top of page

Alternative Rules

This is a collection of rules I have used in the creation of Emlearal to help improve the game experience and give my players a deeper story. Use and/or adjust as you wish.

Death Saving Throw - Original Rule Change

According to the Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook, when you drop to 0 hit points, you either die outright or fall unconscious, needing then to roll death saving throws. The Final Breath rule provides you with a chance to give the players some in-depth role-playing during their dying moments.

The Final Breath - Alternative Death Saving Throw Opportunity


When you drop to 0 hit points, you can choose to remain awake as you lay there dying. The decision is first given to the attacker who dropped you to 0 hit points. Generally speaking, in the midst of combat, someone attacking you is not concerned with whether you remain conscious or not. However, there may be situations (such as ambush attacks) where the attacker seeks to incapacitate you and leave you unconscious.


During you turns while making death saving throws, you may remain conscious for the purpose of role-playing. You still may not take any actions. Whenever you make a successful death saving throw you may use your turn to move 1 square as your struggle to remain alive and awake. If you fail a death saving throw, you are in too much pain to move. You may not use your move to do anything other than the 1 square movement. 


All other rules for death saving throws still apply.


The concept of the alternative rule is to give your player a chance to have their final words with their allies or enemies – NOT to give them a chance to heal themselves, cast spells, attack enemies, or take any action that affects the situation beyond role-playing experience.


Matt Mercer's Resurrection Rule

Player resurrection in the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition typically comes in the form of a few spells. Revivify, Resurrection, and Raise Dead are just some of the options for bringing a fallen player character back to life. Critical Role Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer modified these basic spells with optional and adjustable rules to give death more meaning in the narrative. With these modified rules, a player’s allies play a much more important role in bringing them back from the afterlife, and there’s a chance their efforts may be unsuccessful. And for each successful return to life, the DC for subsequent resurrections increases by 1


The Fading Spirit – Alternative Resurrection Rules


Character death can often prove to become a minor inconvenience in some campaigns once the adventuring party reaches a certain level, with spells being available to return fallen comrades from the afterlife with temporary setbacks, robbing a small element of danger, and threat to future conflicts and challenges within the story. If you wish to elevate the gravity of character death, you can introduce this optional rule.


If a character is dead, and a resurrection is attempted by a spell or spell effect with longer than a 1 action casting time, a Resurrection Challenge is initiated. Up to 3 members of the adventuring party can offer to contribute to the ritual via a Contribution Skill Check. The DM asks them each to make a skill check based on their form of contribution, with the DC of the check adjusting to how helpful/impactful the DM feels the contribution would be.


For example, praying to the god of the devout, fallen character may require an Intelligence (Religion) check at an easy to medium difficulty, where loudly demanding the soul of the fallen to return from the aether may require a Charisma (Intimidation) check at a very hard or nearly impossible difficulty. Advantage and disadvantage can apply here based on how perfect, or off base, the contribution offered is.


After all contributions are completed, the DM then rolls a single, final Resurrection success check with no modifier. The base DC for the final resurrection check is 10, increasing by 1 for each previous successful resurrection the character has undergone (signifying the slow erosion of the soul’s connection to this world). For each successful contribution skill check, this DC is decreased by 3, whereas each failed contribution skill check increases the DC by 1.


Upon a successful resurrection check, the player’s soul (should it be willing) will be returned to the body, and the ritual succeeded. On a failed check, the soul does not return and the character is lost.


Only the strongest of magical incantations can bypass this resurrection challenge, in the form of the True Resurrection or Wish spells. These spells can also restore a character to life who was lost due to a failed resurrection ritual.


If a spell with a casting time of 1 action is used to attempt to restore life (via the Revivify spell or similar effects), no contribution skill checks are allowed. The character casting the spell makes a Rapid Resurrection check, rolling a d20 and adding their spellcasting ability modifier. The DC is 10, increasing by 1 for each previous successful resurrection the character has undergone. On a failure, the character’s soul is not lost, but the resurrection fails and increases any future Resurrection checks’ DC by 1. No further attempts can be made to restore this character to life until a resurrection spell with a casting time higher than 1 action is attempted.

Final Breath
Fading Spirit
bottom of page