What Does A Guy Have To Do To Die Around Here?


A few weeks ago, the heroes in my 3rd Edition D&D campaign killed someone. Ooooo, shocking, I know. I mean, I've run RPGs for two decades: body bags are nothing new. But this time the heroes didn't destroy the ravaging demon or slay the red dragon or kill the power-hungry sorcerer.

A few weeks ago, the heroes in my 3rd Edition D&D campaign killed someone. Ooooo, shocking, I know. I mean, I've run RPGs for two decades: body bags are nothing new. But this time the heroes didn't destroy the ravaging demon or slay the red dragon or kill the power-hungry sorcerer.

They killed his wife.

My PCs are a mid-level team of rangers and rogues, part of a mysterious but good-aligned order of knights out to protect their city, fight off evil, save the innocent; in other words: the usual. To their credit, they didn't set out to kill anyone in the encounter in question. A brief synopsis: powerful wizard crushes small village with colossal stone golem. PCs slip through evil army, past magical defenses and into wizard's bedchamber, in order to nab the amulet that controls the aforementioned golem. They find wizard asleep in bed next to wife. In trying to delicately pilfer said amulet, the wizard awakes and things turn ugly. Then the wife jumps up to help, and she's got a dagger. Before she can act (read: flat-footed), a PC rogue fires an arrow at point-blank range. She's unarmored and it's a 5d6 sneak attack which staples her to the headboard, dead.

This article is not about that decision.

True, the wife was not high level or even a PC-class character. She was no threat to the PCs and they could not help but kill her if they attacked. The heroes had no way of knowing her true threat level, however, and when you beard the lion in his den it's unhealthy to ask the lioness to show her teeth before you fire. The player's decision didn't bother me; what happened after the fight did.

Suffice it to say the PCs got the amulet and beat a fighting retreat, leaving the wizard alive. In the debriefing after the mission, the unfortunate death of the wizard's wife came up in the discussion. I smiled behind by DM screen: here was meat and drink for roleplaying, as the knightly heroes anguished over the innocent life they had snuffed with a snap decision. Right?


The rogue archer began down the glass-strewn path of self-flagellation, but one of her compatriots remarked: "It's not so terrible; the wizard is rich and powerful enough. He'll just have her raised." Poof! The clouds of self-doubt evaporated and self-satisfied sunshine returned. "Wait a minute," I cautioned, "Raise dead is a powerful spell and can't be performed for just anyone."

"That wizard is the Duke of a large city," the PCs responded, "Are you telling us there's not a single high priest around who wouldn't jump at the chance to get in the wizard's good graces? The spell only needs a 9th level cleric, after all."

They had a valid point.

Raise dead, resurrection, and true resurrection are the most flagrantly unbalancing factors I can name in the latest version of the Mother of All RPGs. It is difficult to conceive of a society in which such magic is possible. Imagine JFK gets shot. No problem: get a 9th level cleric. But then Air Force One goes down and the only thing left of poor JFK is his right thumb. Hmm, that'll take resurrection. Get a 13th level cleric. Finally, in an act a pure desperation, JFK is killed, raised as a vampire, staked, and thrown into an active volcano. . .a hundred and fifty years ago. It's okay, he'll pull through: get that 17th cleric to cast true resurrection, and Mr. Kennedy will be driving through Dallas in full health 11 minutes from now.

What does a guy have to do to die around here?

Color me 2nd Edition, but back then you had to make a system shock check to come back. There was at least some drama in that roll. And when you came back, you lost a Constitution point, had only 1 hit point and needed a day of rest for every day you were dead. Poison and disease did not "go away," and elves couldn't be revived at all by this spell. These days, you lose a level (a temporary setback at best), and you have a few more hit points, no ability loss, poison and disease are cured, and no bed rest is needed. A few cure spells and you're on your way in under three minutes.

Resurrection used to make the caster age three years and spend a day of bed rest for every level of the person brought back. And now? I'm sorry. . .is there a drawback anymore? Doesn't look like it. And don't even get me started on true resurrection.

Lest you think I fall into the curmudgeonly "sonny-the-old-days-were-better" category, let me speak plainly: I think the old rules were too generous, too. I know players face daunting odds, but if revivification is obtained too easily, then death is taken too nonchalantly.

I know what I'm supposed to say: I've read my DMG. Argument #1: "Raise dead and resurrection are rare spells because the gods do not like to grant spells of that power too frequently."

Really? Am I supposed to tell my PC cleric he can't cast raise dead when he wants to? Wall of stone is a 5th level clerical spell just like raise dead. Are the gods so cautious about how many times they allow a sheet of rock to be willed into existence?

Argument #2: There just aren't many NPC clerics around of high enough level to cast these spells. That's exactly right. Well, that is, until the players reach those high levels and suddenly every third adversary is an evil temple run by an 18th level high priest bent on world domination. Where were those priests before?

As a matter of fact, why are the historic champions of good or evil dead at all, for that matter? Wouldn't the gods like to see their great 20th level warrior live and fight the good fight until she died of old age? Or is it that there have been no 17th level priests of this god in over a century and a half?

The social and political ramifications of raising spells are earth-shaking. Do our D&D campaigns really reflect a world where raising the dead is so easy? What would a world like that be like? The PCs keep coming back death and after death. . .why shouldn't their opponents? What if they had to kill that evil wizard once for each level, and each Constitution point, before they were sure he could never menace the world again? Seems rather silly, doesn't it?

Now sure, I could simply rule that in my campaigns, there are no raising spells, but I also think it's a cool moment when a PC cleric uses raise dead for the first time to revive a fallen comrade. I want a world where raising the deceased is possible, but a world where death is serious, ugly, and often, well, fatal. So I put it to the virtual community of Gamegrene: how do you handle this issue in your campaigns?

Let's see...

1) High level Preists should be reasonably rare as you already mentioned above.

2) High Level Preists of the victim's religion are even rarer still. (When's the last time you saw a high level preist of one religion blessing the followers of another religion)

3) Do priests heal for money? Maybe not. The church may require a service of some sort from the PCs. HINT: adventure hook.

4) Assuming thee players can find a high level priest of the correct religion, is the dead player worthy of resurrection. In a game in which alignment is used the dead player better have acted appropriately to the religion and/or alignment he chose.

5) Morality: the act of ressurection and or true ressurection may not condoned by every religion, it may only be allowed under specific circumstances, the church may only do it if it somehow directly affects the church.

In short, I don't handle it and have no idea how. I just try to ignore it.

In a fantasy world that takes magic fully into account, death and resurrection is not the only jarring, world-altering problem that seems insolvable. Another problem is castles. If dragons and flying spells really existed, how would castles be constructed? Certainly not in the medieval style, which is effective against ground attacks but useless against aerial ones.

There is no easy answer to these problems. To solve them, you have to rebuild your game world from first principles and will probably end up with some weird alien game world that looks totally different than anything that you are used to.

If you want to have conventional death and conventional castles, you've either go to get rid of magic nearly completely or pretend that the obvious discrepancies don't exist.

My world's raising-the-dead issue is handled by the introduction of a bona fide Death Goddess. She is guardian of the afterworld and jealous gatherer of souls.

To cast a Resurrection is to risking incurring her wrath. She judges those who are called back most harshly upon their return, if they haven't made the most of their extra time in the world.

Priests of the Death Goddess call back the dead only rarely, and only for good reason - never for money. And priests of OTHER religions know that casting such a spell is asking their god to directly intercede with the guardian of the dead - thus there are times where a god will simply say No. If the dead person isn't a dedicated worshipper of the god in question, you can forget about it. Even then, it's not a certain ticket back to life.

So far, the PCs in my game have only required one Resurrection - which went off successfully. But I've planted the seeds of doubt JUST ENOUGH to keep them from breaking the faith as you've described, and abusing the system. "I jump off the cliff with the evil villain grappled - raise me later, guys!" That will never be heard in my game.

Of course, my little secret is that there's no actual game effect on Raising/Resurrection - at least not unless it's abused by my players. For now, it still works.

I am not going to allow anything in my campaign. Dead is dead. It makes for much better rping...

I had this same problem years ago and created a gameworld where these kinds of spells didn't exist. In fact, I got rid of clerics altogether: the gods were dead, most people knew it, and those who were still faithful certainly weren't performing miracles in their god's service. The message to my players was clear: think before you stab.

It worked pretty well.

I prefer to ignore it rather than remove it.

Like or not, the D&D spell system encourages liberal use of spells. In the rules, nearly every single day, spellcasters get a fresh arsenal of spells to launch. It's "use it or lose it" because, if you don't use a spell on the first day, you get nothing for it on the next day.

Reigning in high level PC clerics leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Players work hard to attain higher levels and should enjoy the privileges of them. Letting them toss around *cure light wounds* like nothing but then conspiring to make *raise dead* a rare event just seems unfair. It dilutes the value of being high level.

Well folks it all comes down to campaign flavour.

While we could all debate the pros and cons of how good or bad raise dead and like spells are for RPing.
I find myself in the middleground I guess, or maybe I just don't know.

I sometimes find Raise Dead and other such spells to be a "save and reload" copy cat from online RPG's.

Also, the loss of one level is a worst handicap than the loss of 1 CON. Especially if, like me you always get killed just a few hundred XP's before reaching level.

During a certain campaign, I was between two and four levels behind the other party members, a quick series of leathal combats got me killed 3 times in a row, and I was an Aasimar. Raise dead and other spells can take you from being the group's champion to being the mage's valet.
Loss of constitution would have been much less damaging (in my own opinion), as I would only have lost HP's and Fortitude saves (twice for –3 con) instead of losing BAB, Saves, skill points, spells, feats and powers.
I dunno, I find 3E's system to be more disadvantageous than 2E (unless you failed your sys shock)

As far as elves were concerned, mayny GM's didn't bother, just as they didn't bother that much with most level restrictions.

Oh and as far as all these spells are concerned, many things will stop True Resurection from working in MY campaign.

Raise dead and the like could sometimes leave side effects on the hero, well actually it's the dying that does that (phobias, uncontrollable hatred for someone, longing to go back to rest, apathy, whatever.) I mean many people experience survivor syndrome, maybe there is a "raised dead seyndrome"...

Yes, all arguments on all topics always come down to campaign flavor.

In my campaign the essences of the dead are a primary source of power for the Gods, so they're a bit hesitant to restore life at the drop of a hat. It would all depend on how important the creature in question is for the goals of the god.

Raise Dead:
Anyobody who can cough up the dough. The spell is rather limited though, since the body has to be largely intact to work. Being restored to life with a big hole in your chest is just a few seconds of agony before you die again. ;)

Requires service other than just mere money, and the person must be moderately important to the god.

