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A recent campaign started with the death of the party and reincarnation of the party with the premise of "we brought you back to find those who killed you". One player was concerned that these people had brought him back from the plane of his god. He was happy in death, going to his place of peace and they dragged him back against his will. This begs the question, do you remember the plane of your god when brought back from death?

Is there anything in any D&D or Pathfinder books, magazines, online documentation, setting documentation, or otherwise to imply that it is the case that you remember the afterlife when you come back? Is there anything to imply the opposite? Please cite references.

Note: apologies to those who have answered so far for the dual question confusion.

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up vote 15 down vote accepted

Complete Divine (pages 129 - 130) is the 3.5 supplement that covers this. It suggests that, as a default, the following is true:

When you come back to the world of the living, you remember in general terms what the afterlife was like, but your memories have a vague, dreamlike quality and you’re unable to recall the specifics of events. Whether the afterlife was torment or bliss to you, you have a good idea of what to expect should you die again—unless you alter your behavior markedly enough to change your alignment.

Again, this is just the base suggestion for the default setting, but is probably the closest to a definitive answer you'll find for 3.5 in general. Specific settings might have their own rules.

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While not specific to Pathfinder, D&D made it clear that it took time for souls to reach the plane of their deities.

Pathfinder, specifically, says reincarnate only works, even in Pathfinder, for a limited time after death, implying that it takes time to reach the plane of one's deity. It fails automatically on unwilling souls.

With this spell, you bring back a dead creature in another body, provided that its death occurred no more than one week before the casting of the spell and the subject’s soul is free and willing to return. If the subject’s soul is not willing to return, the spell does not work; therefore, a subject that wants to return receives no saving throw.
(Pathfinder Beta, p. 262)

So, knowing that the description of Reincarnate makes the player's objection invalid, how about Raise Dead?

You restore life to a deceased creature. You can raise a creature that has been dead for no longer than 1 day per caster level. In addition, the subject’s soul must be free and willing to return. If the subject’s soul is not willing to return, the spell does not work; therefore, a subject that wants to return receives no saving throw.
*(Pathfinder Beta, p. 260)

One day per caster level, and requires the soul be willing. So again, nope.

Resurrection has the same limits on time and willingness as raise dead, but can be used on those poisoned, subjected to death effects, or raised as undead and then destroyed.

So, finally, True Resurrection...

True Resurrection allows 10 years per caster level, and as a 9th level spell, that's nearly a 2 century minimum... but it's described as...

This spell functions like raise dead, except that you can resurrect a creature that has been dead for as long as 10 years per caster level."
(Pathfinder Beta, p 283)

... so again, if the spell worked, either the subject wasn't happy, wasn't with his deity, or was willing to come back in the name of justice, or was geased into it by someone on the deific plane.

So, in a D&D or Pathfinder context, the player has no leg to stand upon with the "but I was happily dead" argument, because such a character can't be resurrected or reincarnated.

Also note: Reincarnation doesn't even retain all of a character's memories of life. None of them speak of memories of the afterlife.

A reincarnated creature recalls the majority of its former life and form.
(Pathfinder Beta, p. 262)

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This is exactly the kind of post I was looking for, but it's about the player saying he didn't want to come back, which isn't the question, it was just information provided for context. Your last note, if supported, would be helpful. –  deltree Jan 2 '13 at 18:11
    
Because the question currently has a Dungeons and Dragons tag, as well as a Pathfinder one, I feel compelled to mention that in earlier editions (and most notably the Planescape setting) spells that brought back the dead could and did explicity drag souls back from whatever afterlife they were in, even if the deceased had already settled into a comfortable routine in their powers' realm. The 'within one day per caster level' thing is therefore not because you can't bring a soul back once it reaches the appropriate plane. –  GMJoe Jan 3 '13 at 3:47
    
(On that note, the Planescape setting did describe petitioners as gradually growing closer to their Power or plane until they became one with it, so maybe that growing into power is what accounts for the gradually increasing caster level requirement?) –  GMJoe Jan 3 '13 at 3:49
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I'll be answering primarily from the stance taken by the 3.x book Ghostwalk. It's one of the more reasonable sources I've found where the afterlife is concerned.

A recent campaign started with the death of the party and reincarnation of the party with the premise of "we brought you back to find those who killed you". One player was concerned that these people had brought him back from the plane of his god. He was happy in death, going to his place of peace and they dragged him back against his will. This begs the question, do you remember the plane of your god when brought back from death?

