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[Trailblazer] Turn Undead

DanFor

Villager
The 3.5 turn undead rules definitely needed to be revised, but I'm not sure that having the DM make a Will save for every undead within range is a whole lot simpler. Unearthed Arcana has optional turn undead rules where the cleric makes a level check vs. each undead's "Turn DC". In this case, the player has to make a turn check for every undead within range.

I plan to tweak the Unearthed Arcana version of the turn undead rules for my next campaign. The cleric will make a single roll and compare it to the "Turn DC" of every undead within range.

Turn check = cleric level + Charisma modifier

Turn DC = 10 + HD + Charisma modifier + turn resistance (Unearthed Arcana recommends increasing an undead creature's turn resistance by 2 if it has a turn resistance of 4 or more.)

An undead creature is considered turned if the cleric's turn check equals or exceeds its Turn DC.

I would need to determine each undead's Turn DC before the game, but I anticipate that turning undead should run a little smoother during the game itself. Does this sound reasonable or am I missing something?
 
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GlassJaw

Explorer
Turn DC = HD + Charisma modifier + turn resistance (Unearthed Arcana recommends increasing an undead creature's turn resistance by 2 if it has a turn resistance of 4 or more.)
This.

We knew early on we wanted to remove the undead's HD from the equation. Non-intelligent undead - skeletons and zombies - usually have the most HD for their corresponding CR. That means that non-intelligent undead are also the most difficult to turn. We chose to equate an undead's "power" with intelligence, not straight HD.

This is why non-intelligent undead use their Fort save instead of Will; undead have good Will saves.

I would need to determine each undead's Turn DC before the game, but I anticipate that turning undead should run a little smoother during the game itself. Does this sound reasonable or am I missing something?
Also this.

In TB, the only thing a DM has to know is the creature's save. We really wanted turn undead to work like the fear spell.

Sure, it can be a bear to make a save for every creature within the cone but you can always roll for groups of undead. Also remember that the range of the cone doesn't start at 60' - it starts at 15'. The most a low-level cleric can affect is 6 or 7 (depending on the orientation of the cone).

And even still, batch rolling for undead that all the same save isn't too bad.

Wulf and I discussed this quite a bit and I remember him writing something about number of creatures versus the cleric's level, etc. It didn't make it into the final release though.

Hope that helps!
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
The 3.5 turn undead rules definitely needed to be revised, but I'm not sure that having the DM make a Will save for every undead within range is a whole lot simpler.

I would need to determine each undead's Turn DC before the game, but I anticipate that turning undead should run a little smoother during the game itself. Does this sound reasonable or am I missing something?
Yeah. You're missing rolling their saves as a batch.

It's the opposite side of the same coin. There's no functional difference between rolling batch saves for the monsters vs. having the cleric roll vs. a DC.
 
Yeah. You're missing rolling their saves as a batch.

It's the opposite side of the same coin. There's no functional difference between rolling batch saves for the monsters vs. having the cleric roll vs. a DC.
I think this is going to be one of the things I ignore from Trailblazer. As a Lazy GM, I've already got enough to worry about without rolling multiple saves like that. It's nice to hear the reasoning behind it though.

I think I'm going to be bashing something back to look more like the SRD rules than fist-full-of-dice. I dig pulling the HD out of the equation though.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
I think this is going to be one of the things I ignore from Trailblazer. As a Lazy GM, I've already got enough to worry about without rolling multiple saves like that. It's nice to hear the reasoning behind it though.

I think I'm going to be bashing something back to look more like the SRD rules than fist-full-of-dice. I dig pulling the HD out of the equation though.
This makes no sense. (Admittedly, I'm in my cups at 1 am on a Friday... but still...)

You're going to take a one-roll mechanic-- with possibly multiple rolls in the case of mixed groups-- and replace it with a two roll mechanic (turn efficacy + turn damage)...?

Err... Well, I know you're smarter than the average bear, SP. You know what's fastest and easiest for you.
 
This makes no sense. (Admittedly, I'm in my cups at 1 am on a Friday... but still...)

You're going to take a one-roll mechanic-- with possibly multiple rolls in the case of mixed groups-- and replace it with a two roll mechanic (turn efficacy + turn damage)...?
Errr... I didn't think I'd be doing that... lessee what sort of stupidity I get up to in the next quote response...

