Please Have Turn Undead Remain a Spell

I never liked Turn Undead. It is a now-pointless relic, like alignment, and clerics only being able to wield blunt weapons for some reason. I don't have a problem with it existing, I just have a problem with it being a core class feature. It doesn't make sense for most clerics to have it in a major way, and it ties in too much with alignment, which I think should be a VERY optional rule.
My Twitter
It's okay as a spell, but I would prefer having it as an optional feature. Tie it into a domain or something. I do agree that every cleric shouldn't have it though.
Put both Turn Undead and Rebuke Undead as domain powers of domains where it fits.

In my games I try to give Clerics some different options for their Channel Divinity equivalents. I don’t like that all Clerics are tied to a Life vs Undeath mechanic. To clarify, I really like the alignment system, but I don’t understand how ‘Good’ means anti-undead and ‘Evil’ means master of undead. I like it as a spell, and I would also be okay if it became a feature of Channel Divinity depending on your domain or deity. I don’t want it to be a distinguishing class feature.

My issue with Turn Undead as a basic power is that its value is highly dependent on the adventure or campaign. In an urban / low magic / fae-oriented campaign you basically have a worthless power being factored into your class balance, while in a more post-destruction / gothic / tomb-oriented one it is perhaps over-usefull as something you can just fire off without draining other resources.

As a spell its value compared to other spell resources can shift depending on the situation.
In 3.5 we tied the channel divinity/turn undead feature into all kinds of things depending on the context. Sort of like a cleric themed prestigitation with less control and more power.
My issue with Turn Undead as a basic power is that its value is highly dependent on the adventure or campaign. In an urban / low magic / fae-oriented campaign you basically have a worthless power being factored into your class balance, while in a more post-destruction / gothic / tomb-oriented one it is perhaps over-usefull as something you can just fire off without draining other resources.

As a spell its value compared to other spell resources can shift depending on the situation.



+1

This is perhaps the best argument I've heard for making it a spell.

I will say though that as DM I've always factored in the undead to some reasonable degree.  They are just iconic D&D to me.  So it's not a major issue for me. 

My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I think it should be a spell, and that it should be an even better spell than it currently is.

BUT

I don't think it should be "always assumed" to be prepared. You should have to choose it at the opprortunity cost of a different spell.

(Remember, all clerics retain some anti-undead capability just through "Channel Divinity)


I think it should be a spell, and that it should be an even better spell than it currently is.

BUT

I don't think it should be "always assumed" to be prepared. You should have to choose it at the opprortunity cost of a different spell.

(Remember, all clerics retain some anti-undead capability just through "Channel Divinity)





Well - I think it should be weakened from what it already is.  Specifically - I think it should be modified as follows:


If the undead creature fails it's save, it cannot remain adjacent to the cleric (as at present) and must spend its normal move getting as far away from the cleric as possible.  If the creature cannot move directly away from the caster e.g. is cornered), it may move around the caster to escape his presence in another direction (a clarification).  If the undead creature starts its turn within 20' of the cleric, it cannot attack, cast spells or approach the caster (as is true now, but restricted to within 20').   Such creatures will typically use their move to leave the vicinity of the cleric.  If the undead creature is not within 20' of the caster  it cannot move towards the caster, but it can otherwise attack or cast spells (a weakening of the spell).    If such spells target the cleric or the cleric's space they are made at a disadvantage.

I would also, however, change it to have a duration rather than a sustain.


I also suggested making similar changes to the spell Cause Fear (or, as it could be called, "Turn Living").


 

Carl
A domain option seems the best route, that way certain cleric can affect undead, others may focus on elementals, etc. It would be best to have it influence an opposing domain. That will give an alignment based feel, without actually including alignments, except as a supplement, or module, to further expand domains later on. Perhaps you can choose a couple effects, like sanctuary, fear, or just inflicting damage.
Since I love terrible ideas, how about this:  Clerics get X channel divinities per encounter.  Your domain picks one for you, and you get to chose another, (and perhaps more with feats/specialties)  On top of that, certain Clerical spells are agumentable, (ala 4e psi points) and you can give them a boost by pumping a generic CD into them.

