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To clarify: This is not a question asking about different mechanics of reincarnation, or about a framework for reincarnation that spans any number of D&D variants. The tl;dr is that the question is about first-party published spells mediating the relationship between a current and one or more previous incarnations. It's a pretty narrow question, and I expect the list of such spells to be pretty small.

Reincarnation is both a spell, and a spiritual transmigratory process that individuals of many D&D races experience or believe they experience. Are there any published spells (TSR or WotC, core or splat books, modules, or even Dungeon or Dragon issues) germane to the inter-lifetime effects of reincarnation? For example, spells such as:

  • Identify past lives
  • Incarnate past self
  • Speak with past self
  • Remember past life

These aren't actual spells I know of, but they hint at the reincarnation-related domain I am asking after.

I am interested in any official D&D publication from OD&D forward. I am not interested in homebrew. Third party material, and material from other game systems is welcome in brief comments, but not as an answer.

I am not so interested in incarnations (arr arr arr) of the reincarnation spell itself, or of similar mechanics.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe in his defense, he didn't ask about reincarnation generally, he asked if spells from first-party sources exist which deal with reincarnation. Answering needs broad knowledge, but the actual answer would be very narrow: yes or no. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Feb 4 '16 at 12:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GMJoe Thank you for the input. I was not trying to ask about reincarnation mechanics, nor about interpreting reincarnation across all D&D variants, but simply for any spells mediating the relationship between a current and past incarnation or incarnations. I have edited the question to make this clear. \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Feb 4 '16 at 19:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Lexible That clarifies things nicely. \$\endgroup\$ – GMJoe Feb 4 '16 at 22:43
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There are a few for 2E

Because of course there are. The Priest's Spell Compendium, Vol. 3 lists on page 801 Vedic Spells

based on traditional Hindu mythology. These spells originally appeared in a Dragon Magazine article but the notes for reincarnation sight are from the section on Indian mythology from the Legends & Lore book.

  • Om (1st)
  • Sanctify Ghi (1st)
  • Karma Sight (2nd)
  • Steep Soma-Juice (2nd)
  • That Art Thou (3rd)1
  • Flame Walk (3rd)
  • See All Faces (4th)
  • Conceal Lifeforce (5th)
  • Pool of Deeds (5th)
  • Reincarnation Sight (6th)
  • Call Avatar (7th)
  • Penetrate Cosmic Ignorance (7th)

Descriptions of these spells are, of course, spread over all three volumes.

Likely the most interesting of these spells to you are...

  • The spell conceal lifeforce which interrupts the cosmic reincarnation cycle so that a raise dead spell can be used instead of the creature being automatically reincarnated after 1 day. Assuming, of course, in the campaign that happens.
  • The spell pool of deeds which creates a magical television out of a pool of water that can show a creature's deeds, past, present, or future. A caster can even view his own deeds.
  • The spell reincarnation sight which is better presented on its own terms rather than through my summary:

    This spell reveals the presence of a reincarnated character. Using a piece of clothing belonging to the original character, the priest may use this spell to discover the reincarnation of that character's name, appearance, and approximate location. If found, a reincarnation has only vague memories of his past and will be unlikely to recognize any of his compatriots. The spell can cross planar barriers, but it cannot penetrate barriers like conceal lifeforce or amulets of life protection.

    A second use of this spell is to reveal to a person all of the memories of one of his reincarnations. The priest needs merely to touch the subject, and he knows all that his past life contained. Using the two uses of this spell in order can reacquaint old friends, at least in a superficial way. (Note that these spells allow a slain PC to rejoin the campaign with his memories intact, and perhaps his level and abilities. See the reincarnation table on page 126 of Legends & Lore.)

    Which sounds a lot like the kind of thing you want.

The Dragon #226 article "Arcane Lore: Monsoons and the Power of Om" by Michael A. Selinker whence these spells come includes several others that are more combat-oriented (including the titular spell monsoon which does what you might expect except you have to be at ground zero!). That article and the Legends & Lore section on Hindu mythology might be the extent of past-life coverage you're going to get from official sources.


1 Revised for Dungeons and Dragons, Third Edition in the Oriental Adventures Web enhancement "The Mahasarpa Campaign." And it's an awesome spell.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 Ah! I totally forgot about that "Monsoon and the Power of OM" article! I still have a copy floating about... Thank you! \$\endgroup\$ – Lexible Feb 14 '16 at 21:06
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There is no such spell in 3rd Edition or 3.5.

In Pathfinder, I think there was a character class built around the concept (some people lump Pathfinder in with third edition D&D; I don't know whether you count that).

There was a "Past Lives" spell in AD&D 2e, but it just let you peek at the last few minutes of a corpse's life. I'm not aware of any other spells even close to what you're looking for (though note that I'm only familiar with 2e generally, and don't have anywhere near encyclopedic knowledge of it.)

It's not a spell exactly, but I think there was a psionic power which touched on past lives in 2e (not what you asked, but I'm not sure of your use case).


How does the game manage reincarnation, then?

There are points in the game where reincarnation is not only a thing, but it is a thing with rules.

The 3.x spell reincarnation does exactly that. Nature, or a god of nature in some settings, makes reincarnation possible thanks to a the intervention of a druid or shaman. Archivists and maybe some other classes are able to cast reincarnation as well.
It is implied that the reborn subject is already an adult and that he remembers everything about the life he recently lost, which is really far from the reincarnation process we are used to think about.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is a bad answer because it's incomplete. However, there are a sharply limited number of editions. If someone smart on each can vouch that their edition doesn't have anything like the asker is looking for, we can assemble a complete answer. I'm confident enough on 3.0 and 3.5 to say there's nothing there. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Feb 4 '16 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have an incomplete answer, you may wish to post it as a Community Wiki answer, as that format is more suited to a "group effort" sort of answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Michaellogg Feb 4 '16 at 22:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, neat! The mobile client doesn't obviously support that; I'll try to change it later from home. \$\endgroup\$ – fectin - free Monica Feb 4 '16 at 22:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ Once the answer's been posted, it seems it can only be changed to Community Wiki by a mod. Try flagging the answer as "in need of moderator intervention" and requesting to have it changed. \$\endgroup\$ – Michaellogg Feb 4 '16 at 22:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ We usually avoid using the Community Wiki feature because of the tendency to use it as a dumping ground for poor answers, but I think this question may be one of the rare cases where it's more useful to have one CW collecting negative evidence than a bunch of different piecemeal answers doing that. Converted. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Feb 5 '16 at 5:23

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