I was discussing the Eberron setting on IRC (chat.psionics.net, #eberron), when the discussion turned to how likely a deceased person was to be brought back from the dead in the setting. It’s common enough that any high-level D&D character can be assured of his body being carried to the nearest town and having himself restored to life by a cleric. One of the channel members tells me that this is almost unheard of in Eberron, and that in his game only around five people on the entire continent of Khorvaire are capable of bringing someone back to life. Although I respect his decision in his game, I decided to see how common it is in Eberron for a person to be brought back to life.
This dragonshard on Eberron demographics gives the statistics for the highest level NPC of any given class in any given settlement. A thorp has no chance of having a single cleric of even first level, while a small city’s highest level cleric will only be between level 5 and level 7 inclusive. A large city is the first settlement with the possibility of housing a person capable of casting raise dead - that is to say, a cleric of level 9 or above - it will have two cleric NPCs each between level 7 and level 9 inclusive. The odds of a large city - Korranberg or Rekkenmark, say - having one cleric able to cast raise dead are 55.56%, so roughly every other large city will have one character able to bring someone back to life. There’s an 11% chance of a large city also having a second such character. Whether or not they are going to choose to do this for a player character, however, is another matter.
Moving on to a metropolis such as Sharn, and we can be roughly assured of having three clerics of level 9 or above. On average this means one level 9 cleric, one level 10 cleric and one level 11 cleric, although the actual levels are not entirely relevant, since only level 9 is required to raise the dead. Thus, we can get some idea of how many people exist capable of casting raise dead. The country of Breland, for example, has one large city (Starilaskur) and two metropolises (Sharn and Wroat), giving it an average of six and a half clerics able to bring a person back to life. Seven or eight people in all of Karrnath, which has three large cities and two metropolises, can cast raise dead, while Aunadair has only five. Thus even for the most civilized nations, a mere handful of people are able to restore the dead to life.
In Thrane, due to the presence of the silver flame, things are changed around a little, with clerics being more common. A small city’s highest level cleric ranges from level 5 to level 10, meaning that each of Thrane’s two small cities has a one in three chance to house a cleric of 9th level or higher. There’s a 55.56% chance that Sigilstar and Aruldusk have one cleric between them who is of 9th level or higher. In Thrane’s one large city, Thaliost, there are two clerics who are each somewhere between level 7 and an impressive level 12, with an 88.89% chance of at least one of them being able to cast raise dead and and a 44.45% chance of the both being able to cast it. In the capital of Flamekeep, a metropolis, we have three NPCs who are clerics of between 9th and 14th level, in addition to Jaela, the Keeper of the Flame, who as we know is effectively a 17th level cleric. Thus even Thrane has only the same number of people able to bring a person back to life, although it does so with the distinction that there is a 70.37% chance of someone other than Jaela being able to cast the more powerful resurrection which can bring a person back to life even if they died a century ago and only ashes remain. Jaela herself might be only person on the continent able to cast true resurrection, although even in this case she is unlikely to use it for a mere donation of wealth.
However, the situation becomes more complex with the addition of adepts. And adept of 16th level or higher (with a Wisdom of 20 or higher, which with a starting score of 15 and some basic magic items is quite feasible) is capable of casting raise dead. Unlike clerics, Adepts in Thrane are no more likely to be high level than in any other nation, which simplifies things. Statistically, it’s possible that even in a metropolis, the three highest level adepts will not be of high enough a level to guarantee that they can cast raise dead.
It’s possible for an adept in a small city to be of 16th level or higher and thus able to cast raise dead, but unlikely - a mere 1.56% chance. A large city will have two high-level adepts of between 9th and 18th level, giving a 28.81% chance of at least one of them being able to cast it and a 2.44% chance of both of them being able to do so. A metropolis will have three high-level adepts of between 11th and 20th level each. There’s an 87.5% chance that at least one of these will be of high enough level to cast raise dead, with a 12.5% chance that all three will be able to cast it. Thus while a metropolis is guaranteed three raise-capable clerics, it is also granted three adepts who each have a 50% to be able to raise.
Thus, we can generally estimate the following:
No large towns or smaller settlements can be expected to have any residents capable of bringing the dead back to life.
Only 1.56% of small cities - around one small city in every sixty-four - will have anyone capable of casting raise dead. The exceptions to this rule are Sigilstar and Aruldusk in Thrane, which due to the influence of the Silver Flame each have a one in three chance in addition to this one in sixty-four chance. Compare this to standard D&D in which a small city would have an 88.89% chance.
In a large city, which are few, there is a 68.46% chance of encountering a cleric or adept who can cast raise dead. However, unless the cleric/adept encoutnered is corrupt, they are unlikely to simply accept straightforward payment. Compare this to the standard setting rules under which not only are the clerics almost definitely going to accept straight payment to restore a person to life, but any given large city is guaranteed three clerics able to do so. (No adept in a large city in the standard setting rules is capable of casting raise dead.) The exception is the large city of Thaliost in Thrane, where the chance increases to 92.09% - highly likely, although still not 100%, and only marginally higher than any small city would be in standard D&D.
In a metropolis, one is guaranteed to find someone who is able to raise an ally from the dead. However, such services are still much rarer than in standard D&D. Any given metropolis (Sharn in Breland, Karrlakton in Karrnath and the capital cities of Aunadair, Breland, Thrane, Karranth, Darguun, Droaam and Zilargo) will have three clerics of at least the required level and probably higher. Each will also have three high level adepts, each of which have a 50% chance to be of the required level.
Overall, this means that only perhaps fifty or sixty people in an entire continent are going to be able to put you back together again when you get toasted by an onrushing dragon - and most of those are bound by a code of honour not to do so. Try not to get your character killed in Eberron!