Raise Dead and the Diamond Thing


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:

For people who can teleport across the world, literally travel to Hell and back, and conjure deadly fire and stone out of thin air, death is a trivial obstacle.

In terms of game math, the 5000gp cost for the spell also encourages metagaming, which is bad. See, if you have a party of 3 live PCs and one dead PC, they have two options:

1) Scrounge up 5000gp (either from the dead PC's stuff or from a group donation) and have the dead PC raised. Net result: party has 5000gp less than before and two more negative levels than before.
2) Leave the PC dead, divide his stuff among the PCs or sell it, have the dead PC's player bring in a new character (who has full gear for his level, and no negative levels). Net result: party has X more gp than before (where at worst X is half the expected wealth for a character of their level) and no extra negative levels.

In other words, it's better for the party to bring in a new PC than to resurrect the old one. Which is lame. In a "roleplaying" game that barely encourages roleplaying at all, costly PC death actively DIScourages roleplaying someone who's compassionate about a fallen ally, and ENcourages you to be a mercenary metagaming player who's only interested in the wealth and damage output of the group.

I don't like the expensive material component for a spell that is critical and necessary to the typical game experience, and I don't use it.

you sir, are the man, and you can put that in your sig.

I dont use it either.


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The campaigns I've been in have always handwaived the item at hand in favor of just throwing an equivalent amount of gold at the problem.
(so 5k gp of diamond just becomes 5k gp).

That being said however, the rule itself is extremely vague and subject to some small amount of abuse.

Just how do you determine the worth of a diamond?

If someone wants a diamond of a particular size, color, and clarity and is willing to pay you 5,000gp for it- is that diamond not worth 5,000?

By that same token- If you fool the cleric with a cheaper diamond but he thinks its worth the cash, is it good? What if you and he are both fooled by a conniving diamond merchant?
You paid the 5k. The cleric thinks you paid the 5k. The diamond was worth 5k to you. Does the spell work?
It gets even fishier if you have a diamond from a treasure trove.
By RAW that diamond will fetch you *2500* gold worth of stuff when you sell it.
So do you really have a 5kgp diamond or is it really just worth 2500?

I know- this is what DM's are for.. but it can present a predicament either for the unaware PC or for the very aware and unscrupulous PC.

-S


Frogboy wrote:
Nobody pays attention to that kind of stuff. 1000gp and a raise dead and you're back in the action. :)

Oops! Make that 5000gp. :P


Note that it's also good for a party to bring in a new guy, kill him, take his gear, rinse the blood and repeat.

It's that the possibility to change characters sheets is metagaming. Sure, if the resurrection spells are disadvantaging the party, and are more of a formality than a part of the adventure for the players, that makes the other option tempting. But I think that to a certain point, the metagame solutions should be discouraged rather than the in game problems avoided.

That being said, those spells much too abstract to my taste, and if while changing them on that account they are made cheaper, it's okay with me.


In the long list of homebrewing I'll never do, I'd like a series of necromancy spells to raise corpses as weak undead that retain memories and class levels, raise dead replaced by a spell to restore memories of a petitionner, and resurrections that call an outsider with which you'll have to negociate the return of the soul. And at a certain level, a lasting contract that can be made with the representatives of the plane or power in charge of the PCs souls to have an auto-respawn effect.


just eat the +2 ECL and play a good aligned half celestial. when they die, they just pop up back in celestia (heaven). the other angels are kind of enough to plane shift you for free. purely out of thier generous nature. basically you respawn for the price of +2 ECL, if level 3 or higher, it's only +1 ECL and a free class level. for endless respawning.


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I have always felt that spell components that have to cost X gp aren't actually destroyed in the casting of the spell, but are rather used as offerings to higher or extra-dimensional entities for services. So Raise Dead you are making an offering to a celestial or even a demon/devil for a evil character in order for the return of the soul. The outsider then gives it to another as payment for some service or another as they have no real use of such things, and so it eventually returns to the material plane. These keeps the average cost of gemstones fairly common. Also the value is a kind of universal value across all planes found it the core rule book, but any geographical area you might have to pay more or less for it. This is a good way of having it available a little cheaper when that level 3 character dies.


*poke* *poke*

Frank? Hello?


Frogboy wrote:

*poke* *poke*

Frank? Hello?

yes? or were you actually looking for my brother Jesse?

Super Genius Games

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I actually really like how they handled it in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. PC dies, they go to get him raised, no money changes hands. Instead, the High Priestess makes the characters swear oaths to do all in their power to remove slavery from the world.

That it. No Geas either, and they actually did it.

This is coming up in the game I'm running (a PC monk died a couple of sessions ago and they're go to get him raised) and I'm playing around with various quests I can send them on in exchange for the resurrection. I'm currently contemplating a request to reunite the Dawn (high) and Twilight (wood) elves in order to stop an invasion of Midnight (drow) elves and their allies.

Hyrum.

Liberty's Edge

Can you just buy any size diamond and overpay for it and have it count?


That's taking it a bit too literally. I think the point is that you need a diamond of a certain quality for the spell, and diamonds of that quality usually sell for 5000 gp. If you're going to quibble that "overpaying" for a diamond fits the definition of a market price then you might as well toss out all the prices in the game; a single unchanging price (for any given item) everywhere you go is an obvious concession to simplicity and it's the first thing you'd have to toss out if you want to inject even the slightest bit of realism into the game's economics.


