvenience.

How can I prevent this resurrection system from cheapening death?

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    $\begingroup$ For the uberwealthy among the strong Materialists, I don't really see how this process can but cheapen death. After all, if you can suspend the soul and vat grow a new body around it, you've essentially created a situation where physical death is no longer a concept. It's been cured. My question is: why & how would an insurance company even be involved? Life insurance is simply a lump sum of cash paid after one dies, having already paid the premiums. There, in your world, this model doesn't make sense at all, for those who can afford it. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Sep 8 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like the entire premise for Altered Carbon. $\endgroup$ – Aron Sep 9 at 5:35
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    $\begingroup$ "During that time, the physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died" How much time before they died ? Seconds ? Minutes ? Hours ? Or the person need to go through a process to create a "checkpoint" $\endgroup$ – Nahyn Oklauq Sep 9 at 8:01
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    $\begingroup$ So if you died of a disease, your body is restored in diseased state and you die again? $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Sep 9 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ Anyway, if you didn't watch Altered Carbon, I highly recommend it, it may give you some useful ideas. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Sep 9 at 9:28

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If the goal is to prevent the "cheapening" of death, then add some consequences to that. You have already done that in a few ways: (a) there's a 1.5 year break before they come back - this is disruptive. A president effectively ends his term; a CEO has to give up his business, and whoever takes over won't be thrilled to give up that power after a year and a half; and so on. (b) This doesn't stop death from old age - there is still death, and still lots of it. (c) Very few in this society can afford the premiums.

Here are some more ideas to make death undesirable:

  • The recovery process is painful: perhaps they feel everything while trapped in the crystal; extreme agony. Or maybe the spell wakes them up in the state they died (for example, car crash wakes them up with broken bones; a drowning victim wakes up with seawater strangling them). Those who go through the process may be thankful for life, but the world has moved on 1.5 years without them, and they sufferer a lot in that time.
  • The spell can have defects: each time it happens they lose motor function, age faster, or something that removes this from being able to happen an unlimited number of times.
  • Require destruction of the original body: if the body doesn't decay (died in an ice sheet, killer put them in a freezer, were embalmed too quickly), then the soul can't escape fast enough and the crystal dies, making death permanent.
  • The soul tattoo can be removed: high-tech assassins charge their clients a premium to not only kill the victim, but remove the tattoo from their soul first, preventing regeneration.
  • Cultural bias: in a society where hated individuals keep coming back, the government might pass laws against the procedure. Since it is known where they will respawn and when, then their house or property may be raided (or taxed by the government) in that time. This can be a type of dual-edged sword: the envy and respect of the poor for the wealthy class, while misuse of the ability being an object of scorn and hatred - this can turn a famed celebrity into an outcast in a year and a half.
  • The process requires something horrifying or illegal: such as the death of an innocent child to "start" the regrowth of the new body. This would make it obviously illegal and therefore require secrecy, as well as play into the cultural bias against it. The uber-rich may hide this by announcing a spurious 1.5 year vacation, or pay to have others impersonate them in that time, but it still requires a lot of people working together in secret. Coming back from the dead only to spend the rest of your life in prison is not exactly what they wanted!

Obviously the mere fact that death can be unwound will cheapen the idea of death in some way, but making that controversial, illegal, painful, or the like will help to prevent people from wanting it, and will also limit the number of times they can do so effectively before they die of old age (or are imprisoned).

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Everyone else says "you can't" - however, Time is a currency, as is Information. Especially for the Celebrity Houses, such as House Kardashian.

Death results in you being completely, and utterly out of the picture for 18 months. No new projects being released, no responding to the latest changes in fashion or pop-culture. Someone else will step up, and fill your slot on the Social Scene - since "Death is Cheap" for the rich, it won't have the same media coverage (unless it's a "final death") or staying power. The world will move on, and quite possibly forget you.

Once you re-emerge, you need a crash-course in everything that's changed - otherwise, you're going to look like a has-been, you won't get anyone's references, and you'll accidentally insult someone who is actually important now.