You could even make the CD options spells also, so its a spell you can pray for, but it can also be something your Divnity gifts you with more often. (almost like how they are suggesting specialist wizards get encounter recharge spells)
I'm on the side of keeping it a spell. Espically the way it is now. As I just started playing a Cleric of Tempus, I'm not going to prepare Turn Undead (when I can just hit it with an Axe), but it might be useful when/if we start fighting MORE undead (like wights). By keeping it a spell I  can always use, it keeps the versatility that is Key in playing clerics.

Also, I like Austinwulf idea of multiple uses for Channel Divinity as it reminds me of 4E's way of doing things.
I tend to favor one Channel Divinity per encounter.  But as noted - this is easy to adjust by the DM and can be handled by a sidebar telling the DM how to adjust the number according to their desired balance.


Carl
Back in 3E, my group made Turn Undead part of the Sun domain, and Rebuke Undead as part of the Death domain. I liked how 4E put it in Channel Divinity, and I also like Pathfinder's Channel Energy mechanic. I don't want it to be a spell.

Poe's Law is alive and well.

Can anyone articulate an position on why it shouldn't be a spell?  I really like it as a spell, and I hadn't heard anyone saying otherwise, so I was really surprised when Mearls said the feedback was generally negative.  I want to hear from these people.  What's their reasoning?
Can anyone articulate an position on why it shouldn't be a spell?  I really like it as a spell, and I hadn't heard anyone saying otherwise, so I was really surprised when Mearls said the feedback was generally negative.  I want to hear from these people.  What's their reasoning?



No idea - and it hasn't been burning up the forums as an objection either.


My assumption was that it was just traditionalists who want it as a class ability "because it's always been done that way."

I wouldn't mind in the slightest if it were another option for channel divinity.  In fact - I'd probably like it to see clerics with multiple domains (based on their god) and a channel divinity option for each - with Turn undead being a common option in that regard.

But then I'd also like to see it as a spell for those character who want to cast it more often than is possible with Channel Divinity (just as they can heal with CD or heal with a spell).


Essentially - some clerics have TU as a class feature based on their domain/ deity - and the rest can always take it as a spell if they don't get it that way.  Ditto for healing.


Carl
I think this really kind of opens up a broader point:  why do clerics need channel divinity at all?  Isn't "channeling divinity" precisely what a cleric does when he casts a spell?  I dunno, it just seems to me like they're giving the class two different subsystems to model a single in-world ability.  If the wizard, in addition to her spellcasting, got a pool of "arcane points" that she could use to perform some magical effects, wouldn't that feel redundant to you?

If turn undead is important enough to some clerics to be a domain feature, I'd rather see the feature written something like, "You always have the turn undead spell prepared".  A feature that uses the core spell system rather than standing independent of it.
I think this really kind of opens up a broader point:  why do clerics need channel divinity at all?  Isn't "channeling divinity" precisely what a cleric does when he casts a spell?  I dunno, it just seems to me like they're giving the class two different subsystems to model a single in-world ability.  If the wizard, in addition to her spellcasting, got a pool of "arcane points" that she could use to perform some magical effects, wouldn't that feel redundant to you?



It's origin is in the idea that there were some things that the cleric could do, simply based upon their faith - without limitation.  But in the name of balance - these powers have become more and more spell-like until now they are just "spells the cleric always has which the cleric cannot choose to swap out for the spells the cleric wants to have".

So, yes - they are redundant.  Which is why I'd like to at least see them serve a purpose such as tying the character a bit more closely to their deity/ domain.

Better yet would be to find a way to make them at-will again.  Come up with powers that would be appropriate as an at-will ability and which have general application (I'd like a healing power, a blessing power and an anti-undead power - but if they can come up with enough ideas one per domain would be preferable) and make that the channel divinity.

Carl
I tend to favor one Channel Divinity per encounter.  But as noted - this is easy to adjust by the DM and can be handled by a sidebar telling the DM how to adjust the number according to their desired balance.


Carl



I think I am coming to the conclusion if they have temporary hit points that true healing (heck make it only ritualized and out of combat) ought to be daily and allow inspiration to be encounter based whether its a warlord or priestly or bard doing the inspiring.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Better yet would be to find a way to make them at-will again.  Come up with powers that would be appropriate as an at-will ability and which have general application (I'd like a healing power, a blessing power and an anti-undead power - but if they can come up with enough ideas one per domain would be preferable) and make that the channel divinity.


