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.
Matthew Mercer, in his homebrewed Resurrection rules
Jesus was not sent by God to die in order to appease a violent deity, nor did he defeat the powers by dying on the cross. his death was not an atoning sacrifice or a way of bringing a scapegoat mechanism to light. It was a political murder meant to sow terror and to undermine hope. His violent death exposes the domination system as oppressive and violent. His resurrection challenges the ultimate power of the system and invites us to be people of God here and now where oppressive systems remain powerful and must be challenged. Jesus teaches us how to live and shows us the risks of living God’s compassion in an unjust world.
He remembered it like a backstroke in a cool lake, with the water streaming all around his body; then - weightless floating in blackness, punctuated by pinpricks of white light. This light would drift across him now and again, pure and blinding, and each time it did, he’d remember more. He’d remember his existence, like a flickering of images running backwards, backwards, from the moment the angel blade bit through his spine and pierced his heart, backwards, backwards, away from his death and towards his birth, and still - always - there was that yelled word echoing.
The last thing he ever heard.
And there was no perception of time or of space or of longing or regret or peace: there was only the light and the memory and that word. Until, suddenly, there was pain. The pain was so great that he felt as though his entire being was made out of the embers of some ancient fire, glowing from deep within him, and it wasn’t until he drew his second breath that he realised what the pain was.
How many nights must it take
one such as me to learn
that we aren’t, after all, made
from that bird that flies out of its ashes,
that for us
as we go up in flames, our one work
to open ourselves, to be
Galway Kinnell, from “Another Night in the Ruins,” Three Books (Houghton Mifflin, 2002)