Consider that if you Died in May 2015 then when you were decanted (in November/December 2016) you would discover:

  • Cuba and the USA had resumed Diplomatic Relations
  • Gravitational Waves have been discovered
  • Liquid Water has been discovered on Mars
  • David Bowie died (Old Age, no coming back)
  • Alan Rickman died (Old Age, no coming back)
  • Harambe died
  • Pokémon Go was released
  • The President of Brazil has been impeached
  • Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States of America
  • The Chicago Cubs won the World Series
  • Brexit has begun
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    $\begingroup$ "Brexit has begun" I'd say a lot of people in the UK are waiting for that scenario to actually happen. :P $\endgroup$ – stix Sep 9 at 21:14
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    $\begingroup$ @stix Hey, I said it had "begun". I didn't say it had managed to get very far! xD Once the official fires the starting pistol, it's up to the runners to get past the start line... $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 9 at 22:56
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    $\begingroup$ Also: You have 18 month where you can't care about your wealth. There's no way you can react to market changes. You have to rely on others to manage your money well — and if you're rich, chances are that you are because you are better than others at managing your money. $\endgroup$ – celtschk Sep 10 at 0:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Mars For you, (presumably) having a sensible, proper, productive job, it's probably unnecessary. Especially if you can't afford to Rez. But for career "celebrities", keeping up with trends, fashion and pop-culture is half their job. (The other half being arguing with each other and having constant "scandals") As with Politicians or rich Business Owners, their opponents and the media will be looking for any opportunity to make them look bad, to tear them down and make a quick buck off them. Imagine an actor 'dying' in September 2017, and being asked their opinion of Weinstein when back. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Sep 10 at 8:11
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    $\begingroup$ @cegfault I didn't mean Trump as president, but once his term is over and he wants to keep hold of his business empire for another 50+ years. The show "Apprentice" comes back but only is released once every two years instead. Disadvantage is that you really have to trust the people while you are "out". What happens if Jr decides he is tired of all the crap and "accidentally forgets to pay the bill"? $\endgroup$ – Phil M Sep 12 at 16:25
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A life for a life

Sure the ritual will bring someone back to life but it requires a life to power the ritual.

Nobody needs to be murdered but someone can choose to sacrifice themselves and their family will be heavily compensated for their gift.

If you think about it, it's the next logical step after buying a kidney from a poor person (on the road to damnation)

There are people rich enough out there to buy a life and people poor and desperate enough to sell their own life.

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You remember the death.

Were you tortured? Did you drown? Did a rabid dog bite you to death? How many hours were you in agony? Welcome to a new world of waking up screaming every night. Will the nightmares ever stop?

You remember staying dead.

Do you remember the emptiness? The nothing after? Religion say otherwise. Doctors say it was your disconnected brain. But you were there, you felt it, and there is nothing. What is the sense of it all? Is there any purpose? Is that what is awaiting for you?

Your soul will forget how to cross the river

Souls know how to cross by instinct. Dull the instinct by forcing the soul to stay among the living, and the soul will stay forever, with or without body. Ah, but the nightmares stay.

Returning is the new life-on-a-wheelchair. It's even worse than just dying, both physically and spiritually. That's why it is so rare nowadays. Even rumors say the ultrarich have their pet slaves and servants on insurance, but not them. Only they know for sure.

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You can't. This is unpreventable.

Sure, you can attack penalties to mitigate it. One and a half years is a long time to not be around, you can have monstrous costs involved, you can have pain and necessitate long periods of recovery.

But in all actuality? This is a Pandora's Box you've just opened. The acknowledgement that Death is permanent is a huge cornerstone of culture (see Memento Mori) and will have lasting and devastating consequences (especially among the religious). Especially considering that this 'unattainability' won't last forever. Personal wealth has been on a consistent rise for the past century and shows no sign of stopping - in fact, it may as well scale with technological improvements. Combine that with natural capitalist impulses (you mentioned House Buffet - presumably Warren Buffet would seek to profit off this) and within a few centuries, suddenly this is affordable to everyone.

Suddenly, death is a slap on the wrist. Let's say you get mad and kill someone in a drunken brawl. Instead of going to jail for life or getting executed, all you do is pay restitution charges for his resurrection and compensation for his lost time. The murder rate will skyrocket, and now that it's generally affordable, there's a good chance that the poor who can't afford it will be looked down on as second-class citizens.

The only upside is that death has been cheapened both ways - sure, you've gone and made it more widespread, but since resurrection is possible, is it really that bad to be killed if it doesn't stick? (I mean, yes it's bad. But it's nowhere near our permanent level of bad.)

