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Raise Dead

5th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

You return a dead creature you touch to life, provided that it has been dead no longer than 10 days. If the creature’s soul is both willing and at liberty to rejoin the body, the creature returns to life with 1 hit point.

This spell also neutralizes any poisons and cures nonmagical diseases that affected the creature at the time it died. This spell doesn’t, however, remove magical diseases, curses, or similar effects; if these aren’t first removed prior to casting the spell, they take effect when the creature returns to life. The spell can’t return an undead creature to life.

This spell closes all mortal wounds, but it doesn’t restore missing body parts. If the creature is lacking body parts or organs integral for its survival—its head, for instance—the spell automatically fails.

Coming back from the dead is an ordeal. The target takes a −4 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks. Every time the target finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 1 until it disappears.

Raise Dead Variants

Source DM5E

Raise dead is another spell with roots in the earliest days of RPGs. The variants here are twisted, limited, or expanded in several ways. They all return a creature to life but in unexpected ways: as ghosts, for a short period, without memories or skills, or under a particular compulsion.

Two aspects of raise dead are easy to change: the raised creature’s appearance and the traumatic effect of returning to life. The Raise Dead Random Effects table offers a dozen options for reskinning raise dead in random ways.

When the spell is cast, roll a d12 or choose the option that best suits the situation or the caster. This change need not be a one-time thing; it can be emblematic of that caster, as recognizably personal as a signature, a catchphrase, or a coat of arms.

Raise Dead Random Effects
d12 Effect
1 Nimbus. The target is surrounded by a glow or halo equivalent to faerie fire.
2 Thundercrack. When raise dead is cast, the target’s return to life is heralded by a crack of thunder and a stroke of lightning. These can be heard and seen for at least a mile and may be accompanied by a sudden, brief storm.
3 Neophyte. The raised creature forgets one language, one spell or feat, one friend, and one class ability. These memories return in a random sequence at a rate of one per week until all are recovered.
4 Exhaustion. Restoring a soul is as debilitating on the caster as on the dead. The caster suffers the same penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, and ability checks as the raised creature.
5 Voice of the Afterlife. The raised creature gained subconscious knowledge of a distant plane during its sojourn in the realm of the dead. It now speaks either Abyssal, Celestial, Infernal, or Umbral (player’s choice).
6 Breath of Life. The caster absorbs one magical disease, curse, or similar effect from the target creature into him- or herself. The affliction ends on the newly-raised creature but takes full effect on the caster, who must get it cured or removed by standard means.
7 Gravetouched. The raised creature has an uncanny voice or appearance that frightens nonhostile animals (including mounts), children, and even adults unaccustomed to such things. Charisma (Intimidation) checks are made with advantage.
8 Raging Spirit. The raised creature returns to life in the grip of intense and uncontrollable rage. It immediately attacks the caster and anyone else nearby, including friends, acolytes, etc. This anger ends when the creature becomes unconscious or when it’s affected by calm emotions or comparable magic.
9 Mild Spirit. The raised creature returns to life possessed of a gentle kindness. It refuses to fight, argue, or even defend itself for a period of 1d6 + 1 days. This unnatural calm can be removed by a calm emotions spell. It also ends if the creature is rendered unconscious by an attack.
10 Altered Spirit. The raised creature returns to life with a random alignment different from its previous one. This lasts for 1d6 + 1 days. The creature’s alignment returns to normal if the creature is affected by a remove curse spell or if it’s rendered unconscious by an attack.
11 Armor of the Planes. The raised creature gains resistance to necrotic, fire, cold, or lightning damage for seven days (caster’s choice).
12 Servitor. The raised creature is charmed by the caster. While charmed in this way, the creature serves the caster loyally as repayment for restoring him or her to life. The length of this service is determined by the caster’s spellcasting level: up to level 11 = one week; level 12 to 14 = two weeks; level 15 or higher = one year. The effect is broken if the caster or the caster’s companions cause direct harm to the charmed creature or its loved ones.