Except now clerics get at-will spells too...
Better yet would be to find a way to make them at-will again.  Come up with powers that would be appropriate as an at-will ability and which have general application (I'd like a healing power, a blessing power and an anti-undead power - but if they can come up with enough ideas one per domain would be preferable) and make that the channel divinity.


Except now clerics get at-will spells too...



Indeed they do.  So we change those into the CD ability. 


They can change more than one part of a class at a time....

(not that I expect to see this change made)

Carl
Better yet would be to find a way to make them at-will again.  Come up with powers that would be appropriate as an at-will ability and which have general application (I'd like a healing power, a blessing power and an anti-undead power - but if they can come up with enough ideas one per domain would be preferable) and make that the channel divinity.


Except now clerics get at-will spells too...



Indeed they do.  So we change those into the CD ability. 


They can change more than one part of a class at a time....

(not that I expect to see this change made)

Carl


How is what you're describing any different than what the sun domain cleric gets in the playtest packet?  They don't call lance of faith a channel divinity ability, but it's an at-will spell granted by the domain.
Better yet would be to find a way to make them at-will again.  Come up with powers that would be appropriate as an at-will ability and which have general application (I'd like a healing power, a blessing power and an anti-undead power - but if they can come up with enough ideas one per domain would be preferable) and make that the channel divinity.


Except now clerics get at-will spells too...



Indeed they do.  So we change those into the CD ability. 


They can change more than one part of a class at a time....

(not that I expect to see this change made)

Carl


How is what you're describing any different than what the sun domain cleric gets in the playtest packet?  They don't call lance of faith a channel divinity ability, but it's an at-will spell granted by the domain.




As noted - lance of faith is an at-will spell.  That makes it a tiny part of what I suggested - you are correct.  But it is not the sum total of what I suggested. 

So, yes, that is a candidate for the domain related channel divinity power of the sun domain. 

Carl
How about every Sphere gives you one spell that is usable with channel divinity?  So when you pick your spheres you get some spells that you can then use channel divinity to power.  When you use your channel divinity you don't lose the spell from memory.

So a traditional cleric gets the Turn Undead spell which he can then power with his channel divinity uses.  Another cleric might get a totally different spell. 

My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

Personally, I view turning (or rebuking) undead as something iconic to the D&D cleric, and as such I'd prefer that it not be just another spell, but a distinct class ability. Placing it as a spell just doesn't feel right to me, and lacks a cohesive flavor to how clerics operated for most of the game's lifetime.
Shemeska the Marauder, Freelancer 5 / Yugoloth 10
I think that is the crux of the issue as an iconic ability and why do I need to waste a spell slot on turn undead when it should be inherent to the class. Plus even if it was a neutral topic and could go either way, you have a choice to add more flavor to a domain, sphere or type of cleric, or come out with 10 variations on a turn undead, elemental, lycanthrope, planar, etc. spell. I prefer the approach of 4E in reference to define a mechanic for divine channeling, that shows the unique bond between the cleric and the diety.
Personally, I view turning (or rebuking) undead as something iconic to the D&D cleric, and as such I'd prefer that it not be just another spell, but a distinct class ability. Placing it as a spell just doesn't feel right to me, and lacks a cohesive flavor to how clerics operated for most of the game's lifetime.



that is why i play clerics, to either turn undead and do some major damage to them or to command them to do my bidding it is an ability that clerics and the likes have had in every decent version of D&D and I want to see it in Next otherwise why play a cleric at all
that is why i play clerics, to either turn undead and do some major damage to them or to command them to do my bidding it is an ability that clerics and the likes have had in every decent version of D&D and I want to see it in Next otherwise why play a cleric at all


I played two clerics in 3E.  I didn't play before that edition.  One was the cleric of basically a monotheistic god.  The other one was a cleric of the goddess of love in my friend's homebrew world.

The first cleric never came across undead (or, rather, never enough to justify using a turn attempt).  With the second one, I would rather have had something to do with my goddess' domains.  I looked for weeks to find a good Love domain for that character, and I would rather have had something thematically related to that in place of Turn Undead.

