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Author Topic: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?  (Read 336 times)

Offline Shiftkitty

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Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« on: August 17, 2019, 11:55:20 AM »
I know turning undead is generally the domain of the Cleric and his or her deity, but it seems to me that dead things popping back to life is insanely unnatural, and a form of turning undead should be allowed to a druid. Maybe only animated undead, like zombies, skeletons, ghouls, and other undead where a foreign entity has to possess a formerly living body? Given this PCs scores, not being able to turn undead won't be an issue, I just think it's odd that some form isn't allowed.

(Heh, I'm creating a druid for a new campaign and this guy has come out to be Vin Diesel as a druid with a Quentin Tarantino background!)
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Offline DMMike

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2019, 05:46:39 PM »
Sounds reasonable to me, and IMC Druids of Meilikki are the main force against Orcus's undead.

Though a book series I've been reading recently (Dark Prophecy, Book 1: Orconomics and book 2: Son of a Liche) has me rethinking it a bit.

What clerics would be more against undead....than the clerics of a death god? Think about it, clerics of Anubis (for ex) should froth at the idea of spirits escaping the judgement of their heart weight!

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Offline Pladohs Ghost

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #2 on: August 18, 2019, 01:14:45 AM »
This is something I've pondered a bit. Are animated undead animated by their own spirits called back into the corpses? Or are the corpses inhabited by spirits from elsewhere (demons or the like)? I would think that a nature magician would be able to act against the unnatural animation of corpses by evil spirits, though perhaps not as effectively as a magician who works with spirits more regularly.

As for the unliving and everliving sorts of undead, yeah, I imagine the cult of the death god(s) would be quite upset at those particular abominations because the undead aren't submitting to the divine death masters. That would go beyond the matter of dispersing evil spirits that mess with the remains of the dead, so they should perhaps be better at dealing with mummies and such.
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Offline sgtslag

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #3 on: August 19, 2019, 04:14:51 PM »
This is an old issue which was addressed by Dragon Magazine/TSR staff, as I vaguely recall, back in the 1980's-1990's.  I could be entirely off, but I believe their answer was that undead are unnatural, and Druids are nature (natural) priests, who have no control over the un-natural things of undead.  Basically, undead are so totally outside of their powers, that they cannot affect them, at all, except with damage-dealing spells.

If someone can correct me, please do.

For my campaign, I run strictly Specialty Priests (I abhor the "Generic Cleric" concept from 1e rules...).  For my god of death, one of the Granted Powers of his clerics, is that they Turn Undead at two levels higher than they are; they also cannot control the Undead, they can only destroy them, as they are an abomination.  He, like the Anubis example above, is livid with Undead escaping the Underworld (known as, Gram Nar, which is Icelandic for, Angry Corpse).  If he had his way, each and every mortal soul would be contained, forever, in the Underworld, with none going to the new version of heaven (long, complicated mythology).

He is decidedly evil, and angry at the other gods, who stuck him in his position as gatekeeper of Gram Nar.  His Clerics also use fear, intimidation, and a healthy, ongoing scheme of coercion to bring Humans into line, worshiping him, as they rightfully should, blah, blah, blah...

Designing Specialty Priests for each god in your pantheon is a complicated, challenging, blast!  It really makes the Cleric class come to exciting life within your individual campaign world.  It creates incredible role playing opportunities, as well.  My mythology is so full of strife, conflicts, and open hatred, among the gods, their temples, and their Priests.  Bread and butter for my players to enjoy.  My game world's mythology permeates every aspect of the PC's lives.  It is so intertwined in nearly everything they do.

If you examine historical European medieval history, you will see how religion permeated every aspect of their society.  You will further see how much it influenced their very existence.  That is what I try to achieve within my game world.  My players love it, with several of them running Specialty Priests, of different gods.  It is challenging for them, and for me.  It makes for fantastic games, stories, and memories.  It really helps make the game world come alive for all of us.  My players are heavily invested in the religious-political intrigues of my game world, that they come back hungrily, to each session to dig into the issues, to thwart their enemies, to change what has been wrought by evil Priests, to establish things the way they ought to be.

