Monday, October 15, 2012

Turn Undead

I enjoy playing clerics.  What I don't enjoy is the ubiquity of turn undead.  I dislike it for a few reasons.  The first is I dislike monster specific situational abilities.  Especially as class features.  It requires that the DM throw you a bone by intentionally using a creature type that is weak to your abilities.  This goes similar for rangers and their favored enemy ability.  Bane weapons aren't as bad as you can switch them out for other items.  Turn Undead and Favored Enemy you're stuck. 
The other reason is the theme dissonance.  Decide to play a cleric of the chief illusion deity of the setting?  Still have to take turn undead.  Want to play a cleric of a war deity who doesn't give a crap about undead?  Too bad, you're still doing the turn undead gig.  It makes no sense in so many cases but you're still unable to trade it in for something useful or conceptually relevant.  Thank goodness for divine metamagic and devotion feats in 3.5 and the healer's mercy alternate class feature in 4e which at least allow you some flexibility.

Art from GIS for Turn Undead
LooneyDM out


  1. Good point and it inspired me to write this:

    Point is that use the same turn undead rules but basically change the effect. For example evil undead deity's cleric wouldn't turn undead up to certain HD but would control the undead up to the same HD.

  2. Interestingly, that ability also functions as your Channel (positive) Energy in Pathfinder, and, iirc, there is a feat you have to take for the ability to actually /turn/ them.
    But it's not uncommon to see; 'You want to turn undead? Well, no, actually, you can't - because you spent all your charges healing the party. Break out the maces!'
    I don't /think/ variant channeling effects that - it certainly doesn't effect it for my evil cleric, but either way, you do have to take the feat.

  3. Thanks for the call back Thaumiel.

    I had forgotten about Pathfinder. I admit I don't play much of it. But I do recall the channel positive energy replacement they got. Useful, since you're not going to have undead all the time.

  4. Another way might be to use it as "turn enemies of the faith" This would work on outsiders and clerics of the diety (or perhaps up to 3 dieties) most directly opposed to your own.

  5. That does work better than the original turn undead. Though it does bump into the other problem I have with turn undead. That being that the DM has to send those enemies your way for it to be functional. But it fits the theming much better.