Saturday, March 5, 2011

[House Rules] Player Character Morale

Players may always consider their characters to be death-dealing fearless machines; however, while the player may force the issue, and have the character dive into battle willy-nilly, the character himself may not always feel so very certain about the results! Thus, PC Morale is an important issue.

The table below determines the base Morale of the Player Character, based on the PC's Charisma Score:

Player Character Morale Table
Score ....... Base Morale
1 ...................... 3
2 ...................... 4
3 ...................... 5
4-5 .................. 6
6-8 .................. 7
9-12 ................ 8
13-15 .............. 9
16-17 ............. 10
18 ................... 11
19 ................... 12

A paladin adds his level to his base Morale; a knight adds half his level, rounded up, to his base Morale. A fighter, mystic, or ranger adds 1 to his base Morale every three levels (3rd, 6th, 9th, etc.) [Note: a ranger instead adds his full level to his base Morale when facing goblinoids and giants].

Any magical bonuses that apply to fear effects instead affect a character’s Morale (as does now the bless spell). Note that any character that is immune to fear need never make a morale check! If Morale, after any modifiers, remains at 12 or better, there is no need to check Morale, as the character's morale cannot break (but neither can he gain the benefit of becoming Resolute, see below).

Note: Any time the player responds to surprise or other such events by exclaiming, “I’m scared!” or “I piss myself!” it is an automatic Morale failure, save in the case when the character is a knight or paladin, in which case the player may make a Morale check unmodified by level (but certainly negatively modified if applicable) to not break Morale.

A player must check Morale for his character under the following circumstances:
  • Whenever he is surprised; if surprised by an obviously superior foe (numerically or supernaturally), he suffers a penalty to his Morale of -2 or half the difference in EHD/Levels between him and the most obviously powerful foe, whichever is greater;

  • Whenever encountering certain supernatural or potent and mighty creatures, such as dragons, giants, demons, and devils, or culturally terrifying legendary creatures (i.e., “boogie-men”), whether surprised or not;

  • If a non-spell caster, he must check Morale the first time in an encounter that an enemy spell caster uses obvious magic against the PC party (+2 bonus if his own party has a spell caster);

  • Whenever he is first struck in combat for Hit Point damage;

  • Whenever he falls to less than 1/2 his full Hit Points;

  • The first time a comrade-in-arms/party member is slain or flees in the current combat;

  • Whenever half or more of his party is slain or has fled.

A player character never need make more than three Morale checks in any one encounter; if he makes all three successfully, he is Resolute, and gains a +2 bonus to hit, to damage, to all saving throws, and to all ability checks (+10% to %-based skills) for the rest of the encounter.

The first time he fails a single Morale check, however, he is Shaken, and suffers a -2 penalty to hit, to damage, to saving throws, and to ability checks for the duration of the encounter (-10% to any %-based skills), and spell casters casting spells while shaken suffer a 10% chance of spell failure (base if normally no chance, or increases normal chances); if he successfully makes two subsequent Morale checks, he is no longer Shaken, but he is not Resolute.

If he fails a second Morale check in the same encounter, he is Frightened; he suffers double the penalties as per Shaken, above. If he succeeds at the third Morale check, he is merely Shaken and is no longer Frightened.

Finally, if the character fails his third Morale check in an encounter, he is Panicked; he must drop anything he holds and flee at top speed from the source of his fear, as well as any other dangers he encounters, along a random path. He can’t take any other actions. In addition, he suffers the penalties outlined in Shaken, above. If cornered, a panicked character acts confused, as per the spell confusion. A panicked character can use special abilities, including spells, to flee; indeed, the character must use such means if they are the only way to escape.

1 comment:

  1. Oh wow... I thought I recognized your name, James. Now I feel doubly honored you commented on my tiny little blog.

    As I said there, while I don't play much D&D/OSR stuff anymore, I like what you have going on here.

    About the only thing I'm not fond of is the panicked result. The character drops everything and runs away with no input from the player, which is what I'm trying to avoid in my own stuff currently.

    Don't get me wrong... What you have written here jibes with everything else that you have put down. It's good stuff. It's just not the direction I am trying to go.

    My thoughts on it... With constant exposure of the danger, the penalty keeps increasing each time the character fails a Morale check. At some point, the player will either have the character run away so he can have a chance to gather his wits (i.e., make another Morale check with lesser penalties to siad check due to not being right in front of the BIG SCARY THING) OR the player will have the character press on despite the fear, at which point one of two things happen. Either the character becomes so crippled by fear he gets killified by the big scary monster OR the character gets lucky and defeats said big scary monster DESPITE his/her fear, and that just makes the character (and the player) feel that much more heroic.

    ...and those heroic moments are why we play...

    Just my twelve cents... =)

    -- GopherDave