Raise Dead and the Diamond Thing


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion

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

I think losing can entail a lot more than death. One of the flaws of D&D I think is that way too many battles are fought to the death. When death is on the line it becomes kind of meaningless IMO, which is why spells like Raise Dead have to exist, which then has to get one upped by things that cause actual permanent death (needing a Wish or deity).

I've even "won" battles where I've died. Holding a door long enough for allies to escape or complete a ritual, etc. Objectives more interesting than stabbing the guy in the face give a story more nuance and makes the times that death is seriously on the line more impactful.

I agree, death should be on the table for penalties, but it also represents the end of a story for a character. It shouldn't be the default penalty IMO.

Contributor

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I think we may be looking at this from the wrong angle here.

While we may take as granted the fact that, by the current rules, Raise Dead costs a 5000 GP diamond, it is, otherwise, a flawless spell. We can waffle all day about "people coming back wrong" and alignment changes and whatnot, but looking at the straight RAW of the spell, none of these things are supposed to happen short of GM fiat, and since GM fiat can accomplish anything including spontaneous resurrection without any spells, it's not worth talking about from a game mechanics perspective.

Looking at Teleport, the other 5th level spell, it doesn't cost a 5000 GP diamond. However, it does have a chance of error, and that chance includes going to the wrong place--some of them potentially deadly--and just being horribly killed by being scrambled.

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

Apply the same "Familiarity" rules as Teleport. If the party cleric tries to call back the soul of his old buddy and boon companion from the party he has an easier time of it than the random cleric at the temple who has a chance of reading the name wrong or mispronouncing something, leading to summoning the wrong soul or some other mishap. Think about what happens when you've got someone trying to read names at a graduation and mangling some of them.

There could be some other mishaps as well. The subject comes back but has another alignment, or has aged ten years, or has come back to his or her body but has another soul stuck in there as well as another personality, or memories of a past life have muddled around after death and the character comes back as a different class. Or just the same "mishap" rules as Teleport and the corpse blows up, necessitating use of a True Resurrection.

And, to be completely fair, the wizard risking nasty accidents when using Teleport could have the option to throw in a 5000 GP diamond as a power component to get utterly flawless teleportation even to a place he's never seen.

That would be both flavorful and also work from a game mechanics end.

Shadow Lodge

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

(things go wrong and badly wrong)

Interesting ideas for mishaps, but what about SKR's point that 7th level Resurrection has a 10,000gp cost, compared to error-free, cost free 7th level Greater Teleport?

Contributor

Weirdo wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

(things go wrong and badly wrong)

Interesting ideas for mishaps, but what about SKR's point that 7th level Resurrection has a 10,000gp cost, compared to error-free, cost free 7th level Greater Teleport?

Personally, if I were balancing them, I'd put in a third teleport-type spell in to parallel True Resurrection, and line-out the 10K and 25K diamonds for Resurrection and True Resurrection respectively.

As for Sean's argument about the Glyph of Warding needing a monetary component to keep clerics from using them as wallpaper, I think the easier limitation might be to say that spellcasters only get to have X permanent effects up at a time, where X is their level, unless they cast Permanency which costs GP to make something permanent without the caster maintaining it.


Weirdo wrote:


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

(things go wrong and badly wrong)

Interesting ideas for mishaps, but what about SKR's point that 7th level Resurrection has a 10,000gp cost, compared to error-free, cost free 7th level Greater Teleport?

Well, if perfection comes with a cost for Raise Dead (and Resurrection) maybe Perfection in teleportation with Greater Teleport should come at a cost as well. Not sure how this would play out in relation to other spells, but that is the logical direction for the idea.

*edit* Well, grade an essay and someone pops in with an answer :)


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Well when we talk about balancing these two spells, why are we starting from the baseline assumption that they are equally significant in what they accomplish? That's an impossible thing to quantify but it's been rolled out here as some kind of a priori truth.

Silver Crusade

I would make greater teleport into a ritual type if spell that takes a teleportation circle and requires a casting time of an hour.

Liberty's Edge

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

I think we may be looking at this from the wrong angle here.

While we may take as granted the fact that, by the current rules, Raise Dead costs a 5000 GP diamond, it is, otherwise, a flawless spell. We can waffle all day about "people coming back wrong" and alignment changes and whatnot, but looking at the straight RAW of the spell, none of these things are supposed to happen short of GM fiat, and since GM fiat can accomplish anything including spontaneous resurrection without any spells, it's not worth talking about from a game mechanics perspective.

Looking at Teleport, the other 5th level spell, it doesn't cost a 5000 GP diamond. However, it does have a chance of error, and that chance includes going to the wrong place--some of them potentially deadly--and just being horribly killed by being scrambled.

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

This I could get behind.

Liberty's Edge

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

(things go wrong and badly wrong)

Interesting ideas for mishaps, but what about SKR's point that 7th level Resurrection has a 10,000gp cost, compared to error-free, cost free 7th level Greater Teleport?

Personally, if I were balancing them, I'd put in a third teleport-type spell in to parallel True Resurrection, and line-out the 10K and 25K diamonds for Resurrection and True Resurrection respectively.

As for Sean's argument about the Glyph of Warding needing a monetary component to keep clerics from using them as wallpaper, I think the easier limitation might be to say that spellcasters only get to have X permanent effects up at a time, where X is their level, unless they cast Permanency which costs GP to make something permanent without the caster maintaining it.

I could see this causing story problems. I think a lot of the high power spells are intended to allow story options. I personally would love for more risk to be added to spells like planar binding and simulacrum, rather than trying to limit them almost exclusively by costs.