Err... Well, I know you're smarter than the average bear, SP. You know what's fastest and easiest for you.
Oh good lord no. I'm dumber than a sack full'a hammers. Here, I'll prove it and show off how I've never played a cleric either. Bear with me as I ramble aloud and flip around a bit:

Ok, page 103 of Trailblazer talks about Turn Undead. It mentions "All undead within the area of effect must make a save against turning (see below). You can’t turn undead that have total cover relative to you. You don’t need line of sight to a target, but you do need line of effect." That combined with the above comments makes me think that _each_ undead is making a separate saving throw. In other words, if I've got a pack of.. I dunno, let's say 8 Ghouls, then each of those suckers is going to be making a saving throw.

Oh, but hang on... you mentioned rolling twice and Turning damage... Ok, so I look over at the d20 SRD:
Special Attacks :: d20srd.org

Ok, yeah there's definitely some... well, for me it's "stupidity", but let's call it needless complication ... going on there. Stuff that "Turning Damage" for a lark. Hmmmm.

Now, I could always just do a binary single roll and the entire group saves or fails. That's right in line with the kind of thing I'm willing to do. But, players like rolling dice. A lot more than I do at times. So, instead why don't I hijack the "Players roll all the dice" option, since that's more what I was picturing:
Players Roll All The Dice :: d20srd.org

Ok, now the saving throw an undead usually has to make is 10+ 1/2 the cleric's level + CHA mod. Crap. So, we'll say it's a 4th level cleric with an 18 CHA. That means the DC is going to be 16. Intelligent ones use Will, stupid ones use Fort. Ghouls are smart, so they use Will which is a +5. Means they need to come up with an 11 or better in order to save.

Ok, if I turn around and set the base Turn roll as 11+saving throw, that means that a Ghoul would have a Turn score of 16.

The player rolls a d20 and adds their CHA bonus and 1/2 their level to the roll. Which means Joebob the Cleric needs to roll a 10.

I think I'm fine with that.

So... yeah, unless that's going to blow up in my face, I think _that_ is how I'm going to handle the Turning thing. Keep it basically like Trailblazer has it, but let the cleric roll against the number just like an attack. If the group wants to have it be against each individual critter, then the cleric can knock themselves out rolling dice. Otherwise, he can make a toss and it's done. In the case of a mixed group... I'd be inclined to just let the one roll stand as is; that of course is going to be something that varies from GM to GM.

Soooooo.... *shrug* ... I dunno. I'm not sure it's smarter than the average bear there, but it _feels_ to me like it'd be easier without throwing a whole lot of stuff out of whack. This was the sort of thing I was picturing when I (apparently erroneously) referred to something "more like the SRD rules". I must have been sniffing some fermented honey or something.

Thanks for following along folks and if I'm out in la-la land, please dear lord tell me.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
So... yeah, unless that's going to blow up in my face, I think _that_ is how I'm going to handle the Turning thing. Keep it basically like Trailblazer has it, but let the cleric roll against the number just like an attack.
That will work just fine-- as I said in the post above yours, different side of the same coin. Player rolls vs. DC, monsters roll vs. DC-- either way it's a one-roll mechanic.

Don't forget to add turn resistance in there somewhere.
 

DanFor

Villager
We knew early on we wanted to remove the undead's HD from the equation. Non-intelligent undead - skeletons and zombies - usually have the most HD for their corresponding CR. That means that non-intelligent undead are also the most difficult to turn. We chose to equate an undead's "power" with intelligence, not straight HD.

This is why non-intelligent undead use their Fort save instead of Will; undead have good Will saves.
I see your point, and I'm genuinely impressed by the amount of thought you folks have put into revising the 3.5 rules. Like Scurvy Platypus, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the DM making a saving throw in place of the cleric/paladin player making a turn check. I understand that your intention was to make turn undead more spell-like, but wouldn't it be more advantageous for the player to have the opportunity to use action points when turning undead?

In TB, the only thing a DM has to know is the creature's save. We really wanted turn undead to work like the fear spell.
Yes, but calculating an undead's Turn DC is a task that only needs to be performed once. After you calculate a ghoul's Turn DC, that number is the same for all ghouls. If you increase HD, add class levels, or use a template, you might need to re-calculate the Turn DC. But, you would need to re-evaluate the ghoul's saving throws in those instances as well.

BTW, I edited my original post. UA Turn DC = 10 + blahblahblah, not DC = blahblahblah.
 

Wulf Ratbane

Villager
You definitely want to use 1/2 HD in that equation, not HD.

