Development of Resurrection

As mentioned before in one of my previous post I am finishing the book ‘Shared fantasy – Role-Playing games as Social Words’ by sociologist Gary Alan Fine. There is an interesting excerpt about the context which led to the introduction of resurrection spell in DnD. Even more intriguing is that the following quote is credited to the late Dave Arneson, co-author of DnD, so it should be fairly genuine. It goes like this:

“We had one character, in fact the oldest character in the campaign, who at one time hadn’t show up for an evening and it was in the middle of an especially precarious situation. I was still planting my feet as a referee (the term ‘referee’ is used in the book instead of GM – comment by Streebor). I would never allow that to happen now. But I let someone else who was new control his so we could finish up the situation. Well, to make a long story short he got killed. I was a little upset because the gentleman who had caused this character’s death had really bungled it badly. I could never conceive the real player doing it that…When the player found about it, he welt somewhat unfair, he was not going to have my head on a platter on anything, but he was upset. He then had the honor of being one of the first players ever to be raised from the dead and put back together as it were. I made up a little scenario. ‘Well, if you want him brought back to life,…then we’ll make a little quest of it’. ..That was the first time I’d really done it, and so they went off and they did it, and he came back.” (pg. 221)

I don’t know about you but this was totally revealing to me. As in most big social movements, there are lots of things that are later taken for granted but started as a random, ad hoc, initiative. I can only imagine how would DnD develop if the guy whose character perished actually had come to that session and played it.

Frankly, I’m not a fan of resurrection. The whole concept sounds a bit lame and too much Christian for a generic fantasy game. I prefer much more solutions like Fate points from WFRP (or similar bennies from other RPGs), where you can use them to save your character from certain death. In that way a stroke of fate saved you and not some greedy cleric, which sounds much more believable to me. But, unlike resurrection, the Fate points are limited in number and once without them if you bite the axe it’s time to roll a new character.

Amen.

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~ by streebor on June 26, 2010.

2 Responses to “Development of Resurrection”

  1. Just as everything in D&D, resurrection is an option. You can do with it whatever you want in any way you want it. Some will think that ability to resurrect whenever you want is great – because it’s all about their character. Others will think it corrupts the game balance – and will use it sparingly or not at all. As an argument against pts system, the problem is in imagination. While you are obviously capable of imaging that a mathematical abstract such as “fate pts” in a form of a number can be viewed as “stroke of fate”, others cannot see it that way. Rather, they simply see a function as it actually is – life buying point system. Quite frankly, it’s like a life amount in SNES games. In D&D, however, you are given certain instructions and are free to do with it whatever you want. “What ever you want” means exactly “whatever you want”, including changing the name from resurrection to revive – which is the very point.

    I don’t think a different session experience would change much in D&D. Sooner or later the resurrection question would pop out. With a different setup, of course.

    • ok, you have a fair point in saying resurrection is optional, but speaking from my humble rpg experience and taking in the account the other parties I am aware of, I would say it is more mandatory than optional. 🙂

      anyway thanks for the comment.

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