Sunday, November 16, 2014

Oracular dice and the 1-hp orc

Well, here I am back at the ol' Flagon after another unscheduled anxiety and panic disorder-induced hiatus.  Nothing earth-shattering for my first post of November; just some musings on that tired old topic of what hit points mean.

A while back, there was a debate concerning orcs with 1 hit point, and how supposedly no orc warrior should have low hit points, because natural selection will favor the big, tough, 8-hp orcs.  I disagreed, for reasons that I couldn't really articulate, and so I held my silence on the matter, but now...

The assumption lurking in that analysis is that hit points are a permanent feature of a character or monster that describe inherent physical, mental, and spiritual qualities of that particular entity.  But D&D is a game of abstraction, and the dice are oracles that tell us things about the game - not only of the inherent physical qualities of the game world and its inhabitants, but dramatic and narrative properties of the emerging story as well. 

Well, what if hit points only exist when a creature is "on stage," that is, actively involved in an encounter?  That's implicitly the case in most campaigns, I think.  Events happen offstage, before adventures, after adventures, between adventures, and I've never in theory or in practice heard of DMs running these offstage events, rolling dice, tracking hit points, etc.  When the players hear a rumor that orcs decimated a mining village, nobody expects that the DM has previously statted up all the orcs and the villagers and run a combat to determine that this happened and how.  (And if you did: You have way too much time on your hands.) Hit points never even entered the equation.

Obviously, in most games, hit points are a permanent feature of player characters and major NPCs, and in such cases it's natural to expect that they represent inherent physical characteristics and skills, but if we can accept that a fighter's 14 hit points mean something different from a war horse's 14 hit points, then surely we can accept that hit points may have different meanings between the major characters of the campaign world and its no-name mooks?  (I'm given to understand that some DMs have players re-roll their characters' Hit Dice before each adventure, too; thus hit points are not necessarily permanent features of anyone or anything, but can represent all sorts of conditions that are not intrinsic to a character's body or mind.)

So.  Monster hit points may be rolled in advance and written into the dungeon key in anticipation of an encounter, or rolled on the spot as the encounter occurs, but they apply to the encounter at least as much as they do to the creature.  The orc with 1 hit point may be just as big and tough and nasty as any other orc, but by the oracular power of the dice, this orc is fated to make a lethal error the next time someone seriously threatens him in battle.  Maybe he'll zig when he should have zagged, or trip over a fallen weapon, or some other twist of ill fortune that has little to do with his genes or his muscles.  One hit point doesn't mean he's sickly, or that he'll die when he gets a splinter in his finger or turns an ankle.  One hit point means that when someone strikes him with a deadly weapon and intent to kill, it's not going to graze or nick him; it's going to strike true.  Our orc may have kicked all kinds of ass offstage.  He may have a necklace of the teeth of all the dwarves he's gutted, but the Polyhedral Powers of Providence have decreed that this orc's purpose in the game, in the chapter of the PCs' story in which he appears, is to serve as a glorious splatter when somebody hits him.

If the orc bucks the odds and survives his bout of bad luck (i.e. nobody hits him in combat and his side wins or escapes or surrenders) there's no reason why he necessarily has to have 1 hp if he should appear again.  Who's to say that the orc the party encounters later, who has 8 hp, isn't the 1 hp bastard who speared their henchman and bolted two weeks earlier?  (Nobody keeps track of mooks, so it likely doesn't matter anyway, but theoretically, why not?)

Ironically, the point of this post was to show, by completely overthinking things, that it's not necessary to overthink the roll of the dice.  You don't need to analyze what 1 hit point means for the genetic lineage of the orcish race, or try to weight the dice to produce superior orcs, or anything like that.  Just roll the bones, and let the pips tell the story.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A punny but useful spell

Sometimes a stray thought like this takes an inordinately strong hold on my mind, and there's nothing to be done but to write it out and post it, for your amusement/annoyance.

Magic Morsel (Magic-user, level 1)

Range: 120'
Duration: 1 turn

This spell creates a morsel of whatever food is most delectable to a chosen monster type within range.  The caster may cause the food to appear anywhere within the spell's range.  Non-intelligent monsters will always stop to eat the food, unless some other instinct is more pressing (e.g. the PCs are carrying off a mother bear's cub.)  Intelligent monsters will choose whether to stop for the food depending on the particular circumstances.  The food disappears after 1 turn.  It does not satisfy the creature's hunger or nutritional needs.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pondering an alternative combat system

For a while now, I've been mulling an idea that has its roots in Brendan's Necropraxis post on Monologic Combat with a sprinking of my own musings from way back on level-scaled combat.  Not sure I'll ever actually use it, but I thought I'd throw it out there for consideration and comment.