That way the BBEG may have been lucky on his rolls to get all those minions, but that doesn't mean the player will be.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

I think we may be looking at this from the wrong angle here.

While we may take as granted the fact that, by the current rules, Raise Dead costs a 5000 GP diamond, it is, otherwise, a flawless spell. We can waffle all day about "people coming back wrong" and alignment changes and whatnot, but looking at the straight RAW of the spell, none of these things are supposed to happen short of GM fiat, and since GM fiat can accomplish anything including spontaneous resurrection without any spells, it's not worth talking about from a game mechanics perspective.

Looking at Teleport, the other 5th level spell, it doesn't cost a 5000 GP diamond. However, it does have a chance of error, and that chance includes going to the wrong place--some of them potentially deadly--and just being horribly killed by being scrambled.

The obvious fix to balance the two would be to say that the 5000 GP diamond is for an error-free spell. Otherwise, there a chance of something going wrong--possibly badly wrong.

Apply the same "Familiarity" rules as Teleport. If the party cleric tries to call back the soul of his old buddy and boon companion from the party he has an easier time of it than the random cleric at the temple who has a chance of reading the name wrong or mispronouncing something, leading to summoning the wrong soul or some other mishap. Think about what happens when you've got someone trying to read names at a graduation and mangling some of them.

There could be some other mishaps as well. The subject comes back but has another alignment, or has aged ten years, or has come back to his or her body but has another soul stuck in there as well as another personality, or memories of a past life have muddled around after death and the character comes back as a different class. Or just the same "mishap" rules as Teleport and the corpse blows up, necessitating use of a True Resurrection.

And, to be completely fair, the wizard risking nasty accidents when using Teleport could have the option to throw in a 5000 GP...

I can imagine a lot of players hating the idea of resurrection screwing with your character. I love it, but I have a friend who has made it very clear he doesn't want to be reincarnated because it would mess with his vision of his character. I think he would just as soon reroll.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Maps, Rulebook Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
Apply the same "Familiarity" rules as Teleport. If the party cleric tries to call back the soul of his old buddy and boon companion from the party he has an easier time of it than the random cleric at the temple who has a chance of reading the name wrong or mispronouncing something, leading to summoning the wrong soul or some other mishap.

The problem is, this "trivializes death" even more so for the at-least-9th-level party with their own cleric. The lower-level parties are already in a situation where they have to travel to find a high-enough level caster within the time limit, pay 450 gp for the casting, and the player still has a chance that he won't get his character back like he wants him? While 9th-level-or-more parties with their own cleric just hit a reset button at their leisure without having to even leave their quest?

I personally don't mind the possibility of mishap, but I don't think it should come into play for low-level parties but not high-level ones. There are enough wrinkles in the game (Recent Casting Limit, I'm looking at you) that are there to prevent abuse by high-level characters but really screw over low-level ones.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
This still isn't a game mechanics reason that justifies the 5,000 gp cost for raise dead but not for breath of lifemake adventures against clerics really annoying and deadly because...

Are you talking games mechanic or story? Story wise, it's not so much an issue as Breath of Life is pretty much the same as the kind of resuscitations EMT personnel do quite regularly, the spirit hasn't left the body, the character isn't truly dead. Raise Dead on the other hand involves, reanimating a truly dead body, fixing it's gross injuries AND recalling a soul from another plane all at the same time. Breath of Life isn't even CLOSE to being the kind of epic spell Raise Dead is by comparison.

The real question that we're beating around the bush with since spells like restoration and others have come up is when do you want to have spells entail major costs and what kind of costs should they be? This pretty much starts with the restoration spells and goes all the way up to ressurection and Wish.


Grimmy wrote:
Well when we talk about balancing these two spells, why are we starting from the baseline assumption that they are equally significant in what they accomplish? That's an impossible thing to quantify but it's been rolled out here as some kind of a priori truth.

It's a basic assumption of the mechanics. Spells of the same level should be roughly of the same power. It's a basic assumption of the Paizo design method as well, for example if you go read SKR's tips on archetypes for the superstar competition, they don't want submissions that grant 'iconic' abilities prior to the primary class that receives them. Example, you don't hand out dimension door like abilities prior to 7th level, because wizards are the baseline for when that enters the game.

It's not an impossible thing to do, it is difficult and a little subjective though.

There are games that do perfectly balance things, basically the abilities are "do stuff" and then you get to name exactly what it does, but it's all just color and the mechanical difference is nil.

So yes, two fifth level spells should be roughly balanced against each other. Otherwise one should be lower or higher level from the other.

Liberty's Edge

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LazarX wrote:
The real question that we're beating around the bush with since spells like restoration and others have come up is when do you want to have spells entail major costs and what kind of costs should they be? This pretty much starts with the restoration spells and goes all the way up to ressurection and Wish.

And this is the elephant in the room.

When we left the "XP for spell" economy, we swapped out for something that is just a game resource that comes from the party pool. It isn't about "really" losing a level, or even XP. You just buy your way out of trouble like O.J.

Why I think it is an agree to disagree situation is that I don't think this is a vestige of "Player vs GM" because I think that is a false conflict. GMs are not (generally) trying to beat players. If they were, they could, and then the players won't come back to play with that GM anymore (or at least won't let that guy run anymore). If you try to "win" against your PCs, the whole game falls apart very quickly since you are the one setting the terms of the conflict.

And if that was the problem that premise that the discussion is built on, I don't see the problem.

In my personal opinion, I think there are a number of out of combat spells that would be better servced by risk costs rather than gold cost. And this would include raise dead.

