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This article was written by the god Dentin, and posted on Jan 27, 2009.
It was last updated by Shadowfax on September 19, 2011.
The undead have long posed problems and concerns for adventurers. The presence of undead creatures is often a harbinger of greater problems and dark powers soon to be manifest. However, there are effective ways to combat the undead and properly free or lay the disembodied to rest. These abilities lie in the realm of clerics and priests, who are often granted the power from supernatural entities.

Finding and Avoiding the Undead

One effective way of dealing with the undead is simply to avoid them and deal instead with the real problem: the source of the undead. Unfortunately, most of the time it's necessary to wade through armies of the undead regardless. Undead make excellent if stupid guardians, and are often summoned for that purpose.

Helping in both of these scenarios is the first of the undead related powers, the 'detect undead' spell. Learnable by low to mid level clerics, this spell allows the caster to sense and locate undead, even from a distance.

Immediately after casting the spell is at its strongest. After a few minutes, the spell will begin to wear off, and the distance that undead can be sensed will decrease. Eventually the spell will fade completely, and even undead that are attacking you can no longer be sensed, though at such close range it hardly matters.

Like many other spells, 'detect undead' can be recast to refresh its potency. In any area where undead are known to roam, 'detect undead' can provide invaluable information on the location of nearby threats.

When Undead Find You...

Turn Undead

The phrase 'turn undead' originates in the phrases 'turn the undead to dust', 'return the souls of the undead to the underworld', and 'turn away the undead'.

In cases where you simply must face down the undead, the 'turn undead' skill can be invaluable. It can be typically be learned by mid- to high-level clerics, and increases significantly in power with the level of the user.

The uses are many, and there are several fundamentally different ways that the skill can be used:

  • Concentrate and immediately turn a single target

    The instantaneous invocation triggered by turning a single target has the largest effect on undead creatures. All of the concentration of the cleric is focused on a single target; this is much more effective than attempting to hold back an entire group of undead, dividing attention between them.

    Dependent on the level of the undead being turned, the skill can have many different effects. Possible effects on the undead target can be destruction, severe damage, panic, fear, physical repulsion, minor annoyance, and the more powerful undead will be able to ignore the effects of the skill completely.

  • To immediately turn all nearby undead

    To turn entire groups of undead, the skill can be invoked using the 'turn all' command. This is less powerful than turning a single target, but it can often buy a besieged group time to gather its wits or retreat. Against weaker undead, this is also an effective way to remove their threat.

    Note that the skill requires substantial concentration to use in this fashion. It can quickly drain even powerful clerics if used often.

  • As a time duration protective spell

    The long term effect is a lower level aura of protection surrounding the caster and his/her group members. This aura will hinder undead which attempt to attack, dependent on the level of the undead and the level of the user. This part of the skill requires a continuous effort on the part of the user, and cannot be maintained indefinitely. It can be turned off by using the 'turn off' command, or by resting or sleeping.

  • With other clerics to boost its effect

    One of the lesser known uses is cumulative protection. If you're in a group with other clerics, it's very effective for multiple clerics to protect the group simultaneously. This can only be used for the time duration protective aspect of the skill, but even low level clerics can help enormously.

    For powerful clerics in a group, it may even be possible to simply walk through an entire army of undead as though enclosed in a protective bubble. No cleric can maintain the required level of concentration indefinitely, so doing this should not be attempted by the inexperienced.

  • In tandem with other spells to boost its effect

    Sometimes the skill can be made more effective by using other spells and skills to improve the conditions in which it is used.

    One interesting example of this is the use of 'detect undead' to track and precisely locate groups of the undead followed by the use of the 'lightning flash' spell to bring them to an ambush site or location. Once many undead have gathered in one spot, a high level cleric may be able to destroy them all using a single area-effect invocation of the 'turn undead' skill.

When a name is specified, that character is explicitly targeted for use by the skill.

With no arguments, the turn command has the following effects:
  • If you are fighting an undead creature, only that creature is targeted.
  • If an undead creature is fighting you, only that creature is targeted.
  • If neither of the above, all undead in the room are targeted, like 'turn all'.

The following special commands allow you to pick other behaviour:
  • 'turn on' tells your character to enable only the protective part of the skill.
  • 'turn off' tells your character to stop using the skill.
  • 'turn all' explicitly targets all undead in the room.

Note that the long term, protective part of the skill begins any time you use the skill. Once the undead are destroyed, you may need to use the 'turn off' command to stop using the protective part of the skill.

Higher cleric cast level enchancing the warding feature of turn undead, but it does not increase turn damage.

The amount of damage that turn undead does is strictly related to the difference in cleric level between the turner and the undead. Higher level undead will be more resistant, and a higher level cleric can turn much more powerful undead than a low level cleric.

Hold Undead

'Hold undead' is a powerful spell based off some of principles of turning. When successfully cast on a undead target, it will cause the victim to become immobilized and unable to move or fight for the duration of the spell. However, the effect can be dispelled, and any aggressive act against an effected undead will break the enchantment.

Sacred Touch

Also at the higher level cleric's disposal is the 'sacred touch' spell. When cast, it imbues the target with holy energy that unleashes massive damage when an undead opponent is struck.

'Sacred touch' requires a free hand to be used, and otherwise functions similarly to other charge spells such as 'shocking grasp' and 'sickening touch'.

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