The gist of it is that when two creatures fight, instead of rolling for each to hit, only one roll is made, and there's a winner and a loser.  Regardless of the results of the roll, somebody's gonna get hurt.  The winner deals damage, and the loser takes damage.

Why this appeals to me:
  • Obviously, no wasted rounds.  No more double-whiffs when both sides fail their attack rolls.  Every round counts.
  • Instead of two fighters hacking at each other for a round, one of them gets a decisive upper hand during that round, and the other is put on the defensive, struggling just to survive.  Next round, fortunes might reverse.  This feels more natural to me, and more evocative, imparting a sense of ebb and flow rather than the toe-to-toe pitched battle depicted in standard combat.  
  • The winner-take-all results each round are dramatic and easy to narrate in a colorful and exciting way.  One fighter capitalizes on the other's mistake to claim the advantage.  A fighter battling a giant either dances away from the monster's attack and slips inside its defenses to stab at it, or is batted aside by the giant's mighty club. 
  • It feels clearer that an attack roll does not represent a single swing, but an entire round of maneuvers, thrusts, parries, wary circling, etc.
  • A fighter can hold his own in combat against a foe he can't hurt.  Say he's wielding an ordinary sword, and in melee against a wight.  Under standard rules, he makes his completely ineffectual attack and then waits for the wight to attack and hopes it doesn't hit him.  With this rule, he makes the single combat roll between the two of them, and if he wins, he holds the monster off.  That sounds a lot more interesting to me.
  • It merges offense and defense as a single function of a character's class and level, instead of the dichotomy of level-based offense against static defense.
The basis of the system is a simple stat I call Combat Rating (CR,) which is equal to the character or creature's bonus to attack (derived by subtracting its THAC0 from 20; for most monsters this is simply equal to Hit Dice) plus Dexterity modifier, plus the +1 modifier for a shield, if used.  If the character is unarmed, its CR is reduced by 2 points.  (A shield or a makeshift weapon negates this penalty, as do natural attack forms such as claws, teeth, horns, etc.)  When a character enters melee combat with an opponent, the player makes the combat die roll on 1d20, adding the character's Combat Rating and subtracting the opponent's CR.  On a total of 11 or higher, the PC wins.  On a 10 or lower, the opponent wins.  (Two evenly matched opponents would each have a 50% chance to win any given round.)  Winner rolls damage and applies it to the loser's hit points.  A natural 20 always goes to the PC, and a natural 1 always goes to the opponent.  Armor reduces damage: 1 point for light (leather or padded), 2 points for medium (mail or scale), 3 points for heavy (plate), to a minimum of 1 point. Strength bonuses do not apply to the combat roll, but do increase damage.

If a character or creature is meleed by more opponents than it has attacks, it chooses which to apply its attacks.  All others attack it with a -2 penalty to its CR - they are not threatened by its attacks, and so can attack more aggressively with relative impunity.  If they win, they inflict damage, but the defender inflicts no damage if it wins.  (Optional: the defender inflicts damage if its defense roll is a natural 20.)

Characters or creatures with multiple attacks can either concentrate them on a single opponent or spread them among several.  Attacks spread among several opponents are resolved normally.  If focused on one opponent, only one roll is made, as usual, and if it succeeds by a certain margin, the additional attacks succeed and score damage.  Say, if the adjusted roll is 16 or higher, a second damage die is rolled.  On a total score of 20, a third die, and at 23 a fourth.  The Damage Reduction from armor is applied to each damage roll.  (Reversed for monsters, so two attacks succeed on a roll of 5 or less, three on a 1, and four on an adjusted total of -2 or lower.)  Thus, an inferior opponent is less likely to deal extra damage to a superior one, and a superior one is more likely to deal extra damage to its inferior. Note that if the attacks are not concentrated on one opponent, no single opponent may be subjected to more than one.  If a creature with three attacks fights two opponents, it can either focus all three attacks on one of them, or use one on each and lose the third.

Monsters would do base damage based on the sum of all their attacks divided by the number of attacks.  For instance, a monster with three attacks capable of a maximum of 24 points per round would do damage of 1d8 or 2d4 per successful attack, even if in the rules-as-written it does a claw/claw/bite routine for 1d6/1d6/2d6.  Monsters' Damage Reduction would need to be deduced from the monster's AC and description; some might well have DR greater than 3.

