Death is the cessation of life for a being.
"The souls swirl and writhe. I now know the truth of mortals: all paths lead to death...whatever their struggles, whatever their triumphs, they die. That is Wisdom."— Malthael(src)
The spirits of humans who have died have sometimes described death in different ways. Isendra likened her moment of death as being akin to a bowstring—as she died, she found herself being stretched over all of Sanctuary. Yet the 'string' was drawn back, and her spirit wound up in the Pandemonium Fortress. The Guardian stated that it was impossible to describe death to one who was still living. When pressed, he asked whether someone could describe their own birth. A Master Crusader as "the coldest night on the plains, with a warm fire at your feet. The Crusader told their former apprentice that when they died, they would know whether death was the fire or the night, and that they had known what death was all along.
In Diablo I, death ends the game, and the player is forced to restart from their last save. In the game's Multiplayer, there is a Resurrect Spell which another character can use to revive the deceased, or the fallen character could respawn in town with reduced Health and Mana.
Monsters who die in the game die permanently and do not respawn (unless resurrected by some other monsters). Hence, the game's number of enemies are finite.
In Diablo II, the player is revived without any equipped items or minions, in the act's town. To regain their lost items, the character has to return to the place they died, and pick up their 'corpse' - often a dangerous proposition, as any monsters in the area remain. Further deaths (even of an itemless character) result in more corpses. A corpse will appear in town only if the player restarts their game, but only the most recent corpse would appear - thus, if a character died multiple times, they might lose all items they had equipped.
In the Hardcore mode of Diablo II, death is permanent, and a deceased player can no longer create or join games.
If a monster dies, it leaves behind a corpse on the ground. In Diablo II, the corpse has several possible functions:
- Revival by a Necromancer, as a minion, or exploding the corpse to damage nearby foes.
- Looting, by a Barbarian. This ability allows a Barbarian to find 'hidden' potions and items, beyond initial item drops.
- Creation of a Grim Totem, by a Barbarian, using the Grim Ward skill. These totems cause nearby monsters to flee, but vanish after a set time period.
- Conversion into life or mana by the Druid and Paladin. The Druid uses the Carrion Vine or Solar Creeper to do so; only life or mana can be converted at one time. Paladins use an aura skill, which works similarly.
Monsters often drop items upon death; this is one of the main methods of item collection. Some bosses drop more powerful items, whether randomly spawned items (such as 'rare' or 'set' items in Diablo II), or specific, pre-determined items (such as the Book of Skill dropped by Radament).
Some monsters may also cause effects upon death. For instance, Embalmed and similar monsters release a cloud of poison when they die. The most drastic of these are caused by bosses - for instance, the death of Blood Raven killed any Hungry Dead she had summoned. Some monsters may even revive upon death, like the Returned in the game's fifth act.
In Diablo III, player death wears down the player's equipment, damaging its durability by 10% (from level 10 and upwards). There exist no corpse runs, unlike Diablo II; due to the physics system introduced, if Blizzard had implemented Diablo II's method of corpse retrieval, it would have frustrated too many players. After all, if one cannot get his/her equipment back, it would essentially be like forcing Hardcore mode on players who may not feel up to the challenge.
Once a Softcore character is dead, they have four options:
- Revive at last active checkpoint (note that some teleports to town count as setting new checkpoint)
- Revive at corpse (must wait 5 seconds), cannot be used in boss fights, and can only be done 3 times in a row (reset when changing zone, spending over 5 minutes not dying, or venturing too far from the previous death site)
- Revive in town
- Players can also be revived by other players, who must click on their grave markers and channel it for 3 seconds without taking damage.
Reviving at corpse or checkpoints will place hero in a 'phased out' state, in which they are immune to damage, cannot perform any actions other than movement and picking up Gold, are invisible and may move through enemies unhindered. Their followers, however, are vulnerable as normal during that time (and may distract monsters from the character, buying them time to recover and rebuff).
In Greater Rifts, players may not revive in town; only at corpse (with timer increasing from 5 to 30 seconds with each death) or at last checkpoint.
Death imposes no penalty on the player aside from item damage (unless the item is indestructible) and losing the Pool of Reflection experience buff, as well as any other buffs (and nearly all debuffs). However, death does not stop (and does not reset) any ongoing cooldowns (with exception of those applied as debuffs, which are removed normally).
Monsters do not have permanent death and will respawn each time a game is loaded (akin to Diablo II).
Hardcore mode Heroes who die, of course, cannot be brought back from the dead. However, upon such circumstances, the player can elect to place that hero in a special Hall of Fallen Heroes, for other players to see. Customer Support will not revive dead Hardcore characters, even if death came on fault of anyone other than the owner: according to EULA, by starting a Hardcore game, the player agrees on the terms that he and he alone is responsible for their character's death.
For monsters, death is not always permanent even for the duration of the game: some of them may revive their fallen allies. To prevent this, one must kill them with Critical Hits, which destroy their corpses irreversibly. Some abilities, like Disintegrate or Soul Harvest, have a Slain Enemies Rest in Pieces trait, but it is a purely cosmetic effect: if there are resurrectors nearby, only a Critical Hit may lay the monster to permanent rest.
There are abilities and effects in game that save the character from dying (usually with a considerable cooldown). These effects trigger only when all other methods of absorbing or otherwise evading fatal damage were used up:
- Unstable Anomaly, Firebird's Finery Set (Wizard)
- Awareness, Beckon Sail (Demon Hunter)
- Spirit Vessel (Witch Doctor)
- Near Death Experience (Monk)
- Indestructible, Prophet (Crusader)
- Nerves of Steel (Barbarian)
- Final Service, Self Sacrifice (Necromancer)
- Ancestors' Grace (All Classes, Hardcore only)
- Pauldrons of the Skeleton King (All Classes)
Necromancers use monster corpses as a secondary resource for skills, such as detonating them with Corpse Explosion, raising them with Revive, consuming them with Devour or creating deadly projectiles from them with Corpse Lance.
Only Necromancers can see these corpses, and this resource is unaffected by abilities that normally destroy corpses, so the Necromancers do not leave themselves without fresh bodies with attacks, nor do their allies.
These corpses have alternate graphics (see picture) and appear at the site of every slain monster.
The copses remain behind nearly all monsters, even those that explode on death (Grotesques, for instance), but not after monsters that can be described as "not made of flesh and bone", for example, Gnarled Walkers.
These corpses disappear if moved away from too far.
Certain skill runes can generate corpses for later use, so even without any supplemental monsters around, a Necromancer can still use their corpse skills, though to lesser effect. Land of the Dead skill is specifically designed to give a short period of unlimited corpse-consuming skill use.