I am planning on running a game in a setting (of my own creation) where there are penalties for improperly handling the bodies and possessions of deceased intelligent creatures. Simply, the way it works is:
- if the body of an intelligent creature is not properly buried, then the body will likely rise as an undead
- even if the body is properly buried, if any possessions are taken from the body before it is buried or for some (defined) time after it has been buried, then the body will likely rise as an undead; additionally, the person taking the item will be cursed somehow
- To be clear about this rule, the item must actually be in the possession of the creature before his death
- There is a provision where the appropriate god may allow particularly important items to be removed from the body (party member died carrying the key to the door which is the only way out of the dungeon?), but such exceptions wouldn't occur very often
The primary purposes of these rules is to:
- make death more important
- if you are a good character and you are faced with killing "the bad guy", you're going think twice about it if it means you have to "properly bury" the body afterwards
- provide additional role-playing challenges
- if the person you're considering killing has something you want in his possession, you're going to need to get it away from him without (or before) killing him
- provide an easy and logical reason for items to have "history"
- you don't just pick up the weapons of your fallen enemies--they would be buried and become part of your characters' and your enemies' legacies, for someone in the future to search for and find when in need
Personally, I can envision a number of interesting role-playing opportunities that could be created as a direct side-effect of this rule. However, this directly challenges the expectations how many D&D games are run. In my experience, people expect to:
- Get quest
- Run headlong into dungeon
- Kill everything
- Take all loot
- Never look back
- Is there anything about D&D which makes this kind of settings rule too much of a handicap to a campaign?
- Am I backing myself into a situation where some adventures will simply be impossible to overcome because there is too much of a penalty for "killing"?
- What types of issues should I be prepared for? (ex: I'm going to have to come up with other ways of handing out "loot", like stashing more of it in treasure chests, or providing clues about the location of useful treasure that was buried by somebody else in the past.)
- Is this too unbalancing for Good or Evil?
- Does this handicap Good more than Evil, or vice versa?
- Would this be not-fun?
- If yes, is the idea inherently not-fun, or can this be modified in a way to make it fun?
The first campaign that I run will be with an evil party, so, where possible, this question should be viewed from both "Good" and "Evil" standpoints.
I don't believe that good answers will necessarily need to answer all of the points in the multi-part question above, however, I believe the best answers will.