I was inspired by this post a while back, but wanted to customize the table for my use. My version uses a single d20 because I wanted the following distribution: 50% success, 25% success with catch, 25% failure (i.e., bad things happen).
Campaign text to share with players:
Raising the dead is a dark and necromantic task which is always fraught with danger. Most of the time a skilled practitioner will be able to return the recently dead to life, but there are many things that can go wrong. Sometimes, something else comes back along with the character, sometimes instead of the character but in their body. And there is always the danger that the character returns in undeath rather than life. As with most of the dark arts, anyone caught performing such rituals in an area ruled by law will be put to death. Many blame such necromancers and dark cultists for the plague that is the undead, and perhaps they are right. Only those who have died unnaturally can be raised; the ritual will fail on those dead of old age, and is unlikely to have more that a temporary effect on those that died of illness.
Raise dead table (kept secret):
- 1-10: Resurrection successful, no obvious side effect
- 11: Roll on marked by the grave table
- 12: Weakened: -1 con permanently
- 13: Aged 1d6 years
- 14: Essence lost: -1 int, wis, & cha
- 15: Chained: one remaining task
- 16: Scales will be balanced: fated to cause the death of another
- 17: Accompanied: another spirit returns
- 18: Homeless: spirit returned but unattached to body
- 19: Possessed: character returns as an NPC possessed by a demon
- 20: Undead: same HD as character
Optional modifiers if you don’t mind some bookkeeping:
- +1 for every previous raise
- +1 for every week the corpse has been dead
- -1 for every sacrifice of an innocent during the resurrection ritual
Some other ideas that I may incorporate:
- Consequences for others?
- Raiser takes damage or incurs other costs?
Just another way to ensure that characters can’t just stop over at Ye Olde Temple for a quick raise or two after a disastrous dungeon foray. One interesting side effect of the modifiers is that if you attempt to raise the long dead, you pretty much automatically get undead as a result.