5E Exploring the economics of Raise Dead

Kinematics

Explorer
This is related to other "How does magic affect the world?" topics, such as last year's topic on the impact of the Frabricate spell on the world's economy. There may be some similarities, or reuse of ideas.

The motivation for this thread was sparked by the recent Hostage Crisis comic from the Handbook of Heroes webcomic. The comic itself was about how to make a hostage situation actually threatening in a world where resurrection is available. My thought is that that's a backwards approach. You should first look at the implications of resurrection on a world, and people's behavior in light of that, and then extrapolate to determine what sort of threats people would actually make, given that scenario.

Note that I'm viewing this from a 5E perspective, but it seems like it could largely apply to any ruleset or setting.

First, a refresher on available spells:

  • Revivify (3rd level spell) — Has to be cast within one minute of death. Doesn't fix anything. Requires 300 GP worth of diamonds.
  • Raise Dead (5th level spell) — Bread and butter for resurrections. Doesn't cure magical diseases or restore lost limbs, and won't work on decapitated corpses, nor raise undead. 10 day limit. Requires 500 GP diamond.
  • Reincarnate (5th level spell) — Reincarnates target into a new, random body. 10 day limit. Requires 1000 GP worth of materials.
  • Resurrection (7th level spell) — High-tier resurrection. Doesn't cure magical diseases or raise undead, but will restore lost body parts. 100 year limit. Requires 1000 GP diamond.
  • True Resurrection (9th level spell) — No limits except 200 years and doesn't work if the target died of old age. Requires 25,000 GP worth of diamonds.

Reincarnate has some unique conditions attached to it, so I'm not going to include it in the analysis. Revivify is also not relevant for our purposes because of the time limit (1 minute). So let's start by looking at the availability of the spells.

From the Fabricate thread, I felt that a reasonable approach to estimating the adventurer population was to assume that only half of the adventurers at level N would make it to level N+1 (so the fraction of adventurers at level N is 1/2N). Perhaps they died in some remote dungeon, or perhaps they decided that adventuring just wasn't for them, and they'd prefer settling down in a nice home with a wife and kids, rather than gallivanting across the countryside, risking the wrath of orc tribes, vicious goblins, pit traps, evil viziers, and all the rest.

Regardless, we want to know what portion of the population is capable of casting Raise Dead. And that pretty much boils down to the clerics. Paladins can cast it, but only at 17th level, so they're pretty much a non-factor. Druids have Reincarnate, which as already noted isn't the best or most desired equivalent. On the plus side, clerics are a fairly popular class choice, and probably even more popular among the world's population, where there's a fair bit of status in being a priest.

Now, the first level a cleric can cast Raise Dead at is 9th, but we actually want to look at slightly more than that. A 9th level cleric can cast Raise Dead once per day, a 10th level cleric can cast the spell twice per day, and an 11th level cleric can cast it three times per day. Taking only 9th, 10th, and 11th level clerics (1/3 of 1% of all clerics), we get an average of 2 casts per day. We actually won't have that many available, but I'll save that for a later part of the calculation.

Then if we figure 1/10th of all adventurers are clerics, and 1/10th of the adult population is adventurers [1], and 2/3 of the entire population is adults, we're at 1 in 40,000 population is a cleric who can cast Raise Dead. We'll also say that only 1 in 2.5 clerics in that level range are actively taking up this duty. That means each such cleric covers a population spread of 100,000.

Next is death rate. For a variety of reasons related to the common estimation of living standards (something closer to Victorian era than medieval era) and the presence of magic to substitute for technological advances, I picked the year 1900 to get an approximate estimation on general death rates. In the US, that death rate was 17.2 per 1000 population per annum. That's 1720 deaths per 100k population per year.

Meanwhile, the cleric can raise 730 people per year. We seem to be a bit short. However...

Now we need to know what percentage of those deaths are raisable. Basically, the "Injury" column of the chart, vs the "Cancer"/"Alzheimer's"/etc columns. From the numbers on this page – FastStats – accidental deaths comprise just 6% of all deaths. Cancer and heart disease comprise 44% of all deaths. Looking at other categories, you can easily say that 50% of all deaths are of the type that Raise Dead would not fix, and that's just out of the most common options.

