Looking for some inspiration out there . . .

Looking for some inspiration out there . . .

Looking for some inspiration out there . . .

Can anyone offer up some ideas of just what exactly it looks and feels like ”beyond the Black Gates of Death’s Kingdom?”

I ask because we have a character who died and failed his Last Breath roll. We are now looking at a ressurection in order to bring him back.

The player has expressed an interest in exploring what its like to be raised from the dead, what sort of thngs his charcter experiences in Death’s Kingdom before returning to life.

Originally I asked him to come up with his own idea, but he said he’d prefer not to. He feels that this is one thing that really should be ‘beyond his control’, so-to-speak.

Anyway, we know he is standing in Death’s Kingdom for the time being. The problem is that I don’t know what to do with it.

Is Death’s Kingdom a final diestination? Does he keep your soul forever?

Is it more of a purgatory, a temporary stopover, before movng along o the heavens or the abyss?

Anyway, thanks in advance.

16 thoughts on “Looking for some inspiration out there . . .”

  1. I’d start by working out what would make your game most awesome. What sort of experiences would drive living-world behaviour once the dude comes back?

    Like… if he went on to a reward for his good/evil behaviour, then that might encourage him to behave differently in life so that next time he dies he goes somewhere else.

    Or if Death’s kingdom is just an illusion created by our minds when we try to comprehend something literally beyond understanding, then he may come back with no concrete memories at all — but he can’t sleep for nightmares, and every so often the veneer of the world peels away from his senses and he collapses into the all-sensation that underlies reality.

    Or perhaps it was a chance to reconnect with dead loved ones, or get critical info from someone who died before they could pass it on. Like I said, whatever drives the game best.

  2. What I am struggling with most is that part of me is really leaning towards the notion of a heaven and hell and I cant wrap my head around where Deaths Kingdom fits in with that.

  3. Make it reflect your world and tone.

    If it’s an epic, bloody and bold, maybe the kingdom is something like Valhalla and he returns with tales of having feasted with the heroes of old. If the game spends a lot of time thinking about order and the characters place in it, then maybe there’s a Chinese-style Bureaucracy of Heaven. If it has a horror tinge, then it is a shadowed place full of fear, and dark bargains must be struck in order to let him leave.

  4. Death’s Kingdom is just your purgatory. It’s the first place souls go,and the last place mortal eyes can even hope to glimpse. Heaven and hell is somewhere past that.

    As for what it’s like… Okay, this might be random, but here’s what I’d recommend. If you can, get a Tarot deck. Shuffle and deal seven cards,in agonizing slowness, before the player. Say absolutely nothing,but write down the cards.

    After the final card, look at them and make a mild exclamation (“I see”) , then look at the player and say, “any questions?”

    Take note of what he says, then have him wake up.

    Use his questions and the cards themselves to create a front.

  5. If he’s not willing to put forth any effort of describing what his character see’s to at least help you out (even after you remind him what cooperative narrative is) and you have no real clue either; then I’d personally keep it as bare bones as possible.  Use the old Bright And Empty Desert/Wasteland trope.  Have him standing next to the only short, gnarled, leafless tree in sight.  Alone.  Possibly naked.  The wind whispers.  Etc. Ad Nauseum.

    What you could do at this point is do a one shot with the dead guys character as the lead and the other players running recently dead dudes.  All lost in this wasteland and trying to figure out if they can get back to the living or if they are stuck here forever or if they will move on at all.

    This would at least allow you to canvas the other players with questions which might inspire your laconic one to add his two cents ;-}

  6. Philip Pullman’s ‘Dark Materials’ has a rather nice take on the land of the dead – have you player meet his own personal death and, as Eld Nathr​ suggested, run a one-shot with the personal deaths as followers trying to [insert scenario here] allowing him to be resurrected.

  7. I could really say anything, couldn’t I? Still, seems like you want a heaven and hell.

    How about Death’s Kingdom as a series of impossible staircases and doors carved into an endless ice wall. Where and when you end up depends on your soul, an evil person could walk upwards and still end up in hell, whereas a person that still has a chance of being resurrected will just walk around in circles…

    Oh! And those that anger death are kept frozen in the walls, unable to reach their true afterlife.

  8. I have given it some thought and I think I am leaning towards the notion that Death is a Judge of one’s soul and that his kingdom is a giant, bleak gray labyrinth with impossibly high iron walls and only one way out.

    You either spend eternity lost in the maze, or you make it all the way through to the end of the maze, where either heaven or hell (depending on how Death judges you) awaits.

    The key is that only those still in the maze have any hope of returning to life. Once you pass through the ‘exit’ into heaven (or sucked into the abyss), your character is forever gone.

    Also toying with the idea that he walls may depict images from one’s life, highlightig acts of kindness and good or evil and selfishness.


  9. The first part of death’s kingdom is an endless beach of grey ashen sand, black water, and an empty but faintly luminescent sky. 

    Everyone and every thing that had a soul (occasional animals, great plays no longer performed, institutions of man once beloved and now abandoned) lingers on the beach until their name is forgotten for the last time.  Then Death himself escorts the soul across the water.  Everyone who tries to swim across ultimately ends up back on the beach.  No one has ever returned from whatever distant land lies on the other side of that endless ocean.

  10. I really like the idea (I think I first read it in David Eagleman’s book Sum) of everyone experiencing two deaths: the first, what we call death, passing from the mortal world to a sort of limbo, and then a second death the last time your name is ever said in the mortal world, when Death takes you off to parts unknown (there are all sorts of rumors, mostly variations on mortal belief systems–heaven, hell, Valhalla, eternal rest, what have you). Legendary heroes and villains hang out together in this limbo basically forever, long past when the stories told about them have any bearing on what they were actually like. Some poor farmer ended up with a town named after him, and even though he’s been forgotten, he’s still stuck. Most people pass through pretty quickly though. I love Sean Fager’s addition that art and particularly important animals count as well, and a beach works much better than the waiting room in which the story in the book is set.

    I think this is one of the more elegant solutions to the revolving-door afterlife–the “real” afterlife is still a mystery, and you still can’t ever figure out what it is, but there’s still someplace for you to hang out when you die and wait to see if you’ll be resurrected.

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