I think when a character dies, that is a moment of decision in the game. Breath of life to me isn't even really a resurrection type spell as much as it is an advanced type of combat healing. It only works when restoring damage, only to a certain point, and only within a round. That isn't bringing back someone from the dead, that is performing CPR.

When you are raising someone from the dead, you are interacting with some serious powers. When it was loss of a level, it was messy but it was a fair consequence. I understand removing the messy part, I don't understand removing the consequence. And no, two negative levels, one of which can be removed immediately and one in a week, is not nearly the same thing.

Dying needs to have an in-game consequece equal to the level we want players to fear it. If death has no cost or risk, it becomes a table calculation of if you are willing to have a - 1 penalty on all ability checks, attack rolls, combat maneuver checks, Combat Maneuver Defense, saving throws, and skill checks and lose 5 hit points for a week.

What does that really mean to a moderately high level character?

Now you tell me if I die, there is a small chance raise dead will fail and as a result I will be unable to return, ever...that is a dice roll that gets my heart pumping a bit.

And that is a good thing. That is kind of the goal for me. Having moments where I really, really, care what comes up on a roll. But if it doesn't really matter, because there is no real penalty...meh.

Similarly if you tell me I can't just take 10 on all the evil things I bind, or on the Simulacrums I create, etc...to make sure they don't turn on me you have made a cost benefit analysis decision into a math and banking problem.

Now if you tell me there is some risk, even just a little risk, in the nature of the spell...

I don't want this risk to be added to traditional combat spells (or at least only to a very few like Raise Dead or as it exists in Teleport) as it would just slow down play. But I also don't think the ability for a player to suffer severe penalties for decisions is a Player vs GM situation anymore that fighting a creature with a spell that has a high saving throw is a player vs GM situation.

It is a table vs Dice situation.

Risk v Reward only works when there is risk. If you nerf the effects of dying to the point that the effects are minimal, you remove the risk part of the equation.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

LazarX wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
This still isn't a game mechanics reason that justifies the 5,000 gp cost for raise dead but not for breath of lifemake adventures against clerics really annoying and deadly because...
Are you talking games mechanic or story?
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
This still isn't a game mechanics reason that justifies the 5,000 gp cost for raise dead but not for breath of life...
LazarX wrote:
Breath of Life is pretty much the same as the kind of resuscitations EMT personnel do quite regularly, the spirit hasn't left the body, the character isn't truly dead. Raise Dead on the other hand involves, reanimating a truly dead body, fixing it's gross injuries AND recalling a soul from another plane all at the same time. Breath of Life isn't even CLOSE to being the kind of epic spell Raise Dead is by comparison.

Except the difference between being able to use breath of life and being able to use raise dead is ONE ROUND. SIX SECONDS.

EMTs and doctors can bring back people who have been clinically dead (no heartbeat) for minutes. So either the soul is in the body for minutes after death, and therefore breath of life and raise dead should have even functionality during that time, or the soul leaves the body immediately after death and EMTs have necromantic powers beyond that of 5th-level cleric spells.

LazarX wrote:
The real question that we're beating around the bush with since spells like restoration and others have come up is when do you want to have spells entail major costs and what kind of costs should they be? This pretty much starts with the restoration spells and goes all the way up to ressurection and Wish.

"One fight at a time, fellas." —Tyler Durden

Silver Crusade

Two more game mechanic theories:

Paying Homage using Economy

Citing a 2011 article by Mike Mearls, R&D for D&D, whose crew went through and played all the older editions to figure out: So what is it with death? Why the changes in how to bring people back between editions and the rules changes in what it takes to officially die due to damage?

Why all these little tweaks and changes? I think it boils down to this: Death is really DM dependent. Some DMs like slaughtering characters by the truckload. They dare their players to delve into dungeons, battling through fiendish traps and endless hordes of monsters. Other DMs find losing a character to be an enormous headache, especially if they have plots and plans surrounding them....I’ve talked a lot about how D&D players are a diverse bunch, with their own sets of priorities and preferences when it comes to the game. That extends to DMs and game designers, too...

The rules of D&D and the adventures designed for it have a clear effect on how people play and perceive the game. Death and dying play a big role in that feel—from a gritty, harsh game of survival, to a story-driven game where the players know that resolving the plot, not living or dying, is the point of the campaign.

Maybe all in all, the designers haven an imperfect solution to an imperfect problem, one in which the answer is based off how people play. Conduct a poll and I'm betting you'll find variance: some people want no costs/penalties for dying, some want there to be a difficult dilemma to coming back (dilemma created by the cost), and others may want "dead is dead." The 3rd edition and Pathfinder games are more "economy-based" than prior versions. Encounters are designed to have a certain wealth spread with expected wealth each level. To accomodate all styles of play a penalty is imposed on group worth, albeit a cost that lessens (relatively) as players get nearer to 20th level and amass greater wealth. Still, it's no chump change.

Further, unlike XP loss or CON loss, the cost can be shared, providing a mechanic encouraging team play and to keep teammates alive.

However, my best guess is that the diamond cost provides a mechanic to pay homage to the origins of the game as having a cost/penalty for dying and bringing back the same character. It may have less meaning when compared to other spells, but that's not what designers may be doing, especially if they've played prior editions.

