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TL:DR Where can I find a spellcaster to cast Raise Dead? Where's the nearest large city to Sandpoint in Golarion? Any other avenues to bring someone back from the dead?

My group is running through the Rise of the Runelords campaign currently (still around Sandpoint). For a contingency plan, I would like to have access to Raise Dead just in case things go south and a friendly NPC gets killed before we can save her. We don't have any casters that are capable of casting it and no easy access to temple-castings.

I was looking through the d20 PFSRD and particularly the NPC spellcasting services section. Per this section, the cost to have someone cast it would be 5,450 GP (9th lvl caster x 5th lvl spell * 10 gp + 5,000 gp for material component). This wouldn't be an issue except for a statement in the rules that declares that

If these additional costs put the total spellcasting price above 3,000 gp, the spell is not generally available.

If this is the case, then it stands to reason that it is generally unavailable to have cast, which seems to me to defeat the purpose of the spell for anyone who doesn't have class access to that spell.

Second, the book states that spellcasters of sufficient ability must be found in a large city.

you must travel to a small town (or larger settlement) to be reasonably assured of finding a spellcaster capable of casting 1st-level spells, a large town for 2nd-level spells, a small city for 3rd- or 4th-level spells, a large city for 5th- or 6th-level spells, and a metropolis for 7th- or 8th-level spells.

Where in relation to Sandpoint would be the nearest Large city? I didn't want to look to heavily into it for fear of spoilers (happened twice before now).

One alternative is to get a scroll and Use Magic Device to cast it. To do so, my sorcerer would have to make a UMD check to emulate the 15 Wis to be able to cast it (a UMD DC 30) as well as the DC 25 to actually cast the spell. It would also be more expensive (6,125 GP) as well. Also, finding the scroll could be a problem as well.

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You're looking for Magnimar, which is a Large city located roughly 50 miles south of Sandpoint.

You've asked: "Are there any other avenues to bring someone back from the dead?" Common avenues include:

  • the reincarnate spell, which is cheaper and lower-level, but can alter your physical stats
  • the breath of life spell, which only works if you cast it within one round of death -- consider buying a scroll and giving it to your divine caster, just in case
  • the first aid gloves, which cost 4500gp but can cast breath of life twice, usable by any character
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Looking at the quote, it appears to be from the d20 PFSRD site, rather than the PRD. The PRD states:

Furthermore, if a spell has dangerous consequences, the spellcaster will certainly require proof that you can and will pay for dealing with any such consequences (that is, assuming that the spellcaster even agrees to cast such a spell, which isn't certain). In the case of spells that transport the caster and characters over a distance, you will likely have to pay for two castings of the spell, even if you aren't returning with the caster.

To find the text about the rarity of spells costing over 3,000 GP, you need to look at the footnote of the Goods and Services Table.

See spell description for additional costs. If the additional costs put the spell's total cost above 3,000 gp, that spell is not generally available.

It appears that the PRFSRD's poor choice of organization places the rarity text with the dangerous consequences section. Quoting from the d20 PFSRD:

If a spell has dangerous consequences (such as contact other plane, which has a risk of decreasing the caster's Intelligence and Charisma), the spellcaster will certainly require proof that you can and will pay for dealing with any such consequences (that is, assuming that the spellcaster even agrees to cast such a spell, which isn't certain). If these additional costs put the total spellcasting price above 3,000 gp, the spell is not generally available.

This quote appears to be referring to the dangerous consequences spoken of in the same paragraph rather than the overall cost of the spell. This exception being attached to only the dangerous consequences is not what the PRD states. For this situation, note that the player characters can provide the material component to the caster to use. This rule prevents the caster from providing the diamond as a part of his spellcasting services.

As Dan B's answer pointed out, the closest large city to Sandpoint is Magnimar. He also mentions some alternatives to Raise Dead that may work, depending on the situation.

In this situation, it would be best to get the GM involved. I think the 3,000 GP limit is imposed in order to provide dramatic fodder for the party to quest on. For example, if the NPC dies, the party has only 9 days to find a caster, find a diamond worth 5,000 GP, and convince them to cast Raise Dead on the person. Granted, it would seems to have been much easier to just state that the GM should use this for the seed of an adventure.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm confused. Is this answer saying that page layout choices on a fan site trump the official text? It's the d20PFSRD site that puts that additional costs information with the dangerous consequences. The official PRD Table: Goods and Services really does have an independent footnote, "See spell description for additional costs. If the additional costs put the spell's total cost above 3,000 gp, that spell is not generally available," and mentions dangerous consequences completely separately. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 23 '16 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I guess you could read my preference for the PFSRD over the PRD in the answer, but that wasn't my intent. I find that the PRD putting a specific exception to the rule as a subnote to a table rather than with the other exceptions to the rule to be obtuse. Thanks for pointing that out to me! I don't to use the PRD often because I like the additional explanations the PFSRD provides on confusing rules to generally be more helpful, so I missed having to look under the table. I'll see if I can edit the answer to make it more clear as well as add your find into it \$\endgroup\$ – Gilbrilthor Nov 23 '16 at 14:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ Something else I was thinking about is that if this rule is the case in the PRD as well, does that mean that, unless the party can't cast Raise Dead or Resurrection, they generally don't have a chance at bringing someone back to life? If that were the case, it seems that they should have said that the GM will need to provide a way (like a quest), rather than making it a general spell \$\endgroup\$ – Gilbrilthor Nov 23 '16 at 14:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pathfinder inherited the 3,000 gp limit from D&D 3.5. (I think the intent is to make the spell available but to prevent PCs from murdering NPC casters for their 5,000-gp diamonds! That is, the PCs can still provide the component that's an additional cost, but the caster they hired can't.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Nov 23 '16 at 14:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ OH! That never occurred to me to look at it like that. Thank you so much for that comment, as I wouldn't have thought of that in at least 2 years! \$\endgroup\$ – Gilbrilthor Nov 23 '16 at 14:52

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