Accidents, drugs, alcohol, and firearms add up to 11% of all deaths. We don't have firearms in the fantasy setting, but general violence is almost certainly higher. A wide variety of diseases cause deaths, though if those are fixable, they're probably done so with Lesser Restoration rather than waiting for the person to die. As such, we can probably scale up the percentage of deaths that are raisable, assuming many of the causes of death are treatable with lesser, more common magics.

To be fair, I'll scale the 11% up to a full 25%. Factoring in a vastly higher rate of infant mortality (as was the case pre-1800's), perhaps even up to a 33% rate. That means a total of 575 relevant deaths per year, which is within the range of what the cleric can cast.

Next we need to consider costs.

Each Raise Dead costs 500 GP for the diamond itself, plus the costs of the bureaucracy that's needed to manage this endeavor. Why a bureaucracy? Because there's a massively blatant business opportunity here: Insurance.

The overhead compared to the cost of the diamond is honestly trivial. Two raises per day is 1000 GP for the diamonds. 5 skilled hirelings (bureaucrats) are 2 GP per day each, for 10 GP total. Even if you triple that, and double it again to pay the cleric, you haven't even reached 10% overhead. There's probably more for transport of the bodies and such, but I'll just work at the 10% rate.

That means that resurrecting 575 people per year has a total cost of 316,250 GP. You'll also want to round up a fair bit to add in profit. I'll call it 400,000 as a target. If that's spread over the entire covered population of 100,000, that's 4 GP per person per year. Honestly, trivial. Modest living expenses are just 1 GP per day. Even a Poor person could afford the 3.5 SP per month. Even if you add a 25% inflation to maximize the cleric's spell slots (raising a full 730 instead of 575), that still only increases it to 5 GP per person per year.

Next we figure that the top and bottom 10% aren't paying for this. The bottom 10% can't afford even this small amount, and the top 10% are paying for something better.

Population covered by 1 cleric with Raise Dead: 100,000 (1 in 2.5 clerics between levels 9 and 11)

Clerics with Resurrection are 1/8 as common, and clerics with True Resurrection are 1/16 as common again. Add those multipliers to the cost.

Non-rich = 80% of 100,000 = 80,000. 17.2 deaths per 1000 = 1,376 deaths. 1/3 are raisable = 459 Raise Dead. 550 GP per cast = 252,450 GP. Spread over 80,000 population = 3.15 GP per person per year.

Rich = 9.9% of 100,000 = 9,900. 17.2 deaths per 1000 = 170 deaths. 1/3 are raisable = 57 Resurrection. 1200*8 = 9600 GP per cast = 547,200 GP. Spread over 9,900 population = 55.3 GP per person per year.

-- However, because of the lower population of clerics that can cast Resurrection, it ends up being limited to fewer than 100 casts per year, for a population of 100,000. That means the costs have to go up til only the top ~5% are paying for it.

Ultra-rich = 0.1% of 100,000 = 100. 17.2 deaths per 1000 = 2 deaths. 1/3 are raisable = 1 True Resurrection. 26,000*8*16 = 3,328,000 per cast = 3,328,000 GP. Spread over 100 population = 33,280 per person per year.

-- More likely, pay 5,000 GP per year to have a cleric with True Resurrection on hand, and a reasonable guarantee of prompt revival, with an additional immediate cost of 25,000 for the diamonds per resurrection.

-- Thus, the Rich rate gets scaled to 500 GP per year (1/10 should drop from 0.1% to 5%), plus 1000 GP per incident.

-- And to keep the prices in a neat line, the non-rich have the price rounded up to 5 GP per year.

Poor: Nothing
Normals (Raise Dead): 5 GP per person per year.
Rich (Resurrection): 500 GP per person per year, plus 1000 GP per incident.
Ultra-rich (True Resurrection): 5,000 GP per person per year, plus 25,000 GP per incident.


Impact

First, the vast majority of the population can reasonably expect resurrection services for accidental and general harm-caused deaths. This also cures some diseases. There's enough wiggle room that it still works even if the rezzable death rate is higher. If it's substantially higher, there's enough money coming in that extra clerics can be motivated to sign up for the job.

