Restrictive resurrection requirements?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


Hello! So I'm working on a campaign involving the magical equivalent of transhumanism in a pathfinder setting, and me and my cronies are trying to put together a list of the most restrictive requirements on effects for bringing someone back to life. Trouble is, I'm having a surprisingly difficult time trying to find this stuff.

Things like only two Wish/Miracle spells, things that require some outside force or circumstance to bring them back, having to find somebody's soul across planes, stuff like that.

The wording is very important on this, and "difficult resurrection counter" isn't a particularly searchable quality.

Does anybody know of a good list or some examples of "hard to fulfill resurrection requirements?" Something you would have to do beyond just hitting the true res button.


In normal Pathfinder there is no real restrictions on resurrecting someone other than circumstances of death. There are various spells and magic items that make bringing back someone. Most involve using said spell or weapon to kill them. Some creatures prevent their victims from being resurrected by either destroying or imprisoning the soul. Undead that raise their victims as undead also accomplish this.

Also dying of old age can't be overcome by most resurrection spells. Reincarnation does get past that.

Now if you want to make things more difficult, make resurrection involve more than casting spells. Souls, and the entire cycle of life are the providence of Gods and other Outsiders. For a resurrection to work, you need something to interfere in your favor. So instead of Raise Dead simply working, maybe it opens communication with a Psychopomp (one of Pharasma's servants) and you have to negotiate for the souls return. The usual material component is the usual negotiated gift. But the more times someone is resurrected the less willing the Celestial Bureaucracy is willing to give them another chance. They start demanding more treasure, or favors in the mortal realm. Maybe the returned soul is weakened (permanent negative levels that restoration type spells can't cure) until these favors are performed.

As the character levels increase and the quality of resurrection spell improves more powerful outsiders are contacted, until you reach the point where you are directly negotiating with Gods. Maybe it isn't just Pharasma, but also other deities can intervene for their worshipers. Or if you get a no from official channels, you can hire Daemons to perform a raid. Or you could sneak into the Boneyard yourself...

...and if you don't want to deal with all of this nonsense you could make arrangements to capture your own soul upon death to make resurrection easier. Though that sort of thing gets noticed by the proper authorities and they are not happy about it.


Easy: just don’t include resurrection spells from the setting.

Perhaps ditch plane shift and pals too.


Sorry, I should probably be more specific. I'm talking about standard pathfinder stuff. I don't want to forbid spells or force new constraints on resurrection, or otherwise prevent players from using it.

What I'm looking for are examples of already-existing creatures, spells, artifacts, etc. that FORCE extra constraints on resurrection. Stuff like "only two wishes can resurrect this character, one to recover the body and a second to resurrect them", or "only the direct intervention of a deity can resurrect this character". Stuff like that.


One way to make it "harder" to resurrect someone is for it to have a meaningful price.

Fullmetal Alchemist has the idea of equivalent exchange. Before that, there was the Death Gate Cycle, in which

The Death Gate Cycle spoilers:
bringing back someone from the dead (either through resurrection or as undead) causes someone else of the same species in the universe to die untimely.

Both are so consequential as to be centerpieces of each work's respective plot.


blahpers wrote:

One way to make it "harder" to resurrect someone is for it to have a meaningful price.

Fullmetal Alchemist has the idea of equivalent exchange. Before that, there was the Death Gate Cycle, in which

** spoiler omitted **

Both are so consequential as to be centerpieces of each work's respective plot.

I appreciate the idea! But I'm looking for what's already here. I will not be adding anything in to make resurrection more difficult.

Sovereign Court

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Breath of the Mantis God will force a caster level check to bring someone back from the dead.
Quieting Needles punish the person being brought back to life.
Soul Powered Magic prevents some means of raising the dead.
Cacodaemon and the like can trap the souls after the creature dies, making it harder to raise them.
Similar to Create Soul Gem
Edit: Oh and Death descriptor spells and abilities means Raise Dead doesn't work, you need Resurrection.


At what level are you trying to restrict access?

Quote:
Things like only two Wish/Miracle spells, things that require some outside force or circumstance to bring them back, having to find somebody's soul across planes, stuff like that.

Everything you mention above, near as I can tell, is campaign dependent and hence essentially dependent on how the GM runs his game. They are not rule driven difficulties but dependent of the GM going, "You have to fulfill X and Y before you can Raise/Resurrect this individual." because that's how they want to deal with it in their campaign.

Early on restricting access is as easy as restricting access to the casters able to cast the spell(s) in question. Those casters likely hold positions of power and influence and just getting to see and speak, much less convince them to Resurrect someone, is a significant obstacle. This is particularly true as the level of the spell and required spell caster rise.

When the PCs acquire those spells themselves then that, of course, changes everything.

For me I've always told (warned) my players that divine casters receive their spells by praying to their deity or outside 'force' Yep so far pretty standard. But that means if the deity or outsider servant of the deity wishes they can deny the caster that spell and/or substitute one of their choosing. So if your Cleric finds himself with an Atonement spell on board when he didn't pray for one then he best look at his recent actions or those of his associates, for example, i.e. take the hint. Do I do this often heck no, in fact I don't recall that I ever actually have done so, but they are aware that it could happen. I have teleported the party right into the 'frying pan' as they became the deities choice of 'divine intervention' for a caravan in the process of being chewed to bits by orc bandits though.