True Ressurection:
You better be the saviour of the world or something, because otherwise you ain't getting it.

"This is a cool sig."

At some level, I have to question the implied value; that is, that having "death [be] serious, ugly, and often, well, fatal" is actually a good thing for higher level PCs. A campaign may start out like this at lower levels but maybe should change as the PCs rise in level. At some point, it just becomes plain silly to have high level PCs out there, hacking it out like grunts.

An analogy might be gold pieces. At some point, usually between mid- to high-level, a PC has (er, should have) more gold pieces than he'll ever need. It just makes no sense to have a 12th level fighter (essentially a fighting expert) be scraping together gold pieces to afford that new shield. Certain games are like that, I know, but it just makes the PCs look stupid for choosing such a poor career (i.e. to be an adventurer), rather than something profitable.

I wonder if higher levels should make the game more different. The difference between being high level and being low level should be more than fighting demons instead of orcs. It should be more than a matter of scale.

For solving the castle problem, I've been considering creating a world in which castles are more like the Holds of Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels. They are designed not only to stop invading armies, but to stop what is essentially a highly acidic, living rainfall. So, they're often carved into cliffs or otherwise covered.

Of course, that will have to wait until next time I create a new campaign world, since I've already begun a campaign in a classical fantasy setting. If the PCs start abusing the "open to the air" vulnerability, which they will get the chance to do in the next few weekends, I'll probably give the castle's occupants their own "fighter squadron" to defend them from above made out of various demons. It will fit in the campaign, be a realistic decision on behalf of the castle occupants, and prevent the setting from being abused too much.

While there are many ways to put hurdles in front of players seeking to use Raise Dead, etc., I guess I would first ask why this is desirable. Yes, story drama would be increased by making character death a real possibility, but in my campaign (high level) such a death would mean that player was out of the group until their story arc was finished. Is this really what you want?

As a player, I appreciate your instinct not to deny a player the use of a major ability (5th level spell use) that was achieved with great difficulty. But lets say you have your 1st or 2nd ed. rules for player death. Your party fights the bad guy and one character dies. Due to your new restrictions on use of the spell, that character stays dead. Since the party is mid-level, how do you reintroduce that player to the group? Sam from Quebec pointed out how the loss of a few levels can make a vibrant character the party lackey, so what effect does introducing a 1st level replacement have? Most likely you would have to sacrifice any story integrity by creating artificial scenarios that the new character might hope to survive and thereby gain some cheap levels. I suppose you could give them a new mid-level character, but that has its own costs, which I’m sure you realize.

Before I directly answer your question, please forgive me as I digress to an issue your example clearly illustrates, and which I find troubling to deal with in my own campaign. In your example, the player controlling the rogue attempted to role-play how her character responded to the consequences of her actions (killing the wife) when another of your players interjected what I believe was a meta-game/rules answer to a moral issue. Yes, there probably should be a 9th level cleric of an evil god willing to get in the good graces of the Duke by raising his wife. But isn't the wizard Duke an evil bastard that slew an entire village? Who says he will seek to raise her at all? After all, high priests of evil gods have their own agenda, and the Duke might not want to be in debt to such a power. Maybe getting a new wife would be cheaper. The point is, your players and their characters can’t know what the NPC villain will do. So they should role-play what they do know, namely, the rogue killed a woman defending her family in her own home against intruders. The ease of access to raise spells should not eliminate the moral consequences of character actions.

Thank you for your patience. I will now stand down from my soapbox.

Based on your example, and your point about “The social and political ramifications of raising spells are earth-shaking” it seems clear that your campaign flavor includes political elements and therefore a higher than normal degree of fantasy RPG style “realism.” So I suggest you use that realism to achieve “a world where death is serious, ugly, and often, well, fatal.”

On the question of NPC priests raising your PCs, I think you too quickly dismiss the scarcity idea. Remember, the question is not how many 9th or 13th, or 17th level NPC priests there are, (not many) but how many might be willing to raise the dead PC (very few indeed). If your players disagree, or even if you disagree, ask yourself this: at their current rate of play, and same rate of success, when might your PCs reach these levels? Unless you grant big XP bonuses for story awards, it is extremely unlikely your party will do so without multiple PC deaths and the resulting XP loss. But of course you want them to die permanently, so probably never. Also remember that NPC clerics aren’t active adventurers and are engaged in administering their church. However, no matter how rare it would be a bad idea to simply say none exist. The point of scarcity is to force them to deal with whomever you decide is available.

So after some frantic searching, your PCs find a priest willing to consider their request. Here is where you can have some fun. You mentioned that your PCs are a group of mysterious, good-aligned knights. Based on your mention of a post-mission debriefing, I am guessing they are part of a secret organization. Wouldn’t it be interesting if the NPC priest set as their first condition, a complete accounting of the party’s actions, affiliations, and goals? Not so secret anymore. I think that is very realistic, and possibly problematic for your party.

The second scenario arises when the party cleric reaches 9th level. As you pointed out, it wouldn’t be fair to deny them the use of their power, and assuming they are all of a similar faith, you really don’t have a way to stop it that is acceptable. However, being in the same party, and having similar goals and faith is not the same as having the same GOD. This may not work with your party or with the player who controls the cleric, but this is where you as DM could argue that the cleric should make demands of the party on behalf of their god. Perhaps the dead PC should have to convert?

Also, as Belphanoir pointed out, Raise Dead is somewhat limited. Do cure spells work on a corpse? Instead of the resurrection/shock role you remember, it might now become a healing proficiency check to see if the cleric can surgically repair the body enough for raise to work, and taking 10 on the role might not be enough to succeed. However, the best drama might be recovering the body in the first place. A fighting retreat becomes more difficult if someone has to carry the fighter’s body (armor included) while fleeing from a superior enemy. This problem is even greater if the PC is not dead, but incapacitated. If the superior enemy is the aforementioned evil priest set on world domination, a fallen/captured comrade might be sacrificed and therefore beyond the reach of even True Resurrection.

I think there is plenty for you to work with, but even should you be unable to prevent it, remember the consequences I mentioned in the first two paragraphs and reconcile yourself to wait for when you solve the problem the way 3rd edition intended you to, by killing the entire party at once.

Risking quiet opinions of 'just another newbie' here. Feel free to ignore, as my GM experince has been minimal but interesting all the same.

In general, Ressurections in my worlds have been problematic at best. Oh sure, any preist can summon the return of a character or NPC's soul back into their body, but they risk their friend coming back as a gibbering brainless vegetable. No magic should ever be all powerful with a 100% working rate.

More often than not, however, I've seen players take care of this problem themselves (keeping in mind I run roleplay based worlds, not numbers and who can max what stat first). Generally, if you've died - through battle, NPC or PC assassination, choking on bread or any other number of ways - the rest of the players tend to write it off as your character not having the skills to survive in the first place. Why ressurect a worthless character (usually coupled with a whining player) when it would be to the greater group advantage to just take your stuff and sell your body on the black market?

Secondary solution I've seen players come up with themselves, usually in the need of a stat bonus: 'resistance' or 'allergy' to so called 'healing' magics. It just adds something special to the atmosphere when the cleric makes attempt to raise your dead hero, and the body goes into convulsions, breaking out into pockets of unplesant substances and smells, finally imploding into a sweltering pile of mutilated flesh.

Corpse black market... I like your twisted ways young one, you and I should talk... bwa ha ha ha ha.

Seriously though, PC death is often a chance for some players to leave a game. I've often seen it, heck I've even been charged with handling an NPC for another GM for just this reason.

As far as the aforementioned story of the wife's "murder" is concerned. Well as a GM playing an evil "machiavelic" wizard, I'd use that to tarnish the PC's reputation and play the martyr for the people. Hire a few unscrupulous bards to spread the tale of my tragic loss at the hands of ruffians who raped my wife in front of me before killing her, and you have it the so called heroes will have a hard time going through the gates of a city, getting rooms in inns, etc.
Have confronted by the widdows and orphans of the happless guards they slew "for the good cause" death will become quite serious, you'll see.

Oh and like decent medical care in the USA (and soon Quebec depending on the next elections) coming back to life is reserved to the rich, the famous and the powerfull. No such thing for the masses.

Interesting discussion. My group mostly played at the low and mid-level so we didn’t encounter as much the high level stuff. On the other hand, by sticking close to the 3e DM guidelines, our treasure and experience was right on par with the average amount expected for each level – which means that resources would remain an issue (especially since high-level “store-bought” magic equipment and construction would be more expensive. Also, we monitored XP very closely in Excel spreadsheets for everyone, ensuring it was an active component of the game.

Our house rule was that if a party member should die, and several did, then we would average out the party experience of all characters (including the dead one) and round DOWN to the nearest level. That would be the starting level for the replacement character. This method would keep them in the same ballpark, while also maintaining some additional incentive for staying alive.

At the later levels, people are more attached to their characters, so it is reasonable that they may want to continue with the same character. It makes sense in such a case that resurrection would be more easily available in such a case. I’m going from memory, but my understanding is that there is a severe cost for casting this spell – either in material components or XP from the caster – no? Forgive me – I don’t have the books onhand at the moment.

Bluntly speaking, the scarcity idea is just waffling. If the evil mastermind is angered by the loss of his beloved, it would not be difficult for him to coerce said powerful cleric into raising his love from the dead. I can think of a myriad compelling arguments that would work wonders in this regard, including "she was not evil; I loved her. Does she deserve to die for that?", "here are your unharmed companions, now please raise her", "if you do not do this thing I swear I will burn down your temple", and about a hundred other variations.

No, people die for a reason. Bringing back people, obviously, would demand a price. A life for a life is a reasonable one. Sanity is another.

Take the instance where Zarim, a friend of our characters, died. He was gutted by a spear and lost buckets of blood, and failed his Death Roll quite handily. Our fearless leader, Zarim's friend since childhood, became slightly unhinged and told my character, a young girl with a strange rapport with the spirit world, to "do whatever she could".

So she found Zarim's spirit, found the man that had slain him (our prisoner and former companion) and ripped that person's soul screaming from his body, replacing it with Zarim's soul. This all despite her aged spirit advisor railing at her not to do it, that it would be so much worse... but my poor character was so far gone that she simply wouldn't listen.

This resulted in a lot of anguish, heartbreak and woe. In the end, Zarim's soul was allowed to move on, as he didn't want to stay in this false existence any longer. My own character was severely disturbed for quite a while, and Zarim's friends weren't much better off.

These scenes were great. They would not have been possible in D&D, because of the ease and convenience of resurrection spells. And my humble opinion is that this is tragic, and a waste, and something that would certainly throw any gaming world's civilisation into complete and utter chaos.

