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Dying is Serious (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Created By
TK-Squared (talk)
Date Created: 21st February 2009
Status: Complete
Editing: Please feel free to edit constructively!


Dying is Serious Edit

With so many various ways of resurrecting people, bringing them back to life and the old "revolving door" heaven, death has become less of a grievance in Dungeons and Dragons and just more of a parking ticket. At level 9, death takes a back seat. For the mear pittance of 5,000 gold pieces and a single lost level (which will soon be reachieved, due to the XP/ECL guidelines), you can cheat death; you're out a bit of money, but that'll soon be remedied as well, so it doesn't matter. All that matters is your body be in a decent condition. At level 13, this price rises to 10,000gp and your body doesn't even have to be in a good condition. Infact, it could just be a little piece of flesh vomitted up by the now-slain creature. Just get that to your cleric and he'll heal you up a wonder! You're back and walking again after a ten minute ritual, congratulations. Then, level 17; for the pittance of 25,000gp, you're now raised even without a body, full hit points and no level loss.

Death has lost it's meaning when the game goes beyond level 9. This mere hitch of being dead may be fine for some; but it belies the true fact of death; it's serious business. Many may not like to see their precious characters they've so become attached to die forever, they may not like it when they lose something they worked hard on, but it's that fear of permanent death that stops people from doing really stupid things, like charging in headlong to die, or get eaten by a giant flaming wildebeest with flailing tentacles of youbane.

Rez plz? Edit

To create an impact and permanent feel of death, the rules must be changed to remove certain spells and certain effects of spells. These changes are;

The removal of these easy to access spells will create that same sense of "fear" for the lives of a character that was there before level 9; death becomes far more permanent. Without a way to easily revive party members, a more "realistic" feel is given to fights and every fight has the potential to permanently end a characters life, rather than just fine them for doing something minorly stupid.

But, how do I come back to life?! Edit

In order to replace resurrection magic, spells that actually cost something greater than meager money will be used. Two spells, instead, replace the spells and previous effects; Devil's Pact and Call to the Reaper. These spells offer something non-material for the lives of another, they have a real cost to them. Devil's Pact allows someone to trade their soul for their colleague's soul by making a deal with a devil. This can put the bargainer's skills at dealing to the test to create a proper deal, but it also presents the opportunity for the Dungeon Master to easily find loopholes in the pact or manipulate it. Call to the Reaper calls forth a Reaper, a powerful entity with dominion over life and death, transcending the mere cosmology (described below). They adhere to the idea of balance between life and death, returning one person to life will cause another person to die; which can easily be used by the Dungeon Master to cause grief to the players for doing such a heavily burdened thing.


{{#set:School=Conjuration }}

Devil's Pact
Conjuration ({{#arraymap: Calling|, |x|{{#set:Subschool=x}}x}}) [{{#arraymap: Evil|, |x|Descriptor::x}}]
Level: ,|x|Level::x}}
Components: ,|z|Component::z}}
Casting time: 10 minutes
Range: Range::Touch
Target: One willing target touched.
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


You touch the target and link them to the very essence of the Nine Hells, calling upon a powerful devil; offering them the subject's soul. The target and the devil are then connected mentally for a "meeting", which is apparently an instantaneous process to anyone else watching. The devil summoned is dependent on the power of the subject and various other criteria; like race, class or alignment (but not limited to any one of these). The meeting is about making a deal between the two with the subject's soul as one half of the bargain.

The subject can bargain for:

  • A magic item worth up to 5,000 gold pieces value. This item is not created by the devil; but rather it is "acquired". The item can or cannot have a time limit on acquiring it or even the amount of time that the person holds it. This is determined during the negotiation stages.
  • The resurrection of a dead soul. This resurrection is as simple as taking the soul (forcibly if non-Evil) from it's current residence and placed into their intact dead body. The body must be suitable for living in. The raised being has 1 hit point when raised (which is nearly immediate). The raised creature loses a level or 2 points of Constitution if level 1.
  • A +5 Profane Bonus to any one skill.

