R: R is for “The Resurrection Machine”

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I’m participating in the A-Z April Blogging Challenge and my theme of choice is Dungeons & Dragons.

Resurrection is an interesting topic for discussion in AD&D, and D&D. Depending on your view and use, it alters and defines your campaign. I believe that a Gamemaster or Dungeon Master should put some thought into exactly what purpose it should serve in the campaign.

a-to-z-letters-rWill the playing characters have to go on a massive quest to seek out an artifact or deity? Will they have to gather up a gazillion gold coins to pay Pope Hat Bob to resurrect a fallen friend? Do they simply have to drag their buddy down to ‘Resurrections R Us’ to have a priest say a few words? Or is it really Resurrection In A Bottle where the characters buy a few Resurrection potions at the Quickie Mart before an adventure and start downing them like Red Bull?

It’s up to you.

Recently I stumbled across the following articles dealing with Resurrection. The first is from StupidRanger.com and discusses both the good and bad of raising characters from the dead. And the second is from Runecarver discussing mainly the downside of Resurrection. Give both a read if you wish, and then also take some time looking here, too.

In my campaign, I believe that Resurrection should be used, but sparingly. It is a tool for the Dungeon Master to deploy in extreme circumstances as a plot device, quest for the playing characters, or divine intervention. So anyway, damn the torpedoes … let’s discuss quickly.

  1. PLOT DEVICE:  “A plot device is an object or character in a story whose sole purpose is to advance the plot of the story, or alternatively to overcome some difficulty in the plot.” So an example of this would be the story of Lazarus of Bethany. The resurrection in and of itself is used to make the story and the campaign stronger. Perhaps the party goes on a quest to resurrection one of their own fallen recently in combat. Or maybe they are going to turn a nice bit of coin by setting into a dungeon looking for an artifact that will bring the Baron’s daughter back to life. Or maybe a divine being grants the party a favor due to some massive deed, and they wish for their buddy the halfling to return to life after being pincushioned by a million arrows. Either way, it’s all about making the campaign stronger because the resurrection takes some blood, sweat, and tears. Just don’t overdo it.
  2. HOOK: “A narrative hook (or hook) is a literary technique in the opening of a story that “hooks” the reader’s attention so that he or she will keep on reading.” Again, this is used by the Dungeon Master to make the story and campaign better. Maybe the characters are looking for the Fountain of Youth, or a Red Bull of Resurrection. If it gets the ball rolling and the players are interested, then it’s not a bad idea. Again, don’t overdo it.
  3. QUEST: Fighting your way through Hell to kill a bunch of devils is cool. Fighting a bunch of devils to get a cool magical item that brings your buddy back to life is even cooler. Making the resurrection an active quest allows it to become a part of the story. It’s not just the knee jerk reaction of a DM who is responding to a player who does nothing but whine about his character dying. “But but but … he was my FAVORITE first level fighter!”
  4. DIVINE INTERVENTION: A higher power takes interest in the playing character, and restores her/him to life. I think now of a Dragonlance campaign from my high school years. A major character decided to take on Kitiara Uth Matar and was promptly killed by her Blue Dragon‘s breath weapon. The remaining characters watched as the Elf’s smoldering body fell from the walls of the castle, and lay smoking in the courtyard. They gathered his body up and took it to the priests. However, Paladine was the being who granted resurrection, claiming that it was a miracle for the True Gods. Another good example would be the return of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. He was “sent back to complete his mission.”

So there you have it … my thoughts on the Resurrection Machine. I’d like to hear how you handle this topic within your own campaign. And remember … not only the good guys get Resurrected. Sometimes even Bargle can come back for a little fun thanks to a handy resurrection spell.

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