A Wee Bit Stronger Theory

Having a cost to raise dead may be the same reason we have costs for Wish. They occupy a niche above their peer spells but need a home since there is no such thing as Level 5 1/2 spells, or Level 9.25. The "cost" reflects access to a spell at a certain level that, as a whole, exercises greater power and control over the game world than its peers or offers an effect that simply cannot easily be duplicated by anything else and thus is unique. Many effects have the same play result as "death" (e.g. having to sit out) but have multiple and easier-to-obtain routes to being removed. Some effects can be dispelled, cured by a potion, go away with time, fixed by a class ability, fixed by a summoned creature, fixed by donning certain items, and so on. Death, not so many options.

Wish would be the acme of this example. It's the most powerful spell in the game, the "mightiest spell a wizard or sorcerer can cast" according to its descriptor. So why is it 9th level if it's clearly more powerful than any other 9th level spell? Since we don't have any other home, since there is no 9 and a quarter spell list, it gets 9th level but an accompanying cost.

Liberty's Edge

I think the difference between breath of life and raise dead is significantly more than one round.

Raise dead will still work for days after. You don't even need to memorize it that day, you can just carry a scroll around in case you need it.

Breath of life won't. You need to have it memorized (take up that slot) and you generally need to be one move action away, then move into the same area where the person who was killed in that round was killed. Presumably by something that killed him, since breath of life doesn't work on death effects. And if they are more than 25 hit points below zero, they are still unconcious. If not still dead because you rolled low.

I don't think that is even in the same ballpark as being able to raise pretty much anyone to full conciousness over a week after they died.

One takes up a spell slot every day and still won't work unless I can get there in a round, likely putting myself at high risk, and it isn't a death attack, and it isn't more than I roll.

One I can leave a slot empty or just put it on a scroll and it pretty much always works.

Bridge to far on that comparison, IMHO.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

ciretose wrote:

I think the difference between breath of life and raise dead is significantly more than one round.

Raise dead will still work for days after. You don't even need to memorize it that day, you can just carry a scroll around in case you need it.
Breath of life won't. You need to have it memorized (take up that slot) and you generally need to be one move action away, then move into the same area where the person who was killed in that round was killed. Presumably by something that killed him, since breath of life doesn't work on death effects. And if they are more than 25 hit points below zero, they are still unconcious. If not still dead because you rolled low.

Which is what I mean by "the difference is one round." If you can get to a dead person within one round, you can use breath of life. If you can't get to them within one round, you have to use raise dead. After one round, all the other factors of using breath of life (death effects, huge negative hit points, etc.) are irrelevant: you're just too late.

When a character dies, the first question is "can I get to him within 1 round?" If the answer is "yes," then you can cast breath of life" If the answer is "no," then you have to use raise dead. Therefore, the main consideration about whether you use one spell or the other is that one round limitation.

By the way, I'm reminded of Stephen Brusts's Jhereg books. The main character is a human assassin/crime boss living in a highly magical fantasy society run by elves. Reviving the dead is relatively easy (and cheap, on par with about 300 gp) within 3 days of death as long as the person's brain and spine aren't damaged; after three days, the soul has departed and it can't be done. Sometimes he gets paid to kill someone, sometimes he's paid to kill someone and destroy the brain (a dagger in the eye is sufficient), and rarely he's paid to kill someone with a soul-eating weapon. It just depends on what the client can afford and what kind of message the client wants to send to the target. Sometimes, he gets paid to kill the target in a non-permanent way and then take the body and pay for a healer to revive the target, because that way the target knows the client doesn't care if he lives or dies. You can't really do that with the current structure of raise dead because the M cost is way too expensive... and that cost is still a campaign justification for keeping the spell rare, rather than a game mechanics justification.


Sigh.

This whole mess is beginning to smell of table variation/house rule territory... I mean, aside from PFSOP, it really doesn't matter that there is a 5k diamond material component. If you dislike it, change it. Problem solved.

I know, this doesn't address the underlying issue of spell balance within a level.

I prefer the formerly-deceased person to owe either (or both!) the deity whose priest cast the Raise Dead or the God/dess of Death a favor... but that's just me. I suppose it could be argued that the gods trust their servants' judgment when it comes to deciding who stays dead and who gets up, and the diamond is just a fiat cost of doing business. I don't find that particularly satisfying.

YMMV, yet again...

[PS: LOVE Jhereg novels... and they are a model for "raising the dead just takes work," rather than being inherently expensive. Everybody in the thread who hasn't, go read them.]

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Which is what I mean by "the difference is one round." If you can get to a dead person within one round, you can use breath of life. If you can't get to them within one round, you have to use raise dead. After one round, all the other factors of using breath of life (death effects, huge negative hit points, etc.) are irrelevant: you're just too late.

There was a psionic power in 3.5 that worked exactly the way that Breath of Life did, save that you could extend that deadline by paying additional power points to add rounds to the limit, up to what you could pull off as your manifestor limit.

I would submit that Breath of Life should have a greater deadline perhaps an additional round for every one or two caster levels beyond 9, which would bring it a bit more closer to my scenario.

Liberty's Edge

There is also the question of "do I have Breath of Life occupying a spell slot", which isn't an insignificant ongoing cost relative to the more scroll or open slot raise dead option.

And that aside, even based just on the differences you laid out, isn't that a significant discrepancy for spells of the same level, if the costs are made more or less the same? I mean yes, 2 permanent vs 1 temporary, but even with that as part of the consideration.

While it is true you can't replicate the specific effect of the setting you are describing (based on your description, I haven't read it) that scenario is equally prevented a function of how raise dead only working on those who want to come back, and is that a campaign mechanic or an intended limit of the spell to prevent exactly what you are describing? You would know better than I would.

