Binding and Respawning
The forces behind the Rifts that have splintered the land of Aetheria are powerful, indeed. From the moment they began to appear hundreds of years ago, they have had a great impact on all aspects of life, and death, in the realm. As the years passed, many residents gradually grew accustomed to the new "rules" of this strange world, and memories of how things used to be have faded - refreshed only by the constant influx of "new blood" and their difficulty adjusting to life in Aetheria.
The Rift Energy intimately wraps itself around the living beings of the world, and perhaps the greatest consequence of this is the forging of a link between body and soul, invisibly tethering them together even in death.
Death in Aetheria
When death comes to any being in Aetheria by an unnatural means, the invisible link between Body and Soul is severed, and like an elastic band, snaps the corporeal form back into the mystical energy of the Rifts. The soul itself, without guideance, would be left to wander for an eternity - disembodied and unable to interact with the world around it on anything more than a trivial level.
It was discovered, however, that a manner exists in which to provide this disembodied soul with a "beacon", ensuring safe passage into the energies of the Rifts and allowing it to rejoin its corporeal form near one of the many pockets of energy, called "Shards", where the Rifts manifest themselves. This process is called "binding", and it has become an essential part of life in Aetheria.
The process is as taxing as any journey through the Rift, and the trip takes its toll on both body and soul - 50 XP per character level are lost, and a fee (generally 10% of your gold) is assessed by the keepers of the shard as payment for tending to your recovery. Your appear, fully healed but unconscious and defenseless, near the bind shard chosen as your "beacon". Unwary and careless adventurers who bind themselves to a point controlled by their enemies risk capture and imprisonment, or worse.
The Binding Process
Upon joining a faction, your Ambassador will automatically bring you to a safe location and bind you there. This is usually a well-kept area deep inside their territory, fitted with facilities to allow the undisturbed recovery of their members who come through the shards.
If you should come across another Rift Shard in your adventures, the binding process is as simple as placing your hand into the rift and allowing your soul to leave its "psychic imprint" there. The colors of the various rift shards around the realm correspond roughly to the factional locations wherein they are located. Keep this in mind when you decide to change your bind point - binding yourself to a hostile area may doom you to an endless cycle of death and rebirth at the hands of your enemies.
All Rift Shards emit strong magical interference, and most spells are useless in their vicinity.