Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle
Death and Resurrection
Restoring life to the dead is possible in Ondoron, but it is rarely easy or quick. And it is always very, very risky.
When a character is reduced to a number of hit points below 0 equal to his/her Constitution score, the character is dead. There are few things that can reverse this. The soul remains for a
single round after the body dies before it departs for the afterlife. The spell Breath of Life can restore a character to life if it is cast within 1 round after death and if it can restore the character’s hit point total above the point of death. Any spell that can restore life to the dead fails if it is cast more than a round after death. This means that Raise Dead (casting time of 1 minute), will generally fail. Not even a miracle or a wish can restore the dead that are under the power of Romd.
The soul departs from the body after one round, and gets drawn into the Planes of Eternity, divine home of the Watcher of Death, Romd.
SOULS AFTER DEATH
Every soul, regardless of how good or evil, and regardless of patron Watcher, goes to the Planes of Eternity upon death. The Planes are a bleak and endless place, appearing as islands of black earth and rock floating in an endless gray mist. It is an unwelcome environment for the living. All of the large islands or planes are connected by a single river of water that is deadly to
mortals. The only way to traverse from one island Plane to another is to travel down the river. The endless gray mists cling to mortal flesh, draining it of emotion and happiness and energy. Eventually, a mortal within the mists will cease to care about living or why it came. Shortly after being reduced to this state, the mortal dies. His mortal flesh dissolves and leaves only his spirit, identical in appearance to his/her body in shape and form, wandering around the
endless expanses. Completely unaware and uncaring that it is now dead. A soul becomes a petitioner upon arrival into the Plains of Eternity, and it’s appearance is exactly as it was at the time of death.
Shortly after arriving in the Planes of Eternity, every soul is assigned a location and ferried there by Seraphim in the service of Romd to their new home on the river. Each island plane holds souls that are in some way similar. Some islands are filled with murderers, some with
children who drowned. Some with those that gave their lives for love. Some with fallen soldiers. The method of categorizing is unknown. The sheer number of different islands allows for infinite variety, and often a person may fit into four or more categories. But ultimately they are assigned to a single location, where they live out their afterlives until the Judgement.
Each soul remains in the Planes of Eternity for 100 years. At the end of that time, the souls are Judged on their lives and their actions during the 100 years on the Planes of Eternity. It is possible, albeit extremely rare, that a soul can drastically change its ultimate fate during its century of living in the realm of Romd. Rarely, evil men find redemption or heroes crumble and fall. At the end of the Judgement, the soul is released and sent to the celestial or infernal
realm of the Watcher that Romd decrees. From that time on, the soul dwells there and is under the power of the Watcher he is bound to.
DANGERS OF THE PLANES OF ETERNITY
The upper levels of the Planes of Eternity can be exceptionally dangerous, for both mortals and immortal souls. While souls are immune to most of the negative effects of the realm that cause problems for mortal travelers, they still have a great deal to be cautious of. There are creatures that exist within the Planes of Eternity that prey upon the petitioner souls of slain mortals, destroying them utterly before they make it to Judgement. Other petitioners can also be dangerous. And there are occasional raids by demons in which souls are stolen and drug off to Hell (admittedly, these raids are rare. The seraphim of Romd are quick to respond to these breaches, and fight mercilessly in the defense of the petitioners in their care. Any demons caught attempting to raid petitioners meet a very unpleasant and excruciating death).
For mortals that stray into the Planes of Eternity, there are even more horrors. The waters of the River Cronos are deadly to mortal flesh. Any mortal that even so much as touches the water ages 1d4 years (Fortitude save DC 50 for half). If a mortal is completely submerged in the water, the aging increases to 10d4 years per round of submersion. Mortals that cross an age threshold have the physical penalties applied to them immediately, but they do not gain the mental benefits from aging. If a mortal is aged to its maximum lifespan, it dies. For the purposes of resurrection, a mortal that dies from being aged by the River Cronos are considered to have lived to their natural lifespan end and died of old age (meaning that the victim is beyond most resurrection magic). Even mortals with Timeless Body or a similar class feature that reduce the effects of aging still suffer the additional years, though they do not suffer the aging penalties if they cross an age threshold. Like all other mortals, however, they do still die if they age to the end of their natural lifespan. Water taken from the river slowly evaporates and loses its potency, even when contained within an extra-dimensional space or air-tight container. The Fortitude save DC to resist the aging of the River Cronos decreases by 1 per minute the water sample is separated from the rest of the river. When the DC drops to 0, the water simply vanishes.
