I was thinking of a way for a humanoid (PC or NPC) to live forever in a D&D setting, but through rather "common" and reproducible means, such that they will be available to many. By this logic I exclude cases such as a god giving immortality (or some other intervention) or a unique item granting an endless lifespan etc.

To cover all bases I will note that miracle and wish cannot do this directly, nor can true resurrection (and its lesser brethren) "restore to life a creature who has died of old age".

I had came up with the following ruse:

  1. Reach your deathbed with at least 2 HD (or levels).
  2. Have someone kill you so that the cause of death will not be "old age".
  3. Have a druid cast reincarnate on you into a young body. You "recall the majority of your former life". I assume your memories, personality/identity and experiences are preserved.

Rinse and repeat. It's not that difficult to recover the 1 HD lost through the course of almost a lifetime. The material components are worth 1,000 gp - might not be easy to get, but surely possible.

Furthermore, it is stated that "A wish or a miracle spell can restore a reincarnated character to his or her original form.". I assume the "original form" is the aged humanoid at his or her deathbed - not the direction we are looking for, unless it means that the humanoid restores his race only.

Is there a flaw in this plan? Is there another way of doing it?


5 Answers 5


There's No Flaw in the Plan...

That totally works mechanically.

...But Everything Else Resists the Plan

First, most folks are level 1 and stay level 1. In the Dungeon Master's Guide's chapter Campaigns under the heading Generating Towns under the subheading Total Characters of Each Class a DM is supposed to

take the remaining population after all other characters are generated and divide it up so that 91% are commoners, 5% are warriors, 3% are experts, and the remaining 1% is equally divided between aristocrats and adepts (0.5% each). All these characters are 1st level. (139)

This leaves the vast majority of the population with HD insufficient to prevent Constitution loss via most spells that bring back the dead, including the 4th-level Drd spell reincarnate [trans] (PH 270). As reduced Constitution means reduced Fortitude saving throw bonuses, most creatures who do extend their lives this way are far more susceptible to disease and other hazards, and it means, because of their correspondingly reduced hp, they face an even greater threat than do typical commoners from such vicious creatures as domesticated house cats.

Also, commoners are poor. In the Dungeon Master's Guide's chapter Campaigns under the heading Economics under the subheading Coinage it says that the

economic system in the D&D game is based on the silver piece (sp). A common laborer earns 1 sp a day. That’s just enough to allow his family to survive, assuming that this income is supplemented with food his family grows to eat, homemade clothing, and a reliance on self-sufficiency for most tasks (personal grooming, health, animal tending, and so on). (139)

Thus to gather the 1,000 gp for just the material components for one casting of the spell reincarnate takes the common laborer working 7 days a week for nearly 30 years, and for the 280 gp needed to pay a Drd7 to cast the spell reincarnate (see Table 7-8: Goods and Services under the heading Spellcasting and Services on PH 129) the common laborer must work 7 days a week for nearly another 8 years. That's assuming a Drd7 is even present in the town, which is unlikely in any town smaller than a large town (DMG 139).

Therefore a human, with his average lifespan of 91 years (PH 109) could spend over a third of that to pay to be the target of the spell reincarnate upon his death (assuming no one in such an environment nicked the gp to pay for his or her own reincarnate spell), but he'd be increasingly frail and, possibly, increasingly miserable continuing on the work-death-reincarnate treadmill. Elves, dwarves, and gnomes might be more agreeable to such a plan, but even members of those long-lived races risk the spell reincarnate bringing them back from the dead as a much shorter-lived race.

Finally, there's the inevitable marut (MM 159-60) who

confront[s] those who would try to deny the grave itself. Any who use unnatural means to extend their life span (such as a lich) could be targeted by a marut. Those who take extraordinary measures to cheat death in some other way (such as sacrificing hundreds of others to keep oneself safe from a plague) might be labeled transgressors as well. Those who use magic to reverse death (raise dead spells, for example) aren’t worthy of a marut’s attention unless they do so repeatedly or on a massive scale.

Emphasis mine. It sounds like the folks you describe would be exactly the folks that would interest maruts.

So, in a homebrew setting that uses Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 mechanics but ignores Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 demographics, economics, and canonical creatures, the plan is flawless. Reconciling the homebrew setting with traditional Dungeons and Dragons 3.5, however, requires addressing a variety of issues.

