Genjitsu Games

September 28, 2007:
Simplified Gun Skills for Iron Kngdoms
October 10, 2005:
Blades of Purpose Sample Art
April 1, 2005:
Golems & Goldfish
February 26, 2005:
A Flock of Foes Sample Art
November 24, 2004:
Metablades art samples
October 29, 2004:
A Flock of Foes Hallowe'en preview
July 14, 2004:
Alternate multiclassing restrictions
March 15, 2004:
Self-charging staves
February 23, 2004:
Subrace racial levels
January 14, 2004:
Expanded Monk Class
January 9, 2004:
Turning Generalized
November 3, 2003:
Fighter Feat Prerequisites
October 20, 2003:
Artifacts of Martial Magic
October 20, 2003:
Metablade Spells for Arcana Unearthed
October 20, 2003:
Feat Templates
October 3, 2003:
Feat Descriptors
(The following discussion is Open Game Content, ©2003 Nevin Flanagan, based on material from the System Reference Document, Copyright 2000-2003 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich baker, Andy Collins, David noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.)

Turning/rebuking bugs me a little. Not the general idea of it, or even the idea behind its implementation; what bugs me is the way that when the folks at WotC decided that all sorts of creatures could be turned if you had the right abilities, they still all say "as a good cleric turns undead" or "as an evil cleric rebukes undead."

Now, I understand that originally undead were the only thing that could be turned, that therefore, when they made 3rd Edition D&D (which is after all still supposed to be D&D) and they put in turning, they started by writing the rules for clerics to turn undead, and then when they thought, "hey, maybe nature clerics could command plant creatures," they made "like cleric" notes.

Now, that's understandable. But alternate turning got more common for more prestige classes and other characters, and WotC made a revised edition, and turning is still basically a cleric feature with notes for other classes to just go and check how the cleric does it. Something like this really only made sense back when you had a table that explained how to roll and check what the most powerful undead you could turn was, and undead had comments like "these creatures are turned as if they were mummies" instead of turn resistance. The system has been simplified, and we can do better than that now. The following rules should produce basically the same effect, and be more easily generalizable.

Turning and Rebuking Creatures

Some characters have the ability to command or drive away certain creatures such as undead, whether through divine authority or metaphysical mastery. Regardless of the effect, the general term for the activity is "turning." When attempting to exercise their control over these creatures, characters make turning checks.

Turning Checks

Turning any type of creature is a supernatural ability that a character can perform as a standard action. It does not provoke attacks of opportunity. Turning is considered an attack.

A character must fulfill certain requirements to make a turning attempt, which translate to components similar to those of spells, which depend on the class feature that allows the character to turn. Clerics and paladins, the most common turning characters, use a divine focus component for their turning.

Turning Bonus: The class feature that grants you the ability to turn states what your turning bonus is for such attempts, most often your level in that class. It also states which ability modifier affects your turning power, called the key ability for your turning.

Turning Check: The first thing you do is roll a turning check to see how powerful a creature you can turn. Roll an ability check for your turning key ability, subtract ten and divide the result by three; then add your turning bonus. On a given turning attempt, you can turn no creature whose Hit Dice exceed the result of your turning check.

Turning Damage: If your turning check result is high enough to let you turn at least some creatures within 60 feet, roll 2d6 + your turning bonus + your turning key ability modifier for turning damage. That's how many total Hit Dice of creatures you can turn.

Range: You turn the closest turnable creature first, and you can't turn any creature that is more than 60 feet away or that has total cover relative to you. You don't need line of sight to a target, but you do need line of effect.

If your key ability score is average or low, it's possible to roll fewer Hit Dice of turning damage than indicated by your turning check result.

You may skip over creatures already turned that are still within range, so that you do not waste your turning damage on them.

Effect and Duration of Turning: Turned creatures flee from you by the best and fastest means available to them. They flee for 10 rounds (1 minute). If they cannot flee, they cower (giving any attack rolls against them a +2 bonus). If you approach within 10 feet of them, however, they overcome being turned and act normally. (You can stand within 10 feet without breaking the turning effect-you just can't approach them.) You can attack them with ranged attacks (from at least 10 feet away), and others can attack them in any fashion, without breaking the turning effect.

Destroying Turned Creatures: Any creature that you turn whose Hit Dice are half your turning bonus or less is destroyed instead of being turned. Some features that grant you turning may not allow you to destroy turned creatures.

Rebuking and Commanding

Some characters rebuke (awe) or command (control) creatures instead of turning or destroying them. The check is made in the same manner as a turning check, except that creatures that would be turned are rebuked instead, and those that would be destroyed are commanded.

