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Player deaths are always nasty and annoying. If you want to protect yourself against that other than by getting resurrected by a companion, such as a cleric with Revivify or stronger resurrection spells, how would you go about that?

I'm aware of the Clone spell, but that's an 8th-level wizard-exclusive spell (although it can be cast on other creatures, so it's still an option for non-wizards if there's one in the party).
The only other feature I'm aware of is the Unearthed Arcana Mystic's level 20 feature which gives you a 55% chance to automatically revive 1d3 days after your death.

What possibilities exist for members of other classes (potentially using magic items)?

I'm primarily interested in features to survive actual death, not zero-HP-unconsciousness. Feel free to include anything that helps against zero-HP-situations, but it's not quite what I'm looking for.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you interested solely in items/actions covered in the books? Will homebrew work for you? Or items built following the DMG? \$\endgroup\$ – TheVagrantDog May 31 '18 at 21:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TheVagrantDog homebrew magic items might be relevant if I deem them balanced. Homebrewed spells/classes are not an option. Either way, I prefer official solutions. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 31 '18 at 22:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PixelMaster What about slightly modified spell uses? I'm thinking on Glyph of Warding :P (I have used that as a DM for a purpose similar to yours) \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 1 '18 at 0:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you have a maximum timeframe for being dead in mind? Because if not "Make your corpse look very interesting to be sure wizard archeologists that find you later on revive you." could qualify. \$\endgroup\$ – DonFusili Jun 1 '18 at 8:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DonFusili surprise me. Although it should be somewhat reliable, and if it might or might not happen 300 Years after your death, then it's more of a last resort and other protections should be in place that don't take as long. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Jun 1 '18 at 8:24
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My answer will be based on Spells. I can't remember any magic item that works like what you want (except for casting these spells).

Official Ways

Contingency

Contingency from a Wizard multi-classed into a class that can cast resurrection spells, e.g. Wiz 11/Cleric 9. Not optimal, but official. Note that Contingency only states

spell that you can cast

not "A Wizard spell".

If you have access to a Contingency spell scroll, you can read it if you have at least 1 level in Wizard. Note that you can only cast a spell from a scroll

...if the spell is on your class's spell list, you can use [it]...

The use is simple: Trigger is "me dying", spell is Revivify. Other res spells have cast time of 1 hour, not 1 action (Raise Dead, Reincarnate, Resurrection and True Resurrection at least - can't remember any other).

Death Ward

Straight-forward

The first time the target would drop to 0 hit points as a result of taking damage, the target instead drops to 1 hit point, and the spell ends. If the spell is still in effect when the target is subjected to an effect that would kill it instantaneously without dealing damage, that effect is instead negated against the target, and the spells ends.

Not exactly being resurrected but stopping death, which is essentially the same.

Wish

Well, Wish can do anything as long as you word it correctly and your DM allows it. "I wish that next time I die, I get instantly resurrected". (Or resurrected after 1 week, or anything else you... Wish.)

Anything that grants you a cast of any of the earlier spells

Welp, obvious one as well. In particular, Gate into Efreeti into Wish. Candle of Invocation works as well, but your DM will not be giving one to you.


Depending on your definition of "others"...

You could also have creatures conjured (or enslaved?) for you that can cast resurrection for you. True Polymorph gives you a friendly creature (from a rock). PixelMaster has mentioned War Priest, from Volo's Guide to Monsters, who is CR9 and can cast Revivify - there you go. Find a large rock, cast True Polymorph, create a War Priest.


Glyph of Warding - slightly modified

Since this errata, Glyph of Warding can also be used for that purpose. Originally it said

When you cast this spell, you inscribe a glyph that harms other creatures

but it has changed to "When you cast this spell, you inscribe a glyph that later unleashes a magical effect."

Spell Glyph: You can store a prepared spell of 3rd level or lower in the glyph by casting it as part of creating the glyph. The spell must target a single creature or an area. The spell being stored has no immediate effect when cast in this way. When the glyph is triggered, the stored spell is cast. If the spell has a target, it Targets the creature that triggered the glyph. If the spell affects an area, the area is centered on that creature. If the spell summons hostile creatures or creates harmful Objects or traps, they appear as close as possible to the intruder and Attack it. If the spell requires Concentration, it lasts until the end of its full Duration.

and

You decide what triggers the glyph when you cast the spell.

As per V2Blast's comment, if you define the trigger as being "It triggers when I die", you are the one triggering the effect, thus you're the target. You could then cast Revivify and put the Glyph somewhere.

It's not a Homunculus/free resurrection due to this limitation (clarified in the same errata):

If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered

So you can't just cast it in an object and walk with your free resurrection inside the dungeon.

This would be best used in your own house or something like that for not being assassinated.

I've had an (evil tyrant and paranoid) NPC doing that, glyphing his own bed. Just in case someone would kill him during his sleep. It's essentially a (greatly) nerfed Contingency that can be used by other (than Wizard) classes.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Dec 3 '18 at 17:56
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The Revenant race returns to life 24 hours after being killed.

The spell contingency lets a spell of 5th level or lower take place when a certain trigger occurs. Although only wizards can cast this spell, anyone with one level of wizard can attempt to read a scroll of contingency. Any character who can cast raise dead or reincarnate, or even a lesser spells like revivify or cure wounds, can rescue themselves this way. A wizard can take the Magic Initiate feat to cast cure wounds.

A character who becomes a vampire automatically reverts to a mist if reduced to 0 hit points, and can regenerate to full health. However, the vampire entry in the Monster Manual also states that a character who becomes a vampire may become an NPC under the DM's control.

