I am answering random questions today about world building, over on Reddit and decided to take my answers from there and expand upon them even further over here. So that's what this page is. Me rambling on about various aspects of world building techniques I use when writing the Quaraun series. The questions I am answering are embedded here. Clicking the link in the embedded question will take you to the original Reddit page where you can see the original answer along with other people's answers. If you wish to comment, you can do so on the Reddit page where a place to do so is provided.
I actual use this!
My main character is a Necromancer. Necromancy in this world is rare and forbidden, because of a backstory involving a Necromancer who had slaughtered entire cities in his attempts to discover how to resurrect people. He (a Faerie) spends 2,000 years doing this, then dies.
In the last decade of his life, he gave up on the idea of resurrecting people, to live out his last days with his lover, a young Elf wizard (who was unaware the Faerie was in fact the Necromancer in question).
The 2 had planned to live together a long time, but a rival Necromancer arrives and attacks the Faerie. He dies of his injuries a few weeks later.
During those last few weeks, his young Elf wizard lover becomes frantic to save the dying Faerie and, starts casting a lot of very advanced spells that he really has no business attempting because he's no got the skill required to do so. However in the process of doing this scatterbrained panicked, cast every spell he can get his hands on, he inadvertently discovers how to resurrect the dead.
Unfortunately, the way to do it, is at a terrible price.
He has a wife and four children. He does not care about his wife at all (arranged marriage) and she has he lovers and he has his, but he deeply loves his children...however, he loves his lover more then anything else.
The reason no one before him was able to resurrect any one is because they read the spells wrong.... the instructions said only "that a sacrifice was required" and thus every one was sacrificing everything and every one they could think of.... but it meant an ACTUAL sacrifice - and exchange.... to resurect someone, you first had to love them enough to exchange their life with the life of someone else you loved. The reason being to resurrect someone requires putting a living soul in their dead body.
He becomes the first person to successfully resurrect someone, because he murders his 4 children, and uses their souls to resurrect his dead lover.
The side effect of this however, is it totally destroys his mind. The guilt of what he did (killing his children) haunts him for the rest of his life and he's never able to be happy with his undead lover because he begins to regret having killed his children. It tears him apart emotionally, and it's his descent into madness that is the primary plot of the story...
But what effect does his discovery have on the world?
It changes everything. He becomes both the most sought after and most feared wizard. He suddenly has the law hunting him down for murder and at the same time he has throngs of people hunting him down begging him to bring back their loved ones... parents, children, siblings, lovers, spouses... people flock to him, desperate for him to follow them back to their village to resurrect their dead.
He tries to explain to them the terrible price they have to pay to bring back a loved one, but they either don't understand or refuse to believe it. Some thinking he's just holding out for more money.
At one point he gets kidnapped by an army, because the commanding officer becomes convinced that if the wizard resurrects their dead soldiers, they'll win the war.
Every where he goes, he ends up getting beaten up or put in prison, often by people hell bent on torturing him to get him to resurrect people for them.
He refuses to resurrect another person, telling them that he CAN'T resurrect THEIR loved ones because THEY have to do it themselves by murdering someone else whom they love just as much. He can't do the sacrifice for them, they have to do it themselves.
The whole thing is made worse however, because he has his lover back, but in the end, the Faeries was suffering so bad from his injuries that he commit suicide to end his pain. But then, now he's been resurrected as a Lich.... but his mind is "stuck" in those last few days of his death, his mind replaying the last week of life over and over again, and so, he's continually reaching a point of suicide again and again. The result is he kills himself all over again every few days. The wizard is now forced to watch his lover die over and over again for eternity. Being a Lich, the lover wakes up the next day and starts the process all over again until he kills himself again.
This side effect was something no one expected.
As it turns out, you can not fully resurrect someone back to their "original" state, but rather you resurrect them back to how they was the day they died.
He was old, blind, wounded, depressed, and suicidal, and so, now he's resurrected stuck in that states.
So when people come to the wizard asking him to resurrect someone, he tells them: "If you resurrect them, you'll be condemning them to hell. They'll suffer for eternity and they'll grow to hate you. You've no idea the suffering you will put upon them if you bring them back. Let them move on in peace."
In the end, he learns the hard way, why Necromancy was outlawed, why all tomes that contained resurrection spells were destroyed, and that resurrecting some one comes with great sacrifices and terrible consequences.
>They will make a religion around the guy that manages it, then fight wars over thousands of years.
In mine they did.
The Necromancer has a group of very Lovecraftian-type Cultists chasing him around now, believing that he is an Elder Brain Chaos Demon God from ancient times back on Earth. They are lead by a guy who thinks he's a Necromancer but isn't, and most of the group is made up of squid-headed aliens from Neptune's moon. (Basically they think he's God and want to worship him.)
