Coming to you live once again from my homebrew campaign world, I thought I'd share something of how Clerics, especially Clerics of my current favorite Order, handle "Turning" undead and Evil.
I've said several times that I model much of these Clerics activities in regard to godly abilities and working of miracles both minor and major based on the Jesuit Order. I combine that with the active warrior activity of the Knights Templar and largly, those are my Clerics.
On the battlefield, there isn't much miracle working going on, at least from the combatants. There's a time for getting down and dirty and there's a time for getting your magic on. Not very often do the two actively happen at the same time from the same Cleric.
My Clerics, battlefield mindset aside, naturally are inclined to be in a support role while going through ruins and castles and woods, oh my. When I say "support", I'm not just talking about being a walking band-aid. Healing is a matter of necessity and direction and approval by the deity. Just because a party companion wants to be healed doesn't mean it is a given that it will happen.
The Cleric has, in their mind, more important things to consider and use their limited resources on. Like keeping the supernatural and Evil at bay.
One of the first things that always comes to my mind in the topic of turning is the image of Father Damien or Father Merrin squaring off against the entity and commanding them in booming, confident terms, "The power of God compels you, The power of Jesus compels you, the power of the Hosts compels you to BEGONE!"
That there is a serious and straightforward act of Turning. Exorcism is a ritual, it takes preparation and it includes the action of Turning as a component. However, Turning in and of itself is not a ritual, it is a specific action. I always refer back to my assertion that a Clerics greatest weapon, that which allows them to increase levels, to gain strength and power in the working of their miracles is the combination of their Faith, Devotion and Piety (FDP).
One of my characters used in a storyline recently is of a church and order loosley based on the judeo-christian religion, with some loose license taken to make it more fantasy than realistic. I can see him in my minds eye, entering a building in which he is confronted by four zombies and a necromancer. The zombies approach him as his adventuring companions spread out to either side of him and assume fighting positions.
He very dramatically and emphatically makes the sign of his Holy Symbol in the air directly between himself and the zombies and declares loudly, "The might of Yahweh and the assembled Hosts commands you to Be Gone!".
The room is lit as if lightening has struck inside the area and the four zombies will not come anywhere near the Cleric or those immediately near him. In fact, they are doing everything they can to leave the area entirely much to the dismay and consternation of tha Necromancer who seems to, at least temporarily, lost control of his monsters.
There wasn't even a chance that it would fail (he is a 4th level Cleric after all.) Now, had they been Ghouls, there would have been a slight chance that the turning would not have worked but depending on the Cleric-in-question's FDP score, they might have not had a chance either as I give a bonus of up to the Cleric's level. So a level 4 Cleric could have as much as a +4 bonus of effectiveness if he/she was extemely Faithful, Devout and Pious. Only the lowest FDP score would result in no bonus at all and essentially having the lowest FDP score would practically ensure that if there were a chance of failure, it would pretty much be a given as having the lowest FDP score is like always rolling a "1" on a To Hit d20.
Hey Clerics, want to be effective at working your magic/miracles? Then get your act together and prove yourself each and every day. The deities don't typically much cotton to slackers.
Had the above Cleric been 6th level, then the zombies would have just decomposed and been destroyed at the action without him even breaking a sweat. NEXT! That Necromancer is probably having some serious second thoughts right about that time.
I have talked with a lot of people who don't really get "into" Clerics as PC's. On paper, they seem to be rather dull and unimpressive. I say it is because to really be effective and exciting, it is a character that needs a full-on role playing game being run and not a Hack & Slash by the numbers kind of game.It also requires a DM with some imagination and not a slave to the provided, prepared material, tables and dice.
Personally, Clerics and Druids are my absolute favorite PC's to play because of their roles of being the direct intercessors between the Material World and the world of the Evil and Supernatural.