A typical level 1 cleric—whether that's the cleric's character level or class level—can only turn or rebuke an undead creature that possesses a maximum of 5 Hit Dice. This number of Hit Dice can be increased by bonuses to the cleric's effective cleric level for turning undead, like with the ephod of authority (Magic Item Compendium 215) (800 gp; 2 lbs.), the magic armor or shield special ability sacred (Book of Exalted Deeds 112) (+2 bonus; 0 lbs.), or the phylactery of undead turning (Dungeon Master's Guide 264) (11,000 gp; 0 lbs.). (These game elements provide a +1, +2, and +3 bonus to effective cleric level for turning undead, respectively, so as to increase the HD of undead a cleric can affect to a potential maximum of the cleric's level +6, +7, or +8… or +11 in combination.)

However, that same cleric can have a domain that provides as its granted ability the supernatural ability to turn or rebuke other kinds of creatures, like creatures possessing the subtypes water and fire via the domain Fire (Player's Handbook 187) or the type construct via the domain Warforged (Faiths of Eberron 105) or the type ooze via the domain Ooze (Fiendish Compendium I 89–90) et al.

What game elements besides the disappointing feat Improved Turning (PH 96)—that, by the way, can be taken but once—, if any, allow a low-level cleric to turn or rebuke higher Hit Dice nonundead creatures in a fashion similar to the magic items above?

Note: My original thought was to use the feat Combine Turning from the Ghostwalk Web enhancement (5), but that feat, while still pretty boss, affects only the turning check and turning damage not effective cleric level. The feat Heighten Turning from Libris Mortis (27) comes close except that for a level 1 cleric, +1 effective cleric level may be the limit. (That is, the benefit of the feat Heightened Turning seems to be worded in a way similar to the PH feat Power Attack (98) in that it doesn't matter how high the effective cleric level (or, for the feat Power Attack, attack bonus), what matters is the actual cleric level (or base attack bonus)), but I'm willing to entertain a good argument in that feat's favor, perhaps in conjunction with the Combine Turning feat. The LM feat Empower Turning, by the way, is no help here at all.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there anything specific you’re trying to do with this? I have an answer, but it’s pretty situational. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin-freeMonica Kamal is my PC is an E6 fantasy characters-go-to-contemporary earth campaign. He has 1 level of shaman and took the domains Nature so that he can rebuke animals and plants and Celestial so that he can rebuke spirits. He's never taking another level of shaman and wants to awe and command higher HD foes. So the specific thing that he wants to do with the ability is the general thing? Does that make sense? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 13:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ it makes sense. It also means “hand them negative levels” is not a good answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – fectin
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @fectin-freeMonica Yeah, negative levels aren't really an option for my PC. :-) I appreciate the thought, though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 14:44
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Complete Champion has Special Holy Symbols (page 133) which grant certain bonuses. One of them (Moradin's Forge) increases your effective caster level by 1 when used to turn or rebuke air creatures. - Probably not much help, so just as a side note. I'm a little late here anyway :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Commented May 20, 2020 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


Complete Champion introduces Special Holy Symbols (CC, 133) which, apart from functioning as holy symbols, grant certain „+1 bonuses“.

One of them, Moradin’s Forge, increases the effective caster level by 1 when used to turn or rebuke air creatures.

The Special Holy Symbols presented in CC are all tied to one of the core D&D deities, but it is made clear that they should be seen as examples and DMs are encouraged to adapt them to similar deities or beliefs of their individual campaign worlds. It is also proposed (in a sidebar text) to allow domain-focused special holy symbols reflecting nature-oriented beliefs rather than beliefs in a specific deity.

So, it should be fully appropriate to create a special holy symbol granting a +1 bonus to caster level in respect to any one alternate turning ability of a cleric.

Although a +1 increase is not much, the price of a special holy symbol is only 350 gp – so it is easily affordable even at first level.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Upvote as promised. I'll let this sit for a day or two before accepting it to see if the bump leads to any other answers. Given its age I doubt that'll happen, but even if it does, thank you. \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 24, 2020 at 15:32

At low levels, it appears there aren't any tools that would allow increasing the cleric level for either turning or rebuking non-undead creatures. Anything that would grant bonuses for those tests is scarce. Apart from the feats mentioned by you, I found only 2 spells, both from Complete Champion.

Light of Faith spell, is a second level spell, which grants the cleric a sacred bonus equal to one-half of their divine caster level, on the next turning check. It's not strictly tied with undead only.

Only starting from 5th level, clerics may cast Light of Wisdom, a 3rd level spell, that increases effective turning level by 1 per three caster levels.

It might be a balance issue. Domains and feats allow to either turn or rebuke many different types of common enemies, like animals, plants, spiders, and reptilians. In such case, most of the low-level encounters could result in enemies running away and player characters shooting them at a distance or a bunch of enslaved creatures.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unfortunately, the spell light of faith doesn't help: the character—using the Combine Turning feat—can already max out the turning check. (See the question's note.) What the character needs is to count as a higher-level cleric so he can affect more than 5 Hit Dice (as he's a level 1 cleric). Thank you, though! \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 11, 2019 at 7:36

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