Dying sucks! You spend all that time and effort developing an interesting character that you know as well as (or possibly better) than your real life friends and in one roll of the dice he’s killed. This might be an untimely crit by the DM, a poor saving throw, or failed jump check. Regardless of how it happened, dying sucks. Now you’ve got to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new character concept. Of course the other option is to find a way to bring the deceased character back to life.
Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. This year we’ve decided that every article will provide our readers with new adventure hooks. Today’s “R” is for resurrection which is timely since today is Easter Monday.
The folks at Wizards understand that no one enjoys having their favourite character die. So to make the gaming experience more enjoyable and fun there are resurrection rules built right into the game. Through powerful magic the surviving party members can bring a fallen hero back to life, usually by calling on a deity or other being of greater power.
Resurrection isn’t supposed to be something that happens often or easily. Some parties spend multiple levels searching for the secrets of how to resurrect someone they love or someone important to the game world. When PCs play with the powers over life and death there should be a heavy toll and serious consequences. Keep that in mind the next time you use resurrection as an adventure hook.
Adventure Hooks: Resurrection
1. Bait and Switch
One of the caveats of resurrection is that the soul must be willing to return. The idea is that you can’t force someone back to life if they don’t want to come back. This presupposes that the soul or essence of the character in questions now resides somewhere else. What if the intended soul is somehow tricked into allowing another soul to return in his place? Maybe the opportunistic soul somehow catches a ride back into the new body along side the original soul. Now the body has two souls fighting for dominance or a completely foreign soul in the body. In either circumstance how will the spellcaster, the party, and those who knew the resurrected character know that the soul inhabiting the body isn’t the one they expect.
2. Man Out of Time
When the PCs find themselves on the losing side of a war someone has the crazy idea to resurrect a long dead war hero. This hero was a tactical genius and if he was here he’d know how to use the limited resources at hand to ensure victory. When the hero of days gone by is resurrected he does what he’s asked and revels in the chance to lead soldiers again. But once the fighting’s stopped he realizes that he’s alone. Everyone and everything he knew in life have long since passed away. What does he do now? How does he react? If battle is the only thing familiar to him does he start another war just to feel useful and needed? Any DM who’s read Captain America comics or is a fan of the Marvel movies should be able work with this hook.
3. Resurrecting Your Greatest Enemy
After a long and hard campaign that spans many levels the PCs finally defeat their greatest nemesis. But as they celebrate the fact that this villain won’t ever hurt anyone else ever again a startling discovery is made – they desperately need information that only the villain knew. Attempts to pry the information from his remains using speak with dead are futile. The only way to get what they need is to resurrect him. Doing so will bring a monster back into the world, but not doing so will have devastating consequences. Do the PCs do it? What sort of deal are they willing to make once he’s brought back to life to learn what they need to know? DMs should be very mindful of the PCs’ alignment and strongly discourage tactics like resurrecting him and then slaying him again on the spot. Wasn’t his first execution suitable punishment for his original crimes?
4. Monster Resurrection
The PCs receive a strange message after they are involved with a resurrection (maybe a party member was revived or they were part of a quest to gather components so an important NPC could be resurrected). The message asks them to come to a secluded area outside of the town. If they go they find a Dragon (or some other legendary monster). The creature asks the PCs if they would resurrect his mate who was slain a century earlier. He’s willing to offer any payment the PCs deem appropriate. Are the PCs willing to perform such powerful magic on a monster? Doing what the Dragon asks would leave it beholden to the PCs – is that sufficient motivation to perform the spell? Assuming a divine PC is performing the spell, would his deity grant such a request?
5. I Want My Stuff Back
As the PCs advance through the levels they go on numerous quests to fantastic locations, battle many monsters, and find plenty of lost treasures. One day another adventuring party meets up with the PCs and requests that they return what they’ve stolen. The PCs realize these strangers are referring to specific magic items recovered from the lairs of dangerous monsters. The NPCs explain that these items belonged to them before they were killed. They have since been resurrected and want their stuff back. What if the people requesting the items have the power of law, military rank, or royalty behind them to back up their claim?