My favorite workaround for the 3rd Ed. rules is not to use them in the first place. I play w/ 2 GM's who have been playing AD&D since I was born (I am 25 now) and they simply use combinations of rules from 2nd Ed. and its predecessors to flavor the campaigns.

I've been playing D&D for almost 10 years now and I despair the day when my sourcebooks fall apart for the last time as the glue and tape give out and I am unable to raise these books from their final death. 3rd Ed. just doesn't give the same visceral rush as you lift the dice preparing for a system shock roll. On the other hand, a well played out character death is the pinnacle of roleplaying and I guarantee if done properly it is more fufilling than raising or ressurrecting.

Averaging the levels of your adventuring group and rolling a character of similar level is usually a great way to pick up again after killing off a character.

Ah, "raise dead syndrome". A lovely premise, which I gave an NPC some years back, and tried inflicting on my PCs as well. It was a great idea.

"You dragged me away from my God !"
"I'm not dead ? I remember being dead."
...you are weak as a kitten and require bedrest.

Of course, if you read the description of "Heal" as well as my players did.... ...cures all physical and mental ailments.

Of course if you deny that, they hit them with charms and memory stuff and convince them they were never dead and it was just a dream.

What syndrome was that again ?

Although I can certainly see where you're coming from, I tend to agree with "dwhoward" and simply ignore the inconsistency. If one wants a non-resurrection world, hop over to Star Wars or Call of Cthulhu. (Yes, CoC has a res spell, but it's pretty nasty.. costs a lot to cast and costs the target a lot too. Being dead doesn't do much for your sanity either.. it's called BLACK Binding for a reason!)
Back to D&D though. Mainly, the game's not designed for perfect logical consistency, but rather to tell a good story. Death is very inconvenient, especially at high levels. Where are you going to find another 10th level, world-class mage?
The loss of a level can be a serious handicap, since if you drop too low below party level, you become all but useless and can die (again) easily in conditions where your compatriates are still doing okay. This is particularly true when you run into energy-draining creatures!

Regarding castle design, I don't think it's a major problem. Anyone high level enough to cast Fly could just as easily Dimension Door, or Passwall, or Disintegrate through the wall, or even use one of an infinite number of methods to tunnel under the walls themselves. The walls ARE to defend against ground attack--which is the only thing you'll get out of your average army. Elite merc squadrons and wizard corps might exist, but they'll be countered with the same in such a magic-rich world. The only truly secure fortress is a Cube of Force with Forbiddence.

Hehe... Angry Kobolds... ^_^

Few ideas:

1. I think any cleric would cast Divination before raising dead - to ask his deity for guidance and 'permission'. If the deity sees that the deceased is actually a worshiper of his nemesis or some such, there'll be no raising to be had. Of course, the deity could just warn the cleric that the person to be raised will commit horrible deeds if he is raised back to life (perhaps by accident)...

2. Since some game worlds have hundreds of deities, finding a priest of the appropriate deity might be overkill. I suggest requiring a deity that has the same exact alignment (so a Lawful Good deity wouldn't allow raising of a Lawful Neutral person because only LG people will follow his will and goals to the fullest).

3. 1 in 6 large towns will have a cleric capable of Raise Dead, as will 2 in 3 small cities and all large cities and metropolises (sp) - stick to this. If the PCs are nowhere near a small city, have them meet the large town's head cleric, who just happens to be 8th level.

4. Only large cities (1 in 3) and metropolises have clerics high enough in level to cast Resurrection, and only 1 in 3 metropolises have clerics high enough to cast True Resurrection. And metropolises are very rare, if they exist at all (depends on the campaign).

(The above probabilities are from the DMG, and do not include the chance of multiple clerics - I'm just making a point.)

These ideas do not handle PC clerics in any way. I think adding additional costs (in addition to 500gp) for these spells would be appropriate; like reducing the cleric's lifespan by 1 year for Raise Dead, 3 years for Resurrection, and 5 years for True Resurrection (not necessarily making them older - which is practically an advantage). I could then see the PC cleric raise his dearest friends, but not the rogue dwarf they met just a week ago. Of course, the same PC cleric could also use Divination or Augury to see what the deity thinks - which could follow the guidelines of point 2; requiring the exact same alignment.

The "extra penalty" solutions still miss one important issue though: how much do you want to restrict a pc from utilizing a fairly gained, legal ability, and did the cleric know this before picking their character class?

The "roll a new pc" solution only really works for hack and slashers, IMHO. If a player is playing a personality instead of a stat sheet, they're going to feel attached to their character. An equivalent level character isn't going to be an acceptable replacement.

Cadfan: Not to mention that a few people will get bored of their high-level PC and "suicide him" just to experiment with a new class and race at a relatively high level.

"Mainly, the game's not designed for perfect logical consistency, but rather to tell a good story. Back to D&D though. Mainly, the game's not designed for perfect logical consistency, but rather to tell a good story."

Ah yes, the old "it's Fantasy, it's not supposed to make sense" argument. Problem is that a good story has to make sense. Lack of logic doesn't make a story Fantasy. It just makes it contrieved and ridiculous.

IMHO, of course.

"Death is very inconvenient, especially at high levels."

Then there's a very simple solution. Avoid death. It's good to do so, cause dying isn't fun.

Northsaber: Why would the villain having his wife resurrected lead to more deaths, if she was so weak in the first place? I should think the result would be rather the reverse, to the tune of "let the world die as my lady did".

I'm willing to allow revival of the dead in my games.

There's a drawback, though.

Gods of a Good tendency require that the person in question have been a hero, and that they take a geas to do some great quest in the god's name - usually involving thwarting a plot by some rival of the god, or benefitting the god's followers in some large fashion.

Neutral gods have to be convinced that the person's life is important to the world. If that can be managed, then they'll still demand a hefty sacrifice and geas the character to perform a quest for them, although neutral gods ae more likely to have the quest involve fixing some problem that other gods have caused.

Evil gods are more than happy to raise people from the dead - and equally happy to lay a series of geases on the poor sap to ensure that the god and his followers will benefit from the revived victim's skills for a long time to come.

Needless to say, the gods you want to be raised by don't do it very often, and only evil gods raise the followers of other gods.

I have a simple way of throttling the use of raise, resurrect and all other such devices.
In my son's campaign world, part of it is a pocket universe Narnia. There is the Stone Table on which Aslan was raised. Anyone can get on it for a raise, or prayer be uttered for a resurrect.
Is the DM mad to allow such profligacy?
No, simply borrow Hackmaster Alignment Audit.
Anyone more than 5 alignment infraction points away from being a true Narnian is whisked away to the Utter East, never ever to be seen again. Oh, and never let players know where on the chart they are before they start.
So far, no-one has had the courage to go for it yet. Perhaps they have PC-low esteem issues?
The beauty of this is the players are the ones denying themselves the freebie.

I think that resurrection spells are included as another form of script immunity -- a way to keep important PCs in the game regardless of what fate befalls them. So a GM can be as "ruthless" as he likes, and still know that the script status-quo will be maintained. As written, it is another form of fudging so that the PCs won't die.

On a side note, I have recently had a switch in my GMing philosophy when it comes to PC death. Whereas I used to fudge to avoid PC death in "meaningless" situations (in other words, the death had to be cool, or the result of an obviously foolish action), I have recently indicated to my players that I would NOT be fudging and that they could die in even the most meaningless combat. I also play a game with critical hits, and one-shot kills, so this type of death is a real possibility. And, there is no resurrection. Dead is dead.

Of course, I extend this even-handedness to the NPCs as well.

Several months into the experiment, the players love it. They tell me that combat is much more exciting and tense because they know there is true danger to their characters. Sure, there have been some unexpected (even "meaningless") deaths, but also, the PCs are infinitely more cautious as to who, when, and how they fight. It has been an interesting change.

Chris Magoun
Runebearer RPG

I'm with Cadfan and partly with cmagoun.

I would never place extra restrictions on Raise Dead that affect its effectiveness as a game feature - honestly bought and paid for by characters. I recognize and appreciate it’s value as insurance to keep a long-played character in the game.

At the same time, I do my rolls on the table and don't fudge. No, I don't care for the extra randomness of critical hits and we do not have called shots (I tailor the description of the shot to fit the roll, not the other way around). My players enjoy the extra tension of playing with a 'live fire' DM. Players have died in non-epic ‘routine combat’.

Nor do I stock the world with high-level clerics who sit around in average towns. I stick closely to the Greyhawk world. I assume that most high-level clerics are adventuring just like the PCs.

On expedition, depending on the intelligence of the villain, it’s an easy enough matter to target the cleric, or to use spells and abilities that destroy the victim’s body. The players themselves often target spellcasters- and they know that I play adjust my tactics and intelligence to the scenario and villain. Having Raise Dead in the game is not a foolproof way to keep PC’s alive.

Death is the another adventure hook. One of the coolest games I've ever run, the players died first off. Of course, they came back as ghosts which led to one of the funniest , and most disturbing, games ever. In retrospect I shouldn't have let them come back as ghosts because 3e ghosts are obscenely over powered.

Another thing that I do, and it works much better, is that dead characters don't just die and go to heaven/hell. They have to cross a wild spirt land where all their deeds come back to haunt them. If they succeed crossing the spirt land, they get to join their god in paradise. If not.... well have fun with that one. This kinda solves the raise dead/resurrection issue. When a cleric goes to resurrect the player he has to find the characters spirit. Of course if he dies in the spirt realm he dies in the real world and has his own spirt world to deal with. If the dead character has braved his/her spirt world then raise dead doesn't work, only resurrection or true resurrection will work, the later taking right to the gates of paradise as opposed to having to cross the spirt world.

