Saturday, July 18, 2009

Morale rules for T&T

In his post on Grognardia yesterday, James wrote about the morale rules he uses in Dwimmermount. I made me remember fondly the simple and effective rules that grace the Basic/Expert D&D. Just like I said in my comment on Grognardia, I consider morale rules to be a very sensible rule that makes us remember that we don't need to resort to murder and mayhem. Playing scoundrels out for gold and glory it actually makes very little sense. I have a soft spot for the design whch can be called "rules for effect".

My beloved T&T, in its 7th ed., actually don't have any moral rules. Many times lately I've found thinks lacking in this edition which was in the 5th ed. If there are any morale rules in 5th ed., I can't confirm it, since my copy is in storage. So I was thinking that maybe they wouldn't be so hard to make up.

Now things became more complex. I think it would be neat to only use d6, and base it on a SR like almost everything else in T&T. If it makes sense to consider morale when the own force have been reduced to half, the leader killed or maybe excessive amount of hits, we have a set of numbers that decrease. Also, when fighting a monster's MR will decrease. All these numbers decrease. It feels like they have to be considered, somehow.

The morale rating, what would that be? I'd like to base it upon something existing, so the system can be used with everything that's been published before. MR, level and Combat Adds are the components we have to use, apart from the stats of course. Level is usually not a very interesting number in T&T. Compared to D&D, it means little. MR and CA are both involved in combat, so maybe that would be something to base morale rules upon.

My first idea was to use the same mechanic you use for calculate dice of attack from MR, 1 + MR/10. Take that many dice and if any of them is a 6, you make your morale check and keep fighting. That mechanic has the problem that it's hard to figure out a way to account for lax troops and crack troops with bad and good morale, respectively.

My second idea was to roll a SR of some kind. Then we hit upon the trouble of determining the level of difficulty. Base it on level? Base on MR? Both have the nonsensical effect of making bigger monsters fail more often. I'd rather not bring in a subtraction, even though 10 - level might be a suggestion. That would of course have the problem that you'd have to scale 10 to the capabilities of the monster.

If you have any ideas how to sort this out, feel free to suggest them.


  1. I like the idea of basing it on MR (or STR/CON). The lower your score the poorer your chance of making the roll. I would also like to tie it to decrease in MR. A Troll and a Goblin might both be at MR 20, but if the goblin started the fight at 25 and the troll at 45, the troll should be feeling like he's getting the worst of it.

    I'll have to give some further thought to how to make it work and keep it simple.

  2. You think along the same lines as I do. Unfortunately I can't seem to bring the loose strings together.

  3. T & T combats are most often involuntary. Delvers go into dangerous situations knowing the danger ahead of time. Most monsters believe they will win any fight. Morale is generally high, even when poeple are dying on all sides.

    You are dealing with two separate cases here--adventurer morale and npc monster morale. In my games, those who hare losing a fight often seek to get out of it as quickly as they can. Sometimes it's run away--if you don't believe your foes will offer any mercy. Rarely, it is surrender. When a player tells me he wants to escape, I don't need a morale check. I know he thinks he's going to die if he stays where he is, doing what he's doing. The escape then is a saving roll situation, usually on Speed, but sometimes on Dexterity or Luck.

    I don't like the idea of forcing players to stay and fight because they made their morale check in some arbitrary dice-rolling fashion. Nor do I like the idea of having them run when they're winning because they failed a morale check.

    The whole morale question is another example of unnecessary complications. Let the players decide what their character's morale is while they're playing. Let the GM make the same kind of decisions for his NPCs. Morale depends mostly on one's perception of the situation. Next, you'll be asking for perception checks to see it the players are seeing the situation the same way the GM is.


    --Ken St. Andre

  4. I agree with Ken to about the 75% level; player characters should make their own decisions, not be forced to act according to the dice (except in very special circumstances). And generally NPCs should do whatever the GM feels is appropriate.

    There are times, though... There are times when it just makes sense to let the dice decide what the adversary is going to do. I think the thing to do in that case is roll against the adversary's Morale, which can be generalized (taking a clue from the Kremm Resistance rules in regard to WIZ score) as initial MR/10. Statted NPCs can have a Morale score assigned in the character notes, if it seems appropriate.

    "If it seems appropriate" is the operative phrase here, though. This is a GM shortcut, nothing more.


  5. For players I agree with Ken. I have never liked being railroaded by the game rules into doing something that is not what *I* want to do.

    For monsters and NPCs I think G'noll's MR/10 is a good way to go. I agree that it is a GM shortcut nothing more.

    I tend to play in a very rules lite style so I will likely not make a roll unless the players ask for one *and* it seems appropriate to the situation.

    I do have some players who love crunchy detail and extra rules for everyhing. Adding rules to T&T is my prefered compromise. The alternative is playing other games that load on the ruls.

  6. Thanks for your feedback, all!

    just to make it clear, I intended it the same way as in D&D, NPC only! The players are at all times in charge of their character's fate!!

    Even though it can be handled by the Game Master as she see fit, I've found that I sometime forget about the option. Also, it's a neat way to show the players the option of running away or surrendering. If they see NPC's doing it, they learn that it can be done.

  7. The bane of being a game designer is that you can never leave well enough alone.

    If I were writing a morale check rule for monsters in T & T it would go something like this:

    1. Am I wounded? If the answer is yes, go to quesiton 2; if no then keep attacking.

    2. Are my opponents reduced to half their starting strength or less? If the answer is yes, keep attacking. If no, then run away?

    But there's no dice rolling involved with that, so let's try something crunchier.

    Rule: All NPCs who have attribute ratings shall also have a Morale rating. The Morale rating is equal to Original CON minus damage taken from any source. The NPC gets 1D6 for every 10 points of Morale. When a morale check is requested, the NPC rolls his morale dice. If the number rolled is equal to half or more of the total possible then the morale check succeeded and the NPC fights on, or continues with the current action. Thus, on 1D6 the monster would fight on with a roll of 3 to 6, run on a 1 or 2; 2d6 has the monster running on 2 to 6. No DARO, No TARO, etc.

    If the NPC in question only has a Monster Rating, then its Morale Rating = its current Monster Rating at the end of any combat turn. A monster with M.R. of 44 would get 5D6. A roll of 5 to 14 would fail the morale check and make it either retreat or surrender.

    --Khenn Arrth

  8. Nice Ken! I toyed with the idea of using the similar value, but say that any 6 that came up meant being ok to continue. Your suggestion is more in line with how everything else works in the game. A Good Thing.


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