Raise Dead and the Diamond Thing


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
I have a question Sean. If there isn't a game mechanic reason for Raise Dead costing 5,000g, is there a game mechanic reason for Restoration costing 1000g to remove a negative level?
Yes, because temporary negative levels can go away on their own with a saving throw, permanent negative levels cannot, so obviously it should be harder to get rid of a permanent negative level. You could have the increased "cost" be that it takes a different, higher level spell do it (which would be annoying because there are already three spells in that chain) or use the costly material component method that 3E does.

Well, hopefully this doesn't sound rude, but Death doesn't exactly go away on it's own either, and yet you're suggesting that it does quite make a lot of sense to spend 5,000 to remove it.

And to be honest, I'm starting to come around to what you're saying about Raise Dead not having a cost. But at the same time, I'm looking at lets say Restoration, and I'm finding myself saying "Well what's the difference between this and Raise Dead?"

Because if you think about it, if the argument that Raise Dead shouldn't cost 5,000g when you're already spending a spell resource to get rid of it, then doesn't the same logic apply to Restoration?

And I don't see how it prejudices Temporary Negative levels. After all, one Restoration removes all Temporary Negative Levels, but only gets one permanent. Therefore, if a Character is Raised, you've got another cost in the form of two restorations to get him back to full.

That's three spells spent to bring a character back to life and get him/her back to full fighting force.

Silver Crusade

I'm thinking about introducing XP loss to Raise Dead.

Shadow Lodge

Irontruth wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
That's 161 people eligible to be raised, but those people are eligible to be raised over a period of several days, so it's still most relevant to look at the deaths per day. With 19 deaths per day and 1 Raise Dead, at least 5.2% of total deaths everywhere due to accident, violence, or disease can be reversed.
You have to keep them in. 19 people die, one person gets raised. So the next day, those 18 remaining are still eligible to be raised, plus the new 19, so now the cleric has to choose between 37 people. One gets raised, but the next day we add another 19 people, until finally people become too decomposed because of the clerics level limit of 9 days. So that's still roughly 153 people to choose from on any given day. If people are purchasing gentle reposes, the total starts to climb.

But the size of the waiting list doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that if the cleric dedicates their 5th level spell to Raise Dead, every day 19 people die and 1 person is brought back to life. Sure, there might be more than that day's 19 dead to choose from, and sure, if there's a priority Raise on the Ides of March then young Timmy can stick around for a few days to see if he gets another chance at life. But it's impractical to keep a large number of dead people on Gentle Repose indefinitely - that's the sort of thing you'd use to keep a body fresh while it's being transported to the cleric for consideration. For every 19 of those bodies that come in, 18 will be disappointed either immediately or after a few days. But every day, 1 of those 19 people will come back to life.

Since the cleric probably doesn't want to re-review over one hundred waiting list cases every day, they probably will have some fairly simple rules to prioritize people. For example, locals or those who were members of the church prior to death get first priority. A cleric of Abadar might prioritize those who can pay market value for the Raise (450gp?). Iomedae might favor those who died valiantly in battle. Sarenrae might raise redeemed evildoers. Any good cleric might give preference to children. But whatever metric the cleric uses, they're likely to get very good at applying it within the first year, and they'll just plain deny 15-18 of those 19 daily deaths, keeping the waiting list around a more manageable 20.

Irontruth wrote:
You're right, it does reduce the death rate of a region, but it's a lot less than you first implied.

It's 5.2% overall, assuming that the 40 per 1000 death rate and 90% population in small settlements is accurate (and ignoring settlements larger than a large town). It's also considerably more than the death rate of a single large town, which is exactly what I first implied.

Irontruth wrote:
Plus there are dragons, bulettes and goblins running around killing people. The bigger impact on a societies average life span would be Remove Disease. Cure a carrier, or nip an epidemic in the bud would have much wider consequences. It's lower level and if there enough you could get a herd immunity effect. 5 in 6 towns would have a cleric capable of casting it at least once a day. Though if their highest stat is put in Wisdom with the human +2, they can cast a minimum of 2/day. 3rd level paladins would increase everyones longevity quite a bit as well too.

I absolutely agree that Remove Disease is going to make a big difference. In fact, the 40 per 1000 death rate is only even remotely accurate if we assume that the reduced death due to disease roughly balances out the increased death due to dragons, bulettes, and goblins running around.

Irontruth wrote:
And as long as people make it long enough to die of old age, Raise Dead doesn't matter.

Sure, if you get no death by accident, violence, or disease (which doesn't sound like a typical PF campaign at all). But let's imagine for a minute that with magic, and with adventurers keeping all the beasties from threatening your average commoner, the world's death rate is 5-10 per 1000, with 90% of this being old age - comparable to developed countries today. 5-10 people of 10,000 will die every year of something that isn't old age, or at most 180 people within the area covered by our one 9th level cleric.

That means that in this world, there is no such thing as accidental death, not the kind that sticks, because the cleric can raise everybody so long as someone can bring them a body. And regardless of the absolute number of deaths, that's something that would change how the world worked.


shallowsoul wrote:
I'm thinking about introducing XP loss to Raise Dead.