People will quickly come to expect this to be a normal standard. Accidental death simply isn't a 'real' threat (though still scary and painful and to be avoided) when you're almost guaranteed to be back up and about within a week. The threats are things that 'break' Raise Dead: a lost arm won't be replaced; decapitation means you can't be raised at all; a necromancer raising your corpse is desecration, as that also means you can't be raised. Though people in the higher tiers have protection against some or all of those. Also: wars and plagues can kill too many people in too short a time for this program to be effective. Those become more worrisome threats for common people.

This also drops a lot of power into the churches' laps, as they are likely the ones who will be keeping these types of records. After all, you need to know who's paid up, and which tier of service they get. Which in turn leads to corruption. A petty bureaucrat who "loses" your tax registration records? That's terrifying for many. Lots of bribery probably crops up.

What about travel? If you go to another city, how do they know that you're paid up? Probably need some sort of personal papers/amulet/whatever that you can carry on you to prove your standing, though that, in turn, becomes a target for theft. Also kind of hard to provide it to the police officer when you're dead. A magical brand? Seems more reasonable.

It also opens up trade war leverage between countries. If Country A refuses to acknowledge the Raise Brands of Country B, or accuses them of killing people in Country A's territory in order to drain their Raise resources, things can get ugly. Who has control of the best diamond supply chain?

There aren't enough clerics to support a war effort, but wartime will almost certainly follow the guideline of "always decapitate the enemy to be sure he's dead, and won't show up on the battlefield again the next day". This bends the standard practice of combat styles. It also does interesting things to "To the death!" style duels.

Assassination attempts will follow similar patterns, though the assassin might just chop a leg off at the knee to torment you when you do eventually get raised. Nobility starts buying magic items that specifically protect against decapitation. Assassins go for anti-magic to neutralize those items, or magical poisons. The arms race continues.

Which swings all the way back to the original hostage situation. How is it a threat? Well, spur-of-the-moment hostage-taking probably won't have many options, but someone with some prep work can threaten to decapitate the victim and throw the body into a swamp. Maybe have a necromancer on call to raise the body and send the shambling corpse back into town to terrorize her relatives. Without True Resurrection, you aren't getting that person back. For those at the very top, you simply don't kill them; instead you go for imprisonment and torture, keeping them alive until their minds break.

In a direct standoff, unless you have a means of disposing of the body, wounding becomes more valuable than killing. A lost arm or leg can cripple in a way that a knife through the heart can't. Killing the damsel may not matter, but cutting up her face might. That might even explain those who seem to accumulate an excessive number of scars. Standing still is definitely not the way to escape punishment. In fact, even being killed doesn't necessarily mean escaping punishment.

Threats are not, "I will kill you!", but, "I will kill you and destroy or desecrate your body, or leave your body in hostile territory, where they won't resurrect you!" Blackmail is, "I will get your name removed from the resurrection records!" Losing family status or being disinherited can mean not only the normal loss of face, money, or power, but also loss of access to the higher tiers of resurrection. You have to live with the scars and dismemberments, and losing your head can actually end you.

And how does that change the perspective of penalties for killing? Permakilling is obviously different than a normal kill. Is there actually Adventurer Insurance? Are adventurers expected to pay fines if their actions increase the local death rate? Are higher insurance premiums a greater motivation to hunt down murderhobo adventurers than merely handling the deaths they cause?


So, there are lots of implications of taking Raise Dead all the way to its conclusion, and they don't always mesh with real-world expectations. But they definitely change the dynamic of how characters interact with the world.

[1] I am aware that several people feel that this number is too high, and I actually agree. See further posts in this thread for thoughts on how to approach this figure.
 
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Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels deal with this. (I believe they were inspired by a D&D campaign.)

For the rich, death is typically an inconvenience. In fact, crime bosses will sometimes have assassins kill someone simply as a warning, "I can get to you anytime".

