Thread: New raise dead. thoughts?
18th November 2012, 06:08 PM #21
The real problem with character death is: It sidelines the player until either a) the character is resurrected or b) has rolled up a replacement character.
So, in order to keep that from happening, you have to get the character back into the game *quickly* - without penalties that make the character undesirable to play (e.g. stat losses - causing people to just re-roll a new character). Penalising them too harshly and making re-rolling overly favourable nixes the reason to have [i]raise dead[/] in the first place (narrative continuity).
If you want to keep raise dead magical, you have to make death rarer - something that doesn't happen through bad dice rolls, but through bad decisions. One way to do to that is by breaking "out of combat = death" - in D&D, incapacitating a combatant almost always results in death. If there was more of a wiggle room between "unconscious" and "death", the whole issue wouldn't be a problem (short of a TPK or leaving somebody fallen behind - which is of course "bad decision").
So, what would help would be having more negative HP space. Then, raise dead can be rarer, too. Finally, if you want to impose a lasting penalty, don't make it permanent - make it a plot hook. Something you can get rid of within the next adventure or so.
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Personally I think the videogameyness is in the repeated resurrection process, even if you use penalties or a limited number of resurrections. Both are iconic ways of dealing with death in videogames (old ones used "lives", new ones rather give you a temporary penalty even if it's just in the form of having to go back a bit).
A "no-death" game is not videogamey IMHO, it's something else. It's rather movie-like, when a relevant character is "allowed" to die only if it potentially improves the story, and "disallowed" to die if it sucks.
It's not my favourite way of playing D&D, but at least I understand it!
"There is no survival without order, there is no evolution without chaos."
"You have to see past the RAW to understand the rules of the game."
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Fair enough, but D&D is not a movie or a novel, either. The dice rolls should matter.
Your reward for getting to level 9, in a party with a cleric, is that you can continue your character if he dies, without going on any expensive begging quests from NPCs. Then, at the level where the cleric gains true resurrection spell, it becomes a question of : The cleric must live! Again, it's balanced by the fact that clerics can die too, and if they die during a dungeon crawl, the rest of the party is screwed. Also, most campaigns never get to that level, and most PCs never survive that high. Or shouldn't. That's the real balance. It's miraculous and biblical and only a handful of high-level clerics have ever been known to do it. The rarity thereof should be a natural result of the weening off of PC or NPC survivability to get to that level. Eventually you are going to fail that save, and die. That's life.
I don't see Raise Dead as an option in D&D. If you play by the rules, and don't fugde dice rolls, characters should die. Then at level 9, it becomes not so bad, but not unlimited either, if you have a Con penalty and a chance of perma-death on top of that. That's scary, once you've invested a large amount of effort into your character. Again, D&D characters should NOT have plot immunity. If a DM wishes to fudge a die behind the curtain, that's his prerogative, to keep the story going. He can also say you die, but here's this wonderful high level cleric who ressez you because your quest is of vital importance to the universe. And if everybody dies and the quest fails...that's good! Why do I say that? Because if there is no real chance of actual failure to complete the campaign, what is the reward? An interactive story, where no matter what the good guys win.
Raise Dead NEEDS to be in D&D, because it allows you a greater chance to achieve those tough end-goals in a setting that is SUPPOSED to be lethal. If you don't wish to play a lethal game, adjust the healing rate dials, place easier enemies, drop a few more scrolls, add an NPC who pops in and brings you back to life. As a consequence of having a default game where you are expected to die early, and often, Raise Dead doesn't provide plot immunity, but a plot cushion for unlucky dice rolls or just player mistakes.
DMs are god, they can make anything happen. You have a TPK? Maybe the gods need you to survive to finish your quest. It's like activating the Omega-13. I'd rather it was done that way, in rare circumstances, rather than a constant fudging of the dice.
Taking away Raise Dead spell from clerics takes away one of the HUGE reasons for playing one. It's the biggest thing to look forward to, getting to level 9 when you have 5th level spells. Maybe in D&D Next they adjust which level Raise Dead is on...but it should have a permanent Con point penalty and a system shock roll.
Dying is bad, mkay.
You can raise your friend with 500gp component.
But if he died again, now you need 1000gp component. Again, 2000gp...
Limited number of times.
You can be raised only a few times.