I am not familiar with the Jhereg books, but it seems to me that a Princess Bride reference is fitting. There is dead and there is "mostly dead". Both Breath of Life and raise dead work if you just "died", but if you are really and truly "dead", you need raise dead. The spell that does both would seem far greater than the spell that does the lesser. Having relatively equal value during a 6 second period to me isn't a strong argument for the spells having equal value in general.

I am curious if I am understanding your general position correctly (something I am known to fail at). I am understanding that your concern is for the spell to have penalty in excess of what is required of other spells, not just specifically the fact that penalty is specifically gold or wealth based components. In other words, it is wrong for this spell to have requirements other spells do not. Is that accurate, or am I missing nuance? Or just plain misunderstanding completely (something else I am known to do)

Liberty's Edge

LazarX wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Which is what I mean by "the difference is one round." If you can get to a dead person within one round, you can use breath of life. If you can't get to them within one round, you have to use raise dead. After one round, all the other factors of using breath of life (death effects, huge negative hit points, etc.) are irrelevant: you're just too late.

There was a psionic power in 3.5 that worked exactly the way that Breath of Life did, save that you could extend that deadline by paying additional power points to add rounds to the limit, up to what you could pull off as your manifestor limit.

I would submit that Breath of Life should have a greater deadline perhaps an additional round for every one or two caster levels beyond 9, which would bring it a bit more closer to my scenario.

I would disagree. I don't think the solution is to increase the power of a spell that works great as it is. Breath of Life is a wonderful spell both in function and application.

It creates epic moments specifically because it has that limit.

This is kind of my overall point. Limits and restrictions are what create the tension that makes the game exciting.

Extending Breath of Life's duration because you can't always use it would be like lowering the basket because you can't dunk otherwise.


The problem is as I see as do many others is that we aren't just talking about a 5th level spell slot here. We are talking about bringing back to life a character. Making this cheap, IMHO at least, just reinforces the video game concept of the reset button of gaming. Well, I am sorry, but there is no reset button on life. We aren't just talking about magically teleporting from one place to another here. As for the Breath of Life spell, I have used the one round rule for years now long before Pathfinder was developed. I also allowed a fort save from the Advanced Players Guide from Sword and Scorcery. IMHO, it is better to make it harder for someone to die than for them to be brought back to life. As for the character death adding to the story or not, well I guess it all depends on that type of game you wish to play. Are we playing story time or old fashioned D&D? I prefer the later, YMMV.


Breath of life also has the value of being an 'in combat' spell. A casting time of 1 minute is pretty prohibitive during a fight. It's also usable as a normal healing spell, which Raise Dead technically is not, and if you were to use that slot to spontaneously cast a cure spell, you would actually heal a single individual for fewer HP than Breath of Life.


Irontruth wrote:
Grimmy wrote:
Well when we talk about balancing these two spells, why are we starting from the baseline assumption that they are equally significant in what they accomplish? That's an impossible thing to quantify but it's been rolled out here as some kind of a priori truth.

It's a basic assumption of the mechanics. Spells of the same level should be roughly of the same power. It's a basic assumption of the Paizo design method as well, for example if you go read SKR's tips on archetypes for the superstar competition, they don't want submissions that grant 'iconic' abilities prior to the primary class that receives them. Example, you don't hand out dimension door like abilities prior to 7th level, because wizards are the baseline for when that enters the game.

It's not an impossible thing to do, it is difficult and a little subjective though.

There are games that do perfectly balance things, basically the abilities are "do stuff" and then you get to name exactly what it does, but it's all just color and the mechanical difference is nil.

So yes, two fifth level spells should be roughly balanced against each other. Otherwise one should be lower or higher level from the other.

I get that, but Sean mentioned the example of the material cost balancing restoration when it produces a greater effect then other spells of the same level (even if the two effects being compared were the things restoration could accomplish with and without a high material component cost.). If every spell effect of the same level is already assumed to be mechanically balanced to begin with then there's no game mechanics reason for a high material component cost on any spell ever. It sounds to me like Raise Dead has a high material component cost and Teleport doesn't because coming back from the dead was thought to be a bigger deal then traveling somewhere instantly.


brvheart wrote:
The problem is as I see as do many others is that we aren't just talking about a 5th level spell slot here. We are talking about bringing back to life a character. Making this cheap, IMHO at least, just reinforces the video game concept of the reset button of gaming. Well, I am sorry, but there is no reset button on life. We aren't just talking about magically teleporting from one place to another here. As for the Breath of Life spell, I have used the one round rule for years now long before Pathfinder was developed. I also allowed a fort save from the Advanced Players Guide from Sword and Scorcery. IMHO, it is better to make it harder for someone to die than for them to be brought back to life. As for the character death adding to the story or not, well I guess it all depends on that type of game you wish to play. Are we playing story time or old fashioned D&D? I prefer the later, YMMV.

Old fashioned AD&D? Like first edition, written by Gygax?

Because that version had the resurrection survival chance and no other costs. The Constitution loss was added in 2nd Ed and the GP cost was added in 3E.


I'll go check it when I'm at my GM's library... but pretty sure Con loss was 1E, in addition to the Resurrection Survival roll.


Here's a link to the spell.

At least for me, the days of AD&D blur together a lot as far as rules from the two editions. Partially it has to do with how games were ran, we often weren't playing a 'true version' but an amalgam of rules from various editions and evolving house rules. Plus it was so long ago, memories tend to blur a little.

I even remember playing at one point, we had a 2nd Ed players manual, but were still using the older DMs guide and moster manual.

Liberty's Edge

Irontruth wrote:

Here's a link to the spell.