There are also ways of keeping someone permanently dead, in those cases where you want to end them permanently. Taking a vital piece of the target (head, heart, etc) is the easiest, though if it can be recovered in time they can be brought back. Another option is for a sorcerer to place a spell on the person to prevent their resurrection, in which case the sorcerer must usually be located and convinced to lift the spell. Finally, there are illegal, reviled weapons known as Morganti blades that will devour a person's soul. There's basically no coming back from that, but being caught possessing such a weapon is a very serious offense.
 

werecorpse

Explorer
Add to the raising capacity multiple castings of Gentle Repose effectively extends the time limit for raising indefinitely so
A. if someone can get to the body inside a minute (paramedics?) and cast gentle repose on it then they can use the cheaper & much more common revivify spell to return; &
B Bodies can be kept “on ice” indefinitely via multiple gentle reposes while arrangements for payment or legal inheritance arguments are explored.
 
A few things to consider:
  • unless your world has mercenary priesthoods, most won't cast such spells for non-members of their faith
  • rich people who die are unlikely to have relatives willing to pay for it (especially in lieu of their inheritance)
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Add to the raising capacity multiple castings of Gentle Repose effectively extends the time limit for raising indefinitely so
A. if someone can get to the body inside a minute (paramedics?) and cast gentle repose on it then they can use the cheaper & much more common revivify spell to return; &
B Bodies can be kept “on ice” indefinitely via multiple gentle reposes while arrangements for payment or legal inheritance arguments are explored.
Interesting idea, but I don't think it would work well outside niche cases. Revivify costs 300 GP, and, unless you're very lucky about who's nearby when you die, a scroll of Gentle Repose costs 250 GP to make (p.133 of Xanathar's). Together that puts them at basically the same cost as a standard Raise Dead. So there's a "Why bother?" element to it.

Still, Gentle Repose works great for dealing with any spikes in the numbers. The cleric already has some slack in his schedule, so pushing some corpses down the road a week or two means it's easy to work around bursts of deaths.
 

Galandris

Adventurer
Great post!

Some nitpicks....


Then if we figure 1/10th of all adventurers are clerics, and 1/10th of the adult population is adventurers, and 2/3 of the entire population is adults, we're at 1 in 40,000 population is a cleric who can cast Raise Dead. We'll also say that only 1 in 2.5 clerics in that level range are actively taking up this duty. That means each such cleric covers a population spread of 100,000.
I'd say 1 person in 10 having adventurer class levels is a lot. I'd expect 90% of the population to be Commoners, 9% to be of other NPC class (no cleric, but acolytes and priest NPC) and 1% have adventurer levels. It would all depends on how exceptional adventurers are in your world.

Then, I'd also nitpick about the 2/3 of the world population being adults. According to the world bank Population ages 0-14 (% of total population) | Data we passed this threshhold in the real word in 1985. In a world before demographic transition (and easily available contraception), and with lower life expectancy (as it would be before the cleric started their plan to ward off death) population was much younger. You mentionned 1900 as a reference year, in the US the part of children under 15 was 40% of the population. I didn't check for middle ages age composition, but a 50% ratio could be used as well. Taking these two assumptions, the ratio would be 1 resurrector cleric in a 600,000 population. He would be able to raise 730 out of 10,332 people dying. A significant impact (since he would focus on accidental death, but less than the results you calculated.

Besides, there is another significant drawback to your insurance scheme: raise dead states that "If the creature's soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.". Adventurers are willing to go back, but what about the other? Depending on the religion and cosmogony, you might not want that. Suppose you're playing in a world where people expect to go to a Heaven-like place where they die... would they want to stop that process during the 10 day when they are "raisable" or reach their final destination of eternal happiness? Especially if the journey is like going toward the light with family members calling you toward the end... (OK, if evil people are going to Hell, they might want to think twice on that...) If casting raise dead fails most of the time, the cleric will be less willing to spend his time casting the spell (twice a day, for one hour apiece, 7 days a week with no holiday... he's going to feel more like a factory drone than the highest level cleric of the city...)

To be fair, I'll scale the 11% up to a full 25%. Factoring in a vastly higher rate of infant mortality (as was the case pre-1800's), perhaps even up to a 33% rate. That means a total of 575 relevant deaths per year, which is within the range of what the cleric can cast.
Being the mean DM I am, I'd rule babies and stillborn can't be raised. They lack the will and knowledge to make the informed choice of leaving their normal path to the afterlife to accept being raised.

