Turn Undead (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Author: Ghostwheel (talk)
Date Created: July 18, 2010
Status: Complete
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Turn Undead[edit]

There are a number of problems with the way D&D handles Turn Undead: it's overly complicated, it either neutralizes enemies or does absolutely nothing, it's completely random whether or not you affect enemies and how you affect them, it's convoluted, hard to understand, hard to remember, and is a strange subsystem in and of itself that is dissimilar to everything else in the Player's Handbook. Thus comes this variant: fast, easy, quick, and simple, this is what Turn Undead should have been from the start.

As per the original, a cleric's alignment affects both how he can use his turn undead class feature and which type of spells (the Cure or Inflict series) he can cast spontaneously. Good clerics can spontaneous cast Cure spells and may Exorcise the Unliving, while evil clerics can spontaneous cast Inflict spells and can Bolster Undead and Interrupt Connection. Neutral clerics choose one of these two options upon taking their first level in the class, as in the Player's Handbook. Individual undead may only be affected by this ability once per turning, and all the abilities detailed below are supernatural standard actions that do not provoke attacks of opportunity and last until the start of the cleric's next turn.

In order to activate this version of turn undead, you must spend a spell slot spontaneously, similar to how a cleric spends a spell slot to cast one of the Cure or Inflict Wounds line of spells, which governs the effectiveness of the turning. The following abilities replace Turn Undead, Bolster Undead, and Rebuke Undead where proper.

Exorcise the Unliving[edit]

Clerics that can channel positive energy may emanate an aura of positive energy within a 60' radius centered on the cleric. Any undead that begins its turn within 60' of the cleric or comes within 60' of the cleric during its turn must make a Will save (DC 10 + 0.5 ½ cleric level + cleric's Charisma modifier) or take 2d6 damage per level of the spell slot spent (1d6 for a 0-level spell, half damage on a successful save). On a failed save, an undead acts as though it was under the staggered condition and may not voluntarily take any movement that brings it closer to the cleric for one round. Undead with cover take only half damage (which they may still save to halve), and gain a +2 bonus to the save.

Minor Use[edit]

Exorcise the Unliving may be used as a swift action. If used as such, on a failed save it deals half damage (no staggered condition or limited movement), and on a successful save has no effect.

Greater Turning[edit]

Clerics who normally have the ability to destroy undead with a successful turning attempt (such as via the Sun domain) instead deal double damage when using this ability.

Bolster Undead[edit]

Clerics that channel negative energy may bolster their minions against the positive energy that another cleric can channel. Upon imbuing the surrounding area with negative energy, any undead that begins their turn within 60' of the cleric or comes within 60' of the cleric is healed 2d6 hit points for every level of the spell slot spent (1d4 for a 0-level spell), and gains a +4 bonus on saves to resist being turned until the start of the cleric's next turn.

Minor Use[edit]

Bolster Undead can be used as a swift action. If used in such a way, nearby undead gain no turn resistance, and gain 1d4 temporary HP level of the spell slot spent.

Interrupt Connection[edit]

Clerics that channel negative energy may choose to momentarily interrupt an undead's connection to the Negative Energy Plane, rather than bolstering undead. When interrupting the connection of undead in the area, the cleric forces all undead in the area to make a Will save (DC 10 + spell level spent + cleric's Charisma modifier) or be dazed for one round.

Minor Use[edit]

Interrupt Connnection has a swift action use. If used as a swift action, instead undead who fail the save take a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, skill checks, and ability checks for one round.

Turn Resistance[edit]

Undead with turn resistance gain a bonus equal to their turn resistance to Will saves against being exorcised or interrupted.


Paladins may also turn undead, but have the option of spending the positive energy inherent in their Lay on Hands ability to fuel their Turning. At level four, paladins may Turn Undead as a cleric by spending a number of the HP that they would heal from Lay on Hands for the day equal to the spell level they are emulating squared, except for zero levels costing 1 HP and first level spells costing 2 HP.

Divine Feats[edit]

While many divine feats (those that use Turn Undead) can remain unchanged, one in particular stands out. Make the following changes to Divine Metamagic.

Divine Metamagic
Benefit: You may apply a metamagic feat you possess to a spell you cast spontaneously (as though you were a sorcerer) without extending the casting time or increasing its spell level, though you still must have been able to spend the appropriate level slot to use that spell after its level adjustment. To use this, spend a spell slot equal to the level adjustment of the metamagic applied (minimum 1).
Example: If you were to use this feat to add maximize metamagic feat to flame strike, you would need to spend a level 4 spell slot in addition to the spell slot that contains flame strike, as well as be able to cast 9th level spells (a maximized flame strike's usual spell slot).

If you wanted to further empower that spell, you would either have to spend an additional 2nd level spell, or spend only a 6th level spell (though this would result in the caster needing to be able to cast an 11th level spell, which most cannot do.

Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewVariant Rules

Ghostwheel's Homebrew (310 Articles)
Article BalanceHigh +
AuthorGhostwheel +
Identifier3.5e Variant Rule +
Rated BySurgo +
RatingRating Pending +
SummaryAn easier to understand, more simple, and less complicated version of Turn Undead that isn't an all-or-nothing mechanic. +
TitleTurn Undead +