Even so, you're going to end up with a situation where non-intelligent undead are harder to turn than intelligent undead (and that's ok, if that is your specific intent-- I'm just trying to help you avoid unintended consequences).

Non-intelligent undead get about 3 HD per 1 CR; intelligent undead can be as low as 1 HD per 1 CR. In fact, the more the undead feels like a "boss" with all kinds of special abilities (vampire, lich, mummy) the lower its HD:CR ratio will be.

This is why we tied the mechanic to the POOR Fort save for non-intelligent undead (1/3 HD) and the GOOD Will save for intelligent undead (2 + 1/2 HD).

If you're going to go through the trouble of creating a "Turn DC" for every creature (and it's really not that much trouble-- I'm warming to the idea), then I recommend 10+Will save for intelligent undead and 10+Fort save for non-intelligent undead (plus turn resistance if they have it).

And the cleric PC's check should be 1/2 cleric level + CHA.

When I say "should be" 1/2 HD, I mean, "Should be if you want it to work the same way the core mechanic does things, and keep the d20 roll valid."

And you should never undertake any revision of turn undead without keeping the following fact in the back of your mind:

The grey render zombie has 20 HD and is only CR6.

It really helps keeps things in perspective.
 
I see your point, and I'm genuinely impressed by the amount of thought you folks have put into revising the 3.5 rules. Like Scurvy Platypus, I'm having trouble wrapping my brain around the DM making a saving throw in place of the cleric/paladin player making a turn check. I understand that your intention was to make turn undead more spell-like, but wouldn't it be more advantageous for the player to have the opportunity to use action points when turning undead?
Oh, it's not quite that I have trouble wrapping my head around it... I started playing waaaaaay back in the day. I actually find the new 3.x way of doing it kinda confusing myself. I just happen to be a "Lazy GM" and like to have things run as quick as possible. Having a player make a roll and then having the Undead flee or not... that's nice and easy. I don't roll saves, it seems easier to me to remember, and it uses none of this damage rolling thing. Damage if a Turn is successful? what if it fails? Is it _actual_ damage or just "you can only affect undead this high"? bleh. Too many things to sort through for me. Plus, players like rolling dice. They're a lot more interested in rolling the dice than in watching me roll dice.

Yes, but calculating an undead's Turn DC is a task that only needs to be performed once. After you calculate a ghoul's Turn DC, that number is the same for all ghouls. If you increase HD, add class levels, or use a template, you might need to re-calculate the Turn DC. But, you would need to re-evaluate the ghoul's saving throws in those instances as well.

BTW, I edited my original post. UA Turn DC = 10 + blahblahblah, not DC = blahblahblah.
I personally dig the whole "no HD" thing. Messing with templates and class levels and all that? Uuugh. I mean, templates are a nifty idea but when you're messing around with all this stuff, it's easy to have it all crash into each other and explode in a screaming mess. My approach, I don't have to worry about recalculating the Turn score for an Undead ever, unless I decide to shift it from Unintelligent to Intelligent or simply want to toss some extra Turn Resistance on the critter for whatever reason.

I strive to be the Ultimate Lazy GM. I dig running games, I just don't want to do more work than I have to. :D

That will work just fine-- as I said in the post above yours, different side of the same coin. Player rolls vs. DC, monsters roll vs. DC-- either way it's a one-roll mechanic.

Don't forget to add turn resistance in there somewhere.
Groovy, good to know I'm not completely off in la-la land then; just trying to get to the other side of that coin you were talking about. The only fear I had was that it'd turn out to be the other side of a coin I wasn't even looking at, which is always vaguely embarrassing.

And thanks for the reminder about Turn Resistance.
 

DanFor

Villager
You definitely want to use 1/2 HD in that equation, not HD.

Even so, you're going to end up with a situation where non-intelligent undead are harder to turn than intelligent undead (and that's ok, if that is your specific intent-- I'm just trying to help you avoid unintended consequences).

Non-intelligent undead get about 3 HD per 1 CR; intelligent undead can be as low as 1 HD per 1 CR. In fact, the more the undead feels like a "boss" with all kinds of special abilities (vampire, lich, mummy) the lower its HD:CR ratio will be.

This is why we tied the mechanic to the POOR Fort save for non-intelligent undead (1/3 HD) and the GOOD Will save for intelligent undead (2 + 1/2 HD).

