Friday, March 18, 2016

Morale Continued

From the previous post, I started talking about the morale system as expressed in the BECMI book (via noism's posts on the subject).  I concluded with saying that I wanted a morale system that drove behavior, as per the BECMI system, but made more specific, without going to noism's extremes: rules that use the morale system to create whole encounters.

I trust myself to generate motivations and settings for encounters when they happen.  But beat-by-beat morale is a much harder nut to crack.

Alexis Smolensk recently had a post talking about his morale rules.  I highly recommend you read his rules on the wiki and then his discussion about his recent revelation regarding them.

If you didn't, morale in Alexis' world governs the behavior of the NPCs allied with the party (hirelings, followers, retainers, etc.) - each is assigned a morale value which can be improved or worsened through the behaviors of the party.  It is an excellent system for modelling long-term relationships between the party and their NPC associates.  A morale score, in this sense, represents the degree to which the associated NPC 'buys into' the PCs' goal and methodology.  Another way of putting this would be their faith in the party - good leadership and respecting the NPCs will raise the score, whereas shitty management, disrespecting, and disregarding the NPCs will lower it (and prompt morale checks for all hired help to see if they decide to subvert the PCs or not).

However, this system also isn't what I want.  What I want from a morale system is a simple mechanic (preferably no more than one or two die rolls) that will tell me the mood of a group of NPCs.

I might want a breakdown of moods as follows:


Rather than using 2d6 to determine the mood, each creature have a default state - bandits will usually be dominating, goblins submitting, etc.  Now, depending upon the situation, this state might escalate or deescalate - if the NPCs are roughly equal in number (within ~5%), nothing will change.  If they are larger (perhaps by 150%), then their status is improved by one, doubled in size increases morale by another step, then quadruple the party's size, and so on, while being 75% of the party's size will reduce it by one, 50% by two, 25% by three, and so on.

Lastly, the actions taken during the encounter will impact morale.  The first (and probably most relevant one) is that if the party surprises the NPCs - my party is fond of pulling out wands of lightning, which are a fairly rare commodity in the rest of the world.  These are tools that produce a very visible magical effect while also decimating clumped opponents.  If the NPCs are not expecting this, they will be shaken and lose morale.  Likewise, a counter-ambush will also make the NPCs lose morale.  If the party proves to be especially combat effective (i.e. the NPCs take more than acceptable losses, perhaps 20% of their total number) without the party losing a member, this will make the NPCs reconsider their position and lose morale.  Lastly, if the NPCs have a leader, losing that leader will make morale drop twice.

I'll have to use this to see if it works the way I want it to - I may need to insert in a couple more states above and below Neutral, but I think this will give me the tool I want.

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