One of my friends is playing a ranger pirate who has just died. He doesn't want to be revived but can't give an roleplaying reason for it. In-game, the character recently found out that his father is still alive, and is the captain of a thriving pirate ship.

The player has said that he wants to try something new but I feel that he's just going to start just making and breaking characters for the fun of it.

I was wondering whether there are some mechanics that can prevent the character from accepting his death, when there is no reason to do so — especially when there are reasons to struggle to stay alive?

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    \$\begingroup\$ What problem are you trying to avoid? Why not just let the character go and move on? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 11, 2017 at 23:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if I understand the tags here. This more like a social problem, not one dealing with saving throws or even really with resurrection or D&D-5e. Are you asking how you can make the player want to have his character resurrected? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 0:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Has this player already cycled through characters? Did the character die under normal circumstances or was the death unnecessarily caused by the player? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Dec 12, 2017 at 2:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ (re:latest edit) This clarifies the question you have, but it is not the one you posted. I recommend asking a new question along the lines of "How to stop someone from killing and rerolling all the time", and leaving this one as "Is there a rule that forces someone to allow resurrection" \$\endgroup\$
    – Szega
    Dec 12, 2017 at 9:57

9 Answers 9


Deal with the Player, not the Character

You are barking up the wrong tree.

Fundamentally, your concern seems to be about a player, but you are attempting to resolve it by asking about the character. The player has said that they do not wish to continue with the character. In every table I have ever seen, that is enough for the character to be removed from play (one way or another). There is not generally a requirement that character death (or exit) be driven by role-playing concerns. Often the GM's role is to provide an in-universe reason for that character's exit. This is otherwise called "an excuse".

Because the decision came from outside your fictional universe, nothing about that universe is really relevant to the discussion. Your player, as a real-world human being, just wants to play something different.


You can't force someone to play a character, and it wouldn't be any fun if you could. Why do you care if he wants to try something new? What's business is it of yours if he "making and breaking characters for the fun of it"? Why are you afraid of that? They're his characters; if he finds that fun, then why not let him? Maybe he doesn't know what kind of character he wants to play, and wants to try some options out before settling. Maybe he's just got a really short attention span. I'd advise that you play your character(s) and let him play his.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is generally a good answer but I don't think there's any value in mocking bad spelling, even bad spelling of a largely gratuitous slur. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I actually have no idea what he meant. The phrase doesn't make sense. What is a "character whore" (assuming that's what he meant to say)? \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 0:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ Although I agree completely that you can't make someone play a character they don't want to, there definitely is a problem for the GM if a player wants to introduce a new character every game. It might be fun for the player, but could easily be burdensome on the GM. Asking why the poster "is afraid of that" is unnecessarily confrontational. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 0:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Trying to decide what a player plays, or whether he's "allowed" to stay dead, is unnecessarily confrontational. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PhilBoncer: An "X whore" is anyone who excessively indulges in, or excessively seeks out, or excessively and shamelessly relies on, X. So if X is "character[s]", then it means they shuffle through dozens of characters in quick succession for cheap thrills. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 12, 2017 at 2:00

Do not force a player to play a character he does not enjoy.

A character can refuse a resurrection. Most players expect to be able to roll up a new character in the event their character dies. It is extremely rare for a player to repeatedly cycle through characters deliberately. It's best to give him the benefit of the doubt and let him make a new character.


Actually... The rules even say against it (even in older editions):

If its soul is free and willing, the target returns to life with all its hit points.

When you cast resurrection in earlier editions, a lot about the resurrector is know to the spirit instantly. In all including 5e, the soul may decide to return or not.

The player just said something along the lines "I don't wish my character to be resurrected" and that means his character decided (for undisclosed reasons), that his character wants to stay dead. Now nothing can force him to return, and nothing can force him or his body to reveal the reasons... well, safe a voyage to the land of the dead where he resides and kindly asking the soul.

The only way arond the decision making when returning would have been to cast Clone at least 120 days before the death of the character. But that is well too late now...

Your problem is in another castle

You really are facing the problem wrong. The player said this with some reason: he does feel the character is no fun anymore. Why? That is what you should try to find out. Why is the ranger no fun for him? Are you as a GM to blame (wrong story/monsters, too much focus on fighter/mage/rogue)? Does he feel just he has little or no role in the group anymore with rising levels (item/fighter/mage powercreep)? Or is he just starting to feel that the char is driven into a dead end with no space to turn? Talk to the player.


You might want to let him know that the characters he plays are part of your story and it makes it hard for you to rewrite the script every time he kills off a character, if you're afraid he'll keep discarding characters when he gets bored with them.

Also if he's in paradise as some believe happens after death, no reason for him to come back, or you can create a story line for not reviving (Magic Jar comes to mind).

There is no saving throw because it is the character's choice.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Not sure if the OP is the DM, but in any case this isn't a question of death per se but of refusing revival, so the first couple of lines are out of place. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Dec 11, 2017 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ If the OP is the GM, I think the first lines are entirely justified, if he feels the player may make a habit of introducing fresh characters on a recurring basis (as seems to be the case). \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 0:59

I was wondering whether there are some mechanics that can prevent the character from accepting his death, when there is no reason to do so - especially when there are reasons to struggle to stay alive?

There are - but you won't like them.

Generally speaking, there are two ways for a D&D character's soul to return to their body.

