Rituals of Raising  

Posted by Spenser Isdahl in ,

In the average D&D world death can be a complicated matter. At low levels, death may very well be the end of the road, but for mid- to high-level adventurers, the dead are only a spell away from life, making the obstacle of death not much different than a locked door or a pit trap. After this, however, the revived PC must deal with the resulting level loss and gap in power between him and the rest of the party. Eventually he may ‘catch up,’ but he will have to deal with a fairly significant handicap that makes him that much more likely to die again. Here is a variant to deal with these issues based on the "Ceremony" feats introduced in the Player's Handbook 2.

In this variant, not every cleric knows the secrets of death, and it may take longer to find a cleric that knows the proper rituals. Even if the party cleric knows these secrets, he must find other divine casters to lend a spell to the ritual in order to successfully guide the wayward soul back to the material plane. For those reasons, raising an ally from the dead may not always be a sure bet in a world with this variant, but adds a much more eldritch feel to meddling with the dead. However, if an ally should be brought back from the other side, he will be able to recover fully. Death is harrowing, and while at first a raised ally might seem unnaturally weak, positive energy will soon enough return to his once-dead form.

In this variant, the spells raise dead, resurrect, and true resurrection are not available. Instead, those wishing to bring the dead back to life must take the Rituals of Raising feat, described below.

Rituals of Raising [Ceremony]
You have delved into the lore of raising the dead back to life.
    Prerequisites: Knowledge (religion) 12 ranks, ability to cast prepared 5th-level divine spells.
    Benefit: You gain access to rituals based on your total ranks in Knowledge (religion):
    Raise (Knowledge [religion] 12 ranks): By burning incense and sprinkling a mixture of holy water or unholy water (as appropriate to your alignment) and crushed diamonds on a deceased creature, you restore that creature’s body to life. This ritual functions identically to the raise dead spell, except as noted. The revived creature does not suffer any level loss or Constitution loss; instead, the creature gains a number of negative levels equal to half its HD (minimum 1; thus, 1 HD creatures cannot benefit from this ritual). Every 24 hours after the character is restored to life, he may remove one negative level. These negative levels cannot be removed by any other means.
    Performing this ritual requires 5 minutes of incantation per HD of the deceased creature, a vial of holy water or unholy water, diamonds worth a total of at least 5,000 gp, and incense worth at least 500 gp. This ritual also consumes one of your prepared 5th-level divine spells, as well as one prepared 2nd-level divine spell from each of at least three other participants who must be present for the entire ritual. The effect is instantaneous.
    Resurrect (Knowledge [religion] 16 ranks): After burning incense and sprinkling a mixture of holy water or unholy water (as appropriate to your alignment) and crushed diamonds on the remains of a deceased creature, restoring that creature to life. This ritual functions identically to resurrection spell, except as noted. The deceased creature does not suffer any level loss or Constitution loss; instead, the creature gains a number of negative levels as described under the raise ritual.
    Performing this ritual requires 10 minutes of incantation per HD of the deceased creature, a vial of holy water or unholy water, diamonds worth a total of at least 10,000 gp, and incense worth at least 1,000 gp. This ritual also consumes one of your prepared 7th-level divine spells, as well as one prepared 3rd-level divine spell from each of at least five other participants who must be present for the entire ritual. The effect is instantaneous.
    True Resurrect (Knowledge [religion] 20 ranks): You have learned the most guarded secrets of resurrection. By burning incense and sprinkling a mixture of holy water or unholy water (as appropriate to your alignment) and crushed diamonds on an altar in a hallowed or unhallowed (as appropriate for your alignment) temple. This ritual produces an effect that functions identically to the true resurrection spell.
    Performing this ritual requires 20 minutes of incantation per HD of the deceased creature, a vial of holy water or unholy water, diamonds worth a total of at least 15,000 gp, and incense worth at least 1,500 gp, and can only be performed in a hallowed or unhallowed area. This ritual also consumes one of your prepared 9th-level divine spells, as well as one prepared 4th-level divine spell from each of at least seven other participants who must be present for the entire ritual. The effect is instantaneous.
    Special: Your caster level to determine the effects of this feat is equal to your divine caster level (or your highest divine caster level, if you have more than one).
    Note: For use in Pathfinder RPG games, reduce the skill rank requirements by 3 ranks.

This entry was posted on October 15, 2009 at Thursday, October 15, 2009 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 comments

I very much like the ritual idea. But I am not sure that it even needs to require a feat. Just having the skills and spell casting requirement seem enough.

For my campaigns I would probably narrow down when (and maybe even where) the ritual could be performed. Just to add to the thematic element and to build tension.

October 15, 2009 at 3:16 PM

I also like, and generally employ, ritual and "extras" in order to cast spells of this magnitude. You're not just healing someone or summoning down a column of flame. You're reaching into the realm of the dead, finding a spirit, and bringing it back into the realm of the living. I make this the subject of at least an adventure or two, and in one game I was running, I did something very different.

Instead of bringing the lost soul back to the body, it sent the entire party into the underworld. They had to roam, talk, fight, explore, and eventually find the lost soul.

Then, they had to convince him to want to return. After all - death can be very comfortable.

Death was now meaningful. You couldn't just have a cleric say, "Oh, I cast Raise Dead. Ta-da!" It took effort. The party had to make a decision - is this person really important enough to put everyone at risk? And, when they succeeded, bringing that person back to life meant something too. They all had a story to share.

July 30, 2010 at 4:34 PM

Post a Comment