"Is there another way of granting a population eternal life?"

First, one must simply ignore calling creatures (some of whom can grant wishes) as there are far more serious long-term campaign implications to consider than just an extended lifespan when, for example, using the 6th-level Sor/Wiz spell planar binding [conj] (PH 261) to call a series of efreet. Then one can consider other means.

Master of the Secret Sound & Kissed by the Ages

So there's the prestige class master of the secret sound (Dragon #297 78-9) at level 10 gains the spell-like ability the secret sound, allowing him, once per day as a full-round action, to duplicate up to a 9th-level spell; this can be the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell kissed by the ages [necro] (Dragon #354 54), which stops a creature's aging. A master could first use the secret sound to kiss himself and, if magnanimous and not using it for his own wish [univ] (PH 302), could thereafter use the secret sound to kiss one vassal per day, eventually affecting an entire population.

The typical master of the secret sound enters the prestige class as a Wiz9 or Sor10. Even in a randomly generated metropolis there are no wizards or sorcerers higher than level 16 (DMG 139).

Dweomerkeeper, Boon Traps, & Other Spells

The 4th-level Drd spell last breath [trans] (SpC 130) functions like the spell reincarnate except the spell last breath must be cast on the target within 1 round of the creature's death, and the material components--otherwise identical to the spell reincarnate--cost only 500 gp (so it only takes a commoner 14 years working 7 days a week to save up for the material components' cost). This has the advantage of no Constitution loss for a 1 HD creature and no level loss for higher-level creatures. It has the disadvantage of necessitating either the creature dying when a Drd7 or higher can reach the dead creature in 1 round or the creature commit carefully prearranged suicide.

The prestige class dweomerkeeper (Complete Divine Web enhancement "More Divinity" 1) at level 4 gains the special ability supernatural spell, granting him, once per day, the ability to use a standard-action spell he has prepared or knows as a supernatural ability. This could be the spell last breath.

The typical dweomerkeeper enters the prestige class as a level 5 caster, making level 9 the minimum to use this trick. While there's a 50% chance a druid being sufficient level in a town as small as large town (DMG 139) and a far higher chance as towns' sizes increase, the dweomerkeeper is Forgotten Realms-specific.

Boon Traps of Acceptable Spells

As Brian Ballsun-Stanton mentions in his answer, a community could band together and buy an automatically resetting boon trap (Du 135-6) of last breath and just suicide on it, making sure to get first the appropriate arcane mark [univ] (PH 201). According to my math, such a boon trap costs (500 x 7 caster level x 4 spell level) gp + 5(40 XP x 7 caster level x 4 spell level) gp + 100(500 gp for material components) gp + (250 + 5(20 XP) gp for the spell read magic [div] (PH 269) as a trigger) = 69,950 gp, takes 139 days to craft, requires the feat Craft Wondrous Item (PH 92-3) and getting those involved to expend the spells last breath and read magic once per day during that time (an additional cost of 38,920 gp1 for the Drd7 but only 695 gp for the level 1 Clr, Drd, Sor, Wiz or whatever).

To simplify, I assume each commoner contributes 1,820 gp over his working lifetime of 50 52-week 7-day-long work years, and therefore a community needs less than 40 members--a thorp!--to fund such a boondoggle... assuming a Drd7's willing to provide his services free, charging only for the completed boon trap. If he's not, the community needs slightly more than 60 members... which is alarmingly reasonable for eternal life, and shows how utterly broken the rules for boon traps are.

My calculations yield that a boon trap of the 8th-level Sor/Wiz spell steal life [necro] (BV 106) costs 84,350 gp, and a boon trap of the 9th-level Sor/Wiz spell Ensul's soultheft [necro] (CSW 152-3) costs 107,450 gp; neither price includes whatever it costs to pay the caster to show up every day and make the trap, though. And while these traps dodge the suicide-then-maybe-come-back-as-a-troglodyte bullet, both require the suffering or death of other creatures--I recommend a large number of caged toads.

