My 5e games are fairly lethal – no resurrection magic of any kind, hit points capped at level 10 but monsters not modified and only 1 action a turn. My son calls them “the Dark Souls of D&D campaigns”. The only way my PCs get a rez is if they escape (or are saved) from Hades or through the use of the bonfire – an idea I stole from Dark Souls. The bonfire acts as a save point.
Blade of the First Flame (Bonfire)
Placing this sword into the ground creates a bonfire. It can be used simply to provide heat and a campfire but it has a secondary, more significant, effect. This magical flame has the power to capture an instant in time and space and keep it burning bright. The heroes can then return to that instant, within limits. Heroes can materialize at a designated moment in time and space, where they place the sword, if… the blade is active, that is,
- Immovable. It is plunged into the ground and the flame active (only magic can douse the flame). Moving the bonfire resets the save point.
- Penetrator. Completely immovable when impaled in a solid object, unless grasped by the handle and pulled out by an intelligent being.
- Save/Load. At least 1 hero must be able to call upon the bonfire to activate it. Once activated to “Load“, it returns to life (naked) the dead character or characters in the state they were when the “Save” function was last used. They have just enough XP to meet the minimum level requirements for the level they used the bonfire (saved) the character at.
All these traits are communicated to anyone who picks up or uses the Blade of the First Flame.
Secret Attributes of the Bonfire
These attributes only become known after the first time the bonfire is used to resurrect a character:
- The bonfire loses its flame and can not make any more save points.
- Any mage or arcane blacksmith can inform the PCs that the way to recharge the flame is to use the soul of a powerful creature. A powerful creature is any creature, usually a monster, that is at least +5 CR higher than the highest level character that wishes to be saved to the bonfire.
- While in its inactive state it gains the following traits:
- It is a magical weapon, treat it as a short sword (as it’s actually a broken longsword).
- It grants +1 on all d20 rolls.