“Raise dead” in B/X and the Telengard Setting

When the first PC death, and inevitable first “Raise Dead” came up in play last time, I didn’t actually read the spell description and just relied on my memory, which turns out to be very 1st ed. AD&D.  The Expert set version actually allows any PC to be rasied (humans and demihumans, including elves!) and does not deduct one point of Con. from the recipient.  I was surprised.

Anyway it reminded me that I been planning to make some sort of change to the spell anyway to fit in with the whole Norse Church idea for the setting I’m running.  In play I had a bishop perform the ceremony, and I’m glad to see a Bishop-named level cleric (7th level) can actually cast it.  I’m still baffled at the spell progression for clerics in B/X sometimes.

I should have had Bishop Thororsonson mention that this prayer only works when the soul can be snatched back from the Valkyries — i.e. when the decedent died in combat, weapon (or similar) in hand.  (The PC in question did in fact die in melee! Sword in hand!)

Any human dying in battle will be taken to Valhalla, regardless of alignment or desert.  Demihumans may go to other places (Alfheim, Svartalfheim) but will still be conveyed there by Valkyries, so the prayer works (this also reinforces the time limit — the valkyries will get you there within a few days or a couple weeks tops!).  Deaths due to traps, poison, disease, drowning, falls, etc. are considered “straw deaths,” and such souls go to Hel or Folkvangr*, depending on the state of one’s soul and the exact circumstance of death.  In either case such souls may still be retrieved by other means, generally involving a physical descent into the underworld to bring them back.  Likewise if you miss the time limit on Raise Dead, you might be able to go to Valhalla or Alfheim or Svartalfheim to get a soul back but it is much harder to persuade a soul to return from these!

*This is heterodox from real Norse mythology, of course, where Folkvangr was similar to Valhalla and presided over by Freyja.

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. That’s a neat way of handling it, with the Valkyrie angle. Makes it fit into the world nicely instead of seeming like a “get out of death free” card for the PCs.

  2. Yes, that may be cool; but much more importantly…



  3. I’m guessing that the death from poison aspect wouldn’t include dying from the venom of a giant scorpion (or the like) one was in melee combat with? Such does not feel like a Straw Death.

    • Correct!
      When I sent these parameters by email to my players, one of them immediately quipped that Beowulf would be surprised to hear he’d had a straw death (died from dragon venom, you know).
      If you are drown by a kraken, or die from the fall when a troll tosses you off a cliff, etc., of course these are all deaths in battle.

      The one thing I need to think on more is where do halflings go when they die. (The same player suggested Chuck E. Cheese’s)

      I’m kind of thinking Alfheim will be for elves and Svartalfheim for dwarves, but that leaves halflings out in the cold. Alternatively maybe all “good” demihumans go to Alfheim and “evil” demihumans and humanoids go to Svaralfheim? (Or maybe I don’t need to worry about the future state of goblin souls!)

      Anyway I’m kind of enjoying the just-in-time worldbuilding thing.

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