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People wouldn't kill unless they wanted it.

As respawning cheapens death, you already have set up a decent cost if they die. One and a half years is a long time. But depending on how you want to show it. I reckon if someone knew, that if they killed someone and that they would respawn, then they wouldn't bother killing them*.

Instead, I think they would capture the person, torture them, but keep them alive, if barely, and make sure they weren't able to take their own life to flee captive by respawning.

*You still may want to kill them if want you wanted to achieve a goal in less than 1.5 years. For example, killing a powerful king then taking over his kingdom right afterward.

An idea. It could be used as a method to "fast travel" through time. As you respawned, you go through the ritual again, die and repeat until you're where you want to be in the future.

But back on to your question, how to prevent it feeling cheap? You would need to have a heavy cost. Lazy writing way of this would have them lose their memory. It's done often enough, but you could always start the story from someone who's just come back alive and has to learn the world again and this would allow readers to learn with the character.

I feel that losing their memory would carry a lot of weight, especially if the story had some kind of love element that would be considered unnatural, such as two kingdoms that hate each other, and each of their respective prince/princesses fall in love. Due to the story plot letting some meet or getting stuck together for a duration and then them acquiring feelings and if one were to die, there would still be a lot of weight because it would a relationship that would be impossible to rebuild, as the situation that let them build it in the first place was a freak occurrence.

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    $\begingroup$ suggestion " lose their memory" -> they keep memory until the "backup point" (when they make a ritual to save memory). Because if a person lose all memory, he become a beast rather than a man. $\endgroup$ – Haha TTpro Sep 9 at 5:17
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    $\begingroup$ @HahaTTpro: In the real world, many (most?) amnesiacs remember basic behavior, etiquette, etc. They just lose episodic memories of who they are and what they've done. Still, I'm not sure many people would pay ridiculous fees for something if they would effectively be dead anyways, since the person coming to life wouldn't really be them. $\endgroup$ – MichaelS Sep 9 at 12:34
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    $\begingroup$ Instead of killing them, maim them. Since respawns retain the state they were in before death (presumably long enough before their death to prevent fatal injuries from being included in their new body), losing a limb and then healing over should make the loss permanent. $\endgroup$ – Martin Carney Sep 9 at 17:29
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Tattooing the soul shows up on the body.

You cannot poke a thousand mind-needles dripping with ether-ink into a soul without it lashing back at the body. This shows up in unexpected ways that you can't really use as a status symbol: weeping sores, arthritis, scars showing up unexpectedly. Bones may become brittle, organs may rumble in protest. Allergies could flare up and senses may grow dull.

it is never severe, never crippling but always annoying.

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Resurrection lawsuits.

Death might not be permanent, but resurrection is still expensive. Which basically means that killing someone is now more or less the same thing as severely injuring them and putting them in the hospital for a year and a half. And severe injuries means lawsuits.

Wealthy people might be a bit more reckless with their own lives (although still not very much, because losing a year and a half is a pretty big deal, especially when you're not even able to manage your losses), but putting someone else in the hospital is still something you don't want to be known for, even if you have the money to pay for the recovery process, including lost wages and emotional trauma.

In some ways it's even worse to injure someone than to kill them through negligence - killing someone accidentally might be tragic, but killing someone when you have the means to revive them means you now have to revive them, and that costs money.

Altogether, I don't expect there to be so many changes in society due to this technology. People don't want to spend money if they don't have to, especially if it comes with a major inconvenience.

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The degradation of body after each revive.

With each revive, the "clone" ("the physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died") is an copy of body when that person die, and the body is make on-demand (" When a person dies, there soul is transported to that crystal, where it gestates for a period of 1.5 years. During that time, the physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died"), not pre-made.

When that person die again, then the process "the physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died" start again, which is making a clone from a clone.

And again, make another clone from the clone that is base on a clone.

So, if one person keep dying, they will notices that their body is not as good as the original one.

You can do a simple experiment in real life: make a color copy of an picture (black-and-white copy of text is too simple to see the degradation), then make a color copy of the color copy, then keep doing that. With each copy, the quality degrade because you can never get 100% information pass on.