Used to be able to swap items with little or no intrinsic value for the raise dead spell. (And also of other spells)...

The one I recall is a vestiment buried with a saint for three days, as a material component for the raise dead spell.

There were others that were uncommon or rare, but could be substituted for the more common (and expensive) component.

It makes a party with no resources able to undertake and do something to bring back a PC or NPC....


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Freddy Honeycutt wrote:
The one I recall is a vestiment buried with a saint for three days, as a material component for the raise dead spell.

I'm willing to bet a lot of saints were buried alive back in the day as a result. *evil grin*

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
Freddy Honeycutt wrote:
The one I recall is a vestiment buried with a saint for three days, as a material component for the raise dead spell.
I'm willing to bet a lot of saints were buried alive back in the day as a result. *evil grin*

Well, I'd have no problem taking a three day nap with a ring of sustenance for the greater good if I were a saint...


The point was instead of expensive components you could go on a quest or try to locate a substitute component. Usually this required a visit to a sage or to a library......

Then the DM could come up with whatever he thought he would allow for the spell to work....

Makes all the spells especially high level spells a little more interesting.

If you are a "saint" then you probably have vow of poverty and don't need to eat/drink or even breath for the 3 days!

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
R. Hyrum Savage wrote:

I actually really like how they handled it in the Guardians of the Flame series by Joel Rosenberg. PC dies, they go to get him raised, no money changes hands. Instead, the High Priestess makes the characters swear oaths to do all in their power to remove slavery from the world.

The next time they asked for a favor, the price was the removal of all the class levels from the Wizard player. She reminded me of the grief you usually got from the Good-Aligned NPC's you asked for help in Greyhawk.


Selgard wrote:

It gets even fishier if you have a diamond from a treasure trove.

By RAW that diamond will fetch you *2500* gold worth of stuff when you sell it.
So do you really have a 5kgp diamond or is it really just worth 2500?

Actually, a 5k diamond is always worth 5k. The selling for 50% rule does not apply to trade goods like gems, so unless you get cheated or outhaggled you should always be able to sell them for 100%. This does not mean that you can necessarily buy that diamond for only 5k, though. The merchant is going to need some profit off the deal, probably something variable in the low hundreds of gold range.

Quote:

Selling Treasure

In general, a character can sell something for half its listed price, including weapons, armor, gear, and magic items. This also includes character-created items.

Trade goods are the exception to the half-price rule. A trade good, in this sense, is a valuable good that can be easily exchanged almost as if it were cash itself.

That is why so many PCs convert their portable wealth into gems. You can't spend them like money, at least not in most places, but they are a lot easier to transport than thousands of coins.


I want to know what games you guys are playing in where 7000gp for a raise and 2 restorations is "cheap".

Dark Archive

Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
I want to know what games you guys are playing in where 7000gp for a raise and 2 restorations is "cheap".

At any point over level 10, a mere 7000 gp for the life of your character is an incredibly small price to pay.

Sovereign Court

Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
I want to know what games you guys are playing in where 7000gp for a raise and 2 restorations is "cheap".

Hahahahah - so true.

Sovereign Court

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

For people who can teleport across the world, literally travel to Hell and back, and conjure deadly fire and stone out of thin air, death is a trivial obstacle.

In terms of game math, the 5000gp cost for the spell also encourages metagaming, which is bad. See, if you have a party of 3 live PCs and one dead PC, they have two options:

1) Scrounge up 5000gp (either from the dead PC's stuff or from a group donation) and have the dead PC raised. Net result: party has 5000gp less than before and two more negative levels than before.
2) Leave the PC dead, divide his stuff among the PCs or sell it, have the dead PC's player bring in a new character (who has full gear for his level, and no negative levels). Net result: party has X more gp than before (where at worst X is half the expected wealth for a character of their level) and no extra negative levels.

In other words, it's better for the party to bring in a new PC than to resurrect the old one. Which is lame. In a "roleplaying" game that barely encourages roleplaying at all, costly PC death actively DIScourages roleplaying someone who's compassionate about a fallen ally, and ENcourages you to be a mercenary metagaming player who's only interested in the wealth and damage output of the group.

I don't like the expensive material component for a spell that is critical and necessary to the typical game experience, and I don't use it.

Hi Sean,

I also agree with James that the diamond dust is the soul lure, perhaps drawing its attention in the first place... but I was intrigued by your response of not using it. My question: I am sooo curious how you handle the effects of death in your games. Like you on this diamond issue, I have struggled with the death penalty rules being trivial, since they're usually cleared up instantly with spells---therefore I started making the negative level Permanent, removed only by some living act so great that it regrounds the soul i.e. a completed quest or adventure, or a deed recognized by a deity or saint. I'd love your thoughts on this....? Thx


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Ravingdork wrote:


I've always said that such spells should say "onyx gems/diamonds worth Xgp" rather than a single gemstone that no one can ever find by the rules.

Now imagine that you've got a BAG FULL of onyx that equates to the gem price required...and you have to shove it ALL in the creature's maw you are trying to animate...

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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My thoughts on it are: don't have the gp cost, don't have the negative level be permanent. It sucks to die, it sucks that one of the PCs has to use a high-level spell to fix the problem. We grew up playing video games where you die, hit Continue, and keep playing. These costs are among the last "DM vs. players" mentality of the old style of gaming, and I don't play that way.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
My thoughts on it are: don't have the gp cost, don't have the negative level be permanent. It sucks to die, it sucks that one of the PCs has to use a high-level spell to fix the problem. We grew up playing video games where you die, hit Continue, and keep playing. These costs are among the last "DM vs. players" mentality of the old style of gaming, and I don't play that way.