Largely Unacceptable Spells

Like Pro756 mentions in his answer, if the folks don't mind becoming undead (and, perhaps, being controlled by a "malign intelligence"), there are many undead who retain special qualities and class levels upon becoming undead, lose nothing from dying, and become functionally immortal. As can be seen here, these are alarmingly common, and many of the spells needed can be plugged into a creature with the template spellstitched (CAr 161-2) by a relatively low-level caster.

The metamorphosis version of the 8th-level Sor/Wiz spell binding [ench] (PH 204-5) causes a creature who fails its saving throw versus the spell (voluntarily or not) to assume

gaseous form, except for its head or face. It is held harmless in a jar or other container, which may be transparent if [the caster] so choose[s]. The creature remains aware of its surroundings and can speak, but it cannot leave the container, attack, or use any of its powers or abilities. The binding is permanent. The subject does not need to breathe, eat, or drink while metamorphosed, nor does it age. (205)

Since this version of the spell binding still requires paying the wizard 1,200 gp to cast it and expending 500 gp worth of props, 500 gp of opals, and "a vellum depiction or carved statuette of the subject to be captured" (which was in the caster's spell component pouch this whole time--who knew?), such immortality would be hard sell, taking as it would to pay for it a Com1 working 7 day a week for over 60 years and increasing by about 14 years per level above 1. But this allows for row upon row of advisory heads a la the television series Futurama, so it's definitely a thing.

A final alternative is the 9th-level pain Domain (BV 81) spell eternity of torture [necro] (BV 93-4), costing a mere 1,530 gp to get cast on oneself. This is... not a good method of living forever and also unavailable even in Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 metropolises.

  1. "If spells are... prerequisites for making the item [the creator] must have prepared the spells to be cast... but need not provide any material components.... The act of working on the item triggers the prepared spells, making them unavailable for casting during each day of the item’s creation. (That is, those spell slots are expended from his currently prepared spells, just as if they had been cast.)" (DMG 288)
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a side note, in Pathfinder there is an NPC in the River Kingdoms who has been using Druids to reincarnate him for the past 500ish years. He gets around the old age thing by participating in Gladiatorial combat. So on a small scale, totally viable. Large scale...not so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – Cthos
    May 5, 2014 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ In "Boon Traps" section you assume that they're recharged everyday. Assuming average lifespan of 40 and redundancy of, say, 10, this puts community size to 1461 people or so. If 100 lifetimes were enough for that, each commoner would only have to provide 1/14 of his lifetime for that which looks totally reasonable (albeit not as cheap as cryonics - and those are not really popular). \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2016 at 0:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daerdemandt I'll happily admit to being not statistics-savvy enough to grok exactly what you mean, but, if it helps your calculations, by default a boon trap is usable once per round. Dungeonscape says that some folks "deliberately increase the reset time of their boon traps" but doesn't mention a corresponding price break. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2016 at 0:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan What I meant is - village of 120 people with lifespan of 40 years faces, on average, 3 deaths per year. Recharging the trap daily seems a bit of an overkill then - more than 100x redundancy. The device should be used by a larger community. Even community of 1500 people seems too small for a daily-recharged device, but it's totally capable of affording it. Even if we account for additional costs of various logistics, the whole thing seems easily sustainable. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2016 at 1:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daerdemandt O, yes! Building the boon trap for thorp of 40 is, indeed, (ahem) overkill. I wasn't punning when I called it a boondoggle. (Okay, maybe a little.) Absolutely do larger settlements cut the price to affordable and actual cities cut the per-person investment to nearly trivial, but the goal was to find the smallest town that could afford it. Using such a device on a grand scale carries the real 3E risk of marut intervention, after all. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2016 at 1:13

Yes, Last Breath in a magic trap removes the XP and amortizes the money requirements at the cost of a planned suicide and a very expensive magic item. The rest of this answer will explore if a village of 57 commoners can achieve this magic trap in one lifetime.

... some math later...

They can achieve practical immortality in about 5-10 years of sitting around blissed off their gourds and writing poetry.

Many of the mechanics of last breath and why empires like this form the campaign settings of the future have been detailed in my answer here.

In this question, however, we are begging the question of "can this be done by a level 1 commoner?"

First, don't underestimate a community of optimised commoners (where this sort of cheese is likely to take place.) They can do some quite remarkable things by working together over periods of time.