If you're going to go through the trouble of creating a "Turn DC" for every creature (and it's really not that much trouble-- I'm warming to the idea), then I recommend 10+Will save for intelligent undead and 10+Fort save for non-intelligent undead (plus turn resistance if they have it).

And the cleric PC's check should be 1/2 cleric level + CHA.

When I say "should be" 1/2 HD, I mean, "Should be if you want it to work the same way the core mechanic does things, and keep the d20 roll valid."

And you should never undertake any revision of turn undead without keeping the following fact in the back of your mind:

The grey render zombie has 20 HD and is only CR6.

It really helps keeps things in perspective.
This is extremely useful information. Thanks so much!
 

DanFor

Villager
Plus, players like rolling dice. They're a lot more interested in rolling the dice than in watching me roll dice.
I have found this to be true, as well.

I strive to be the Ultimate Lazy GM. I dig running games, I just don't want to do more work than I have to. :D
Advancing monsters can be a tedious process at times, but I enjoy throwing curveballs at my players. Sometimes, a ghoul can be more than just a ghoul. It's one of the reasons I dig the 3.5 system so much.

I have more problems coming up with maps and adventures, so I'm lazy in that respect. I tend to purchase modules (usually in pdf form) and then replace or advance some (not all) of the monsters and NPCs to fit my campaign world. Or, sometimes I replace or tweak them just to catch my players off-guard. :]
 

Kid Charlemagne

I am the Very Model of a Modern Moderator
I wonder if Turn Undead should be turned into several related powers (this is tangential to Trailblazer, really, and is more me thinking in a house rule mode).

I want Turn Undead to do three things:

1. Hold the undead at bay. On a very limited level, I'd kind of like even non-clerics to be able to do this - think of horror films where a character holds off the vampire with their cross. Concentration +1 round or something like that. Enough time to slam the door shut, or turn and run with a bit of a head start.

2. Force the undead to flee. This could be a two-stage thing; force the undead to stop in its pursuit, and then a second use to drive them away.

3. Destroy the undead utterly.

I don't see a need for all of these to be wrapped up in a single mechanic; I could see the cleric choosing which one to do - and feeling more confident in holding Dracula at bay than in destroying him utterly. I could also see it being broken up by single target/multiple target versions of each for a 6-step power progression. Then of course we get into the flip side of controlling undead....
 
I don't see a need for all of these to be wrapped up in a single mechanic; I could see the cleric choosing which one to do - and feeling more confident in holding Dracula at bay than in destroying him utterly. I could also see it being broken up by single target/multiple target versions of each for a 6-step power progression. Then of course we get into the flip side of controlling undead....
Well Turn Undead already has the ability for Undead to be run off in fear as well as destroyed. If the cleric has twice as many levels as the undead's HD, they're simply destroyed. So all you're really missing is the first bit, that of non-clerics being able to hold off undead.

Off the top of my head I can see doing it one of a couple of ways.

The easiest would be to simply say that any undead that's confronted with a holy icon (symbol or whatever) suffers from the Frightened condition:
Condition Summary :: d20srd.org

If you want to make a distinction in the undead, then have the stupid/Unintelligent ones be Frightened and the smart/Intelligent undead merely be Shaken.

Quick and dirty and I don't think it's too hard to remember. GM has to keep track of the conditions, but if it's something you're interested in doing anyway it shouldn't be too much of a problem.

If undead are smacked by someone using a holy icon, then damage is 1d4 or 1d6+ CHA bonus. I guess if it's some sort of blessed/enchanted item then give it a bonus of +1 or something.

If you wanted to make things more complicated, then you could allow non-clerics to perform a Turning attempt. Of course, since they don't have Cleric/Paladin levels it's going to be tough for 'em. By Trailblazer rules, the Save DC for the Undead would be 10+CHA bonus.

If you're going that route though, I'd personally consider having non-clerics be a binary pass/fail deal, with the actual Divine classes being either a Fear or Shaken thing; that way even if the Divine character fails there's still some benefit to having tried.

This of course pre-supposes that the whole Arcane/Divine thing is important in your game.

I suppose the other thing you could do is add the whole Shaken/Frightened thing from being confronted by a holy icon, but Feat-Tax characters to do it. They've got to take the Strong Faith feat which allows them to make a Turning attempt. In poking around in the Upper_Krust system, I see that "Can be Turned" is listed as a CR adjustment of -1.5. Feats are only worth a 0.2, so you might want have a couple/few feats that scale up, with the conditions being worse each time.

I dunno, that was all stream-of-consciousness.
 

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