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Turning Undead


Alcamtar
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Turning Undead is cool, but I've never been thrilled with the idea that clerics can destroy undead monsters with a mere turning check. Undead should be one of the scariest foes, not a pushover, especially the greater undead. In D&D this was mitigated by level (only after many levels of experience can you dispel greater undead) and you also have to destroy the lesser undead first, giving the mastermind a chance to get away.

 

In FH, it is suggested that the the turning check be extended with a EGO/PRE+40 level, and also says you have the target the most powerful undead first. However I think there are problems with this.

 

With +60 PRE for the basic Turn Undead talent it's possible to destroy a greater vampire; a cleric with 15+60 PRE will do 15d6 (52) on average, and if he can manage +4d6 in situational modifiers he can hit 66.5. And that's just at the starting level! Each additional +1d6 only costs 1 character point, so you can destroy liches reliably for only 5 extra points.

 

With the FH talent you have to destroy the largest undead first... but after taking out the BBEG the encounter gets much easier and the party can mop up any remaining minions. (Taking out the leader is always the best tactic, and here it is enforced!)

 

A PRE attack uses no END and is a free action, so a cleric could theoretically take out an entire army in a single phase with multiple attempts. (The Turn Undead talent suggests Extra Time to fix this, but it still costs no END).

 

Finally, there's only 20 pts difference between a skeleton and a lich; by the time you can deal with the minions you're within spitting distance of the mastermind as well.

 

QUESTIONS

 

Do you allow the +40 EGO/PRE to destroy undead in your campaign? Do you feel it is balanced, or does it make undead too easy?

 

Does Mind Defense protect against presence attacks? I'm pretty sure Power Defense doesn't.

 

ALTERNATIVE

 

I am thinking of modifying this. First, eliminating the PRE +40 level, as it's not a standard rule and nobody else gets to kill with PRE attacks. (One could allow PRE +40 to be a heart attack from fear, but it's not a standard Hero rule.)

 

Really it's a D&D-ism that violates the normal Hero way. But dispelling could be modeled in one of two ways:

 

[1] RKA 4d6, no attack roll, only vs undead (-1), linked to successful PRE attack at PRE +40 level (-2).

 

[2] Any PRE attack beyond the PRE +30 level causes 1d6K NND per 10 points of excess PRE.

 

Example1: a cleric attempts to turn a skeleton and does 80 PRE vs. the skeleton's 10, achieving +70 PRE. That is enough to do 4d6 killing (NND) to the skeleton. Or he could do 3d6K to four skeletons, or 2d6K to sixteen skeletons.

 

Example2: a cleric attempts to turn a vampire and does 80 PRE vs the vampire's 25, achieving +55 PRE; he causes 1d6K to the monster, hurting it and possibly stunning it but not destroying it.

 

 

What do you think?

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Re: Turning Undead

 

I don't allow turning undead. The members of the church that are capable of performing miracles are specialised versions of magic users.

The undead are corpses animated with magic and are almost automata.

The "clerics" and other users of magic can cause undead to cease animating with dispel or suppress.

Vampires are a form of liche, but without the implied magic using abilities (vampirism being a magical disease that separates the mind from the body in a similar manner to death, but giving control back at night, plus additional powers)

Liches are usually subjects of magic experiments, or magic users who attempt to preserve themselves beyond death and self-animate. They are therefore harder to dispel or supress as the body needs to be isolated from the mind for a long period until the mind is fully dissipated into the ley lines. It's further problematical if the liche has backup vessels such as "soul jars" just in case.

Ghosts are partial remnants of minds that are caught in some kind of magical weather or phenomena which preserves it beyond its usual dissipation time.

 

It's important (to me) that I know what happens with magic and death in my setting so I know how things like undead work, and how PCs can interact with them.

 

Edit - I just realised, "Undead" in my world are just "Flesh Golems". Although they can have their original minds attached their bodies (or others - such as Full Metal Alchemist where a steel golem is animated with the mind of a little boy)

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Re: Turning Undead

 

Hmmmmm.

 

Like Curufea, I base turning undead on my setting.

 

I was reading this and it occured to me that for a cinematic/vidogame-esqe feeling Fantasy Hero game, adding "Does Knockback" to the Turning PRE might be neat (either also add it in as a naked advantage on the characters PRE, or handwave it...its a Heroic level game after all).

 

Hold up that holy symbol and invoke the wrath of god, and all the deadites get flung backwards by some unseen and unfelt shockwave. SFX could vary to taste.

 

Calling the SFX of the knockback damage "holy" isn't unreasonable, either. This could trigger Vunerabilities, deactivate defences and other fun stuff.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

I always assumed that turning undead was a D&Dism with no basis in myth or legend beyond turning vampires, so I never bothered. I just defined vampires as having the appropriate psych lim.

 

It's a dreadfully overpowered ability anyway, amounting to a hugely expensive area effect mind control and/or RKA.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

This is very workable, provided that is what you are looking for. Like many of the rest, I don't have many D&Disms left in my games.

 

We switched over to Fantasy Hero for that genre in 1992, so have had quite an opportunity to purge some ideas.

 

We do have two groups of spellcasters that have power over the undead. One are the necromancers (obviously) and the other is a rare holy order devoted to ushering the dead on to their final resting place. However, their spells are not based upon PRE Attacks but specialised Dispels, RKAs, BODY Drains what have you.

