Undead turning the living
I've had this in my Drafts folder for a year, so let's run with it a bit.
My twisted brain jumps to weird places, especially when I read something like this thread about the book "Salem's Lot" on the OD&D boards.
The Salem's Lot example made me imagine that the vampire had used the equivalent of the Turn Undead table on the priest! We can use that as a model for testing faith when it's reversed, so that the character or characters attempting to ward off the vampire can't use the typical methods (a holy symbol, a silver mirror, garlic, etc) if the vampire's reversed Turn Undead roll can beat their HD on the table.I absolutely love that idea, as a way of describing or giving a mechanic to how the undead fear effect works. It also hearkens back to a way that things might have worked for those games where players would play evil characters and villains opposite the players who played the heroes of Weal.
- The undead creature has to speak or some way of projecting their will. This leaves out the lesser undead. They are scary in their own right, but they don't have quite enough "oomph" to project their will. I would rule that it must be a Wraith or stronger that could possibly turn mortals.
- Turning the living works like "fear" in its effect. Just as the undead run away from the cleric displaying their holy symbol when they've been turned, so too do the mortals run away from the undead who's turned them aside. Their only option is to defend themselves if they are absolutely unable to run away, such as backed into a corner and there are the max undead there to block them. (Six Medium sized undead, using AD&D combat rules).
- If a cleric's roll to turn an undead is less than the undead's roll to turn the cleric, the cleric must have an additional effect in play to attempt to turn the stronger undead. These include: bless, chant (from a similarly aligned cleric), prayer, protection from evil, protection from undead. The DM may choose to allow comparable effects and/or situations to assist the cleric.
I'm not sure I would do this for all undead, but if there was a particularly nasty one I wanted to instill some fear and uncertainty into players' minds, this is a great approach that I might do.
Sweet Xmas! Why didn't I think of that!?! That is sooooo going into my houserules.ReplyDelete
Awesome! I'd love to hear how it works out.Delete
I think I'd use this for ALL undead. Like.. it makes there more of a reason why they're considered such a scourge on humanity. I'd give a penalty to someone who saw a relative, friend, or loved one as an undead too.ReplyDelete
On another thought though, I think that it might be better handled as a save, just so the players feel more involved in the process.
That would be quite a chilling sight... definitely a penalty there!Delete
Yes @Panzerkraken . My son said the same thing. It definitely gives a bit more agency. I do think as a result I would maybe put in saves for the undead when they are turned though.... What's good for the goose is good for the ghast I always say. :-PDelete
This could just be the world's greatest ever replacement for level drain.ReplyDelete
I'm not even sure it would replace it. I don't know; I really like the additional fear factor of getting hit with something like level drain. However, I use this:Delete
I'm not saying that it HAS to replace level drain; I'm saying that it COULD, and in that capacity it is in fact ideal—because if level drain is supposed to be an "associated mechanic" that instills the fear of spoopy ghosts in the players rather than the characters, the next best thing is to just magically frighten the bajeezus out of the characters.Delete
I don’t know that our DM at the time had any special mechanic, but I do remember in one of the first AD&D 1e games I played at university, the party Cleric and Paladin stood against some evil creature in what we thought was going to be the definitive showdown (and of course a party victory). Dark cloaked evil guy stands his/her ground, and then says in a gravelly voice ‘no, you run, little people. Scurry away...’ ...and we did. Altered the tone of the game, it did. We weren’t nearly so cocky. Only later did someone point out that it did mean that we all got to live and fight again another day....ReplyDelete
What a great story! Did you end up facing the creature again? What was it? How did you defeat it?Delete
This was 1980-85 ish, so a long time ago. I think it was just a higher level undead, and at least half of us playing (including the ref) were fans of lord of the rings, and Poul Anderson’s “three hearts and three lions+Broken Sword” so the game had a very old fashioned fantasy feel. If I remember correctly, the paladin and the cleric agreed that the threat must be reported. Others in the party wanted to recover, recruit a few more tough guys, and go knock it off for the treasure and xp. Very gamey. The paladin and the cleric were more into roleplaying. So I think we got supplemented by some powerful NPCs and a scroll or two, plus some healing magic, and dealt with the bad guy in character. I can’t remember what it was though. Only we thought it odd that it let us go (apparently it was on 3 hit points or something like that...8-) ...). We got less xp, but it was more in character, and we all enjoyed it immensely. We also almost died, even with the help. Going in for a last round to protect a cleric healing your mates and making them conscious when you’re on 2 hit points is nervewracking. I remember that part!Delete
Fantastic story, Alistair, thank you for sharing!Delete
I generally imbue all undead with a fear effect on first encounter, then allow characters to build immunity. Seeing an animated skeleton for the first time would be terrifying, but then after smashing through a few nit so much! More powerful undead should be harder to "get used to", and this provides a useful mechanic for that.ReplyDelete
Great idea! I might adopt it as a house rule, at least for high level undead.ReplyDelete