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In my campaign, one of my players used a wish granted to him from a god to get forgiveness from someone he had killed who had become a revenant. I really didn't want to say he can't so I'm trying to figure out now what happens with the Revenant.

What happens to a Revenant that can't(or won't) complete its task?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Was the player aware that this person had become a Revenant out for their blood? \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Nov 20 '17 at 19:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ happens to be no in this case, but would that change things? \$\endgroup\$ – ArtaSoral Nov 20 '17 at 19:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Mechanically it wouldn't, story-wise I think it'd matter. I'll write up an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Nov 20 '17 at 19:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ It becomes irrevenant. \$\endgroup\$ – Paul Nov 21 '17 at 18:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ The revenant forever wanders the world, taking side-jobs and blowing the money on drugs and companionship, always looking for meaning in life. \$\endgroup\$ – SPavel Nov 21 '17 at 18:24
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The lore on 5e Revenants is pretty limited, being pretty much just the 3 paragraphs in their Monster Manual entry, which makes it hard to tell. We essentially have 2 things in there to work with, namely:

A revenant has only one year to exact revenge. When its adversary dies, or if the revenant fails to kill its adversary before its time runs out, it crumbles to dust and its soul fades into the afterlife.

and:

While the soul is bodiless, a Wish spell can be used to force the soul to go to the afterlife and not return.

These two things suggest that a Revenant unable to exact revenge (because it does not want to avenge anything anymore) might crumble to dust, and that a Wish spell is specifically capable of sending one to the afterlife (although in the entry, only when it's bodyless)

So probably, the Wish will make the Revenant move on to the afterlife and not bother the PC.

That said; your player just spent a (potentially) incredibly powerful story reward to make an entirely character-story driven choice. Given that the character was not even aware that the person whose forgiveness they asked turned into a Revenant, just silently making the creature not show up as a result of this Wish sounds like a huge disservice both to the cool story of how the person they killed came back for vengeance and the cool resolution of how divine forgiveness ended the Revenant's tormented existence.

As a fellow DM, I think you owe it to your player and your party to ignore what the rules might say and have the Revenant show up in person to accept the player's forgiveness, before crumbling to dust and moving on to the afterlife. This is a story worth sharing with your players. It'll end up much more memorable than not ever meeting a Revenant at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you explain why the year time limit is suddenly forgotten when forgiveness is wished before your "That said" segment? Why would the revenant not simply wait around for the remainder of it's time on earth? Do they have free will to anything other than exact revenge? Are you, perhaps, suggesting that the revenants adversary is dead for all intents and purposes? \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Nov 20 '17 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I meant more that "Revenge" is the only that a Revenant exists for, so if it doesn't want to revenge anything anymore, that might trigger it's "end of existence" clause early, as if it had completed it. I´ll change the wording to make it clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Nov 20 '17 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd suggest that since a wish can only stop a bodiless revenant, have it continue its hunt until it meets the player and is defeated. Internally, the revenant is still locked on its path of revenge but is having doubts. Then, when its body is destroyed in combat, the freed spirit is finally able to forgive, and vanishes into the afterlife. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Nov 20 '17 at 20:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess I'm also asking the free will question. "Forgiveness" seems open to interpretation. If free will is a thing for it, then it can choose not to exact revenge. If not, then forgiveness might be carried out as you suggest: the wish interpreting "forgiveness" as the ego death of a character. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Nov 20 '17 at 20:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PremierBromanov I would interpret this wish as asking the deity to act as mediator between the player and the revenant. Applying the deity's own charisma score to the negotiation, success is basically guaranteed. (As an NPC, the revenant can't really be said to have free will - but even with free will, a genuine apology delivered by a god is an offer that most people wouldn't refuse.) \$\endgroup\$ – Brilliand Nov 20 '17 at 21:37
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In this case, it depends in part on the deity in question, and DM fiat. If the deity is cruel, there are any number of terrible ways to spin it, but it sounds like they are not. Given that... well, what does the deity want? They're about to unleash world-shaking power in a way that winds up with this guy forgiven. Various ideas...

  • Teleport the revenant to the location on the spot, and offer them something that would be of sufficient value to them that they would be willing to give forgiveness.
  • As above, but the PC must give the wergild. Deity gives them some nifty blessing afterward
  • Transform the revenant into some other sort of being that is not consumed by thirst for vengeance. At simplest, return them to life, and let them know telepathically that the PC, apologetic, spent a wish to make it so. That should give them adequate reason to forgive.

