Created By: Ashseti on July 29, 2012

What Doesn't Kill You...

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Bob is a normal adventurer, traveling with a small caravan from point A to point B. Sudden;y, the group is attacked by a monster Bob has never seen before! The group rallies and drives the beast off, but not before the beast sting/scratches/bites/etc Bob, and he has fallen deathly ill/unconscious/stark raving mad. The wise cleric attempts healing, but warns that it's pretty much hit or miss. There is a good chance Bob will die.... but if he does, he will be stronger, faster, have night vision, be immune to the poison that did this in the first place, and have refreshingly fresh breath forever.

Of course, our hero is made of that sterner stuff.

Basically, something has happened to a character that USUALLY means they should be sized for a pine box. Once in a while though, someone pulls through with new and fantastic abilities. I do not mean a story where a character regularly doses themselves with something highly lethal until they become immune, I mean when someone has a near-lethal brush with the rare and exotic, and instead of dying in agony, they eventually walk it off, and are better off for it.

I also don't mean when a character undergoes some sort of insanely dangerous training and comes back having taken a level in bad ass. I'm talking more of a.. this thing happened, and now I guess I'm awesome.

I'm also trying to think of examples not from comic books, but since I had the thought all I've been able to come up with is how many of our favourite capes and cowls should have outright died in their origin stories..
Community Feedback Replies: 11
  • July 29, 2012
    I just thought up a potentially better name.

    "Survival Bonus" or "Left-field Level Up".
  • July 29, 2012
    The Saiyans from Dragonball Z may count as this trope. If they survive a near-death experience caused by severe injuries, then they get a power boost on recovery.
  • July 30, 2012
    Ashseti/OP, is this Die Or Fly?
  • July 30, 2012
    As a plot point in the Dragon Age: Origins video game, drinking darkspawn blood will either kill you, or imbue you with a powerful darkspawn essence called the Taint. Guess what happens to your character?
  • July 30, 2012
    Arivne, I do not think it is. Die or Fly seems to be a hidden talent or skill the character had all along, while I am going for a gained trait as a side effect of surviving an ordeal.

    For example, getting clawed by a demon, and after two weeks of being on the brink of death, the character recovers, and now can sense demonic influence/presence... or being blinded with Snake Venom, and after losing her sight, the heroine now can see in the thermal spectrum. The gained abilities are related to the ordeal.
  • July 30, 2012
    I know you're not looking for comic-book examples, but there is the metagene in DC Comics.

    I feel like we already have a trope riffing off the Nietsche quote, but damned if I can figure out what it is.
  • July 31, 2012
    ^^ O.K. You might want to put that information in the description to make the difference between the two tropes clear.

    Is this what you're looking for, or are the abilities not "fantastic" enough to count?

    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons
      • Module X2 Castle Amber. The PCs can eat a magical dinner prepared for them by ghosts. If they eat the mushrooms in wine sauce, they must make a saving throw vs. poison. If it fails they die. It it succeeds they gain a bonus on all future saves vs. poison.
      • Module EX1 Dungeonland. If any PC drinks any of the tea at the mad tea party they must make a saving throw vs. poison. If it fails they die. If it succeeds they gain 5% magic resistance.
  • July 31, 2012
    ^ I agree. "Contrast Die Or Fly..."

    @ Ashseti Would the gamma radiation on Bruce Banner (The Hulk) and/or Peter Parker's spider bite count? For the latter, I'm thinking mostly of the feverish night in the bedroom in the Tobey MacGuire film version.
  • August 19, 2012
    I didn't want to focus on comic books because damn near all superheros live and breath this trope.

    A non-comic book example: St. Margaret of Antioch. She was beaten, imprisoned, and eaten by a dragon. She fought her way out of the dragon's belly, only for the Romans to try to drown her, and set her on fire. Turns out bathing in dragon's blood gave her saint-worthy resistance to damage.
  • August 19, 2012
    We're definitely going to need a better name, but for starters, compare Acquired Poison Immunity.
  • August 29, 2012
    @Stratadrake API is close, but I am talking about a one shot, live or die, and if you live, you get a set of powers kinda deal.