My one son tells me that I've ruined him for playing in other campaigns with other GM's.  They don't typically use political intrigues, let alone religious intrigues.  In other games he has played in, people brag about their character sheets, and what wonderful toys they possess.  He shares epic tales of intrigue, how he and his party thwarted coups, won wars by recruiting allies, organizing armies, convinced Kings to join them in their causes, etc.  He understands the concept of "the power of flesh", over the "power of steel", as portrayed in the first Schwarzenegger Conan movie, with Thulsa Doom.  He pursues the "power of flesh", over grabbing magic items.  His PC was framed for an attempted assassination of his Emperor, and because of his connections with numerous Kings, and nations, six countries were willing to go to war, to avenge his wrongful execution, if it occurred.  I call that true power -- greater than any artifact, or relic a PC might possess.  That whole mess came about, due to religion, within the game.  Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 19, 2019, 04:47:26 PM by sgtslag »
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Offline Shiftkitty

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2019, 04:36:35 PM »
Okay, it makes sense that the undead are unnatural and thus outside of the purview of the druid. I do like the approach to death cults. "STOP REANIMATING OUR DISCIPLES!!!" As far as what animates (or 'reanimates', if you will) and undead, I've always seen it as an outside entity using a body as a vehicle. The soul that formerly occupied the body has gone to its reward or else its punishment.
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Offline DMMike

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2019, 08:36:07 AM »
On a side note, something that has bugged me for a time is that of clerics repeatedly healing people of different religious beliefs. I know that as a rule polytheistic religions aren't usually as hung up on the whole "I am a jealous god" bit, but it seems strange to me that a cleric of Athena would be fine healing a fighter who follows Thor over and over again. :/

I've toyed with the idea of clerics getting a bonus to heal followers of the same religion. That would give an incentive for the cleric to find followers (and get them among PCs) without RPing hours of attempted conversion. Fun in small doses, but gets old quick.

Opinions?

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Offline sgtslag

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2019, 01:45:03 PM »
I agree.  This has bothered me since I started, back in 1980, with 1e rules.  I tried addressing it with cleric players, at times, but it made the situation uncomfortable for most.  I chose to drop it, most of the time.  It has come up a few times, in my 2e games, since 1990.  Some players will refuse to heal, or render other aid, to non-believers; sometimes they ask me about whether a cleric of their deity would heal someone who worships god A, or god B?  These are fantastic role playing opportunities for all of us.  I explain the relationships between the various gods, and what they would think of healing someone else's follower.  It typically depends upon the relationship between the two deities, themselves, as to how their followers would/should react to a healing request from another god's follower.  I am fine with that.  These role playing sessions help define the mythology to a more granular depth.

One Specialty Priest has Dimension Fold, which folds two points on the map together, allowing the Priest, and his friends, to step through a gate, which puts them anywhere on the same plane, instantaneously!  It is an uber-powerful spell.  He has used it to win friends, and influence them, dramatically:  "Oh, you would like to visit the Elven Kingdom, 300 Leagues away?  Are you ready now?  Let's go!"  "Would you like to visit your homeland, 800 Leagues away?  We can go now, if you like..."  He is a sort of travel agent.  His fellow players assume (wrongly!) that he will transport them if they ask...  He won't, unless it benefits him, and his deity.  Otherwise, they're on their own! He will take NPC's on trips, at the mere suggestion they make, unknowingly, that they would like to visit whatever place.  He transports them, to win their friendship, and to gain a favor from them, in the future...  He is good at influencing people.

In 2e, with Specialty Priests, this is potentially more complex...  Not all of my Specialty Priests have access to the Healing, or Necromantic Spheres!  One player's Priest does not have any healing spells, whatsoever!  One fellow player remarked, "You don't have healing?  What good are you?!?"  It's been a running joke for years, now.  He is very good at gathering information, however, which makes up for no healing.

In one adventure, his PC was out, and they were trying to run down an assassin who tried to kill their Emperor.  The guy who asked, "What good are you?!?!", was struggling to track down the assassin, when he suddenly said, "We need <Specialty Priest w/o healing> here now!"  He knew that the non-healing priest could have identified the assassin, handily, and been able to track him down, with ease.  He was very frustrated as he watched the assassin escape their pursuit, rather easily.

