Turning Undead

Evil Clerics
Evil Areas

As stated on the CLERICS AFFECTING UNDEAD TABLE, this function may be attempted only once by each cleric.
Of course, if there are two, both may attempt the function, each trying once, etc.
There is also an exceptional case where turning may be practiced more than once by each and every cleric concerned.
This occurs in cases where multiple forms of creatures subject to turning are involved.
If the cleric attempting the turning is successful against any or all types within the group of multiple forms of undead,
that type or multiple types, to the maximum number indicated by
the dice roll or otherwise indicated by the rules, are turned, and on the
next round the cleric so successful may attempt to turn other undead of the
group. This process may continue as long as each successive attempt is
successful and the cleric lives. Undead so turned (from the group of
multiple types) are lowest hit dice types to highest HD types, i.e. first
listed to last listed an the table. Any failure to turn undead disallows a
further attempt by the same cleric. Turning can occur at the same time as
missile discharge, magical device attacks, and/or spell casting. It also is
subject to initiative determination.

If the undead are in a mixed group - for example, 1 vampire, 3 ghosts,
and 8 ghouls - you may opt to disallow any turning or other effect if the
most powerful member - in the example above, the vampire - is not
affected by the cleric. Naturally, this rule applies only to groups of mixed
undead where the lesser are following or serving the greater. Mindless
undead, skeletons and zombies, cannot be considered. Otherwise, the
cleric will affect undead according to the die score, with the possibility of
the lesser monsters being turned or otherwise affected, while greater ones
are unaffected.

Exception: Certain religions exist where the cleric's holy symbol
is also his or her weapon (for example, some GMs may
permit clerics of the god Thor to carry a hammer which doubles
as a holy symbol). In this case, the cleric will be able to
make a TURN undead attempt with his or her weapon in hand,
although even this situation does not empower the cleric to
attack and attempt to TURN undead in the same round. If the
cleric is successful in a turning attempt, he or she may try again
next round. If the cleric fails, no further turning attempt may
be made during this encounter - OSRIC, page 123 <?>

Q: Can a cleric turn undead, then
attack, run away, or cast a spell in
the same round? Or does he stand
there for a whole round, give up
shield and dexterity adjustments to
armor class, and hope that the turning

A: Turning undead is a separate activity. A
cleric who turns undead may not fire
missiles, melee, or cast spells in the same
round as he turns undead, although he
defends normally and may be able to
move (DM's option).

Evil Clerics:


Anything below a result of T indicates that the undead are compelled to do some service.
Treat this in the same way as an invisible stalker serving a magic-user.
The length of service so compelled is equal to 24 hours minus the min. score the cleric needed to compel such service.

    Example: A 9th level evil cleric meets a lich, and scores 20 on the die roll,
    so the lich will be neutral and not attack far 8 hours (24-16);
    later the same cleric encounters a vampire, and scores a 12,
    so the vampire will join the evil cleric and serve as a member of the cleric's group for up to 14
    hours (24-10).

A successful result of "T" indicates that the undead will remain neutral or serve for a full 24 hour period.
A "D" result indicotes co-operative service by the undead as long as the evil cleric renews his or her control every 6 days.

In any of the above cases, hostile acts against the undead or associated creotures will certainly cause the cleric's effects to be totally broken ond negated entirely.
Hostile acts include
    entry into on area which the affected creotures have been commanded to guard,
    attempts to remove guarded items or treasure belonging to the affected creatures,
    attempts to prevent the affected creatures from carrying out commonds,
    or actual attack by spell, weapon, or other forms which cause the affected creatures harm.

N.B.: Any commanded creature will immediately be freed from clerical
compulsion upon the unconsciousness (excepting normal sleep) or death
of the cleric who successfully compelled them to service. This will result in
the affected undeod or other affected creature or creatures either leaving
or attacking the cleric and his or her group according to the existing circumstances.
Consider treatment and risk when arriving at the action the
affected creature takes. Mindless undead will simply do nothing, losing all
animation and direction.

Optional Rule: An evil cleric may control no more HD
worth of undead than his or her level of experience; thus a
9th level evil cleric could control no more than two wights,
for example. - OSRIC, page 123

Counter-Affecting: A cleric of opposite alignment may attempt to negate
the effects of a cleric who has affected undead or other creatures. The
table is consulted, and if the countering cleric is successful, the affected
undead are freed of the effects of the first cleric's efforts. Of course, this
counter will not restore any undead destroyed/damned by a good cleric.
This counter may in turn be countered, etc. This may continue indefinitely
until one or the other cleric fails and is no longer eligible to affect undead
et al. When affected creatures have clerical effects countered, they are
powerless to take any action on the following round.

