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While answering this question it brought up this current situation. I thought I had seen this answered here before but I can't find it anywhere.

How does casting "Resurrection" on a destroyed undead affect their level progression?

Example: Borris is a level 5 cleric of Wee Jas. He is killed and turned undead and continues to advance to a level 10 cleric while undead. He is killed again and is resurrected. Is he now:

  1. Level 9 (after losing 1 level to resurrection), or
  2. Level 4 (after losing all level progression gained while undead & 1 level of his "living" class)?
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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Mechanically, becoming undead in that manner is just the addition of a template. There's nothing about losing or gaining a template that alters your class levels, so if there is no specific rule otherwise, being brought back alive will preserve them. In essence, you were the same person while undead, just, err, "modified".

If the undead creature was not created by a template, then it would be considered a separate creature entirely, and any levels gained while undead probably shouldn't carry over.

Regardless of the RAW, I would simply just let narrative trump them, though. There aren't really any hidden balance concerns here.

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Not all undead become so via template; I was originally going to answer the same way. And there definitely are balance concerns, in the sense that leaving one player with dramatically fewer levels than the rest causes massive imbalance. – KRyan Apr 8 '13 at 1:43
I'm not aware of any undead, that aren't templates, that leave your existing class levels intact. If you know of any that would be interesting to note! Oh, and I should have said there are no subtle balance concerns -- the number of levels does obviously matter. :) – starwed Apr 8 '13 at 4:34
That's my point though: just because you mechanically represent the undead as a separate creature with separate statblocks, does not mean that the character is different or separate. If the creature in question was intelligent and continued to gain experience after being animated (presumably along with the party), he should still have that experience when resurrected. – KRyan Apr 8 '13 at 14:01
@KRyan Well, I disagree! They are, at the very least, categorically different cases. – starwed Apr 8 '13 at 14:25

I’m about 80% sure the rules never actually clarify this point. I suggest that such characters should come back as normal for a character who had died when the undead creature they were was destroyed. This is mostly because losing a ton of levels effectively takes a character out of a game, and is therefore bad for metagame reasons.

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I'm inclined to agree for the exact same reason. (going from lvl 10 to 4 would just plain suck!) I was just curious if there was anything written that answers it definitively. – Ben-Jamin Apr 7 '13 at 19:12

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