Now the only problem is naive characters who end up being poor wasted souls in the spirt world waiting , naively, for their buddies to bring them back, but what's a good story without a bit of tragedy? ;)

Ressurection and such are tools of the game. Personally, I think the new rules are brutal. Losing a level is like losing a child to a player. In the old days, when I ran games in 1e, players would attack a horde of golems without fear, but the appearance of a single wraith would send them into abject panic. The thought- the possibility- of a level loss was so horrific that they quailed at the thought of it. Even non-powergamers fear the level loss. I think it is a perfect way to make death really sting.
I like the idea of heroes coming back. I hate running a campaign where there are new characters every week. You lose all role playing when you just keep making up new guys. The best campaigns are the ones where the same heroes start and finish the game.
As far as control issues, consider this. The illiad is a perfect model for divine behaviour. Most gods are angry children with big toys. The minute that the priesthood of Ares gets wind that Athena's clerics are peforming miracles, don't think they wont be up in arms and spoiling for a fight.
Also, demons and devils should be getting in on teh action. NPC's raised by the priest should have a small percent chance that if they weren'ty absolutely faithful to their god, that the raised person comes back with a little something extra...
cleric pcs should be enormously unhappy. Any priesthood that doesn't make their priests lives a nightmare is a rare and lucky one. Gods manipulate mortals on the drop of a dime: their chosen followers should be lieka mule with a carrot in front of it: 'Sure, I'll give this or that power, right after you burn down the temple of that other guy, etc' npc priests should burden, manipulate and control players egregiously. After all, you can't just leave your buddy dead, so you'll bring back the seven artifacts of Poo-Bah, right?
Here's an anecdote from 1e on clerics running rampant. One player (teh priest) ran afoul of the Eight in greyhawk. In a movedesigned to erode their powerbase, he promoted this hhuge pr affair, where he offered to raise a dead child. His god Celestian (foolishly) granted him prophethood, which meant that he could use the power then answer for it later. Anyway, the whole affair goes awry as an old woman comes forward with a stillborn child (with other mothers trying desparately to get forward). He cats Raise Dead- and the child, with an approximate con of 1, fails its roll and doesnt come back. Not only that, it failed critically, and came back possessed by a Type 4, whihc proceeded to pronounce blasphemies from its globe of darkness, and fly around the city telekinesing stuff (until the Eight came and banished it). Needless to say, the heroes never set foot in Greyhawk again, and the priest lost his powers for a while.
I guess teh point of this anecdote is that the whole episode was hilarious, mostly becasue the player was a raving egomaniac control freak. ( He stopped playing for a while, oddly enough). Having the power, and getting what you want from it, are often two different things with priests. A good referee can manage nearly any player power. What I find hard to manage are the damn divinations that allows pcs to not have to think about things. Those are far worse than most direct powers. Anyway, that's my rant I guess.

So we established that dying is bad, since "Losing a level is like losing a child".

Well... I'm always been of the opinion that losing your life should be like... well, losing your life. Dying. Period.

How the heck can you have a healthy respect for dying when all that happens that you become a bit less skilled? Ie NO permanent side effects. The concept of quick and easy ressurection is completely mindnumbing if you look at what it would do to society. Assasins would almost go out of buisness for one, I mean, if someone needs killing, chances are he's rich and powerful, and thus has access to clerics who can ressurect him. Actually, he wouldnt need that much influence and resources after all. I mean most adventurer groups can find a way to get their pals ressurected so it shouldnt be too hard.

Hey, tou could even make an adventure out of it, the PC party is sent to get a cleric to ressurect random assasinated a rich/powerful guy, say a beloved and just lord who has been assasinated. The local clerics refused on some vague basis of "alignment", "insufficient donations" or anyone of the standard excuses, so they were strung up by a lynch mob. This should be buisness as usual in a world with raise dead and ressurection.

As for losing a level, that's just bizarre. "You were dead, so you became unskilled". Wtf?
What happens with one or zero level characters? Like someone's wife for instance? Can they be brought back?
If not, I can hear the apologeic cleric now... "I'm sorry sir, we couldnt bring back your wife... If only she had been adventuring more..."

Yes, lynching of Clerics should be fairly common I think. Unfortunatley, a lynch mob shouldnt be too much of a problem for a mid- to high level character, but thats another rant...

Well Joel had you bothered to read the spell you'd have seen that 0 level characters loose a point of constitution (and can't get it restored in any way).

So yes the unskilled person can be brought back.

Oh and when you think about it, certain advances is medical science have mad the assassin's job much harder than it was just 50 or 30 years ago. Chest and abdominal wounds aren't so fatal anymore, some head wounds are even suvivable and no the assassins haven't gone out of business. So why should they in a fantasy world.

Kill the High Templar of the Order of Light a few times and she won't be a threat anymore (two or three levels off and you've become a had been.)

Lynch mobs... well againts good characters and clerics, maybe since the death toll won't be as high. Against neutral (especially chaotic neutral) characters, there will be one lynch mob and then a mass service and a mass grave.
The people took a few hundred years to rise up against their rulers in the middle ages, and they couldn't fling fire balls or survive a 10 to 1 fight.

One approach is the way ressurections work in Steven Brust's 'Jhereg' series. There are essentially 3 levels of assassinations in that universe. The lowest level is to simply kill a person. If the person has the bucks, and someone who cares enough to get him to a sorcerer who does ressurections (there aren't really clerics in the D&D sense in that universe) in time, they can be brought back. This is generally a 'message crime'; i.e., someone's pissed, and you better stop doing what pisses them off. The second, if you want them really dead, involves destroying the head. No head, no ressurection, but the soul can continue to the Paths of the Dead, and can eventually be reincarnated, assuming that the Lords of Judgement decide that that's the best thing for you (or, more probably, them). Finally, if you want them gone forever, you kill them with a Morganti weapon, which eats their soul; no ressurection, no reincarnation, no afterlife.

"Oh and when you think about it, certain advances is medical science have mad the assassin's job much harder than it was just 50 or 30 years ago."

Not very, no. It mostly balances out. The increased lethality and stopping power of today's weaponry more than offsets any potential benefits of faster medical care, as few people can survive a close-range automatic burst.

"Chest and abdominal wounds aren't so fatal anymore, some head wounds are even suvivable and no the assassins haven't gone out of business. So why should they in a fantasy world."

I apologise for saying this, but this flimsy attempt at reasoning is insane. First, we're not talking about any generic fantasy world, we're talking about D&D settings. Second, you're comparing the target having a chance to survive a clumsy assassination attempt to him being GUARANTEED to survive ANY attack bar a nuclear strike... or perhaps that too. Please explain to me how these two situations are in any way similar.

"Kill the High Templar of the Order of Light a few times and she won't be a threat anymore (two or three levels off and you've become a had been.)"

Ah, I see. So death becomes a triviality, and that's a good thing. I gotcha.

"Lynch mobs... well againts good characters and clerics, maybe since the death toll won't be as high. Against neutral (especially chaotic neutral) characters, there will be one lynch mob and then a mass service and a mass grave."

Sam, you're making no sense here at all. Mob mentality doesn't care about what their victim's like.

"The people took a few hundred years to rise up against their rulers in the middle ages, and they couldn't fling fire balls or survive a 10 to 1 fight"

Not only does the reason for this point mystify me - it would seem to have no relevance whatsoever to the subject at hand - but it's quite simply wrong. Small local uprisings happened fairly often during the middle ages.

As an aside, I happily (but without much surprise) note that you failed to address the inherent idiocy of "you were dead, so you became unskilled" and the fact that clerics would be universally loathed in short order, which were the two main points Joel made.

"Well Joel had you bothered to read the spell you'd have seen that 0 level characters loose a point of constitution (and can't get it restored in any way)."

I havent read it. Thats why I phrased it as a question.
"Can they be brought back?"
"If not"
Im sorry if I was unclear.

But this means... that a sick old warrior on the brink of death (constitution 1), but with tonnes of experience (lets say, lvl 15), can be raised be resurrected more than a dozen times without affecting his health, while a young lad in good health (lets say average, constitution 10) who's never left the farm (lvl 0) would see he his health deteriorate if he was subjected to the same thing.

Well, that makes sense.

"Kill the High Templar of the Order of Light a few times and she won't be a threat anymore (two or three levels off and you've become a had been.)"

Well, what about the people you really have to get out of the way, not because of their magic or fighting skills, but because who they are.

Take for example the king of a country. No point in assasinating him, his clerics will just ressurect him. I mean, does he become less royalty and heir to the throne if he loses a level? Not bloody likely.
If you want him dead youll have to assasinate him ten to fifteen times, assuming he's low level. You'd think the guy would suspect someone was after him after the first three or four attempts, especially if they were succesful. Then again, what constitutes a "succesful assasination" under these circumstances would be vague at best.

Im beginning to see why the bad guys in faerie tales never kill the princess, but just settles for abducting her...

And as Eleas so kindly pointed out, you didnt adress my main points.

I'm having trouble understanding the angst here. The referee controls every part of the universe except the player characters. Therefore, he can manipulate a vast array of events to effect any result he desires. If you want to emphasize the grave nature of dying (no pun, honestly), then have some nasty spirit of demon throw an artifact on the departed's soul, employing something like a dimensional anchor or soul trap or such. Agonizing over the impact of ressurection in a fantasy world seems like needless ulcers.

All strategy is fluid. In a fanstasy world, clever and driven people would a way to deal with Prince Poobah being brought back all the time. Likely, assassins would become diablerists, making sure their marks stayed in the underworld. Also, the gods themselves have to be in agreement, and the political maneuvering beteween them can prevent a soul from returning. God A is going to allow the King to be brought back. God B threatens all out divine war if he is. God A does cost/benefit analysis and says no. As before, the referee has an unlimited amount of resources at his disposal to 'keep it real'.
On character ressurection, this is a golden opportunity to manipulate the characters with their own consent. I once used a yuan-ti half breed in ravenloft who had a Dark Power of resurerction to bring back a dead character- provided that the group agreed to support his revolution he was planning in Borca. Obviously, the group agreed, since their comrade was dear to them. Thus, I got them involved in a plot I was dying to run that they might have otherwise ignored.
Losing a level is horrible event for a player. He has to helplessly watch all his numbers reduce, his efficacy mitigate, his power shrink. It is essentially emasculating. The referee can mandate the bed rest rule, or other onuses as well. Further, I still use the 5 year aging rule on employing ressurections. That keeps high priests from going raise crazy. Also, the referee can impose a maximum raise rule like 1e. Also, priests often conspire against the king for a variety of reasons (cf medieval europe).
I agree with Joel that when death is cheap, life is cheaper. Using only the rules, a game would turn into a bad kung fu movie. Buit nothing operates in a vaccuum. The referee must decide how his world will work. the players then agree to play in it. I've never seen a game I would run right out of the shrink wrap (maybe Deadlands).
The bad guys usually keep the kidnapped princess alive to do all those sordid things she's been dreaming about in her lonely tower...


I have to admit my post was less clear than it ought to have been.

"I apologise for saying this, but this flimsy attempt . blah blah blah.Please explain to me how these two situations are in any way similar."

Well there is a comparison. Weapons, poisons, etc have had to become more lethal to ensure target's death as medical science advances. Still nothing will ever allow us to bring back someone from total molecular dispersal
(like true resurection would). I was commenting on raise dead which needs a fairly intact body and (I'll grant you very remotely) works like our own high tech emergency rooms where subject can be stabilized and operated on several times to come back from very deadly wounds that would have left them dead just 20 years ago. Resurection and TRUE resurection are just so damned rare in my games that they've never really had any large impact on the my gaming world.