Have you run a group where players are at different levels before?

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

shallowsoul wrote:
I'm thinking about introducing XP loss to Raise Dead.

If you don't mind me asking, how do you think this will improve the game?


Weirdo wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
That's 161 people eligible to be raised, but those people are eligible to be raised over a period of several days, so it's still most relevant to look at the deaths per day. With 19 deaths per day and 1 Raise Dead, at least 5.2% of total deaths everywhere due to accident, violence, or disease can be reversed.
You have to keep them in. 19 people die, one person gets raised. So the next day, those 18 remaining are still eligible to be raised, plus the new 19, so now the cleric has to choose between 37 people. One gets raised, but the next day we add another 19 people, until finally people become too decomposed because of the clerics level limit of 9 days. So that's still roughly 153 people to choose from on any given day. If people are purchasing gentle reposes, the total starts to climb.

But the size of the waiting list doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that if the cleric dedicates their 5th level spell to Raise Dead, every day 19 people die and 1 person is brought back to life. Sure, there might be more than that day's 19 dead to choose from, and sure, if there's a priority Raise on the Ides of March then young Timmy can stick around for a few days to see if he gets another chance at life. But it's impractical to keep a large number of dead people on Gentle Repose indefinitely - that's the sort of thing you'd use to keep a body fresh while it's being transported to the cleric for consideration. For every 19 of those bodies that come in, 18 will be disappointed either immediately or after a few days. But every day, 1 of those 19 people will come back to life.

Since the cleric probably doesn't want to re-review over one hundred waiting list cases every day, they probably will have some fairly simple rules to prioritize people. For example, locals or those who were members of the church prior to death get first priority. A cleric of Abadar might prioritize those who can pay market value for the Raise (450gp?). Iomedae might favor those who...

On the other hand, the Pathfinder universe is filled with creatures that can wipe out small villages with ease. The accidental death rate in this universe may be much higher.

Silver Crusade

johnlocke90 wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
I'm thinking about introducing XP loss to Raise Dead.
Have you run a group where players are at different levels before?

I have ran and played in lots of games like that.

Silver Crusade

Benchak the Nightstalker wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
I'm thinking about introducing XP loss to Raise Dead.

If you don't mind me asking, how do you think this will improve the game?

It will improve our game because my players have asked for it before. They want death to be scary and costly.

Shadow Lodge

Frankly I think the loss of XP costs to most things is one of the best changes PF made, but that's just me.

I'm very much considering the idea of dropping the costs from Raise Dead for at least one of my future campaigns, where I'll be running a megadungeon and the potential for "this guy died, bring in a new guy to replace him" will be difficult to justify. Given the nature of the place they'll be exploring, dying will have plenty of potential hangups beyond scrounging up gold or diamonds and ensuing negative levels, so at least for that game I will likely drop both.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

3rd edition's scaling XP system, cumbersome though it was, really helped run games with characters at multiple levels. Due to the level-based XP awards, your characters' levels would more or less equalize over enough time. But that was a clunky system to work with. I had to email XP totals to my players after the session because figuring out XP on the spot just took too long.

But I really think this is the origin of the high GP cost - if your level went down there needed to be a way to also reduce your character's wealth to keep everybody more or less in-line with wealth-by-level.

Some more food for thought as I was discussing this idea with my gaming group last night: Scrolls of Raise Dead would now drop from 6125 gold to 1125 gold. A Staff of Life would have its price nearly halved, from 109,400 gold down to 59,400 gold. These items (and probably more) would be available earlier, to more people in the campaign world, due to the dramatic price drop.

A fellow DM suggested that the rare and costly component was in there to maintain a level of DM control over the whole process. The DM ultimately has control over the PCs' ability to obtain the component. He can either hand-wave it ("Sure, there's 5,000 gp in diamonds that you can pry out of the assorted jewelry in this hoard") or be vastly more difficult ("Your deaths are causing major demand in the global diamond market. You need to travel into the jungles and bribe the locals to mine faster...")

The costly component might as well be "Ask your DM nicely."


I do think its bad design to have raise dead give negative levels. If you can raise someone, you can also use restoration to remove the negative levels. All this does is make the players do more work to figure out how much they have to pay.


It's worth noting that, at high level, the need for diamond dust is one of the few things that makes Shatter a useful spell :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16, 2011 Top 32

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Why not make the material cost for Raise Dead equal to the material cost for the Planar Ally spells? In game, you don't raise the dead. Instead you call upon a servant of your deity to do so for you. Breath of life still stops the soul from leaving, but raise dead calls a psychopomp allied with your god who can retrieve the soul. You'd still have to sacrifice maybe 100 gp/level of the dead PC (or more) of offerings to the psychopomp, but the cost would be much less than the 5k diamond and it would still impose a cost. A Staff of Life would allow you to cast the spell and summon the psychopomp, but you'd have to supply the offerings. It becomes, instead of a material component, a requirement of the spell.