We'll ignore the Henry Ford of commoners, however, and assume that they haven't mastered the modern assembly line. We'll also assume that this project is generational (for given values of generational) and that there's a friendly order of archivists around who would be very curious to see how this sort of thing turned out.

We have a number of hurdles for our community:

  1. Getting enough food to live on
  2. Making a surplus of money
  3. Defending against nominal threats
  4. Buying a iron maiden of eternal life (64000 gp, kills someone entering it and casts last breath on their corpse).
  5. Fighting off the maruts that decide to be annoyed at the community.

Crafting food to live on shouldn't be a matter of survival checks, as they presume a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. We will presume that we're a trading village, as I don't feel like exploring the "economics" of farming. Therefore we will presume that we sell our goods to their lord, representing a very generous tax rate of 50%. (For the times, this is generous, but whatever.) For sake of argument and to simplify logistics, we will presume that this village is owned by a monastic order of archivists who can defend them from most normal threats in exchange for the taxes.

How many people does it take to feed this community?

Now, clearly, magical items are the way to go here (eventually). A commoner can expect to live at least 50 years. (Which is long for a fantasy time, but whatever.) Over that time, she will expect to spend 1 silver per day on "food" for the totality of her life. Now, we will presume a community with dedicated cooks, such that they can make craft checks for this purpose. We will say that a poor meal is easy, with a DC of 10. The chef (having a positive intelligence), will have a check of 10 (taking 10)+1 (int bonus, being conservative)+2 (masterwork tools, since 50gp pots are a great hand-me-down)+4 (skill ranks)+2 (feat:apprentice (craftsman)) = 19. Apprentice(craftsman) further reduces the goods cost by 10%. She'll need one assistant (the apprentice-apprentice cook).

Therefore, assuming that we can batch up days of food into some unit that the math likes (approximating the daily grind of making bread and porridge), our chef will voluntarily add +10 to the DC of the item, making 400 sp per week worth of meals, or approximately can feed 57 total people for the cost of 120 sp.

We will therefore set our village size at 57 (or some multiple thereof)

The cost of feeding a village of 57 people for 50 years is therefore, 31200 gp, give or take feats. Having 6 assistants helping doesn't actually provide for higher productivity per person, so our chef won't use more assistants than necessary. With a trait, she doesn't need the assistant, but I'm hesitant to bring in UA stuff if I don't need to.

Since there are no rules for logistics chains, we don't gain anything from having a stack of value added "farmers to millers to chefs". Therefore, we're looking for the best skill RoI to feed the community.

To see if we can get to functional immortality, we'll have a budget of 2850 peasant years.

Making money by writing words

The best skill to earn money with is Craft(Wordsmithing) (Races of Stone), which for a fixed 2GP per week, can generate reference books (dc 18, 100gp), epics(d20, 500gp), and symphonies(dc 20, 100gp). We'll assume that the archivist monastery that this village belongs to will happily purchase this output because they've figured out how to be a publishing house (and make oodles of money.)

Our author must be human (for the extra feat), and will take Hidden Talent (Minor Creation) and Psicrystal Affinity(Aritsan). while apprentice(crafter) and mark of making are also recommended by the handbook, I can't bring myself to accept flaws here.

Therefore, our middle aged artisan will have 10 (take 10)+4 (ranks) +1 (int, middle aged)+3 (psicrystal) +2 (masterwork tools), or a neat check result of 20.

Presuming that there's an infinite market for symphonies (And not touching the DMG2 business rules because no.), our artisan can gain 40 gp towards the symphony or epic per week. We will set the cost of the work at multiples of 40gp, depending on "market conditions." (We will presume a steady stream of commissions come from the monastery on the hill from their contacts. Dealing with infinite planes is very odd when thinking about economic situations. We'll assume there's a market and move on.) Unfortunately, this crafted object can only be sold for 50%. So we'll abstract this process to assert a commune of creative types making (20-2)gp per week, legally.

Therefore, we have 1 chef and her assistant, producing 400 meal-days per week for 12 gold. feeding 57 people on poor (but well made) rations. We'll assume 1 author (doesn't have to be the same person) producing 18 gp per week writing.