Just like many ground breaking technologies that are still only prototypes haven't made an impact in the real world since the aren't widely used.

Even if resurections and all those nifty spells were more available, the attached monetary price would limit them to the elite (just like really advanced medical care is in the real world).


"Ah, I see. So death becomes a triviality, and that's a good thing. I gotcha."

No death doesn't become trivial it just isn't permanent. The triviality doesn't stem from the rules or the magic etc, it stems from how it is played out by the GM and the players. It's like a very bad injury you walk away from
with some side effects (like a bad fracture or a punctured vital organ) you survive but are diminished.

But then even that can become trivial with healing
magic since you don't experience the pain of being wacked with morning stars, burned by fire and cut by blades you might jump into the fray stupidly without
thinking about the consequences since you will argue "Hey the clerics will heal me." It comes down to your portrayal of a character instead of a series of numbers on a sheet of paper.


"Mob mentality doesn't care about what their victim's like."

Yep it doesn't but after a few hundred deaths and wounded, the mob is less likely to coalesce. Hooligans (a real world mob phenomenon) wouldn't be so common if they we met with deadly force instead of police brutality and bad media.

So what, you say. Well... maybe the clerics of Chauntea (who help with the crops and births, etc) might get attacked by a mob after a refused resurection or what ever and maybe the mob wouldn't get wiped out. Still, the community would probably loose the clerics as they move to another location where the populace was less violent. Your town would now have less healers, would be open to undead attacks and many other perils that only clerics keep at bay in the fantasy world of D&D.

Now if the church of say... Tempus (god of berzerkers and war) was attacked.
How much time before the locals are all dead? How much time before the tale spreads? Don't you think the commoners will think twice before attacking em
again? Don't you think such tales already exist in every town?


"Small local uprisings happened fairly often during the middle ages."

Yup but how many times were church officials mobbed? Not often.
How many had true spiritual powers? Not many (although that depends on your faith I guess).

How many peasants did it take to kill a knight? 2? 3? 10?
How many does it take to kill a high level cleric (one high enough to raise the dead)?
Much more than that, make that hundreds if the cleric isn't alone.
And that is why you don't get mobs attacking the wizard's tower and the cleric's temple or the thieves' guild for that matter. They are usually inhabited by high level character who can wipe out the population of a small town with ease (if they are inclined to).


I guess I failed to address the first point, the less skilled part. Well any system that allows for resurection will have its questionnable mechanics.

Losing a point of constitution in 2nd edition didn't prevent you from raising your constitution with a wish or a libram or any other such nonsense.

I will repeat it (and this time more explicitely for Eleas' benefit) loosing a level is a stronger deterent (to my thinking) for the player than for the character per say.

Loosing a level also means that the smarter heroes will
become more powerfull while the stupid daredevils die and stay dead (if they are poor) or keep on dying and coming back (untill they retire, become smart or become poor). No it doesn't make that much sense in the game world, but the rules are there to make the game mechanics make sense, not the game world
(that is the GM's job).


So how do you keep death from becoming trivial as a GM?

The character that keeps dying stupidly or recklessly will be turned away or charged more by the temples of a city in my game. There should be quests and other services and oathes attached to this spell as well as some side effects to death (even if they aren't covered by the rule book). But that is in MY game.

If some people play D&D like they play Diablo... well I hope they have fun, I just don't run or like joining games that just tabletop versions of Diablo and Everquest.

Let's not forget that the players decide what is trivial or not, whatever incentive the DM throws at them. Heck I've seen players not care about loosing their character's paladinhood or seeing their families turned into undead.
Some people just won't bother about ROLE playing to the same extent as some others. At the other end of the spectrum you have those that take tabletop RPGs way too seriously to the extent that they will do everyhing in character and yell and scream at the table or mimick every combat move their character makes. What's best? I dunno.

What I do know though is that I set my minimal and maximal acceptance level and keep from playing with
those too far out of my comfort zone, that's all any of us can do I guess.

That and argue (some say poorly) on this site.

Well, there's one solution to the whole resurection thing, and you don't even have to go so far out of your way to bend rules or some such. More magic. The killer has some necromancer make an item that traps the soul of the dead guy. No soul, no resurection. Maybe not 100% fool proof, but its a whole other quest just to bring back your dead level 2 buddy.

See Rick just found a way to make some deaths the subject of epic quests.

The solution is that when on adventure, it is frequently impractical to carry a corpse around with you and to disengage from the story for a trip back to "town". I don't know about you guys, but our trips on safari are more like a trip up K2 than they are a trip to Disneyland. You don't just go home when you get a bloody nose.

I can't imagine how pissed I'd be if I played my character from first to 9th, passing up Flame Strike or any of the other mouth-watering spells at 5th for a spell that the DM was going to make damned sure I couldn't use effectively. I'd demand a refund. The game is designed to have a certain range of resources available at each level.

Yes Neph,

but if the players keep using it as a save and re-load plot mucking device, I'd start using underhanded tactics to limit the use of the spell.

I think we can all agree that sometimes, you just roll badly and end up dead, or the GM just rolls all crits and wipes out half the party. In those cases, I say save and reload. To use my Diablo analogy, this is like dying because of connection lag, why not use all those spells then if it doesn't mock up the story.

For bringing back NPC's, well the subject has to be willing anyway, so the GM can keep em dead if it fits the campaign.

Agreed on the NPCs.

As for players ending up dead, plots never hinge on a character dying, so you can't really muck it up if a player is raised.

I do think though, that the issue of carrying the corpses of slain party members (in a bloodied and now undermanned party), makes it impractical in many cases to Raise Dead, and money is always an issue in my games (it costs 500gp a pop for a party member to do this, and likely much more for a townsperson to do it, if you can find someone powerful enough.)

Dragging bodies back might be hard, but a lot of players might see it as their obligation. It completely depends on the group of players, some might be willing to accept your view that character deaths are part of the game and that they should not exert themselves to resurrect dead pcs. But what do you do when the group decides that, come what may, they're dragging the body of their loyal friend back to civilization to be raised, no matter the costs? Obviously you can make that difficult. But how far are you willing to go in basically forbidding the players to accomplish a goal they've set for themselves? The players game I DM for my friends at home would make absolutely certain to raise a dead party member, no matter the costs. The players have created a group of pcs who are dedicated friends to the extent that they would attempt the task in spite of whatever warnings the DM might mutter. And if I were to force their failure by making the odds overwhelmingly against them, frankly, they'd probably quit, and I couldn't blame them.

A lot of the time DMs try to justify their decisions as being "what's realistic." On one hand, for a good DM, this is likely true, but in a fantasy game, this is still basically a judgement call. If the players set a goal for themselves, the DM is the final arbiter on whether that goal is realistic or not, but the players frequently may disagree, especially when that goal is important to them.

Basically, as stated in previous posts, the line between "adjusting the difficulty of a task based on circumstances" and "invalidating the worth of the players rolls and efforts based on own's own opinion" is an easily crossed one, and when crossed is typically the most frustrating thing a DM can do to a player.

Possibly more importantly, what about pc clerics themselves? The biggest problem with raise dead, as I see it, is that any villain with two brain cells to rub together is going to order his minions to not only kill the pcs, but to chop the dead pc in half afterwards. And if the pcs are high enough level that they can raise a heavily damaged corpse, the villain is going to go ahead and light the body on fire, burn it to ashes, etc. But the social costs for a DM who regularly has villains intelligently, but incredibly cruelly, do this, might be a bit high, especially if the players didn't expect such high stakes tactics to be used.

Well Cadfan, I would probably not discourage the players from such an endeavour. Heck I believe they should drag back the body to get it buried properly so I sure won't stop em from trying to raise their fallen comrade.

I'd probably give XP's for the nice roleplay of hero loyalty

This discussion has reached an incredible length. I will therefore attempt to condense things.

"Well there is a comparison. Weapons, poisons, etc have had to become more lethal to ensure target's death as medical science advances. Still nothing will ever allow us to bring back someone from total molecular dispersal"

Red herring. The result of any competent assasination is a corpse. Said corpse will be, in the vast majority of cases, brain dead by the time it reaches the operating table. Thus, one cannot compare Raise Dead to normal medicine - it is incalculably more effective.

"Even if resurections and all those nifty spells were more available, the attached monetary price would limit them to the elite (just like really advanced medical care is in the real world)."

Show me someone who is brought back to life after suffering complete physical destruction, and I will grant you this point.

"No death doesn't become trivial it just isn't permanent. "... "you survive but are diminished."

Then dramatic death becomes cheapened, unless one is killed in absurd ways.

"It comes down to your portrayal of a character instead of a series of numbers on a sheet of paper."

Really? The rules form the world. Absurd rules make for an absurd world. And, given that, I would role play a character perfectly if I counted on being resurrected.

[snip descriptions of why no one would dare attack clerics]
"Don't you think the commoners will think twice before attacking em again? Don't you think such tales already exist in every town?"

Yes. I also think... no, actually I KNOW, that in such a world, anyone who knew of the clerics and their penchant for "standing by when they could have resurrected my loved ones" would hate the guts of said clerics. They had better huddle inside their temples, because if they ever came outside and went to sleep, they might just not wake up again. Is that what they do in D&D, then? I may be wrong here, but I doubt this is what we see.

"How many peasants did it take to kill a knight? 2? 3? 10?"

One peasant, with a crossbow.

"How many does it take to kill a high level cleric (one high enough to raise the dead)?"

One peasant, with a crossbow. In a plausible world, that is.

"And that is why you don't get mobs attacking the wizard's tower and the cleric's temple or the thieves' guild for that matter."

Because the wizard's tower and the cleric's temple commonly avoids pissing the whole region off, perhaps? Perhaps the thieves' guild is actually a hidden institution? Or maybe you're right, and the whole world lives in fear of the mages, the thieves and the clerics. I wouldn't want to play in that kind of campaign world either.

"Well any system that allows for resurection will have its questionnable mechanics."

Wrong. Eon, for example, handles it just fine. It makes it hugely difficult to resurrect people - basically you have to be there within an hour, and the body has to be healthy beforehand.

"I will repeat it (and this time more explicitely for Eleas' benefit) loosing a level is a stronger deterent (to my thinking) for the player than for the character per say."

Aha. In other words, your character's actions are supposed to be motivated by the player's fear of losing a level? That's metagaming.

"No it doesn't make that much sense in the game world, but the rules are there to make the game mechanics make sense, not the game world"

Uh, I'm sorry, but if the rules say one thing and the world says another, what possible point could there be to having rules that make no sense in the context of the setting? Why have the system fighting the GM?