In Ghostwalk, characters don't travel immediately to the plane of their god. They are brought along a sort of jet stream past the City of Manifest, where ghosts start to dwell. Consider it a type of netherworld, which is actually a place on our own plane of existence. Characters can either jump out of the jet stream at the city and become ghosts, or they can remain within the current and travel to the True Afterlife. If memory serves correctly, no character has any memory of this place (what's beyond the veil) therefore characters wouldn't remember the plane of their god (which would clearly be beyond Manifest and the veil). In this setting, what a character remembers when brought back to life depends on if they were a ghost or not, but in either case they don't retain memory of their deity or their deities realm.

Another rule might be pertinent, from the SRD and not Ghostwalk. Petitioners. A precedent for no memory from Unearthed Arcana.

Some spirits demonstrate their devotion to their deity by traveling to the deity’s home plane. Those that survive the journey across the planes become servants of their deity. While a few may remain disembodied spirits, most become petitioners through the divine will of their patron deity... The template presented below is for NPCs, not player characters. If dead characters who are petitioners are later restored to life (once again becoming player characters), they forget any of their experiences as petitioners.

Is there anything in the books to imply that it is the case that you remember the afterlife when you come back? Is there anything in the books to imply the opposite?

Ghostwalk, yes, but the afterlife as a ghost - not the True Afterlife. Unearthed Arcana, no - however, the text on the SRD for "Petitioner" seems to imply that not all spirits travel to their deities' home plane. Take whichever suits your fancy and follow the Golden DM rule: Write it down, inform everyone and keep it consistent.

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Sidenote - Ghostwalk can fit into any campaign setting, and since the book was written for 3.0 and requires translation to 3.5 anyway, it shouldn't be too hard to instead translate to Pathfinder. –  LitheOhm Jan 3 '13 at 7:28
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Now that the question is not specific to Pathfinder, it is a matter of opinion.

I don't usually allow character resurrections in my games (on the other hand, the PCs rarely die). If I resurrected a character, I wouldn't let him remember the afterlife. What awaits men after death is maybe the most ancient mystery of Humanity; having someone that can tell you that in detail cheapens a little the mystery. Exceptionally, I would grant that character small fragments of memories, if I think it contributes to drama.

There are exceptions, of course, particularly if the premise of the game includes the concept. For example, the risen of the Wraith the Oblivion game remember the afterlife, which is important as the character must make some bargains to return to the world of the living and it can be important that the PCs remember it. In Kindred of the East, characters are something similar, having escaped from Hell. It is dramatic for them to remember the tortures of Hell, as they know what will be their fate if they perish.

An example of the impact of being resurrected and remembering the afterlife can be seen in the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I don't want to say more to avoid spoiling it, but if you have seen it, you can remember this same problem.

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do you remember the plane of your god when brought back from death?

From a Pathfinder point of view, Reincarnate will bring a character back from the afterlife. While reincarnated creatures recall the majority of their former life and form, I see nothing explicit as to memories of the afterlife. It looks like the existence of such memories falls into the area of the GM's call.

IMO, the deity of the deceased would be the biggest factor in retaining the memories of the afterlife. Some things one may consider (and these are somewhat setting based) :

  • Would the deity allow it at all?
  • Does it serve the deity in question that the individual being reincarnated remember (or not remember)?
  • Does it cause issues with the worshipers?
  • Does it serve the individual being reincarnated to remember (or not remember)?

Then there are the policies of the deity's pantheon to take into account. The interaction between gods can be very complex. The simple act of allowing the memories to stay or blocking/wiping them could require all kinds of interplay between the gods, wheeling and dealing, contest and so on.

Example : A story from Norse mythology that is an excellent example for how deities "wheel and deal" is the death of Balder. Balder is believed invulnerable due to a pact made by his mother, Frigg, and all the gods are happy with that. All but Loki. Loki tricks Frigg into telling him the one weakness of Balder. Loki then sees to Balder's death. The gods morn. Hermod goes to the underworld and bargains with Hel for Balder's return from the afterlife. Hel agrees, all that has to happen is that everyone must weep for Balder. So word of the deal goes out and it was going swimmingly well, everyone who heard the tale would weep for Balder. Until the giantess, Thokk, was told the tale and she did not wish to weep. So, Balder remained dead.

While the PF deities don't have all the stories of the Norse or Greek pantheons there is no reason to think interactions between them are any less full of bargains, oaths, deceit and so on.

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+1 I've got to side with the idea that when in doubt about such things, go with deity decision. After all, these are the people playing chess with the universe and they grant spells as free actions - surely they've considered such a paradox. –  LitheOhm Jan 1 '13 at 6:08
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