Given how much effort it takes to feed a community, we'll up the meal quality to common and triple the price (36 gold) and require two authors a week to produce works to feed the community. We've spent 4 people so far.

It's going to be very very important to avoid building up liquid wealth beyond the village's capabilities of defending it. It's also important for the village to build up sufficient wealth to buy an Iron Maiden of Eternal Youth.

In the Magic Item Compendium, a field provisions box is 2000 gp, and feeds 15 people per day. Since there's already an item that does this, we won't work through the costing of a magic trap of cafeteria steam trays. It costs a little over two years of profits of our typical wordsmith to buy one of these. The village will need 4 of them total, but assuming we have a writing community of 8 more people (bringing us to 10 creatives, 2 cooks), We can have the village self-sufficient for food in a year.

Food self-sufficiency costs the village 36 peasant years, bringing our budget to 2814.

Liquid Joy, the main product of the village

The next bit is rather sketchy, as it uses spells from book of exalted deeds. Specifically, we'll need to invest two spells into magic traps: Elation and Distilled Joy.

The most profitable use of sentients is in the production of XP for magic item creation (assuming that we're trying to generate wealth instead of just reallocating it in the usual murderhobo fashion.) Conservatively, 1xp in magic item creation is worth 5gp. Distilled Joy takes a day to produce, and provides a vial which good spellcasters can use as the equivalent of 2xp.

Spending a day in the hall produces a vial of ambrosia worth 2 xp or, by definition, 10 gold. Therefore a villager can produce a profit of 5 gold a day by listening to nice music in the hall and experiencing joy. Technically, ambrosia is worth 200 gp on the open market according to the book of exalted deeds, but we'll ignore that because that makes the village too rich too fast.

The basic process will be a magic trap of elation inducing elation inside its radius. This trap will cost 6000 gp (CL 3 * spell level 2 * 500) *2 (to represent an NPC crafting cost, just like normal "magical items") Also included in this room-wide "magic trap" will be the distilled joy spell, for an extra 15000 gp for a nice total of 21000 gp to make an auditorium, 80' in radius, where audiences can enjoy novel symphonies and other artistic works (since we have the creatives on staff, we might as well use them.) After our 10 creatives buy four field provisions boxes, they'll produce works for 2.3 years to pay for the creation of this auditorium. Every 18 seconds, another wave of elation will fill the auditorium, and another person (in rotation) will have distilled joy cast on them.

We'll assume that this auditorium has 20000 square feet of "enchanted" space, and, since we're designing the space for maximum comfort, we'll allocate 300 square feet per person, easily allowing the entire village to fit beds, tables, and chairs in. Given the casting time of 1 day for distilled joy, we'll require that a villager spend a day in the hall to generate the ambrosia. We'll ignore the various ways of getting a spell cast more quickly.

Creating this infrastructure will cost the village another 30 peasant years. (I'm rounding up to account for natural friction.) Leaving us 2784.

Defending Against Nominal Threats

We'll assume that we ask for half of the village to be in the happy-house every day (or 28 people). And that these people are not otherwise productive. (They'll be supplied any book they want to read or art supplies or conversational spaces or performances, but we won't price their output.)

Every day, this produces 28 doses of ambrosia, worth 280 gp (or 140 gp to the villagers). Given that the costing makes it equivalent to a healing potion (on the averages), 5.6 bottles will be walked up to the monastery to be sold on account to the gods, good spellcasters, or used by the monastery. This leaves the guarding of liquid assets to the monastery. Two major defensive requirements emerge: defending the fixed investments of the village and defending the shipments. Because the ambrosia is restricted to good spellcasters, only evil spellcasters with use magic device, or chaotic evil "wreck everything" nutjobs will be interested in taking over the village.

These 28 doses per day cost the village 1400 peasant years. (Midway through, there's likely a rotating cadre of peasants, as the "be happy for a decade, and then get your youth back, free" deal is... not a bad deal. Still, that's outside the scope of the problem. This reduces our available budget to 1384 years. On the other hand, 28 doses per day generates 140 gp for the village every day. This means that in 450 days of joint work, the villagers could pay for their iron maiden of eternal youth.