Honestly, trivial. Modest living expenses are just 1 GP per day. Even a Poor person could afford the 3.5 SP per month. Even if you add a 25% inflation to maximize the cleric's spell slots (raising a full 730 instead of 575), that still only increases it to 5 GP per person per year.
Saving power could be less than what you calculated. Numerous debates occured on this topic, especially to determine what is covered by the living expenses, but for example, since a skilled (not everyone is skilled) NPC can be hired for 1 gp a day, said NPC has a net gain of at most 1 GP per working day (and quite possibly less), thus not being able to afford a modest lifestyle. Even if he could, his saving power could be nonexistant. It is quite possible, though, that the mere presence of high level clerics is enough to ward off untimely death among the rich.

Provided they are willing to come back.

There aren't enough clerics to support a war effort, but wartime will almost certainly follow the guideline of "always decapitate the enemy to be sure he's dead, and won't show up on the battlefield again the next day". This bends the standard practice of combat styles. It also does interesting things to "To the death!" style duels.
This... If raising dead is a known and common practice (a situation of mugh higher fantasy than most settings), I'd expect desecration to be a standard practice after applying the death sentence.

Without True Resurrection, you aren't getting that person back. For those at the very top, you simply don't kill them; instead you go for imprisonment and torture, keeping them alive until their minds break.
Or you go to high magic solutions : magic jar the soul to prevent resurrection. Specific spells would be developped to that endeavour (if you have married the heiress of the Kingdom of X, the last thing you want is to have her big borther to be raised from the dead and reclaim his crown. You have all the resources of the Kingdom of X at your disposal to ensure that.

So, there are lots of implications of taking Raise Dead all the way to its conclusion, and they don't always mesh with real-world expectations. But they definitely change the dynamic of how characters interact with the world.
Indeed. Prevalent high magic is difficult to fathom. Especially since society as a whole wouldn't develop following models we can even relate to.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
unless your world has mercenary priesthoods, most won't cast such spells for non-members of their faith
Not even for.... /does quick math... 3 million gold per year? Even if I scale down the costs for Resurrection (because that provides an inordinate amount of the profit), it's still easily 1.5 million gold per year — for an area with a population of 100,000. A large city with a million people could easily split things up among several different temples and still rake in the money. A little cross-licensing among the temples and everyone can be happy.

rich people who die are unlikely to have relatives willing to pay for it (especially in lieu of their inheritance)
Which makes politics among the upper crust far more of a delicate balancing act. An interesting conundrum to toss into the pot of a social intrigue game.
 

aco175

Adventurer
A lot of math that makes sense to me. Not sure if my players would want to play a math cleric with a business background though.

Another thought would be on the diamond cost. Why diamonds? Why wouldn't something else work, like ruby or emeralds. Is this just something in the old system of components from older editions.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
Being the mean DM I am, I'd rule babies and stillborn can't be raised. They lack the will and knowledge to make the informed choice of leaving their normal path to the afterlife to accept being raised.
A typo on my part. I meant child mortality — any death under the age of 5. Under the age of 1-2, I'd agree, but I'm not fine-tuning it that much.

I'd say 1 person in 10 having adventurer class levels is a lot. I'd expect 90% of the population to be Commoners, 9% to be of other NPC class (no cleric, but acolytes and priest NPC) and 1% have adventurer levels. It would all depend on how exceptional adventurers are in your world.
This is actually an interesting question. It came up in a question about the use of Plant Growth by druids, and how much that could affect the agricultural community. If a kingdom makes solid use of that, it drastically shifts the population towards urbanization, which in turn shifts towards more non-commoners.

Still, the adventuring population probably is much lower than 10% per small town, but I'm not sure how to gauge it in large cities. There's plenty of thieves (rogue class), soldiers (fighter class), and others. In the outlands you have entire barbarian tribes. Etc.

I figured 10% is a reasonable number when factoring in retirees who decided a home to return to each day was more important than risking their lives for gold, but it's certainly subject to debate.

Then, I'd also nitpick about the 2/3 of the world population being adults. According to the world bank Population ages 0-14 (% of total population) | Data we passed this threshhold in the real word in 1985. In a world before demographic transition (and easily available contraception), and with lower life expectancy (as it would be before the cleric started their plan to ward off death) population was much younger.
Another interesting point. In modern times, the percentage peaked in the 1960's, at 36% — roughly 1/3 children to 2/3 adult. But that's with high post-war birth rates and approaching minimal death rates, so yes, the percentage of the population that are children is going to max out.