Tactical options that work particularly well with this system include:

Set spear: Interposing a spear or other weapon with reach gains a +4 bonus to CR against a single opponent, if that opponent has not yet closed to melee.  The bonus applies until the opponent manages to make a successful attack, or until the spear-bearer lets his guard down.  A character with multiple attacks may maintain this guard against multiple opponents.

Reckless attack: The combatant using this tactic hurls itself at its opponent heedless of the other's attacks.  If it loses the roll by two points or less, then both combatants inflict damage on each other.  This tactic is often used by mindless undead, enraged or berserk creatures, creatures immune to the opponent's attack, heavily armored creatures, and those with a lot more hit points to spend than the opponent.

Guard: The combatant gains +2 to all combat rolls applying to it that round; if successful no damage is inflicted by either combatant.

Grapple: Instead of an armed attack, the combatant tries to grapple the opponent, and succeeds on a winning combat roll.  Losing one roll results in being grabbed, two is taken down, and three is pinned.  This could also be modified for climbing on huge opponents.
Surprise attack:  The target does not apply its CR to the combat roll and suffers a -2 penalty, and inflicts no damage if it wins the roll. 

Insubstantial attacker: An attacker able to ignore solid matter, such as a wraith, is unhindered by armor, and its damage is not reduced unless the armor is magical.  Additionally, unless the opponent has a weapon capable of harming it, the monster attacks as if the opponent were unarmed. May be combined with Reckless Attack.

Seizing momentum:  Winning two or more rounds consecutively gives the aggressor a +1 bonus to CR for each round after the first, to a maximum of +4. Resets when the defender wins a round, or when contact is broken or another combatant enters the fray on the defender's side.

It should also work well with Simple Combat Maneuvers.

One potential down side of this method is that, since normally only one combatant of a pair inflicts damage in a given round, fights tend to last a bit longer than they otherwise would.  This only gets worse at higher levels.  Equally matched opponents each have a 50% chance of dealing the other damage in each round, regardless of their levels.  A pair of 10th level fighters do no more damage to each other on average than a pair of 1st level fighters, but they have a lot more hit points.  In the rules as written they both hit each other more often, increasing their expected damage per round.  I'm not sure whether or not this amounts to a significant problem.  One possible solution is to flatten hit point totals for characters and monsters, to reflect the overall reduced damage potential. It might also be mitigated somewhat by making damage dice "explode" on a roll of max damage.

Another possible problem is magic armor. Since it no longer affects the chances to be hit, what does it do?  Increasing DR even a point or two is a lot more powerful than a similar bonus to AC.  One possibility is to make the magical bonus effective only against the pluses of magical weapons.  Armor +1 counters sword +1, but does not affect a normal sword.  Perhaps magical armor confers some protection from purely magical attacks such as spells or wands.  As suggested above, magical armor protects against the attacks of creatures that ignore non-magical armor.

There are probably still some kinks and bugs I haven't addressed, but that's the rough idea.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hit Dice modifiers: More useful than you (or TSR) thought

One of the conventions of D&D that I always found kind of weird and inexplicable is the practice of adding hit points to a creature's Hit Dice (or in very rare cases, subtracting them.)  An ogre, for instance, is listed in B/X as having 4+1 HD.  What exactly is the purpose of giving it one measly hit point more than the roll of the dice?  Meanwhile, the goblin gets 1-1 HD, want it to be a little weaker than the orc?  A few creatures get bigger modifiers, but even so, a bonus of 3 hp is pretty trivial to a troll with 6 HD.

Of course, a creature with a plus to its Hit Dice attacks on the next higher line of the combat matrix - in mathematical terms, it gets a +1 bonus to attack.  And creatures less than one full HD attack on a line below the 1 HD line - in effect, a -1 penalty to its attack rolls.

This is potentially a much more useful and game-changing application of HD adjustments than simply adding or subtracting a hit point or two from a monster's total, and one that the game's designers sadly failed to fully appreciate and develop. 

One thing D&D doesn't do very well is model the classic mismatch between size and coordination.  Fiction and real life are full of examples of big, tough people and creatures that are ponderous and awkward on the attack, and fragile speedsters who strike with uncanny precision but can't endure much of a beating themselves.   Hit Dice modifiers are a good way to stretch the system so that it can model that type of monster, though.  All we need to do is expand the rule a bit, so that instead of a flat +1 jump on the combat matrix for any addition to HD, you give a bonus or penalty equal to the modifier.  A creature with 4+3 HD thus attacks as a 7 HD monster, and one with 2-2 HD attacks as less than 1 HD.  This method gains you a little freedom from the direct correlation between monster size and toughness and its skill in battle, without having to add another statistic to a creature's stat block.

