Good clerics, paladins, and some neutral clerics can channel positive energy, which can halt, drive off (rout), or destroy undead. Evil clerics, some neutral clerics, and evil paladins (divine champions) can channel negative energy, which can halt, awe (rebuke), control (command), or bolster undead. Regardless of the effect, the general term for the activity is "turning." When attempting to exercise their divine control over these creatures, characters make turning checks. The character is hereafter referred to as "the cleric", but these rules apply equally to anyone capable of turning/rebuking undead. Likewise, this system refers to undead, but can be applied just as easily to any creature, like elementals.

Turning Checks

Turning undead is a supernatural ability that a character can perform as a standard action. It does not provoke attacks of opportunity. The character must present his holy symbol to turn undead. Turning is considered an attack.

Times Per Day: A cleric can attempt to turn undead a number of times per day equal to 3 + his Charisma bonus. He can increase this number by taking the Extra Turning feat.

Turning Check: First, roll a turning check (1d20 + Cha modifier). This is the DC for the undead's Will saves to avoid being affected (or taking half damage, as appropriate – see below).

Number of Undead Affected: Next, roll 1d6 + cleric level + Cha modifier to see how many undead are affected. Undead are affected from closest to furthest; lower-ECL undead are always affected first. If the cleric rolls a natural 20 on the turn check, he deals twice as much damage or the effects last twice as long, whichever applies.

Effects: Turning can take one of several forms, most of which are usable by good or evil characters.

  Bolster Undead: The cleric can unleash a burst of negative energy that affects a number of undead in a 30-foot radius up to his maximum. This does not require a turn check, as it is a harmless effect. He must have line of effect to the undead. The negative energy bolsters the undead, granting them a bonus to their turn resistance equal to half the cleric's caster level plus his Charisma bonus, which lasts for one minute.

Command Undead: As good characters can turn undead, so can evil ones command them. The cleric must a turn check as normal; all undead in the area of effect that fail a Will save fall under his control. He must take a standard action to give orders to a commanded undead. At any one time, a cleric can command a number of undead equal to his level + Cha modifer; the ECL of any controlled undead cannot exceed half his level. He can voluntarily relinquish command of any undead under his control as a free action in order to command new ones.

  Energy Burst: This option is usable only against undead. The cleric can unleash a burst of positive energy that affects undead in a 30-foot radius, up to his normal maximum. He must make a turn check like normal; he must have line of effect to the undead. The energy burst deals 1d6 points of damage per two caster levels, plus his Charisma bonus; affected undead can make a Will save for half damage, with their turn resistance as a bonus to the save.

Rebuking: Both good and evil clerics can rebuke undead. Rebuking is nothing more than a lower-power turn effect that is used to keep undead at bay; it can be maintained from round to round. The cleric must make a turn check like normal, and can affect undead up to 30 feet away, if they can see him. If they fail a Will save (DC = the cleric’s turn check), they cower as if in awe (attack rolls against them have a +2 bonus). Undead that fail their initial save are cowed until the cleric moves out of range, or after they can no longer see him; in either case, the rebuking effect lasts for one additional round. Moving to within 5 feet of rebuked undead that can't move out of the cleric's way breaks the effect on them, and they are free to act normally. Undead that make their save must make a new one each round they remain in the area of effect.

Maintaining a rebuke is just like maintaining a spell – it requires a standard action each round, but can be ended at any time as a free action. If anything threatens the cleric’s concentration, he must make a Concentration check as normal. The effect remains active only as long as the holy symbol is being held up and is visible - casting darkness on the cleric, e.g., would break the effect.

Turn Undead: The cleric can turn undead in a 60-foot cone emanating from his front. He must present his holy symbol and invoke the power of his god. Turned undead flee from him by the best and fastest means available for 10 rounds (1 minute). If they cannot flee, they cower (giving any attack rolls against them a +2 bonus). If the character approaches within 10 feet of them, however, they overcome being turned and act normally. (He can stand within 10 feet without breaking the turning effect - he just can’t approach them.) The cleric 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. If the cleric is 6 or more levels above the undead, they are destroyed instead of turned.

Turn Resistance: All undead get turn resistance equal to +1 per 3 HD (round down), in addition to any turn resistance they have normally (TR gained from a template, e.g.). This is added as a bonus to the Will save to resist being affected.

How Turning Works

Herne the 8th-level cleric (Cha 14) is facing four human zombies (CR 1/2, TR +0), a pair of wights (CR 4, TR +1), and an 8th-level vampire fighter (CR 10, TR +6). Since they are all around him, he decides to use the energy burst option. He rolls a 12 on his turning check, which, with +2 from his Charisma, adds up to 14. He then rolls 1d6 to see how many undead are affected – a 2. Add in +8 for his levels and +2 for Charisma, and he has a total of 8 – more than enough to affect this group.

Now the undead roll their saves. The zombies roll low – none of them above 10; the wights roll 12 and 18, and the vampire scores a natural 20. All of them are affected by the energy burst (4d6, +2d6 for Charisma), but one of the wights and the vampire take only half damage – in this case, half of 20 points. The zombies are blasted into dust, and one of the wights is badly hurt; the other wight takes some damage, and the vampire shrugs it off as a minor wound.


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