As for historical data, I'm having a harder time finding numbers. Yes, the average lifespan was much lower, but the child mortality rate was astronomical (40%-45% as a pretty stable rate prior to 1840). As such, I expect that to roughly balance out in terms of percentage of the population that are children.

Modern ratios vary between 13% (Japan) and 44% (Nigeria). Hmm.

Census data: https://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/censr-4.pdf
At the beginning of the century, half of the U.S. population was less than 22.9 years old.
That puts an upper limit for the 50% population mark: about 23 years old. If the population is evenly distributed across those 23 years, then 65% of the 50% are 15 years old or lower, which works out to 33% of the overall population. So the 2/3 adult figure still seems like a good estimate, assuming you take 15 years old as the dividing line (which I was kinda vaguely assuming).

Also (from page 56):
The proportion of the U.S. population that was underage 15 declined more than the proportion of any other broad age group. At the beginning of the century, 1 out of every 3 people was under age 15 years. By 2000, only 1 of every 5 people was under age 15.
Which seems reasonable enough to work with.

Besides, there is another significant drawback to your insurance scheme: raise dead states that "If the creature's soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.". Adventurers are willing to go back, but what about the other?
For this, I basically assumed that the unwilling had already been culled by only assuming 1/3 of all deaths were being raised. It could be lower, but the mindset that allows for universal resurrection means that most people really shouldn't have an issue with it.

Saving power could be less than what you calculated. Numerous debates occured on this topic, especially to determine what is covered by the living expenses, but for example, since a skilled (not everyone is skilled) NPC can be hired for 1 gp a day, said NPC has a net gain of at most 1 GP per working day (and quite possibly less), thus not being able to afford a modest lifestyle. Even if he could, his saving power could be nonexistant. It is quite possible, though, that the mere presence of high level clerics is enough to ward off untimely death among the rich.
Typo: Skilled hireling gets 2 GP per day. So a modest lifestyle with 1 extra gold per day, or a comfortable lifestyle with no extra gold per day.

There's definitely going to be budget juggling going on, but since the numbers in the book are at best vague guidelines (because not everyone is going to be earning exactly the same amount of money), I figured it was "close enough". The high end of 5 GP per year is less than 5 SP (silver pieces) per month, which should mostly be a rounding error even at the modest lifestyle.

Taking these two assumptions, the ratio would be 1 resurrector cleric in a 600,000 population. He would be able to raise 730 out of 10,332 people dying. A significant impact (since he would focus on accidental death, but less than the results you calculated.
For this, I'll have to go back and redo the numbers, thinking more about the viable limits rather than hard values. I already redid the numbers twice, and found errors each time, so I won't be surprised I made another error somewhere.
 
Not even for.... /does quick math... 3 million gold per year? Even if I scale down the costs for Resurrection (because that provides an inordinate amount of the profit), it's still easily 1.5 million gold per year — for an area with a population of 100,000. A large city with a million people could easily split things up among several different temples and still rake in the money. A little cross-licensing among the temples and everyone can be happy.
He does have a point, although it depends on the particulars.

In a world like Eberron, where the existence of gods is debatable, it should work fine. Human greed is a perfectly reasonable motivator. Similar for the Taltos novels, where there is no divine/arcane divide, and therefore most of those raising the dead are actually sorcerers.

On the other hand, in a world with proven gods, it could very well be an issue. Not all deities would necessarily approve of death as a revolving door. Extravagant wealth is typically the domain of one or two deities, and they generally don't have domain over death. Pelor probably is not going to be okay with his priesthood bringing back an evil mobster, regardless of whether he can pay. The Raven Queen is even less likely to be amused by the idea of mortals easily cheating her. Tiamat might be cool with the idea, but it's valid to question whether she can even do so if the goddess of death opposes her, and even if she can she may be risking a divine war by doing so. A million gold probably isn't sufficient compensation if it means that an irate avatar of the Raven Queen could show up at any time at the temple and smite those priests for their temerity.
 

MarkB

Legend
There's still that pesky "soul must be free and willing to return" clause. If someone's gone on to the realms of Elysium, do they want to go back to mortality? And if they're in the Hells or the Abyss, will their tormentors let them go?

