CB: Turning Cleric

"Turning" Cleric by Zed "); //-- Turning undead can make it or break it in some situations. When a group is close to being overrun by undead a well timed and...

"Turning" Cleric

by Zed

Turning undead can make it or break it in some situations. When a group is close to being overrun by undead a well timed and well placed Turn can send the undead scurrying away from the cleric, giving the group time to regroup and focus on a smaller number of targets. Or better yet, a powerful cleric could destroy countless low level undead turning the battle in a split second. Lets take a quick look first of all at how Turn Undead works.

Turning Check

When a cleric hits Turn Undead the first thing the system does is a turning check, identifying the highest level of undead you could affect.  The turning check is defined as:

(1D20 + CHA bonus)

The results are calculated from a table. At this point we presume the table used is the same as the one found in the SRD, which is found here

Once we have our highest level undead we move onto the total number of hit dice that can be affected.

Turning Damage

Cannon pen-and-paper rules tell us we roll 2D6 + Cleric Level + Cha bonus to determine damage. However, in testing it became clear that this was too much damage, making undead quests easier to accomplish in DDO. So, our turning damage is defined as:

(1D6 + Cleric Level + Cha Bonus)

Turn UndeadThis represents the maximum number of hit dice we can affect.  However, undead are interesting creatures and can have a turn resistance which increases the number of hit dice the create has relative to turn checks.  For example a wraith is a 5HD creature, however it has a +2 turn resistance.  (You can see that here).  In effect, you need to be able to turn a 7HD creature and then do at least 7HD worth of damage to make the wraith run away.

When damage is calculated there are then two possibilities for the undead that are affected.  If you're total level is more than twice the HD of the undead being turned you will destroy them instead of turning them.

The build

With that in mind then our primary stat shifts from Wisdom to Charisma.  We only ever need a maximum of 19 wisdom (even at level 20) to cast spells up to 9th level. But if we keep wisdom low we will hamper our saves, making debuffs easier for the enemy to resist. It will also lower our will saves a little. 

I will present three possible options for our Cleric here. These are raw scores and do not include any race assumptions.

Starting Abilities

Rather than provide a total break down of how to spread your stats out it suffices to say that you will want one of the following:

Wis      16 / 14
Cha      16

If you build a Wis 16, Cha 16 Cleric, you will have a total of 8 points remaining to distribute across your other 4 stats, if you build a Wis 14, Cha 16 Cleric you will have a further 12 points to distribute.

Class/Race Features:
Turn Undead ( 3 + Cha Modifier)
Divine spells
Proficient with all armor and shields excluding tower shields
Proficient with all simple weapons

Add to this the features of the race you choose.

Level 1: Extra Turning
Level 3: Improved Turn undead
Level 6: Mental Toughness
Level 9: Improved Mental Toughness

If you are human you can add mental toughness as your additional bonus feat.

Another consideration, if you are happy to build based on player knowledge of the game and not taking it as it comes, would be the fact that you really don't encounter much undead until you hit the house quests. At this point you would typically be 4th level.  In this case your feat selection would change slightly.

Level 1 :  Mental Toughness
Level 3 : Extra Turning
Level 6 : Improved Turn undead
Level 9 : Improved Mental Toughness

Human: Move feats down a step and select another feat at any level 9.

Skills: (in order of priority)

Enhancements (at 10th Level)
Energy of the Zealot X
Extra Turning III (+6 turn attempts)
Divine Vitality IV
Clerics Wisdom III or Clerics Charisma II

With a lower Wisdom score, this build will have a much lower spell point total, so Energy of the Zealot X becomes a good choice.  However, if you are okay with sacrificing spell points, then any enhancement that increases Charisma by at least 2 would benefit the Cleric.

Spell Selection

Spells will focus on damaging undead and boosting your party members abilities through battles. These are spell recommendations and can be swapped in and out dependant on level and situation.

Level 1:
Cure Light Wounds, Bane, Protection from Evil, Shield of Faith, Bless

Level 2:
Cure Moderate Wounds, Eagles Splendor, Lesser Restoration, Bulls strength, Resist Energy

Level 3:
Cure Serious Wounds, Searing Light, Remove Curse

Level 4:
Cure Critical wounds, Holy Smite, Restoration,

Level 5:
Mass Cure Light Wounds, Flame strike, Spell resistance


With no increases in Cha from a base 16, this cleric would have 16 turn attempts per rest period. This would give a +3 to turn checks and +13 (at 10th level) to turn damage.  Whilst +13 will destroy lots of smaller undead, high level undead encountered in places like Korromar will not be affected in more than ones or twos.  Increasing Cha should always be a high priority. However if you start with a Wisdom of 14, its important to put one of the stat boosts into Wisdom to ensure you have access to level 5 spells by 10th level. 

This build is by no means a front rank combatant, but focuses rather on managing undead effectively, boosting other casters spell points and buffing your party.  With the lower Wisdom more often than not debuffs will be resisted by monsters, especially at higher levels.

About the Author

Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.
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