D&D 5E Different ways to handle death (and resurrection)


I plan to have a unique death system in my homebrew world I am building. When a PC dies they are sent to a plane that behaves so differently that they wander through it, immortal, for a millennia, before their body in the Material Plane even hits the ground. In this plane there is nothing but cold. They walk on a ground of ice, through an endless blizzard, for what feels like forever. They are eventually met by a man who takes them to their afterlife, where they are safe from the cold of this place. However, if they are ever resurrected, they begin to feel the cold of that place again, no longer protected by their peaceful afterlife.

Mechanically, I plan to have this translate into a Vulnerability to cold damage, and freezing temperatures. They will even take 1d4 of cold damage if they sleep too far from a fire at night. Do you think this is too much punishment for a resurrection? I do not intend on having too many resurrected PC's, but want to be prepared with something interesting if it does come up. It will also give some flavor to previously resurrected NPCs.

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Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
For a certain campaign feel, I can get behind this. But only if paired with new and replacement characters coming in at a lower level or some other disadvantage.

A persistent penalty is the harshest, that's why everyone hated level-draining undead in earlier editions - you only lost when level when Raised, but you could lose one (or TWO) PER HIT with some undead. If you have it and it becomes mechanically advantageous to just dump your characters, you'll encourage turnover. (Maybe your table won't, that's up to you.)

I would be up-front with the players about it, including if it happens with revivify (which it sounds like it does since it's aeons before the body ever hits the ground). I would recognize as DM that it may make them more risk-adverse which could slow down pacing.

I personally would also put in other rewards, perhaps boons that they gain as rewards over time (that are connected to the character, not items that can be given to a replacement) that grant mechanical benefits. I'd also be aware that front-liners are taking more risk than the others and perhaps be a bit more generous in protective items for them.

As a final thought, your underworld (less the oasis' of the gods) is Ice Cold for some mythological reason. Is the "Great Enemy" of the gods a creature of fire that once tried to raid the souls of the dead so now they are hidden in this land of ancient ice? Working in something so near campaign end where the link to the land of ice and death is actually beneficial may give vindication to the players who have had their characters suffer through levels of this vulnerability.

All of that said, I wouldn't use this unless you had a specific campaign feel you wanted to give and that's the game your table wants. In general, permanent "breaking" of a player's PC but they still have to play them isn't the most fun.


Definitely talk this over with your players. The effects should definitely not be permanent. It doesn't sound like a very nice afterlife. Maybe that's what the PCs have to fix?


First Post
If I wanted flavor I would set your cold area as Cania in Hell. When a spell attempts to resurrect them a devil gives them a choice, they can ignore it and pass on to their afterlife or promise to do a task for the devil that does not violate their alignment (making the deal might do so in the first place but the actual quest would not) and should take less than 1 day to complete that the devil can name in the future. After x time then someone comes to take them away as you described which is why spells like resurrection are much harder to perform on people after a length of time has passed.

No one wants to be beholden to a devil but it is not a constant mechanical negative.

An example task could even be something that seems good on first glance. Perhaps the devil tells the LG paladin about an orc attack on a village and asks him to stop it. The villagers are all innocent too. What actually went on behind the scenes is that the devil had made a pact with the mayor to keep that village safe from harm.
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Mishihari Lord

First Post
I like your ideas, they add some interesting flavor to your campaign. The 1d4 damage might be too much, as it makes characters really vulnerable to certain circumstances. Frex, spending a couple weeks in jail could kill them. I'd go for disadvantage from the start of the day until the first short rest, or -1 per die on all hp recovery if you're cold. Still a noticeable effect, but not potentially deadly. And as others have said, get your players on board first.

Oh, and maybe you could call the cold afterlife "Minnesota?"


Magic Wordsmith
As with any house rule, I think it's important to examine one's goals for implementing something and whether that something implemented actually achieves the goal. Based on the specifics of your house rule, your goal would appear to be to have some kind of unique after-life in your campaign setting and to penalize players who choose to have their characters resurrected. Is that what you intend? If it is, then mission accomplished - just run it by your players and seek their buy-in. If it isn't, then changing the house rule (or your goal) might be in order.


If part of the goal is to make dying actually mean something, you could have each die of cold damage inflice one additional point of damage the first time you're brought back, then a second the next time, etc. Less harsh than vulnerability. But you could also just say those spells don't exist, and then there's no coming back from the dead to worry about.

If you're looking for a grittier game, you could also (or instead) say each time you're reduced to 0 hp (and/or fail a death save), you take one level of exhaustion from the chill of the grave. Similar effect but for hitting 0 hp which is probably much more common than a PC dying.

Hand of Evil

my world I have created my death myth, if a player dies they go to a transitive plane, here they have to travel to an portal to their afterlife, this is not always a safe journey but they can have help and protection from their piety in the game and by things, like last rights being performed at time of death. I also have class of clerics (the Guardians) that, by using drugs and rituals, can cross over and help lead them to the portal (I had a game where the party rescued a dead member and returned him to his body this way).

I think it would be interesting to expand it so that it’s dependent on alignment – different PCs would end up in different planes when they die, with differing vulnerabilities.

That being said, I think that there should also be a mechanic for removing said penalty. Something beyond just “pay the NPC cleric,” something that could spark new adventures.

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