 

In all of my campaigns, Clerics are nothing more than mages who have pledged their lives to a particular deity.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

I always assumed that turning undead was a D&Dism with no basis in myth or legend beyond turning vampires, so I never bothered. I just defined vampires as having the appropriate psych lim.

 

It's a dreadfully overpowered ability anyway, amounting to a hugely expensive area effect mind control and/or RKA.

 

Yeah, what he said. I do have specialised undead killers in my game and they buy their powers appropriately.

 

cheers, Mark

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Re: Turning Undead

 

I haven't had the subject pop up in a while but back in the day I used Shift Spirit from the Hero system Almanac. I included a limitation that made it require a presence attack to deliver.

 

I'm not sure how I'd do this in 5ER. Perhaps as an EGO Drain, 'doesn't affect usable EGO'; and give all affectible undead a phys lim 'destroyed when EGO reaches negative EGO value.'

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Re: Turning Undead

 

I never brought this concept into my Fantasy Hero games either, but…

 

How about give all ‘undead’ a Psychological Limitation “Repelled by True Believers” or some such and hand wave it to an EGO vs. EGO roll? Give your more powerful ‘undead’ more EGO or bonuses to EGO rolls to resist.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

If you want to keep the D&Dish undead turning stuff, port over the Turn Resistance quality that many undead have: +X PRE, Only to Resist PRE Attacks (-Y). Also keep in mind that undead in D&D tend to have lots of hit dice relative to their CR, making turning less likely (i.e. a level 4 Cleric can expect to encounter undead with a CR close to his level, but it may have *many* more HD than that; a CR 4 Minotaur Zombie from the SRD has 12 HD, making it unturnable by a level 4 Cleric).

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Re: Turning Undead

 

If you want to keep the D&Dish undead turning stuff' date=' port over the Turn Resistance quality that many undead have: +X PRE, Only to Resist PRE Attacks (-Y). Also keep in mind that undead in D&D tend to have lots of hit dice relative to their CR, making turning less likely (i.e. a level 4 Cleric can expect to encounter undead with a CR close to his level, but it may have *many* more HD than that; a CR 4 Minotaur Zombie from the SRD has 12 HD, making it unturnable by a level 4 Cleric).[/quote']

 

I think he is speaking in words of some kind... You had me up until you started talking about 'CR' and 'SRD'.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

Klaatu, something, something? A quick lexicon for the D&D (or SRD) impaired: :)

 

HD - Hit Dice

CR - Challenge Rating (used to determine difficulty of encounter)

SRD - Standard Reference Document (freely available d20 rules, which WotC extends in a proprietary way to create D&D).

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Re: Turning Undead

 

My Fantasy HERO version of turning undead is an RKA, No Range, Area Effect. I actually prefer the idea of clerics blowing undead away than making them run away, since that usually means they either run away and don't ever appear again (making it too powerful), or they *do* turn around and come back (which makes the ability just a stopgap). Having it deal damage makes synchs the ability up with the way most other characters deal with undead; dealing damage.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

My Fantasy HERO version of turning undead is an RKA' date=' No Range, Area Effect. I actually prefer the idea of clerics blowing undead away than making them run away, since that usually means they either run away and don't ever appear again (making it too powerful), or they *do* turn around and come back (which makes the ability just a stopgap). Having it deal damage makes synchs the ability up with the way most other characters deal with undead; dealing damage.[/quote']

That can also lead to interesting stories if the undead have intelligence, memory or culture. Would they view the religious as their ultimate enemies? Would they be able to be wary, or take precautions or flee them effectively?

Would they employ non-undead much like a vampire would employ a mortal to remove garlic and crosses from their target?

Would there be cults that worship undead and hunt down the religious - anti-clerics?

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Re: Turning Undead

 

That can also lead to interesting stories if the undead have intelligence, memory or culture. Would they view the religious as their ultimate enemies? Would they be able to be wary, or take precautions or flee them effectively?

Would they employ non-undead much like a vampire would employ a mortal to remove garlic and crosses from their target?

Would there be cults that worship undead and hunt down the religious - anti-clerics?

 

Yes, yes, yes, and yes. Already accounted for (although in the fourth point, they're technically still clerics, since they worship ... they're just evil clerics and bolster rather than damage undead with their abilities).

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Re: Turning Undead

 

Klaatu, something, something? A quick lexicon for the D&D (or SRD) impaired: :)

 

HD - Hit Dice

CR - Challenge Rating (used to determine difficulty of encounter)

SRD - Standard Reference Document (freely available d20 rules, which WotC extends in a proprietary way to create D&D).

 

Thanks Tetsuyama. My knowledge of D&D is about 15 years out of date.

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Re: Turning Undead

 

that bad huh? hehe

 

Back to OP, does anyone remember the Spirit rules from the Hero System Almanac back-in-the-day? The shift spirit power seemed like a good way to build turn undead. But I never developed the idea as none of my players have ever expressed any interest in the ability. (What they do want to do takes enough of my time as it is:D ).

 

It used the idea that spirit occupied containers, so a corporeal undead was just a body being possessed by a spirit, usually bound to that body. Shift Spirit forcibly evicted the spirit from the container to the spirit plane. It worked a bit like a cumulative transform using EGO instead of Body to determine when the effect was enough to exact the change. When purchased as Turn Undead it was usually bought Area Effect, OAF, and requiring some kind of skil roll.

 

I haven't given much thought to the idea since moving on to 5E, but this thread made me remember this. Perhaps something similar could be constucted from the 5E ruleset?

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