Reincarnation: Your NeverEnding Story

July 17, 2021

That One Spell That Keeps Your Story Alive.

Your average dungeon-grind: player's characters discover-hunt the Big Bad - they go to ground, a set of rooms within a building &/or dungeon. Players slaughter minions, super-minions, semi-bosses and finally they get to the key figure - usually in that order. Then these characters slaughter this big bad.

Then what? Well, it is over

It is over even faster should these players be clever: they plan their attacks for when the Big Bad has to sleep, void their bowels, visit their loved ones or whatever - that's it. Your campaign is over! All the minions go on unemployment lines and the mini-bosses open small businesses or publish books. You, the DM, get busy writing a new adventure. If only there was another way!

How To Recycle Your People

Reincarnate is a 5th level spell, range of touch (can be cast via your familiar) with an hour cast-time. It works as long as the spirit is free and willing. Stuff to consider:

  • requires 'body parts' (how much? how fresh / how old? doesn't say) of the target humanoid to be reincarnated
  • humanoid must not be dead more than ten (10) days - perhaps this is the time required for a soul-spirit to go deep into The Great Beyond (Outer Planes / final resting place)?
  • the subject-creature gets a new, fresh, young body (random race / roll on the table)
  • target remembers everything (proficiencies, tool skills, where to find the rolling pin in the kitchen, etc.)
  • target may 'forget' proficiencies, tool skills &/or abilities it gained from previous race(s)
  • spell needs 1000 gold of rare oils and unguents - not clear who can harvest these
  • magic 'fashions a new body' - possibly in seconds at the end, not sure?
  • for choice of races, many writers have made new tables. The DM also has the option to choose the destination race.
d100Simplified Reincarnation Table
01-04Some quasi humanoid (examples: Dragonborn, Firbolg, Kenku, etc.)
05-21Dwarf, any
22-42Elf, any
43-52Gnome, any
53-56Half-elf (roll / choose the elven variant)
57-60half-human, half other species (example: half-orc)
61-76halfling, any
77-96human (variant / normal)
97-00half extra-planar (tiefling, aasimar or other)

For the humanoids you could other playable races that exist in your world (goblins, kobolds, firbolg, kuo-toa etc.). For half-humans, you could include half-animals (tabaxi, tortle, Yuan Ti variants and so on). In 'half extra planar' you could include the elemental-touched as well (the four kinds of genasi). Use your judgement. Be warned, the lists of playable races can seem infinite and unending.

