Death on the Borderlands

Yesterday marked the 5th game (and conclusion of the second expedition) to the Caves of Chaos. Unfortunately, the costs of this past expedition were quite high. Three PCs found themselves on the wrong end of a hobgoblin weapon and felt the cold grip of death. The party hauled bodies and what little loot they could back to town, and ran into a generous GM. As much as I warned my players in the beginning that death was a real possibility, I decided to be somewhat generous with some raise dead availability. The players were able to scrounge up a scroll of raise dead from the Curate for 2,000 gp, and two more on “loan” from the priest living in the apartments, at a price of 1,800 gp each.

According to the Labyrinth Lord rules, scrolls that duplicate spells should cost around 1 week + 500GP per spell level. With Raise Dead being a 5th level spell, adding in a profit/other cost, I figured that a raise dead scroll from the local clergy might run around 3000 gp. Additionally, I decided that the word of the player’s activities had gone round and that the Curate and the traveling priest would both offer the player’s discounts on those scrolls due to the service they were providing the keep by cleaning out the caves. The players just happened to get really lucky on some die rolls, in addition to the rolls providing such steep discounts, the players also managed to sell the quality equipment they brought back to the keep blacksmith for a whopping 90% of the sale price. So a combination of generous GMing and a bit of luck on the players part, they were able to raise their dead compatriots for a mere 5,600 gp, and in-debting themselves to the jovial traveling priest, who has quite helpfully offered to have himself and his acolytes accompany the remaining players back to the caves to recover some more gear and treasure to help pay off that debt, while the other PCs recover from being raised.

Unfortunately from the players, I believe that will be about the most luck they will have for quite some time. Raise Dead might be something the churches would provide their members with, but that doesn’t mean there’s an unlimited supply, and it will likely be months before another raise dead scroll is available.

In handling this, I did come across a slight quirk of the LL rules. Raise dead is a 5th level cleric spell, and according to LL, clerics get their first 5th level spell at level 9. The spell description, on the other hand, states that a 7th level cleric can raise someone dead no longer than 2 days, with an additional 4 days time per level above that. So I did some digging, and it appears that in the original Expert rules of D&D, clerics got their first 5th level spell at level 7. Of course, they didn’t get spells at first level. However, it appears that for every edition since then, and in all the retro clones, Raise Dead doesn’t appear in a cleric’s repertoire until level 9 or 10.

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