Say you want a massive, ponderous beast that can take a pounding before it keels over, but is slow and ungainly in its attacks. Give it a high base HD, with a hefty minus - say, 8-4 HD.  It still has a good pool of hit points - anywhere between 4 and 60, with an average of 32 - but it attacks with the same probabilities as a much weaker 4 HD monster. 

Or perhaps you want a small, nimble creature that slips past an opponent's defenses with lightning speed.  You could give it 1/2 +3 HD, for a total of 4 to 7 hp.  That's fairly fragile, but the thing attacks with the proficiency of a 3 HD monster (that's a THAC0 of 17 - as good as a 4th level fighter in B/X or BECMI.) You can take it out in one or two hits, but until you do, it's going to carve you up.

In this way, you can design big monsters suitable for low-level parties, and small monsters that can challenge more powerful parties, without having to make them much more fragile or durable than you want.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The tight spell lists of classic D&D

Magic is an integral - some would say indispensible - part of fantasy stories and fantasy role-playing games.  Sure, you can have a medieval game without magic, but it loses a significant element of the fantastic.  Even games that bar player characters from being spell-casters often do so not to expunge magic from the game entirely, but to keep it beyond the understanding of the players - to keep it wild and fantastic and fearsome.

I like magic in my game.  I like for the players to be able to choose to run spell-casting characters if they want to.  But I also like for magic to be magical - wild and fantastic and fearsome - as much as it can be without making it the province of DM and NPCs only.  That's why I like the tight spell lists of B/X and BECMI D&D - at least as a foundation upon which to build.

There is, it's true, a lot to like about the massive variety of spells in AD&D, as well as various supplements.  They can add a lot of flavor to the campaign milieu, and utility to characters, both PC and NPC.  They can serve this purpose without being added to the standard spell lists.

The tight lists of 12 magic-user spells and 8 cleric spells per spell level are the ones that are most commonly known.  Not every spell caster will know every spell, but most are at least aware of the existence of these spells.  If you don't know Phantasmal Force, you at least know that there is such a spell, and that with a little determination you can probably ferret out a source from which to learn it.  They're the magical meat and potatoes of the campaign.  They allow for a good diversity of functions, and the campaign will survive just fine on a steady diet of them.

Beyond those lists is the whole kitchen sink of spells, every one that's ever caught your eye in another rule set, or an adventure module or supplement, everything that you might devise from your own imagination, whatever you might fancy dropping into your current game world.  Rather than dumping them into the mix wholesale, you carefully pick and choose which ones fit, and where they'll be found. 

There could be any number of explanations why those non-list spells are so rare and obscure.  Perhaps the civilization that invented them fell and the knowledge was lost.  Perhaps they're leftover "beta" versions of common spells that fell out of favor with the discovery of new versions, with surprising bugs and maybe even a few forgotten utilities.  Maybe they were invented by wizards who keep their secrets close to the vest.  Maybe they're banned by the king, the church, or the mages' guild, for reasons ethical, spiritual, or commercial.  (The flimsiest pretense will do - look at the historical reasons in our real world for banning all kinds of things.)  Maybe they can be learned only by dangerous rituals or pilgrimages to sacred or magical sites, or by using ancient devices that project knowledge directly into the caster's mind. Some of them might even have inhuman origins, and can be learned only from dragons or fairies or demons or what-have-you; humans might be able to understand them well enough to memorize and cast them, but not well enough to teach them to another human.

These are the spells that you give judiciously to NPC opponents or allies to make them more menacing or mysterious.  These are the ones you place very rarely in treasure troves to get your spell-casting PCs excited.  These are the ones the players might hear about in rumors, motivating them to undertake expeditions and quests to obtain them.  These are the spells that might convey all sorts of interesting implications about the campaign world and its societies and history.  These are the spice that you add to the dish of meat and potatoes.  They're not essential, but a sprinkling of them adds interest and versatility. 

