Saturday, February 5, 2011
Resurrection as a Commodity
From first to eighth level, clerics gain the ability to cure disease, neutralize poison, and heal massive tissue damage. Starting at ninth level, they begin to gain the ability to erase any affliction known, including death. Sure, a magic-user can reincarnate you into a baboon or a unicorn, but the humble priestess can resurrect you exactly like you were, even if all that remains is a toenail clipping. In fact, it's easier to bring someone back from the dead than to regrow a toe.
Death is only a speed-bump. What does that do to a society? Being not-dead has got to be a hugely desired product - more popular that even smart phones. We have a problem here on Earth with not enough health care providers or the infrastructure to support it.
Loved ones will rush to the temple with their freshly decapitated loved ones - only to stand in line that would probably reach around the block multiple times. Vendors would hawk their wares, selling roasted turkey legs and ale to bereaved - if hopeful - relatives of the deceased. But there would come a point when some people would just have to be turned away. There wouldn't be enough clerics to handle the load of bringing to life everyone that someone didn't want to die. Resurrection refusal would lead to riots - and more dead people to resurrect.
Of course, the priest would have to charge for their services in order to meet costs and to find an economic balance. Even the best of intentioned clerics would be tempted to charge exorbitant amounts of money for resurrections - since they could only do a very small amount per month compared to the actual amount of people who die. Royalty, merchants, and successful adventurers would have much better access to the priests, of course.
Perhaps some temples would institute a raffle for some of the resurrections they would do to try to be fair. Others might only resurrect those they deemed worthy - but eventually they might have to determine worthiness by forms filled in triplicate and authorized by local bureaucrats.
Of course, all this might be simplified by the god or goddess of the religion directly authorizing healing or resurrection or particular people - direct divine administrative guidance. I can see a god getting pretty bored with that job, however, and parceling it out to avatars or angels instead - who would probably give it right back to the priests. The entire system may eventually devolve into a series of bingo games.
If a PC cleric reaches ninth level, it's in their own best interest to not let anyone know - ever. Our mighty adventuring priestess is supposed to be building a stronghold - a keep - at this point - not be working the night shift at Our Lady of Perpetual Life Hospital downtown on Washington and 10th Street as an intern. A ninth level priest is supposed to have on average, 150 soldiers suddenly appear - and I think I know why now.
It's the health care plan.
What this all boils down to in lower level game terms is that when the PCs come out of the the dungeon carrying their dead companion, there probably won't be some hermit priest on the side of the road ready to resurrect them. If that ninth level hermit priest was loitering in the ditch - a city would suddenly spring up around him overnight.