Saturday, October 10, 2009

So, You're Dead

First are you dead or only mostly dead? Mostly dead characters can become not dead at all characters. Just need their wounds healed (magically, the mostly dead don't heal naturally and to be perfectly honest are prone to rotting) and for certain alchemical preparations to be applied. These alchemical concoctions are expensive, rare, but generally available [cost of resurrection spell]. It takes a priest or similar holy person about 10 minutes of corpse poking and divination to determine if you're dead or only mostly dead. Consult the following table for the results of this examination:

Dead/Mostly Dead (d20 + modifiers)

1-19 dead as a parrot
20+ only mostly dead, go you!

+x character level
+x charisma modifier
+4 player character (as opposed to henchmen/hireling)
+8 you know True Love

Nope, I'm Quite Dead

Sorry there, tough break. Do you worship any god(s)? No? Oh, that's unfortunate. See without any power to claim you and protect you in the afterlife it's very likely demons have gobbled up your "soul". Remember when the DM said there were good reasons to select a god(s)/pantheon. Yeah, this is one of those reasons. Live (well not actually) and learn. At least you're not being tormented for all eternity. Haunting, see below, is your one way to cheat death.

The Afterlife

Not all that you hoped for? You want out? Well, you have several options.

Your friends can rescue you from Hades/Valhalla/Duat/Morzaad/whatever. Which is pretty much as hard as it sounds. First they must find out how to get to the "underworld". Then they must trick away or bargain for your "soul". Finally the group of you have to escape back to the lands of the living. Haggling for one's soul is difficult. Gods like to keep less pious miscreants around for punishment and the very pious to show other gods how loved and awesome they are. It's best to be average and forgettable. In that case you may not even need much of trick. Just a quick "hey look Aphrodite is taking a bath!" while you slink off in the other direction. This is definitely high level play. Not only is the "underworld" fraught with peril, gods are more likely to let high level hero's get away cause they're such awesome PR machines. Still, bargains are typically limited and always favour the gods. Such as Odin granting you three more years on Midgard so that you may destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil and all followers therein, lucky you!

Option two, friends use a magic ritual of resurrection to steal you back from the gods. What magic is more powerful than the Gods? Not yours! You need to make a deal. A very bad deal, with something very scary; The Frog Gods, Elder Demons, Cosmic Alien Intelligences, and the like. Now, if your friends know about those and how to go about contacting them for some deal making then you got some messed up friends. I'd recommend staying dead. Really these deals are never worth it. But, hey, what price a second chance, right? And everyone always thinks they will find a way out of the deal. Note: for the well prepared but foolish it is possible to enter into one of these deals prior to death actually occurring thus avoiding the whole having to have friends thing.

Betrayed? Cheated? Task left unfinished? Then haunting might be just what you need. Not as good as being alive again but maybe you can still annoy your friends. Haunting prevents your character from reaching the "underworld". It also stops demons from gobbling up your soul and thus is a good option for the godless. Haunting is a "condition" and can be cured. Usually by do gooders, through ritual cleansing, holy fire, stake in the heart, etc. Although, if your haunt is revenge/task based you cure yourself once you get'r'done. When cured you continue on to the "underworld" (or demon dinner table). The decision to haunt is optional and must be made at the first dawn/dusk after death. Roll on the following table to determine how successful your haunting attempt is:

Haunting (d20 + modifiers)
1-19 Rest in Peace
20-24 Minor haunt: fixed to area of death, limited
manifestation, DM controlled.

25-28 Fixed haunt: ghost et al, fixed to general area of death, DM controlled.
29-32 Free roaming haunt: Continue play as a ghost et al.
33-36 Free roaming corporeal: Continue play as a skeleton, floating skull, zombie, etc.
37+ Undead Lord: You rise as a mummy(Osiris followers), vampire, zombie master, or similar.

+x character lvl
+x charisma modifier
+x unfinished task (variable determined by DM)
+0 godless, no bonus for you heathen!

+4 murdered/betrayed by ally
+6 murdered/betrayed by player character
+8 necromancer
+8 worships Osiris or similar god
-10 last rites performed

Other Death Rules

"You Shall Be Avenged!" from Jeff Rients' Cinder House Rules.

"Hi! I’m the new party member!" again with the Jeff Rients' Cinder House Rules. Player's newly generated character may be designated heir and receive previous character's monetary wealth (less 33 1/3% death tax) and one of their magic items. Alternatively, a henchman may be promoted to player character status.

Last rites, in addition to closure, provide two tangible benefits. They hinder hauntings. And last rites generate piety for the participants. [Piety is used to invoke miracles]. To be effective last rites must be performed prior to the next dawn/dusk post mortem and require religious training / divine favour to conduct. Simple last rites take 10 minutes to perform. Often used soon after death to ensure the deceased shuffles off. Later, a more elaborate funeral and burial may take place. Regardless it is imperative that the body not just be left. Burial by Earth, Fire, Air(sky burial) or Water is required or else last rites will be nullified and bad things will happen.

After / instead of last rites, a character may receive a Heroic Sendoff. A bigass funeral pyre, the raising of a burial mound, a funeral ship floated down the river, or the like. The main point being that survivors get to leech xp from their friends unfortunate situation. More Jeff Rients' Cinder House Rules.

So long and thanks for all the
fish, im mean experience.


  1. Great read and some fun ideas there.

  2. Interesting read, like some of the ideas and modifiers you used..

  3. Thanks. Instead of being a total downer. I tried to make death a little light hearted and maybe even fun.

  4. I like, this seems quite excellent with a lot of possibilities. I'll need more time to dwell on the minutae..but it strikes me as brilliant.

  5. What if you're not merely dead but really most sincerely dead?

    Sorry, couldn't resist.

  6. This is great, a character death, and the adventure to retrieve his soul, would make for an excellent adventure ala A Paladin In Hell.

    The only problem is with his body, being decomposed and all ... where do you put his soul, once you retrieve it?

  7. @Barking Alien

    No true love for you!


    Last Rites / Burial sends the body to the underworld. The thing you walk around with is your "body"

    I tried to not use soul in that article put it quotes when I did. I'm not that literal. Getting out of Hades is an accomplishment deserving of a free body.

    For some reason I'm imagining Getting ot of Hades as an adventure along the lines of "Escape from New York."

  8. I was thinking of Disney's Hercules when I posted, with the soul being "dropped" into the body.

    Perhaps you get a new body in the underworld? That might be the easiest way to play it. Of course, exhuming your old body might be a little creepy...

  9. Some great ideas here! Esp like the Princess Bride-inspired table. Well done.

    Another option would be to have dead player characters reincarnate on another plane. Perhaps there is a sequence of worlds -- a sort of spiritual bus route that all souls follow. Die in one world, remort in the next. Perhaps forever? Legends must speak of a plane where death cannot exist, likely full of immortals and godlings.


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