From a pragmatic perspective, a scheme consisting of a small staple list and a universe of supplemental stuff provides the ease and convenience of the former, while allowing you the freedom to tempt or bedevil your players with more exotic stuff as needed, and as suits the particulars of the campaign and the world in which it takes place.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dungeon mapping with

A few weeks back, I made it to the finals of the "So You Want to be an OSR Superstar" contest at Tenkar's Tavern, and was faced with the task of completing a map.  Normally I draw my maps by hand, with pencil and graph paper, old school style, but this time the map had to be in a format able to be submitted by email.  I don't have a scanner, so the most viable option was to draw the map in digital form right on the computer - a daunting prospect.  There was nothing to do but roll up my sleeves, figuratively speaking, and teach myself how to use image editing software to draw a serviceable dungeon map.  Along the way, I rediscovered the joy of mapping, and learned a few tricks, which I will now proceed to share in the form of this little tutorial.

I use, because it's free, and because it has a few features that are handy in drawing basic dungeon maps. If you don't already have it, get it here

Step 1: Find your background image, and open it with  I'm using a plain graph paper background for this project, but you could just as easily use a parchment or stone background, or whatever else appeals to you.  You could even use both a decorative background and a graph paper grid by layering the graph paper over the decorative background, and adjusting the Opacity setting on the graph paper layer so the layer underneath shows through it.

Pretty exciting so far, huh?
Step 2: Add more layers.  You'll see the Layers tab on top near the left side of the screen.  Click it and choose Add New Layer.  You'll want layers for rooms and corridors, dungeon details, room numbers, and optionally a path sketch of the dungeon.  This way, if you screw up something in one layer, you can erase it relatively easily without endangering the rest of your work.

Now, click on each layer in the small Layers window that will appear somewhere in the lower right of your screen.  Go back up to the Layers tab at the top of the screen, and select Layer Properties.  Here you can name your layers, which is important for keeping things straight.  You can also set the transparency of layers, which can be useful in just a bit...

Step 3 (optional):  On a blank layer, use the paintbrush tool (set at a size of about 4 or 5) to sketch out a rough path showing routes through the dungeon.  I find this to be a good way of laying things out in a rough sort of way, without being too concerned about perfection yet.  Once you do that, go back to the Layer Properties menu and turn the Opacity setting down, around 50 or so.  This makes the path grid lighter and less obtrusive when you go to draw your actual dungeon rooms and corridors.

Not the finest example of Jaquaying the dungeon, but you get the gist.

Step 4: Draw the rooms and corridors!  A line width of about 3 works well for this.  Make sure you activate your rooms and corridors layer before you start.  You can draw freehand with the paintbrush tool, draw straight lines with the line and curve tool (and drag the points on the line to stretch it into a curve), draw rectangles, ellipses, triangles, trapezoids, and more with the shape tool.  Rotate as desired using the arc-with-arrows icon that appears near the object.  Make sure you get the sizes right and the lines all lined up the way you want them.  After creating each element, you can grasp it by the four-way arrow that appears near the object and drag them around to place them just right.  Once you move on to the next thing, though, it's set in stone.  If you want to change it after that, you'll have to use Undo in the Edit menu.  If you do several things in between, you'll have to go back and Undo them sequentially to get to the one you really wanted to change, so it's worth getting it right the first time if you can.  Make sure all your lines meet with no gaps.

Most of the rooms here are drawn with the appropriate shape tool.  The rectangular rooms with one rounded side are drawn with the line tool, and the final wall is stretched into a curve by dragging the points on the still-selected line.

Don't worry that the doorways are blocked.  There's an eraser for that.

Step 5: Use the eraser tool to remove any superfluous lines.  Zoom in close to do the job right!  Use many clicks rather than holding down the mouse button the whole time.  If you mess up, you can Undo each click separately, without losing all your progress.

Step 6: Fill in the empty space.  Use the bucket fill tool, and select whatever texture pleases you from the Fill bar at the top of the screen.  I like Large Confetti for solid rock.  Click every null space between your rooms.  If the fill pattern spills into your rooms or corridors, Undo and zoom in to check for gaps in your lines.  Turning down the Tolerance slider next to the Fill bar will help to keep the fill from leaking through tiny gaps, too.

Step 7: Activate your path sketch layer (if you have one) and make it invisible by unchecking it.  Now activate the details layer, and add doors, statues, fountains, stairs, and whatever else your dungeon needs.  You can draw them individually, or open up another window and create icons - little rectangles for doors, circles with stars in them for statues, etc.  Crop as closely as you can around the icons.  Save them, then go to the folder where they're saved, find the one you want, right click and select Copy.  Go back to the screen with your map on it, and select Paste from the Edit menu.  Your icon should appear on the screen.  You'll probably need to resize it.  Once that's done, drag it to where you want it using the four-way arrow, and adjust the orientation if necessary by clicking and dragging on the arc with arrows that appears next to it.  Now, while it's still selected, go to the Edit menu and click on Copy.  Now click Paste, and you've created an exact duplicate of your icon, which you can drag and reorient to use in another location.  Keep doing this to make all your doors, statues, and such uniform in size and shape.  Make sure you get all the items of one type placed before you move on to the next one. 

