Bullet Points: 4 Feats for Spells that Raise the Dead (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Rogue Genius Games
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Sometimes rules supplements read like the world-setting bible of frustrated novelists. While solid world- building is a useful skill, you don't always need four paragraphs of flavor text to tell you swords are cool, magic is power, shadows are scary, and orcs are savage. Sometimes a GM doesn't have time to slog through a page of history for every magic weapon. Sometimes all that's needed are a few cool ideas, with just enough information to use them in a game. Sometimes, all you need are bullet points.
Bullet Points are a line of very short, cheap PDFs each of which gives the bare bones of a set of related options. It may be five spells, six feats, eight magic weapon special abilities, or any other short set of related rules we can cram into about a page. Short and simple, these PDFs are for GMs and players who know how to integrate new ideas into their campaigns without any hand-holding, and just need fresh ideas and the rules to support them. No in-character fiction setting the game world. No charts and tables. No sidebars of explanations and optional rules. Just one sentence of explanation for the High Concept of the PDF, then bullet points.
The High Concept: Four feats that give spellcasters more options when performing the most amazing magic available to mortals – restoring the dead to life. This includes breath of life, raise dead, reincarnate, resurrection, and true resurrection. This is the latest in a series of products to celebrate the "Summer of Bullets" event!
The feats included are:
Ferryman: You can bring back the dead with surprising ease.
Lore From Beyond the Pale: Those you bring back from death come with knowledge gained through their contact with spirits of the dead.
Rebirth: You don’t just restore the subject to life, you give them an entirely new life.
Selfless Resurrection: You can use your own life energy to restore the lives of others quickly.
I’ll be blunt: I’m very dubious of the idea of feats that only modify specific spells (or extremely small groups of spells). The idea that you’re ever going to be using that particular spell just that much that you can afford to spend a precious feat slot in it is, to me, a stretch. Having said that, if anyone can pull it off, it’s the Super Geniuses, so let’s take a look.
Part of their #1 With a Bullet Point series, 4 Feats for Spells that Raise the Dead is fairly self-explanatory in what it offers. Notwithstanding the ubiquitous series intro (explaining the idea of buying a short product with no “frills”) and the OGL, what you have here is one page with four feats on it, designed to modify the roughly half-dozen spells that bring the dead back to life.
While I don’t want to go too deeply into what these feats do (why would you buy the product otherwise), there’s one that allows you to “swap out” spells for resurrection-type spells, one that allows the resurrected creature to come back with the answer to a specific question, one that allows the creature to “rewrite” some of its basic information (e.g. stats, age, etc.), and one that allows you to take on the negative level of a resurrected creature.
Overall, I’m not sure if I’m entirely convinced that these feats are worthwhile. The Super Geniuses clearly understand that when the versatility of a feat is so tightly restricted, its power needs to be greater; I’m just not sure that these necessarily live up to that. For example, a feat that lets you “swap out” for resurrection type spells seems like overkill…will you ever really need just THAT many resurrection spells in a single day? If you need one immediately, but don’t want to prepare one, why not just go for a scroll? It doesn’t seem like quite enough. Similarly, coming back to life with the equivalent of a commune spell seems like a flat-out waste of a feat; just cast commune!
Having said that, the other two feats do, to my mind, live up (resurrection pun!) to their potential. Being able to rewrite a resurrected character, at least to some degree, is the best of both worlds between getting to play your old character again and playing a new one. Similarly, being able to avoid a negative level is good, particularly if the other person is willing to take that particular hit for you.
Overall, while none of these feats are anywhere near being bad, to me only two out of four were truly worthwhile. Your mileage may vary, of course, but to me this has two winners and two near-misses. So a solid three out of five stars.
3.5 stars - one of these feats could wreck your campaign' logic
All right, though I think that by now, you know the drill, here’s the chant: 3 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page content, this time providing us with feats to modify spells that raise the dead, so let’s check them out!
-Ferryman: If you’re a preparing spellcaster, you can channel spells (à la spontaneous conversion) into raise dead-spells as long as the life-restring spell is of an equal spell-level or lower. If you’re a spontaneous caster, you may add one bonus spell that restores life to your repertoire. Additionally, you may 1/day halve the costs of such a spell. I’m not comfortable with the prepared sponateous conversion – with the massive casting times and costs of the spell, I feel that this one might cheapen further the already cheap repercussions of death in the game, something I personally rather much avoid – death should have at least some gravity.
-Lore from Beyond the Pale: When raising a creature from the dead, you may ask a question the creature then replies once the deed is done. An awesome little modification to the base-spell.
-Rebirth: If you add some money and incense to your raise the dead-spell, your resurrection changes the target creature, enabling it to reassign attributes, change its age (between adulthood and max age) and even change its mystical name for arcane purposes. Per se a great re-boot spell, but also one that potentially wrecks a campaign setting: The ability to become more youthful and thus cheat the natural lifespan might make many a necromancer-justification and even lichdom rather absurd. A Great feat per se, but the age-problem needs to be nerfed in order to guarantee internal consistency in a setting.
