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I like morale rules, I make up my own when they aren't there. This is referring to a threshold beyond which an adversary will discontinue or flee the fight, usually based on the type of enemy and triggered by certain circumstances (first ally dead, majority of team gone, etc) Makes it feel more real and have more varied results when every group doesn't fight to the last man. So let's say I want to improvise a morale level out of already-existing BRP stats. Are there any BRP books that do this already? (maybe clasic fantasy?) How would you do it? Something based on POW + CHA?

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I replaced POW with WILLPOWER and made POW a "derived stat" like HP in my own games.  Willpower is a measure of mental strength but bravery is a strange thing.  I have met lots of stubborn and willful people who weren't brave at all.  I think I'd start with Willpower and then roll another 1D20 and AVERAGE the two (rounding down) for what I'd call a BRAVERY score.  This would allow for a person who is stubborn or willful but NOT "mentally tough" if they were to roll low on that 1D20 for their Bravery score.  

    I would then use a system like Twilight2013's Coolness Under Fire rule (hereafter CUF).  Under CUF, you give a character Threat Conditions for things like being wounded, exposed to magic, being outnumbered, or seeing companions wounded or killed.  IF the Threat Conditions exceed your CUF (or in our case BRAVERY), bad things begin to happen (like Morale checks).  IF you witness good things like The wounding or killing of an enemy, the healing of an ally, a persuasive speech by a leader, or the arrival of reinforcements,  your own Threat Condition total is reduced by those things.   It is one more thing to track but it will give you what you're looking for with virtually no fuss.         

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12 hours ago, hix said:

I like morale rules, I make up my own when they aren't there. This is referring to a threshold beyond which an adversary will discontinue or flee the fight, usually based on the type of enemy and triggered by certain circumstances (first ally dead, majority of team gone, etc) Makes it feel more real and have more varied results when every group doesn't fight to the last man. So let's say I want to improvise a morale level out of already-existing BRP stats. Are there any BRP books that do this already? (maybe clasic fantasy?) How would you do it? Something based on POW + CHA?

Make it a skill, based on POW, probably in the Mental group. Occupations that expose an Adventurer to live combat situations would allow increases. Roll it for morale, possibly roll at the start of combat for possible bonuses (and penalties for poor rolls) to DEX for combat timing as well.

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I use an INT roll when needed, based on the usual wargaming morale levels, 

  • Recruit = INT x3 
  • Regular = INT x6
  • Veteran = INT x9
  • Elite = INT x12

this is a rough guide. I played a lot of Striker, Traveller and Twilight 2000. you never change the level just the frequency of the test.

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I'm with Nick in saying POW. It's the soul or the willpower of the adventurer that would overcome the ill effects of a failed Morale type roll. INT might help in some situations... Perhaps something along the lines of (POW + 1/2INT)x3 for a starting value.

Then, there is the other option... go all UA and import the Stress Checks (Violence, Helplessness, and Unnatrual) and make it a Violence check... increasing value only coming from becoming hardened. Failure of the check and the character is "Suppressed"; Fumble invokes Fleeing, Feinting, or Flight.

SDLeary

 

Edited by SDLeary
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13 hours ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

I usually retreat or stay in a rather predictable fashion depending in the creature and circumstance... The thought never occurred to me to make that a game stat 😮 

I agree! For instance passions are a stat that influence a character in RQ G more than control one’s actions. You can always choose to ignore a passion but there will be consequences for that passion  ( A loss of the passion's percentage). Ergo, I believe morale should be a stat for the NPCs more than for the players themselves unless one could come up with a consequence for ignoring a morale failure if one were to use morale in a game.  I have always thought mooks would break and run before death and have always wanted a system, a la ASL, to provide a way to represent this.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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29 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

a stat for the NPCs

This was what I was going for really. The "predictability" is why I like the Morale mechanic. As a GM, I like to try to get myself out of the decision-making process sometimes, and I love embracing randomness. Also the players bitch less when it looks like "the dice made me do it". I also like that the results surprise me sometimes and I have to improvise an explanation that makes the results make sense.

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For me, it's situational.

