Congrats! You’re dead! It happens even to the best of us at some point. I know that I have had 9 character deaths over the course of my Pathfinder Society play time, and even if you build really good characters and play them really well, natural 20’s happen and crits can hurt. It does behoove everyone to learn how raising a dead character works, especially once you start hitting level 5 and above where you can come back from death more often. So, how does coming back from death work?
To start off with, most deaths are going to require you to get a raise dead. Raise dead has some limitations on it though. You need not to have been by a death effect or something with the death descriptor, you need to not have had your body turned into undead, and you need to have your full body available. If your body is potentially recoverable, but your party wasn’t able to bring it back for some reason, then you can pay for a body recovery with 5 Prestige. You can’t pay for this with money, only with favors. If your body is inaccessible for other reasons, or you suffered from one of the earlier problems, you’re going to need to pay for a resurrection instead of a raise dead.
Even with those restrictions, the vast majority of deaths only need raise dead. The problem is that you’re going to have to pay for it. Here’s the ways to pay for a raise dead:
- Pay with gold. Raise dead is a 5th level cleric spell, which means a spellcasting service costs 5*9*10+5,000 (for the diamond) = 5,450gp.
- Party member casts it. Any 9th level cleric can prepare raise dead, while 10th level oracles might have it as a spell known and 11th level witches might have it in their familiar. This will save the 450 you would have to pay for getting someone to cast it for you, but still requires you to find a 5,000gp diamond somewhere.
- Prestige! All those favors you’ve done for people and those times you’ve proven yourself to be an exemplary Pathfinder are finally paying off in the form of a ticket back to the Material Plane. However, unlike the previous two examples, you must spend you’re own prestige and only your prestige. Other people can’t chip in to help you. If you wish to pay this way, it will cost you 16 prestige.
All of these options you can either do in between sessions, or during the session if you have access to a town of greater than 5,000 people (or a high level caster and the 5,000gp diamond for the second option). Either way, your character has suddenly recovered and is back in the land of the living and scot-free!
Well… close. Walking through Pharasma’s revolving door is a harrowing experience. When your character gets raised, he gets 2 negative levels. These can be taken care of with restoration. The choices you have mimic the raise dead choices above. For each negative level, either you pay 1280gp, or a character can cast restoration and you only need to pay 1,000gp, or you pay 4 Prestige. Also, you can only recover from 1 permanent negative level a week, which means that if you die in-game, unless you are doing a massive amount of travel in-game, you’re going to be stuck with a permanent negative level for the rest of the session. If you’re recovering between sessions, then you are assumed to spend enough time recovering that you can remove all your permanent negative levels.
The last important thing to know about raising is that you can’t leave your character dead at the end of a session and raise him later. You must resolve the dead condition that session or your character is reported as dead and can no longer be played. Negative levels on the other hand you don’t need to worry about paying for right away if you don’t have the money or the prestige to pay for them. (Guide to Society Organized Play 22)
Especially at low levels, if someone dies in your party, considering pitching in to help them out. Raising someone and removing the negative levels at low levels can cost someone most of the money they have, which is incredibly crippling for a character. You are never forced to help someone out, but it is polite, especially if that person’s death is no fault of their own. It’s a lot easier for 5 people to give up 1,000gp than for one person to give up 5,000gp.
Okay, so you’ve just died, been raised and cleared all your negative levels. It was expensive, but you’re still able to play your character. You’re all done, right? Nope. You’ve just done everything that the game requires you to do, but you’re still missing one step. After the game, you need to think about what happened and why your character died. After all, we would like to prevent that experience from happening again, and only with reflection can you figure out what went wrong. Allow me to share you some examples of my own character deaths and how I changed characters based on the deaths:
Komana Higgenstrom is my Master of Many Styles Lore Warden. She wears light armor and uses Crane Style/Wing/Riposte to give her a good AC while she tries to combat maneuver things to death. Her major weakness was revealed when I had to fight a pair of huge fire elementals + a caster on the Ethereal Plane. Both of the fire elementals beat her in initiative, and slammed Komana enough that she died from the burn damage on her turn. Most of the elementals’ attacks wouldn’t have hit me if I had beaten them in initiative, but it turns out that when you get around +9 AC when you fight defensively + combat expertise, your AC is drastically lower than normal before you get to go. The problem is that her Dex wasn’t high and I hadn’t invested anything into initiative. I changed that when I leveled her up. I dipped diviner (foresight) wizard, got her a rabbit familiar, and took Improved Initiative as a feat, giving her a +9 bonus to initiative. While an enemy or two has beaten her in initiative since then, she has never lost initiative to all of the monsters and gotten in the same trouble since then.
Of course, changes don’t have to be as drastic. Getting hit by 2 shadow evocations revealed that my witch’s saves weren’t great and I prioritized cloaks of resistance after that. Getting a bunch of giant scorpions surrounding me helped me realize that my skill monkey’s AC wasn’t that great, so I bought him better armor with the leftover money from that scenario. And of course, sometimes you run across situations that you’re not prepared for. Deeper darkness and flight are 2 problems that frequently come up and that can be really deadly if you aren’t prepared for them, but can be solved with a simple consumable.
And sometimes, the dice just aren’t with you or you’re in a really bad situation. My halfling cavalier went up and tanked a bunch of thugs who needed an 18 on the die to hit him, and proceed to fall unconscious from multiple attacks, despite good hit points and healing him in the middle. My skill monkey got hit by a slay living and failed his save. My bard went into Bonekeep 2. Sometimes your death isn’t your fault, and that’s okay. Just as long as you recognize that and don’t let it discourage you.
After all, what’s the fun if there’s not a little risk?