They can come back voluntarily, which is what happens when you use Raise Dead, Resurrect, or another kind of "restore the dead to life spell". All of these spells require the target to want to return to life, because they all include this clause:

If the creature’s soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with [conditions].

In your player's situation, this doesn't apply because the character isn't willing. (Since it's their character, they get to decide this.)

The other way you can bring a soul back into a body, is being forcefully ripping it from whatever paradise it's currently in and cramming it back into the decomposing shell it doesn't want to occupy anymore.

The end result of doing that is generally something nasty, because forcefully sticking souls in corpses is how you create Intelligent Undead. Their returned souls are what makes them intelligent and lets them remember their past life, but it also twists them into creatures of Evil.

So yeah, you could forcefully bring back this character, but you would have to pick a suitable type of Undead and they would become an NPC and no longer under the control of the player.


What do you do if a player wants to let their character stay dead without any RP reason?

  • Make them roll up a new character. If they don't want to play their current character any more then it is a convenient break point.
  • In fact if someone does not want to play their character then let them walk the character out if they want, don't wait for a death, particularly an forced one. This is in some ways better as they take their money and magic items with them and there is no "recycling".
  • Introduce the new character as if the previous one was dead, however the previous one was given up. Rules like one level lower than the lowest level character in the party or at the lowest xp for the lowest level character in the party are common. Also to note is that they will not have the kit the previous one had.
  • If someone is doing this serially you need to find out why. Maybe they are not enjoying the game rather than their characters. Find out what they want from role playing a character so you can provide something more like it for their next one. If they are doing it to get a character with great ability scores then you should point out that the loss of xp and magic items almost certainly out-weigh the potential ability score gains. If it is because they like the variety then just let them and incorporate the turnover of characters in the party into the game.
  • Finally if non of these satisfy or make the issue a non-issue and it remains disruptive to your game you should ask yourself why you are unhappy with them doing this. If it is actually your problem then you need to deal with it yourself. If it really is a problem for the game then talk to the player about not playing rather than continue with the character turnover.

After all the point of the game is for everyone to enjoy themselves and if they want to change characters relatively often the question "why not?" needs a good answer before telling them they can't.


I have up-voted some of the above answers suggesting that forcing anyone into anything is a bad idea, but thought it worth adding my own answer regardless just for completeness.

Avoiding the situation

Assuming you want an in game answer the best method I can think of is to adjust your GM'ing so that this player doesn't actually die. This is too late for now but if you want to avoid my next piece of advise (Which aligns with everyone else) then you can use this method to prevent the situation happening again.

Let the enemy knock him out and take him prisoner or something, have a divine being save his life, let the last sword blow hit the iphone in his pocket and save his life etc.

If this is a problem which you are determined to handle in game you could go all computer-gamey and given them some sort of hook which keeps them alive no matter what - something that maybe teleport's them to a safe place with a portal back to the area once combat ends there. This may change the dynamic of the game as people will take more risks, but that is the balance you will have to work out.

Dealing with the situation [properly]

The use of the word properly is because I (And others it seems) disagree with the premise that you should be looking to force anyone into anything.

You have arrived at the conclusion that you think this player is going to effectively break your game by constantly creating new characters, but (Although you know this individual better than I do) it seems you are not giving him the benefit of the doubt: He may just not like his Ranger.

Even outside of that, if he does want to keep swapping characters, then forcing something isn't the way to handle it.

Talk to your player

Step 1: Ask him why, outside of the game.

Be aware that there is no 'wrong' answer. Whatever his reason if you want him to stay in the game you will have to come to an agreement with him on how to proceed.

Step 2: Come to an agreement.

This is the hard part to answer. If he doesn't like the Ranger and knows what he wants then we are in bonus territory and the fix is just to let him create the new character. If he thinks he struggles to buy into long sessions, or wants to keep swapping characters then you are in a compromise situation (Assuming of course you want to keep him in the game).

I will do a search later on to link some articles, but I have seen plenty of questions on here which will help you reach a consensus on how to proceed. Basically one of both of you will have to adjust and try to find a way that you can both proceed. At this point it may be worth involving the entire group, often the first person to express their feelings is not necessarily the only one that feels that way.

Step 3: Deal with the RP aspect.

It looks like an RP reason is particularly important to you, but once the player has abandoned a character you are within your rights (And the player really should not complain here) to have him become an NPC and you can work out your own RP reason. He might enjoy the afterlife, he might see the bigger picture and find his death furthers a plan which is beneficial to his father or whatever other reasons he has to stay alive. You could even bring him back to life as a proper NPC, though that will need more agreement from the player(s).

Step 4: Profit???


A death is traumatic. Generally there should be a compelling reason for someone to want to come back. Which is why its usually heros. They have unfinished business like saving that princess or the world. Commoners might have a few things to look forward to like children being born or people married, but let's face it, none could ever hope to afford being brought back. Those who are rich can afford it, but let's face it, nobles would hate for the king to keep coming back until old age finally claims him so likely there are laws about those back from the dead gaining positions of power (this comes from a web comic called Girl Genius).

But anyways, no actual reason is really needed, because honestly, who understands the dead? Their motives are no longer our motives.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is addressing the issue, the player doesn't want the character resurrected and wants to play something different. There's no indication that the player is motivated by in-game logic. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 12, 2017 at 0:57

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