James over at Grognardia just put up an interesting post on his concerns about Raise Dead in his Dwimmermount campaign.
There's always been an interesting back and forth on Raise Dead, and it's effect on the play experience. Does it make the game less exciting and intense? Does it lessen the sting of death, since you can bring your PC back from the grave and soldier on? Is it contrary to the Sword&Sorcery foundation of the game?
There's plenty to say, pro and con on allowing the recovery of PCs from death. And I'm sure you've probably already chewed this over yourselves, and read all the arguments, so I'm just going to share what I do for Wyrd Greyhawk.
Raise Dead is not a spell or power that I allow Player Characters.
Only the most puissant of NPC Clerics, those with the ear of their god, are able to return the dead to life.
PCs who wish to raise a dead comrade will have to present their case to such a personage with care, and it will certainly not be cheap. In fact, it's likely to beggar them, or put them in the debt of the Cleric or his church to a great extent.
They may be tasked for a time, or for a set number of services to pay off the debt if they can't produce the wealth in coin or treasure.
There isn't a drive-up window for bringing the dead back from the grave, it's an event of divine gravity for the cleric and not considered lightly.
It's also not a Get-Out-Of-Death Free Card for the PC.
A PC raised from the dead will undergo a forced alignment change to match that of the Cleric, (and his god),who raised him. This will almost certainly change the PC's personality, and a Player has to be willing to go this route with the character if he wants to have him raised.
If the PC's new alignment is in conflict with his old class, he will be forced to adopt a new class that is acceptable. There is a 25% chance that the PC will experience a revelation and wish to become a cleric of the god who provided the divine power to raise him in any case. Even a shiftless murderer of a thief may find himself a,"born again believer" after tasting death.
If not, then the new class is treated as if dealing with a Dual Class Character under the AD&D rules. A PC who doesn't become a follower of the raising god is free to choose a new class if he likes, so long as it doesn't conflict with his new alignment.
The raised PC keeps his hit points, less a 10% penalty for having been DEAD, but starts over as a 1st level PC of the new class.
If the players are the type who just see a PC as a playing piece, they likely won't bother with raise dead or resurrection. They'll just roll up a new PC and Game-On. If they're the type who like to immerse themselves in the character, they'll likely enjoy the challenge of playing an altered version of their PC.
Raise Dead is not as big of a game-changer any more. The death of the PC isn't a trivial thing or a speed bump in PC advancement. In a sense, the original PC is still dead, and only players who really want that PC back in whatever form will go to all the trouble of getting him raised, since it will have an effect on the direction of the campaign.
That's what I do. Tah-Da!
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