In my earlier post, I suggested character in the Seven States Cosmology are never “fully” alive. I wanted to talk about that a little bit, what that means, and the implications involved. Let’s start by considering a hypothetical epic: the hero overcomes all of their character flaws through hardship in the story and becomes a fully-realized individual by the end. They live happily ever after.

Now, you want to make sure that story is good and long, because it should stretch over a full epic. We’re talking Lord of the Rings, at least. I’d wager that most stories that end with “happily ever after” don’t have enough obstacles. For a numerical estimate, let’s use the tiers system from Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons. You need to hit thirtieth level to live happily ever after.

Most characters never make it that far, and honestly, many that do still haven’t become a fully realized person by the time they’ve completed their destiny. They still have character flaws, but at least they’ve made a good run of it and stories of their exploits will become legend. Let’s throw out a number and say that approximately one in twenty of them actually manages a perfect run of it. Keep in mind … thirty levels.

Okay, so we have an idea of how long that takes … it takes the patience and commitment of a half-dozen people and a couple years for characters to reach 30th level. It isn’t like reaching the level cap in an MMO, because some of those you can actually accomplish by yourself. You’re dependent on the whims of others to become truly epic, in addition to having the personal commitment to get there.

So we’re talking about a serious ordeal that comes about not once in a generation, but once in an age — there are lots of civilizations that would kill to have a legend like that, but they’re beyond rare and special. They’re mythic. Heroes that are akin to the gods themselves — sometimes the hero actually becomes the god of their civilization (or is worshiped by the next civilization that comes along).

Now do this, like, seven times.

The result is a creature or character that has gone above and beyond “ascension.” They go beyond not just the most powerful things that exist in fiction (and without), but they go beyond anything that can actually be described. Like Cthulhu if we didn’t have a nickname for him. It’s the sort of thing that you start to describe and you just get farther from the truth of what it is the more words you use.

So when I suggest that characters aren’t “fully alive” in the Seven States Cosmology, that’s what they’re up against. Most people live a full, lovely, meaningful existence without reaching their ultimate potential … because it isn’t necessary to the simple enjoyment of life. It’s literally beyond comprehension.