I have a couple of different reactions, and they don't easily flow into each other. So I used subheadings.

I'm interested, could you elaborate:
That's with the situation that the players are high enough level to cast the spell themselves. The 'cost' is a 4th level spell slot. How do you handle it when they aren't high enough level?
The standard "the cleric will only do it if you complete this quest"?
I've never really liked using that one, but the problem might be I've never planned for it to happen, so I haven't had a good quest justification handy*. How have you handled it?

I disagree, but don't mean offense:
I definitely feel like the cost and negative levels are an uninteresting tax in my games, doing nothing more than to drain their coffers and kick them while they're down -and I'm looking for ways to fix that in my games- but I have to ask, what is the point of a game where dying doesnt mean anything beyond sitting out a few rounds? I'm not saying that with my DM hat, but as a player. I can't imagine that I would feel any tension or buy in, if I knew that I basically couldn't fail in the longrun.
Sure, we might not save the damsel. But I'm immortal. My friends are immortal. Hell, we can just use a 4th level spell on her when we finally get there, after our third or fourth suicide charge breaks down the minotaur morale.
I got a bit sarcastic there, but that's because I clearly don't see the logistics of how to make this work in a good game, which I fully believe you to be running.
If you could enlighten me on how you prevent the issues I'm concerned with, I would appreciate it.

A short explanation of my point of view:
I don't have a dm vs players perspective, but both I and my players have come from a background with a variety of narrative** games where half the point is that if you screw up, you could Die.
Call of Cthulhu, NWOD, Requiem, Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader.
That was after starting with 4e.
I, and at least a couple of my players, really dislike how little death means under RAW, to the point where my wip homebrew setting completely lacks ressurection magic, and uses hero points to compensate.

*There's also the massive problem with anything along these lines... "Hey, George, you're gonna have to just sit there while the other three do an exciting adventure to bring you back"

** Not free form narrative, psuedo plot points and wishy washy collaborative whatever. Fairly standard games about investigation, social intrigue, conspiracy and action, and that's what we want to do in Pathfinder. I gather all the fine folks here succeed at doing exactly that.
I'm really only taking the time to cover this, as I'm premptively concerned with someone insinuating I'm a dm deriving pleasure from crushing players hopes and dreams, by running them through dungeon crawl filled with nonsensical but abusively optimised monsters.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Tim Hunt 103 wrote:
That's with the situation that the players are high enough level to cast the spell themselves. The 'cost' is a 4th level spell slot. .

5th level, actually. I assume you're talking about Raise Dead.


Decrepit DM wrote:
While it is a great method of controlling the amount of raisings possible, I still find it hard to story in, especially when they never come across them in adventures.

Why would they not come across them in adventures?

Once the parties I play in get up around tenth level, we always have diamond dust on us. Typically we wear it in an amulet or something, with a big sign on it saying "Break Here For Medical Emergency," so if we die, they know where the regs are to bring us back. My gaming group has been doing this for years, because it's the most sensible thing to do. It's not like there's Dungeons and Dragons Obamacare.

So if our PCs do it, why wouldn't the NPCs?

Just start adding diamond dust to the loot stash for important boss NPCs, even if they aren't clerics. It's their health plan, after all.


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Sean K Reynolds wrote:


In other words, it's better for the party to bring in a new PC than to resurrect the old one. Which is lame. In a "roleplaying" game that barely encourages roleplaying at all, costly PC death actively DIScourages roleplaying someone who's compassionate about a fallen ally, and ENcourages you to be a mercenary metagaming player who's only interested in the wealth and damage output of the group.

I don't like the expensive material component for a spell that is critical and necessary to the typical game experience, and I don't use it.

Only an issue if all your players are meta-gaming.

Dark Archive

Did it take a 5000gp diamond to raise this thread? Does it still have negative levels?

Silver Crusade

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
My thoughts on it are: don't have the gp cost, don't have the negative level be permanent. It sucks to die, it sucks that one of the PCs has to use a high-level spell to fix the problem. We grew up playing video games where you die, hit Continue, and keep playing. These costs are among the last "DM vs. players" mentality of the old style of gaming, and I don't play that way.

I've struggled with this aspect of the game both as a player and as a GM.

I've seen exactly the problem you described (Heck, I've even advocated it): "Guy's Bob is dead. We can either Resurrect Bob with all of his cash and then spend even more money getting rid of his negative levels. OR we can keep all Bob's loot, bury Bob, and then go back to town and find his brother, Rob, who will be happy to join our noble cause"

But at the same time, I worry about death losing it's importance if it's just a revolving door. Because if orcs ransack a village and murder everyone, all the kingdom has to do is send in a regiment of clerics and raise everyone. Because if coming back to life is that easy, it's in the best interest of everyone to cultivate as many 9th level clerics as humanly possible.


Fred Ohm wrote:

>TriO

There's hardly a risk... The various resurrection spells destroy the stones, and thus the rarity augments constantly. Actually, I can't figure how there can still be diamonds left in the settings like FR where civilisation spans tens of thousands of years, with magical means to mine the earth dry.
Either every diamond is created by a conjurer minutes before the resurrection (is it allowed by the rules ?), either they would have to import it from the planes.

