D&D: Death, Resurrection, And You

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Jeremy Crawford speaks on death and resurrection in dungeons and dragons.

Death and what comes after can affect a campaign in a variety of ways. Today, in a new video from D&D Beyond, Jeremy Crawford sits down to talk about the myriad ways you can use the idea of death to help further your campaign along. After all, when you’ve got spells that can pull a soul from beyond the pale, it can be hard to keep providing the same sense of scale and/or epicness. That’s where this video comes in.

The other thing this really hints at is the upcoming Planar Sourcebook. After all, in D&D, when a character dies, their soul scarpers off to a similarly aligned plane–at least in the default setting. And barring events like,  a certain lich working to imprison the souls of the dead in am artifact that slowly devours them as they’re fed to a long dead horror.

But events of the Tomb of Annihilation notwithstanding, this is one way that players typically might be exposed to the planes, depending on what their characters recall after being brought back from beyond the pale. But it signifies that the world is bigger than just the prime material world, and it does so in a very primal way. Excepting necromantic cheatery, all characters will end up traversing that great unknown voyage into the outer planes, or whatever it actually is.

And the video provides a few great questions to consider for players:

  • Where do they go?
  • What happens to them there?
  • What happens afterwards?
  • How does it change them?

And I think the focus on how death impacts a character that’s been brought back is telling. 5th Edition is, on the whole, all about marrying story and mechanics. And with this latest tidbit, it seems like we might be seeing more about how characters relate to/interact with the planned, even if they never go off spelljamming, or visiting them directly. It’ll be interesting to see how they finesse it.

In the meantime though, I’ve got the above in this video to percolate over.

How do you treat death and resurrection in your games? 


  • I prefer the old way in AD&D of resurrection. It had a chance of failure and your CON started to drop. You could only be killed and brought back so many times… Modern D&D … death is a temporary setback. I don’t like that. Death should be terrifying and it provides tension at the table instead of “meh…”

    • Ronin

      I feel like how much of a setback depends on how generous the dm is. He/she could offer a hard line rule making death absolutely permanent.

      • You can but I prefer rules supporting things standard instead of a DM having to be hardline. I don’t get to play much D&D these days unfortunately.

  • Dennis J. Pechavar

    Love that Spelljammer picture! It’s still my favorite setting. When I ran my campaigns raise dead and spells like that were rare and hard to acquire. My players could gain access to it but there usually was a quest or something to balance it. Sadly we lost a few players to that as they wanted it to be a revolving door of no consequences and left until a different DM was running things.

  • Vepr

    My personal DM rule for 5th edition resurrection attempts is equal to CON divided by 5 rounded down. A wish can supersede this rule a single time. So sayeth the gods. That means that most players are getting at least two but not endless video game attempts.

    • Dennis J. Pechavar

      If death means something then people tend to play a bit smarter. That being said the reason I started being so much stricter was that my players didn’t care about being dead. Then I started raising bad guys…bwahahaha! “So wait you didn’t think the evil cult that worshiped a death deity would return their high level cultist/clerics to keep the cult going?” Good times. They started to get in line after that.