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In our fourth edition campaign we have a cleric trying to partially use Turn Undead against an undead character.

Disregarding whether this constitutes a use of power, can the cleric intentionally reduce the amount of damage Turn Undead does, both in terms of fluff and game mechanics?

If not, can the cleric instead choose to do the minimum damage?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you asking for rules as written, or are you asking DMs if they would generally allow it? \$\endgroup\$ – IchabodE Dec 19 '14 at 1:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MBurke "both in terms of fluff and game mechanics" so I guess the answer to your question is both. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Dec 19 '14 at 4:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ In terms of fluff, I would think the cleric's deity would have an issue with this... \$\endgroup\$ – Sandalfoot Dec 19 '14 at 19:36
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In terms of the Rules, no. Powers do what they do and cannot be voluntarily lowered, as there are no rules anywhere that allow it.

Torturing an undead creature would be most likely be a Skill Challenge, but the ability to channel Divine Power would (for me, at least) definately be worth a +2 circumstance bonus on all checks and primary skills would include both Intimidate and Religion (representing the knowledge of how to scare things and knowledge of the weaknesses of the undead)

Using Turn Undead as a raw power to torture things would be a terrible idea in general, it'd be like torturing a person by shooting them with a gun. Aiming for a non-vital area isn't going to help much. It´s still going to be a very short session.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes I expect it will, I was wondering whether to allow them to try. (I figure as a very low level cleric they aren't necessarily aware of exactly how powers can be exploited anyway! A skill challenge seems like a good way to resolve this. \$\endgroup\$ – Landerah Dec 19 '14 at 12:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is there any specific rule, that states you cannot voluntarily reduce damage from your powers? \$\endgroup\$ – DM Nailz Dec 19 '14 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not that I am aware of. But there are also no rules that specifically say you can, only rules that say that powers do what they do. Since the rules say that a power deals X damage and no rule says it can deal less than X damage, there's no reason to assume you could decide to make it less. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Dec 19 '14 at 13:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that the +2 circumstance bonus is the cleric "partially using turn undead" from a flavor point of view. It just happens to use different mechanics. \$\endgroup\$ – AceCalhoon Dec 19 '14 at 14:12
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There's no such thing as "partially using" a power.

That said, all damage in 4e can explicitly be non-lethal, at the attacker's discretion. From the PHB pg. 295:

When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points or fewer, you can choose to knock it unconscious rather than kill it. Until it regains hit points, the creature is unconscious but not dying. Any healing makes the creature conscious. If the creature doesn’t receive any healing, it is restored to 1 hit point and becomes conscious after a short rest.

This could be utilized to torture any creature (undead or otherwise) using any power, but isn't always efficient, as every time you knock something unconscious it will take it 5 minutes to recover unless you have/are willing to use a healing power on it that neither costs a healing surge nor restricts targeting to "allies".

So the answer is no, the cleric cannot intentionally reduce the amount of damage done in any way, or intentionally roll minimum (and the dice portion of the damage will lose much of its meaning by mid-paragon anyway), however the cleric can choose not to kill the target with the damage dealt, which can be fluffed however you/he want it to be fluffed, as fluff is explicitly entirely discretionary in 4e.

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