The devil will attempt honour this deal to the word; although loopholes that can be exploited are fine. The devil is liable to collect the soul at any time, if no stipulation is given in the deal. The devil will own the soul of the subject and the devil's deal will be well thought-out and easily manipulatable if the subject is of a lesser intellect.

A person may only sell their soul once, the knowledge of a soul being sold is circulated to all devils powerful enough to trade for souls. Attempting to sell a soul again will summon up the same devil, which will allow for a chance for the deal to be renegotiate the deal. Renegotiating the deals for a different effect can cause people's souls to be taken back by the devil or a Reaper.

Focus: A bag of 30 silver coins.




{{#set:School=Conjuration }}

Call of the Reaper
Conjuration ({{#arraymap: Calling|, |x|{{#set:Subschool=x}}x}})
Level: ,|x|Level::x}}
Components: ,|z|Component::z}}
Casting time: 10 minutes
Range: Range::Touch
Target: Dead creature touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No


You call forth a reaper or The Reaper (depending on the current setting). A reaper is an entity with power over life and death, they transcend mortality, immortality and the cosmology itself. The spell calls the reaper to return the subject's soul to their body, unless the soul is otherwise held (through Devil's Pact, Soul Bind or similar effects). The reaper does not ask for any money nor services from those that summoned it and simply leaves, burning the gems upon the eyes upon resurrecting the subject. The soul does not have to be willing to return.

The subject body must be in decent condition. When raised, the subject loses a level or 2 points of Constitution if level 1. The subject comes back to life with 1 hit point remaining. The revival repairs the wounds that caused the death to only 1 hit point and purges any poison from the body. Otherwise, the creature still lacks any missing parts that it did previously.

The catch comes from a reaper's code; a soul for a soul. The reaper kills another being of the same race, in a way that is identical the cause of death from the subject. The being killed is completely up to the Dungeon Master; it can be a random being or it can be someone close to the subject or caster.

Material Component: A number of gems, worth 1,000gp per HD of the creature in total, placed over all the eyes of the subject.


The Reaper Edit

The Reaper is a quintessential figure in many folklore; a being that presides over death. Death, The Grim Reaper, Shinigami and so on, reapers are known by many names and they are believed to be either one being or many beings. But, for the effects of this rule, they will be described below and can be easily switched out between being multiple reapers or just a single reaper.

A reaper is a being with omniscient power over life and death. A reaper appears to collect each and every soul that dies, from the lowliest of persons to the highest of kings. They have no concept of time and can manipulate it to their own liking with ease. A reaper comes from beyond the great wheel (or any other cosmological pattern you wish to use) and are more powerful than any deities (even they have to be collected at some point).

A reaper is uncaring about mortal affairs; they have nothing to do with them. All that matters to a reaper is the balance of life and death; everyone has to die at one point and they will die at that point. The only way to change this fact of life is to switch two people's "life timers", effectively switching the time that each has to live. This is how a reaper returns a person to life; they switch the two souls out, and the being returned to life gains the "life-force" of the one who died for them. The apathy of a reaper does not mean they do not have a cruel sense of irony; mortal affairs merely amuse them and cruel jokes are a twisted form of humour that can make eternity slightly shorter (although the concept of time is lost to the all-seeing reapers). A reaper does enjoy being called; they can fully refuse to be called if needs be, there is no magical compulsion for them to aid the person calling them.

Spells that forestall the death are literally "hiding" a person from the reaper, disallowing the reaper from taking the person's soul to the respective place of afterlife.

A soul that is bound or otherwise owned by another being is out of the reaper's domain; he must deliver the soul (if it is owned) to it's owner, but a reaper cannot take the soul back from whoever rightfully owns the soul; a reaper can only revive a soul that is free, but it does not have to be willing. Mortals, especially souls, are powerful against a reaper and, if asked to, a reaper will force a soul back into it's body.

A reaper's appearance is fully mutable, they can change it at will and simply appear as they wish to, as they transcend normal abilities.


Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewVariant Rules

--TarkisFlux 17:51, January 8, 2010 (UTC)

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