The way I look at it, the diamonds are taken up by the deity involved, who then sends them back as rewards, etc.


Sarandosil wrote:
That's taking it a bit too literally. I think the point is that you need a diamond of a certain quality for the spell, and diamonds of that quality usually sell for 5000 gp. If you're going to quibble that "overpaying" for a diamond fits the definition of a market price then you might as well toss out all the prices in the game; a single unchanging price (for any given item) everywhere you go is an obvious concession to simplicity and it's the first thing you'd have to toss out if you want to inject even the slightest bit of realism into the game's economics.

Nope. The devs made it clear that the deities involved just want the PC’s to make the sacrifice, and they set that value @ 5000 gps. If in your region that’s a small flawed poor color rock, and if in another region it’s a fist sized perfect bleu-white, then that’s all good.


My elderly paladin who can raise dead for free (Ultimate Mercy feat) is becoming more and more viable...

Liberty's Edge

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
My thoughts on it are: don't have the gp cost, don't have the negative level be permanent. It sucks to die, it sucks that one of the PCs has to use a high-level spell to fix the problem. We grew up playing video games where you die, hit Continue, and keep playing. These costs are among the last "DM vs. players" mentality of the old style of gaming, and I don't play that way.

I can see this being true in some games and for some groups, but I also feel like if you have done a good job collectively of creating characters everyone at the table cares about, it isn't really a cost-benefit analysis type calculation about bringing the player back.

You do it because they were part of the party, and that is what you do.

I kind of feel like something is lost in the video game mentality where you just hit the reset without penality. There is something less heroic about the ultimate sacrifice for the good of your friends when...well...it isn't a sacrifice at all.

I think the GM vs Player mentality comes from lack of GM trust and excessive individual player entitlement.

If everyone trusts the GM to be fair and always try to put the players into positions where they have regular opportunities to be "Big Damn Heroes", that part works out fine.

If the players aren't trying to beat the GM or the other players at the table, that part works out fine.

But when death is a speedbump rather than...well...death...it kind of cheapens the fear players (and good GMs) have of the dice.

Heroic deaths are some of the most memorable moments in the games I've played in. If there isn't any penalty...well then it does feel more like a video game and...well...I don't have a lot of awesome memories of the heroic deaths I've had in video games.

We don't have the GM vs Player mentality at our table. We have to turn people away regularly. We all believe in our GMs (and for those of who play the APs, the writers). We believe they aren't out to get us, that they are out to create a fun, but challenging experience that will make us all love our characters, and our party, and allow everyone to be valued to the point that no one would even consider the gamist concept of not bringing them back and selling their loot, as if the PC were some random NPC.

It is that mindset that to me is the bigger problem. If you and your party have no emotional attachment to the character you built, why aren't you just playing a video game?


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It makes no sense to me that people would charge the purity value of the stone when they know what they could be used for. Also, few governments would allow these stones to be available on the open market, maybe Magnimar or Andoran, but any government that attempts to establish any form of control over its citizens would horde the gems. Especially any government that uses the death penalty ("that's the third time this month we've executed that guy!").

Because of this, I think it'd be interesting to add the following to a campaign:

1) Ditch the gold piece value. Once a diamond reaches 1000gp (or higher) it becomes a "Resurrection stone" (or "Raise stone" and "Resurrection stone" for the two spells, though I'm sure people could come up with better names). As for worth, what would you pay to bring your loved one back? However, see point 2.

2) The ruling government controls all stones of capable of restoring the dead. All mines are state controlled, it is illegal to possess such stones without a permit, and all Resurrections stones are to be immediately turned over when found.

The government rations the stones out to the nobility/churches, using control over the stones to maintain control over the country.

Players have to either suck up to the government, find the stones, steal them, or buy them from the black market (dangerous and VERY expensive).

How much cooler is it to find four Resurrection stones in a treasure trove than four 1000 gp diamonds?

Liberty's Edge

I kind of love the resurrection stone idea. I think that could be an awesome plot hook to bring back a lost friend. Built in deadline given the restrictions of the Raise Dead spell would really up the intensity.

Dead player makes a one off who joins the party to get the stone.

It's things like this that I feel like are lost when you make penalties to soft and the game to easy.


Sir Ophiuchus wrote:
My elderly paladin who can raise dead for free (Ultimate Mercy feat) is becoming more and more viable...

My young paladin (inspired by Bertie Wooster), who's the local ruler in our Kingmaker campaign, really wanted Ultimate Mercy. He'd put up with always having a negative level, just to be able to bring a deserving subject back to life *every single day*. That's gotta be worth some Loyalty, right? Plus, it's a great party trick; especially if the party is a wake. ;)

Unfortunately, the DM disallowed the feat. :(

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Tim Hunt 103 wrote:

I'm interested, could you elaborate:

That's with the situation that the players are high enough level to cast the spell themselves. The 'cost' is a 4th level spell slot. How do you handle it when they aren't high enough level?
The standard "the cleric will only do it if you complete this quest"?
I've never really liked using that one, but the problem might be I've never planned for it to happen, so I haven't had a good quest justification handy*. How have you handled it?

I think the question really is, "is this characters death important to the story, or is it an obstacle to the story?" If it's an obstacle to the story, find an in-game way to justify the character coming back to life, whether it's a new quest for the cleric, an obligation of service, whatever.

