Death might have a hard time sticking when it comes to adventurers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some friends along the way.
Life and death are two halves of the same coin, and being a coin, it’s certain to be an object that adventurers will snatch up greedily and placed into a bag of holding with all the other valuables. That is to say, the typical party of D&D adventurers is as familiar with the front lobby of the afterlife as they are with the rules for whatever their primary combat mechanism is. Or even if they don’t quite die, a party of adventurers will one day be powerful enough to shake the foundations of the heavens, or they might just stumble onto a planar rift through dumb luck.
Whatever the reason, here are five heavenly NPC archetypes you can use the next time your characters find themselves knocking on Death’s Door. After all, just because you’re dead or dying is no reason to stop having something to do.
The Distressed Guardian Angel
They say everyone’s got a guardian angel–everyone mostly stays indoors, works the farm, or sews tapestries. But you’re different, you go swinging swords at giants and when you see a jewel floating on an island over a river of lava, you try to take it. Life is much more interesting and that means the guardian angel watching over you is stressed. Disheveled and slightly manic, this is an NPC that can chat with a downed character briefly before they’re brought back–they might even have some “helpful advice” like ‘try taking up crochet, it’s a lovely trade and you don’t have to worry about anything’ to dispense with characters making their death saves.
Look someone’s got to make sure that souls go to the right place. And with so many people dying these days what with pseudo-feudalism and all, it takes a certain kind of mind to maintain an efficient flow of information, making sure that every soul is assigned to its proper place. You can’t trust the people of mechanus, so there’s a certain kind of cosmic auditor that wants to make sure every soul enters the afterlife with their i’s crossed and t’s dotted.
The Even Less Fortunate Adventurer
There’s more than one adventuring party in the world, and here’s some living (well…) proof. Waiting on the other side is some other poor unfortunate soul who couldn’t make their saves. Hapless, mildly terrified that they’ll get brought back to life and have to go do it all again, this is a great adventurer to swap stories with before you get that critical revivify cast on you.
The Angel In Need Of Advice
Adventurers have seen more of life than most. Your adventurer might find a celestial being who knows all about the withertos and wherefors of life in the Seven Mounting Heavens of Celestia, but when it comes to practical things like speaking up about a promotion or asking for a celestial raise or the like, they need a little bit of courage and bucking up. This is a great way to make a character feel like they’ve got a friend on the other side–they might even meet in person one day.
The Recently Unfallen Angel
One of the most powerful storylines out there is the Redemption arc. Whether it’s a dramatic one like Darth Vader going from a humble podracer to a galactic terror to a good dad–and still just a phenomenal podracer, but nobody really seems to want to talk to him about that–or something like Aziraphale and Crowley finding their own humanity in each other, people love that kind of story.
This particular angel was once a devil or demon and still hasn’t quite gotten used to the whole heavenly thing. They might talk about crushing foes and bathing in blood, but they’ve got some disturbing insight into the minds of the villains. Good for showing the whole spectrum of good and evil and how it is to move along it.
So the next time your player rolls a 1…just reach for one of these NPCs.