marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,
marycatelli
marycatelli

back from the grave

"The undiscovered country, from whose bourn. No traveler returns" -- raising the question what in blue blazes did Hamlet think of the ghost?

At that, Hamlet is pretty mild.  There's a lot of stories that bring characters back from the dead.  Sometimes from "no one could survive that" where it's really true, sometimes opening up the grave and hauling the dead back to life. . .

On the whole, I find the more frankly supernatural the explanation is, the less I mind it.  The heroes plunge into the land of the dead to fight the god of the dead who's been attacking them; the god sets against them their friends who died earlier in the story; the heroes grab them and drag them back to the land of the living by main force -- I don't see how anyone could object to that.  Or the character has carefully, in the best fairy-tale style, stored his life outside his body.  Or the adventure is taking place in a AD&D world and you do have a high enough level cleric.

It's the kludged-up attempting-to-be-mundane solutions that annoy me.  The improbable cures.  The wounds that leave a puddle of blood and are still -- somehow -- superficial.  The convenient place to be caught before plummeting to the rocks.

It's more annoying when it's pulled out of a hat for a hero than for a villain, 'cause making life difficult for heroes is part of the art of storytelling, but it's not exactly wise for anyone, because as Aristotle warned long ago, a likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.
Tags: cliches, conflict, heroes and villains, world-building: magic (technique)
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