"Let's not forget that the players decide what is trivial or not, whatever incentive the DM throws at them."

True, of course. There will always be some players around who just don't care about characterisations. The solution? Give them a world they can relate to, and they'll immerse themselves in it. As a GM I can't, no matter how hard I try, bring to life a world riddled by gaping inconsistencies. That's just one of my failings.

"What I do know though is that I set my minimal and maximal acceptance level and keep from playing with those too far out of my comfort zone, that's all any of us can do I guess."

This is quite important. Last time I gamed with a new group they just were so far from my wavelength that my GM skills were, well, traumatised. The group has to have an understanding, or things will simply not work.

So what you are saying Eleas is that you don't like gaming in High fantasy settings. I can understand that. But then, why argue in a discussion about D&D, the "worst case" of high fantasy RPGs?

Still here are some replies:

Re: Skill diminution and loss of level.
The original argument was that in 2E it cost more to raise the dead. I'm saying it isn't (for the dead) While losing constitution eventually ensures you won't be brought back, losing levels ensures you won't want to be brought back.
Yes it is bordering on metagaming, but anything that gives you THE PLAYER, more incentive to avoid character death is metagaming.
Anyhow, everybody (well except a few notable exceptions) wants to live and avoid death, why would a character be any different? Whatever the game mechanics I can't see anybody aiming at character death.

Re: Comparison between raise dead and medical science.
Well I quit, you don't get it. All I'm saying is that there are parallels not perfect equivalences. Still you're probably right since medical science is... well science, it will never obtain anything near the results of high level magical healing.

Re: Hating clerics and all that.

You seem to have taken only half the argument. While clergies are dangerous foes, they are very powerfull allies as well (especially in a world where there are undead).
More ever, the clerics are the healers, they also consecrate: the crops, houses, unions, etc. Some affect the weather, others maintain wards around the community to protect against the various nasties inhabiting the D&D fantasy world, they are more than a "raise the dead counter".

Also, the faithful well… have faith in their gods and have a tendency to believe in "God's will". Look at what the real world churches make people do with no real rewards untill an eventual after life. Fantasy world clerics also hold that power over their flock.

Again I'll try to use the real world to argue (and you'll twist it all the wrong way)

In the US and some other countries the sick and wounded are turned at the door of some hospitals if they don't have the means to pay for their medical care. Are these hospitals burning? Are their doctors and nurses being stoned to death? Why is that?
Because the cops, national guad etc would come down on who ever tried.
Hence the "how many people it takes to kill a knight analogy".
By the way, yes it takes only one lucky shot to kill one knight, but you won't get lucky all the time.
But again, if you won't accept that there are levels in D&D and that they affect the survivability of those involved, I guess it is pointless to have a discussion about D&D with you.

Re: A gaming world that makes no sense.

You got me there.
Any fantasy at one point or another will make no sense, from sci-fi to magic, there aren't any myth or legend or folk tale that make complete sense. The good ones follow some internal logic which seems to hold most of the time, but that's it.

A question for Eleas

Is it me or are you just criticizing D&D as a whole and not just the "bring back the dead to life" part of the game?

On the topic of DM ing in a world filled with inconsistencies...
Ever try playing or GM ing Paranoïa, Call of Cthulhu, Shadowrun, Warhammer or any super hero RPG? Those are/were f...ed up systems and gaming universes. My head still hurts from some of them.

"So what you are saying Eleas is that you don't like gaming in High fantasy settings."

Utterly, completely wrong. I'm saying I like a bit of plausibility in my High fantasy setting. Your statement would only be true if you considered D&D the be-all end-all of high fantasy. Do you?

"I can understand that. But then, why argue in a discussion about D&D, the "worst case" of high fantasy RPGs?"

Obviously 1) because you're wrong on me disliking high fantasy, thereby putting words in my mouth, and 2) because the article in question dealt with improving D&D, which to my mind is a badly needed thing indeed.

"Yes it is bordering on metagaming, but anything that gives you THE PLAYER, more incentive to avoid character death is metagaming."

Only if you apply it to the game itself. You said it yourself, that was the purpose of the rule we were discussing.

"Anyhow, everybody (well except a few notable exceptions) wants to live and avoid death, why would a character be any different? Whatever the game mechanics I can't see anybody aiming at character death."

True. My point is that I _could_ see them becoming blasé about dying. "Oh well, let's resurrect him and move on. He'll be back in shape within a month anyway."

Re: Hating clerics: I grant you this point. The church was pretty nasty back in the middle ages, yet few challenged it.

"Again I'll try to use the real world to argue (and you'll twist it all the wrong way)"

I don't "twist" things. I just idly wonder why you keep comparing Fantasy occurences to present-day Earth.

Re: Your little example. It fails on three points. First, the hospitals aren't a political entity. They don't weild power. Second, the populace knows (because of general education and whatnot) that they cannot expect miracles. Third, the people themselves are allowed to vote, which by extension means that they control what happens with the money funneled to hospitals (at least where I live).

None of these three things are applicable to D&D churches.

"Any fantasy at one point or another will make no sense, from sci-fi to magic, there aren't any myth or legend or folk tale that make complete sense. The good ones follow some internal logic which seems to hold most of the time, but that's it."

True. What I'm looking for is that internal logic. And I want it to stay true to the atmosphere of the story.

"Is it me or are you just criticizing D&D as a whole and not just the "bring back the dead to life" part of the game?"

Well, I promised myself to stick to discussing the resurrection theme. If I slipped up, I'm sorry. I don't like D&D (understatement of the year, I know), but there appears that some people do. And as long as they're having fun, more power to them.

Hmmm... I've tried Shadowrun (as you say, it was a weird experience). But I think one has to make allowances for the fact that the CoC universe is intentionally FUBARed. The point of it, after all, is that Man cannot look upon the true nature of things without going "iä, cthulhu fthagn!" When used correctly, a feeling of wrongness can be quite terrifying.

But in most other situations, to my experience, such "wrongness" will usually only serve to shatter the illusion.

Make 'em pay to come back from the dead, and NOT with money. Does a deity really give a damn about money (unless they're a merchant/wealth/greed god or some such)? "Okay, you're dead, I'll bring you back for a couple hundred/thousand gp." Not likely. It'd be more like "Guess what? You're indebted to me for a year and a day, etc etc etc." And what price would the performing cleric pay? Such things are not to be asked lightly.

I'm a fan of the Oriental Adventures/Rokugan genre, where such spells are altered. Does a dead spirit really want to come back? There's a question that needs to be asked. I like the "system shock" roll from 2e, but losing a level can be rp'ed out extremely well. "Damn, I used to be able to hit that person twice in the same time it takes me to hit him once" or some such.

It has been said that death is the next great adventure. Make it such. Don't make death "routine" because it sure the heck isn't in real life (or at least, it shouldn't be). Fantasy, like lies, is much more believable with an element of truth.

That's a good idea. They did it very well in one X-Men comic, IIRC. A group of mutants were all killed by a nearly omnipotent entity, and later restored to life. They still remembered training, but their bodies could no longer do the moves. In the words of one of them: "Our minds still remember our training, but our bodies have forgotten."

One word: Orpheus

Okay, see also: Monkey's Paw

See, that's the problem, you can't just spring this on your players, it has to be somewhat in the game mode from the get go. But there's no reason that Raise Dead can't be both common and hard has hell.

But we're somewhat getting away from the real problem here. You wanted players to react in fashion X, they didn't at all because of the rules. Stick it to them some other way.

It's like any other thing in Refereeing: you can't predict player actions, so sometimes you've got to switch tracks. The players pointed out to you that death isn't as meaningful, so if you want to hit them over this topic you'll have to do it in other ways. So the actual act of killing doesn't seem to bother them that much...would it bother others? Would someone else find out, very possibly mireing that mysterious knightly order in scandal? Actually, the best scene I could see coming of this would be the wizard rasing the wife and her coming back to raise hell on the husband.

"I still even loved you, even if you were always too busy saving the world to spend time with me, but you killed me! I loved you and you killed me!"

"Hm...actually, just let you die"

"I'm taking the kids and will see you in court, buckaroo!"

Two words: Pet Semetary.
Also see: Charles Dexter Ward.

System is not so much a problem as the consideration of such issues. I vaguely recall a discussion of this kind in one of the glossies (Dragon?) back in the late 90's.

J.S. points out that some foreshadowing of events is very desirable. It might even give you some gaming material to toy with?

Is the returnee truly themselves? Are they an imposter?
Would your brush with death affect you a little bit (Dead Zone? The Crow? Buffy?) or would it make you more desperate to live?

If the King isn't dead, do you stop the coronation of his successor? And in a culture where the King is divinely ordained would the priest cast Raise Dead? "My god has decreed the former King's death - I cannot do this!" Even if your tame priest (such a thing exist?) will cast the spell, it is not a guaranteed success.

Even high-level types must abide by the law of scarcity so it isn't necessarily a 'Pshaw'. 2,000gp may not be a lot of money to your order but give it to someone and they'll feed their family, create a business and equip a small group of thugs to keep it running. Small towns have been founded on less - yet you have enough to make this small change? Oh dear.

At some point, someone will say 'No.' Even within the rules - just be consistent. Cultural mores, economic factors, even the behaviour of the petitioner, all of these things have a bearing.

And of course, the wife could always return as undead of some kind. Violent, unexpected death which makes a compelling argument to cast the spell after all. It would also make that divorce J.S. wants extra spicy!! Mental cruelty, mutual incompatibility - the list goes on...

Dying or living is not always your choice. And the number of dying will always - ALWAYS - outnumber the ability to bring them back, even if they want to be.

Hey, Paradise is a nice thing - isn't it?

everyone should be rememering a few things that make a great story:

main people are interesting. interesting things happen to them. normal people arent interesting. nothing interesting happens to them unless its required to advance the story.

being revived is interesting, no matter how its done. a party of interesting heroes may as well have an interesting person who can revive them.
and for those who still like more disadvantages to dying, here's a few twists:
1) the gods made a deal: if someone is revived, an identcal copyof them is made, but with the opposite alignment. one of them has to die by the others hand within an hour or they both dissappear permanently. neutral people are split into 2 people, one good one evil, and they have to be brought together and shoved into each other within an hour.

2)their soul rushes back into their body, leaving them in unfathomable pain and screaming fits for a day, and they can randomly break out at anytime for the next week.

hows that sound?