That way death is still a temporary setback, but it would require your characters to sacrifice something, imposing a cost and would give a campaign reason why Little Timmy who fell down the well isn't raised; it's not that the clerics are money-grubbing bastards, it's that no one has access to the price the psychopomp charges to retrieve the soul.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
raidou wrote:
3rd edition's scaling XP system, cumbersome though it was, really helped run games with characters at multiple levels. Due to the level-based XP awards, your characters' levels would more or less equalize over enough time. But that was a clunky system to work with.

I think if you do the math you'll see that PF's experience track equalizes character levels the same, just without the extra math.

Shadow Lodge

johnlocke90 wrote:
On the other hand, the Pathfinder universe is filled with creatures that can wipe out small villages with ease. The accidental death rate in this universe may be much higher.

Yes, and I noted that the difficulty with monster attacks was a weakness in using the crude death rate from the IRL middle ages for this estimate:

Weirdo wrote:
In fact, the 40 per 1000 death rate is only even remotely accurate if we assume that the reduced death due to disease roughly balances out the increased death due to dragons, bulettes, and goblins running around.
Weirdo wrote:
I did a bit of stats checking, and barring large-scale orc attacks or plague, that cleric is probably not going to have a problem keeping up with the death rate. ... Unless those deaths are clustered close together due to large-scale tragedies, the 9th level cleric in that town is capable of raising every person killed by accident, violence, or disease. That's only within that settlement...


Elamdri wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
I have a question Sean. If there isn't a game mechanic reason for Raise Dead costing 5,000g, is there a game mechanic reason for Restoration costing 1000g to remove a negative level?
Yes, because temporary negative levels can go away on their own with a saving throw, permanent negative levels cannot, so obviously it should be harder to get rid of a permanent negative level. You could have the increased "cost" be that it takes a different, higher level spell do it (which would be annoying because there are already three spells in that chain) or use the costly material component method that 3E does.

Well, hopefully this doesn't sound rude, but Death doesn't exactly go away on it's own either, and yet you're suggesting that it does quite make a lot of sense to spend 5,000 to remove it.

And to be honest, I'm starting to come around to what you're saying about Raise Dead not having a cost. But at the same time, I'm looking at lets say Restoration, and I'm finding myself saying "Well what's the difference between this and Raise Dead?"

Because if you think about it, if the argument that Raise Dead shouldn't cost 5,000g when you're already spending a spell resource to get rid of it, then doesn't the same logic apply to Restoration?

And I don't see how it prejudices Temporary Negative levels. After all, one Restoration removes all Temporary Negative Levels, but only gets one permanent. Therefore, if a Character is Raised, you've got another cost in the form of two restorations to get him back to full.

That's three spells spent to bring a character back to life and get him/her back to full fighting force.

I was going to say that but I was too scared to defy SKR lol!

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Actually, death goes away the moment you decide to roll a new character.

Sovereign Court

Here's what I'm gathering from this discussion. Death means several things:

1) The player has to sit in "time out" for a while. They can take no actions and are dependent on the other players to help him.
1A. Other spells/effects have the same end result (blindness, SSS, hold person. etc), knocking a player out of the action for a period of time.
1B. Given that, we can think of "raise dead" as just another status removal spell like "cure blindness/deafness," but with a material cost.
1C. The biggest difference between other status effects and "dead" is that they either go away after some time or allow a player to still play the game at limited capacities.
1D. If they don't have access to or enough GP for raise dead or similar spells, the players has to make a new character (see #3).

2) Looking at it another way, it is a permanent "Plane Shift" for the character. This doesn't cost any material components and neither does the spell.
2A. Does that mean you can just plane shift back to the PMP with the dead character? If not, see #1.

3) Death is another opportunity to roll a new character. Similar to #1, you're still in "time out" until you get a chance to roll a new character or wait for the DM to introduce your new character. These is essentially no mechanical penalty to this option, in fact, it is a boon for the party if you start your new character with appropriate WBL.

It seems the ultimate penalty for death is a pause in play. The cost for resuming play (either in GP or real time) is dependent on how you chose to resolve it. If you pay GP, it is a loss of character wealth. Mechanically, Breath of Life is the most optimal solution, the only drawback being the opportunity cost of having that prepared at the expense of a similar spell. Until a certain level, every death penalty is time, as it is either resolved by making a new character or waiting until the party can get to a caster of high enough level to resurrect the character.

Am I right? Not trolling, just trying to summarize the different ideas.


@TOZ:That's true I guess! (From the players point of view at least. The character might not agree!)
You could say just about any negative condition goes away when you decide to roll a new character but I would sure hate to play in a game where that was a normal way of dealing with things. "What!? That shadow drained me how many levels?! *roll roll roll*"

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

I don't think anyone is advocating for Paranoia clone-packs. We moved on from that an edition or two ago.

Well, unless you're Frog God Games. :)

Silver Crusade

Nebelwerfer41 wrote:

Here's what I'm gathering from this discussion. Death means several things:

1) The player has to sit in "time out" for a while. They can take no actions and are dependent on the other players to help him.
1A. Other spells/effects have the same end result (blindness, SSS, hold person. etc), knocking a player out of the action for a period of time.
1B. Given that, we can think of "raise dead" as just another status removal spell like "cure blindness/deafness," but with a material cost.
1C. The biggest difference between other status effects and "dead" is that they either go away after some time or allow a player to still play the game at limited capacities.

