As promised, here’s the “director’s commentary” for the No Turning article in Dragon #353.
Here are three interesting variants that were cut for lack of space. Each is a variant form of cleric who trades their Turn Undead ability at level 1 for some other class ability. Naturally, ask your DM before taking one of these. Remember too that Turn Undead means you can’t take any Divine feats powered by turning attempts - things like fire domain turning attempts don’t let you power Divine feats. If you’re a DM running a cleric NPC, you might give them one of these abilities since they probably aren’t going to use their turning or rebuking ability.
You profess to a strong belief that flies in the face of the traditions of your religion. For example, you might believe that Pelor wants his clerics in one nation to wage a war, or that a certain aspect of Nerull is actually good rather than evil. Level: 1st. Replaces: Turn or rebuke undead. Benefit: You may pick one of your domains as one that isn’t usually on your deity’s list. Your unusually strong faith in this aspect grants you +1 caster level to that domain’s spells. Additionally, your alignment need no longer be within one step of your deity’s in order to retain your class abilities, but your alignment must not directly oppose your deity’s (such as a neutral good cleric of a neutral evil deity). For example, a chaotic neutral heretic of Pelor might pick War as one of his domains, while a chaotic neutral heretic of Nerull might choose Good and Trickery. Suggested deities: Any.
Hunter of the Hated
A devout follower of your race’s deity, you are sworn to fight your racial enemy. Level: 1st. Replaces: Turn or rebuke undead. Benefit: You gain a +1 racial bonus to attack and damage against a race or creature that your deity hates, such as orcs for Moradin or kobolds for Garl Glittergold. If you already gain a racial bonus against such creatures, it stacks with this one. If your deity has multiple favoured enemies, you must choose which one it applies to when picking this ability. Suggested deities: Bahamut, Corellon Larethian, Garl Glittergold, Gruumsh, Kurtulmak, Moradin, Tiamat.
Many faithful followers claim that they would die for their deity. You already have, once. Level: 1st. Replaces: Turn or rebuke undead. Benefit: Any time you fail a save versus a death effect, you may reroll the save once. Special: You must have died once and been restored to life in order to choose this ability. You can either write this as part of your character’s backstory when creating him, or trade an existing character’s Turn Undead ability for this ability upon being raised from the dead. Suggested deities: Any.
I’m a little surprised that my editor thinks that clerics of Moradin and Yondalla are likely to seek converts from other races, and that Elhonna and Garl Glittergold inspire murderous fanatics. That, and I’m worried that Fanatic will be too popular since it gives true strike to a non-arcane heavy combatant class - initially I gave them the assassin’s Poison Use, which has appropriately evil connotations and is less of a must-have for players.
It always struck me as odd that every cleric in third edition had the ability to turn or rebuke undead. It makes sense for the priests of Pelor, but would the servants of Moradin or Obad-Hai necessarily be trained in this ability? Perhaps the mystics of Wee Jas or the sages of Boccob learn to channel divine energy in different ways in order to better serve their respective deities.
I’m pleased to discover that Issue #353 of Dragon magazine features my article which does just that, No Turning. It’s a list of variant cleric abilities that you can choose by trading in your Turn Undead, typically granting a bonus to a relevant skill, a special ability and a cool title like ‘Cultist’, ‘Justicar’ or ‘Warrior Priest’ (because, lets face it, ‘cleric’ is a little generic). A few didn’t make it for space reasons - I don’t have the original article to hand, but the interesting Martyr and Heretic variants were cut from the article. I’ll post them here later on.
I’d be quite interested to see if anyone uses these variants in their own character, or better yet, an official published adventure.