At least for me, the days of AD&D blur together a lot as far as rules from the two editions. Partially it has to do with how games were ran, we often weren't playing a 'true version' but an amalgam of rules from various editions and evolving house rules. Plus it was so long ago, memories tend to blur a little.

I even remember playing at one point, we had a 2nd Ed players manual, but were still using the older DMs guide and moster manual.

But this kind of goes with my argument to make it a risk cost rather than a gold cost. They had to make a save to survive the whole thing.

I think getting rid of the cost to have that kind of mechanic would be great.

In fact, I think having it be a fort save is kind of awesome, with the save DC getting easier the higher level the cleric casting it is.


Alitan wrote:
I'll go check it when I'm at my GM's library... but pretty sure Con loss was 1E, in addition to the Resurrection Survival roll.

You are correct. There was nothing guaranteed about raised dead in 1E. If you failed either your system shock or resurrection survival roll it failed. Yes, that was two rolls, not one. We buried more than a few players back in the day.

I hate to bring real life into the subject, but today we have 20 children shot to death on CT. I wish it was so easy to just bring them back from the dead.

Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

ciretose wrote:

There is also the question of "do I have Breath of Life occupying a spell slot", which isn't an insignificant ongoing cost relative to the more scroll or open slot raise dead option.

And that aside, even based just on the differences you laid out, isn't that a significant discrepancy for spells of the same level, if the costs are made more or less the same? I mean yes, 2 permanent vs 1 temporary, but even with that as part of the consideration.

Strictly speaking, you don't need to keep breath of life in a slot to use it, though that certainly makes the spell easier to use.

It's often pretty clear that a character is headed toward death a round or two before they actually die. The cleric can draw her scroll of breath of life with a move action, in case the character dies, and then spend her standard action trying to prevent the death in the first place by casting healing spells or offensive magic or moving into range, if she's particularly far away.

Worst case scenario, she's out a hand for a round or two, and that's a pretty minor cost compared to a spell slot.

Grand Lodge

Irontruth wrote:
The Constitution loss was added in 2nd Ed

True, but still there was a limit on the amount of times a character could be brought back from the dead based on the character's Constitution score...


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
ciretose wrote:

I think the difference between breath of life and raise dead is significantly more than one round.

Raise dead will still work for days after. You don't even need to memorize it that day, you can just carry a scroll around in case you need it.
Breath of life won't. You need to have it memorized (take up that slot) and you generally need to be one move action away, then move into the same area where the person who was killed in that round was killed. Presumably by something that killed him, since breath of life doesn't work on death effects. And if they are more than 25 hit points below zero, they are still unconcious. If not still dead because you rolled low.

Which is what I mean by "the difference is one round." If you can get to a dead person within one round, you can use breath of life. If you can't get to them within one round, you have to use raise dead. After one round, all the other factors of using breath of life (death effects, huge negative hit points, etc.) are irrelevant: you're just too late.

When a character dies, the first question is "can I get to him within 1 round?" If the answer is "yes," then you can cast breath of life" If the answer is "no," then you have to use raise dead. Therefore, the main consideration about whether you use one spell or the other is that one round limitation.

By the way, I'm reminded of Stephen Brusts's Jhereg books. The main character is a human assassin/crime boss living in a highly magical fantasy society run by elves. Reviving the dead is relatively easy (and cheap, on par with about 300 gp) within 3 days of death as long as the person's brain and spine aren't damaged; after three days, the soul has departed and it can't be done. Sometimes he gets paid to kill someone, sometimes he's paid to kill someone and destroy the brain (a dagger in the eye is sufficient), and rarely he's paid to kill someone with a soul-eating weapon. It just depends on what the client can...

Well you can just as well say the difference between breath of life and cure light wounds(or scorching ray) is just one round.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Except, John, we're comparing the effects of two 5th-level healing/restorative spells, not a 1st-level heal/resto and a 5th-level heal/resto, or of an attack spell and a heal/resto spell.

And if your ally is knocked down to –30, cure light wounds won't help you save him, he's dead. And it probably wouldn't have saved him if you cast it before he died, either.

Grand Lodge

Mr. Reynolds, I'm unclear now as to what it is you're arguing for.

Is it your opinion that dealing with character death should be as easy and pain free as the healer casting a (rather) simple spell and the character just gets up, dusts himself off and is back in the game no sweat, or did I miss something in all of the back-and-forth?


Raise Dead shouldn't cost 5,000 GP, nor should it inflict the negative levels.

the reason it shouldn't have these harsh penalties is because you are essentially permanently penalizing a character for a simple string of bad luck that leads only to further deaths.

and penalizing the new character only leads to further deaths as well.

7,000 GP and 8 days of game time is a horrible penalty to live with. it leads most players to simply playing a new character because they know, the penalty stings too much. in fact, it doesn't just sting, it burns for the rest of the adventurers career. in a system where the loss of a single copper piece or experience point can be the difference between life and death.

7,000 GP is 9 and 1/3 wands of CLW/infernal healing the party cannot afford or 1 or more less key magic items for the dead PC. and if you consider how many wands of infernal healing it takes to keep the party functioning, you know something is wrong. even more so if using CLW.

if you add 5GP to the value, you are Talking about 467 castings of infernal healing, or 4,670 hit points worth of healing you cannot afford.

Silver Crusade

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Lumiere Dawnbringer wrote:

Raise Dead shouldn't cost 5,000 GP, nor should it inflict the negative levels.

the reason it shouldn't have these harsh penalties is because you are essentially permanently penalizing a character for a simple string of bad luck that leads only to further deaths.