At the same time he's also got a group of Evangelical-style "Christian"-types chasing after him, saying he's an evil demonic beast come to destroy humanity. They are bordering on being the Westboro Baptist Church, in their levels of kill-everything-that-moves-because-it's-not-us hysteria. (Basically they believe he's Satan incarnate and so they want to kill him.)
In the novel I'm working on right now, a 3rd religion has popped up....I'm still fleshing it out so have no clear direction for them yet. All I know so far is that they are divided into 8 mini-sects that can not agree on the proper way to worship and fight over the tiniest details. They are basically a group of snobs who have no clue what their religion teaches and focus on tiny insignificant details (like who is supposed to wear, what colour hat on which day.)
> I guess that would depend on how resurrection happens: What is the process?
It took him several years of meditation, focus, rituals (think Enochan Ceremonial High Magic of sigals and carvings and scrolls type of rituals), along with potions (to prepare the dead body, to prepare himself, to prepare the sacrifices, etc.), psychedelic drugs (to allow him to see into the realm of the dead and bring his lover's soul back to the world of the living), poison (to put his children into a comatose sleep so they wouldn't know he was killing them), building a golem (to house the souls of the dead, and fuse to the decaying body to prevent it's further decay).
The process took several years to complete, and it had terrible physical, emotional, and mental side effects. It crippled his sanity, crushed him with guilt, and destroyed his physical health leaving him weak and sickly. He never recovered any of the side effects and has no psychical strength, and his immune system was practically destroyed.
The amount of stress it had on his body physically is indicative that a person would likely not live through the process of resurrecting more then 2 or 3 people, even if they could mentally go through the process a second time (which is unlikely.)
>Is is time consuming or expensive?
Very time consuming, as detailed above.
Not very expensive as most items needed were pretty common.
It's time consuming to the point most Humans would not live long enough to do the entire ritual (as the person has to be resurrected on the 100th year after their death and be resurrected by the person who loved them the most.) That and the fact that most Humans are fickle and will replace the dead person in a year's time, make it very uncommon.
>Does it regenerate the body?
Only to the point just before death.
His lover was old and nearly blind. Upon being resurrected, he is still old and nearly blind.
And because he commit suicide, that also means that in the days before he died he was deeply depressed and suicidal, thus now that he's resurrected, he is still deeply depressed and suicidal and is now killing himself over and over again, pretty much every day, but now that he's a Lich he just resurrects automatically after each death, so he's now stuck in a viscous circle of dying and coming back to life.
He ends up reaching a point of going mad and killing himself over and over again, just to see if he can find a way to kill himself and not come back to life. He starts going out of his why to find progressively crazier, more off the wall ways to die, in hopes that "this time I'll stay dead", but he now that he's been resurrected he simple can not die and stay dead.
>Does it reverse aging?
No. If you die old, you come back old. You come back the same as you died. Thus why he is trying to kill himself, because he was sick, suffering, and in pain the weeks leading up to his death.
>Can anyone do it?
The wizard himself has said anyone could do it, that it does not require magic, as it is a process of rituals, meditations, potions, golem building, and blood sacrifice. No actual magic was involved in the process.
(NOTE: Magic in his world, is the manipulation of energy. Only the priests/wizards are truly magical and spend two or three centuries training and learning to manipulate the world around them. Wizards are feared for their ability to control the weather, cast illusions, and call up the dead which is different from resurrection - it means creating a shambling dead/zombie minion. to go kill your enemy, then promptly falls over and goes back to rotting - it is simply reanimating a corpse by use of magic and is not resurrection of actual life. All magic is done by mind control and requires intense focus. Wizards meditate for hours, sometimes days on end to absorb the mental energy of those around them and harness the life force of those around them to control anything and everything that is their will to control. While Humans are able to learn some of the skills of wizards, the life span of a Human is too short to allow them to learn any advanced magic skills. Elves live about 500 years and have much more time to study magic. Also, Elves have the inborn psychic powers that allow them to learn magic faster. Thus why Elves are proficient in magic.)
Because of what magic is, no magic was used to resurrect his lover and thus, he claims any one can do it, and in fact the only way it can be done is if it is done by the person who most loves the person who is dead.
He also points out that the resurrection will only work if you truly deeply love the person you are resurrecting and that true love is the primary ingredient of the ritual. Without love, the resurrection will not work.
>Can there be collective resurrections or 1 ritual = 1 resurrection?
I am uncertain as I have no explored this possibility. At this point it is 1 ritual = 1 resurrection, but it may be possible to mass resurrect, I don't know. That's something to look into for a future novel I suppose.
>Does it incur any other penalties for any of the people involved?
Those mentioned above.
The physical strain on his health nearly killed him, and he's an Elf. Elves are hardier the Humans, they can withstand a lot. If a Human tried to do the ritual, they may very likely die in the process before resurrecting their loved one.
What do you want to become?
What did you do today to step closer to that goal?
Whatever you do, be your best at it!
And remember to have yourself a great and wonderfully glorious day!