I'm planning a NPC for a campaign I'm getting ready to run. The NPC is a paladin who was killed and returned as a revenant. Within the revenant description they mention that some revenants can keep spells or proficiencies from when they were alive. If I declare that my revenant retained his ability to turn undead, is there any consequences of him casting it on other undead?

My thoughts are:

  • he retains the ability to turn undead, as would be typical for a paladin of the level and stats he had.
  • however, if anyone else casts turn undead, he could be turned as well.

I guess I'm just looking for feedback on this idea for a NPC. I know I'm tweaking the typical revenant template, and wondered if anyone saw any pitfalls I should be aware of.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Why is the NPC coming back as a revenant? Were they sent back by their own god (whence they derive their powers over undead), or did they come back in some other way, possibly against their god's preference? The opinion of the god about the NPC being undead is likely relevant. :) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 27, 2015 at 19:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ The assumption in some comments that a Paladin is good is wrong for 5th edition. There is no alignment restriction for any class. A Lawful-Evil Paladin is perfectly acceptable (NE & CE a little harder to justify but not prohibited). \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Jun 28, 2015 at 23:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie, since the Party is essentially being asked by the NPC's god to save the NPC from himself, it would be against the God's preference. \$\endgroup\$
    – mklauber
    Jun 29, 2015 at 17:10

3 Answers 3


One option would be to change the character's subclass to Oathbreaker from the DMG pp.97, which seems to be tailored to a situation like this.

An Oathbreaker is a paladin who breaks his or her sacred oaths to pursue some dark ambition or serve an evil power.

The paladin replaces the features specific to his or her Sacred Oath with Oathbreaker features.

Rather than turning undead, the Oathbreaker has the ability to control undead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a good frame challenge/alternative answer. If the paladin has become undead it could be his powers have become corrupted as well. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jason_c_o
    Jun 27, 2015 at 16:41

Well, there's certainly nothing stopping you from letting him keep his Turn Undead ability. When you design an NPC, you can do whatever you want with it, and the revenant is meant to be customizable to give it some more character than your regular zombies. With that said, this is going to get weird. Here's why:

Each undead that can see or hear you within 30 feet of you must make a Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails its saving throw, it is turned for 1 minute or until it takes any damage.

From here on out, I'll refer to your NPC as you (like the ability does) to keep the grammar simple.

You are obviously within 30 feet of yourself, and you can definitely see and hear yourself. So unless you wear a blindfold and earplugs, you are going to affect yourself when you Turn Undead. So there's that. It's pretty weird, but unless you houserule that you can't turn yourself, it's going to get weirder, because:

A turned creature must spend its turns trying to move as far away from you as it can, and it can’t willingly move to a space within 30 feet of you.

So when you turn yourself, you have to spend all your time trying to run away from yourself. At this point, logic breaks down. You have to run away from yourself, but you can't move to a square within 30 feet of yourself. How this works out in actual play I have no idea. I'd guess that you either start running around like a headless chicken or you just stand still.

The nonsensical results this creates suggests that whoever wrote Turn Undead had no intention of any undead having this ability. Therefore, I strongly recommend, if you want to let this NPC keep Turn Undead, that you houserule that you can't affect yourself with Turn Undead.

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    \$\begingroup\$ ...unless of course, you want to go for the ironical result where a former paladin can still use his original powers but is hurt by them as well. This could be the case in a humorous campaign, or if the link to the paladin's god still persists, who could allow the paladin to perform good deeds such as turning undead, while reminding him of what he has become. This could be of value if there is some way for the character to return to what it was. \$\endgroup\$
    – Peter S.
    Jun 27, 2015 at 15:07

Revenants have the special trait "Turn Immunity":

Turn Immunity. The revenant is immune to effects that turn undead.

A Revenant Paladin could use their turn undead ability without being affected.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Hi Todd, and welcome to RPG Stack Exchange. Check out our tour to see how we work here. Note we're a Q&A site and not a discussion forum so we don't have "threads"; I've revised your accordingly. Also, since you've reached 20 rep, you'll be able to join us in Role-playing Games Chat. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 1, 2018 at 9:38

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