Bringing a character back to life.


Advice

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Liberty's Edge

We play today so her is a shameless bump

Shadow Lodge

Honestly, a group can make death meaningful no matter the circumstances. I played in one campaign where PCs and major NPCs were automatically resurrected by a mysterious magical force (without cost), and any resulting negative levels were restored after completing a quest line (again without cost). It created an interesting relationship with death but didn't trivialize it, for several reasons.

  • First, because it was generally possible to complete adventures without deaths, they were a sign that we had done poorly.

  • Second, because having a PC even temporarily out of commission made things difficult for the party - we were down a member in whatever scenario killed the PC, had to travel back to a particular place to collect the resurrected party, and for the next adventure the resurrected PC was not at full capacity.

  • Third, because the mechanism of resurrection was mysterious. We had visions between dying and waking up. My character suspected that some powerful entity was behind it and that there would be strings attached. An NPC who had been repeatedly resurrected manifested odd quirks because of it.

In a campaign that treated death more normally, we had one character be reincarnated and then go on a quest to regain his previous form, one character enter a vendetta with the recurring villain who killed him, and one character develop a fascination with death after being raised/resurrected multiple times. That was a relatively lethal but high-wealth game where near the end Raise Dead was just another line in the party's budget.

My quest to the afterlife thing isn't intended to make death more of a hassle - it's a worldbuilding decision that also replaces the monetary cost of the spell.

In the end it's a playstyle issue, but I don't think there's much to gain from making it harder to raise the cleric. I would recommend having the cleric's church perform the spell for free in exchange for a quest performed after the fact - for example, recovering a relic of the church worth approximately 5000gp. However, since you did have some things in mind...

Keegan Btutters wrote:

For this specific instance I am going to offer three potential methods of raising the character. The first would be through the cleric's church, and will be a standard Raise Dead spell which will require the diamond worth 5000gp as per the spell component, but will offer the restoration spells free of chrage. The second option will be through a witch the pc's must track down, this will result in a Reincarnation spell but the restoration cost will be on the pc's to find and pay for. Thirdly is through a necromancer who will preform the service free of cost but as a result of preforming some profane ritual the character is brought back as undead. For this I would apply the undead template, one permanent negative level that cant be restored and a permanent 10% spell check failure as a result of damage done to his divine conection for using evil arcane magic to pull his soul from his deity's afterlife.

Now my concern has turned from "To rez, or not to rez". How do I build a build an adventure arohnd each one other these diffrent methods. Number one seems easy enough, simple diamond heist should do the trick. But the other two, which are arguably cooler scenarios are proving a bit hard to plan an adventure for. Suggestions would be appreciated.

The witch might need a rare plant that the party can find in a nearby location - perhaps the plant is itself the source of the rare oils needed for the reincarnation spell (the witch of course will require more of the plant than actually needed, with the extra serving as payment). Or she might set the party on one of her rivals - whether to kill them or merely steal from them (again, possibly involving the component itself in the theft). The rival may be another witch or sorcerer or may be a hag. As a third option, the witch may be having trouble with the local law or church and want the party to deter them - violently or otherwise.

I would not expect the party to go for the third option as it has significant negative consequences both mechanically and for RP.

Keegan Btutters wrote:
For anyone concerned about the player sitting out, we have a couple NPC that he could choose to run during this interruption in clerical service.

Is the player OK with that? While some players are perfectly happy to take over NPCs others really just want to play their own character.


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Keegan Btutters wrote:

Im looking for somthing more in depth than that. I dont want resurrection to be a commodity that only a few gp away...that cheapens both the gravity of death in game and the act of having ones life restored.

Yes, requiring some roleplaying is an excellent idea.

But dont hinder the spell. As I posted before:
For all those complaining Raise dead is too easy:Oh yeah.

Players: “Hey Bob, we have to go on a quest for about 4 nites of gaming in order to raise you, so I guess you can just stay home or you can play my Mount.”

Bob: “yeah, sounds like real fun. Look, instead- here’s Knuckles the 87th , go ahead and loot Knuckles the 86th body. He's got some cool stuff."

The whole idea of “death should mean something” becomes meaningless when we all realize that D&D is a Game, Games should be Fun, and in order to have Fun you have to Play. Thereby, when a Player’s PC dies either you Raise him or he brings in another. Raising is preferable story-wise, and costs resources. Bringing in another costs continuity and actually increases party wealth. Not to mention, instead of an organic played-from-1st-PC we have a PC generated at that level, which can lead to some odd min/maxing.