I agree with @Erik, though. There's a lot of cool plot going on here, and you ought to come up with some way to reward the player for doing the right thing - now or in the future. The players should find out what happened, with at least one scene-bit that focuses on it, and it should be in a way that isn't to the detriment of the player who made the wish.

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This does not appear to be covered by the rules. I think you'll have to decide how to fit this into your story. The last line in the Unearthed Arcana writeup for Revenant though may guide you.

When your goal is complete, you finally find rest. You die and cannot be restored to life.

Maybe it's time to let that poor tortured soul rest in peace. He never got revenge through killing but he did make the character use up a precious wish. That must count for something.

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The only guidance we get about wish is this:

You might be able to achieve something beyond the scope of the above examples. State your wish to the DM as precisely as possible. The DM has great latitude in ruling what occurs in such an instance; (PHB 289)

So it is up to the creativity of the DM. I have one note and two suggestions.

Note on free will

The traditional (though not 5e RAW) caveat of wishes, that they cannot make someone love you might have relevance here. To give forgiveness is an act of free will and the spell might be unable or reluctant to force such an act on a person. With that in mind:

The cruel way

The revenant seeks retribution and cannot forgive the one who wronged him until it is exacted. Thus wish will kill the caster to settle the debt. Bonus points for cinematics if it teleports the revenant's sword through his heart. His revenge settled the revenant can then forgive the caster.

The kind way

If the god who granted the wish is good, the above solution might not fit their nature. Wish might then restore the revenant to life. His revenge now pointless they can talk it out with the caster and they may forgive them.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how either of those are examples of forgiveness. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Nov 20 '17 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ While these would be good solutions to the Wish "Get rid of [the Revenant]", neither of them fulfill the Wish "Make [the Revenant] forgive me." The first because exacting revenge != forgiving someone (generally, forgiveness is roughly the opposite of revenge), and the second because it removes the action that could be forgiven (which means the act cannot possibly be forgiven). \$\endgroup\$ – Delioth Nov 20 '17 at 20:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Delioth You are right. I have edited my answer to reflect that (and added a note). \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Nov 20 '17 at 20:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Like the idea of a revenant reversal and resurrection. It makes sense if a revenant can't actually be made to forgive the PC and the god isn't especially cruel or lazy. \$\endgroup\$ – Brent Hackers Nov 22 '17 at 10:04
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Disclaimer: Not delving into the rules themselves as this feels more than a few steps out of what the authors had ever imagined.

Start with the question of how this God would inflict forgiveness on a feeling and comprehending being. Snapping their fingers and voila would be much to vulgar for a god. Instead perhaps the God would fulfill this wish by forcing awareness of the Revenant's creator, in this player's malicious or unintentional crime. Why did they do this, how did this person reach the moment of the crime.

What I am getting at here is that evil and wickedness don't just appear out of thin air, hate creates hate. Going backwards, eventually the source of pain will become too abstract and intangible to focus on.

So, perhaps this Revenant realizes it is futile to hate and enact revenge on their murderer. Those strong feelings don't go away so perhaps a solution would be to forgive the person as a whole and focus on murdering the parts of its killer that led to the Revenant's death.

Now the fun part of this and I hope one you will enjoy. God's can be twisted things, endowed with infinite power which makes their existence boring. Toying with the stupid things mortal's get up to is a reliable source of entertainment. By gifting enlightenment to the Revenant, helping it forgive its murderer, changing the nature of itself changes the focus of its wrath. Instead of trying to enact revenge, now the Revenant is focussed on fixing the bigger problem.

To put it simply: the Revenant becomes a powerful guardian spirit that will not assist the player in their evil ways but instead be the players guilty conscious. Every time they steal, murder, rape, or whatever evil act the player wishes to commit they will have to roll the dice for concentration (to overcome their Guardian's guilt). Inversely! Every time the player commits a good act they would have similar boosts of a paladin.

I leave it to you to figure out how to make this D&D rules legal but given how specific and bizarre this is I would recommend writing out rules, making them fair, but don't forget the sinister angle of this. Your player tried to cheat in a clever way and your wish granting god should be aware of that.

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