It seems to me that this whole issue, like lots of people have said, is a matter of personal choice. You've got to make the rules and regulations fit your campaign. I remember reading in either a D&D PHB or Vampire: The Masquerade PHB that the rules are merely guidelines for playing and not end-alls or the ultimate last word. Therefore they're flexible. And besides, it's not like the world is going to come to an end if you change something to make it more interesting or challenging for your players!

My DM really doesn't like the spells that bring back the dead, and he told us this before we even started playing. He does have them, but they're very very difficult to achieve in his world. Rather than that, he lets us think of new characters if we want, and does he damndest to fit them in somehow. And I have to say, he does a very very good job of it. So that may be a way to solve someone's woes about reviving the dead: start over with a fresh template. I'm sorry if this character was your favorite, but death happens. At least they got retired in style, and will have people mourning them.

If you really want someone do die, and for the death to matter, the easiest expedient is to simply raise them as undead. Just having been undead makes one unresponsive to Raise Dead, and Resurrection. You'd have to bust out the Reincarnation or True Resurrection. Reincarnation is risky (Hackmaster especially. imagine the 15th level fighter coming back as a dung beetle). ANd true Res has to be rare.

On another note, death can mess up a plot line. The shadowrun campiagn I'm in has many plot threads based out of a characters story (which the GM insists on making very indepth). Characters die from stupid crap all the time, and it's really a pain when you're in the middle of a story arc based off that character. ANd to however was saying SHadowrun isn't lethal, you could have a body of a billion, with impact and ballistic of infinity, and when you get arrested, and you're were-tiger 35th level initiate gets put in a mage mask, it doesn't really matter. One "reckless endangerment" charge and you're still out of the campaign for 95 years.

Then again, there's the matter of availability at all. I doubt the Gods are going to be handing out Raise Dead spells left, right, and center, and they may even be unknown to the party as a whole. Certainly nothing widespread...

For example, in a gaming session I was running a long, long while ago ('bout the time 3e came out), my players had just reached Level 9, and I handed out the spells for the Divine spellcasters. The Cleric got everything but Raise Dead.

"Hey, why don't I have Raise Dead? The PHB says-"

"We aren't playing Greyhawk," I cut him off. "And besides, when's the last time you prayed to your god, aside from asking him for spells? When's the last time you offered any of that treasure you've got adorning you to your temple? And how have you heard of Raise Dead, anyways? It's not like they've got a primer available..."

It may just be that the Gods, while still existing, are weakened. Powerful magic like Raise Dead is not beyond them, but the power to return life to the dead is not something they hand out lightly. Perhaps it's something available only to the church elite, and has been covered up? Or perhaps, Raise Dead is the God working through the character, and is only available at DM discretion?

Perhaps the character's diety requires a quest before the character is granted the ability, and still warns the character (through an avatar) that the spell is only to be used during the greatest need.

Stuff like that quickly turns the spell from something everyday into something else entirely. If the characters are only assured one Raise Dead... are they going to squander it on everyone they didn't mean to kill, or are they going to save it for when Felioc, Dwarven Hero falls in great battle with his enemy and is needed for the End of Days?

I prefer to run the game so that resurection can be done by either necromancy or divine magic. There are certain disadvantages either way. With necromancy, there is the whole finding the soul in the afterlife thing, which is dificult, but then there's the question of what to do with the soul. The easiest way is to guide it back to the material world, and bind it to someone living. This is actually very hard, unless you are the one to whom it is bound, and that makes YOU a spirit. With divine magic, first the deities must be willing, and then they will still have some difficult task for you. Either way, I have them make a will save or go insane, and a fortitude save or die.

You all seem to be forgetting one thing; a cleric isn't just a wizard with healing spells. In fact, cleric "spells" aren't really spells at all, just appeals to a higher power to grant them some small measure of their power. Said higher power may not be so keen to do so--at least, not without some great sacrifice or great quest...

As for the death becoming trivial thing, I don`t know if any of you play MUDS or MMORPGs, but that`s exactly what happens. When it doesn`t cost much to raise someone and there are no real consequences attached to it, people complain about their character deaths as if someone had raised gas prices. I find it makes sense in D&D that once life has been restored to a person they find they are moving sluggishly, that while their soul can get along just fine without the body the body has a bit more trouble when there`s nothing keeping it alive.

But enough of that. I think the real problem you have here is not with the Raise Dead spell, but rather the true ressurection and such. When it comes to a higher level campaign, there are all kinds of inconsistencies that crop up. Like someone said, every third villain becomes a 18th level cleric, and where were all these possible miracle workers before? The best thing to do once PCs get that powerful is just to take them away from the mortal plane, or somehow remove them from the regular mess of existance and get them mixed up with crazier stuff, stuff that explains why there are all these super powerful creatures around all of a sudden, why they can be popped back into existance at the drop of a hat (and a sack of gold and a measure of XP). I mean, if you want to attach different penalties to death instead of level loss at higher levels (like you have to appease the rulers of the plane on which the player died) to compensate for the fact that the players are being whisked back into existance instantly, well, you`re the GM. You can do that.


I am a rather unexperianced DM, and as so I am extreamly experimental. howerver i have found that my favorite method or resurection is acually playing it out. Insead of it just being "I cast raise dead to bring back joe" and joe simply comes back with one less level I rather have the caster and the castie must hagle with the power that is being requested to bring joe back. This elminates all spells the same sindrom and makes great adventuring hooks. If Joe was unable to pay the price Marc's deity requested from him then it might take the party to acomplish it together. I have had situations that ranged from Saint Cuthberg's ( not shur right name don't have PH book on me and use different deities) Court where the Joe is on trial to weather he is worthy of being brought back, and what his penalty or quest should be for dieing. To Vecna's tendancy of altering things, such as once i had (a deity like him) bring back a evil player but he found out that he was undead and had to eat living flesh once each day or he would start to rot. Doing this way allows my players a small amout of control as to what they are willing to give up or not and if the price is worth it or to make a new char, makes what religion each player is important rather than just whitch one gives me what (a munchin symtom i am trying to break away from) because each deity has there allances and have different methods for resurecton, and finally give a bland spell some spice. I mean just waving your hands around and bringing someone back just doesn't have the suppence of haggling with a god to weither you should be brought back or not and for what price.

You know, I think I like your ideas. I just might use them next time my PC's die.

As for clerics and deities, here's an actual quote from a friend's AD&D 2nd edition game:

Dain (dwarf cleric): At last I received word from Clangeddin, who has not reacted to me in almost two years!

Haman (evil magician): I thought it was the other way around..?

The cleric was given a vision and ordered to complete a dangerous quest or else lose favor with the god he had been ignoring for so long. The sins listed included:

His main concern had been collecting magic items and power, not fighting the enemies of his race as Clangeddin wants. Once he retreated from battle with worthy foes because he didn't want to lose magical items. This lead to more clanmates getting killed in the next battle.

He was also quite willing to kill bystanders in order to make a point, thus creating more enemies for his clan. Yes, the clan he's supposed to protect.

He convinced another cleric of Clangeddin to change faith to one that seemed more beneficial to the clan. Even worse, it was an evil deity!

No, I don't see why his god should have been pleased with him, much less granted him spells just because they're listed in a book. The question still exists even if the cleric was killed while trying to atone for his actions.

dealing with player deaths should be part of the fun of DM-ing a game. (so i'm a little mean spirited... sue me.)

next time your players drop like flies and the clerics drag them into the temple for a raise dead-ing, give them a drawback: give them a -2 fear of death pentility on will and fortitude saves. or something more fun: give them a different persona banging around in their head. maybe the clierc goofed up and now dearly departed grandpa's sharing space in your rogue's head.
or a pit fiend pretending to be grandpa.

as for the players reaction to killing innocent people, remind them they made a golem-crafting-wizard angry. have the wizard turn his wife (and any other recentally dead townspeople) into giant flesh golems and send them after the bank where the group keeps it's gold. or have her come in as a wraith.

i've allowed the "Reincarnation and Wish" quest, because we rolled the guy be turned into an owl and the druid turned him into his animal compianion.
"oh, that's just Smigggy, my owl. pay him no mind.."

Try Ravenloft for D&D 3.0.

In addition to the usual problems with Raise Dead, there is a saving throw, that if fialed, causes the newly raised PC to become a free willed Undead of the same HD. Which means he becomes an NPC, very likely just hacked to bits by the temple templars and PCs...


Let me start by saying that I don't like killing my PCs.

There are three basic types of character death.

If the character died to to chance (i.e. she rolled bad, I rolled good) I do not kill the character. I let the player think the character is dead, and have them play a minor NPC for the session. Afterwards I take them aside and do a short scene with them about what is really happening to their character. Not only does this provide some truly great opportunities for the player to really role play his character well, It can provide me with plot hooks and storylines.

Type two is the player was role-playing her character extremely well and this leads to character death. I had one player do something like this once, and it impressed me greatly. The character came from a very primitive society with no magic and no advanced weapons. He managed to get a flask of oil with a fire trap on it. The instructions for use (he bought the thing) said "Remove cork and throw." He did just that. He remove the cork from the flask, activating the time delayed fire trap, and threw the cork at his enemies. The explosion put him well beyond the power of raise dead, if you catch my drift. At this point I gave the player two options: a) have his character ressurected (I refuse to kill someone permanantly just because they role played well) or b) make a new character comparable to the old one (same level and all). In the end he made a new character, and the event is talked about to this day.

There is one final cause of character death. Stupidity. This is not fighting when you can be almost sure that you will lose (that's just bad judgement). This is the "I try to open the trapped treasure chest." kind of stupid. Or the "I grab the bomb and run." If a player does something stupid that doesn't fall into the category of good role playing (holding the 'grenade' was stupid, but it was also good role playing) he dies. End of discussion. If you do something stupid and you get killed for it, tough.

In the end this encourages players to role play well, and that can really be an amazing thing. I have had players tell me that they became better role players through my campaigns. At this point I have a group that can almost completely seperate in character and out of character information. They know they should (or should not) do something, but if their characters don't, they act like they do not have that knowledge.

In the end, everyone has fun and the players are encouraged to play the game as their characters, not as thought it's just a video game with really bad graphics.

Well, we play GURPS, and in that system, a PC can die easily, even from a single blow, and no, I do not allow the Resurrection spell, even though it is present in the system ... why? Because the players must know every action carries a risk, and so they will not be careless when battling Ancient Demiurges of Plutonium Meteor Showers or similar. Watch your hide, boy!