Things To Know To ReUse, Reduce and Reincarnate Your Humanoids

  1. Body parts required seem to be of any age &/or material. Long lasting parts like nails, vials of blood, hair, skin leather-parchment and even special ink-paint made of body fluids whilst the subject is alive - this should all work fine - so long as the parts are 'dead'. Theoretically, even frozen &/or cooked sausages composed of (former) adventurers would work just fine (if such foods are a blend-mix of multiple people you may end up with someone other than intended). Logically any specially prepared item can link to the deceased: a totem, a blood-bound doll (like voodoo), a common magic item, stuffed animal or toy, a spell or love-letter written in blood - anything that uses or contains enough essential linking-identity stuff to trigger this spell correctly. Though this item is NOT consumed, the target has a new body each time and thus requires a new totem for each casting.
  2. Casting time of one hour - the caster can do other things! The caster's action and concentration are required for the whole duration. Theoretically lots of options exist. You can briskly walk (not run), perform bonus actions and possibly even cast other spells. The caster druid or Magic Secret bard could walk by and touch barbarian steaks & sorcerer sausages and keep right on going - only those with knowledge of the arcane would know you are casting (especially with bards). If one has a familiar you can cast this spell with / through them up to the specified range.
  3. Gaining divine favours from religious service might reduce the randomness of the new body: There are downtime activies listed in both DMG and Xanathar's guide: you do religious services and gain favours from both the people of faith and their divine connections. Remember: the DM is allowed to choose the end-form, it is not clear when they are supposed to do this. It would make sense that elven druids in an elven enclave asking for a new life for an elf whilst asking for help from an elven nature god would possibly not produce many 'random' half-orc nor duergar body-spawns.
  4. Tasha's Cauldron lists enchanted tattoos containing spells: Does the tattoo take an hour to go off? That would be handy - otherwise whomever just killed you is right there ready to kill your now-naked new form.
  5. It is possible to farm the components: Unlike gemstone spell components, these can be farmed, brewed &/or crafted.
  6. Many monsters could gain this spell. A hag coven may specialize with a different spell set and have this as an (expensive) option. Dragons with CR 15+ could choose to have this on their list - and they cast this spell without need of costly components.
  7. Reincarnation from Wish spells have no limits, constraints or requirements: One could Reincarnate a dragon, your pet dog on the vet's table, or a destroyed lich after he or she has been dead for thousands of years. One would assume a reincarnated dragon should come back as a dragon (of young-adult age category), that the lich's phylactery must be destroyed and that the dog would come back as a different kind of dog. But are these assumptions based off of 'requirements'? Wish-Reincarnation limits pend on DM decisions / spell 'requirements' are not clearly defined.
  8. This spell allows old-age death survival / offerings effective immortality: The new body is a young adult. The only other re-life magic with bonus youth tend to be Clone and True Polymorph spells (and certain uses of Wish).

Stories That Never End:

Immortality For Sale: A trio of hags has a town under their thumb planting, grooming and harvesting the plants and animals to get the unguents and essential oils for Reincarnation. If someone dies before they finish their contract(s) the trio brings them back and adds the spell to their tab. A rival trio of greater hags has noticed that many of their contracted / 'sold their souls' are not showing up. Ever. An enemy grandmother / night hag is not impressed.

Broken Necromancers: Tried for Magickal Malfeasance, this group of wizards has lost their tongues, fingers and eyes. Fortunately one of them has a telepathic friend / familiar / magic item that can explain their situation. They seek to get to a druid of diverse ethics and dispose of bodies that are aging, twisted and shattered.

Shattered Statue: In the process of clearing the lair of a defeated medusa one of the statues tipped, shattering it - long story, but many of the pieces were lost. Reincarnation solves their problem perfectly - but getting to the druid is a challenge / they are quite the recluse. Moreover, no one knows what a hermit that eschews metal might require for compensation.

Ghostly Repossession: A group of ghosts hold many valuable & powerful secrets - and they seek to live again. Their bodies are long gone and the Best Before Date of even True Resurrection (200 year limit) has passed them by centuries ago. They want to live! This will require the right people to accept a new bodies thanks to clever use of Reincarnation. This is all a very delicate manoeuvre and who is to say that these deadly spirits will keep to any bargains?

Great Green Dragon: ancient and clever, a Green dragon offers a fresh start to heroes - old folks, any soon to die of old age. She only asks that they swear in a Zone of Truth before hand - to offer a decade of service for each life they accept. This is a deal that few can refuse and her army is growing - but what does she want? Entire centuries go by with little but the accumulation of a greater army. To what end?

Catching 22 - Living Swords: a great hero died and kept their soul within their blade (similar to a Ring of Mind Shielding). She has done her time and served with many great heroes. She wants to live out the 'rest of her life lost so long ago'. Her legendary grave must be found, where she fought her last battles. Then, with scraps of her long-calcified bones she can easily be reincarnated. That said: the ancient evil that she fought is still there, awaiting her return.

Valley Of The Relived: A massive army fought and lost against a group of undead necromancers and now they march to destroy the planet. Fortunately, there is a great enchanted Reincarnation machine in the EverTurning Valley. Convince the entire dead army to fall off the cliff into this valley within ten days and - poof - instant army of young men, ready to fight! That's the easy part. How to get the army there in time?

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