Death & Resurrection
Death and Resurrection in Dungeons & Dragons (5e) lacks dramatic tension from my experience with the rules as written. This article acts as a guideline for adjusting these mechanics to evoke a greater sense of danger, and permanancy should a character fall in battle.
Death Saving ThrowsWhen a character in reduced to  Hit-Points and fails a Death Saving Throw, this failure does not 'reset' upon regaining Hit-Points from a spell, consumable item, or other character feature. A character retains their Death Saving Throw failures until the wounds are treated, or has rested for a number of days corresponding to the level of wound they received. Wounds and how to treat them are described in greater detail in the Injuries & Hit Dice article. What do we say to the God of Death?: Death Saving Throws are rolled at the beginning of a character's turn rather than the end of their turn using this homebrew ruleset meaning that if a character does recover from Dying they can take their standard action, use their movement and any other bonus or free actions that are available to them. Only the Endless know your fate: When rolling Death Saving Throws you must 'whisper' them to the Dungeon Master. While players can attempt to use a medicine check to determine your overall condition at a glance, only the gods know your true fate. Heroic Recovery: When a character is roused from death by succeeding on three Death Saving Throws, or rolls a Natural 20 for their save, they have made a 'heroic recovery' and regain hit points based on their CONSTITUTION modifier (A character always recovers with a minimum of 1 Hit-Points).
- 3 Successful Death Saving Throws: The character returns to consciousness with Hit-Points equal to their CON modifier.
- Natural 20: The character returns to consciousness with Hit-Points equal to their CON modifier and may immediately roll one Hit-Die if they possess it, adding the total of the roll to their recovered Hit-Points.
Automatic Death Saving Throw FailuresIn the rules as written, whenever a character suffers damage of any kind, or magnitude while at  Hit-Points they automatically fail one death saving throw. This means that whether the character is caught in the blast of a Fireball spell, or kicked by an enemy combatant while lying on the ground, the injury is treated as being equal in severity. This homebrew changes this mechanic so that damage for any attack against a chacter who is unconscious, and bleeding out is still rolled, and the damage of that attack, or spell determines how many automatic failures occur. 01 - 25 = 1 Automatic Failure
26 - 50 = 2 Automatic Failures
51 - ** = 3 Automatic Failures / Instant Death
Assisting Dying PlayersBecause these mechanics greatly increase the odds of a character dying, a number of new assisting actions have been added in order to give the party the ability to aid their fallen ally in their time of need.
Time of Need ActionsShield From Harm: As an action on their turn any character who is within 5ft of a fallen ally can choose to 'shield' the fallen character, and suffer any damage that their fallen comrade would take in their stead. This is represented by the character putting their body between the enemy and their fallen compatriot. Attacks and spells made against the fallen ally still use their AC, not the shielding players. While shielding another player from harm, if a spell or ability with an area of effect would cause a player to roll a saving throw in order to mitigate or avoid damage, the shielding player can choose to automatically fail in order to prevent their fallen ally from being wounded. Swear Off Death: As an action a player within 5ft of a fallen character can Swear Off Death. This could be represented by a player praying to one of the Endless for the ally's protection, a warrior pressing his hands to the wound of the fallen character in order to prevent them from bleeding out, or a character attempting to quickly bandage the injury with the supplies from their medicine kit. This grants the fallen character Advantage on their Death Saving Throws.
Returning to the realm of the living after Death is a miraculous feat associated with the most legendary figures in all of myth, literature, film and other mediums. In Dungeons & Dragons (5e) this substantial journey is a somewhat mundane experience that can be completed by simply casting a spell with the required materials. I do not feel as though this reflects the significant nature of this feat and the homebrew rules below have been designed to add more weight and difficulty to return from the dead.