So I want to have near-instant (next in-game day) reincarnation, as I plan on running a fairly brutal campaign. There are a couple of things I plan on doing, and I would love some help fine tuning the mechanics. I'm going to start w/ the reincarnation rules (which are tied to Soul Stones.

Every PC has a Soul Stone (and some NPCs). This will tie together the reincarnation, as well as provide an additional benefit to the players, and provide me (the DM) with more entertainment.

Soul Stones gain experience during combat when the player is entertaining and descriptive during their turn. "I cast magic missile at the goblin." = No SSXP. "I aim my staff at the small humanoid, shouting 'Feel my wrath', as green fire erupts from the end and the magic missiles hurtle towards him." = SSXP.

Soul Stones can gain levels during an extended rest. Soul Stones can lose levels to re-roll a failed roll lower then it's level as long as the description of the power use was interesting or entertaining enough to be worth SSXP.

I had originally envisioned Soul Stones having 3 levels, one each for At-Will, Encounter and Daily powers. They would have a single SSXP pool, and the SSXP could be spent to increase the levels independently, with higher levels requiring more SSXP, and Encounter levels being more expensive then At-Will Levels, but cheaper then for Daily Levels.

I think this might be a bit to much book keeping, and so I'm trying to come up w/ a simpler way. Should I just have them have a single level, and they can use the re-roll on any type of power? Maybe limit it to just At-Wills and Dailys? Or maybe require expenditure of XP for Encounter and Daily powers in addition to the level loss? Or make it 2 levels lost for encounter and 3 for daily re-rolls?

I want to the system to be enjoyable for my players, but I also don't want it to be too easily abusable.

Finally when a player dies (and isn't resurrected by some means or other) they can make a new character of the same level at the end of an extended rest, but they lose all excess XP. Their Soul Stone keeps it's level and XP, but it can not be leveled up until the next extended rest.


  • Is this penalty severe enough or too severe? I want there to be some penalty for dying, so that players don't forget about self-preservation, or get their characters killed on a whim, but I don't want it to make it unfun for the players either.

  • How would you feel about losing some XP? Coming back with a lower level character?

  • \$\begingroup\$ There's a lot of content in this question, and maybe a couple questions? Can you rephrase it to highlight the question you want answered? \$\endgroup\$
    – C. Ross
    Aug 26 '10 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Basically two intertwined questions: 1) How to implement the reroll/level up mechanic so that it's not too complex but still is useful and entertaining when melded with the 4E powers mechanics. 2) How to penalize character death so it is something to be avoided, but not terrible (as players will die). \$\endgroup\$
    – aslum
    Aug 26 '10 at 16:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ The "how do you feel" opinion stuff is begging for a CW. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Dray
    Sep 17 '10 at 16:12

If I understand your goal, you want to make characters tougher and take some of the sting out of dying. I think your soul stone idea (borrowed from World of Warcraft, I would think) is kinda cool, but the implementation is really complex.


I would ask myself "why do I want this campaign to be so brutal?"

  • To be more dangerous to PCs. This is the obvious choice, but I suspect this isn't why you want it to be brutal. If it were, you wouldn't be bending over backward to find new ways to make PC death less likely and less painful.

  • To seem more dangerous to PCs. Do you want the illusion of danger without the actual danger? The players aren't going to see it that way, with all the boons you're giving them.

  • To make the PCs seem more heroic. If the PCs are facing really dangerous monsters, the common populace will think of them as big heroes. There are two other ways to go about this, though:

    1. Just raise the PC starting level.

    2. Make all NPCs low-level nothings, so that even a 1st level character is pretty amazing to them.

  • To let the PCs attempt more dangerous feats. Perhaps it's not danger you want, but opportunity to do cooler stuff quicker. If so, just raise their starting level.

Other Solutions

  1. Take a look at my Blood Points system, which reduces the whiff factor of D&D.

  2. Introduce epic destinies earlier. This will make characters much more powerful and prevent "premature fatality."

  3. Make the characters immortals. Maybe they're sons and daughters of deities, like Hercules. Kill them, and they rise again the next day. Give them each a signature vulnerability, however, like Achilles' heel.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The link to your Blood Points system in the last section of this answer is now broken. Do you know of anywhere else that system is being served, or do you have a copy of it that can be posted somewhere and linked in? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 15 '13 at 1:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd need to upgrade an old campaign wiki to get the original article. Essentially, though, the system boils down to: Whenever you fail a roll, you earn a blood token that you can spend for a +2 bonus later on. You can spent as many of these at a time as you like, and you can spend them on any standard d20 roll that isn't damage (e.g., rolling initiative, to hit, or even a skill check). In play, it was a lot of fun and never caused any serious balance issues for us. \$\endgroup\$
    – Adam Dray
    Dec 22 '13 at 21:38

It seems like an awful lot of bookkeeping, and adds a lot more fiddly interaction. If you want easy resurrection, simply have soulstones be a soul catcher; if you have the soul stone with a captured soul, then the resurrection should succeed automatically (No rolls, no saves needed).

The rest of your mechanics are account-noise. Devices should, per the 4E DMG, level up with the carrying character. If you want to give them other powers, they should work just like any other magic item on that score.

The use of detailed narrative should not be conflated with the resurrection mechanics. Just migrate that over to standard XP.

Know and understand the reward cycles.

Rezzing is not considered a reward by most; it's either part of the setting or not. XP is the primary mode of reward, and XP brings increased power; XP is the appropriate reward for "good roleplay."

If you really want to encourage such good description, buy some poker chips, and every time someone does really well at describing, hand them one immediately. End of session, cash those in for individual bonus XP. I'd suggest Character level * 20 each... player with most gets bonus 100 XP...

This does have the issue of uneven leveling... but remember the rules fr monster mixed CR? Apply them to PCs to ind the party effective level.

Or, just give a +2 bonus when the description is good.

The rerolls mechanic you've tied in is not a great idea; it conflates the whole issue with two separate reward cycles, one of which is supposedly about rezzing...

As for losing levels over character death: was normal in prior editions. No big deal. Heck, until 3.0, one could lose levels from undead and certain spells.


If you are running a campaign where you know the players are going to die a lot, go ahead and have them roll up several characters ahead of time. When they die, they just pull out the next sheet and jump right in. Saves a lot of time.


You could try to enforce a role-playing penalty. When you resurrect using your Soul Stone you would lose a small part of yourself each time, losing your humanity a tiny slice at a time.

You could add a mechanic to that with a miscellaneous penalty to CHR based checks.


Combining RP bonuses with killing off characters a lot seems like a recipe for disaster. I mean, back in the day (1E) I remember having a guy die every session, but we didn't exactly RP much. When players played a PC, they played it as themselves with spells or whatever. Players who RP their characters, even just in combat, tend to become attached to them.


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