Saturday, April 19, 2014

On the Eve of Easter - How Often do the Dead Come Back in Your Campaigns?

I'm sure I've asked this before, but with Easter nearly upon us, it seems like a question that fits the moment.

Raise Dead is a 5th level Cleric Spell and Resurrection is 7th (not going to touch upon the various incarnations of Reincarnate with this post).

Now, there are all sorts of ways to control abuses of the spells above, but played as written, a 7th level Cleric in S&W could raise the dead once per day. Think about it. A cleric of 7th level or higher could live like a king in a medium sized town.

Well, unless the cleric himself gets killed.

Raising the dead rarely comes up in campaigns I've played in or run, but by the book, death becomes fairly cheap to beat early on in "D&D-esque" RPGs.

How does it play out in your campaigns?


  1. I made it clear to my group, that if they wanted to bring back one of the PCs it would cost an arm and a leg. Diamond reagent, had to get a priest who was devout and righteous to his god's domain, had to be cast in a place of power, and they had to have a piece of the thing that killed the PC. Bringing someone back from the dead is a big deal and if it doesn't partially resemble that scene from Conan the Barbarian with Mako in it, it isn't done right.

    Thus far they have been content to just reroll the fallen, but now we're reaching parts where players have created their own little plots and they have a stake in their characters that is greater than a meat grinder. So I may yet get to have my fun.

  2. I want returning from the dead to be possible in my campaign. . . just extremely difficult. Returning a character to life should only be as the result of a quest or adventure, not just a spell, easily cast but a task embarked upon to save a friend.

  3. In my Amherth setting, returning from the dead is a rare thing. Most religions impose a number of requirements on who is eligible to be raised and who is not (see the Dolmvay Guidebook for the Church of Law and Order). It has nothing to do with money. Returning from the dead also bears a lot of social stigma in my low magic world, especially when the spell is cast by a priest of some obscure cult. The average villager who sees Bobby the Baker get his throat slit by orcs and then sees him walking around a few days later is going to feel awkward around him at best.

    I have an NPC who used to be a PC who was killed in a pretty epic battle during an assault on an enemy fortress. A Chaos priest came along and raised him just to cause trouble with the Church of Law and Order. He returned to the party when he recovered and my players did a great job role playing the dilemma---could they accept someone who was returned to life by the forces of evil? In the end, he was banished from the realm, cast out of the church, and became a hermit. He has since morphed into a mystical sage that other groups of PCs consult from time to time although no one ever truly trusts him because of his past. I have a feeling he'll be popping up in a published adventure eventually.

    On the flip side, I have a wizard-hunting NPC priest named Father Willem Scorn who has been killed over a dozen different times but is considered so valuable to the church that he keeps getting resurrected. He has played both ally and adversary to several different parties over the years and a lot of my old players thought it great to see him appear (and die!) in the Guidebook.

  4. Sadly, the ease with which characters are returned to life in ACKS (via the restore life and limb spell) was a big part of what killed my enjoyment of the last campaign I played in. The co-DMs ran a pretty much by-the-book campaign (to be equally fair to all the many players taking part), so at 500 gp, once a character hit 2nd level, chances are their adventuring companions could just take dead Fritz to the nearby city, pay the local Prelate his gold and *poof* Fritz is back in action. Okay, so the Tampering With Mortality chart would probably leave him with a baboon foot, but usually limited repercussions.

    Oddly, one of the final missions I focussed on was my last primary character, an Elven Ranger, seeking to return to life his brother, one of my former primary characters. Spent months tracking him down, looking for clues as to what happened to him, only to have a party returning from a ruined demon city arrive with the brother's ashes in hand. Later recovered a reincarnation scroll in a treasure hoard, found a fellow elf to cast the spell, and shortly after the two brothers were reunited. Now THAT is how a return from the dead should be handled: the long quest to restore a dear companion.

  5. Seldom, not because of the lack of the spell but how seldom a situation that results in a death of someone that the winners would want to bring back from the dead. Often when a PC dies things are going poorly for the other PCs and they don't have a chance to recover the body.

  6. Never. Dead is dead, make up a new character.


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