Or if your PC starts praying for a Resurrection he might find his praying for spells becomes a roleplaying episode where he has to convince his deity/divine servant or source why he should be granted this spell. That might include a request for the caster to do "blank" to receive the spell.


Kayerloth wrote:
At what level are you trying to restrict access

Effectively? Level 18+. Lower rung stuff still counts, but I'm looking for the hardcore stuff that explicitly requires something major, like a deity or a super rare situation to manifest.

Firebug wrote:

Breath of the Mantis God will force a caster level check to bring someone back from the dead.

Quieting Needles punish the person being brought back to life.
Soul Powered Magic prevents some means of raising the dead.
Cacodaemon and the like can trap the souls after the creature dies, making it harder to raise them.
Similar to Create Soul Gem
Edit: Oh and Death descriptor spells and abilities means Raise Dead doesn't work, you need Resurrection.

Oh, this is perfect. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you! I also found Soul Bind the level 9 spell from going through those, which is of the same nature since it requires you to break the gem somehow.


Iron Kingdoms d20 does the following:

Returning from the Dead: Those who were dead, and are brought back to the living, test the patience of the gods and nature and are likely to suffer unpleasant and sometimes terrible effects upon their return to Caen (Prime Material). Clerics or others who facilitate the retrieval of a soul from Urcaen (afterlife) are also likely to find themselves the victim of such side effects; the gods do not look favorably upon souls who shirk their responsibilities in the lands of the dead.

The spells resurrection and true resurrection are not available to clerics in the Iron Kingdoms setting.

Additionally, raise dead is a 9th-level spell (instead of 5th).
Any cleric attempting raise dead must make a Will save (DC 15 + level of character being raised) at the time the spell is cast. If the save is successful, the cleric has managed to avoid any unfortunate side effects.

On a failed check, however, the cleric is punished by the gods. Roll 1d8 on the following table to determine what effect casting the spell has on the cleric. If the caster suffers an adverse effect, the risen character also immediately suffers one. Otherwise, there is a percentage chance (character level x 3) that the risen character suffers some effect. I

Raising the Dead Punishment (Caster) d8 Result

1 Weakened Immune System: The caster’s resistance to disease is weakened. For the remainder of his life, the caster suffers a –4 circumstance penalty on all checks against disease. This effect can be rolled multiple times and the effects stack. Removing this effect requires the intervention of another cleric of the same faith. The intervening cleric must cast remove curse on the afflicted cleric. Each cleric involved has a 10% chance to permanently loses 1 point of Constitution. This loss cannot be remedied by a restoration spell.

2 Plagued by Spirits: After completing the ritual, the spellcaster is plagued by evil spirits that resemble spectres, but are not quite as terrible. These spirits permanently drain the caster’s highest spell slot and, once per day there is a 10% chance of draining all of the caster’s spell slots for that day. This effect can be rolled multiple times and the effects stack. This effect can be removed by another cleric of the faith casting banishment on the haunting spirits. This requires a 4-hour long ritual in which the spirits are trapped in the skulls of evil undead creatures that are subsequently destroyed. The skulls must be from undead creatures with at least 6 HD, and a number of skulls are required such that the total HD are equal to the level of the caster suffering from the plague of spirits.

3 Temporary Loss of Spellcasting Abilities: For 3d6 weeks, the spellcaster cannot prepare or cast any spells. He is treated as having no available spell slots during that time. The spellcaster’s ability to cast spells may be returned earlier if another cleric of the same faith intervenes and casts divine power on the inflicted individual. However, both clerics temporarily lose 1d4 Wisdom and suffer 2d6 points of damage.

4 Gnarled Hands: The spellcaster’s hands are twisted and deformed by the event, leaving him unable to properly grasp or hold anything heavier than half a pound in weight. The spellcaster is no longer able to hold weapons and simple acts, such as opening a door, become difficult tasks that take 1d6 minutes and require Dexterity checks (DC 10) to succeed. He cannot cast any spells with somatic components (his hands cannot perform the complex motions necessary for the casting of such spells). Through meditation and abstinence from spellcasting, the caster may erase this effect. If the spellcaster does nothing but meditate and pray to his god for a number of months equal to the level of the character raised, this effect has a 25% chance of being removed. If this fails, the effect is permanent. Another cleric may assist in the meditation process. This requires the burning of 1,000 gold worth of incense and herbs and reduces the meditation time required to a number of days equal to the level of the raised character. At the end of this time there is a 50% chance that the crippling effect is removed. If this fails, both casters are permanently afflicted with gnarled hands.

5 Negative Level: The spellcaster immediately—and permanently—suffers the effects of 1d4 negative levels. Through the casting of atonement by another cleric of the same faith this effect may be removed. This casting must be performed within 1d6 rounds of the raise dead spell and both clerics involved have a 25% chance each of permanently losing 1d8 hit points.

