Death Flagging Condition in Vertinall | World Anvil

Death Flagging

Don't you say it, I swear to god

"I've made this trek a thousand times, what's the worst that coul- Oh my beast. Wait, no I didn't mean it like-- Shit."
— Jimmy Readshert
  Fate. Funny old thing, eh? Well, so long as the existential dread of our every action and thought being dictated by a higher power doesn't bother you. It certainly doesn't bother me but I mean; Come on. There's no way that some greater being is controlling me to draft up some weird writings about mortal conditions of a magical world of big snakes and floaty rocks.   The same unfortunately cannot be said for the people of Vertinall, who have caught onto the most intruiging of fate's design-- When a person is nearing the end of their life... Almost inexplicably, they will utter a series of words that signal their doom.  

Isn't that just coincidence?

  Sometimes, sure. Maybe all the time, actually. But anything happening in front of a bunch of superstitious morons more than once EVENTUALLY will get confused as a sign of mystical energy. God forbid they learn what a 'narrative tool' is.  
"I demand a vow of silence before entering this dungeon. Not a single word is to be uttered before, during or after, lest we fall to the flag of death. By the beast, dying is the last thing we are going to do on this quest."   "... Hang on a minute didn't you just--"   "--A VOW OF SILENCE"
— The Green team, shortly before being crushed by a boulder, tied to the top of a piano

Transmission & Vectors

It is not entirely clear how this disease is passed onto an individual, but it has become well known that the first vocalisation of someone cursed with the 'death flag' presents an immediate and imminent threat to everyone and everything around them. One way, or another, fate finds a means of exacting it's sick, twisted sense of comedic timing upon the plagued.


Typically the causes of Death Flagging are totally random; It can happen at any time, or any place, but there have been certain 'tells' that have been identified that can help potentially predict an impending death flag, which are:  
  • Being exactly one day from retirement
  • Delivering a grand speech right before entering a dangerous place
  • Acting whimsical or blasé whilst entering an incredibly dark and suspicious looking alleyway
  • Stepping onto an old rickety bridge that you assume is perfectly up to safety specification
  • Saying the exact phrase "Well it could be worse" when referring to literally any personal strife
  • Wearing the colour red
  Studies showed that doing none of the things on this list increased chances of being alive by a factor of 100%, based on the fact that all five of the people they had spoken to had done none of those things.


The condition tends to become clear at the utterance of a phrase, though can also show itself through actions taken, but this form can be much more difficult to catch. Maybe after years of turning left, you turn right. Maybe after years having the same old porridge in the same old way every morning you have it again because you've just had it so many times that absolutely nothing could be different about how you have it that particular morning, and WHAM-- Death flag city.


There are no known treatments for Death Flagging-- When your number's up, it's up.   Some believe that uppending their 'death flag' with inane, random statements somehow circumvents their fate, but most of the time it just means that their last words are uh... Memorable.  
"From this distance? They couldn't hit the side of a barn, let alone my vital organs-- Ducks quacks don't echo, gents."
— General Rhandumfax, shortly before being struck with an arrow in his very vital organs


Whilst there are no guranteed methods of preventing a 'death flag' from occurring, some have chosen to welcome a measure of instability to their lives and act on no discernable pattern to themselves. There's nothing to suggest that this works or helps in any way, but they sure seem to make out like they're having a lot more fun than everyone else.
its always a piano
by TheDumbOwl (me)
"Jim, for the last time; Just because my whole family was crushed by a rapidly falling piano, doesn't mean it'll happen to me too!"

Cover image: by TheDumbOwl (me)


Author's Notes

This article was written as part of a 'Secret Prompts' collaboration between the WA Chapters! My prompt was 'A recurring idea in your setting (like an item, character, phrase, or anything else that appears throughout history).'

Please Login in order to comment!
Oct 18, 2023 23:16 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

My favourite death flag: "I have a wife at home and she is heavily pregnant."

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Oct 19, 2023 07:31 by Alex (TheDumbOwl)

Egads!!! The Disney maneuver of going for the parents!

Ahoy hoy! Have a happy day! Check out my world Vertinall!
Oct 19, 2023 02:23

After the first section, I had to scroll down and Like before reading any farther, it's just so perfect. Makes me wonder what my death flag will be. Probably "May this not be the day I fall off the ladder while carrying this huge heavy box."

From The River to The Ocean, a civilization grows up.
Oct 19, 2023 07:31 by Alex (TheDumbOwl)

Thank you for the kind words! May our death flags be memorable and heavily quotable!

Ahoy hoy! Have a happy day! Check out my world Vertinall!
Oct 29, 2023 12:55 by Chris L

Great cheerful article about death! It has also stifled all of my desire to drop a pithy and funny quote about dying!

See WorldEmber 2023 Hub for my WorldEmber progress.

Check out my challenge winning article: Ghost Boy.