Friday, March 4, 2016

Dice Mechanics For Morale And Loyalty In OD&D and Classic D&D

Continuing on with an idea I had for more simple dice mechanics, begun back in the Simple Dice Mechanics for Reaction Rolls post, I have come up with a system loosely based upon the one provided for troops in Swords & Spells for OD&D. You can see pages 19-20 of the aforementioned OD&D supplement to see my inspiration for this system.
For those of us who are avid Swords & Wizardry enthusiasts, +Matt Finch presents us with this in the complete rulebook, with regards to morale:
Certain monsters, such as mindless or undead creatures, are fearless and always fight to the death. The majority, however, will not continue to fight a hopeless battle; they will seek to retreat, flee, or surrender. The Referee decides when monsters abandon the battle and retreat, based on the situation and the monsters’ intelligence. Keep in mind that the party’s own non-player-character allies might decide to flee if their prospects of survival look grim."
It's up to the referee. I love it. I love the simplicity. HOWEVER (yeah, you knew that was coming,) just like with the reaction rolls, sometimes I like things random. Sometimes I want the same surprise that my players get. I also don't always want to make every decision  for every creature that the players encounter. I have always used a relatively arbitrary 2d6 roll, based upon conditions, kept in my head for morale. That said, I've been feeling like it's time for a change. I've toyed with a few things, but re-reading the actual OD&D rules, including Swords & Spells, I was inspired to create what follows. Bear in mind, these rules will apply to henchmen, hirelings and troops used by the PCs just as much as they apply to enemies!
Rules! We've Got Some Rules Around Here!
I. Situational Examples For Rolling Morale Checks
In Combat
  • Creature(s) drop below 50% HP
  • "Leader" of group is slain/unconscious
  • When opposed by superior magic
  • When drastically outnumbered/out "gunned"
  • "Elite" allies are slain or withdrawing from combat
  • When the tide of battle turns against the creature(s)
Out of Combat (in the case of henchmen, hirelings and pack animals, this may result in desertion of the PCs)
  • Creature(s) not being paid/cared for properly (including any abuse)
  • Inclement conditions (anything from trap ridden dungeons to extreme weather)
  • Consistent encounters with "otherworldly," eldritch or otherwise out of the ordinary creatures (ex. common men at arms encountering undead or demons for the first time, or consistently)
  • Exposed to taboo locale, creature, power etc.
II. The Morale Check
When a morale check is made, roll 1d20 comparing the result to the following tables. If the result is equal to, or lower than the desired number, the check is a success. If it is higher, then the creature(s) fail the morale check and attempt to flee, in combat, or desert the situation if outside of combat.
Base Morale Check
Creature's HD            Check
Below 1                         5
1 - 2                               6
2+ - 3                             7
3+ - 4                             8
4+ - 5                             9
5+ - 6                             10
6+ - 7                             11
7+ - 8                             12
8+ - 9                             13
9+ - 10                           14
10+ - 11                         15
11+ - 12                         16
12+ - 13                         17
13+ - 14                         18
14+ & Higher                19
NOTE - There is always a chance of failure, except in extreme cases as determined by the Referee. If any modifiers raise morale to 20 or above, on a roll of 20 a second roll is made. If the second roll also results in a 20 the roll is failed.
Morale Bonuses (all applicable bonuses are added to the Base Morale Check)
Loyalty Rating 13 - 17   +1*
Loyalty Rating 18          +2*
Leader CHA 13+            +1*
Strong Resolve (Dwarf,  +1
Human etc.)
Superior Resolve (Elf,    +2
fanatic etc.)
Rallied (via a leader's     +1 - +3 Referee's discretion
speech, bard's tale etc.
Well cared for/rested**  +1
Trained for situation       +1
Paladin present applies   +3
to lawful only
Advantage (winning       +1 - +3 Dependent upon scale of advantage
battle etc.)

Morale Penalties (all applicable penalties are subtracted from the Base Morale Check)

Loyalty Rating 4-7         -1*
Loyalty Rating 3-           -2*
Leader CHA  7-             -1*
Weak Resolve (weak     -1
goblinoids etc.)
Inferior Resolve (gob-    -2
linoids fighting in day-
light etc.)
Leader flees                    -1
Leader slain                    -2
Shaken                            -1 - -3 Referee's discretion
Ill cared for/tired**        -1
Untrained in situation    -1
Disadvantage (losing     -1 - -3 Dependent upon scale of disadvantage
battle, wounded etc.)   

* -These bonuses and penalties do not stack. Use the best possible bonus/penalty applicable.
** -cumulative over time

Loyalty Ratings

When a henchman, hireling or military unit is acquired a roll will be made to determine how loyal they will be to the PC. This is done the in the same manner that attribute scores are determined. Rolling 3d6.

This can also be done, if needed for the loyalty that an army, unit etc. has toward it's leader. An example might be that the PCs want to hire away some of a local merchant's guards. A roll should be made to determine how loyal the NPCs are to their "leader" and a morale check should be made based upon this with modifiers based upon the PC's CHA and what the PC is offering.

Similarly loyalty ratings can be applied to ideals, jobs etc. where NPCs are concerned, if the referee wants a random factor added to a situation. How much do these guards really care if the treasure they are guarding in route to the castle comes up light when they arrive? Is this thief really dedicated to his guild, or will he give up secrets signs and passwords for the right price?

Loyalty Rating Modifiers (all applicable modifiers used to adjust the loyalty rating)

Same race as Leader/Master   +1
Same alignment                      +2
Same religion                          +1
Leader CHA 13+                    +1
Common goal/aspiration        +1
Leader/Objective reputable    +1
Leader/Objective deplorable  -1
Opposite alignment                -3
Opposed religion                    -3
Leader CHA 7-                      -1
Opposed goal/aspiration        -1

There you go. I hope that this is helpful.