Evil Areas:

You may wish to establish areas where evil has made special
power bases, i.e., an evil shrine, temple, or whatever. Such areas must be
limited, of course -- the shrine to perhaps a 10" by 10" area, the temple to
twice that area. Such areas will automatically reduce the chance of any
cleric affecting undead or other creatures within their precincts by a
previously stipulated factor - perhaps 1 or 2 in the shrine area, 3 or 4 in
the temple area. This power can be destroyed only by desecration of the
evil, i.e. breaking of the evil altar service, pouring of holy water upon the
altar, blessing and prayers, and whatever other actions you, as DM, deem
sufficient. Thus, in an area specially consecrated to evil, undead and associated
creatures from the lower planes are far more difficult to handle.
The corollary to this is that on the lower planes themselves, good clerics
are totalluy unable to affect the evil creatures who dwell upon them, while
on the upper planes, an evil cleric would have no effect upon a paladin.
Good areas are similar bases of power for such creatures, and evil clerics
will have lesser chances of affecting paladins or similar good aligned


Dragon Fire wrote:
Gary, a few questions:

A few?! 

What was your "reasoning" behind a cleric's turning ability, as in how is it able to function?

The fokelore example of a vampire being turned by a cleric presenting the cross.

Is the cleric turning the spirit/soul within the undead?

I don't understand what distinction you are attempting to assert. the undead are turned, be they material or spirit, as indicated in the mechanic.

Or is the cleric turning the unholy vessel (body)?

That too.

Pcs round a corner, and face off against say 18 ghouls, 3 abbrest in a 10` wide corridor. Backing the ghouls at the rear, are a 6 pack of ghasts. The pcs front ranks contains a pair of clerics, which both make their turn attemps making a totak of 12 of the ghouls flee... But since there backs are closed off due to the other ghouls and ghasts behind them they cannot flee. SO does the turn fail? Do they get to just turn around and fight???

I would check to see if the ghasts allow the ghouls to filter through their line, maybe a 50% chance.
If not, the ghasts force the ghouls before them almost as shields, can't be attacked as the ghouls can--
they not attacking at all, but there as targets, and then the ghasts counter-attack the PC party.
If the ghasts allow the ghouls to pass through their line, then the combat situation that follows is a normal one.


DMPrata wrote:
This situation would be a perfect use of the optional turning rule presented on Dungeon Masters Guide, p. 65:

If the undead are in a mixed group for example, 1 vampire, 3 ghosts, and 8 ghouls you may opt to disallow any turning or other effect if the most powerful member in the example above, the vampire is not affected by the cleric.

Hence, the ghouls would not flee if the ghasts were unaffected.

(Sorry to hijack the punning thread)

Perhaps...if the ghouls were backed up by some undead more fearsome than ghasts.
Note that the example has a vampire and a trio of ghosts radiating their evil nagativity 


Geoffrey wrote:
2. If you could travel back in time to the early 1970s, would you still make it that clerics can turn undead?
I ask because of these words you wrote on page 101 of the original version of Necropolis:

'Priests and Priestesses have no extraordinary ability to affect the Netherrealms creatures and beings, spirits, Unliving, Undead, and Unalive in this game system. There will be no mumbled prayer followed by a "Vaporize!" or "Shoo!" removing dangers such as these foes in this tomb! Naturally, clerical personas wield many instruments which are amongst the Susceptibilities of these sorts of creatures and beings, but there are no givens ("gimmes") here. Be sure to keep this in mind--and to gently remind players of this too, if they are veterans of game systems which make this sort of fell minions of Evil lightweights to be brushed aside with the wave of a sacred object.'

Thank you once again for your kindness and generosity!

2. So many of the very most interesting "monsters" were subjected to that rude capacity of turning/destroying that I initially bestowed upon the cleric class that I did indeed come to rue the initial benison gven to that class.
My plan for a revised edition of AD&D was such as to limit that power somewhat while adjusting things for the capacity of undead to withstand "turning" so as to make things more challenging for PCs without emasculating the power of the cleric.
Alas, that was not to be in AD&D terms, so I did things differently in the DJ system, as you note, and have continued that fine tradition now in the LA RPG


Originally posted by Melan

Angrypossum's query about the healing potion got me thinking bout another main element of the game: turning undead. Do I recall correctly that you later regretted the inclusion of this ability in the game? If you redid OD&D for its new comeback (red, velvet-covered box, leatherbound booklets and all), how would you approach the class? Or, for that matter, other classes? Would you change them at all?

Considering how potent I made undead, I wouldn't really change much in regards the clerical turning of them.
I might put strictures on the alignment of the undead as opposed to the cleric, the tables used iriginally being for the diametrically opposed--LE-CG, NE-NG, and CE-LG.

Actually, not being much given to pointless specualtion, I have never sat down and contemplated in serious manner what changes I would make in OAD&D were I about to revise it.
too many real creative things to do 
Back in 1984 I was gearing up to do a revision, made notes that T$R had and didn't follow.
Most of that I have forgotten now, what with so many other creative works envisaged and written.