This gives you good reason to "retire" adventuring. Through years of adventure, you acquired lots of money and fame. But you also experienced death a few times, and you know you cannot be rased anymore. So, you retire adventuring and start more safe life.
But sometime later, young adventurers (or just kids) visit you to ask help. You hesitate to risk, but go to adventure again with the eventually. And you dies heroically to save youngsters... You might see them as what you are decades ago.
Make it adventure.
With certain magic, finding dead's soul is not difficult part. But bringing back it to life is another story.
If you want to raise your friend, you have to go to dead's' land and come back with his soul. Magic takes care to find the soul, but you and your friend himself have to fight/negotiate against wardens of dead' land. Or go through dungeons.
This way, dead pc's player can also join the adventure. "Death" in this process means permanent death.
(You live by the sword, die by the sword. Then you will be raised by the sword.)
When you get raised, you get powerful quest to accomplish. Otherwise, you dies again.
When you raise someone, you have to ask a favor of a deity(or some powerful being). In return, the deity demand you some task.
(So, quest can be given to the raised person and/or cleric who used rase dead.)
No rain, no rainbow.
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As a default starting option, I wouldn't at all mind something like: Every PC (and major NPC) ultimately has access to "nine lives," because such characters can often cheat death. However, each such character gains access to one life per level, through 9th level. So it's possible to run out before "name level" well short of nine lives, and no matter how high you make it, you'll never exceed the fabled cat.
Then the next part is what causes one of these "lives" to get lost. Get raised from the dead, resurrected, etc? One life gone. DM fudges to save you from certain death, to avoid dealing with resurrection? Also one life gone. Fall 300 feet and somehow not lose enough hit points to die, with nothing to break your fall and no way out? One life gone. Fall overboard in a hurricane but make the saving throw? One life gone. And so forth. So now raise dead and other such magic becomes one possible way out of many to explain how you cheated death, but ultimately there is a limit.
I think one good compromise is to have a Breath of Life type spell that can only raise someone who died very recently (say in the last 10 minutes, for example). The spell can only work in the short window before the soul has departed to the afterlife. This allows people to have the option to revive dead characters without the immortal kings and villains problem I mentioned before.
Of course, it's still up to individual preference whether or not this spell should incur some kind of cost or penalty for the character, but I think it's far less setting-breaking and immersion destroying than raise dead and resurrection, which can bring back people who have been dead for weeks or even centuries. Of course, not everyone has a problem with those spells, and the existence of this spell doesn't preclude those.
What I loved about the unfinished destiny idea is that it provided no default...just a simple story reason why all playstyles work.
It explains why the pcs can always resurrect in one game, and why they can't at all in another.
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For combats, the player can take control of friendly or hostile creatures on the battlefield. 13th Age has a "Fighting In Spirit" rule where dead players can offers bonuses to other players' rolls which keeps them active and attentive at the table.
There's lots of ways to slip a new critter into an adventuring party, either temporarily or as a permanent character. The adventurers may have supporting NPCs; friends appear in unlikely places sometimes.
If they're isolated and in enemy territory, you never know when you could find a sympathizer or who might be willing to take a bribe. Let the player have some input as to how it all goes down and you can end up with some very fun situations that you never expected.
Someone around here (I think, may have been a podcast) had a PC die in a very bad spot, raising wasn't available and the DM couldn't figure out a good way to stick a new character into the party smoothly, so... The PC lived on. As a ghost. Sounds interesting, though I bet the Casper jokes would get old after a while. And "My goodness, you look like you've seen a..."
It does take time in the d20 games to stat out a high level character, but not everything has to be spelled out to the letter for the player to be able to play. Non-combat situations in particular don't require much of anything. You don't need stats to explore or interact with other characters, so the game can keep going in the meantime.
Doesn't work in all situations, but in my experience character death hasn't ever been that big a deal. Quite the contrary - I've found players to be excited to hop onto the next big new shiny thing. (o:
I don't get how some people think that a modest disagreement equates to "you must play a certain way." I see that accusation crop up from time to time at ENWorld, and yet I never see anyone actually dictating how other people absolutely must play. Just offering suggestions, different points of view, and "this does / does not work for me." People have always been able to game the way they like. It isn't even possible to force someone to do something at their own table, so... Why even bring it up?
Last edited by GhostBear; 19th November 2012 at 04:01 AM.
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