Raise Ghost

3rd-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

You return a dead creature you touch to a ghostly and incorporeal form, provided it has been dead no longer than 10 days. The creature can see and hear, and it can speak in a hollow, sepulchral tone if it chooses to. Whether it’s willing to speak to you depends on its whim and its prior relationship with you, if any.

The affected creature is not undead; it is alive but incorporeal, with 1 hit point. It can’t interact with the physical world, attack or cause damage, or cast spells. It is immune to nonmagical damage. It can move through creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain, but it takes 1d10 force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.

It regains hit points normally through resting or spending hit dice but never recovers hit points via magic spells, items, or potions.

This spell also neutralizes any poison and cures nonmagical diseases that affected the creature at the time it died. This spell doesn’t remove magical diseases, curses, or similar effects; if these aren’t removed prior to casting the spell, they take effect when the creature returns to life.

The spell also closes mortal wounds, but it doesn’t restore missing body parts. If the creature is lacking body parts or organs integral for its survival—its head, for instance—the spell automatically fails.

Coming back from the dead is an ordeal. The target has a -4 penalty to saving throws and ability checks. Every time the target finishes a long rest, the penalty is reduced by 1 until it disappears.

A creature affected by raise ghost is restored to normal, physical life by raise dead or comparable magic. Raise ghost has no effect if cast on an undead creature.

Raise Hero

4th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: 24 hours

This spell is identical to raise dead in every way except duration; the creature is restored to life for only 24 hours.

The spell can be recast on the same creature, but on the second and subsequent castings, the caster must roll a d20. If the roll equals or is less than the number of prior castings on the same creature, the spell fails and cannot affect that creature again. Each new casting resets the clock to 24 hours; it doesn’t stack another 24 hours onto a previous casting.

Raise Shade

4th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell is identical to raise ghost in every way, except the ghostly figure can manipulate, hold, or carry objects weighing up to 5 pounds. Note that while 5 pounds of force is enough to pick up many melee weapons, it’s not sufficient to wield one in combat, or to draw a bow.

Raise Nemesis

5th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell is identical to raise dead, except it simultaneously raises two creatures with opposite alignments. For example, if you raise a Lawful Good paladin, then somewhere nearby, a Chaotic Evil warrior of similar power also returns to life. The second corpse must be within 100 miles. The two raised creatures have a vague sense of the direction and distance to their nemesis. They aren’t compelled to battle one another or even to seek each other out. Their lives are, however, inextricably bound together in such a way that if either of them dies, the other also drops dead instantly.

Evil NPCs brought back with raise nemesis typically see it as an opportunity to create every sort of trouble imaginable.

If the spell is cast on a creature of true Neutral alignment, only that creature is restored to life.

Raise Elder

6th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 1,000 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell is identical to raise dead, but it works only on a creature that died of old age. The spell grants the raised elder one additional year of life. The raised creature has entirely white hair, its eyes are weak, and it loses 2 points each from Strength and Constitution; no magic less potent than a wish can restore these lost points. In all other respects, the creature can live out its life normally until the added year elapses.

Raise elder has no effect if it’s cast on the same creature a second time.

Raise Questing Dead

6th-level necromancy

Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Touch
Components: V, S, M (a diamond worth at least 500 gp, which the spell consumes)
Duration: Instantaneous

This spell is identical to raise dead, except it empowers you to impose a geas on the creature you raise. The targeted soul can opt to decline the geas, in which case it isn’t restored to life. If the creature accepts your geas, it must complete the task within 30 days. If it accepts but fails to meet the conditions of the geas, it dies on the dawn of the 31st day and its spirit again departs the mortal world. If it accomplishes the task, it’s free to live out the remainder of its restored life as it chooses.

At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 7th or 8th level, the creature has a year to fulfill its geas, allowing for much more complex demands. When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 9th level, the geas lasts until it’s fulfilled, no matter how long that takes, or until it’s ended by remove curse, greater restoration, or wish.