Money is not the only price you pay, you paid the price of mutation. Mutation stack on top of another mutation with each revive, the suffer is increase, become weaker, slower ,ugly, look like monster, depend on each mutation. Mutation is noticeable at first few review, but ... There will be a threshold that the mutation is too great to bear. But most people will choose to end their life before they reach this threshold.

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Even with this case, dying is still inherently risky. Others have talked about the consequences you've already included, like the year and a half in purgatory timeout. I'm going to touch on some others that are closely related, and those risks are: capitalism and political power plays.

Your world states that companies controls this process, a process which is incredibly powerful. Literally everyone who can take advantage of this ability to "undie" is going to want... certain assurances that this ability continues to be available to them. Particularly powerful individuals who may have some rivals/adversaries might also want to, say, strategically deny this access to others. Since it sounds like the infrastructure costs are really high, there probably isn't a whole lot of companies capable of supporting this venture and the power struggles to control these companies will probably be immense. The buyouts, the bankruptcies, the hostile takeovers, and don't forget the corporate and political espionage and sabotage.

The fact that there is still physical infrastructure in addition to the magical infrastructure means there are still points of weakness in the rebirth system. If there were to be an "accident" with someone's crystal, what happens to that person and their rune? What happens if that "accident" occurs while that person is being reborn due to an "accident" that they had a year or so ago? Are the crystalline structures dependent on some kind of resource where they are managed in groups? What if one of those groups goes offline for maintenance, or... "offline" for "maintenance"?

This ability also sounds really valuable for governments and particularly for covert and military operations. There's no way governments across the planet wouldn't want direct control over who can access the ability to be revived. Being able to send an agent into deep cover and being able to get that asset out through extraction or death is an extremely powerful tool in a government's covert toolkit. Even better if the agent's cover is left intact when they die. Denying rival governments this ability is going to be equally important.

Another aspect is how the general population views this new fangled ability. Domestic terrorists that view this as unnatural and "playing God" could also attempt to disrupt this system. And don't forgot your political lobbyists, who will attempt to exert political pressure in favor of or against the development and management of this magical technology.

Just due to political and corporate uncertainly alone, not to mention being out of action for a year and half, is enough incentive to not entirely rely on this process. It is still entirely too risky to treat death as trivial. This death prevention system is, at best a last-case scenario for the wealthy and powerful and a calculated risk for agents who are operating in the service of those wealthy and powerful individuals, and nothing more.

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When a person dies, their soul is transported to that crystal, where it gestates for a period of 1.5 years. During that time, their physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died.

Change this so that their new body continues to age as it is regrown. That way they wake up not just having missed 1.5 years of events in the rest of the world, but actually missing 1.5 years of their lifespan that they otherwise could have lived.

This obviously isn't as bad as death, but it is still a pretty big deal that people would try to avoid. You are unlikely to be willing to undergo this process for minor matters, especially not repeatedly. Do this 10 times and you've lost 15 years - a significant chunk of your adult life. It is certainly nothing like "unlimited backup lives".

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In this age of instant gratification, who is willing to wait 18 months for you?

Does your spouse really love you enough to wait for you to be reborn, or will they stray? If they are wealthy in their own right or if they are dependent upon your wealth, you won't be there to make sure that gold-diggers don't try to seduce them. If your spouse is a celebrity, they will likely be pursued regardless of the wealth or poverty of the pursuers.

Who will look after your kids and your pets while you're gone, and will they want to come back to you when you return? A year and a half is a long time for young kids. If you are female and were pregnant, are you still pregnant? It was only your soul that was bound to this mortal coil... so the question as to when a foetus develops it's own soul will soon be answered... but will you like that answer?

What of your parents and relatives? There's little doubt that if they love you, they will wait for you... if they can. By the time you can afford to pay for future resurrection, you're likely to be getting on in years, which means that it is more likely that any parent - or aunt or uncle, or especially, grandparent alive at the time of your death may have died of old age in your absence... especially if they are dependent upon your care.

Whatever your source of income, will you still have it when you come back? If self-employed, or if you are the owner and CEO of a corporation, will your business even exist after a year and a half of your neglect of it? During that time, your customers may have gone elsewhere if your business has simply suspended trading, or if business continues, whoever has managed your company for you in your absence may have run it into the ground - or embezzled its funds and assets and vanished, or it may have been taken over by another company.

