Deeds are granted to mortals of Elanthia by the goddess Lorminstra in exchange for donation or sacrifice of some sort. Deeds are essentially a pact with the goddess which grants the deed-holder a chance to walk Elanthia again upon their death, avoid passing through the Ebon Gate, and suffering less Death's Sting. In the past, dying without deeds caused one to go "demonic", a horrible fate resulting in the permanent destruction of the adventurer and all their belongings. However, this ceased to be the case with the introduction of Death's Sting. It is no longer absolutely necessary to possess deeds.
Deeds are a preventive measure sought to decrease the penalties of Death's Sting. Locations and methods for acquiring deeds are in-game puzzles. A character may also gain ten deeds through Gift of Lorminstra (F2P characters get five). A character is capped at 200 deeds.
- Main article: Deed acquisition (spoilers)
In the original death mechanics it was possible for the soul to be "lost to the demonic", though the messaging in Purgatory did not show any demons. This was not an aspect of the Shadow World setting in the I.C.E. Age of GemStone III. The theology of Eissa (Lorminstra) at the time involved the idea that she would refuse to restore the life of someone who had died in a significant way. Deeds appear to have been an act of medieval homage in exchange for special rights of intercession by a liege lord, where sacrificing the spoils of fortune hunting allowed the adventurer off the hook for dying heroically.
In the earliest version there was item droppage upon death and penalties to character statistics that were more lasting than Death's Sting. Later there was instead experience damage for spirit death, which is no longer the case, only incurring a more severe form of Death's Sting. This was phased out around the time of the transition to GemStone IV, where some of the Purgatory language was removed.
In the oldest version of this theology the Dark Gods did not have the same origins as the Light Gods. They were associated with demonic powers and existed of chaotic corrupted essence, the root concept of unholy power in that world system. It would not have been possible for a worshipper of one of the Dark Lords to cast resurrection spells, they would necessarily have been members of the Evil Cleric profession of Rolemaster that never existed in GemStone III. This has the effect of eliminating any significant problem in the deference to Eissa by the other Lords on the subject of those spells.
In the transition to the modern history of Elanthia, the Dark Gods theologically became members of the same race as the Light Gods. There was later a deity alignment mechanism in the CONVERT (verb), where holy magic including resurrections have unique messages for each of the gods. This solidified the interpretation that any deity can resurrect, but only Lorminstra reincarnates departed souls.
The following was published in the Elanthian Journal when the shadow dragon deed quest was released, explaining the purpose of deeds with reincarnation and the new Death's Sting:
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH! Dateline: Day 5th of Eoantos, 5104: Wehnimer's Landing A great earthquake shook all of Elanith a few days ago and what happened next shocked everyone everywhere. A massive shadowy dragon erupted out of a mountain peak in the DragonSpine Mountains and took flight, passing over most of the major cities. It soon disappeared for a period of time until it was once again discovered flying along the Western Coast of Elanith. No one would fully realize the reason behind this dragon's appearance until a Priestess of Lorminstra came forward with a story: "Long ago, each of the Arkati was given a task in healing the land and restoring things to how they were before the Great War. The Arkati's powers were still developing. When Lorminstra would return a worthy soul back from the brink of the Ebon Gate, she would not fully heal them, both body and soul. As she learned to harness the full potential of their powers, she then would extend gifts of healing those worthy in full for their devotion of her deeds." "Kor'thriss, the shadowy dragon everyone saw this evening, is the guardian of the world. It is his task to collect the excess essence that lingers behind whenever someone dies without being fully healed. This essence takes the shape of a wisp. If it remains, it would have a dire effect on the mana flows of Elanthia. Kor'thriss collects and distributes the energy to new life. When the Lady Lorminstra learned to fully heal the worthy and the essence ceased to linger, she asked Lord Koar to put Kor'thriss back to slumber in the center of the world, and there he remained until now." "Kor'thriss's awakening has signaled to us that the Cycle of Life has turned once more, although we do not fully understand why. Things will return to how they were. Some among the clergy say it is because Lady Lorminstra wishes to teach us a lesson in the value of life. Others say that she wishes to punish us, to harden our spirits to prepare for the Oblivion should our time come." Shortly after the Priestess of Lorminstra told the story, everyone felt a faint presence pass over their body, and a soft sigh in their ear. A somber voice spoke gently, "Fear not, Children of Elanitha. A new dawn is rising upon the horizon of your lives as the Cycle of Life now has come full turn." And then a soft white glow surrounded everyone, and coalesced into small orbs that spiraled off towards the heavens. What happens now... one cannot say for certain. An era of change has passed over the faithful inhabitants of Elanthia, and we will just have to see how it plays out. But for now, be safe. ~ A Journalist