Use the brush tool with a width of 1 to draw stairs, daises, and similar details.  Use single dabs of the brush with a wide setting for pillars.

Use the text tool for secret doors.  Click near the place the door belongs and make an S, then drag it into position.  For horizontally oriented secret doors, rotate the map clockwise 90 degrees using the Image menu, place your S, then rotate it back 90 degrees counterclockwise.

Step 8: Activate the room numbers layer.  Click on each room, type the room number, and drag the number where you want it in the room.

Step 9: On the file menu, select Save As.  Name your map, and choose a format other than .pdn, such as jpeg or png.  The program will ask you if you want to flatten the layers down into one.  Do so.  Your map is now ready for printing!

If you want to save before finishing the map, use the program's native .pdn format, which preserves the layers.

Just add monsters and treasure.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What else can the cleric do with Turn Undead?

During my overhaul of the B/X cleric spell lists, I noticed some gaps, things that I didn't care to address with new spells (or importing old ones) but that clerics ought to be able to do.  Most of them involve the dead or undead.  As it turns out, they're rather elegantly addressed by creative applications of the Turn Undead ability.

Animate Dead:  B/X has an Animate Dead spell on the magic-user lists, but no spell for making animated skeletons and zombies is present in the cleric lists.  While such a spell did make it into the BECMI edition of classic D&D, it seems suited primarily for evil clerics.  Generally, the "evil" versions of cleric spells are the reversed versions, but this one is neither "good" or "neutral" in its standard form, nor does it have a reversed version, making it a bit of an oddball. 

Instead, let's make it a reversed Turning roll.  Turn skeletons to animate skeletons, and turn zombies to animate corpses with the flesh still on the bones.  Number of Hit Dice of undead created is equal to the Hit Dice that would be turned by a standard turning roll.  The Mentzer edition Animate Dead spell includes guidelines for animating corpses larger than human.  When using a Turn roll to animate larger bodies or skeletons, just roll against the type of undead that has a similar number of Hit Dice.  A skeleton has the same HD as the creature did in life, while a zombie has one more HD.

Obviously, moderate to high level clerics are certain to succeed at the attempt.  The real limiting factors are the availability of suitable corpses - those complete enough to function effectively when animated, but not barred from reanimating by Last Rites (see below) - and the cleric's willingness to animate undead in numbers beyond his or her ability to directly control them (see below.)

Last Rites:  One of the cleric's primary duties is to perform last rites over the dead, that they may rest in peace.  In game terms, that means rendering the corpses and spirits of the deceased unable to be animated or otherwise return as undead.  A roll that will turn zombies prevents a body from being animated by the Animate Dead ability.  When a character is slain by an undead that causes its victims to rise as undead of the same type, a successful Turn roll against that type before the dead person rises will prevent it.  If desired, this roll may be made by the DM in secret, and success is only apparent when the corpse or spirit fails to rise again.

Summon Undead:  Sometimes a cleric may want to summon undead creatures.  In that case, make a Turn roll, and consult the notes for the location.  If undead are present, compare the roll to the undead type.  A successul roll means that a number of Hit Dice of undead equal to the number normally turned are drawn to the cleric's call.  The cleric may try to call for a specific type of undead, or even a specific individual.  Intelligent and unwilling undead may make a saving throw vs. spells to ignore the summons.  May also be used for seances and similar rituals.

Control Undead:  Evil or necromantically-inclined clerics may wish to control the undead created or summoned.  A successful Turn roll can be used to control a number of HD of undead equal to the number normally turned.  That's all the undead the cleric can actually control at once.  If more are created or summoned, the excess undead remain uncontrolled.

Raise Dead:  The cleric can attempt to summon the spirit of a deceased person back to reinhabit its body.  The body must be relatively intact.  The roll is made vs. a vampire; if the turning roll fails, the resurrection goes horribly wrong, and the person rises as a vampire.  Note that the roll is made even if the table indicates a T or D result, and a natural roll of 2 always fails.  Because of this dire risk, most good churches frown upon the raising of the dead.