I just got done reading an older post over at Grognardia (link) and it got me to thinking about death and dying in the game of Dungeons and Dragons. One of the things that I really used to like about the game was that you could bring back a well loved character and continue on with the adventure. I might call this a "character-centric" game.
Today I'm of a bit different mind, I like the idea that dying is very real and very final, for a few reasons. First, I think that it makes dying that much more dramatic. If it's final, and you've struggled to get your character up to 9th level, death becomes a very spooky thing indeed. And secondly, it's more "game-centric". Meaning that it draws a little attention away from the character and towards the game.
But, I do have to say that raise dead and resurrect are both time-honored traditions, so dropping them whole cloth just doesn't resonate with me. So I've come up with this brief treatment:
While clerics can raise a person...it is not something to be taken lightly, for the journey back from the realm of the dead is fraught with consequence. The following list must be rolled against each time a person is forced back from their natural state of death:
- The mind of the recently dead has remained in the nether realms...(They're now effectively a "mobile vegetable" w/ an int and wisdom of 3)
- The paths back are laced with Chaos...(The retrieved is now purely chaotic and "twisted". Possibly now possessed by a demonic entity.)
- The mark of Chaos has physically been left upon the recipient...(An appendage has been permanently replaced with a slimy pseudopod, brought back with no eyes, mouth, nose, etc. Something visually dramatic.)
- A vortex is opened, one of several things may happen: A servant of chaos is summoned, the cleric attempting the service and the corpse are sucked through the gate, the gate remains open for 1d6 days emitting chaotic radiation, a chaotic vision is revealed through the gate causing all viewing to make a save or go insane...etc.)
- It succeeds, but...no living creature (man, animal, etc.) will tolerate being anywhere w/in sight of the newly revived. Their presence causes physical revulsion and sickness. (Chaotic monsters will attack on sight...)
- It succeeds...No buts.
This is the reason that most, if not all (even the extremely wealthy) avoid bringing back loved ones, or those with lost wisdom, from the dead.