Spirit Walking is the mechanic of returning to your body after being coup de grace'd. You do not spirit walk for being incapacitated, only if you are killed while unconscious.
Making it back Edit
How easy it is to make it back to your body is a function of two things: Spirit & Character Age. First, the strength and visibility of the silver cord, as well as how close you spawn to your body in the Astral Plane, is determined by how much Spirit you have. If you've got a lot of Spirit, you may spawn within sight of your body and with a clearly visible cord. If the bond between your body and soul is weak (you have a lower Spirit score) you may find yourself having to travel huge distances in order to re-enter the mortal world. Also, without a clearly visible cord you could potentially become lost in the Astral Plane, unable to find your body.
Second, how long you have to return to your body before it becomes uninhabitable is determined by your Character’s Age. The older your character gets, the less time you have to make it back to your body before it begins to decompose.
This combination of Spirit and Character Age means that you’ll initially have no trouble finding your way back to your body. But, as you continue to play, and your body and Spirit succumb to the passage of time, there will eventually come a point in which your soul isn’t strong enough to make the return trip.
While being incapacitated comes with no long-term penalties, Spirit Walking does. Each time your soul is separated from your body, you lose a fixed amount of Spirit. This reduction in Spirit makes it that much harder the next time you’re forced to Spirit Walk. In addition, when you finally return to the physical plane, you’ll find your body now has a permanent scar, a constant reminder of the weakening bond between your body and soul.
Spirit Loss Edit
One of the main reasons for "permadeath" in this world is to create a fluid, believable story. In most books or other media, when a secondary actor dies you may not even notice it. But when a main character dies, or someone otherwise important to the story, it’s noticeable. Chronicles of Elyria follows the same principle. If you’re a lowly peasant, a town blacksmith, or otherwise insignificant, Spirit Walking will likely come with very little Spirit loss. This is also true if you’re killed by an NPC or die in such a way that nobody knows about it.
In contrast, if you’re a well-known character with a large amount of Fame, you become an integral part of the story. As a result, Spirit Walking as someone who’s established themselves in the story comes with an extremely high Spirit cost, potentially enough to prevent you from making it back to your body. As a general guideline, the more famous or well established you are, the more likely you are to encounter "permadeath". For example, a King is rather famous. If the King is killed, “Long live the Queen!”