The third alternative is “Sorry Bob, Knuckles is dead. You’re out of the campaign, we’ll let you know when the next one is starting, should be in about a year or so.’ Really?


I'd just pay a cleric for the raise dead and restorations. I'm not too inclined into looking for adding meaning at a such anticlimatic death

Shadow Lodge

But an anticlimactic death is the kind that could really use added meaning - not added penalties but story elements that make a pointless annoyance for the player into an opportunity for character growth.

Visions from the afterlife are a good one - or continuing to hear fragments of talk from outsiders after being returned to life. That's especially appropriate for a cleric. It's also appropriate for a character to either become more reckless after being returned to life (because they've seen death and it's not so bad) or more fearful, perhaps developing a phobia related to what killed them, or to begin seeking immortality.


I know this is way after the fact of the original post. However this is something to add, in order to prevent pc death, and make sense for GM's in the future. If the boss is dead...why did the henchmen hang around and fight to the death? Does that make sense?

We talk about players playing "in character" but as GM's we need to play as the NPC's would act as well. If five orcs (or what have you - henchmen) and a Bugbear (Big bad) decide to fight the PC's, and after 3 rounds only 2 Orcs are left...those 2 guys just watched the party MURDER 3 of their buddies and the guy THEY THOUGHT WAS BADASS in a matter of 18 seconds...what the hell are they still trying to fight the PC's for? Those 2 punks would be running for their lives.

Just something to think about. It is kind of the default for GM's to have ALL Npc's fight until they drop (I mean come on, if they are getting XP they should have to EARN it!). For some scenarios this makes sense (they work for the assassins guild...failure means death at the hands of the organization, etc.) However SOMETIMES, Npc's don't have a reason to stick around. They were just trying to make a quick buck, or were the thralls of the BBEG. If success doesn't look imminent, why wouldn't they cut their losses? This could help stop (as other posters have called it) a "mook" from luck killing PC's in the future. I mean come on. The PC's still technically defeated those NPC's and therefore earned the total XP you had planned for that scenario. Throw the players a bone. Not everyone is dedicated beyond reasonable doubt to a cause. Even a cultist might be like "Man, I'm really doubting the strength of my God after watching everyone else die", or simply have the npc's live to fight another day and be a recurring npc.


A high level cleric can easily bring a character back from the dead. But there is nothing that says they will do this. The best way to handle this is to make it into a role playing challenge. Once you have located a high enough cleric you still have to convince him that the person is worthy of being brought back to life. If the dead character did not live up to the ideas of the cleric’s deity, the cleric will probably not be willing to cast the spell regardless of being paid.

Another factor that might make a cleric unwilling to cast the spell is if the dead character is of a different religion. Considering that after a character dies his soul ultimately goes to the outer plane of his deity for its reward. This could easily mean that casting raise dead on a member of another faith is considered poaching of souls. Considering the player in question is a cleric of would probably mean it has to be a cleric of his own religion.

Instead of charging for the casting of the spell make the party agrees to a service for the religion. This would be a good reason for a short side adventure. After the party agrees then have the spells cast to raise the cleric so he can go along with the rest of the party. If you really want to penalize the cleric then make him an ex-cleric until the quest is completed.


Ygdulf Kikdur wrote:

I know this is way after the fact of the original post. However this is something to add, in order to prevent pc death, and make sense for GM's in the future. If the boss is dead...why did the henchmen hang around and fight to the death? Does that make sense?

We talk about players playing "in character" but as GM's we need to play as the NPC's would act as well. If five orcs (or what have you - henchmen) and a Bugbear (Big bad) decide to fight the PC's, and after 3 rounds only 2 Orcs are left...those 2 guys just watched the party MURDER 3 of their buddies and the guy THEY THOUGHT WAS BADASS in a matter of 18 seconds...what the hell are they still trying to fight the PC's for? Those 2 punks would be running for their lives.

Just something to think about. It is kind of the default for GM's to have ALL Npc's fight until they drop (I mean come on, if they are getting XP they should have to EARN it!). For some scenarios this makes sense (they work for the assassins guild...failure means death at the hands of the organization, etc.) However SOMETIMES, Npc's don't have a reason to stick around. They were just trying to make a quick buck, or were the thralls of the BBEG. If success doesn't look imminent, why wouldn't they cut their losses? This could help stop (as other posters have called it) a "mook" from luck killing PC's in the future. I mean come on. The PC's still technically defeated those NPC's and therefore earned the total XP you had planned for that scenario. Throw the players a bone. Not everyone is dedicated beyond reasonable doubt to a cause. Even a cultist might be like "Man, I'm really doubting the strength of my God after watching everyone else die", or simply have the npc's live to fight another day and be a recurring npc.