Clerics in 2e rules, can be role playing drivers, movers, and shakers, depending upon how you handle them.  The Specialty Priests make 2e rules unique among all the other versions of the game rules, thus far.  Sooo much potential...  Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 20, 2019, 02:17:01 PM by sgtslag »
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Offline Loma

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2019, 11:44:07 AM »
To put it simply, Druids aren't Good enough to turn undead. They're Neutral.
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Offline Loma

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2019, 11:55:05 AM »
On a side note, something that has bugged me for a time is that of clerics repeatedly healing people of different religious beliefs. I know that as a rule polytheistic religions aren't usually as hung up on the whole "I am a jealous god" bit, but it seems strange to me that a cleric of Athena would be fine healing a fighter who follows Thor over and over again. :/

I've toyed with the idea of clerics getting a bonus to heal followers of the same religion. That would give an incentive for the cleric to find followers (and get them among PCs) without RPing hours of attempted conversion. Fun in small doses, but gets old quick.

Opinions?

DM (Good at conversions) Mike

Some gods require their clerics to heal anybody who needs it, even an enemy. In Player's Option, you can even get points for that.
Jesus saves and takes half damage.

Offline sgtslag

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Re: Why Can't Druids Turn Undead?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2019, 10:14:23 AM »
I found the published Specialty Priest rules, in the expansion rules volumes, to be excessively limiting.  I ignore them, writing my own Granted Powers, choosing my own Greater and Lesser Spheres, choosing my own limits.  The official guidelines seemed to make the Specialty Priests unworthy of play.  The tools are there, in the original PHB, the DM just needs to run with them, IMO.

For example, my god of rivers, lakes, and seas, grants his priests the ability to shape-shift into various aquatic animal forms, getting progressively larger, as levels increase.  I allow Specialty Priests to wield weapons handled by their deity, but I am nowhere as restrictive as the expansion books suggest.  I have a god like Athena, but from my own mythology.  She allows her clerics to wear any type of armor, they can swing a long sword, as well as shoot a long bow.  They are heavily restricted in alignment, which restricts their behaviors.

Essentially, I create Specialty Priests which are fun to play.  I cannot tolerate the "generic Cleric", of 1e rules...  The Specialty Priests are so varied (only really developed as needed -- too much work to flesh things out which might never be played...), in my game, that people really look over the Granted Powers, and the granted Spheres, to decide what deity they want to play a Priest of.  It might not be "balanced" (a nebulous term, which, frankly, I believe is more a myth, than a reality, in 2e rules).  Balance is not my primary goal.  If I wanted a truly "balanced" set of rules, I would play 3.x, or 5e.

My goal is to create great role playing opportunities.  When my players bring up gross imbalances, I listen, consider, and I adjust, if possible, and reasonable.  My players appreciate this, very much.  They help shape the game, and the rules.  It is an incredible amount of work, but it pays in the end.  My players are very creative.  It all gels really well.  YMMV.

The Specialty Priest rules in the PHB, are really incredible, if the DM is willing to invest the time, and effort.  The tools are there, for the DM to create their own mythology, pantheons of deities, for creating unique Specialty Priests, which are all radically different.  I have one deity who is LG, but she allows her worshipers to be CG and NG.  This allows her to push her agenda, without limitations.  As a DM, it means I don't need 200-300 deities to flesh out, to allow PC's more options in alignments!  It would be better if the deity were NG, but I chose to make her LG, initially.  It works for me, and my players.  It also creates role playing opportunities for players who might worship the same deity, but have slightly different views, and alignments, but they worship the same deity.  If desired, I could even change the Granted Powers and Spheres allowed, based on the PC's alignment.

The basic PHB Specialty Priest rules are extremely powerful, and infinitely varied.  I believe the 2e designer staff felt they were too powerful, so they attempted to reign them in, in the expansion volumes of rules.  They went entirely too far, IMO.  Try comparing the spell abilities of the original, PHB, generic Cleric, compared to the spell lists of the Specialty Priest examples in the expansion rules volumes.  The differences are staggering...  So much so that I really can't see anyone wanting to play a Specialty Priest, as opposed to a generic Cleric, due to the limitations on the Specialty Priest examples -- they have so few spells available to them!  Cheers!
« Last Edit: October 14, 2019, 10:52:04 AM by sgtslag »
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