So I saw on Critical Role, Matthew Mercer having a skill challenge for a player/party to Resurrect a fallen member of the party. I thought this was a brilliant and really gave death some fascinating teeth. Also when I watched this in practice, I have thought this was some of the best role playing that I have seen. At my tables we love role playing, so anything that would boost that I am all for. So this rule set is effectively in place at my table around using various spells to bring back the dead. These are the rules for the Resurrection Challenge as outlined by Matthew Mercer himself.
I also think this game mechanic I also think is very fitting with the nature of Dolurrh in Eberron. A place of hopelessness, eternal despair, and consuming apathy, Dolurrh is the realm where mortal souls go after death. It is not a reward. It is not a punishment. It just is. Given that it is a place of apathy and despair. Having to work extra hard to call a spirit back from this place makes great sense to me.
Character death can often prove to become a minor inconvenience in some campaigns once the adventuring party reaches a certain level, with spells being available to return fallen comrades from the afterlife with temporary setbacks, robbing a small element of danger, and threat to future conflicts and challenges within the story. If you wish to elevate the gravity of character death, you can introduce this optional rule.
If a character is dead, and a resurrection is attempted by a spell or spell effect with longer than a 1 action casting time, a Resurrection Challenge is initiated. Up to 3 members of the adventuring party can offer to contribute to the ritual via a Contribution Skill Check. The DM asks them each to make a skill check based on their form of contribution, with the DC of the check adjusting to how helpful/impactful the DM feels the contribution would be.
For example, praying to the god of the devout, fallen character may require an Intelligence (Religion) check at an easy to medium difficulty, where loudly demanding the soul of the fallen to return from the aether may require a Charisma (Intimidation) check at a very hard or nearly impossible difficulty. Advantage and disadvantage can apply here based on how perfect, or off base, the contribution offered is.
After all contributions are completed, the DM then rolls a single, final Resurrection success check with no modifier. The base DC for the final resurrection check is 10, increasing by 1 for each previous successful resurrection the character has undergone (signifying the slow erosion of the soul’s connection to this world). For each successful contribution skill check, this DC is decreased by 3, whereas each failed contribution skill check increases the DC by 1.
Upon a successful resurrection check, the player’s soul (should it be willing) will be returned to the body, and the ritual succeeded. On a failed check, the soul does not return and the character is lost.
Only the strongest of magical incantations can bypass this resurrection challenge, in the form of the True Resurrection or Wish spells. These spells can also restore a character to life who was lost due to a failed resurrection ritual.
If a spell with a casting time of 1 action is used to attempt to restore life (via the Revivify spell or similar effects), no contribution skill checks are allowed. The character casting the spell makes a Rapid Resurrection check, rolling a d20 and adding their spellcasting ability modifier. The DC is 10, increasing by 1 for each previous successful resurrection the character has undergone. On a failure, the character’s soul is not lost, but the resurrection fails and increases any future Resurrection checks’ DC by 1. No further attempts can be made to restore this character to life until a resurrection spell with a casting time higher than 1 action is attempted.
So video examples of the ideas of this resurrection skill challenge in action from Critical Role are as follows:
- Video showing death and resurrection of Grog.
- Video showing the death and resurrection of Tiberius Stormwind.
- Video showing the death and resurrection of Vex.
- Video showing the resurrection of Percival.
This article originally appeared in geekandsundry written in full by Matthew Mercer.