In fact, most minions *should* stop fighting and surrender, when their employer is down.

Sometimes, I've peeked in an AP or module, looked at the "morale" section of a stat block, and read "dude fights to the death" when it made no sense. It makes me shudder. Ignore that kind of suggestion, if it doesn't makes sense.
If the survival of that dude breaks something in the adventure, find another way to bring him out of the scenes, it's not difficult (and perhaps players will kill him even if he surrenders).
If it doesn't break anything, dude can be put on many different roads: rotting in jail, switching to serve the PCs (spineless lackeys stick to the winning side), run away and plot revenge/plot master's resurrection, and so on. It becomes so much more interesting.

Anyway, I want to remind that the weakest of resurrections requires a 5000 GP diamond. And you don't get those at your local grocery shop, so no, just finding a Cleric and throwing money at him doesn't work. You have to find a rare prized diamond (which anyone would want for themselves, with all the consequences of that).


Considering there are industries for mining the Plane of Earth for spell component gemstones, acquiring a Raise-grade diamond shouldn't be too difficult. Especially since the price would go up from having an actual use for the things.


I like the idea of God's tacking on something a geas or the like to their raising of the dead. Comes from the god of the caster so it's not always aligned with what you were doing anyways but you still get an extra cost and a quest as part of it, but the person who died gets to participate still.

Liberty's Edge

First of all, as far as I am aware, rolling three 20's in a row is not an automatic character death according to Pathfinder rules, but rather a home game rule. However, be that as it may, I do not trivialize death: nor do I feel that games should be a series of automatic successes. I guess I am very old school in that I do not resurrect my own characters; and,as a home game DM, make resurrection very rare( my players are aware of this in advance ). I believe that there needs to be an element of risk in the game; and whether character death is due to very bad luck, misjudgement, ultra heroic character action, or poor planning and tactics,that the death of some few characters is an essential part of the game. A DM's job is not to eliminate character death but to minimize it. A DM or player's job is to learn something from any of his or her characters deaths.


I've been thinking about this for a while myself, given that I run a homebrewed E6-like game.

I've already implemented various mechanics in order to make death less probable (such as dying at only double negative con and everyone having a limited self-heal ability), but what if something goes really wrong? Last boss they fought was worn down to just a few HPs, and then they landed a critical hit with their ballista on him. Needless to say, it was overkill. But this kind of thing could happen to them too.

So far, I've given them various other characters under their control, and I intend to keep going down the path of them having many contacts, allies, family, and friends to call upon, even when they get higher level and the extra meatshields don't feel as necessary. So what I might do is that if one of their characters is brought to death, but the body is recuperated and tended to by a healer, the character is instead in a coma which lasts for the whole next session. For that session, the character will play one of the other characters instead, probably a bit lower-powered.

I'm still thinking this over, but it seems to me like it would keep death as being a serious thing, without locking out a player for extended periods of time (such as forcing a quest for his resurrection, in which he cannot participate).


IMHO, the GP penalty is enough of a stopper at a lower level to make players learn the lessons...

That being said, as was previously mentioned, the triple 20 rule is nice to have... but it leads to situations like these, where there is no control to be had at all on the "significance" of death.

BUT, if you're going to play it out as RP, I'd go for the Witch, possibly throwing in an extra twist in addition to that little herb quest. Maybe a favor to be claimed at a later point?

Keep in mind, as the story progresses, that the players will eventually be able to resurrect themselves at some point. In our group, we have a fighter that just keeps on dying (running gag at this point), and we have me (Mystic Theurge - 3 CLE/3 WIZ/8 MT), an Oracle and a support speced paladin with Ultimate Mercy? Death is a thing from the past at this point... This WILL happen as your party progresses...


The 'favor at a later point' is probably your best bet. It'll let the dead PC get back into the game the quickest, and allows you to bring in a new plotline if the going get's slow later on.

Alternatively, having a death-related creature come seeking them out later because 'PC X should have died, it was his fated time' could be really interesting as well. Perhaps a Lesser Death, or perhaps an overzealous Morrigna Psychopomp or Marut Inevitable.


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Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:

That's a thematic issue, not a mechanical one.

As for how to solve it, make it not merely a matter of money, but of the favor of the God whose Cleric you petition. Make the PCs go on some sort of quest, either to find a major temple the Cleric's own deity or to earn the favor of another.

