Dungeons & Dragons Online

Chess With Death: a Supplement or Alternative to Resurrection Spells

Your last death roll has failed, your final breath has left your body. It was a noble death, but you were still young, there were still many adventures left to be had.

Unfortunately, your party, for whatever reason, cannot perform a spell to return you to life. So instead, your spirit stands above your corpse, helplessly watching as your companions mourn and weep, or perhaps fight a battle sure to be lost without your aid.

Then, a bony hand rests gently on your shoulder and you look into the empty eye sockets of Death itself. Despite its grim appearance, Death is not a foe, but a friend, here to help guide you to eternal rest.

However, what if you don’t want to rest? What if you want to fight on, live to see another day?

As has been custom, since the dawn of time, you challenge Death to a game for your soul.

If you win, you immediately return to life at the start of your turn with half your max HP and one level of Exhaustion. However, if you lose, you completely and utterly relinquish your right to life, forever. No spell, not even Wish, can return you to life after losing a game to Death.

The game can take any form, as long as it has a win condition. From a simple child’s game, to a game of chance, to a game of strategy, to a game of musical ability, to a game of trivia, or combat ability.

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You have proficiency and advantage in the game where appropriate based on your skills and tool proficiencies. Death provides all necessary equipment and no player possessions may be used (so no marked cards or +1 lutes). Death warns you that if you cheat, they can automatically tell, and you will immediately lose.

For Death’s stats, the DM should create a flat modifier that represents both Death’s proficiency and skills. You will only need one number as Death is equally skilled in everything, be it mental or physical.

The Exhaustion you gain when you return to life can be overcome as normal, however every subsequent time you return to life in this way, you gain an additional level. If you try to challenge Death a sixth time, Death refuses to rebalance the scales again and no spell can return you to life.

This mechanic could either supplement existing resurrection rules, or take the place of them to still allow for limited resurrection, at a cost.

As a side note, Death has been known to be particularly fond of cats and grants them a few extra lives.


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