Tuesday, September 16, 2008

It’s Not Easy Being Dead: Part 1

It is inevitable. At some point in fantasy and sci-fi shows, somebody has to talk to someone else who’s already dead. In the fantasy worlds, they just find an old guy or gal who can do it and presto (though, obviously, they have to quest for the Spoon I Dropped in the Desert Last Week and Need for a Tea Party on the Fifth first). In sci-fi universes, it’s usually some sort of gizmo that runs on the tears of orphans. In Farscape, they had the best of both worlds and just had Zhan(sp?) do it.

NOTE: Good going, Sci-Fi Channel. Farscape was one of the best sci-fi shows ever!

When speaking to the dead, however, there tends to be this assumption that the dead are somehow ‘wise.’ They ‘know’ things beyond the realm of men. They’ve ‘crossed over’ or some such and are thus, are privy to secrets unknowable by the living.

Why is that?

How come every twit who was an ignorant slob in life suddenly gets ‘the Code of Eternity’ when they die? Bob Dirt, the illiterate mud farmer, suddenly gets the Wisdom of the Ages when he kicks the bucket. Sure, when a Jedi Knight dies, they get the keys to the Big Book. They were relatively wise in life, it only seems fitting. But giving it to everyone, even those who probably couldn’t care less? That seems a bit much.

I would imagine there are a lot of conversations like this:

Keeper of All Knowledge: Lo, now that thou hast passed on, I grant thee the Secrets of the Universe!

Bob Dirt: What?

Keeper of All Knowledge: Thou art dead, and therefore all the Mysteries of Creation are thine!

Bob Dirt: What’re you goin’ on ‘bout?

Keeper of All Knowledge: You’re dead, all right? You’ve kicked the bucket! You’re worm food!

Bob Dirt: Well, I kinda figured that, what with bein’ run over by that harvester and all.

Keeper of All Knowledge: Great! We’re in agreement! Now that you’re dead, you can learn all of the secrets of the universe. They’re all in this big book over here. Go ahead, you earned it.

Bob Dirt: Does it got any pictures?

Keeper of All Knowledge: Pictures? Not really. Why? Wait, where are you going?

Bob Dirt: If it ain’t got no pictures, I ain’t interested. I’m gonna go find me a beer.

Keeper of All Knowledge: But, this book answers all the greatest questions mankind has!

Bob Dirt: Does it know where I can get me a beer?

Keeper of All Knowledge: No, not exactly.

Bob Dirt: Then I ain’t interested!

Tomorrow: Part 2 – Conversations with Dead People


Brian said...

Yeah. Farscape: Best. Show. Ever.

Torchwood (BBC) did a great job on theirs too. They brought their guy back to a kind of sentient unlife. It was quite good.

Anonymous said...

Actually Bob Dirt has a point there. What is the use of a book that has answers to all the great secrets of this Universe and can't answer a simple question like that. I can imagine that for a dead person just arrived to the "other world", the question "where I can get a beer around here" must be equally pressing and the answer as a "great mystery" as any.
Besides if that guy Bob was to be raised from the dead by a Fighter who accidentally found a magic ring or something, and has wisdom 3 (probably played by a player with even less wisdom) chances are that the first question to the dead Bob would be:
"hey pall... eh, sorry to wake you up but...do you have any idea where I can get a beer around here?"

Jason Janicki said...

I haven't actually seen Torchwood, though I have heard good things about it. I may have to check it out . . .

Good point. Beer is certainly central to universe in many ways. I would LOVE it if one of my player's did that :) Though I did have a Paladin in desperate need of healing during battle use a wish to 'heal all of my friends completely.' Everyone he had ever been friends with was healed (including his best-bud from when he was a toddler). However, seeing as he didn't include himself in the wish, he got nothing :). He tried to argue that he was his own best friend, but I didn't let him (he was very good natured about it and it has been the source of much amusement over the years).