6 Permanent Ability Loss: The caster permanently loses 1d4 points of either Wisdom or Constitution (DM’s choice). This effect can be rolled multiple times and the effects stack. The loss can be reversed, though it’s a dangerous, draining process. This requires two clerics of a level equal to the character raised to assist in the process and a number of days equal to the number of ability points lost. The three may do nothing but sleep and meditate during this time and at the end of the process each must make a Wisdom check (DC 16). The ritual can only succeed if all three are successful in their Wisdom checks. If even one cleric fails this check, all of them permanently lose 1d6 hit points.

7. Loss of a Limb: The casting of raise dead turns one of the caster’s limbs to dust. The pain is intense, forcing the caster to make a Fortitude save (DC 20) or pass out for 2d12 hours. This loss is permanent. The limb lost is random (roll 1d4): 1 – Right arm; 2 – Left arm; 3 – Right leg; 4 – Left leg. This effect can be rolled multiple times and if the result indicates an already missing limb, the caster instead permanently loses 1d4 points of Constitution. Through prayer and intense meditation a lost limb can be restored by the cleric’s deity. This requires another cleric to assist the afflicted character in the process and a solid month of uninterrupted time. At the end of that time there is a 25% chance that the lost limb is miraculously restored.

8 Exchange of Souls: One other humanoid character— PC or NPC—within 100 feet of the raising falls lifeless to the ground, his soul jettisoned directly to Urcaen. If there are no other humanoid characters within this range, the caster is the one whose soul vacates forthwith. If the caster survives the raising and some other being falls lifeless, the caster immediately—and permanently— loses 1d6 hit points. The only way for this effect to be undone is for the slain character to be raised, which brings with it all of the risks of raising the dead.

Raising, Adverse Effects (Raised Character) d8 Result
1 Foul Stench: The raised character gives off a foul, offensive odor. This smell causes a –2 circumstance penalty on all Charisma and social interaction checks and a –1 circumstance penalty on all Hide checks. This effect can be rolled multiple times and its effects stack.

2 Moderate Alignment Shift: The alignment of the character shifts by one step, as chosen by the DM. This effect can be rolled multiple times.

3 Drastic Alignment Shift: The character’s alignment shifts to the direct opposite of what his alignment was before he was slain. This effect can be rolled multiple times.

4 Physical Deformity: The raised character’s Charisma is permanently reduced by 4 points. His twisted, deformed appearance grants him a +4 circumstance bonus on all Intimidate checks but makes him a social outcast. There is a 10% chance that this deformity will affect his Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution scores, reducing each by 2 points. This effect can be rolled multiple times and its effects stack.

5 Permanent Level Loss: The character immediately loses one character level.

6 Aura of Death: The raised character suffers a –2 circumstance penalty on all Charisma checks as those around him edge slowly away from this unseen—but palpable—aura. This effect can be rolled multiple times and its effects stack.

7 Mental Suffering: The character is mentally disturbed by the experience of death. Once each day, the character must make a Will save (DC 15). If the save fails, the character suffers a –4 circumstance penalty on all attack rolls, skill checks, and saves for that day as he is distracted by the memories of death. For every five days in a row that the character fails this Will save, the DC is increased by 1. If this effect is rolled again, re-roll.

8 Two effects (roll twice)


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Golarion setting does have the restriction that you cannot resurrect anyone who has been judged by Pharasma. It is strictly up to the GM to decide when that happens, with the default for player characters being that they remain in line for as long as it takes for their allies to bring them back to life. Normally, GMs would invoke this rule only to ensure that certain dead NPCs stay dead.

However, since the goal here seems to be to make resurrections difficult but not impossible, I have no real helpful advice for that goal.


David knott 242 wrote:
The Golarion setting does have the restriction that you cannot resurrect anyone who has been judged by Pharasma.

There's also an "Judgment Undone" spell that allows even raising someone after that, but using it without divine permission beforehand guarantees a Psychopomp attack, quite possibly during the casting.


Pathfinder Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

In that case, the resurrection difficulty factor could simply be negotiating with Pharasma or the deceased person's patron deity for permission to bring the deceased back to life. The difficulty of doing that would be strictly under GM control.


In this particular setting, all gods have been null'd. Everything else is still intact, but there is no longer any way to get any direct help from any kind of deities. Pharasma is dead-as-doornail. This is why I'm searching for all the instances of things that can only be recovered from via direct deity intervention so I can properly plan for workarounds.


If all gods are dead that means that divine magic is probably highly restricted. That being the case bringing back someone from the dead is already difficult. Without the use of a wish or similar magic the only arcane spell caster that can bring back the dead is a witch.


Divine magic is unrestricted, just all abilities that explicitly require a god like the Deific Obedience feat. You can worship philosophies and such, that stuff's unchanged, so oracles should be fine, as should philosophy-worshipping clerics. Besides, I'm not looking to make resurrection harder. I'm looking for explicit wording in entries that already exist that makes resurrection really difficult or impossible to give the players plot details they have to work around.


Thing is, resurrection isn't really difficult or impossible using existing material for Pathfinder (as a rule system) or Golarion, so what you're asking for just isn't there. You're gonna have to make something up. That's your job. : D

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