Turn Undead - will save DC too low?


Combat & Magic

Dark Archive

Given that undead get good will saves, is the 10 + 1/2 level + Cha too low? Lets look at some samples:

    Lets assume our cleric has a Cha of +2.

  • 1st Level:
    Human Commoner Zombie (CR1/2) - Will Save +3
    Average Save DC - 12
    Roll needed - 9

  • 5th Level:
    Minotaur Zombie (CR 4) - Will Save +8
    Average Save DC - 16
    Roll Needed - 8

  • 10th Level:
    Dread Wraith (CR 11) - Will Save +14
    Average Save DC - 17
    Roll Needed - 3

I know this isnt a perfect sampling, but I dont have all my books in front of me. It just seems like making it DC 10 + level + Cha would be better.


Hmm...maybe its purposly low.

Maybe the purpose of the new Channeling Positive Energy ability is to make it more of a power that damages undead.
Causing them to Turn and run is a rare side effect now.


I hadn't looked that far ahead, good job.

The advantage is any number of "hit" undead could fail and flee, potentially far more than before, but that doesn't really make up for it given the numbers. It's exacerbated because undead tend to have high hit dice, other than vamps and other templates, and they typically have turn resistance.

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Yeah, it just seems like the flee aspect is rarely going to take place and they'll be taking half damage almost always.

If full level is too much, maybe add Wisdom to the equation, or start the DC at 15 + 1/2 lvl + Cha. Something needs to be done with it.

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CrackedOzy wrote:

Given that undead get good will saves, is the 10 + 1/2 level + Cha too low? Lets look at some samples:

    Lets assume our cleric has a Cha of +2.

  • 1st Level:
    Human Commoner Zombie (CR1/2) - Will Save +3
    Average Save DC - 12
    Roll needed - 9

  • 5th Level:
    Minotaur Zombie (CR 4) - Will Save +8
    Average Save DC - 16
    Roll Needed - 8

  • 10th Level:
    Dread Wraith (CR 11) - Will Save +14
    Average Save DC - 17
    Roll Needed - 3

I know this isnt a perfect sampling, but I dont have all my books in front of me. It just seems like making it DC 10 + level + Cha would be better.

But in Core 3.5 turning rules, a 10th level cleric had no way of turning a dread wraith (16 HD). Even with Improved Turning he could at best hope of turning a 15 HD undead. The same goes for the Minotaur Zombie (12 HD) at levels below 7. So, under the new rules the cleric actually has a much better chance of affecting undead than before. To turn a human commoner zombie a first level cleric had to roll at least a 13 on his turning check. His chance of turning the dread wraith are low indeed, but at least he heals himself and his comrades and 5d6/2 points of damage against the wraith.

Unearthed Arcana had a turning variant using a DC of 10+level+cha. The problems are powerful undead such as vampires and liches who, because they usually only have class levels, have a much lower Will Save than lesser undead. A CR 20 vampire fighter 18 with Wisdom 14 has a Will Save of +8. Even with his turn resistance of +4 he would only have a +12 save against a DC of 22. He needs to roll at least a 10, so his chance of failure is 45%. Would it be 10 + cleric level + cha, he would have to save against a 32, which would in most cases result in a scared vampire.
The chances of turning undead are actually comparable to those of the 3.5 rules. Before the chances were based on the cleric's level vs the undead's hit die. Now the chances are based on the undead's Will Save (based mostly on his hit die) versus the Cleric's Turning DC (based mostly on his level). The main difference is that now even a succesful saving against the turn attempt results in a lessened effect, reducing the uselessness of turning in many cases.
So, in my opinion the rules don't need any tweaking.


Regarding the DC for turning.

If I'm not mistaken, a cleric could blow a feat on Ability Focus in order to increase the turn's save DC by +2.

Its not much but its an option.