-Selfless Resurrection: This feat enables you to take negative levels of the subject to be resurrected in its stead, disabling you rather long, but also adding the option of resurrecting people who’ve died of old age – though only with one final year to live. It’s modifications like the latter that make this feat work in my opinion where Rebirth goes too far. Additionally, this feat stretches the length after which breath of life can be used.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to SGG’s horizontal 3-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. All right, I’ve got to come clear: I’m not a big fan of raising the dead without quests and think that death in 3.X-derivates and PFRPG is far too cheap.
That being said, I can get behind some of the ideas presented in this pdf – Lore from beyond the Pale especially, but also the iconic selfless resurrection are awesome feats that greatly enhance the already cool scenes of resurrection. My favorite would be Rebirth, were it not for the potentially logic-breaking assumptions that this feat adds to a campaign, making undeath a rather stupid choice for all those mighty beings. And Ferryman…well. For a campaign in which PCs rise and fall continuously, this might be nice, but generally, I feel that it overtly cheapens an already much to cheap act that should retain at least some component of its iconicity. In the end, I can see that this pdf is not made for me, but its appeal remains apparent. Thus, I’ll only fracture in the potential repercussions for the in-game logic the otherwise stellar rebirth-feat would entail. In the end, I’ll thus arrive at a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform with the caveat that, if you don’t mind campaign-world logic/ play in a game that handwaves resurrections, this might be 5 stars for you.
Continuing the Summer of Bullets with another addition to the Bullet Point series, Owen brings us 4 Feats for Spells that Raise the Dead. Standard Bullet format with 3 pages, 3 column landscape orientation, and top notch editing. Each of the recent Bullet Points has targeted a specific spell and or group of spells, and this particular addition is no different, aiming straight for those various spells used to return life to the dead. Obviously, there are far to many of these spells (thanks to the immense amount of 3PP sources, lol) to list here, but I imagine you all get the idea. So lets go over them, see what we're getting this time.
Ferryman allows for characters who must prepare their spells to burn a spell they have prepared to instead cast a life restoring spell from their spell list (as long as level requirements are met). Have no fears, for the spontaneous casters, Owen's got you covered also, as well as throwing in a nice perk in regards to material components. Over all, this is a seriously cool feat, and is in my opinion the type of feat any support healer character should have in their arsenal of tricks. Well done!
Lore From Beyond the Pale covers an idea I have always loved from movies and books wherein a character returns from the dead...the information gained from being on the other side. Whereas it doesnt give you an open door to go nuts for gaining information (well played Owen), it does allow for one specific question to be asked at a specific time, with the form of the answer being up to the GM. Now, although the feat does not specifically state that the being being raised can/will not lie in answering, the implication is there, so a GM feeling like being “that guy” is still free to drop misinformation, as it is only an implication.
Rebirth offers up the ultimate in Fantasy Witness Protection, lol. You don't have to just raise the dead back to their old life, you can literally allow one being raised to “reform” themselves...new age, new name (even in regards to mystic purposes), redistribution of ability and skill points, the whole works. Now, I can see some folks thinking this is too much to put in the hands of players...but really, you get to the point that a player can bring the dead back to life, we're already talking about some pretty wicked power in their hands. And this, this has potential to allow a GM to pull off some pretty wicked things...go back to my opening line if you will, a Fantasy Witness Protection Program...OK, stop laughing, seriously...the PC's just finished totally trouncing your big bad evil dude, he's dead, a half year of planning down the drain, now what? Simple, raise his butt, give him a new face, a new name, and a whole new skill/feat set...with all of that desire for revenge...that's the type of potential that makes a feat really cool for some serious story affecting ability.
Selfless Resurrection is for those moments of true selfless sacrifice, allowing you to turn the casting of spells that restore life as a standard action, with the drawback of gaining a negative level. On top of that, you can take on the negative levels the creature you are raising should be getting...see why I referred to this as sacrifice? I can see several moments of deep role-play where such a feat would be an awesome thing in the hands of the right player, and I love that to use it costs the player so much. In addition, if used in conjunction with breath of life, the length of time that the dead can be in such a state and still be raised by you is determined by your Con bonus.
Final thoughts on this one, I can only think of one thing to say in negativity, and that is in regards to the front artwork, lol. The censor boxes are amusing, and I understand why they are there, as I have seen the original...no real complaint to register in regards to the material and crunch here, the PDF itself is fantastic. I thought at first I was not going to be happy with only 4 feats, I did. But then I read them, and they each bring enough to the table that they justify there being only 4 in this Bullet Point. One of the better Bullet Points in my opinion, I am giving this a 6 star rating, rounding down to a 5 for the purposes of this forum.