Tim Hunt 103 wrote:
what is the point of a game where dying doesnt mean anything beyond sitting out a few rounds?

Playing the game is fun. Having a "time out" before you can play the game again isn't fun. Getting a raise dead means you have a negative level for a while (or a long while, if you fail the save) to remind you that death does have a penalty.

Remember, you're talking to the guy who wrote a campaign setting where if you die, you come back as a solid ghost 10 minutes later, keep adventuring, and worry about coming back to life when you get back to town.

Tim Hunt 103 wrote:
I can't imagine that I would feel any tension or buy in, if I knew that I basically couldn't fail in the longrun. Sure, we might not save the damsel. But I'm immortal. My friends are immortal. Hell, we can just use a 4th level spell on her when we finally get there, after our third or fourth suicide charge breaks down the minotaur morale.

You're looking at it from the static-scenario-MMO perspective, where the monster is still waiting there even if you fail 20 times. In a tabletop RPG, the GM gets to decide what happens while you're away. Maybe a day after your second failed attempt, the minotaur eats the damsel, and the PCs have failed. Maybe after three failed attempts, the minotaur is getting famous among monsterkind and it now has a bunch of followers in its lair, which makes it even harder for the PCs. "Keep trying until the dice fall in our favor" is the fallacy that built Las Vegas. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If the TPK'd characters think they can just charge back in with the same strategy and win, they're dumb, and the treasure in a monster's lair comes from inexperienced hasty adventurers.

Tim Hunt 103 wrote:
I, and at least a couple of my players, really dislike how little death means under RAW, to the point where my wip homebrew setting completely lacks ressurection magic, and uses hero points to compensate.

You don't have to play the way that I play. When I was working at Interplay, the lead designer explained to me that American fantasy videogames are very different from, say, German fantasy videogames. In Germany, if your character has to cross a frozen mountain pass to get to the next quest area, you may get frostbite and lose fingers and toes, and you may even die, and the German fan base likes it that way.

You can play a game where every pound of encumbrance is important, or female characters have limited roles (like Earth history) and worse ability score mods than males, or where creating real effects with magic is difficult and most magic is just illusion, or where raising people from the dead is very rare or even impossible. It's not my style, but I'm not trying to tell you how to run your campaign.

To put a different spin on this, lemme alter your quote slightly:

I, and at least a couple of my players, really dislike how little distance means under RAW, to the point where my wip homebrew setting completely lacks teleportation magic.

I, and at least a couple of my players, really dislike how little planar boundaries mean under RAW, to the point where my wip homebrew setting completely lacks plane-travelling magic.

Teleport: 5th-level spell, no costly material component.
Plane shift: 5th-level spell, no costly material component.
Raise dead: 5th-level spell, 5,000 gp material component.
These are all 5th-level spells because you want these spells out of the hands of PCs until about level 7 (on scrolls) or level 9 (as castable spells).
Either raise dead is on par with other 5th-level spells, or it isn't. If it is, it doesn't need a costly material component. If it isn't, then it shouldn't be a 5th-level spell. Costly material components are in the game to prevent you from casting a spell willy-nilly as soon as you get that level of spells... but when you hit level 9, you're only able to cast it once per day, so you're not casting it willy-nilly. And by the time you're level 12 and you can afford to set aside one 5th-level slot for a just-in-case raise dead, you're dealing with NPCs who can cast 6th-level spells like harm (120 points of damage) and disintegrate (24d6 damage) which can insta-kill an unlucky PC who rolls poorly*. If you have mechanics in the game that can insta-kill a higher-level PC, it's pretty crappy to hamstring your access to magic that reverses those insta-kills.
* Level 12 wizard in NPC Codex has a DC 22 disintegrate; level 12 Seoni's Fort save is +8, which means there's a 65% chance she'll take an average of 84 damage, which drops her from full hp to –4. Level 12 cleric has a DC 21 harm; Seoni's Will save is +13, which means there's a 35% chance she takes 120 points of damage and instantly dies at –36.

It is literally easier and less expensive to instantly transport eight people to the outer plane where your dead friend's soul is than to call that dead friend's soul back into its natural body. That doesn't make sense to me from a game mechanics standpoint. From a campaign standpoint, sure, if you want that to be difficult, go ahead, but the mechanics shouldn't support that sort of restriction.

The rules should be setting-neutral, but currently they have a "raising the dead should be harder than any other 5th-level spell" setting bias built into them.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Elamdri wrote:
But at the same time, I worry about death losing it's importance if it's just a revolving door. Because if orcs ransack a village and murder everyone, all the kingdom has to do is send in a regiment of clerics and raise everyone. Because if coming back to life is that easy, it's in the best interest of everyone to cultivate as many 9th level clerics as humanly possible.

In 3.5, using the quick "build a community" rules, the highest-level cleric in a community was level 1d6 + the community modifier, which meant that you couldn't have a level 9 cleric until a large town (community modifier +3, 2,000-5,000 people). So at best, one in 2,000 people in a large town might be a 9th-level cleric capable of casting raise dead.