Or have their god raise them spontaneously with some vision of a quest he needs them to accomplish.

Yes, a quest where one of the players is bored to tears because he can't participate. Sounds like fun. *rolls eyes*

It's a roleplaying game. Everyone should be playing and having fun all the time. The beauty of roleplaying games is you can make up anything you want to get the player back into the action quickly. Anything at all.

The game assumes it isn't any trouble at higher levels because the game assumes everyone is there to have fun for the entire adventure, not sit on the couch moping for the latter half of the game session.

Peter Stewart wrote:
If you want to add gravity and meaning to death and resurrection, the place to do it isn't in the mechanics, but rather in the fluff of the world. Maybe you find a cleric powerful enough to do it. Maybe they are of an appropriate religion. But they should truly question the motives of why they want to revive their fallen comrade, and whether that comrade would want to return from a well deserved afterlife.

This is another train of thought that I somewhat take issue with. Why wouldn't a goodly cleric want to bring goodly people back? Isn't keeping innocent people from death part of what it means to be good?


Usually we use the spells as written, which may be a problem, if no PC has access to them, but that's it.

I have tried the story-approach, but that was one campaign only. The priest spell opened an entrance into the underworld and you had to find and bring back the soul yourself (see various classic mythical stories).

I don't know your campaigns, but in ours money is an issue. There is also the problem that the component is not money, but diamond dust, which is hard to acquire. Therefore I have only cast a single resurrection thus far to get the wizard his beloved familiar back...
Even casting the lesser Raise Dead costs 1.500 in diamond dust. Even if I wanted I could not raise people left and right.

As Ravingdork says, there is also the issue of someone having to do nothing while the rest plays. That was the main reason why I returned to use the standard spells.


Let me just say that, if you want to make death more meaningful, only allow Reincarnate.

Of course, the only advantage of it is that death is hilarious when you come back as a gnome but were hoping for bugbear.

You can always make the trip to a high level cleric dramatic - big cathedral, RP it out a little, maybe have to pay them back afterwards, so it's less of a "quick shopping trip" and more of a "dramatic and expensive ritual", but that said, you could RP out any shopping trip to make it more dramatic. It just takes time.

At low levels, the same problem exists for blindness or ability drain. They happen, and somebody else has to sort them for the party. How do we make those dramatic? Or do we not care about making every inconvenience significant?

If a death occurs at a dramatic time, then it's worrying no matter what the level - a PC has to sit out and their allies have to reconsider their plans.

Death must either mean something (no resurrection, make a new character) or be a small inconvenience, or be a huge inconvenience that makes all the other players wish that the dead guy had just made a new character instead of creating a boring and unnecessary sidequest for them to do.

I will say that in both campaigns I've been in, few deaths are dramatic. It's usually the mooks that kill you, because you prepare for the bosses. So far, I remember that a character died from provoking an AoO from a Faceless Stalker while next to a 300 ft drop, 2 characters died from mummy coup de graces (we hate mummies), a magus died because she got driven insane and then got left in the dungeon when the party fled from the boss, my summoner died because he failed 3 saves in a row against a rather weak devil, and we lost our sorceress in the final boss fight of Crimson Throne.

Ileosa cast dispel magic on a dominated Red Mantas Assassin. One full round of greater invisibility sneak attacks later and the PC formerly in charge was very, very dead. It was very funny, but a little anti climatic, especially because that was the only PC death in a room containing a final boss and two very high CR fiends.

Keep that in mind before you decide to make death meaningful. It usually isn't.


I once had a player character who died absurdly during a war.

That PC soul was taken by kytons to be "soulwarped" into an augur kyton because a PC's curse.

Then, a NPC medium contacted with that soul and offer him to be a spy for her (the medium was enemy of kytons)

The soul player played well, and obtained a level after death, so he raised from death gaining a level of reanimated medium.

As in my case, you can use occult forces to bring your player back without paying money and with the player having sort of fun (although he didnt knew about reanimated medium rules until I told him he was gained a level)

If you don want to use reanimated medium archetype, you could use a homebrew occult ritual, involving your deceased character and his teammates


My advice? If you want to make death meaningful, write a book.


I don't like gold cost as being the "meaning" factor is death. If paid individually, it just gimps the player and makes him trail behind the rest of the party, increasing the odds he dies again. And then again. And again. If it's from the party pool, then it really doesn't drain anything away from the player himself, and doesn't feel like it adds meaning unless the person died due to negligence on everyone else's part.