To me, the cleric is more than a battler of undead.  he is the representative of his god.  Most gods are ambivalent toward the undead.  Why should a core class feature deal with that?  It's fine for Pelor or the Raven Queen, but a cleric of, say, Moradin or Erathis should have something else in place of Turn Undead.

Having Turn as a spell allows those clerics to use that resource for something more fitting the characters' themes.

I've only skimmed page 2 so forgive me if I'm repeating someone, but the thing that made turn undead so desirable was all the juicy feats that were powered by turning uses (someone's pointed this out).


Really, the point of turn undead - especially later on in 3.5 - became to fuel funky powers and not so much about undead, specifically. I don't see why the channel divinity power they've got now can't be used in the same way.


The idea of keying channel divinity powers off domains is awesome. My campaign world in 3e didn't have clerics at all, largely because I didn't want the game to be about a struggle between good and evil so much. I didn't want undead to be a factor (though I did use undead monsters) and I didn't see the undead as so strong that a class needed a specific mechanic to deal with them.


Basically the flavouring was in the wrong direction. Later I brought them back only with an elementalist bent and switched their turn attempts to elemental types along with tweaking their spells to a slightly more energy related sort of thing.


Honestly, it was probably a lot more work than I had to do but it was fun so hey ho.


I'm glad turn undead's shed its weird class feature status 'cause it frees us up to play with it.


The clever points have been made, so I'll just voice my opinion. Let TU be a spell (or other form of optional feature).
I'm one of the ones who didn't want it to be a spell. I want it to be a Domain feature. Not all clerics (as has been pointed out already) are undead specialists, and not all clerics want or need to have an undead-specific ability. A cleric of Tempus, for example, kind of views all foes, dead, undead, or about to be dead, as the same, so there wouldn't be a need for a specific way to get rid of undead, and TU would be replaced with a more appropriate Battle (or War or whatever) Domain feature. Lathander would definitely include Turn Undead as a Sun Domain feature. Bane, as the aspect of Fear, would probably have a Create Undead. While these are FR examples, other settings would likely have such Domain-specific features.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

I am assuming the undead thing a focus point of the D&D verse. The pantheons major enemies  use undead as the meat of there forces... If your game world was Norse Flavored it might be Giants.... in another it might be Demons and so on.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

I don't want  turn undead sucking up spells per day that the cleric gets. Domain power is ideal.

I don't want  turn undead sucking up spells per day that the cleric gets. Domain power is ideal.


That's probably the most compelling argument for having it as a class or domain power. I prefer the latter but I also see how you might actually want the cleric to have to use one of their spells that day as a turning. Especially if it wasn't an attempt but an absolute.


Casters with daily spells pretty much spend their lives asking "what if"

If I am playing a cleric that doesn't have turn undead as a domain power, I (and by extension my party) shouldn't be screwed by the fact that there is no spell for it.

It's a little like saying healing spells should only be domain powers.
I don't want  turn undead sucking up spells per day that the cleric gets. Domain power is ideal.


You can have it as a spell, and also have a domain that says "you get extra uses of this spell" or whatever.  That's not a difficult objection to overcome.  The important thing is to keep the concept of "cleric uses divine power" mechanically unified.  If it's a spell, then it can be helped and hindered by all the regular things that help and hinder divine spells, which is what you'd expect from a divine thing a cleric does.  It's not its own weird little entity for no flavorfully-justifiable reason.

EDIT: Also, what DemoMonkey said about flexibility.
If I am playing a cleric that doesn't have turn undead as a domain power, I (and by extension my party) shouldn't be screwed by the fact that there is no spell for it.

It's a little like saying healing spells should only be domain powers.



If a cleric without turn undead as a domain power needs to go into somewhere undead-thick..  then that cleric might regret that they don't have it. But it's not the end of the world. There are other spells that also deal with undead, either doing more damage to them, affecting them in some way or just doing damage in general.

That's like saying that nothing should ever be a domain/class-option feature.
"That's like saying that nothing should ever be a domain/class-option feature."

Not at all; it's saying some things are too integral to the class to be denied them.

Back in the "What do you think is core to the classes?" surveys (pre-playtest) the clear majority rated dealing with the undead as core to the clerics identity.
Sign In to post comments