This whole gig only works as a life insurance system if it provides consistent results. If people are spending out 500gp for merely a possibility of successful resurrection, it becomes a lot less viable.
 
I'm Galandris in thinking that 10% of the population being adventurers is off by an order of magnitude. I've always thought of adventurers being pretty special. The vast, VAST majority of people would be commoners, and nearly all the rest NPCs (with the usual, lesser stat-blocks that come with that - though possibly a few capable of the ritual. A very few.)

I agree that Clerics would be more common than many other classes, but still... I think you wind up with FAR, far less people being able to cast Raise Dead than your math suggests. (I also think that the number of clerics of level 10 and 11 would be drastically lower when compared to lower levels).
 

the Jester

Legend
Given your assumptions, you make a good case. However, I have to point out a couple of things.

First, any stats on cause of death in the modern world are going to be out of line with those in a D&D setting, where you not only have magic and monsters as potential causes of death, but you haven't got things like vaccinations, cars, or firearms. OTOH, you have magical healing, and weapons are typically far more prevalent and worn just about everywhere in a D&D setting compared to the modern world. But this is just a quibble.

But my real objection is this: you assume infinite diamonds. Except for revivify, the raise dead spells consume their components. In my campaign, the pcs have actually used up all the diamonds in their home city.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
I agree that Clerics would be more common than many other classes, but still... I think you wind up with FAR, far less people being able to cast Raise Dead than your math suggests. (I also think that the number of clerics of level 10 and 11 would be drastically lower when compared to lower levels).
Well, for the levels 9-11, I'm already at 0.35% of all clerics, so I'm working at a tiny fraction of all clerics. Definitely much, much less than the number of low-level clerics. Note that the numbers scale such that 97% of all clerics (or any other class) never make it past level 5.

I'm Galandris in thinking that 10% of the population being adventurers is off by an order of magnitude. I've always thought of adventurers being pretty special. The vast, VAST majority of people would be commoners, and nearly all the rest NPCs (with the usual, lesser stat-blocks that come with that - though possibly a few capable of the ritual. A very few.)
The more I think about it, the more I agree that it's too high a number. For scale:

A town of 500-1000 might have one to three adventuring parties. This does not seem unreasonable. Having 10 adventuring parties is way too many for such a small community.

A small city of 10,000 could have a couple dozen adventuring parties. It wouldn't have hundreds of adventuring parties.

So on that end of things, 1% definitely seems more reasonable. But that still leaves the question of how many adventurers have retired to normal jobs? What is the rate that adventurers leave that specialized population?

The metrics I'm using have half the adventuring population drop out every year — sometimes through death, sometimes through retirement. Basically, given a stable 1% of the population being adventurers, 0.5% of the population transitions from normal to adventurer each year, while 0.25% moves back from adventurer to normal. The difference either continue advancing as an adventurer, or die off.

Most of that 0.25% each year are going to survive for long periods of time, just like anyone else. If you start adventuring around the ages of 15-30, you probably drop out in your 20's or 30's. With a life expectancy of even 50 to 60, that's 30 years of accumulated dropouts that are fairly likely to still be around. At 0.25% per year, that's 7.5% of the population that's likely a retired adventurer, though I could see that dropping down to 5% just from normal death rates.

So I end up with 1% of active adventurers, and 5% of retired adventurers. There might be more than 5% retired, but the 5% is something I'm fairly confident about. This is actually a useful division, since active adventurers are unlikely to be working the resurrection job, so I can just work from the 5% number alone.

So: 5% (retired adventurers) * 10% (cleric proportion) * 0.0035% (level filter) * 50% (chance of accepting job) = 1/115,000.

A population of 115,000 would have an annual death rate of 1,978, of which 659 are assumed to be rezzable. So we don't have as much wiggle room, but it's still within the boundaries of viability. The upper limit of viability would be 1 rez cleric per population of 125,000.

Is it reasonable to think that there are at least 8 clerics capable of casting Raise Dead in a city of 1 million? Personally I don't think it feels out of line, but it's certainly something that could be argued.


There's still that pesky "soul must be free and willing to return" clause. If someone's gone on to the realms of Elysium, do they want to go back to mortality? And if they're in the Hells or the Abyss, will their tormentors let them go?

