Ghost Town (Worldbuilding: Afterlife and After…)

Temple of Shadows - Tease

Dead men tell no tales… until you cast speak with dead on them anyway. The relationship between the dead and the living is an important element of worldbuilding to get clear on when establishing a campaign setting. Secrets both pre- and post-life are available to spirits in ways that might otherwise not be available…

Geography of Death

Establishing the map of the souls journey in your game is key to understanding what resources the dead may have. Character classes like the medium can access these in game and thus need GMs to have a solid grip on the topography of the spirit realm. Consider these questions:

  • Where do spirits go? – Does the spirit immediately enter the realms of the gods? Is this true only of worshipers? Is there a lag time where the spirit hangs in the ethereal? Does it enter prugatory?
  • Can the spirit interact with other dead? – Does a spirit speak to other dead people? Is time a factor? Does the spirit only have access to dead from its location or that died that day? Is there consistency to these facts or does emotion or other more random factors come into play?
  • Can people target the dead when in liminal states? – Can a medium reach out to a dead person that is still in progress to the divine realms? Do only trouble spirits remain accessible? What prices do spirits demand of the living?
  • How do spells that return people to life work? – Does resurrection or another similar effect remove memory of the time between death and returning to life?  Are people willing to die just for information? For experience alone?

Death and the dead may be a valuable information gathering resource to character with the magical means to communicate or even transcend the afterlife. Knowing the mechanical and story implications of this territory can enhance even the most “meaningless” of TPKs or other death events.

For more explorations of the Beyond, you can check out our stuff (like the Herald Mythic Path) here:d20pfsrd.com, drivethruRPG, paizo and RPGNow.

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