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God-Machine: The Resurrection Equation

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It is a long-established tradition in the World of Darkness that only certain character types get to die and return, and only the rare few are able to come back to life more than once. Vampires come back through the Embrace but once they meet the True Death, they are done. Game lines like Geist and Mummy have given those characters more “lives” to play with but reawakening takes a toll, and eventually, they will run out of juice.

Other supernatural characters might be able to cheat death through epic quests, incredible powers, and/or outside interference. It’s more likely that resurrection simply won’t happen because, after all, it is the World of Darkness. There is a pressure to keep the setting grim and harsh, violent and bloody. Death is one of the darkest and most terrifying things we can conceive of and as a consequence, it’s hard to beat it for dramatic value.

But not all groups play the same way or regard their characters as temporary affairs. Some games are long-running, with deeply invested players, reams of backstory, and more. Gaming groups might have fewer players so each character is essential. I myself have a Vampire character I’ve been playing in a Play by Post one-on-one game since 2010. And not all players are out to take advantage of Storytellers, boundaries, or rules.

For certain groups and players, then, the God-Machine concept that is laid out in the God-Machine Chronicle book affords some interesting hidden benefits. One such benefit is the possibility of resurrection for characters that are important to the God-Machine’s designs. The God-Machine can be everywhere and anywhere in your game, underlying the World of Darkness, working unseen and unknown most of the time. But it has amazing power in this world and it is known for using what it can find whenever it can instead of building new things like angels to do its bidding.

Plain old mortals die all the time and without immediate and lucky medical intervention, they certainly stay that way. It isn’t likely that the God-Machine will find it necessary or prudent to expend resources to bring them back because they have no significant special abilities, hardiness, connections, and so on. But supernatural characters can do so much more for it and bringing them back means that the God-Machine has the upper hand. They will have to do services, without asking questions, with the payoff being their lives. If they rebel or get too nosey, the God-Machine can simply “unplug” them.

Now, there should be a toll. Losing a dot in one’s Power Stat goes without saying (and if the character would be left at zero, they can’t be brought back). A Condition (or in older terms, derangement) would also be a fitting side-effect. And the player may or may not be able to count on it ever happening again. But for those players and Storytellers who want more options for the same characters, the God-Machine provides a solution that makes complete sense and leads to more stories, not less.

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