Friday, November 23, 2012

Turn Living

I was toying around with the concept of the undead a while back and I wanted to revisit it. Ultimately, I wanted to change the paradigm around. Rather than having the players being able to trivialize the undead with a Cleric in the party, I wanted that dynamic to work the other way.

Turn Living

Every undead creature has an innate ability to terrorize living beings and send them screaming away in horror or cower in fear. In the case of the Zombie, they exude a "fear of the grave" that requires a wisdom saving throw. So instead of every zombie encounter starting with a turn undead, it now starts with a "turn living."

As I said before, the undead should be something terrifying to characters and even a little bit for the players. With a turn living type ability and a re-imagining of their other abilities, undead encounters should be something special and a learning opportunity. We can create the opportunity for players to become undead hunters, rather than there being one in every church already.

Turn Undead

So the corresponding change would have to come upon turn undead or else a battle with the undead just becomes a battle of saving throws. Let's change turn undead to "Faith" and it allows anyone who failed their "turn living" check to reroll. Of course, this supposes that the Cleric himself succeeded in that initial save.

Now, a Cleric becomes a weapon against the undead rather than an I Win Button.


  1. That is a really good idea. I might steal that.

  2. I had an idea of giving characters a bravery score, and each un-dead monster or demon or whatever a terror score. Players would roll a die, add their bravery score to it, and try to beat the monster's terror score. If they did, they could make a second role and if they made that as well, they would permanently raise their bravery. Eventually experienced players would be immune to lesser monsters terror effects when their bravery score matched the monster's terror score, although they would no longer be able to raise their score by fighting said monster.

  3. Well, I wanted a mechanic a little more robust than "make numbers bigger". Like I mentioned in the comments for the Skeleton post, to make the undead non-trivial at all points, they would need a level independent mechanism to inspire fear.

    Humans can literally learn to overcome fears through immersion as you propose. But I think vices don't go away so easily. You don't overcome greed by making more money :)

    So having some undead represent more than just fear works from a perspective that you can't just out level them.