Thursday, September 27, 2018

The Rites of Bisection

"I am told that there lies a small monastery built into one of the many rocky crags which stands against the thirsty, encroaching Sands in the south. Its monks are a minor cabal of philosophes dedicated to some overwrought doctrine or another, similar to many such orders scattered about the vast hinterlands surrounding Innersey. I deem them worth mentioning for one reason only: their Rites of Bisection."

"These Rites are purported to turn one person into two, in a miraculous manifestation of the monks' secret dogma. I cannot lend such tales any credence. It is ridiculous that, as I have been told, a person may be split slowly and carefully down the middle, and each half grown back into a full person over the course of months. One would not survive such an operation; to start with, the heart is not centrally located - would one half-person thus do without a heart? Ha!..."

"Several merchant lords and mighty Magi have been reputed to visit these monks to undergo the Rites; their motives and fates seem more like moralistic fairy tales than real happenings, with the subject being murdered by their own shadow or doppelgänger, lost to a fit of extreme madness, or returning again and again to the monks as their bodies deform and minds ablate..."

- from the writings of Andras, Magus of the Fifth Order

Image uploaded by Carolina Baratieri to ResearchGate and used with proper permissions

This is a common trope in fantasy/sci-fi. Yes, PCs (or NPCs) can go to these monks and essentially clone themselves; the price will be dear, and may not be monetary. At first impression, both resulting characters will have the same body, mind, and memories of the "original," but absolute similarity will not last long... and may be illusory in the first place. (If a PC undergoes the Rites of Bisection, only one of the two resulting characters are under the player's control as a PC. The other is an NPC with, initially, identical goals to the "original." But things change...)

If used in a game, it should involve at least one moral dilemma:
- Are either resulting people the same as the "original?"
- Did the "original" die during the Rites?
- Corollary if the above is "yes": are either of the two resulting people even alive/ensoulled?
- Can a person resulting from the Rites undergo the Rites again? (How many times? Information entropy?)
- Some variation of the classic "nature vs. nurture" question

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