That cleric (1) has important goals for her deity, (2) Is probably going to limit who she casts it on to members of her faith, (3) is probably on retainer by a noble just for that purpose, (4) is still going to charge the caster level x spell level x 10 gp for spellcasting, which is 450 gp, well beyond what any peasant killed by an orc can afford, in the same way that the farmer who wants to get his carrots to Magnimar can't afford 450 gp to teleport them there, and (5) can only do it once a day, so there's probably a waiting list of important people ahead of you, which (6) means you may run up against the max-days-dead-equal-to-caster-level limitation, which means you can't just raise everyone after an orc attack, at most you can bring back 9 people before the remaining dead are out of luck.

And that's if you're lucky and rolled a 6 on the 1d6+3 to find the example cleric's caster level.

The game's (wacky, PC-focused) economics and suppy/demand already make raise dead scarce, you don't need to add an expensive diamond to the mix.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

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I always have a hard time dealing with Raise Dead and its implications in my campaign worlds, and have ultimately decided to just leave it alone and file it away with the other components of the game that are intended for the fun of the players and not for the GM to make the world more fully realized.

I've tried to implement the classic chestnut of "no raise dead unless you do epic quests for the church/were true to the faith/etc," but have found those to be equally poor and impractical. Maybe it's just me, but my PCs never seem to die at convenient times when the party can go off on a side quest for the church while the player of the dead PC twiddles their thumbs. My PCs always seem to die in the middle of dungeons, or in a random encounter on the way to the dungeon, and it's already disruptive enough to have them haul the corpse back to town to get the PC raised without tacking a side quest on top of that.

The other problem with restricting raise dead for the sake of campaign "realism" is that it just kicks the can down the street to the land of "why wouldn't we admit Joe, the 10th level fighter into our party and start sharing loot equally with him as if we'd adventured together for years even though we just ran into him conveniently by the side of the road." I'd rather have the dead character back than deal with integrating a random leveled up dude into my band of merry monster-slayers.


allenw wrote:
Sir Ophiuchus wrote:
My elderly paladin who can raise dead for free (Ultimate Mercy feat) is becoming more and more viable...

My young paladin (inspired by Bertie Wooster), who's the local ruler in our Kingmaker campaign, really wanted Ultimate Mercy. He'd put up with always having a negative level, just to be able to bring a deserving subject back to life *every single day*. That's gotta be worth some Loyalty, right? Plus, it's a great party trick; especially if the party is a wake. ;)

Unfortunately, the DM disallowed the feat. :(

That's too bad! We loved that effect in ours! I could only imagine how awesome it would be for you! :(

Please don't be jealous, but here's our experience.:
In our King Maker campaign, I used my psion-wizard-cerebromancer (we were still using 3.5 at the time) to build "Wells of Life" by conjuring outsiders and using their powers to create what amounts to minor artifacts. I have three (all inside the Greenbelt) and am in the planning stages for my fourth through eighth one.

Each one can raise up to eight (arbitrary number instead of being based on the caster level) per round, and they come back (if they agree before hand... he speaks with their spirit and makes sure they understand the nature of the agreement) with a shiny new lawful good alignment, the celestial and axiomatic template (3.5), and... only partially real. They are, in fact, a real soul raised into an illusory body that can be dispelled for the first month of their life. After a month passes (so long as they consistently eat and breath enough throughout it - not a problem for most creatures) their bodies become fully real and they are native outsiders with an atoned and inherent lawful good alignment. If he really likes/wants to reward somebody, they come back with the above and the half-celestial template to boot.

And he can reach back as much as 50,000 years (a little more than that, actually, but, meh. If he has to make a body out of nothing he (oh no!) can only affect four people. Per round.

He can also change their body, and has raised most of the death-penalty-earning criminals and murderers of his land into lawful good celestial axiomatic merfolk (along with a few other aquatic races); both to populate his lake and turn it into viable farm land and resources, and to take them out of the society that would hate, fear, and reject them, and in which they have psychological conditioning predisposed to evil and unlawful behaviors, and place them in an environment where their new alignments can more justifiably express themselves in a new society.

He actually raised the mites as lawful good celestial axiomatic blue fey-touched kobolds instead, all of which were subsequently hypnotized to the point of being fanatics for the cause of good and law and working to bring honor, love, mercy, and kindness to the Sootscale tribe ("their tribe") over the apparent course of 24 years (mind-altering helmets specially made for this purpose), and were shortly thereafter gifted to Chief Sootscale (although the ruler declined to give the Chief "identification"). That's been four years and now navy blue aasamar-esque kobold babies are being born.

There are a few other exceptions as well.

Incidentally, he now has a cadre of worshipers and his cult is spreading word of "The Lord of All Life" far and wide. He doesn't claim to be a god (they claim that for him), and he's super-approachable. He also has to deal with pilgrims coming from across Golarion to have their loved ones raised "for free" (the cost is joining the kingdom and becoming a citizen). He usually councils them out of such ideas by giving them a last chance to speak to their deceased loved ones and helping them come to terms with the loss (he's not out to step all over Pharsma's toes), but he does not allow any of his citizens to die by simple accident, aggression, or disaster. He does allow them to die of old age (and the templates don't actually prevent that).

Incidentally, he's a big supporter of Pharsama's faith. BIG supporter (despite being an Erastilian himself). To that end he goes to great lengths to destroy undead, build her faith in other countries, and not rebuke her church in general. He never boasts about anything related to her, and is always humble towards her. You can probably guess why.

Sean... I'm very eager to play Ghostwalk (I just got my hands on it recently), though I don't have much time right now. I also am very interested to hear more of your opinion and insights, as that's some pretty cool and interesting stuff you're saying.

