21

Death & Resurrection

There are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. Throughout their career, adventurers face danger and destruction at every turn—and sometimes, not everyone is lucky enough to make it back to town alive.

This chapter sets out the Dying condition, persistent death saves, funerals, and revised rules for resurrection.

Dying

In falling to 0 hit points, you gain the Dying condition. This condition ends if you regain any hit points.

Dying

Condition

  • You drop whatever you're holding and fall prone.
  • You can't move, take actions, or use reactions.
  • You're aware of what's happening 15 ft around you.
  • You can speak a maximum of two words per round.
  • Attack rolls against you have advantage.
  • You automatically fail STR/DEX saving throws.
  • You must make a death saving throw at the start of your turn. If you fail three times, you die.
  • GM:The drow's hooked blade tears into you, Krazak, dealing 13 points of slashing damage.
  • Krazak:Down to 0 hp—damn, I'm dying here.
  • GM:Ravna looms over you with a sadistic smile. "Any last words, dwarf, before I send you to the grave?"
  • Krazak:Screw. You.
  • GM:"Two words well spent," sneers Ravna.

Death Saving Throws

When you are dying, you must make a death saving throw at the start of your turn—if you fail three death saving throws, you die. Roll a d20 and check the table below to see what happens to you:

Death Saving Throw

d20 Outcome
01 You fail two death saving throws.
02-09 You fail one death saving throw.
10-19 No change.
20 You regain 1 hit point.

Persistent Saves

Death saving throws don't reset after a short rest—instead, you recover one failed death saving throw after completing a long rest. Take care to rest properly.

Taking Damage

If you are hit by any damaging attack whilst dying, you automatically fail a death saving throw. Critical damage, likewise, cause you to fail one death saving throw.

If you take any damage whilst at 0 hit points and stable, you regain the Dying condition.

Death

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your best just isn't good enough—all things come to an end, and your character is unfortunately no exception.

But with any luck, you fought a good fight and left the world a little less dark than when you first joined it.

Your Funeral

A corpse shouldn't be left out in the open, torn apart by birds and wild dogs—a hero deserves a hero's send-off.

If your adventuring party are able to recover your body, bury it, and throw an appropriately lavish funeral, they may buy a share of the unspent experience you had when you died—10 XP per gold spent on your funeral.

Though victorious against the drow pirate Ravna Ry'len, Krazak suffered a mortal wound and died with 460 unspent XP.

The surviving party members carry his body back to town, where they spend 46 gp on a lavish funeral—plenty of beer, food, and fire. The next day, they each take a share of Krazak's 460 XP.

Variant: Milestones

If you are using a Milestone leveling system, then consider this variant instead.

If your adventuring party are able to recover your body, bury it, and throw an appropriately lavish funeral (at least 50 gp for each of your character levels), they each gain one favor from you from beyond the grave.

Reading of the Will

You can leave a will behind to confirm who the heirs to your property are. This can be arranged in retrospect with your GM after the character's death if necessary. The reading of the will usually takes place at your funeral, or before the introduction of a new character.

This might be the last opportunity for your character to say any final words, so make the most of it.

  • GM:A gruff, dwarven priest approaches you all after the funeral, bearing Krazak's last known will.
  • Clanda:A will? Let me see that. "In the unlikely event of my death, I, Krazak the Undefeated, leave 50 gp to the church to fix that damn leaky roof. Valiant, you need all the help you can get: take my ring of protection. Viridian, you're weak as a kitten: take my amulet of health. Everything else goes to my brother, Gundren."
  • Valiant:Krazak had a brother? Huh, he never said. What else does it say?
  • Clanda:"Kill Clanda".
  • Viridian:Ah Krazak, ever the charmer.

A New Beginning

Once you've added your character's name to the graveyard, it's time to start anew with a fresh character or an elevated NPC/henchman.

There are a variety of ways to determine your starting level and wealth—choose the method that fits your game.

Starting Level

  • Same Level: Start at the same level as your old PC.
  • One Behind: Start one level lower than your old PC.
  • Accelerated 1st-Level: Start at level 1. You gain XP at twice the normal rate until you catch up to the rest of the party.

Starting Wealth

  • Inheritance: Inherit gold and starting items from your old character—whatever was passed on in your will. Your new character should be known or related to your old character in some fashion.
  • Fresh Start: Start with the same amount of gold and magic items as the poorest active character.

Resurrection

Sometimes, death is not the end. Magic is a powerful force, and with it even the dead can rise again.

Such spells are not without cost, however, and resurrection spells require the rarest of components—diamonds of a particular cut, rarity, and quality. These diamonds cannot be bought on the open market—finding one may be a whole adventure in itself.

Resurrection Spells

Spell Level Time Limit Component
Revivify 3rd 1 minute Pristine diamond
Raise Dead 5th 10 days Royal diamond
Reincarnate 5th 10 days Mystic oils
Resurrection 7th 100 years Perfect diamond
True Resurrection 9th 200 years Astral diamond

Death has a price, however—a character that has been dead for longer than a day will lose any unspent experience points when they are resurrected.

Reincarnate

The Reincarnate spell is unique in that it requires only mystic oils. Unlike rare diamonds, these oils can be bought or crafted during downtime—at a significant cost.

Variant: No Resurrections

If you want to add a sense of finality to death, use this No Resurrections variant rule.

The souls of the dead, once passed beyond the veil, can never return to the mortal plane. Resurrection spells of any kind—including wishes—have no effect.

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