This whole gig only works as a life insurance system if it provides consistent results. If people are spending out 500gp for merely a possibility of successful resurrection, it becomes a lot less viable.
It certainly doesn't work if most of the population is adamant about getting to the afterlife. It just doesn't feel like that sort of population would work out very well as a civilization, particularly with respect to accidental deaths or deaths by injury or stupidity. Likewise for children.

As for the "possibility" of success, well, that really depends on the person being resurrected, doesn't it? If they definitely don't want to be rezzed, then they shouldn't be paying in the first place. If the success rate is low, then, yeah, the entire plan fizzles. And that would certainly explain the lack of common use of those spells, if that were the case.

But still...
 

Kinematics

Explorer
How much does it cost per day to live a wealthy lifestyle?
4 GP per day, or about 1500 GP per year. An aristocratic lifestyle has a minimum of 10 GP per day, or 3650 GP per year.

First, any stats on cause of death in the modern world are going to be out of line with those in a D&D setting, where you not only have magic and monsters as potential causes of death, but you haven't got things like vaccinations, cars, or firearms. OTOH, you have magical healing, and weapons are typically far more prevalent and worn just about everywhere in a D&D setting compared to the modern world. But this is just a quibble.
Note that I'm using stats from 1900, where vaccines and cars and such aren't a factor. It is a point where child mortality rates had started to go down compared to historical levels, though (sitting at about 36%, compared to 40%+ for pretty much everything pre-1860).

But yeah, there are tons of other things that I just have no way to model.

But my real objection is this: you assume infinite diamonds. Except for revivify, the raise dead spells consume their components. In my campaign, the pcs have actually used up all the diamonds in their home city.
Definitely a real concern. Google tells me the world of the Forgotten Realms has a population of 68,000,000. That population would burn through 400,000 diamonds per year.

My own estimations of the equivalence between GP and real world money would estimate a 500 GP diamond to be about 2 carats. So we need 800,000 carats of diamonds.

Google again tells me:
According to Bain & Company, about 133 million carats of rough diamonds are produced each year.
So with modern tech, we produce just about as many carats of diamonds (after cutting) as might be needed each year for resurrections. Getting that much in a fantasy setting seems... unlikely.

Dumb math brain. 133 mil, not 1.33 mil. With that scale, if the fantasy world can mine even 1% of what the modern world can, then it's feasible.
 
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jsaving

Adventurer
I'm not sure "being willing to come back" would be as much of an issue as some are saying. Those who are evil would almost certain want to return because even a tough world would beat where they ended up, whereas those who are good would almost certainly feel a duty to return so they can help their friends and family handle a tough world.

A more serious issue is our thread from last year which found that perhaps 1 in 10,000 people are likely to be adventurers, rather than the 1 in 10 assumed here. If you change that assumption, how much less affordable does resurrection become?
 

Galandris

Adventurer
Level 10ish characters are in the "national heroes" league. How many national heroes does the United States currently have? Do you think there are 300 millions * 1 in 115 000 = 2600 clerics (you can lump doctor with church leaders) that would have this level of notoriety to be acknowledged as nationwide heroes? My country is supposed to have 565 of them and I'd have trouble naming even one...

The assumption that half of each population of hero reaches the next level could be too ambitious. I'd wager that most (95%)people with class level take part in ONE adventure in their life (and it becomes the story the whole village is speaking about, when Steve the Local Hero charged at the three terrorists and disarmed them before they could shoot people), a few might have several but very few would be consistently having adventures and gain XP. Among them, the "one in two" rule could stand... but the availability of clerics would be significantly less if you had 0.05*0.05*0.05 as the proportion of people going through level 1-3 before switching to 1 in 2.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
Hopefully there is no such precise math about population in the DM guide.
of course I understand the temptation of doing « global sandboxing » of the world,
but doing so may mess up things more than it helps.
For me, basic rules is enough.
A major temple is run by a high priest, and a high priest is at least level 9.
A minor temple is run by a priest, somewhere between level 5-8.
Level 5-8 guys are confirmed professionals in their field of business, while level 9+ are elite, and 17+ hall of fame guys.
base on those simple rules you can solve any situations.
 

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