If you're a celebrity, you'll have spent a year and a half out of the public spotlight, while other celebrities vie for the public's attention. Unless you have planned well for the eventuality of your untimely death, you'll likely come back to find that you're last-year's news, and face an uphill battle to rebuild your public image, in the face of other celebrities who don't want to give the spotlight back to you.

If you are an employee, will you still have a job? Maternity leave is six months, and it has been a hard fight for women to be able to go back to their former employment afterwards, and you want your employer to hold your job for three times as long? If you're easily replaceable, you wouldn't likely have the money to be resurrected, so that means that you would have a job that requires a significant amount of skill... though in 18 months, your employer would likely have found or trained a replacement - especially if you are easily replaceable, and you'll be 18 months out-of-date.

If you live with someone, will they have left you your belongings, or will they have appropriated them? If you lived alone, you'd want to have good security, in case your place gets burgled... and that's only if you owned your place of residence. If you were renting, did you make arrangements to pay the rent in your absence? If not, you could find your belongings in storage (or just gone) and someone else in your former residence. Even if you owned your place of residence, did the bank foreclose on your mortgage? Was it seized because the rates and utility bills weren't paid?

Has your car been impounded or stolen if you left it in a public place? If it was garaged, will it still run after a year and a half, or has your partner continued to use it, and crashed it, run it into the ground, run off with it, or perhaps returned it to you in good condition, only with a lot more miles on the clock? If you're wealthy, you may replace your car often... only this time, it could be up to a year and a half older than you usually let your cars get before you replace them, and not be worth as much. There will likely have been at least one, and possibly as many as three newer models released while you were gone.

Now do you think that death is cheap if there is resurrection?

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Death is not cheapened, because the treatment is not 100% reliable

Let's say that in about 1-2%* of cases the treatment fails.
This outcome is absolutely unforeseeable, (maybe there is a reason why it fails, but the explanation is out of the reach of the current technologic/magical research) so there is no way to be sure about coming to life again.
Obviously, in case of fail, insurance companies have to pay a high indemnity to the relatives, but the insured person is absolutely dead anyway.

Knowing that there is a small percentage of perma-death, even if you have that kind of life insurance, you would still think twice before putting yourself in a life-threatening situation. This way death would still remain impredictable enough to be feared

*or a higher/lower chance, according to how much you think the people in that society are risk-prone

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The tattoo takes two years to become functional. If you die early during this "acclimation period", you're as dead as someone who hasn't gone through the ritual at all: no harm, no foul -beyond, you know, being dead- but your investment has been for nothing. This risk is, of course, factored into the price. If you die late in the acclimation period, however, well, that's arguably rather less fortunate, because then the tattoo actually kinda-sorta works partially, but there are... glitches. And not the pleasant sort.

The tattoo also dissipates when used, but the ritual can be performed again, and the process restarted, as soon as your soul is back at the crystal, for a reasonable fee. So when you wake up again, the acclimation period is already mostly finished, and everything's all hunky-dory, right? Well, sort of: you also wake up "late" in the acclimation period, when an early death will lead to the dreaded glitching. So when you die, you wake up to six months of terror and paranoia while your soul finishes acclimating to the new tattoo. Thus, even coming back right is a highly unpleasant process best avoided. It also means you have to watch out for murder attempts coming in pairs...

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  • $\begingroup$ For extra fun, the ritual can't be redone till the body's complete - I can see an actively-tying-soul-to-crystal-ritual clashing quite badly with actively-detaching-soul-from-crystal-to-reembody-ritual. So on top of a year anda half down and out, there's now a couple years where any death is permanent because the runes aren't finished setting. That'll keep people remembering to be cautious! $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 11 at 23:39
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It's not that you can't be killed any more, the way to make sure someone is permanently dead will just be more elaborate: First, destroy the life-saving runes, and then kill the victim. I mean, if you can put runes onto the soul, you also can destroy them.

Or maybe there's a way to reconnect someone's runes with a different crystal, one you are in control of. Possibly this can be done even without the victim noticing before death. So there's a real risk that instead of regrowing in that safe facility, you instead regrow right in your enemy's prison cell.

Presumably such “soul redirection” is not easy (and certainly highly illegal). But if your enemy gains enough from it, there's nothing that will stop him.