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I'd rather not compare 3.Pf with 3.5 as the old Turn Undead had LOTS of problems. Now, if there is a feat or feats that would increase the Turn DC, I'd be more ok with it. At least so a Turn-heavy Cleric actually stands a chance.

I went and checked and there is actually a feat "Improved Turning" which raises the DC by 2, so I guess that helps.

I could also see coming up with Positive/Negative Energy Domains in which the first ability boosts your DC as well.

I'm not a 100% yet, but I guess it's not as bad as I thought.

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CrackedOzy wrote:

I'd rather not compare 3.Pf with 3.5 as the old Turn Undead had LOTS of problems. Now, if there is a feat or feats that would increase the Turn DC, I'd be more ok with it. At least so a Turn-heavy Cleric actually stands a chance.

I went and checked and there is actually a feat "Improved Turning" which raises the DC by 2, so I guess that helps.

I could also see coming up with Positive/Negative Energy Domains in which the first ability boosts your DC as well.

I'm not a 100% yet, but I guess it's not as bad as I thought.

So by spending two feats you get 14+1/2 level+cha. Not so bad after all. And I agree that the old turning rules were horrible. But in my opinion the new turning is quite powerful as it is. Most divine feats now seem pretty weak when compared to the effect of a normal turning. 4+cha uses of a 5th level spell (mass cure light wounds) isn't that bad, especially if the healing also hurts undead. Maybe clerics should get a energy pool like the barbarian has to fuel things like healing and turning and divine feats.


Personally I wouldn't mind a a boost in the save, such as DC 15+1/2 caster level+Cha modifier.

While creatures with Turn Resistance do gain a bonus their saves, the real big kicker is the "Energy Resistance: Positive" they gain with it (5/2 levels of turn resistance), which can rerally marginalize a 10th levlel cleric's 5d6 turn damage.

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I forgot about that, yeah I'm really leaning towards either making it full not half level, increasing the base from 10 to 15, or making the Improved Turning feat add more than a +2.


Jadeite wrote:
So by spending two feats you get 14+1/2 level+cha. Not so bad after all. And I agree that the old turning rules were horrible. But in my opinion the new turning is quite powerful as it is. Most divine feats now seem pretty weak when compared to the effect of a normal turning. 4+cha uses of a 5th level spell (mass cure light wounds) isn't that bad, especially if the healing also hurts undead. Maybe clerics should get a energy pool like the barbarian has to fuel things like healing and turning and divine feats.

You make very good points about the actual difficulties that a cleric would have had with those examples - thank you.

Howeverm Improved Turning does not (yet) list "Special: You can take this feat more than once, its effects stack", as the previous Improved Turning did.

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Majuba wrote:


You make very good points about the actual difficulties that a cleric would have had with those examples - thank you.

Howeverm Improved Turning does not (yet) list "Special: You can take this feat more than once, its effects stack", as the previous Improved Turning did.

While Improved Turning does not seem to stack with itself, it certainly should stack with Ability Focus (thus the two feats). Additionally, clerics specializing in turning will probably want to invest in a Cloak of Charisma since it not only increases their DC but also the number of their turn attempts (not counting items like the veil of allure which grants an extra +2 to all charisma based DCs because on the other hand there are items that grant additional turn resistance).

Some further thoughts about turning undead. At the moment turning undead is rather useless against undead whose CR equals the cleric's level. A good example would be the ghoul (CR 1). He has a Will Save of +5 and a turn resistance of +2. Assuming a DC of 12, he would have a chance of 80% of saving against the turning attempt and he also won't take any damage because of his turn resistance. On the other hand, assuming a level 10 cleric, his chance of success would only be 55% and even when he saves, there is a good chance he takes damage. If he doesn't save, there would be a good chance for him to be destroyed. In my opinion, turning is not supposed to be that useful against undead on par with the character. It's supposed to destroy the undead minions of other, stronger enemies. If the cleric wants to hurt stronger undead, he has spells like searing light at his disposal. And it should not be forgotten that turning, even when none of undead is damaged by its effect still gives the party some nice healing. Also, by taking feats like Turn Outsiders (evil), the cleric could greatly increase the number of victims of his turning attempts. It should also be noted that most outsiders have worse will saves than undead of their CR, so by increasing the Save DC, Turn Outsider might become overpowered (the poor balor only has a will save of +19).