2) Looking at it another way, it is a permanent "Plane Shift" for the character. This doesn't cost any material components and neither does the spell.

Am I right? Not trolling, just trying to summarize the different ideas.

Don't forget that you don't always come back from death due to several reasons.

I had also thought of going back to using the second edition method of rolling shock survival after being raised. You weren't guaranteed to survive the process of being raised.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

TriOmegaZero wrote:
I think if you do the math you'll see that PF's experience track equalizes character levels the same, just without the extra math.

I did the math, and as it turns out - this is basically true. I ran the numbers for a spread of 3 levels (5th through 7th) using 3.5 and PF's fast and medium advancement. I am assuming a completely average advancement track where 4 PCs encounter only opponents of CR equal to the highest party member's level.

SPREADSHEET of ADVANCEMENT

It looks like if you begin characters at 5th, 6th, and 7th levels - in all cases they will converge for a very short time at 8th level, a slightly longer time at 9th level, and just over 50% of the time spent adventuring at 10th level will be all together at the same level.

PF medium track is the slowest to converge, but not by very much. Since there are more encounters in medium track, it will FEEL like it takes longer to converge than the math bears out.


raidou wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
I think if you do the math you'll see that PF's experience track equalizes character levels the same, just without the extra math.

I did the math, and as it turns out - this is basically true. I ran the numbers for a spread of 3 levels (5th through 7th) using 3.5 and PF's fast and medium advancement. I am assuming a completely average advancement track where 4 PCs encounter only opponents of CR equal to the highest party member's level.

SPREADSHEET of ADVANCEMENT

It looks like if you begin characters at 5th, 6th, and 7th levels - in all cases they will converge for a very short time at 8th level, a slightly longer time at 9th level, and just over 50% of the time spent adventuring at 10th level will be all together at the same level.

PF medium track is the slowest to converge, but not by very much. Since there are more encounters in medium track, it will FEEL like it takes longer to converge than the math bears out.

So it would be even slower to converge on slow then?

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Elamdri wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Elamdri wrote:
I have a question Sean. If there isn't a game mechanic reason for Raise Dead costing 5,000g, is there a game mechanic reason for Restoration costing 1000g to remove a negative level?
Yes, because temporary negative levels can go away on their own with a saving throw, permanent negative levels cannot, so obviously it should be harder to get rid of a permanent negative level. You could have the increased "cost" be that it takes a different, higher level spell do it (which would be annoying because there are already three spells in that chain) or use the costly material component method that 3E does.
Well, hopefully this doesn't sound rude, but Death doesn't exactly go away on it's own either, and yet you're suggesting that it does quite make a lot of sense to spend 5,000 to remove it.

Look at what I said again.

Restoration has one cost (100 gp) for the "easy" negative level.
And restoration has another cost (1,000 gp) for the "hard" negative level.

In contrast to raise dead, which always has the same cost (5,000 gp, 2 negative levels) whether you were killed by poison (body is pretty much intact), a disease (ditto), burned to death in a fire (significant damage all over), disemboweled (mostly intact but with parts pulled out), or drawn and quartered (all parts are present but they are separated from the whole). There is no "easy" death and "hard" death when to comes to the cost for raise dead. In other words, raise dead is unlike restoration because raise dead went the "takes a different, higher level spell to fix a 'harder' death" route instead of a scaling gp cost.

Elamdri wrote:
And to be honest, I'm starting to come around to what you're saying about Raise Dead not having a cost. But at the same time, I'm looking at lets say Restoration, and I'm finding myself saying "Well what's the difference between this and Raise Dead?"

See above. :)

Elamdri wrote:
Because if you think about it, if the argument that Raise Dead shouldn't cost 5,000g when you're already spending a spell resource to get rid of it, then doesn't the same logic apply to Restoration?

Yes, it does (at least, for the idea of a specific cost for the spell, as opposed to having different gp costs for different effects covered by the same spell).


Weirdo wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
That's 161 people eligible to be raised, but those people are eligible to be raised over a period of several days, so it's still most relevant to look at the deaths per day. With 19 deaths per day and 1 Raise Dead, at least 5.2% of total deaths everywhere due to accident, violence, or disease can be reversed.
You have to keep them in. 19 people die, one person gets raised. So the next day, those 18 remaining are still eligible to be raised, plus the new 19, so now the cleric has to choose between 37 people. One gets raised, but the next day we add another 19 people, until finally people become too decomposed because of the clerics level limit of 9 days. So that's still roughly 153 people to choose from on any given day. If people are purchasing gentle reposes, the total starts to climb.

But the size of the waiting list doesn't matter nearly as much as the fact that if the cleric dedicates their 5th level spell to Raise Dead, every day 19 people die and 1 person is brought back to life. Sure, there might be more than that day's 19 dead to choose from, and sure, if there's a priority Raise on the Ides of March then young Timmy can stick around for a few days to see if he gets another chance at life. But it's impractical to keep a large number of dead people on Gentle Repose indefinitely - that's the sort of thing you'd use to keep a body fresh while it's being transported to the cleric for consideration. For every 19 of those bodies that come in, 18 will be disappointed either immediately or after a few days. But every day, 1 of those 19 people will come back to life.