But that's all a part of the game and what makes the game different. If you don't want to play in dice rolling games then Amber Diceless would be right up your alley. Coming back from the dead should be difficult and hindering. It should come with a high cost and a negative level. Claiming that the game needs to soften the impact because of the randomness of the dice is just dumb. Successes come with failures, bad dice rolls also come with good dice rolls, it's all a part of the game and no where in the rules is your character guaranteed to live. Now if you don't set yourself up for a possible failure or death then that's your fault and the game shouldn't have to compensate that. You know damn well that death is a part of the game and that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to come back from.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Digitalelf wrote:

Mr. Reynolds, I'm unclear now as to what it is you're arguing for.

Is it your opinion that dealing with character death should be as easy and pain free as the healer casting a (rather) simple spell and the character just gets up, dusts himself off and is back in the game no sweat, or did I miss something in all of the back-and-forth?

I'm arguing that a 5,000 gp cost for raise dead

1) Has no game mechanical justification (as in, if this cost isn't in the game, the rules break down here, here, and here),
2) Encourages players to metagame dealing with death (because the party's net wealth increases if you bury a dead PC, keep his gear, and bring in a new PC with full gear),
3) Is disproportionate to the cost of other 5th-level spells such as teleport plane shift, which achieve similarly "impossible" effects with no gp cost, and
4) Is disproportionate to the cost of breath of life, which can accomplish the same effect as raise dead but without the unrealistic 1-round-and-you-stay-dead mechanic of that spell.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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shallowsoul wrote:
But that's all a part of the game and what makes the game different.

"Oops, you rolled a 1, you're dead" or "oops, my fireball rolled max damage, you're dead" isn't fun or heroic, even though they are part of the game.

shallowsoul wrote:
Coming back from the dead should be difficult and hindering.

Says you, speaking on behalf of your preferred campaign style. In my campaign, mind-affecting magic is difficult and hindering, but that doesn't mean the default game should be that way. :)

shallowsoul wrote:
You know damn well that death is a part of the game and that it is difficult and sometimes impossible to come back from.

It's only difficult and/or impossible because we've arbitrarily decided it works that way. What if we arbitrarily decided that it's difficult and/or impossible to be an elf, or a paladin, or a spellcaster?

Grand Lodge

Sean K Reynolds wrote:

I'm arguing that a 5,000 gp cost for raise dead

1) Has no game mechanical justification (as in, if this cost isn't in the game, the rules break down here, here, and here),
2) Encourages players to metagame dealing with death (because the party's net wealth increases if you bury a dead PC, keep his gear, and bring in a new PC with full gear),
3) Is disproportionate to the cost of other 5th-level spells such as teleport plane shift, which achieve similarly "impossible" effects with no gp cost, and
4) Is disproportionate to the cost of breath of life, which can accomplish the same effect as raise dead but without the unrealistic 1-round-and-you-stay-dead mechanic of that spell.

Okay, so then is it your opinion that dealing with character death should be as easy and pain free as the healer casting a (rather) simple spell and the character just gets up, dusts himself off and is back in the game no sweat?


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
shallowsoul wrote:
But that's all a part of the game and what makes the game different.

"Oops, you rolled a 1, you're dead" or "oops, my fireball rolled max damage, you're dead" isn't fun or heroic, even though they are part of the game.

I don't think removing the cost on raise dead will make things more heroic. If anything, I feel like a big component of being a hero(Personal risk and sacrifice) is lost. If the only risks of failure are to other people(and I am making good money out of adventuring), then thats not heroic.

On a side note, I don't think every spell is balanced against other spells of its level or even needs to be. Detect magic is way more useful than acid splash. You could significantly increase the level on detect magic and people would still use it because of the nature of the spell. Raise dead is similar. If Raise dead were an 8th level spell(and you removed Resurrection), people would still take it and use it.

Silver Crusade

I think there are two important considerations:

1: Does the spell in question restore the status quo or does it increase the power of the caster?

and

2: If the spell didn't have a cost, would it outshine the other spells in that tier?

To the 1st point: Compare spells like Raise Dead and Restoration to spells like Planar Binding and Wish.

Raise Dead and Restoration cannot make a character more powerful than their baseline. They can restore a weakened/killed character, but they cannot enhance their power. Here, a high material cost doesn't make a great deal of sense in terms of mechanics because it's impossible for a character to use these spells to gain power, but rather only to restore power they already had.

Planar Binding and Wish on the other hand can be used to directly increase the power of a character temporarily or permanently. To that end, a high material cost makes sense as it prevents abuse by these spells.

To the 2nd point: If spells that significantly raised player power for extended periods of time didn't have costly material components, they would quickly become spells that every character would use, in which case the developers would have to design all challenges under the assumption that a character will be using those spells.

As a low level example, lets take stoneskin. If Stoneskin didn't have a relatively expensive material cost, every fight in the game after Stoneskin becomes a possibility would have to be designed under the assumption that the PC's would be using stoneskin.

It's a problem that video game developers have often, where the design of enemies have to factor in the abilities of a character in order to be challenging if the ability becomes so ubiquitous.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

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Digitalelf wrote:
Okay, so then is it your opinion that dealing with character death should be as easy and pain free as the healer casting a (rather) simple spell and the character just gets up, dusts himself off and is back in the game no sweat?

Why not?

Please give me a game mechanics reason why a mid-to-high-level party shouldn't be able to easily overcome death. We're talking about heroes who can teleport across the world in an instant, permanently give an animal or plant human-level intelligence, travel to Hell and back, enslave a person's will for days at a time, swap bodies and souls with an unwilling creature, bind demons against their will, summon angels, make temporary magic permanent, and demand answers from deities. What game mechanic justification do you have for making raise dead incredibly costly compared to all of those other feats of magic?

