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I originally got part of this idea from the chat from user GcL then fleshed it out a bit and created it as a magic item. I'm not sure if it's balanced though against other Legendary items as it could potentially be quite powerful.


Necklace of Nine Lives

Wondrous Item, legendary (requires attunement)

This necklace has nine catlike tokens hanging from the chain. While attuned, if the wearer were to die for any reason other than old age, they can instead choose to expend a charge from the necklace to have the stored resurrection spell cast on them from the necklace.

Once a charge is used, one of the feline tokens becomes cracked and tarnished. Anyone can cast a resurrection spell on the necklace to restore one of the tokens and store the spell in it. Once a resurrection spell is cast into the necklace it cannot have another one cast into it for 7d6 days.

When found the necklace has 1d10-1 spells stored in it. To determine which spells are stored, the DM can choose or roll percentile dice for each spell and consult the following table.

\begin{array}{l|l} \text{Roll}& \text{Spell} \\ \hline \text{01 - 10}&\text{Reincarnate} \\ \text{11 - 50}&\text{Revivify} \\ \text{51 - 80}&\text{Raise Dead} \\ \text{81 - 99}&\text{Resurrection} \\ \text{100}&\text{True Resurrection} \\ \end{array}

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    \$\begingroup\$ Four of these spells have a very long casting time (one hour). Does this item cast the spell in one round, or does it take the full hour to cast the spell? \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Apr 10, 2020 at 23:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I was initially thinking it casts it in one round as the spell was previously "hardcast" into it which took the long casting time (and before it's brought up, the costly material component) then. But I can see that might be worth thinking about \$\endgroup\$ Apr 10, 2020 at 23:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ One last question :) What conclusions has your own review provided? Do you think it's balanced, why/why not? \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Apr 10, 2020 at 23:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ There is a massive problem balancing items that can have random amounts of usage. Are you suggesting the party always find one that might have spells in it, but no used tokens? So this always grants 9 lives assuming the party bothers? \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Apr 11, 2020 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SeriousBri the used tokens are restored by storing a spell in them too \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 22:30

1 Answer 1

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This seems like an interesting item. A few changes are necessary.

  1. You write: "they can instead choose to expend a charge from the necklace", but the wearer will generally be unconscious and making death saves when they die, and someone who is unconscious cannot make choices about magic items. As written, the item can only be used if the wearer is killed while conscious (for example by power word: kill). You need to make the item activate automatically, or to clarify that this works even if the user is unconscious.

  2. This item does not specify how long it takes to cast the spell. The casting time needs to be the full hour. If the item can cast resurrection instantaneously, restoring someone's hit points from zero to full, that's too good. (Instant resurrection might not be too good for a martial character, since the -4 penalty to attack rolls would be a problem for them. But it's definitely too good for a spellcaster who can just use spells that don't require attack rolls. Instant true resurrection is definitely too good, no matter who is wearing it.)

  3. This item probably should not be able to hold revivify, because that's a very different spell than the other four, and it creates some very strange incentives. Someone wearing a revivify necklace suddenly feels sad about "merely" going unconscious: if they go unconscious and make their death saves it takes them out of the action for the rest of the combat, but if they fail their death saves the revivify goes off and they're back in the combat with one hit point. (If you wanted an item that could get someone back into a combat, that should probably be a different item, perhaps one that would cast an emergency healing spell if someone goes unconscious.)

  4. Consider adding some discussion of how easy it is to notice when one's defeated enemy is wearing this necklace and it is casting a raise dead spell on them. Is it completely unnoticeable until the final stage when they stand up? Mostly unnoticeable unless you examine carefully and notice their wounds are healing? Or does the necklace glow and start chanting in Celestial? This question is very likely to come up in practice, so it's better to answer it rather than make the DM issue a ruling.


With these changes, the item becomes one that will bring you back to life an hour after you died. Basically it's very similar to a scroll of raise dead, except that you don't need the cleric to be standing there casting it. This is not unbalanced.

The effect of this necklace is actually not that great. If you fall off a tower and take lethal damage, sure, the necklace will bring you back. But if you fall into a pool of acid, or you get devoured by a hungry monster, or you get killed by brigands and then they loot your body and take your stuff, the necklace won't save you from any of that. But it's still a nice bonus for the occasional time it saves your life.

High-level groups might want to get one of these necklaces to give to their cleric. If the whole group is wiped out, the necklace will bring the cleric back and the cleric can raise the rest of them. Other characters would probably be happy to have one, too.

The rules for magic item rarity are not super consistent. I think it's correct to call this a "legendary" item simply because it's capable of using a ninth-level spell effect (true resurrection). But it would be reasonable to imagine a variant of the item that only casts raise dead; I think it would be fair to describe this item as "rare" since it only casts a fifth-level spell effect and it doesn't even do that very often.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So for your first point, I considered making it that way but then I also thought of how resurrection spells are giving a dead creature the ability to make a choice (namely whether or not to revive). For the second, I can see where you're coming from on that. I personally disagree with your third point as from my perspective even if you make all your saves, in the games I've played at least, you still likely end up dead unless your allies manage to finish the enemies off. I will definitely add some flavor regarding your 4th point. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 0:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ As for the last paragraph, I might make lesser versions of the necklace at lower rarities which might be interesting. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 0:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Out of curiosity, and perhaps against the rules, what would you recommend having as an activation time longer than instant but still shorter than the original spellcasting time? (I like the flavour of the necklace storing spells in a “pending activation” state after being hard cast, and would like to see how this could work in a balanced manner) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 4:48
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    \$\begingroup\$ Another missed detail, which is somewhat related to the "not conscious to make a choice" part of this answer's first point: If the necklace is storing a mix of different spells, how do you determine which one is cast when the wearer dies? Is it random, or is it based on some fixed set of criteria? Also, regarding the brigands scenario, what happens if the necklace is removed between the time it is activated and when the spell takes effect? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 11, 2020 at 11:13
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think you should make a new question. : ) \$\endgroup\$
    – Dan B
    Apr 13, 2020 at 16:12

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