On Nightmare or Hell difficulty, in addition to losing gold and leaving all your gear on the body, death also means that you lose a portion of your accumulated experience.
This percentage is taken from the amount of experience you’d need to reach the next level, not your overall experience. For example, if you need 100,000 xp to move from one level to the next on Hell difficulty, you’d lose 10% of that on a death, or 10,000xp.
Successful corpse runs regain 75% of that experience back for each corpse you retrieve — not 100%. So in the example above, retrieving your body in Hell mode that would have taken 10,000xp from you will reduce the loss to 2500xp.
You will not de-level as a result. You can bottom out on a level, but you cannot drop down levels, which could have a negative impact on gearing with hard Character Level (cLvl) requirements.
Restarting the game to retrieve a geared corpse may be a good alternative if you haven’t gained much experience into a level. It may be worth a small xp loss to save the time.
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If you can’t find your corpse, or if it’s too dangerous to retrieve it with your current equipment, simply exit and re-enter the game. Your corpse, and all of its items, will appear near your starting point in town. The only drawback is that you will lose any gold your character dropped when he died and you will give up the chance to regain 75% of your lost experience on Nightmare and Hell Difficulty. This is a good option for Nightmare and Hell difficulties, in which death results in lost experience. The corpse will appear at your starting point, typically near the point where Town Portals appear in town: In Lut Gholein, this area is at the bottom right of town. In Kurast, it is next to Meshif. You should be able to find your corpse easily if you explore the town.
Dueling, or other PvP activity that results in death, is not immune to the Nightmare/Hell experience penalty. For that reason, don’t engage in PvP or duels in Nightmare or Hell difficulty unless you’re near the bottom of an experience level, or duel only in Normal difficulty games.