On the other hand, if destroying runes or later soul redirection is not possible, then this might be used to “capture” someone's soul, by doing the ritual on them against their will, binding them to a crystal controlled by the capturer, and thus holding those people in hostage for their whole life. Should they ever die of anything but old age, they will return under those people's control, and even though they know it, there's nothing they can do about it. People to whom that happened might be extra careful with their life, as death will not be an escape route; quite the opposite.

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  • $\begingroup$ Disrupting or destroying the runes, or assassination-by-crystal-smash will definitely be real problems... there's no security people can set up that people can't get into. I'm also surprised no one else came up with using it as a prison or leash, it's an ugly possibility to be caught so that not even death is an escape... shiver $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 11 at 23:42
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Risk

It may not be 100% reliable.

If there is a 1% (for example) chance that death is permanent even with this ritual, then you might be careless a few times, but at some point, your innate feelings about probability will keep you careful.

Few people who make it to 99 deaths will be willing to risk that they are going to beat the odds. Most people would take care a lot sooner.

Alternatively, it might increase the risk of some fatal ailment, so the more you resurrect, the more likely it is that you will permanently die at a younger physical age.

Otherness

Without limiting resurrections in some way, your system buys the deceased an extra 1.5 years of lifespan in their current condition. I would imagine that a culture would arise consisting of rich people aged (maybe) 35 and up who all live for 18 months and resurrect for 18 months at a time, thereby reaching the physical age of 60, 85 years after their birth, putting off the inevitable final death. Something about being in or out of this gang might be significant. You could make a virtue of the cheapness of death in this way. If you refuse to die at your allotted time, or you die when it is not your turn, you could be punished in some way.

Peer Pressure

The fact that it takes a long time means that the deceased needs a support network in place to look after their affairs for those 18 months. If that support network is made up of other resurrectionists, then each death puts an extra burden on them, and careless deaths would be frowned upon. You may be ousted and disinherited or have your wealth confiscated if you die too often by your own stupidity.

Revolution

Your support network may be made up of employees without access to infinite lives themselves. If you die too often, they will realise that you are actually a parasitic oligarch and get rid of you - maybe transfer your investments elsewhere so that you are no longer rich when you come out or secretly not pay your insurance premiums so that your next death is permanent.

Actuaries

Insurance companies are not charities. They don't like to pay out more than you pay them, and charge more to cover the likelihood and size of payouts. In real life -

  • Drivers have higher premiums after an accident
  • Travel insurance is more expensive when you add "dangerous sports", or if you go to USA etc.
  • Pre-existing conditions are excluded from health insurance packages
  • Pilferage is normally excluded from theft claims (i.e. if you didn't take care, you don't get the payout)
  • Fraudulent claims are contested (e.g. you burn down your own property)

Every time you die, your premium could go up significantly, such that even Bezos might think twice before dying for a 5th time.

The resurrection process might take 18 months, but if you die doing something that the insurance company thinks you should not have been doing, then your lawyers could be arguing for 18 months before the process even starts, or they might refuse to resurrect you the next time.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thumbs up for the possibility of at-fault clauses in your death-resurrection policy! companies want to make money, which means finding every possible way to say no. $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 11 at 23:34
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Remove the soul part from it

Make your magic working without any effect on the soul. Let it just regrow the body. In that case, similar to popular disassemble-reassemble teleportation mechanics, the revived person is just a perfect copy.

In that scenario if a person dies it is permanent from this person's point of view. Yes, a copy will be assembled somewhere else, but it is an absolutely independent living thing even though it is a perfect clone. And it is a clone.

There are couple of benefits with this approach:

  1. The death is still scary and totally unwanted. Every one is mortal again.
  2. You can actually remove all other "handicaps" like 1.5 years delay.
  3. Assembling a body is arguably less "magical" so this mechanics can help you balancing between sci-fi and magic, while your current approach relies on magic almost completely.
  4. This is the solution to all tricky questions like "what happens if you die from a decease?". You will be simply reconstructed the way you want - via checkpoints, via genetic modifications, etc. I mean, no one will make a checkpoint while knowing they're terminally ill or going to die in a car accident in a second.

