Deep under the earth, in a stock standard "Deep Dark Cave" is the entrance to the underworld.

It's a very real place, and visible from the far bank of the River of Souls, but no living person can enter. You get a free ticket once you've died, but anyone still living will die once they cross to the other side of the river.

Enter "Mr. Immortal 2007, regional winner". He's an everyday World-Bending Immortal Wizard and very much the definition of "Won't Die". He's at the far bank of the river, contemplating getting to the other side.

What happens if he tries to cross the river?

Option A

As he crosses the river in a small boat, Hell fades away in front of him as anyone else in the boat falls limp and he's left alone on the other bank of the river looking at a rock wall...

Option B

He tries to get in the boat but an invisible force physically prevents him from leaving the riverbank and he can only watch as anyone else who crosses ventures off into the underworld, leaving him stuck in the living side.

Option C

Some other 3rd thing that I'm not smart enough to come up with.

I feel like both options could work, but I'm not sure whether to make Hell a "Real Place" which some sort of barrier preventing entry by immortal people, or a "Meta-Physical Holiday Spot" which is visible from the outside but not actually a part of the world... so it disappears from view as he passes the entrance but can't get in.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Mołot, Frostfyre, Zxyrra, Vincent, SRM Jan 30 '17 at 4:41

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I feel like this is a combination of "How does my magic work?" and "What's best for the plot?" and am conflicted whether to close as opinion-based or story-based. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Jan 29 '17 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ This looks like it is one of the most important plot-twists in your work. Are you sure that you want assistance with this? $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jan 29 '17 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ Might this be a better fit for Writers.SE? It seems less concerned with the world and more concerned with the best way to tell a story. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Jan 29 '17 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Writers.SE didn't want it either, edited the question to remove plot elements. It's not a crucial plot point, more a character development. I'm mostly looking for help about the physical impact of trying to enter a different plane of existence. $\endgroup$ – Wompguinea Jan 29 '17 at 22:32
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    $\begingroup$ You seem to be describing Hades, rather than Hell, which is a different mythoulogy. If you're being traditional, it's quite possible (though difficult) for humans to enter and return. See e.g. Orpheus. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 29 '17 at 23:56

The entrance way is an "illusion".

I'm assuming within your universe, "immortal" means the wizards soul is being magically and forcefully held within the body: if the soul doesn't leave then the body remains animated whatever happens.

Now, clearly it makes very little sense to say that the underworld is just as material as the overworld and actually exists beneath the ground: For one, how exactly does the great cavernous expanse not cave in under the immense pressure of the earth above. It makes much more sense to imagine it as a seperate immaterial/spiritual plain of reality with the "gateway" as nothing other than that: a gateway, a portal through which souls access this spiritual plain.

If we assume this, then it makes perfect sense why only souls can enter and bodies are left behind. The person doesn't exactly "die", atleast not in the traditional sense. Rather the souls unknowingly walk through the portal leaving their bodies go limp behind them (the body dies when not animated by a soul). Think of this portal as a sieve/sifter: the soul can pass right through, but the body is held back by the material of the gate.

If we take this into account then the solution is obvious, the wizards friends will walk right in (perhaps not noticing that they've just abandoned their bodies) while the wizard's soul, being tightly bound to its body will remain within it and just won't be able to walk through the portal. This would indeed seem to the wizard like hitting an invisible wall. However this wall isn't actually some magical barrier, simply ordinary rock being percieved as an entrace way by the soul (which is capable of seeing things beyond what's purely material). This last point means that your wizard would probably have to use some extensive healing magic on his face (wizards typically have big noses after all)...

  • $\begingroup$ Your answer actually adds a lot to how I was already thinking, both about this location and the nature of the character's immortality. $\endgroup$ – Wompguinea Jan 29 '17 at 22:36

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