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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I don't use Turn Undead

I don't particularly care for the Turn Undead ability that clerics have. It makes them too potent in my games, as I like to included lots of undead. And by having the Turn Undead ability available, players aren't nearly as scared of undead as I think they should be. If you see a bunch of zombies ambling towards you, you should be crapping your pants and running, not just having Bob the cleric scare them away.

In my opinion, undead should be among the scariest opponents a character faces. Undead are usually fearless, have some type of special attack, and just might be the walking corpse of your grandma. They should not be something that any mid-level cleric can either just scare away or destroy at will. Facing undead should have consequences, but if they can't even reach the characters, they are just a sideshow, or even worse, a comedy bit.

In the end, this ability was only created by Gary because one of the original players had a vampire character, and another player wanted a way to trump his abilities. I don't think that's a good reason to invent a rule. Sure, it would be fine for the house game, but to add it into the main ruleset that thousands of people use is unnecessary.

My house rule to address this is that instead of turning undead, clerics gain a +1 damage bonus with melee weapons when fighting undead. This still gives them the simulation of holy wrath, but it's not unbalancing or overpowering.


Ian said...

A agree with you in philosophy, but handle the situation a little differently. In my games undead cannot be killed by any normal means, including magic weapons. Turn undead is the ONLY way to deal with them. So I guess we did a little but if a 180. I see clerics as the odd man out anyway, so I might as well give them something to really shine.

What makes undead really scary, in OD&D at least, is that they cannot be heard behind doors. They are a representation of the unknown. I had forgotten about this rule when I started my current campaiagn. Had I remembered, I would have run undead as is.

David Macauley said...

In my next campaign the mechanic will be replaced with a spell called Turn Undead. So while undead can still be turned, it will only likely happen in very small numbers, with the majority having to be battled a bit more creatively by the players.

zornhau said...

I rather like the idea of turning undead being a temporary and fatiguing thing, as in "We're fine until the cleric passes out with fatigue, or loses concentration."