Silver Crusade

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Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
But at the same time, I worry about death losing it's importance if it's just a revolving door. Because if orcs ransack a village and murder everyone, all the kingdom has to do is send in a regiment of clerics and raise everyone. Because if coming back to life is that easy, it's in the best interest of everyone to cultivate as many 9th level clerics as humanly possible.

In 3.5, using the quick "build a community" rules, the highest-level cleric in a community was level 1d6 + the community modifier, which meant that you couldn't have a level 9 cleric until a large town (community modifier +3, 2,000-5,000 people). So at best, one in 2,000 people in a large town might be a 9th-level cleric capable of casting raise dead.

That cleric (1) has important goals for her deity, (2) Is probably going to limit who she casts it on to members of her faith, (3) is probably on retainer by a noble just for that purpose, (4) is still going to charge the caster level x spell level x 10 gp for spellcasting, which is 450 gp, well beyond what any peasant killed by an orc can afford, in the same way that the farmer who wants to get his carrots to Magnimar can't afford 450 gp to teleport them there, and (5) can only do it once a day, so there's probably a waiting list of important people ahead of you, which (6) means you may run up against the max-days-dead-equal-to-caster-level limitation, which means you can't just raise everyone after an orc attack, at most you can bring back 9 people before the remaining dead are out of luck.

And that's if you're lucky and rolled a 6 on the 1d6+3 to find the example cleric's caster level.

The game's (wacky, PC-focused) economics and suppy/demand already make raise dead scarce, you don't need to add an expensive diamond to the mix.

Perhaps I should rephrase. I'm not speaking from a mechanics perspective. I understand and agree with and utilize pretty much everything you described.

However, as I have discovered in my games, often when the rules mechanics run up against lets say common sense.

To use your teleport example: I once had a discussion with a friend about why teleportation circles were not extremely common, at least in wealthy countries.

The point we made was that a permanent teleportation circle is about 24K in gold, a little more than an Amulet of Mighty Fists +2.

With that in mind, we discussed why any wealthy kingdom in it's right mind wouldn't seek out a wizard capable of casting teleportation circle and immediately set up a large system of teleportation circles linking the cities in the kingdom.

We discussed that obviously, you're talking about a quite costly system to set up. But thinking about it terms of the United States: Do you believe for a second that if we had a way to instantly link New York, Chicago, LA, Atlanta, Houston, and all the other huge cities that we wouldn't do so?

Of course not. Yes, there's a big cost involved, but that cost can be recovered by charging a modest fee for the use of the system. And unlike modern transit, this hypothetical teleportation system requires no upkeep.

So given that a system of teleportation systems linking a kingdom would eventually pay for itself and from that point on provide steady income, as well as increasing the economy of the country by making transit a negligible part of trade, then the only reason for not having that system would be the lack of a 9th level wizard available.

At that point, we got into the discussion that if there were no 17th level wizards available, then with the prospects of the grand teleportation system on the line, it would make sense that any kingdom would start seeking to train as many wizards as possible with the hope of getting one to 17th level.

Eventually, that gave rise to a game I just finished recently where in fact pretty much most good size towns had a teleportation circle linking them to a major city and all major cities served as transit hubs. Players could easily travel where ever they wanted for a nominal fee. And I think overall it was well received by the players.

And ultimately, I think that same analysis applies to Raise Dead. At the point where you can raise dead for the nominal cost of time, it's pretty much in societies best interest to train and cultivate as many people as possible who can do this. Because after all, imagine if we lived in a society where you could go to any hospital and there was just a doctor there who could bring you back to life.

I just think at some point, if you are that doctor who can bring back the dead, then it doesn't make a lot of sense for there to be just one of you, at the beck and call of some noble. It makes far more sense to train as many as possible, to the point where you don't need to worry about a doctor running out of raise deads.

I understand that this whole discussion isn't really in fitting with the mechanics, but it's somewhat important to me in that I think a world that functions akin to ours is more immersive and helps the players to navigate it better.

When I introduced the teleportation circle world, the players immediately caught on to the fact that "This is basically an airplane, but MUCH better than and cheaper to boot." and once that happened, it was pretty smooth sailing from there and they were a lot more open to ideas like traveling and exploring than they were before.


I would say that raise dead is supposed to be difficult. That's not an expression of an adversarial style of play, merely one where the players are not expected to succeed. The difference being that I don't expect them to fail, either. For that matter, my playstyle is different than many in that "story" is completely irrelevant to my games.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Elamdri wrote:
And ultimately, I think that same analysis applies to Raise Dead. At the point where you can raise dead for the nominal cost of time, it's pretty much in societies best interest to train and cultivate as many people as possible who can do this. Because after all, imagine if we lived in a society where you could go to any hospital and there was just a doctor there who could bring you back to life.

1) Kind of like how in the modern day we train doctors, who literally have the ability to resuscitate dead people. Given, they're only doing it 10–60 minutes after death (depending on circumstances) instead of 1–9 days after death, but they are most definitely dealing with people who are clinically dead, and who according to Pathfinder rules are irrevocably dead without high-order magic (–10 hit points = dead for your typical 10 Con person.