The spell death ward will save you from a single effect which would otherwise kill you. This isn't exactly the same as resurrecting you, but it will effectively save you from being killed.

A wild magic sorcerer has an unreliable percentage chance to come back to life thanks to a Wild Surge:

  • On a roll of 91-92, "If you die within the next minute, you immediately come back to life as if by the reincarnate spell."
  • On a roll of 15-16, "For the next minute, you regain 5 hit points at the start of each of your turns." This won't save you if you're actually killed, but would save you if you dropped to 0 hit points (unlike most forms of regeneration).

If you're using the spell astral projection, and you're killed on the Astral Plane, you immediately come back to life in your original body. This is only useful when fighting enemies on the Astral Plane.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is definitely the direction I was going for. Feel free to include the sorcerer feature I discovered after posting the question to help future readers. I'll accept your answer eventually, but I'm giving others a chance to contribute, and don't want to deter them by accepting an answer too early. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Jun 1 '18 at 0:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ "anyone can read a scroll of contingency." - Explain that, please. You can only use spells from scrolls if that spell is in your spell list - which is not the case for anyone but Wizard. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 1 '18 at 1:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Corrected answer to account for DMG p.200, which specifies that spell scrolls require the correct spellcasting class. I had incorrectly been going by p.139-140 which states that anyone can read a scroll. \$\endgroup\$ – Quadratic Wizard Jun 1 '18 at 12:42
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Coincidentally, I found something myself: the Wild Magic Sorcerer has a trait on the Wild Magic Surge table that states:

If you die within the next minute, you immediately come back to life as if by the reincarnate spell.

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Honestly, I'm unaware of any item or class ability listed in the 5e Core materials that would provide a player with a resurrection like ability once their character is truly dead. Everything that I can think of will require the assistance of either another player, or an NPC.

Here are the ideas I've thought of where your DM may:

  • Allow the players to quest for an item that would res the character upon death only once. Your DM would need to design the item so it went well with the campaign being run. Having your characters pay for such an item to be crafted is again relying on others to provide the solution.

  • Allow your character to quest for a process that would result in something similar to that of a lich. Probably not what you're after, but a possibility.

  • Allow you character to quest for a gift/boon from a major power that would res the character upon death.

  • My favorite idea being that the DM play some kind of Ghostwalk session(s) that would allow the deceased player's spirit/ghost to quest in the realms of the dead for a way to return to life. This relies heavily upon the DM's ability to conceive of a story and mechanics of such a possibility. The DM may choose to use the actual Ghostwalk 3e campaign setting or just some of the content/mechanics from the setting.

Honestly, I could continue on with fun ideas your DM could explore, but that's up to your DM so I'll stop here since it's not really what you asked.

I realize this doesn't provide you with an answer directly to your question of what abilities/magic items a player can use to resurrect a dead character, but without your DM's assistance you appear to have already found more than I was aware of with the UA Mystic's 20th level ability.

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One class feature for Zealot Barbarian from Xanathar's Guide to Everything may be worth your attention.

RAGE BEYOND DEATH Beginning at 14th level, the divine power that fuels your rage allows you to shrug off fatal blows. While you’re raging, having 0 hit points doesn’t knock you unconscious. You still must make death saving throws, and you suffer the normal effects of taking damage while at 0 hit points. However, if you would die due to failing death saving throws, you don"t die until your rage ends, and you die then only if you still have 0 hit points.

Semantically, this does not allow you to survive being "dead". It does, given an opportunity to rage before probable death, give you a 100% chance of avoiding death for as long as your rage lasts (much better than Death Ward or Contingency>Revivify for most purposes) provided you do not take damage equal to your maximum health. As long as you have time and freedom of movement before your rage ends to quaff a healing potion, use another effect that restores health, or use a healer's kit, you won't die.

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Depending on the campaign, you could contract a clerical service from an npc organization. Say you give them a lock of hair and a bunch of money and they use divination magic to check that you are alive every week or so. If they detect that you are dead, they use the hair to res you. They would need to use True Resurrection, since a regular res requires your body.

You might be able to work out a magic item that stores a res spell and then have another spell that can trigger it, but I do not know of any spell that works that way.

It really depends on your DM. Pretty much any solution you come up with is going to require a discussion with your DM to make sure they are fine with your plan.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This requires someone else's help still. I'm not sure whether this answers the OP's question. Also, in 5e, you can't just resurrect someone from their hair (you need their actual body). \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron May 31 '18 at 21:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ahh, it would have to be a true res then. More expensive, but still possible. As for requiring help, the OP asked about 'companion' help, so I was suggesting an npc solution. \$\endgroup\$ – BladeBriar May 31 '18 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is not quite what I'm looking for. If you know of a spell that allows them to summon "my" original body so that they can resurrect me for less than 25k gold, it'd be a little bit more helpful - but still, not quite my intention. \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 31 '18 at 22:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ True Resurrection also needs the body. It only doesn't need the body if the body doesn't exist any more. Assuming the body does exist, that won't work. \$\endgroup\$ – HellSaint Jun 1 '18 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does not answer the question. The question asks for possible ways to get resurrected without the help of others And mentions this again in the second sentence of the question text: If you want to protect yourself against that other than by getting resurrected by a companion, such as a cleric with Revivify or stronger resurrection spells, how would you go about that? (Imho this is not a bad way of approaching the problem, it's just not what the OP asks for.) \$\endgroup\$ – fabian Jun 1 '18 at 14:36

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