Rebuked: A rebuked creature cowers as if in awe (attack rolls against the creature get a +2 bonus). The effect lasts 10 rounds.

Commanded: A commanded creature is under the mental control of the character that commanded it. The commanding character must take a standard action to give mental orders to a commanded creature. At any one time, the character may command any number of creatures whose total Hit Dice do not exceed his level. He may voluntarily relinquish command on any commanded creature or creatures in order to command new ones.

Dispelling Turning: A character with the ability to rebuke creatures may attempt to remove the effects of turning from such creatures. The character makes a turning check as if attempting to rebuke the turned creatures. If the turning check result is equal to or greater than the turning check result that turned the creatures, then the creatures are no longer turned. The character rolls turning damage of 2d6 + turning bonus + Charisma modifier to see how many Hit Dice worth of creatures he can affect in this way (as if he were rebuking them).

Bolstering Against Turning: A character with the ability to rebuke creatures may also bolster such creatures against turning in advance. He makes a turning check as if attempting to rebuke the creatures, but the turning check result becomes the bolstered creatures' effective Hit Dice as far as turning is concerned (provided the result is higher than the creatures' actual Hit Dice). The bolstering lasts 10 rounds. A character with the ability to rebuke creatures of his own type can bolster himself in this manner.

Now of course, now that we've made these generalizations, we need to fill them in with some specifics. The following changes should be made to the cleric class:

  • Add "channel divine energy" to the special entry on the cleric class feature table and add the following feature to the cleric class description:
    Channel Divine Energy: A cleric can channel the divine power of his deity or guiding principle to invoke positive or negative energy effects. Good clerics and neutral clerics who follow good deities or choose the Good domain channel positive energy, while evil clerics and neutral clerics who follow evil deities or choose the Evil domain channel negative energy. A neutral cleric who follows a neutral deity or principle and has neither the Good nor Evil domain chooses whether to channel positive or negative energy when she gains her first cleric level, and cannot change her choice unless her alignment or deity changes.
    Channeling positive energy allows a cleric to turn or destroy undead, and to spontaneously convert prepared spells into healing spells. Channeling negative energy allows a cleric to rebuke or command undead, and to spontaneously convert prepared spells into damaging spells.
  • Modify the description of the "Spontaneous Casting" feature as follows:
    Spontaneous Casting: A good cleric (or other cleric who channels positive energy) can channel stored spell energy into healing spells that the cleric did not prepare ahead of time. The cleric can “lose” any prepared spell that is not a domain spell in order to cast any cure spell of the same spell level or lower (a cure spell is any spell with “cure” in its name).
    An evil cleric (or other cleric who channels negative energy), can't convert prepared spells to cure spells but can convert them to inflict spells (an inflict spell is one with “inflict” in its name).
  • Modify the text of the "Turn or Rebuke Undead" feature as follows:
    Turn or Rebuke Undead (Su): Any cleric, regardless of alignment, has the power to affect undead creatures by channeling the power of his faith through his holy (or unholy) symbol (see Turning and Rebuking Creatures).
    A good cleric (or a neutral cleric who channels positive energy) can turn or destroy undead creatures. An evil cleric (or a neutral cleric who channels negative energy) instead rebukes or commands such creatures.
    Clerical turning and rebuking affects undead creatures and has a divine focus component (the cleric must present his holy or unholy symbol). A cleric's turning bonus is equal to his cleric level and the key ability for clerical turning is Charisma. A cleric may attempt to turn undead a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma modifier. A cleric with 5 or more ranks in Knowledge (religion) gets a +2 bonus on Charisma checks when making turning attempts.

Only one change needs to be made to the paladin class:

  • Modify the text of the "Turn Undead" feature as follows:
    Turn Undead (Su): When a paladin reaches 4th level, she gains the supernatural ability to turn undead. She may use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + her Charisma modifier. Her turning bonus is equal to her paladin level - 3.

And of course, we can't forget the blackguard:

  • Modify the "Command Undead" feature as follows (you know the drill by now):
    Command Undead (Su): When a blackguard reaches 3rd level, he gains the supernatural ability to command and rebuke undead. His turning bonus is equal to his blackguard level - 2.

The various domain powers can be fixed by adding text along the lines of "Your turning bonus for these attempts is equal to your cleric level." Any other supplemental prestige classes or other sources of turning or rebuking ability are fairly easy to deal with; they generally always use Charisma as the key ability for turning, they grant a turning bonus equal to the class level, and they usually have a divine focus component.

See how these more versatile rules can come into play next week in my expanded monk class!