The second danger to mortals traveling the Planes of Eternity is the gray mist that enshrouds everything. The mist reduces visibility like normal fog does, and it clings to mortals with cold tendrils that drain the spirit and life of mortals that enter. Immediately upon entering the Planes of Eternity and encountering the mist, a mortal must make a Will save (DC 20) or suffer from hopelessness, taking 1d4 points of Wisdom and 1d4 points of Charisma drain. This drain cannot be overcome or fixed in any way as long as the mortal is exposed to the mist and within the boundaries of the Planes of Eternity. At the end of each day, the mortal must make an additional Will save (DC 20 + 1 per each additional Will save made against the mists) or take additional Wisdom and Charisma damage as listed above. If a mortal’s Wisdom is reduced to 0, he loses the will to carry on and just lays down wherever he is. There the mortal remains until he dies of starvation, predation, dehydration, or until some other mortal finds him and pulls him from the plane. A mortal that is reduced to 0 Charisma dies instantly. The mortal’s body crumbles to dust one round after death, and the mortal’s soul rises as a petitioner (appearing exactly as his body did just before death). It should be noted that this ability drain is a function of the plane and is not due to negative energy. Therefore, abilities or spells that stop energy drain from negative energy effects will not prevent the drain from the gray mist. The ability drain can be healed normally once the mortal is removed from the Plains of Eternity.
The Planes of Eternity are a place of entropy, where the dead reign and the living are trespassers. The living and the mortal are not welcome. Healing mortals is much more difficult on the Planes of Eternity. When attempting to restore damage (hit points, ability damage, ability drain, etc)to a creature of the aberration, animal, dragon, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, plant, vermin (or an outsider with the native subtype), he must make a caster level check (DC 15 + double spell’s level) in order to restore any hit points at all. If the caster level check fails, the spell has no effect and is lost as if cast. If it succeeds, the spell works, but any healing done is halved (to a minimum of 0) to such creatures. Other creature types than those listed here do not suffer these healing restrictions. Seraphim, for instance, can be healed normally while traversing the Planes of Eternity. It should also be noted that all attempts to stabilize while dying on the Planes of Eternity automatically fail. A stabilize spell can cause a mortal to stabilize, but a caster level check must be made as described above for healing spells.
Mortals also suffer numerous other dangers from traversing the Planes of Eternity. Monsters, terrain, and even petitioners can hinder their progress.
RAISING THE DEAD (DECEASED ONE CENTURY OR LESS)
It is possible to resurrect someone that has been deceased for more than one round and less than one century, but it is dangerous and difficult. Raise Dead and similar spells automatically fail, regardless of the soul’s willingness to come back to life. The only way to restore a deceased person to life within this time frame is to make the dangerous journey to Takur and to travel to the Throne of Romd to petition for permission to bring the soul back to the realm of the living.
The first stage of the journey is to find a Deathnaught. Deathnaughts are ships that were once lost at sea, still baring the wounds that had sunk them and now crewed by the souls of lost sailors. The crews of the Deathnaughts have a special assignment. Rather than serving their
century on the Planes, they are chosen to spend their century of waiting for Judgement picking up the living and bringing them to Takur.
All Deathnaughts become black when they are pulled from the depths and have ragged sails of tattered black. They fly a flag bearing the symbol of Romd. How many Deathnaughts there are at any given time is unknown. The ships will glide into port during the night and pick up travelers before sailing out again. In many cultures, the arrival of a Deathnaught is believed to be an omen of death and disaster.
There is some debate in scientific and religious communities about the schedules of Deathnaughts. Some say that their schedules are ordained, and they travel where they are meant to pick up fated individuals. Others hold that the ghastly ships simply sail in scheduled routes and pick up whomever happens to be at the next port in which they stop.
It is known that some people that search out a Deathnaught get lucky and find one right away. Others search for months or years without success. It is known that only those that secure passage on a Deathnaught have a chance of getting permission from the Throne of Romd to restore the soul. Booking another ship or using magical means to travel to Takur will result in being refused the opportunity to restore the soul to life. Such journeys often also end in disaster.
From all reports, the journey on the Deathnaughts is an unsettling experience. Often pilgrims come face-to-face with their own mortality on the voyages. Some travelers see visions or obtain new abilities or curses. The voyages are never uneventful, and pilgrims that make the journey are never quite the same after the voyage is completed.
Once the Deathnaught docks on Takur and the pilgrims disembark, they must make the journey through the wilds and untamed land of Takur. If they survive that journey and make it to the citadel known as the Throne of Romd, they may petition the priests for the right to enter into the gate to the Planes of Eternity and try and resurrect the deceased. The priests will grant or deny the request, depending on the will of Romd. If the petition is denied, the pilgrim must find their own way home from the Throne and Takur. If the petition is accepted, the priests will open the gate to the Planes of Eternity for the pilgrim. The mortal then risks his own life and soul to travel through the endless expanses in search of the soul of the person they are
trying to resurrect. Often, the apathy-inducing mists or the horrors that can be found on the plane end the lives of the pilgrims. Sometimes, the mortal pilgrims are successful in finding the soul they seek and may return to Ondoron once again.
