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OutofCharacter / ShouldACharacterComeBack

Should a Character Come Back?

Characters die in the course of the campaign. To handle this we have several traditions in the game. With the death of a character Players have always had options on bringing in a new character.

Many times that presumes two things. One is that the Player wants to continue to play that same character and also that the Character should come back. I think that I understand why a player would want to continue to play the same character after the character dies. People like the continuity of the same character, similar to why people root for the hero of a book or movie to be in the second and third in the series. I personally have had a character I played brought back from the dead but for mixed reasons.

I brought back a cleric that the group really depended on as the key healer and second line fighter. I was happy to do it for the group I was playing with at the time and it was part of the way that campaign was run. Every character that died came back from the dead for a standard cost and it was always available unless the character had been dissolved or some other more permanent death.

For many years in my own campaign the players did want some characters to come back from the dead and there were two avenues for that. They had the Celtic Priests of Wolfspack who were willing to do Raise Dead and Reincarnate. They rarely took cash and would require the group to do a favor for them. The other commonly used alternative was the Archbishop of Hades who lived under the keep of the Duke of Invergarry where the group was based. They knew he was an evil person who was glad to bring the group further into debt to him but they sometimes had no choice but to take him up on an offer.

These two options worked well for the campaign for the fact that Players did want their characters to come back and it facilitated adding in adventure hooks that the players would find a hard time to avoid. The process became solidified and for several years it worked well. Then we started having problems with characters when they got to higher levels and the Players became more choosy about what they wanted and the differences of Reincarnation and Resurrection with Raise Dead.

I have always been slightly troubled by it because it seemed to be a break from the reality of the game. Would NPCs have that ability for them? I do not mean the vast unwashed masses of peasants but the other characters that populate the world. The spells are there for a reason, Gods grant them to be used or Mages can research and learn them. So who would use this ability to come back from the dead and why?

I partially tackled this with the page on the death of a character and talked about how different cultures would handle those choices. I also am giving some thought to the idea of how it is handled by the different societies. When the high level character's normal stomping grounds were in the Wolfspack area the cosmopolitan atmosphere and interactions between different religions created a sort of bubble that helped the players take advantage to get what they wanted - especially when they had the cash to spend for those high level spells. When you are trying to prove you are the best religion in town showing off by doing a raise dead on a local hero is normal.

Now the characters are roaming a different part of the world where there are fewer higher level characters and the emphasis is more towards Mercenary Units. The players are finding out that the area can be rougher and many races have a bigger role against society rather than being part of society.

So this all leads me back to the idea of should a character come back? Should it be part of this part of the world on a more common basis like it is in other parts of the world? or should the lack of availability be part of the new campaign?

I have more bubbling in the back of my head but I want to hear from others also on this topic.