[House Rules]Modified Turning

I love undead.  They are about the primary ‘guilt free’ villain in my setting.  They don’t need an ecology to explain why they are in some cesspool of evil.  And they scare the crap out of PCs thanks to their numerous horrific abilities.

However, while I’m happy for clerics to have power over undead, I’m not super satisfied by the Turning mechanics.  They worked for the time they were written for, but I think the arguments in modern games for how Turning does not interact well with the standard combat mechanics is spot on.  I’d love to figure out a way to alter it to make it work, but I’m not sure I can do that easily.

The other concern is that leaving undead turned by named type (turn versus skeletons, zombies, etc), doesn’t deal well with unique undead, or anything that isn’t existent in the first rule book without creating a mandatory entry in every undead write up (turns as a…).  That’s not a big deal, but I hate there being no way of easily upgrading an existing monster.  I wish ACKS went with HD instead.

I also think the progression is too quick.  I hate the idea that a max level priest can turn any undead, even Liches, automatically.  It’s why, I think, so many old school modules had special magic items that protected the undead from Turning.  Sinkholes of evil help with this, but I’d like to take a page from later editions of DND to revise the chart.

Seriously, why does a vampire even have straight candle sticks lying around his house? I mean, it’s like he’s asking for it…

Without further ado, here you go:

Undead

Character Level

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

1 HD

10

7

4

T

T

D

2 HD

13

10

7

4

T

T

3 HD

16

13

10

7

4

T

4 HD

19

16

13

10

7

4

5 HD

20

19

16

13

10

7

6 HD

20

19

16

13

10

7 HD

20

19

16

13

8 HD

20

19

16

9 HD

20

19

10 HD

20

11-13 HD
14+ HD
Special

Undead

Character Level

7th

8th

9th

10-11

12-13

14+

1 HD

D

D*

D*

D**

D**

D**

2 HD

D

D

D*

D*

D**

D**

3 HD

T

D

D

D*

D*

D**

4 HD

T

T

D

D

D*

D*

5 HD

4

T

T

D

D

D*

6 HD

7

4

T

T

D

D

7 HD

10

7

4

T

T

D

8 HD

13

10

7

4

T

T

9 HD

16

13

10

7

4

T

10 HD

19

16

13

10

7

4

11-13 HD

20

19

16

13

10

7

14+ HD

20

19

16

13

10

Special

20

19

16

13

Special includes Demons, Devils, and Priests of certain antagonistic faiths.

T=automatically Turn 2d6 HD worth of creatures, minimum one undead.

D=automatically Destroy 2d6 HD worth of creatures, minimum one undead.

D*=automatically Destroy 3d6 HD worth of creatures, minimum one undead.

D**=automatically Destroy 4d6 HD worth of creatures, minimum one undead.

Notes:

The undead listed above are by HD, however that is not the entire story.  If an undead has special abilities that are particularly potent (such as Ghoul Paralysis, or Energy Drain) a GM can shift them up by a HD.  A vampire should be harder to turn than a Giant 7HD zombie.  Usually, this shift should only be up one column.  Extremely potent undead might have a 2 HD bump.

When encountering a mixed group of undead, the most potent undead sets the difficulty for turning.  It’s necromantic aura pervades and protects the less undead around it.  When created undead are near their maker (in the same room or say 30’) if the maker’s HD or levels exceeds the undead’s, use their levels as the difficulty for turning the creatures, even if the maker cannot be turned.  This is one of those rules that was hidden away in the 1st Edition DMG (well the mixed group of undead, not the caster one) that I never noticed in my decades of playing.  But I like it.

The party encounters a Spectre in a room full of zombies.  The difficulty of turning the undead is equal to the difficulty of turning the Spectre.  If the roll is successful, the 2d6 HD worth of turned creatures hits the lower HD undead first.

Later, the party encounters a 6th level Cleric and a hoard of skeletons he’s raised.  The difficulty to turn the skeletons, so long as the Cleric remains near them, is as though they were 6 HD.

If a mixed group contains monsters that normally you would automatically Turn, they remain unaffected unless you roll the Turn the most potent.  If Destruction is a result that can be obtained, then any HD worth of creatures you Turn are destroyed instead.  Dextruction * adds extra HD worth of destroyed creatures.

A seventh level Cleric meets a 7HD Vampire and his skeletal minions.  The Cleric must roll a 13 or better to effect any of the undead, but if he does, the 2d6 HD he rolls will affect the skeletons first, destroying them utterly.  If the Cleric were eighth level, he’d roll an additional d6 worth of HD for skeletons only… destroying more of them and possibly allowing him to Turn the Vampire depending on the amount of undead present (if the total rolled equaled all the HD of the undead present).

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