The effect of death upon your mortal character will vary according to the will of the Gods. There are a number of possibilities, and you may type HELP BLOODLUST or HELP DEATH while in Avalon to gain a summary of the current divine ruling on the effects of dying. During peaceful periods or during events such as gem quests, the adverse effects of death will be minimal, a small percentage of experience lost and the inconvenience of a ride on the Ships of the Dead. All mortals usually hold a maximum of ten safe encounters with death, these safe encounters being lost by a ride on the ship, a death to ghost, or a death of any kind depending on the will of the Gods. Once a character falls below one safe encounter, skill effectiveness is reduced.
However, during violent periods, the Gods may introduce blood-lust - blood-lust increases whenever you slay an individual who has not previously challenged you, and the higher one's bloodlust, the more one loses when slain when challenged (even so far as losing skill effectiveness, see section on Wurtfoil). Further, in particularly bloody periods the Gods may withdraw the cleansing effect of the Ships of the Dead, and, upon riding the ship, a mortal will emerge with a new body with only a fraction of its skill effectiveness, to be restored either by wurtfoil (in extreme cases), or by avoiding death for a while and gradually healing. You should be comforted though to know that all losses of skill effectiveness are not actual losses of skills learned. They may be tricky to recover, but your skills remain totally intact and lessons spent will enhance them, ready for your recovery of their maximum levels.