Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Foot In The Revolving Door of Death

Everyone complains about the Revolving Door of Death in D&D. You die; so what? The cleric will just resurrect you. You lose a level, psh, you'll earn that right back soon enough.

The answer, as it frequently does, comes back to Calibrating Your Expectations.

A character needs to be 7th level to cast Reincarnate, 9th to cast Raise Dead, 13th to cast Resurrection, and 17th to cast True Resurrection. But how many of these kinds of casters are there, in a world where level 6 is beyond most of the greatest heroes of yore?

Maybe the absolute highest high priest of the most popular religion in the world is high enough level to cast Raise Dead. One guy in the world, aside from any PCs that might happen to get that high. If the king has donated a heck of a lot of money to the Church of Pelor, maybe the high priest will deign to bring him back after an assassination. Maybe.

This is especially true if you maintain, as in some campaign settings, that the majority of priests aren't even clerics, but Experts or Commoners.

Perhaps there are more druids around who can cast Reincarnate than there are clerics who can cast Raise Dead. But good luck finding a friendly druid to cast natural-order-defying spells on your whim. I've also broadened the lists for Reincarnate to choose from; you're more likely to come back as a creature of your type, but it's always possible that you might come back as a creature of a different type. It seems reasonable that the High Librarian of the Elves might decide not to respond to the Reincarnate spell if it would mean coming back in the body of, say, an orangutan.

I also threw on a rule that every time you get resurrected, in addition to the normal loss of level, your body ages by {1d20 minus your CON modifier} years. In higher-level games, where resurrection is common, this makes death a little bit more than a slap on the wrist, in the sense that aging is more permanent than level loss. Unless you get reincarnated into a new body, of course, which always starts out base Young Adult age plus 1d20-CON years.

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