Post by Michael Cole Post by Justisaur
I've always been bothered by turn undead. I'd like to come up with something
that more closely resembles what you see in movies, and is perhaps a bit
#1 I don't remember undead fleeing at full speed, they retreat slowly into
the shadows, averting their eyes as if it were a gaze attack they're trying
to avoid. I'm thinking it forces them to withdraw, not flee, and only up to
about 30' away (about as far as you can recognize a face.)
#2 fighting - what to do when someone physically fights the undead while they
are being turned or are already turned. I seem to remember some female
vampires that fight back when cornered but it seems they are at a
disadvantage or weakened by the turning.
#3 unlimited number - there's no number of undead that seems to overwhelm the
turning, it's just the power of the leader if he's too powerful for the
#4 No destroying undead outright.
#5 Placing the symbol on the undead hurt them.
Turn undead is an action the cleric can take any time, he has to use his
round to maintain it, but he can still move, even forcing undead back. It
affects all undead within 30' they must withdraw if they can. There's no
turning attempt/chart, instead only the most powerful undead can attempt to
break the turn making a save vs. spells (perhaps at -1/+1 per 2 levels
difference in HD, 20s and 1s don't auto succeed/fail). If failed that undead
can't attempt to break the turn again. If trapped/fought within the 30'
turning radius the undead takes a -4 to hit due to being weakened/not able to
look at the symbol. If fought more than 30' away they are out of the turn
radius and aren't affected. Undead can't be destroyed outright through
turning, though if trapped within the radius and the symbol placed on them,
it does as much damage each round as holy water.
Thoughts? Citations from fantasy/horror books/movies on how this should work?
I very much like this idea, particularly using it as a gaze attack,
which would theoretically mean that you could set up a situation where
the cleric is surrounded on all sides, so that they would need to keep
turning to look at each undead in turn. As they look at the undead, it
retreats, but those behind them can start to slowly creep back in.
Cue clerics having to retreat to get their back to a wall so they
cannot be surrounded...
I generally don't have issue with the mechanics of the Turn, including
the Turn table. My main complaint is that it is based on level rather
than the willpower or faith of the cleric. Cinematically, we've seen
that it is the strength of faith that matters most; a young fervent
believer (low level) often succeeds where the jaded elder (high level)
priest fails. Unfortunately, D&D doesn't have a "faith" mechanic so
the options are either to link faith to character level (as it is
now), assume that faith is somehow inherent in WISdom, or hack in an
entirely new stat.
I don't really agree - both from a storytelling and a gameplay
perspective - with the idea that the number / level of monsters should
be effectively unlimited. From a gameplay perspective, it is horribly
unbalanced, of course; with a good roll, a 1st level cleric could
drive off vampires and liches (or entire skeleton armies), completely
negating their threat level.
But even from a storytelling perspective, it feels untrue to the
setting. The faithful in D&D are rewarded with more godly power, and -
again, due to a lack of a faith mechanic - this means higher level
characters. That 1st level cleric straight out of seminary just
doesn't have the worldy experience or proven faith to wield that full
might of his god; lacking both, his voice cracks and the hand holding
his holy symbol trembles in uncertainty when facing the immitable
darkness of the greater undead. As it said in 2nd Ed, "However, since
the power must be channeled through a mortal vessel, success is not
Cinematically, we've also seen the holy symbol destroy undead as well,
so I don't think that ability should be removed either.
I do like the suggestion of making the turning attempt something that
must be maintained and directional, at least against greater undead.
In some respect, this is suggested by the rules already (at least in
older editions), where lesser undead flee outright but more powerful
ones merely move out of sight. They are not truly driven away but
cannot bear to see that blinding symbol of goodness as wielded by a