Monday, June 21, 2021

A-Series: What use is Raise Dead in a tournament?

The Pregens in the Slavers series - A1, A2, A3, A4 - come with some magic items, naturally. In A1-A3, Karraway comes with a scroll with Raise Dead.

What the heck is it for?

For bringing back a dead PC, obviously, so they can jump right back into the fight! Boo-yah! Heck yeah, look how well-equipped these guys are! Those fighting the slavers are serious.

Except that in AD&D, Raise Dead takes weeks to recover from. You're helpless when you come back. It's not a quick way to get a dead PC back in action. It's a poor way - compared with Resurrection - to get a dead PC back eventually, if they make their System Shock roll.

Looking back at the version of Raise Dead in Men & Magic - book 1 of the original D&D books - it still requires a recovery time of weeks.

So why give it to the tournament PCs?

I can really only think of three reasons.

- it lets the PCs question a dead slaver by bringing him/her back from the dead to question. They'll be helpless. Useful as a plot device - ask Icar where to go next!

- it gives the impression the PCs have the resources to survive casualties. When you go to the next round, you can have all of the PCs because you can have raised them from death.

- it was added post-tournament to let the PCs bring back casualties between modules.

I don't know of any evidence for that last one. I have no proof, but not reason to suspect otherwise, for the following: the PCs are the tournament characters as-written. I'm curious if there is anything else out there that can explain it.

Any reasons anyone can see that makes this make sense, without having to provide for additional gear or handwaving away rules? I'm genuinely curious.


  1. It was rolled for on a randomized table out of a book.

  2. It's not weeks of rest in 1E, but one day of rest per day dead.
    The spell is also a ranged attack vs. spectres, wights, & wraiths.

    1. True, one day per day dead. But there isn't anything to indicate that "less than one day dead" means "less than one day of bed rest." In AD&D, it's hard to believe it wouldn't be a day minimum.

      I know that it can be used on newly-raised undead, limited to the number of days the caster can affect as Raise Dead, but that's not terribly useful in the module. That's a nice benefit but it's about as useful as raising a dead PC if they need a day's rest - not useful within the limits of the actual adventure the pregens are generated for.

  3. From playing convention games with some of the TSR staff, including Frank Mentzer who ran RPGA tournaments, they use Raise Dead in tournaments as an instant get-back-to-playing effect by ignoring the weakness/rest requirement. The character still comes back with only 1 hit point and needs massive healing though. But it's a convention, not a campaign, and many of the [A]D&D spells were "balanced" with extremely long times between castings or recovering, which really don't function at all in a convention. More examples are Commune which can only be cast once per week and has increased effect once a year, but a convention game may take place all in one day; Contact Other Plane which may make the caster insane for months...which means they can't play the short adventure in the convention.

    1. That would make sense.

      For the other, you probably just don't give the pregens those spells. :)


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