Honestly, at this point, affording good ground and anti-air defenses is well within the village's capability before the iron maiden is ever used, And they've spent, at most, 5 years with most of their population available for defending the village. With the resources they can muster, especially selling soul-food to the good gods, it's very hard to see how they couldn't afford items of "Marut-b-gone" or just have a quiet conversation with one of the gods who likes their product along the lines of "hey, can you have a chat with those guys, they're threatening your food supply? Oh, by the way, would you like your next joy to be flavoured with a specially commissioned symphony or perhaps some delightful poetry?"

The main problem stems from the source of wealth: The Joyful Mind(Kringelbach and Berridge 2012) where direct stimulation of the pleasure centre decoupled from productive activity caused rats to push the pleasure button without ever actually gaining sustenance, leading to addictive and self-destructive patterns that use our own reward training mechanisms to defeat ourselves. See also: Omelas, Lotus Eaters.

So long as the joy was carefully rationed, with copious contributions of Remove Addiction and other necessary healing spells, this should work marvellously, leading to explosive population growth and the founding of an ancient empire that modern heroes can discover the wondrous artefacts of. And then they find the great hall... and everything starts over again.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Typical medieval taxes were only 10% each to church and lord. It was the rents that were 50-70%... and commoners rented from their lieges historically... \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    Mar 15, 2015 at 19:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Looks like I've found the way to employ all those peasants left unemployed by industrial revolution! \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2016 at 0:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daerdemandt Except that Brian's delightful cheese manufacturing recipe above overlooks the elastic nature of supply and demand relationships on the actually achievable income accrued from overproduction of the various cottage industry products proposed in this business plan. (It's still a great read, though.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2017 at 18:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Well he explicitly assumes effectively infinite market capacity. Divinations + time travel + multitude of planes arguably might do that to the market. If not, players would gladly do that, by running couple logistic enterprises and hedge funds, effectively stabilizing prices in the whole multiverse to the point where they can be just written in the books (or on the goods themselves, like in USSR). \$\endgroup\$ Apr 26, 2017 at 17:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daerdemandt Sure, if that's the kind of play element that makes for fun at a given table. Why not? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 26, 2017 at 18:11

Besides the high-level magicky stuff, there is a ritual for that

There is a ritual-produced ex-human psionic Aberration race "Elan" (Expanded Psionics Handbook p.9). Elans are made out of Humans only (you can't make a Halfling Elan without homerules), they reach Middle age at 200 years, Old age at 400 years, Venerable age at 1000 and after that there is basically no age cup.

Elans get 2 free Power Points/day (which grants them access to Psionic Feats), are able to go on without any food and water at all (at the cost of 1 PP/day) and just get -2 to CHA (not a bad trade for all of those bonuses)

There are two major points about using them. First of all, there is no stated price for the ritual - meaning, it's as cheap as it gets and it would not be surprising if someone would mass-produce Elans out of normal people. Second of all, the ritual causes the person to somewhat "reborn". Even if it is used on a venerable, nearly dead from old age granny, his life and age counts anew from the moment of transformation - the new Elan even becomes a level 1 character, regaining just some memories from his old life (making it a great choice for some peasants and a bad one for high-level adventurers)

As far as I can see, the pros of this method are pretty simple - there can be entire communities, or even lands of Elans (hidden, or not), without any economic issues and probaly without those golems-that-hunt-on-supposed-to-be-dead. The cons - it's humans-only (through, maybe one could count human subraces as well, like Azurins), meaning no infinite eldery life for any elves and orcs. Also, problems with druids, rangers, paladins and other aberration-haters. If you care about them, that is 8)


The one mechanical problem is the requirement for 2 HD.

Most commoners never attain higher than 2nd or 3rd level in their whole lives.
D&D3.5 DMG

Unlike prior editions, there's no experience for income as a default. So we're forced to rely upon their occasional CR1 encounters - worth 300 XP each - so it takes 4 of them solo, more if not handled alone. (and what peasant is alone in the face of Danger?)

Making third level by a man's "Three-score and ten" requires 3000 XP between ages 15 and 70. That's 54 XP per year, or about 4.5 XP per month. So, a man probably gets between 15 XP per year and 60 per year. A few get higher - the peak commoner level which can be generated for a metropolis is 28th. Even if we assume that 28th level commoner is "Five-score and ten" (110 years old - the peak age allowed in the PHB for a human), that's about 3969 XP per year, or 332 per month. More than likely, it's actually a handful of really big events per decade.

