Aging is a fact of life, as is the fact that many people would prefer to avoid it. There do exist some options for people who want to delay the effects of aging, be they magical or slightly more mundane in origin. Because this is a concern that many people have and have had, a number of solutions have been arrived at over the years, which have varying degrees of success.
Of course, certain magic, such as the spells cast on the Spider Corps during the Catechism Wars, have caused functional immortality in a number of people, albeit at the cost of standard human appearance. Other large-scale magic can theoretically make people immortal, though most immortals will report that the secondary effects of immortality are not worth the permanent cessation of aging.
There are equally magical but slightly less extreme options for those who wish to slow or halt aging. Wizards, practitioners of magic most attuned to the shape of the body and how to change it, are capable of crafting spells that can slow the process of aging for a person. These spells slow cellular change and allow a person to continue to appear the age they wish to for much longer than usual, but do not slow the actual interior process of aging and will not extend human lifespan. These spells often come with the drawback that if they are removed, the exterior aging process may happen all at once, which can be both painful and dangerous. Similar spells have been attempted to completely halt the aging process in this way, but have nearly always proven unhealthy and can cause a number of health conditions when used for more than a few weeks at a time.
These spells, even the safer ones, are generally considered not safe for use in children and adolescents; halting the aging process is an adult is one thing, but halting the growth process of someone still in development is generally considered very dangerous, because the hormone blockage that is required to effect this can cause brain and other cellular damage. There are wizards who are looking for ways to handle this kind of damage to create safe anti-aging spells, but preventing children from becoming adults is not considered a high research priority for most people.
The curious phenomenon of de-aging, that is, reversing the aging process so that a person ages backwards gradually or reverts to a younger age all at once, is one that is well studied but not well understood. Different types of magic seem able to cause such a shift in normal human growth patterns, but it has rarely been done intentionally, and has even more rarely been easily reversable. A noted wizard in northern Merket is a leading figure in research into this phenomenon, theorizing that certain magic, if applied correctly, could reverse the flow of time on a person’s body and cause them to age in reverse, but if his research has yet shown any dividends, nobody has seen them. That said, temporary age reversal spells, meant only to last for a few hours or at most a day, are difficult but very possible for most magic practitioners, allowing a person to regain lost youth if only for a little while. Using these on the same person repeatedly can risk overly stressing the body as it re-ages, however, and it is not recommended to use such spells more than once a week on the same person.
Illusion magic is the most common and least dangerous way by which people combat aging. Rather than actually altering their bodies in a meaningful way, a spell cast on a ring or amulet will allow a person to appear however they want for as long as they wear it. A number of people use such enchanted objects to avoid the appearance of aging, though they are not widely available and can be quite expensive, and of course are impossible to maintain for non-magical practitioners.
In addition to magical solutions, medicinal solutions to aging to exist. Allomark sap is known to reduce the effects of aging on human skin, and a potion made from Weeling seeds can prevent hair loss. Various creams and potions that temporarily or permanently prevent hair growth also exist. There are rumours of a plant that can cause children to grow more slowly, but its name changes depending on where one hears the story, suggesting it may be fictional.
In similarly fictional stories, across Menechit there exist stories about a magical spring called the Everspring, which slows, halts or even reverses aging in whomever drinks or bathes in its water. This spring is said to exist somewhere on an island out west, though nobody in the Bevia Islands has ever reported to have found such a spring, nor has any explorer to the region. Other islands do exist that might house the spring, but it is generally considered to be a work of fiction—despite the occasional sailor claiming to have found it.
At the end of the day there is no real way around aging if one isn’t willing to pay a reasonably hefty price for it—in some cases financially as well as physically. Anti-aging magic is a market for wealthy people who think they can pay not to get old, and even they generally realize at some point that all they’re doing is delaying the inevitable. Aging happens to everyone and though there are ways to slow, stall or stop it, most people come to the conclusion eventually that they’d rather just get old in peace rather than harm themselves trying to stay young forever.
That said, if someone does figure out the key to eternal youth, no doubt there will be lines of people outside their door waiting for their turn.
4 thoughts on “Friday Lore Post: Anti-Aging Techniques”
In the light novel series Slayers, immortality research is actually illegal. The reason is simple: what’s the easiest way to test if you’ve successfully made someone immortal? Kill them, of course. If they don’t die, they’re immortal.
Some king or other devoted all his kingdom’s assets to the search for immortality. His kingdom was depopulated within months. Everyone else took a good long look at what was left, decided “like hell that’s happening to us!”, and promptly outlawed immortality research.
That’s actually super interesting and makes a lot of sense, haha. Solid worldbuiling there! Thanks!
You’ve mentioned the morally acceptable means of life extension, but what about the dark arts? Human sacrifice, blood bathing, body snatching, lichdom and vampirism, the consumption of souls, deals with demons, and so on. What options do people without one of those pesky consciences have in this field?
Yeah, options definitely exist in that arena. We know that’s how Kein became immortal, for example. Matthias the Mad also became at least very long lived by making himself undead, which may or may not have involved some ritual blood bathing. People have tried body snatching their way to immortality, but it’s not a super feasible plan as the host bodies eventually start to reject them. Sorcerers have tried deals with demons, but they basically always backfire. I still haven’t actually decided the status of vampirism on Nova, but it probably exists in some form, haha.
There are definitely immortals out there, though. Notwithstanding the gods and the Spider Company, there are others whose lifespans are theoretically limitless for various reasons. They just haven’t really showed themselves to us yet. 😀