Once the soul is found and bound to a soulgem and returned to Ondoron, resurrection magic can be used to restore the soul to the body. All normal rules for resurrection apply (people cannot be restored to life if they died of natural causes or old age, and time limits for being deceased still apply to the spells).
If the soul that was returned to life through this process dies again, his 100 year waiting period starts over again and another journey must be made to bring him back from the Plains of Eternity.
Once a soul has been successfully reclaimed from the Planes of Eternity, the victorious heroes must still arrange for transport away from the Throne of Romd.
It should be noted that the victorious heroes must return to the gate from the Planes of Eternity to Takur so that the Guardians there can verify the correct soul was obtained. Grabbing a soul and plane shifting away immediately (whether the soul grabbed is the correct one or not) earns an immediate Death Mark by the church of Romd for all involved.
RESTORING THE DEAD (100+ YEARS AFTER ENTERING THE PLANES OF ETERNITY)
After surviving a century on the Plains of Eternity, a soul is released to whatever Watcher or Dark Watcher it is Judged to be bound to. From that time on, the soul is the property of the Watcher it is sent to and resides within that Watcher’s divine realm.
Resurrecting these deceased individuals is much simpler. One does not need to make the pilgrimage to the Throne of Romd and can simply cast the Resurrection spell (following all normal rules of the spells, including length of time deceased). If the soul is willing to come
back and the Watcher it belongs to approves, the soul will be restored to the body after the resurrection spell is completed.
There are some considerations for the deity and the soul to make before coming back from death, however. Restoring the dead to life interferes with the schedule of Romd, and he strongly disapproves. As a manifestation of his irritability on the issue, once the restored person dies again, his or her soul must return once again to the Plains of Eternity and once more serve out 100 years before being Judged and appointed to a Watcher (possibly even being assigned to a different Watcher). Any attempts to re-resurrect the again-deceased body within that hundred years must go through the same process as for restoring a being that has been dead less than a century. The amount of time that the being has been dead, however, starts from the time the individual died the first time. If a person died, was resurrected 5 years after death, then lived 150 years after resurrection before being killed again, and then someone went on the quest to restore him after 5 more years, the resurrection spell would need to be able to restore someone that had been dead for 160 years.
Deities are cautious about releasing souls to be resurrected into flesh once more. Soul trading sometimes happens after Judgement, and any price paid for possession of a soul is not refunded to the Watcher if he releases the soul. And if the Watcher obtained the soul from another Watcher after Judgement by trade, there is little chance that the deceased will return to him after death the second time. The Watcher would be forced to bargain anew for the soul if he or she wanted it. Likewise, the soul itself must consider if going through another 100 years of existence on the Plains of Eternity upon dying again (which is of course, inevitable) is worth living once again.
There are cautionary tales of resurrection, particularly if the soul is in the possession of one of the Dark Watchers, in which the deity releases a completely different soul to be resurrected into the body. This has wreaked havoc multiple times throughout history, with formerly mighty heroes being resurrected after more than 100 years as bloodthirsty murderers.
Regardless of the manor in which they are resurrected, people have no memory of their afterlife experiences unless the Watchers wish them to.
IMPRISONMENT OF A SOUL
There are some situations in which a soul is bound after death and prevented from making the journey to Romd’s realm (such as by the Trap the Soul spell or the use of a soulgem). If a soul is imprisoned, it cannot be resurrected. Likewise, once a soul is finally freed from its imprisonment, it immediately travels to the Planes of Eternity to begin the 100 year ritual before Judgement. The amount of time that the subject has been dead still starts at the time the body originally died, not when the soul was freed from its imprisonment. Therefore a person whose soul was trapped upon his death and whose soul was stuck in a gem for a thousand years before being released would require a resurrection spell that could restore a person that had been dead at least 1,000 years.
If a Watcher comes into possession of an imprisoned soul and the Watcher is within the seat of his power (his divine realm), he may release the trapped soul and bind it to his realm, effectively keeping the soul prisoner. Deals are then sometimes struck between Watchers to
“release” the soul. Either the soul can be freed, at which point it goes immediately to the Planes of Eternity to begin its century before Judgement or it can be re-bound and transferred to another Watcher or entity. If the soul is then released within the seat of that being’s
power, the soul is then bound to its new possessor. Some particularly valuable souls can be transferred four or five times before finally being set free.
In order to prevent the soul from traveling to the Planes of Eternity upon being released, the being that releases it must be in the seat of his power in a location that is not on Prime Material Ondoron and the being must have at least one divine rank while there.