Since the cleric probably doesn't want to re-review over one hundred waiting list cases every day, they probably will have some fairly simple rules to prioritize people. For example, locals or those who were members of the church prior to death get first priority. A cleric of Abadar might prioritize those who can pay market value for the Raise (450gp?). Iomedae might favor those who...

Well, not all accidental death. Raise Dead doesn't fix dismemberment, particularly decapitation. I really think the game changer is the much easier access to Remove Disease and Cure Light Wounds. Most people who die of injuries die afterwards from infection. A broken leg rarely kills you outright. 3rd level paladins and 5th level clerics are going to be much more common than 9th level clerics, so more people are just going to go to old age anyways.

Bigger cities will produce more clerics of a higher level. Using modern statistics, I would put the chance increase at 20% (whatever the ratio is, it improves at 20%, not a straight increase of 20%).

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Raise dead will fix dismemberment and decapitation as long as you have all the significant pieces on hand when you cast the spell.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Grimmy wrote:
So it would be even slower to converge on slow then?

Actually, it would be even faster, because it takes you longer to level as you go up. So each higher character is spending more time at their level while the lower level characters are spending less, and then reaching the point where for the majority of the time they are the same level.

The difference between a 4th and 5th level character on slow advancement is 9000 XP. The difference between a 6th and 7th level character is 18000 XP. So if you are 9000 behind your partner, for half of their 6th level, you are also 6th level.

Of course, big disparities between levels take longer to catch up, but if you have a 10th level character with a 5th level character, you should already know how that is going to work.

Silver Crusade

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
In contrast to raise dead, which always has the same cost (5,000 gp, 2 negative levels) whether you were killed by poison (body is pretty much intact), a disease (ditto), burned to death in a fire (significant damage all over), disemboweled (mostly intact but with parts pulled out), or drawn and quartered (all parts are present but they are separated from the whole). There is no "easy" death and "hard" death when to comes to the cost for raise dead. In other words, raise dead is unlike restoration because raise dead went the "takes a different, higher level spell to fix a 'harder' death" route instead of a scaling gp cost.
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Raise dead will fix dismemberment and decapitation as long as you have all the significant pieces on hand when you cast the spell.

Huh...well I learned something new today. I thought that the body had to be more or less intact for a raise dead to work, otherwise you needed to go the resurrection route.

I think my party is going to have to stop with beheading/burning and think about investing in a mulcher.

Shadow Lodge

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Elamdri wrote:
I think my party is going to have to stop with beheading/burning and think about investing in a mulcher.

We call them 'Barbarians' around here.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
So it would be even slower to converge on slow then?

Actually, it would be even faster, because it takes you longer to level as you go up. So each higher character is spending more time at their level while the lower level characters are spending less, and then reaching the point where for the majority of the time they are the same level.

The difference between a 4th and 5th level character on slow advancement is 9000 XP. The difference between a 6th and 7th level character is 18000 XP. So if you are 9000 behind your partner, for half of their 6th level, you are also 6th level.

Of course, big disparities between levels take longer to catch up, but if you have a 10th level character with a 5th level character, you should already know how that is going to work.

Huh. Interesting. Makes sense. I run a sandboxy kind of game with a group that doesn't always show up at once for every session. Some players even keep an extra character on the bench so it's possible to put together a party that covers as many of the bases as possible with just the players who do show up.

Obviously this results in some variation in character level. The conventional wisdom always seems to say that PF is not a good system for this kind of play but we haven't found it to be that bad.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Elamdri wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Raise dead will fix dismemberment and decapitation as long as you have all the significant pieces on hand when you cast the spell.

Huh...well I learned something new today. I thought that the body had to be more or less intact for a raise dead to work, otherwise you needed to go the resurrection route.

I think my party is going to have to stop with beheading/burning and think about investing in a mulcher.

Bag of Devouring.

Also, I would not have read these lines as allowing Raise Dead to work like that.

Raise Dead in the PRD wrote:
While the spell closes mortal wounds and repairs lethal damage of most kinds, the body of the creature to be raised must be whole. Otherwise, missing parts are still missing when the creature is brought back to life.

Thank you for the clarification, SKR.

Silver Crusade

TIL Raise Dead is considerably more powerful than I thought.

Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 4

So would Raise Dead be better or worse if its cost were related to the condition of the deceased? If you decided to make a mechanical difference between an easy death and a hard one?

Body is completely intact (death by poison, disease) = 500 gold
Body is mostly intact with mortal wound (death by getting hit in the face with an axe) = 1000 gold
Body is pretty mangled (death by some massive amount of damage) = 2500 gold
Body resembles a jigsaw puzzle (death by angry chainsaw-wielding treants) = 5000 gold
Body mostly resembles oatmeal (death by ten storm giant lords-a-leaping) = 10000 gold and a Resurrection spell

If Restoration has a better mechanical use for its costly requirement based on the variety of things it can do, can the same be said if we mix up Raise Dead like this?