To EchoMirage:

I depends on what Genre and RPG system you are using, I would say. GURPS (non-Superhero, non-four-colour games), Call of Cthulhu, Millenium's End for example all go for "realistic combat" in a way that character can get wounded easily and weapons kill. In nasty ways. And resurrection does not exist. But we have to contrast this with games where resurrection is part of the game's core system and/or characters get tougher all the time until "normal" weapons simply bounce off them, i.e. (A)D&D, Werewolf, GURPS Supers and Shadowrun (which, let's face it, is D&D-meets-Cyberpunk). And if there's no magic able to raise the dead, then there's high-tech medicine with implants and miracle cures.

There's a third category, the genres where you are not supposed to die, because you are the hero, i.e. GURPS Swashbuckler, PP&P, or where death is impossible, see Toon. But let's ignore those for a moment.

If the genre itself encourages a lot of Hollywood-heroes style combat, if you are supposed to mow down droves of foes without serious danger to your PC, players *expect* safety nets like resurrection spells and Wishes. And I'm not sure a DM then has a right to simply deny it to them, unless he makes it absolutely clear from the beginning that his game is more on the "gritty" side and characters will have to watch their steps. See Ravenloft.

To Seraphim:

I agree with what you said, but I'd like to add a fourth category and a question: What do you do if the PC's death was not caused by his own recklessness, only partially by unlucky dicerolls, and certainly not by his own in-character lack of knowledge played out by the player to the bitter end?

I had a D&D PC die in a battle that he had been reluctant to enter in the first place, one against a nearly imvulnerable boss-level monster. The fighters of the group kept on fighting even after more than half the group had already been torn to shreds. They refused to retreat, forcing the remaining members of the group to stay in the combat area.

Now, it would have been understandable if there had been no chance to retrieve the bodies of the fallen for Resurrection or Raise Dead after a retreat. But fact is, the group's cleric had announced prior to the combat that, should the fight turn too lethal, he was able to banish the boss-monster from this plane, using a one-shot magic artifact. Used early, it would have enabled us to fight the boss-monster's (formidable) croonies with a good chance of winning. But the drawback of course was that if banished, the boss-monster's considerable magic equipment would be lost to us forever. Survival option vs. greed for loot....

Unfortunately, the cleric left the decision to those who still stood. The fighters chose the greed option, even knowing that if the party cleric was killed too there would be no chance in hell to raise the dead PCs. What's more, some of the fallen PC had no died instantly but lay dying for several rounds while the fight raged. My character, who could have been saved by a simple healing potion or Cure Wounds spell had someone bothered, finally crossed the death threshold only one or two rounds (a mere few seconds) before the cleric was the last person alive and conscious and thus forced to banish the monster after all.

After the session, I was a little bitter. I felt my character had died due to the stupidity and greed of the other players who didn't know when the PCs had been outmatched.

I was told not to worry, because, you know, my character (who had a severe phobia vs undead, btw) could simply be raised and everything would be fine, no big deal. That's why Raise Dead spells are part of D&D, to bring a character back when things didn't go as planned, the GM told me. And the XP from the fight would be sufficient to raise him a level after he had lost a level to death. Or I could use the situation to start with a completely new high-level character, so I would not even have to start with a weaker character. What was I complaining about?

In the end, of the four PCs who had died (the 5th had been saved in time), two players opted to make new characters, the other two (including me) opted to have their PCs raised. I felt like a cheat, but I had had plans for my character, and I wanted to continue playing him. And maybe, I thought, it opened an interesting new angle on the character: A wizard with a phobia vs undead who also was a sort of atheist, sceptical if the gods existed at all, was brought back from the Beyond, his soul returned into a body that had been cold and stiff and decaying only moments before the cleric's spell poured life back into him. (Alas, the rest of the group accused the traumatised wizard of being a "drama-queen", so I let it drop quickly.)

[Note: That campaign had gone from low-level low- powered, roleplaying-heavy, to high-level characters, high-powered combat-oriented under a 2nd GM. Most of the players only knew the latter stages of the game. So my problem is probably one of incompatibility and wrong expectations. I wouldn't have minded resurrection in a beer-and-pretzels D&D game.]

Still, I feel I betrayed my own principles that day, just so I could continue playing the character, gaining more levels, etc....

A long time ago, dwhoward said:

"In a fantasy world that takes magic fully into account, death and resurrection is not the only jarring, world-altering problem that seems insolvable. Another problem is castles. If dragons and flying spells really existed, how would castles be constructed? Certainly not in the medieval style, which is effective against ground attacks but useless against aerial ones.

There is no easy answer to these problems. To solve them, you have to rebuild your game world from first principles and will probably end up with some weird alien game world that looks totally different than anything that you are used to."

That's my entire problem with "high fantasy" in a nutshell. I challenge my fellow GMs, players, gamers all: come up with something we've never seen before. Show us a world where magic makes sense as part of the background, not merely another "alternate Middle Ages" with magic tacked on.

sorry for being so late on the scene...

another dwhoward comment:

"At some point, usually between mid- to high-level, a PC has (er, should have) more gold pieces than he'll ever need. It just makes no sense to have a 12th level fighter (essentially a fighting expert) be scraping together gold pieces to afford that new shield. Certain games are like that, I know, but it just makes the PCs look stupid for choosing such a poor career (i.e. to be an adventurer), rather than something profitable."

I strongly disagree. In my favorite works of fiction, the protagonist keeps running out of money. He grows older, more experienced, a little bit wiser...but he struggles with his fortunes for a very long time, sometimes being quite rich, sometimes being one step away from debtor's prison. This uncertainty adds drama to his adventures over time.

Does it make him seem stupid? Well, yes, but he's an adventurer, not a sage. He's certainly no banker. Another person might have invested his fortune after the first big "score," thereby ensuring the prosperity of himself and his family for generations to come. But adventurers are rarely the types to play it safe. Like real-life rock stars, many of them experience the "easy come, easy go" phenomenon. One day, they're rolling in millions, buying mansions and (the fantasy equivalent of) lear jets. But the next day, they could be poor, or worse, heavily in debt. From the GM's standpoint, this isn't a problem, it's a reason to keep adventuring!

The above quoted statement was made as an analogy for resurrection. Since I disagree with the statement, the analogy obviously doesn't hold for me on that level. But on a different level, I tire of the inevitability of the success of high-level characters. There's little drama for high-level characters in a level-based system, because they're nigh impossible to kill...and if you do kill them, they're likely to be resurrected. Whatever happened to the last stand of the heroic warrior? It only took three arrows to kill Boromir...is that so bad? Is that so ignominious?

In my opinion, a memorable death is preferable to a predictable future where the PCs' success grows more and more assured with every battle. In theory, you can balance out the PCs' power level by throwing them greater challenges. In practice, I find that's not so easy.

Thought for a campaign:

Kill 'em all (your PCs, that is) off from some big super-boss-like entity. then make them have to quest through the afterlife. Heaven or hell, or both, or purgatory. Maybe all of 'em. Maybe some other realm altogether. Make up an afterlife, or an astral plane. At the ned of htier quest thye must petition the gods to resurrect them. Then they must avenge their own death.

If you prefer the more sci-fi route, then have an NPC digitize their thoughts into a virtual construct. then let them get lost on a disc and stuck in a videogame! I bet that it will make them a little more afraid of death and it will be fun and educational.

Eternally yours,


In many years of DMing I have never had this become an issue. My players tend to get pissy when a character dies but then just make another one, that is when they DO manage to get themselves killed. Sometimes this is frequent sometimes it is not.

i run a BESM (Big Eyes Small Mouth) campaigne like i would a D+D campaigne but with one exception, no one in the entire world can ressurect the dead 100%. They can only create zombies and the like, but not bringing someone back to existance.

This has lead to villians and even a "noble" (as he did participate in a barfight causing death) to set out to ressurect a loved one. His character is also ripped staight out of Full Metal Alchemist, but that is beside the point.

if any one else plays BESM i would like tyo know how you run campianes and how you deal with problew players and rule abuse.

Raise Dead and Resurrection spells can be an overused and abused part of a campaign. It's my opinion that they should not be used in a campaign, as it makes a campaign characters invincible and uncaring. I have used Luck points in my campaign for years and find that it is much more realistic in game sense, to use a luck point to stabalize a character at below zero HP's. Or describe that the character is severely hurt as opposed to dead. Once all the luck points are used the character is well, out of luck and dies. Finito, done, asta la vista, match over.
Another aspect that can be assumed is the fact that the soul leaves the body and travels to another plane. The soul is then the property of its deity, or if it has none is a restless spirit devoid of a home. This in and of itself could cause problems with raise dead / resurrection. Perhaps the cleric in question has to scry another plane to actually find the soul, which would prove difficult, and incur the wrath of celestial/demonic entities. Or it could be considered a heresy by the church to intervene in the god's possession of a soul and might damn the characters to excommunication or make them wanted fugitives for delving into necromantic magic, as only evil clerics would attempt such a deed and may call the assistance of demonic entities to intervene.
Characters would have to search these evil beings out to intervene for their friend, and evil clerics will almost always have an evil task or mission to ask as payment for such service. The church may hear from Archons through commune spells that a soul has been raised, proving the heresy, and the church may even send paladins out to punish the heretics.
Another good ploy is to make a life for a life rule; characters must end the life of someone else to exchange for the life given. Perhaps the rule of ten souls for one is a measure. If the characters have to shed innocent blood to be raised, they may think twice about it. Or, can you imagine the victim's souls return after the ceremony to haunt the character as shadows, which stalk the character on nights of the full moon to deal out their revenge. Or perhaps the character is cursed with a stigma that makes animals shun them or causes all children who look on them to see demonic entities and flee in terror. Perhaps all the children born unto their families are stillborn.
There are all kinds of creepy/deadly aspects a DM can use to limit this power and give the spells dire consequences. In my game the characters have luck points they can use to survive deadly situations, but once they are gone they are well, gone. I dislike the idea of dead characters coming back to life and think the idea is absurd, and incredibly lame, but I'm in favor of a more hardcore and gritty campaign. I think its better than the alternative.

It's really really simple. Gods are fickle things. Especially when other gods take note. All it takes for someone to die is an act of will from an intermediate or greater god. That simple. SoooOoooo... when an NPC (or PC, for that matter) dies, and you don't want them raised, all it takes is a god's interference. After all, a god would have to interfere to raise them. Who's to say a more powerful one says, "ehh. they cause me trouble. no raise for you." Simple fact is, after one such altercation like this, the PCs now know that a Raise Dead isn't so simple a thing anymore. There are consequences, divine or mortal, for every action, especially death. Fixes things every time. One thing I think all DMs sometimes forget is that you *are* AO. You are the and all and be all. If you're clever, you can make everything you do have a legit reason, and do anything in the world you want. Period. There are no problems. Only trickier solutions. Hope this helps. ;)