... Also note that Pathfinder rules say a typical person dies 60 seconds after being brought below 0 hp by normal damage (1 hp per round, 9 or 10 rounds to get from dying at –1 to dead at –10), and the only way to reverse that is with magic, whereas modern emergency medical professionals often don't arrive on-scene until minutes after the person is already unconscious, yet we have a remarkably high rate of success at helping these "dead" (according to the Pathfinder rules) people. The game world is an odd mix of "you're perfectly healthy until 0 hp," "you're dying in 1 minute at negative hit points," and "you're irrevocably dead at –10 unless we can find a powerful cleric."

2) Considering that level advancement in the game world assumes you are (A) adventuring to gain levels, or (B) slowly gaining levels over time because you're not adventuring, and (C) doesn't have the "go to school, gain levels in your chosen field" progression that we have in the real world, the only way you're going to get a 9th-level cleric is to (A) send her out adventuring, or (B) wait until she's old. (A) is risky and has a high death rate, (B) takes a long time. Either way, you're not going to end up with a lot of high-level clerics who can raise the dead, in the same way that the USA doesn't have a lot of doctors who can perform heart transplants or brain surgery.

Elamdri wrote:
I just think at some point, if you are that doctor who can bring back the dead, then it doesn't make a lot of sense for there to be just one of you, at the beck and call of some noble. It makes far more sense to train as many as possible, to the point where you don't need to worry about a doctor running out of raise deads.

Your modern-day bias is showing. We're not talking about a smart young person getting a scholarship and going to medical school, we're talking about sponsorship of a talented student by a wealthy person. If a noble sponsored someone to become a doctor, that noble has probably invested thousands of gp into that doctor's training. And with pseudo-feudalism in most fantasy settings, that noble all but owns that doctor. The doctor is in debt to the noble... but the doctor probably doesn't want to leave because his job is to take care of a handful of people (the noble's family) rather than deal with hundreds of unwashed peasants... he probably has a nice little house or lives in the noble's manor... it is a good life, compared to someone treating commoners with plague, syphilis, and dysentery.

The commonfolk don't have the resources to train doctors. They have midwives and folk healers, but much of that learning is self-taught and may just be folklore.

And in a world where access to information—literacy or magic—is power, the ruling class is going to try and keep that power in their hands rather than giving it to the common masses. That's why the Catholic priesthood kept the Bible in Latin for so long, they didn't want the layfolk reading the word of God, they wanted the layfolk to have to come to the priests for the word of God. So your typical government may want its peasants to be healthy enough to run farms, but they're going to keep the best things for themselves. In our world, the best things are lucrative contracts to your investment partners, health care, and influence; in the pseudo-medieval world it's gold, access to weapons, and magic that keeps you young/healthy/alive.

lordzack wrote:
I would say that raise dead is supposed to be difficult. That's not an expression of an adversarial style of play, merely one where the players are not expected to succeed. The difference being that I don't expect them to fail, either.

Except in D&D and Pathfinder, the PCs are expected to succeed. An average CR fight isn't a fair fight, it's all stacked in the PCs' favor. So saying "they're not expected to succeed" is contrary to the actual math of the game.


I rarely have fights that are of a CR equal or less than the APL. I have a different playstyle than Pathfinder assumes as default. It's more akin to old school games.


I don't like "I cast spell, my dead buddy is back" at all, whether it happens to cost the character some expensive materials or not.

Sure, it solves the problem of how you keep your players interested when the dice turn against them and the character they have spent many sessions getting emotionally invested in ends up dead... but it also creates problems that can be exaggerated to "Can't kill him, he's rich."

My alternative: The party can always, regardless of current level, find a way to get an ally back to life with no penalty - not even that of "missing" the XP earned in the mean time, because while the living party is working on getting their friend back, the dead character is benefiting from the experience of facing the afterlife - and the player doesn't sit out either, as he gets to portray his character in some "land of the dead" scenes, and is perfectly able to play a temporary character too... especially if the party finds a guide to help them retrieve their dead ally.

...and for TPKs, welcome to the hereafter - what do you do now?

I just think that "Oh no, I died... okay I am back, thanks cleric." is boring.


lordzack wrote:
I rarely have fights that are of a CR equal or less than the APL. I have a different playstyle than Pathfinder assumes as default. It's more akin to old school games.

I am sorry, I just... yeah... No.

You may be trying to say that you run your game with a particularly high level of challenge, which is fine - I do that too because the CR system is just... inaccurate at best.

Old school style has no such "always on the high end of challenging" aspect to it - you are just confused because that is how an old school game feels when you aren't guessing at the best strategy to use. For the record, an old-school encounter like a camp of 15 orcs and their 3 HD leader from which you have to rescue a few captives is absolutely "of a CR equal or less than the APL" if you are a full party of 1st level characters, as that scenario is a cake walk.

Don't let the lack of a CR system confuse you, old school had easy encounters too.


Really enjoying this discussion!


Most encounters on the first level of a dungeon, according to the 1e DMG will be the equivalent of a CR 3 or 4 Pathfinder encounter. Old school encounters were in general more difficult.

Liberty's Edge

To be clear on my position, I don't think Sean is wrong, I don't disagree that is "a" way to play, but I do share the concern about devaluing the "bad" outcomes.

The potential "bad" is part of what makes the "good" feel so...triumphant.

I can understand that death can derail the story, put someone on the sideline, etc...and that can, temporarily, suck for that person.

But fear of that suck is part of what makes your heart race when you are on the edge of having to go to the "roll a backup character" corner of shame.

Our group likes the emotional swings enough to deal with the occasional suck.

YMMV.

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