Jadeite wrote:
Also, by taking feats like Turn Outsiders (evil), the cleric could greatly increase the number of victims of his turning attempts. It should also be noted that most outsiders have worse will saves than undead of their CR

Another point to note is that Outsiders and Elementals lack turn resistance and therefore do not have positive energy resistance.

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sysane wrote:


Another point to note is that Outsiders and Elementals lack turn resistance and therefore do not have positive energy resistance.

Yes, I somehow forgot to mention that. Poor Balor indeed.


Jadeite wrote:
Yes, I somehow forgot to mention that. Poor Balor indeed.

It does bring up an interesting point that turning appears to be better vs non-undead creatures than it is against the actual undead. Which is odd if you ask me.

Shouldn't the turning ability work better on undead, the creature type for which the ability was originally intended to be used against? Granted, non-undead receive a save each round to break the command/flee effect, but I still find it odd.


Jadeite wrote:
A good example would be the ghoul (CR 1). He has a Will Save of +5 and a turn resistance of +2. Assuming a DC of 12, he would have a chance of 80% of saving against the turning attempt and he also won't take any damage because of his turn resistance.

And comparing this example to 3.5:

1st level cleric with 14 cha: Needs "Level +3" result, that's a Cha check of 19, so needs a 17 for a 20% chance. Inverted - 80% chance of saving.

2nd level cleric with 12 cha: Needs "Level +2" result, that's a Cha check of 16, so needs a 15 for a 30% chance. Inverted - 70% chance of saving.

2d6+1+2 =~10 for 5 ghouls turned, 20% or 30% chance.

That vs. a 20% chance of turning any ghoul within 30'. At 5 equal on average effect. More - better, fewer - worse. Not counting the slight chance of damage.

On the non-undead - at least one other system grants Turn resistance equal to charisma modifier.


Jadeite wrote:

[While Improved Turning does not seem to stack with itself, it certainly should stack with Ability Focus (thus the two feats). Additionally, clerics specializing in turning will probably want to invest in a Cloak of Charisma since it not only increases their DC but also the number of their turn attempts (not counting items like the veil of allure which grants an extra +2 to all charisma based DCs because on the other hand there are items that grant additional turn resistance).

Some further thoughts about turning undead. At the moment turning undead is rather useless against undead whose CR equals the cleric's level. A good example would be the ghoul (CR 1). He has a Will Save of +5 and a turn resistance of +2. Assuming a DC of 12, he would have a chance of 80% of saving against the turning attempt and he also won't take any damage because of his turn resistance. On the other hand, assuming a level 10 cleric, his chance of success would only be 55% and even when he saves, there is a good chance he takes damage. If he doesn't save, there would be a good chance for him to be destroyed. In my opinion, turning is not supposed to be that useful against undead on par with the character. It's supposed to destroy the undead minions of other, stronger enemies. If the cleric wants to hurt stronger undead, he has spells like searing light at his disposal. And it should not be forgotten that turning, even when none of undead is damaged by its effect still gives the party some nice healing. Also, by taking feats like Turn Outsiders (evil), the cleric could greatly increase the number of victims of his turning attempts. It should also be noted that most outsiders have worse will saves than undead of their CR, so by increasing...

That turn restistance of +2 also grants it Energy Resisance-Positive 5. Even against a 3rd level cleric, 2d6 turn damage, regardless of saving or not, that resistance will mitigate quite a bit of the damage alone. Which, for me, makes for a good resaon to increase the save DC to a base of 15, instead of 10.


Perhaps the positive energy resistance shouldn't be factored into turn resistance at all and should just be left as bonus to the undead's will save.

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