So in an earlier post, I talked about the dieties and mentioned that only of them has the ability to cast the raise dead spell. The ability to have characters come back to life is an important decision in any campaign. I never felt very comfortable with the AD&D versions, or the continuance into mainstream game culture including computer games like Bard's Tale where healing and resurrection turned into a way to such out resources only. The idea of raising dead and resurrection also comes squarely from the Christian religion which isn't in AD&D (at least in the way I have read it). So for my D&D mine, I want something a bit more mythic. Hence the Maidens of the Black Gate. They owe a lot to the Earthsea Trilogy.
This is the version of the spell I use in my game:
Raise Dead - Level 4
Duration: permanent (side note - I have always toyed with the idea of it not being permanent - that the spell would have to continue to be cast before the hero turns into dust - but that is a separate post).
By means of this spell the cleric casts a ceremony to open the Black Gate. Only a Maiden of the Black Gate can cast this spell, and must have access to a Black Gate (typically an altar found in their temples). To cast this spell the maiden must perform an elaborate sword dance naked in front of the Black Gate. The last part of the dance she cuts open the gate creating a rend to the lands of the Dead. A companion to the slain character must enter the Black Gate carrying their slain companion. Once inside they spend 1D3+number of days the character was dead wandering to find the dead. They can then bring back the dead one to life. For every 7 days inside the lands of the dead both the risen character and the companion who went inside to find them must make a save vs. spell. A failed saving thrown results in a character losing a level (per standard energy drain rules). 1st Level characters become Normal Men (with 1d6-1 HP as HD) and have to reroll their attributes. Upon gaining any experience they become 1st level characters again. Normal Men who are slain and fail the save are not able to return from the land of the dead and sealed there forever.
Note since this ceremony breaks the restrictions of the "Obscuring Dance of Utter Darkness" clerics the cleric will be unable to cast spells again, and won't be able to be part of the order. They lose the power to turn undead, and the power of their spells. But they still retain HP and Saving Throws, but they will be unable to advance a level. In general the Clerics that cast this spell stay on in the temple, but in a different role. Generally to get a cleric to cast the spell the person requesting the temple to cast the spell must pay enough gold to take care of the cleric who cast for the rest of their life. Generally this is 14,000 to 20,000 gold pieces. Alternatively in some rare cases the temple has been known to instead marry off the priestess who cast the spell to someone that is part of the group that requested the spell to be cast.
The Maidens are a fairly common order and temples can be found throughout the Baronies and communities east of the Riven Sea. They frequently are healers, midwifes, and perform the marriage and funeral rites for the communities. It is rare that they will open the gate, and will generally only do so for those that have the funds and have proven themselves worthy by deeds that they are strong in the world (e.g. they will not generally throw away their priesthood for a 1st level character since there is a strong chance the character will not return from the land of the dead).