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Does there necessarilly need to be a mechanical reason for raise dead to be more expensive? After all, Id say that rpgs are supposed to be more than just mechanics.


shallowsoul wrote:


I had also thought of going back to using the second edition method of rolling shock survival after being raised. You weren't guaranteed to survive the process of being raised.

We play a 2E game on saturdays now... and in this campaign we've had THREE deaths from system shock!!!

One from 'stone to flesh' after fixing a beholder stare

One from cutting out a Pharrim egg

One from Raise dead after someone set off a trap that killed a pc...

1st and 3rd had a great % chance too... high 80-90 range... but when she rolled an actual HUNDRED... there wasn't much we could do O.o

Except for reincarnate ^_^

I Do think that having a penalty for bringing back the dead is cool I don't want things to be TOOOOOOO impossible though. Lower a stat, give us a 'max number of deaths' something like that. massive gold that we don't have... loss of a level.. are a bit too harsh. Something that can be reverseed by the same priest the same day isn't a penalty at all...

I'd like a balance :)

Sovereign Court

After a little more thought, if you were going to re-tweak costs (weather that be GP, stat penalties, negative levels, etc.) for resurrection/raise dead, you should look at how long it takes you to get "back in the game." The quicker you are back in the game and rolling dice/making decisions, the higher the cost.

Silver Crusade

To be honest, it surprises me that Breath of Life doesn't have a cost for a combat rez. I know that you gotta get there that round, but still.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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lordzack wrote:
Does there necessarilly need to be a mechanical reason for raise dead to be more expensive? After all, Id say that rpgs are supposed to be more than just mechanics.

All those 5th level spells? They're 5th level because they're (supposedly) the same level of power. That's game mechanics.

The 5,000 gp cost? That directly impacts your character in terms of WBL. That's game mechanics.

Requiring a 5,000 gp cost for one 5th-level spell but not for another 5th-level spell, even though they're both (supposedly) the same level of power? We need to justify that with game mechanics.

Because if you don't, then you could just as easily say "all the core races are balanced, but it costs you 5,000 gp to play an elf, even though elves are no more powerful than the other core races... I just feel it cheapens elves if anyone can play one."

Silver Crusade

Breath of Life isn't a guaranteed success, whether the rolls go poorly and/or the negative hit points are too far down. Everything else (in context of this discussion) with a cost is auto-succeed.


I get what lordzack is saying though. What if you can't find a game mechanics reason, but there is another reason.

Liberty's Edge

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
lordzack wrote:
Does there necessarilly need to be a mechanical reason for raise dead to be more expensive? After all, Id say that rpgs are supposed to be more than just mechanics.

All those 5th level spells? They're 5th level because they're (supposedly) the same level of power. That's game mechanics.

The 5,000 gp cost? That directly impacts your character in terms of WBL. That's game mechanics.

Requiring a 5,000 gp cost for one 5th-level spell but not for another 5th-level spell, even though they're both (supposedly) the same level of power? We need to justify that with game mechanics.

Because if you don't, then you could just as easily say "all the core races are balanced, but it costs you 5,000 gp to play an elf, even though elves are no more powerful than the other core races... I just feel it cheapens elves if anyone can play one."

But they don't have the same effects. As I pointed out regarding Teleport and Plane Shift, there is a miss chance, often with specific danger (Not to mention Teleport is generally arcane). And as discussed, with breath of life there are a number of things that must occur for it to be at all feasible.

Looking at the spells raised for comparison, Raise dead minus the gold cost, is substantially better than breath of life, and less risky than teleport or plane shift.

I think pretty much all of us agree that 5k being used may not be the way to go, but removing it without replacement doesn't bring it to equal footing of the other spells you listed for all of the reasons you listed. It is still significantly better.

Historically, the "real" penalty to the dead player was level loss. The gold cost was fairly arbitrary. I get why that was removed, it was a pain to go through the level loss process and the new system is much easier.

But while I think many if not most of us agree that using gold is the wrong way to go, it seems that is was in place of payment in XP, which was also problematic...

What I am saying is I agree with you that the cost being gold is less than ideal, but removing cost entirely is equally a problem in the other direction.

Dying is presumably just about the worst possible outcome for an adventurer. It is the thing to be most avoided, one would think. It should not be without significant cost and/or risk to overcome what is the "ultimate" penalty.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Oh, there are plenty of "other" reasons, but you shouldn't balance flavor with mechanics, or vice versa*, so if there's a game mechanics cost (5,000 gp), there should be a game mechanics reason for that cost.

* Otherwise you get things like "a character with the orc-hater kit gets a +5 bonus on attack and damage rolls against orcs and half-orcs, but can never have peaceable interactions with orcs or half-orcs, he has no choice but to fight them."

Silver Crusade

ciretose wrote:
Dying is presumably just about the worst possible outcome for an adventurer. It is the thing to be most avoided, one would think. It should not be without significant cost and/or risk to overcome what is the "ultimate" penalty.

Actually, I think having your soul devoured or destroyed is worse than just simple death. Then your party can't even plane-shift and visit you in Heaven.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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ciretose wrote:
But they don't have the same effects.