Reasons that are not game mechanics include: I don't like it (some do), I don't want to play that way (some do), it feels weird (so did getting rid of THAC0 and having ACs go up instead of down), it trivializes death (even though breath of life doesn't and other spells that reverse conditions don't trivialize those conditions), clerics will be able to raise anyone they want (even though they won't be able to), it'll ruin my corner-case campaign, it's always been this way (except it hasn't), it'll make players reckless (because they aren't already?), people won't roleplay if you can come back from the dead (not true), without risk there is no reward (the default encounter CR isn't a risky encounter), players will be bored (some may, but you're making a generalization)
.
Still waiting on a game mechanics justification for it. Been waitin' for several days now, but none of you smart people have been able to come up with a reason why the game mechanics should support this flavor bias.


Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Digitalelf wrote:
Okay, so then is it your opinion that dealing with character death should be as easy and pain free as the healer casting a (rather) simple spell and the character just gets up, dusts himself off and is back in the game no sweat?

Why not?

Please give me a game mechanics reason why a mid-to-high-level party shouldn't be able to easily overcome death. We're talking about heroes who can teleport across the world in an instant, permanently give an animal or plant human-level intelligence, travel to Hell and back, enslave a person's will for days at a time, swap bodies and souls with an unwilling creature, make temporary magic permanent, and demand answers from deities. What game mechanic justification do you have for making raise dead incredibly costly compared to all of those other feats of magic?

Still waiting.

What do you mean by "game mechanics" reason? People keep giving reasons, but none of these seem to be "game mechanics" reasons, which leads me to believe that we are talking past each other. You list a lot of things that aren't game mechanics, but none that are.

Designer, RPG Superstar Judge

Do I really need to explain what game mechanics are, or explain using game mechanics to justify a rule in the game?

Wizards have a worse BAB and Hit Dice than fighters, and they're not proficient with armor, and armor interferes with their spells. Why? Because wizards have access to spells that don't require attack rolls or use touch attacks, spells that increase their hit points or absorb damage, and spells that provide protection that's as good as armor. If wizards had full BAB, they'd have a much easier time hitting enemies with touch spells than fighters would with normal weapons. If wizards had d10 HD, they'd end up with more hp on average than fighters. If wizards had heavy armor proficiency and no arcane spell failure, wizards would all wear full plate and stack magical defenses on top of that, and would have better AC than the fighter. To balance the wizard's game benefits against the fighter class, the wizard has a lower BAB, lower HD, fewer armor profs, and risks arcane spell failure when wearing armor.

The above are game mechanics reasons for the difference between the classes: rules that affect the math or the dice to maintain a fair play experience for all the players, or to speed up gameplay so a combat round doesn't take an hour per player. A flavor reason is "it's weird to have wizards casting spells in full armor," or "I don't want wizards wearing armor in my game," or "it's always been that way in the game."

Why does the longsword deal more damage than the short sword? Why is the short sword finessable and the longsword is not? Why can I 2H a longsword but I can't do that for a shortsword? The answers to those questions are game mechanics reasons.


Digitalelf wrote:
Irontruth wrote:
The Constitution loss was added in 2nd Ed
True, but still there was a limit on the amount of times a character could be brought back from the dead based on the character's Constitution score...

I see nothing about this in the first edition version. Could you point to a page number?


Personally i think raise dead should be a higher lvl spell for the effect it has
Breath of life on the other hand i think is right for it's lvl it can bring the dead back if it's used quickly enough but does have limits which is good .
When you consider that its usable by a 9th lvl character who are powerful but still a far cry from the top of the food chain


Spell levels are also a hold over. When first introduced, clerics only went up to level 7 spells and their progression chart ended at 11. A cleric who could cast raise dead was near the ton of the food chain as it was.

An overwhelming majority of spells have stayed the same level through each edition as well. So it's kind of a legacy issue for the past 30 years.


That's very true in the book of experimental might spells where broken down in to 20 lvls so every time you gained a lvl you for access to new spells that was am interesting idea


Sean K Reynolds wrote:

Do I really need to explain what game mechanics are, or explain using game mechanics to justify a rule in the game?

Wizards have a worse BAB and Hit Dice than fighters, and they're not proficient with armor, and armor interferes with their spells. Why? Because wizards have access to spells that don't require attack rolls or use touch attacks, spells that increase their hit points or absorb damage, and spells that provide protection that's as good as armor. If wizards had full BAB, they'd have a much easier time hitting enemies with touch spells than fighters would with normal weapons. If wizards had d10 HD, they'd end up with more hp on average than fighters. If wizards had heavy armor proficiency and no arcane spell failure, wizards would all wear full plate and stack magical defenses on top of that, and would have better AC than the fighter. To balance the wizard's game benefits against the fighter class, the wizard has a lower BAB, lower HD, fewer armor profs, and risks arcane spell failure when wearing armor.

The above are game mechanics reasons for the difference between the classes: rules that affect the math or the dice to maintain a fair play experience for all the players, or to speed up gameplay so a combat round doesn't take an hour per player. A flavor reason is "it's weird to have wizards casting spells in full armor," or "I don't want wizards wearing armor in my game," or "it's always been that way in the game."

Why does the longsword deal more damage than the short sword? Why is the short sword finessable and the longsword is not? Why can I 2H a longsword but I can't do that for a shortsword? The answers to those questions are game mechanics reasons.

Fair enough. Then how about power creep? Removing the cost on Raise Dead will increase the strength of a party.

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