But mostly, a lump cash requirement just varies so much in importance along a career. For a lvl 1 party, it's just unbearable to get raise dead. For a lvl 20 party, True Ressurection+Greater Restoration isn't a huge deal. Feels wrong for the meaningfulness of death to vary according to wealth.


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Keegan Btutters wrote:

My question is basically: how do you handle resurrection/reincarnation in your games? Up to this point in my games I have never had to consider how to utilize this mechanic, but given the circumstances my players are clamoring for a chance to bring back their fallen comrade.

Ok in our last session we were wrapping up the last remnants of group of assassins. After killing most of the group and its leader the party turned its attention to mopping up a couple nameless henchmen who had wandered into the room mid fight. Our cleric was closest and moved to engage, which honestly seemed like a valid course of action (the clerics rolls were off the charts, he out melees our pally and rivals our fighter). So the cleric kills one and has almost finished off the other, so I roll the last attack for this henchman and like a dice possessed I rolled 20, 20, and a thrid 20. Which amounts to an insta-kill, the group was stunned. And so I resolved to give them a chance to bring him back. However i need help coming up with some rules for bring back the dead.

I played a Dwarf fighter that was face-eaten by pappy Graul in RotR. He had giant hatred due to backstory and all alternate racial traits were for giant fighting, but the group was constantly pissed at my complete lack of mercy with ogres/Giants (Party face was cleric of Seranrae) and tendency to go off-plan in battles to kill them.

He was a follower of Torag, so the GM had Torag and the Dwarven council resurrect my dead Dwarf on three counts - 1. That he adhere more to Torag's philosophy of defense and work to protect my party more than seek vengeance. 2. He had a gnarly face scar for the rest of the campaign. 3. I go to Sandpoint for the next plot point.

I had to go through an RP session explaining myself and my actions to convince the Gods I was worth bringing back, then had a new philosophy to adhere to, a mission, and a lasting condition due to character death. Those made it a little more poignant. I screwed around on a bard for one session to explain the passage of time, then, Unfortunately, the next time I played the Dwarf - literally the next battle - he was permakilled.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

According to the PRD, dust isnt enough. You need the full diamond. A diamond worth 5,000gp is pretty significant. Adventure modules don't hand them out very often. They are also among the most expensive and rare gems that can be randomly generated (according to Ultimate Equipment's random treasure generation tables). Heck, even if you were lucky enough to get your Hans on the rarerest of the rare--a diamond worth more than 5,000gp--the extra value is wasted the moment you cast raise dead. You can't even get the 25,000gp diamond for true resurrection without the power of plot--the treasure tables for gemstones simply don't go that high.

I think that is more than enough limitation on bringing people back from the dead. No need to add more.


Ravingdork wrote:

According to the PRD, dust isnt enough. You need the full diamond. A diamond worth 5,000gp is pretty significant. Adventure modules don't hand them out very often. They are also among the most expensive and rare gems that can be randomly generated (according to Ultimate Equipment's random treasure generation tables). Heck, even if you were lucky enough to get your Hans on the rarerest of the rare--a diamond worth more than 5,000gp--the extra value is wasted the moment you cast raise dead. You can't even get the 25,000gp diamond for true resurrection without the power of plot--the treasure tables for gemstones simply don't go that high.

I think that is more than enough limitation on bringing people back from the dead. No need to add more.

I distinctly remember a discussion on using fabricate to fuse together several smaller diamonds.


I've always liked, but haven't had a chance to implement, the idea of giving the dead player a relatively short quest in the afterlife. Not necessarily an easy one though so it's not guaranteed they'll complete it. If they succeed then they're back, if they fail or "die"(as much as a spirit actually can) again then the character is gone.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
The Sideromancer wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:

According to the PRD, dust isnt enough. You need the full diamond. A diamond worth 5,000gp is pretty significant. Adventure modules don't hand them out very often. They are also among the most expensive and rare gems that can be randomly generated (according to Ultimate Equipment's random treasure generation tables). Heck, even if you were lucky enough to get your Hans on the rarerest of the rare--a diamond worth more than 5,000gp--the extra value is wasted the moment you cast raise dead. You can't even get the 25,000gp diamond for true resurrection without the power of plot--the treasure tables for gemstones simply don't go that high.

I think that is more than enough limitation on bringing people back from the dead. No need to add more.

I distinctly remember a discussion on using fabricate to fuse together several smaller diamonds.

That might work if you have Craft Jewelry and a lenient GM.

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