So? All discrete elements in the game don't have the same effects, otherwise we'd just have ONE feat in the game, called I Do Stuff, and the Benefit line would be "I do stuff, make it up." That's why we have to think about game balance.

ciretose wrote:
As I pointed out regarding Teleport and Plane Shift, there is a miss chance, often with specific danger

This argument falls apart when I point out that greater teleport (level 7) has NO miss chance, and resurrection (level 7) still has a 10,000 gp cost, so clearly that 10,000 gp cost is NOT there to offset the lack of a resurrection "miss chance," so the same argument applies to level 5 teleport and level 5 raise dead.

ciretose wrote:
(Not to mention Teleport is generally arcane).

Irrelevant, as the game treats full-caster spells of the same level as basically identical for the purpose of costs.

ciretose wrote:
And as discussed, with breath of life there are a number of things that must occur for it to be at all feasible.

(1) Which is an irrelevant "cost" if those things do occur, and (2) is an irrelevant "cost" because you won't cast the spell if those things can't occur (i.e., if you can't get there in time, or the expected healing isn't enough to revive the character, you won't waste the spell).

ciretose wrote:
I think pretty much all of us agree that 5k being used may not be the way to go, but removing it without replacement doesn't bring it to equal footing of the other spells you listed for all of the reasons you listed. It is still significantly better.

It is better than breath of life because breath of life was intentionally written as a no-cost limited alternative to raise dead.

The risks from teleport to a familiar place are negligible (and honestly, they could go away, too, they're just there to mess with players).
The risks of using plane shift are nonexistant (where you go may be dangerous, but using the spell to travel is not).

ciretose wrote:
What I am saying is I agree with you that the cost being gold is less than ideal, but removing cost entirely is equally a problem in the other direction.

I've still yet to hear any game mechanics justification for this cost, or why removing it is a "problem in the other direction." :)

ciretose wrote:
Dying is presumably just about the worst possible outcome for an adventurer. It is the thing to be most avoided, one would think. It should not be without significant cost and/or risk to overcome what is the "ultimate" penalty.

Cost: 5th-level spell slot from the party cleric. OR...

Cost: 450 gp from a 9th-level NPC spellcaster (a huge sum), assuming you get the body to her in time.
Risk: You *think*, but you thinking something is not a game mechanic. Other people may *think* coming back from the dead shouldn't be risky. Other people may *think* that elves should be a rare race and PC elves should be penalized somehow for the "perk" of being able to play an elf.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

Death isn't even the ultimate penalty.

Liberty's Edge

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Oh, there are plenty of "other" reasons, but you shouldn't balance flavor with mechanics, or vice versa*, so if there's a game mechanics cost (5,000 gp), there should be a game mechanics reason for that cost.

* Otherwise you get things like "a character with the orc-hater kit gets a +5 bonus on attack and damage rolls against orcs and half-orcs, but can never have peaceable interactions with orcs or half-orcs, he has no choice but to fight them."

I agree with you on the cost, as in financial cost, causing some mechanical issues. I am 100% fine with getting rid of it. I just think that 5000 gold needs to be replaced with something else if you want it to be a spell on par with breath of life for example.

I think all of the hoops that need to be jumped through to make breath of life work make it much less valuable than just carrying around a now fairly cheap scroll of raise dead and using your 5th level slot elsewhere.

Yes I know there are more costs with raise dead vs a successful breath of life, but frankly negative levels just aren't the penalty the used to be.

And that is not a criticism, I liked that change. The old calculations just ground games to a halt, I don't want to go back to them.

But when you have one spell that requires high daily cost (you need it at all times) high risk to the caster to use, in a short time period, that doesn't work against death effects...if that is the power level for 5th level, free raise dead is significantly higher in my opinion.

I don't see death being an exceptionally bad thing to happen and therefore requiring more to be a completely flavor based thing. Making things dead is one main ways we define "winning" various challenges in the game.

I mean, I think a large number of games can be summed up as the journey to kill the BBEG, presumably because it will be very difficult for him to continue doing evil when dead. Is that partly flavor? Sure. But it is also defining an ending, in contrast with spells and effects that allow things to still be able to interact as a part of the game.

Dead means you are out of the game and very likely need to roll up a new character. Nearly everything else that can happen, doesn't. T.P.K. is the GM nightmare, not T. P. Incapacitation.

I can understand viewing it as a something the GM could hold over the player, I just don't share that view. I think most GMs want the show to go on, and want the players to succeed.

But without having death be something in the game at the pinnacle of disincentive, you encourage reckless play. I do think that is mechanically relevant, while agreeing with you that gold probably isn't the way to handle it.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ciretose wrote:
What I am saying is I agree with you that the cost being gold is less than ideal, but removing cost entirely is equally a problem in the other direction.
I've still yet to hear any game mechanics justification for this cost, or why removing it is a "problem in the other direction." :)

Casting teleport helps you get from one place to another really quickly and eliminates the costs associated with overland travel, the time it takes to get from one place to another, the costs of the inns you stay at, the food you eat there, the ammunition you use to hunt game when not staying at the inn, etc.

