A party adventures for some time and the player characters eventually advance several times in level, say, to level 5. Unfortunately, one of the player characters is then killed, and either cannot be raised or chooses not to. The player intends to make a new character.

What level is their new character? Does a rule cover this circumstance, or is it up to the DM?

up vote 22 down vote accepted

So....two answers here.

Non-Adventurer's League Play

It is entirely and completely up to the DM. There are no rules that cover this.

The PHB only talks about how PC Death can happen. The DMG makes only two mentions of PC Death...

Your campaign might allow player characters to take on lower-level NPCs as followers. For example, a paladin might have a 1st-level paladin as a squire, a wizard might accept a 2nd-level wizard as an apprentice, a cleric might choose (or be assigned) a 3rd-level cleric as an acolyte, and a bard might take on a 4th-level bard as an understudy.

One advantage of allowing lower-level characters to join the party is that players have backup characters if their main characters take time off, retire, or die. One disadvantage is that you and your players have more party members to account for.

Emphasis Mine from DMG p92

Then also has suggestions on p236 that a small group may want to keep some back-up characters around in case their character dies...

Multiple characters can be a good idea in a game that features nonstop peril and a high rate of character death. If your group agrees to the premise, have each player keep one or two additional characters on hand, ready to jump in whenever the current character dies. Each time the main character gains a level, the backup characters do as well.

These two quotes are both suggestions, not rules, and do not answer definitively how you should handle a replacement character's level. The first quote implies you would be handing a PC a lower level 'follower' to take over as their new PC...while the other implies that they would have a same-level replacement character waiting in the wings.

Volo's, Xanathar's, Mordenkainen's, or any of the adventures make no further mention of it

Adventurer's League

Level 1. If you can't get yourself Raised.

If an AL Character dies and the party cannot resurrect them on-the-spot, here are their options:

  1. Create a new 1st Level character
  2. Assuming their corpse can be toted back to civilization and is in good enough shape for the spell to work, the player may spend 1,250gp to pay for a Raise Dead to happen off-screen. Optionally, the party may chip in to help pay for this.
  3. If a character is between level 1 and 4, and is part of a Faction, they may draw on Faction Charity for a free Raise Dead, though doing so forfeits all XP and Rewards earned during that session (including any earned prior to the character's death.

The above is drawn from the AL Tyranny of Dragons Player's Guide, and has been repeated in each player's guide since.

  • 2
    The DMG does actually discuss character death (hopefully it's not "Player Death" :P), in mentioning the levels of "backup characters" and the like. See my answer to the semi-related question "How are experience points given to back-up characters?". – V2Blast Sep 19 at 18:01
  • 1
    I would read the second quote in different way: At some point the Character is so Mighty and Inspiring, that gets follower (maybe 1 or 2 or 3 levels lower as stated in the first quote). Each time the Character levels, so does the Follower (so there is constatnt difference of levels between the two). Character dies, Follower became Main Character (but is still 1-2-3 levels lower, than the deceased) and may attracts (undre right conditions) his own Follower (again probably 1-2-3 lvls lower). So still-dying Character is each time more lower lvl than still-surviving. Promotes surviving :) – gilhad Sep 19 at 21:33
  • Is there an AL price on reviving a Zealot Barbarian with Raise Dead? I know that there's a rough formula for the price of a spell, and one particular component is the fact that expendable materials cost twice as their normal value. Since it takes a 500gp gem (and would contribute 1000 gold to the casting price in AL), would that mean that Zealot Barbarians would cost about 250gp to raise? – Daniel Zastoupil Sep 19 at 22:16
  • @DanielZastoupil I haven't found anything saying one way or another. – guildsbounty Sep 19 at 23:56
  • 2
    @DanielZastoupil That is interesting. You should ask that as a separate question. – Szega Sep 20 at 0:24

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