Monday, January 11, 2010

Wyrd Greyhawk. Concerning Raise Dead, they don't come back the same.

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!


Jeff Rients said...

I like it!

Anonymous said...

I swear I've heard of a table somewhere on the Interblogs with the effects of having been dead ... maybe it was the effects of energy draining. One result may be insanity (there are a LOT of insanities), alignment change (not always toward that of the raising Cleric), possession, curse, etc.

Plus the old standby of "roll system shock to see if you're dead forever" and "-1 CON per death" combine to limit PC raising.

Yours is nice, though the penalties are limited to monetary cost / service if the party brings the PC to be raised by a Cleric of his religion. Though that also makes sense anyway.

Unknown said...

I've always just played with the -1 Con penalty and the chance to not be raised. There also has to be a reason why the deity in question would bring the character back to life.

I like the idea of alignment change to the raising cleric's deity alignment. Will have to ponder.... Its not like this happens often, though. I've experienced it probably three times in 30 years of gaming.

Rob Kuntz said...

Death? Heavens forbid! That's why there are black puddings and carrion crawlers to clean up the mess afterwards, right? Yeah. It's tough in my world to get resurrected. Might as well be a slave to the religion or power that raised you in that case. Nice points, EG.

Rusty said...

Tah-Da indeed! Very nice.

The Cramp said...

I have a similar take on this. Raising the dead is an ordeal. But for the person who does the raising rather than the deceased. So given how much of a risk it is, the only person who will generally preform this is a fellow PC. Because 'something' could follow you back from the other side of the vale. Some times it is a group ritual, and we make a session of it.

Unknown said...

Well, the only problem with this is that death is a casual peril to high level PCs, considering all the "Save or die" saving throws they must do every other encounter.

It sucks to have your character die to a Bodak due to a lousy fort save, when you care about the character, and having to go through all this ordeal, only to have him killed again in the very next encounter because a medusa turned him to stone thanks to a lousy fort save and not enduring the turning back to flesh due to another lousy fort save.

It's already a bad enough situation losing a level every time... The reason raise dead is casual to high level characters is that otherwise it'd be a revolving door of new characters into the party, while it is better to the enjoyment of the players if it is just the afterlife that has a revolving door. Life is only cheapened because death itself is cheapened in order to counter the pile-up of hit points.

Then again, the deeds and challenges of high level characters are surreal themselves. Hell, that's half the fun about playing high level characters. 15th level adventurers revive their fellow men before breakfast on their way to the center of the Nth layer of hell to dispose of a Demon God who is meddling in the political affairs of the Ice Giant Nation with the Merfolk Empire. The "reviving before breakfast" is the least weird thing going on.

But sure, BEFORE "save or die" becomes an everyday threat, there's no reason to let resurrection come easily.