Casting Raise Dead helps you get from one place to another more quickly than if you were dead and eliminates the costs associated with hiring people to cart your dead husk around, hiring people to adjudicate your last will and testament, someone to constantly cast speak with dead to get your opinions and thoughts across, etc.

I know I am very close to figuring out a justification here . . . other than the obvious that its arguably MORE expensive to try and adventure as a decaying husk and it should cost something to offset the removal of those expenses.

Liberty's Edge

We may just have to agree to disagree on some of this, as we seem to have a disconnect on what we view as player penalty.

I don't mean this as "I am frustrated" or anything like that, I am really enjoying this discussion. But I do believe that player fear of irreversible outcomes is part of what makes success in the game so valuable.

Winning isn't great if not for the risk of losing.

I don't view it as player vs GM, I view it as table vs dice. A good GM is always rooting for the players, but sometimes they die, sometimes you lose, sometimes it sucks and you have a bad night at the table because you can't undo something that happened.

I like that I could teleport into a wall, or plane shift off course into something dangerous. I don't view that as "messing" with the player. I view that as something I need to consider when making decision.

I like that breath of life may fail because I get hit by the same thing that took out the guy I am trying to do CPR on. And again, I view that as something I have to consider when deciding if I save him, attack the creature, run away, etc...

I like that things may happen I can't fix or resolve. That, for me, is part of the challenge of the game. I don't want those things removed from the game. I want to know if I mess up badly enough, I may have a long and frustrating night.

But most nights I won't. As you've said, the game is weighted in my favor. It is rigged for the players to succeed and be big damn heroes. 9 nights out of 10 (if not more) I will walk out feeling like I accomplished something in the made up world of illusion.

But for me, that feeling is severely lowered if the risk of failure is largely removed.

And again, I'm not frustrated with the discussion, I am not saying you are wrong, it may be a better perspective to take to be cautious toward putting players at risk and encouraging positive outcomes with less possible frustration when you are designing games.

But when death isn't feared...I don't want to play Bill Murray in Groundhog day...well at least not at every session :)

Shadow Lodge

Irontruth wrote:
I really think the game changer is the much easier access to Remove Disease and Cure Light Wounds. Most people who die of injuries die afterwards from infection. A broken leg rarely kills you outright. 3rd level paladins and 5th level clerics are going to be much more common than 9th level clerics, so more people are just going to go to old age anyways.

Maybe so, but even if accidental death is rare being able to easily reverse it would still have a significant impact on peoples' outlook. And a world where most die of old age certainly isn't the default assumption in PF:

Age Categories wrote:
The maximum ages are for player characters. Most people in the world at large die from pestilence, accidents, infections, or violence before getting to venerable age.

The point that I was trying to make - and which appears to have gotten lost - is that if Raise Dead does not have a cost to cast, the availability of the spell has the potential to have a significant impact on the way of life of ordinary people. The exact impact depends on exactly what the world is like and whether Raise is actually made available to the average person or just some select subset. But it could be a lot more interesting than a world in which powerful heroes and other extremely rich people can buy a second or third life and most people haven't got a chance.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Raise dead will fix dismemberment and decapitation as long as you have all the significant pieces on hand when you cast the spell.

I should hope so. I don't know about everyone else, but in my group the GM frequently turns a killing crit with a slashing weapon into a decapitation just for flavour. It would really mess things up if that flavor prevented Raise Dead.

raidou wrote:

Body resembles a jigsaw puzzle (death by angry chainsaw-wielding treants) = 5000 gold

Body mostly resembles oatmeal (death by ten storm giant lords-a-leaping) = 10000 gold and a Resurrection spell

Thanks, that made me laugh so hard in the break room that someone asked me if I was all right.

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Oh, there are plenty of "other" reasons, but you shouldn't balance flavor with mechanics, or vice versa*, so if there's a game mechanics cost (5,000 gp), there should be a game mechanics reason for that cost.

I'm quoting this next time I get into a discussion about class alignment restrictions.

This is also the reason I like the idea of replacing the gp cost with something more flavourful, like requiring the favour of a deity or a specific quest in exchange for your life, or every time you're raised from the dead there's a chance that a powerful outsider (relative to your level) takes offense and tries to kill you again, or a secret order of very high-level characters has dedicated themselves to seeking out and destroying those who mock death by making frivolous or over-frequent use of Raise and Resurrection. These provide more interesting flavor than a 5000gp death tax and make Raise more meaningful than just a 5th level spell, but don't make it overly difficult for an unlucky player to restore a favorite PC.


Perhaps this is just me, but 5000 gp plus 2000 for the restorations is a small price to pay for something that just isn't easily done. If a character dies, you only have a few options: Raise them with an expensive spell, make a new character, or plane shift and hope you can find them in time. Plane shift puts you 5d% miles away from your intended destination. Where's your destination? Where's the PC's soul? It could be anywhere on a plane that you assume he/she went to after death. There's no way of knowing, and you could be there forever. And again, raising the dead is soul-wrenching, hence the negative levels/Con drain when the person (if they want to) comes back.

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