The #turn (turn undead) extended command allows Knights, Priests, and Undead Slayers to frighten, and possibly even destroy or pacify, nearby undead creatures by calling upon the power of their deity.
Only those three roles can use this ability. Members of other roles using the command will attempt to cast the turn undead spell if they know it, or else be told, "You don't know how to turn undead!".
The name comes from Dungeons and Dragons, where it is a specific supernatural ability for causing undead beings to turn and flee. There are some unfortunate linguistic ambiguities associated with it in NetHack; for instance, the #turn command has the description "Turn undead", which might make a beginning player assume that it causes their character to become an undead creature!
Using the #turn command has the following effects:
- Exercises wisdom.
- Turns all hostile undead monsters that you can see with a base range of 5 squares. Range increases by 1 square every 5 levels. If your level is higher than 15, hostile demons are turned as well. Affected monsters have a chance to resist.
- These monsters are woken if they are sleeping.
- If you are lawful or neutral, certain classes of undead monsters may be killed instantly. If you are chaotic, they may become peaceful. These monsters are, in increasing order of difficulty: zombie, mummy, wraith, vampire, ghost, lich.
- Demons and those undead who are not killed will flee. If you are confused, the command removes fleeing and paralysis effects from those monsters instead.
- You become helpless for 5 turns while you are praying. (Ouch!)
- Breaks atheist conduct
Turning will not work correctly in the following circumstances:
- If you are polymorphed into an undead or a demon, and your god is not chaotic, you abuse wisdom and aggravate monsters.
- If your god is extremely angry with you, you abuse wisdom and aggravate monsters.
- If you are in Gehennom, your god is inaccessible. Instead, you aggravate monsters.
- If you are confused, you will waken and unparalyze all monsters you would otherwise have turned. (You will still be helpless for 5 turns.)
If you are high enough level, turned undead monsters must make a second resistance check or be destroyed instantly (turned peaceful if you are chaotic).
(It is thus theoretically possible to instantaneously destroy an arch-lich by #turning, if you are at least level 16 and beat its MR of 90 in two sequential rolls.)
The #turn command's helplessness side-effect limits this ability's usefulness, especially since it's only likely to kill undead less powerful than yourself. Use with caution. It would probably clear a graveyard pretty fast if you're high enough level, though.