Cons:

  1. This approach is actually too harsh - the only point in paying for resurrection service is your desire to continue your work even after death, e.g. running huge company or fighting for freedom etc. Otherwise it doesn't make sense, you will be dead anyway, it will be your perfect clone's life. But you have already stated that this service is primarily used by rich ones, so I guess they fit quite well here.
  2. Such an idea is already described in Pandora's Star by Hamilton... (but there people don't give a damn about dying which is quite weird).
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Lack of Legal Recognition

The government doesn't recognize the process as continuing the individual, but being a new individual who happens to share memories with the previous individual. Legally, they are now a newborn. They will have to go back to school, and if the decanting is in a different country, lose their citizenship. Since they weren't born when 'their predecessor' died, they aren't eligible for inheritance. They effectively lose everything, and legally are starting out as an adult-shaped newborn with no parents or resources. The rest of the family MAY take them in... or may just take advantage of the situation to divvy out everything they had.

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If you look at the Vlad Taltos book series by Stephen Brust, they have a resurrection system that is available to those of sufficient power/ funds but it can be circumvented by various methods such as destruction of the brain or use of certain powerful magic weapons. You already have a method of this baked into your lore.

During that time, their physical body is regrown over the soul, ending in the exact condition that the person was before they died.

Wouldn't being restored to the point immediately prior to death just lead to them dying again if it's done right? If I shoot you in the gut your gonna slowly bleed to death or die of shock/sepsis/etc... So when you come back you still have a hole blown in your torso, so you die again. If the murderer kills them with enough destruction prior to death there's no way they would survive upon revival no matter what medical care is available.

So resurrection is available but only if the body is in one piece enough that it can survive with medical care after being decanted. Theoretically doctors could work frantically to repair the body before the patient dies again and then in another year and a half the new body would be partially repair so they can do another marathon repair session to repair the remaining damage repeating the process as many times as it takes to restore the body to a functioning state. This could make the process take much longer than a single 1.5 years before the person comes back and resumes their life.

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  • $\begingroup$ I thought the same, the reset point matters very much. If it rewinds you a few hours, if it is even a day, a lot of deaths will still hold - because it took longer to die, or longer for person to be ID'd, living will & insurance policies to be found and read, and euthanasia-because-death-resurrection-policy-[if-legal] agreed to than your set point covers. Terminal illnesses are all still terminal, murderers would favor long, drawn out deaths, chronic health issues and crippling injuries carry over. Plus there's now assasination-by-crystal-smash, because no security is impenetrable enough. $\endgroup$ – Megha Sep 11 at 23:31
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You Still Died

While the time lost and potential degradation due to an imperfect process are interesting technical costs to a problem, there is still the point that the person has died from a current legal and medical perspective unless the laws change to take this into account. There is no indication that this is the case.

As a dead person your will would be activated, regardless if you are going to be back in a year and a half or not. Your estate will be processed, you fall out of lines of succession, your social media is memorialized and closed down, estate taxes, etc. Then there is the issue of reestablishment of living status once the resurrection is complete, which means even more paperwork as well as money the newly living person may not have anymore if they were careless. Never underestimate the amount of paperwork a government can create for something.

Resurrection paperwork … in triplicate … filled out by the newly resurrected person … by hand for each copy … and you have to explain the cause of your own death … and a small mistake may keep you in legal limbo for years. Yeah.

What this may also mean is that it is quite plausible that there is a time when the newly resurrected ultra-rich human is actually not legally a person.

My memory is a bit fuzzy on the matter, but this kind of thing was in the Girl Genius webcomic, where death removed nobles from lines of succession, even if they were resurrected after. Which in a world of Mad Science is a distinct possibility.

Also, there is nothing in this life insurance policy that states they deal with any of the bureaucracy of personhood status before, during or after your death. I can see the paperwork services costing extra.

Bureaucracy, the hidden cost of everything ...

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  • $\begingroup$ Wills should be an easy fix, just include a clause in your will that your clone gets everything, and if there is no clone being made then divvy up the goods. Most of these problems would be a big deal the first half-dozen times, but since these people are all super-rich, they'll soon use their bought politicians to change the laws so it's not such a hassle next time. $\endgroup$ – Martin Carney Sep 9 at 17:36
  • $\begingroup$ Probably. This assumes that the growing clone is legally alive from its conception upon the original's death and thus can inherit everything. I honestly suspect that the estate would go into a trust and be held in a legal limbo for 24 months so that nobody can touch it and syphon off the wealth while in living and legal limbo. $\endgroup$ – Haylen Sep 9 at 18:15

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