Resurrection . . .

The topic popping up in a recent thread made me curious: does anybody like resurrection in fantasy games?

I’ve always thought this was a pretty strange, unthematic element to include in D&D et al. Heroes engaging in necromancy? Say what? And said necromancy turning out just spiffy? It’s not even supposed to go well for Fluffy the Kitty!


Resurrection cheapens the experience for me too. If you’ll allow, I will expand the scope of the discussion to include all fiction, not just games. Whenever a character comes back to life, part of me is glad, of course, but another part feels somehow robbed, because the emotions I felt when the character died were for nothing. And this happens no matter how good the reasons for bringing the character back were, no matter how heavy it was foreshadowed. Two obvious examples (edit: added spoiler tags, thanks @gridshadow):

  • Gandalf coming back to life. Yes, I know, he was one of the Istari, his mission wasn’t over yet, etc. But “Fly, you fools!” would be an even more iconic moment if not for his comeback.

  • Jon Snow coming back to life. This one was made even cheaper by how insistently it was foreshadowed up until then in the books.

B…but wait a second. My main hero is a necromancer…

i personally don’t mind resurrection all that much, but i feel like it needs to have more consequences at the very least … the way it is handled in D&D feels too cheap, basically it is pay x gold bring somebody back to life …

I have mixed feelings about resurrection. It’s a good “get out of jail free” type card, to correct bad luck, but on the other hand - dead should be dead for the reasons @vic mentions.

If the system doesn’t have automatic death when you reach zero then you already have that (I always like the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay system, once you hit zero you start rolling on tables with negatives for how far under zero you were, with results ranging from “dropped weapon”, to “negatives due to wound x”, to “lost arm/leg”, to pretty graphic descriptions of death at the most extreme).

I can’t remember now, but didn’t resurrection/raise dead spells in some versions at least used to have a level drain component.

This really should be in spoiler tags :wink: Or at least the second point should be for all of us who decided to stop watching the show after a few seasons because they preferred to wait for some time next century when George R. R. Martin finally finishes writing Winds of Winter (although, admittedly, not really a spoiler - so terribly foreshadowed and obvious).

Edited to add spoiler tag, to quote that @vic added spoiler (I was joking!, neither are really spoilers now). I wonder if we can keep this edit circle going? Also, I owe H a beer tonight.

First, please add a disclaimer if you link to somthing noisy like that. for those of us sitting in a lecture^^
That said I’m with @Resil. Necromancers can be heroes too! :slight_smile:

It’s a youtube link. You were expecting?


level drain used to be a thing yes … but not anymore in 5th edition

Ok, suddenly realised I had my 2nd edition and 3.5 player’s handbooks in reach, and I was right - for raise dead in 3.5:

The subject of the spell loses one level (or 1 Hit Die) when it is raised,… If the subject is 1st level, it loses 2 points of Constitution instead. … loss cannot be repaired by any means.

In 2nd its only 1 point CON but you have to make a survival check to actually succeed in being raised.

Wait, was that the one who heroically loosed an abomination from the underworld on us?

See, that was great. It’s supposed to go horribly wrong.

Thats a shame, their should be sensible penalties to make you consider just rolling a new character.

Mmm … possibly.

Hmm. I feel we have an abuse of admin rights going on here.

Make that two beers.

Could be. I suspect Neil.

I think this is a pointless discussion - like so many others cause there won’t be a specific outcome other than ‘It should have consequences’.

In videogames resurrection/respawning is often a vital part of gameplay and it often depends on the game mechanics wether or not that will help or hinder the enjoyment.

I don’t share the ‘all the feelings I had over his/her death were pointless cause he/she came back’ though.
Usually stories that can’t deliver that in a convincing fashion already have different / more problems anyway.

Same goes for Jon Snow. The whole storyline of Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion is basically there to inject the idea of resurrection via a red priest(ess). There has been a lot of discussion about that, equally over Jon Snow’s parentage. And people complaining about it being so cheesy/obvious/whatever. Well sometimes stories hint at things some time beforehand, and you shouldn’t be complaining if that’s just actually happening later on. Stories don’t need 500 twists to be good.
Same goes for Gandalf. His resurrection helps the story and his death actually just gave him a level up.

I often times find it to be a ‘bonding’ experience when a PC dies but luckily gets resurrected in time.
At the same time it can totally suck if someone’s coming back after maybe 90 minutes of trying to save him in a movie but failing at the task, and then all was for nothing. But - as I mentioned before - the whole thing was pointless anyway, and not just that part of the story.

It all comes down to the overall story, the GM/writer/director/etc…

If you’ve got a problem with resurrection I suggest playing DarkSouls or SuperMeatBoy with just one life OR watching Groundhog Day. :grin:

Sorry, disagree with the discussions are pointless point of view.

The videogame analogy is a bit flawed, though, isn’t it? Respawning generally occurs at a level seperate from the in-game fiction; in RPGs it’s a part of the story.

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Right, that’s it, I’m invoking the only spell more powerful than resurrection:

@Neil @Neil @Neil

Right, that should sort the admin abuse :grin:

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Agree to disagree. I just think that since this discussion will have no real outcome it’ll be pointless

As with everything else: it depends. But usually no not flawed at all. You respawn and you keep going. Totally ruins any experience/story for you if you dislike things like that in general

(Imagining gridshadow reaching for tongue of newt and drawing a chalk pentagram.)

I realise that I said “terribly foreshadowed and obvious” concerning the GOT discussion, maybe that’s bad phrasing (it was obvious but in keeping with the setting).

I feel my tastes have changed for this. Once upon a time I liked the hero/whatever being resurrected, I think I’m just into more “realistic” fantasy now (to use another bad phrase, after all fantasy shouldn’t be realistic anyway).

But as you say, it’s all personal opinion and taste.