But we know that death from old age is at 70+2d20. And given the wording, most don't make it to 3rd level by 72. So...let's refigure on 2000 XP earned in 55 years. That's around 37 XP per year, or about 3 per month. It means you're getting them about age 45-50 before you zap them. They need to be saving about 3 GP per week, as well - easily done, if they can't spend it.

So, it's not eternal youth, but it's doable under the rules as written. Perhaps at age 50. Those who don't survive the process are likely to have been ineffective.

Level Loss

The loss of level also imposes a loss of skill - the extra rank is lost. But it's not total.

A second level character comes back at level 1, but with 500 XP. Which means, by 50, he's back to 2nd level, and at 3 XP per month, just shy of the midway point to third.

Breaking out of the cycle to gain higher levels is quite doable - in 32 years, an NPC can overcome a few level 1 threats, and then come out at 2nd level, and halfway to 3rd. They will, in that 32 years, make it to 3rd level at book rate, come out at 2000 XP, and easily get the 1000 needed.

Slackers who fail to gain even 1000 XP will come back - but at reduced Con. This is important societally.

Effects upon society

In such a society, entrenched political power will be immense. The escape, however, is that anyone who is tired of living won't resurrect.

Such a society will have individuals with memories as old as elder Elves, but will also have to trust their associates. Expect geases upon the resurrection casters.

The effects of age will not be escaped by everyone. Those who slack off will lose levels, and then health, with successive regenerations. This will make for a society with the healthy hard workers, and the infirm being typically the lazy or cowardly. It will strongly shape the attitudes towards the infirm.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ level 28 and still a single-class commoner. there is something seriously wrong with that picture. \$\endgroup\$ May 3, 2014 at 23:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I really like the XP analysis. By way of encounters, a human Com1 who twice takes the feat Toughness can always survive one CR 1 camouflaged pit trap (DMG 70) per week and can safely murder an infinite number of CR 1/10 toads (MM 282). Also, that epic commoner's Handle Animal skill must be awesome. \$\endgroup\$ May 4, 2014 at 1:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't like the idea of 21st level (or higher) commoners, but the damned rulebook provides the possibility - 4d4 base for commoner, DM+12 for the community modifier for a metropolis. \$\endgroup\$
    – aramis
    May 4, 2014 at 9:14

The easy way to become immortal is to become a Lich Get cursed as a Crust, Vampire or other such undead... and continue your undead life endlessly

However I assume by your question you are asking if it is possible to live not as an undead longer then your life would normally allow such as dying of old age.

Dragons can beat this by becoming a celestial dragon prestige class, however it is much harder to do for other mortals that are A: Not already naturally immortal, B: Not becoming Gods or C: Not constantly using wish or miracle to grant you an extended life span.

The 3.0 Adventure Bastion of Broken Souls, explains a Great Wyrm red dragon grasping at the concept of immortality through traveling to the bastion of souls in the Positive energy plane and consuming unborn souls as nourishment to extend his life but even this was not forever and would have eventually destroyed everything.

In 3.5 there are only a few ways one can gain ageless immortality through magic;

A: The Clone spell from Players Hand book page 210, you will need to commit suicide to continue the cycle (Problem is that if your getting old your clone will also be getting old and thus have the problem of dying soon after it awakens)

To prevent this from happening you will need to complicate things a bit; First you need to have your clone be always a younger version of yourself to do this you will need to use another spell on the Clone after it has fully grown.

"Temporal Stasis" this must be cast upon the clone in its lifeless state.

Now you will need to set up a Contingency on your clone you will need, Craft Contingency Spell Feat from the Complete Arcane book.

"Freedom" Upon (Player Characters Name)'s unnatural death.

Now you are free to adventure and continue aging until you want to end it by killing yourself and having your younger self awaken by transferring your soul to your clone and releasing it from it's stasis.

By the Rules this soul transfer also brings with it all your memories and levels -1 as if being raised from the dead so you don't have to worry about losing much on the transfer and as for your gear, if done right it should be at your feet on a lifeless look alike of you.

Have fun cheating death over and over until you get bored of it.


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