I tend to make an INTx5 roll for the bad guys. If they make it, they're smart enough to flee if things turn against them. If they fail (> INTx5) they're too stupid/obsessed/desperate or afraid of the BBEG controlling them to make a run for it.

I might also make POWx5 rolls if they encounter powerful magic.

Low-level undead rarely run.

Colin

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26 minutes ago, colinabrett said:

For me, it's situational.

I tend to make an INTx5 roll for the bad guys. If they make it, they're smart enough to flee if things turn against them. If they fail (> INTx5) they're too stupid/obsessed/desperate or afraid of the BBEG controlling them to make a run for it.

I don't think it really should be INT based. Morale isn't "tactical awareness" it's if someone has the will to fight on after seeing their allies get mowed down. If it were about Intelligence then the bright people on one side of a battle would be taking off after the first round.

Take a look at right lift combat statistics. Most of the actual fighting is done by a small percentage of the army, while most people either duck behind cover and don't shoot back, or just shoot in the general direction of the enemy. Niether of those things are particular intelligent, but it's not just the dumb people who duck for cover.

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14 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

I don't think it really should be INT based. Morale isn't "tactical awareness" it's if someone has the will to fight on after seeing their allies get mowed down. If it were about Intelligence then the bright people on one side of a battle would be taking off after the first round.

 

In fairness, colinabrett did say situational. That does make it difficult and adds rules rather than elegance. I have yet to see a good all encompassing rule that would require a morale check. A berserker talking more damage would have a better chance of making his roll, a peasant who has no skin in the game, much less so! Non-intelligent undead never make morale checks while a vampire might never admit to being outclassed by obviously inferior mortals unless he can overcome his ego. What wold a soldier roll against for a mundane circumstance or a magical one? This problem of morale might be so circumstantial, so lacking in elegance it will always require and erudite and wise GM to adjudicate.

Cheers

 

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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58 minutes ago, Atgxtg said:

I don't think it really should be INT based.

I use INT as the BGB says on page 26:

Quote

 

Intelligence (INT)

Representing reason, mental acuity, and wits, INT measures how well your character learns, remembers, and analyzes data.

 

I use it for morale as it's about wits. For me it covers the unconscious working of the brain as well as the conscious. It could be DEX for fight or flight, I chose INT as it's the underlying trigger to the DEX moment.

Making it a skill is just another stat on a sheet. In wargaming it doesn't usually change, being a reflection of troop quality, hence my INT rolls. In wargaming, some things don't make morale check's - vehicles' buuildings, etc. That's just like undead.

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46 minutes ago, David Scott said:

... I use it for morale as it's about wits. For me it covers the unconscious working of the brain as well as the conscious. It could be DEX for fight or flight, I chose INT as it's the underlying trigger to the DEX moment ...

There's a definite non-INT trope -- force-of-will / stubbornness / what-have-you -- that I think models on POW better than it does on INT.

There's also the tropes of smart-but-not-very-action-heroic (freezes under fire, too confused by the action to know what to do, etc).

I don't think the system benefits with conflating quick wits (in an intellectual sense) with quick reactions (in an action-heroic sense); nor with "steadiness under fire."  It hearkens back to a pulp-era vibe where the (educated, thus high-INT) heroes would out-perform the "savages" who had been doing it all their lives...

(OTOH, neither am I wild about making high-POW drive both magic and physical combat!)

But physical fitness & combat-training are REALLY what we're talking about here, and those are actually MUCH more important than raw INT/DEX/POW/etc; in the end, with a skill-centric mechanic like BRP where the stats only give a few-% leg up, which is the basic foundation-trait is much less important!

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On 9/4/2020 at 12:10 PM, hix said:

I like morale rules, I make up my own when they aren't there. This is referring to a threshold beyond which an adversary will discontinue or flee the fight, usually based on the type of enemy and triggered by certain circumstances (first ally dead, majority of team gone, etc) Makes it feel more real and have more varied results when every group doesn't fight to the last man. So let's say I want to improvise a morale level out of already-existing BRP stats. Are there any BRP books that do this already? (maybe clasic fantasy?) How would you do it? Something based on POW + CHA?

You could just add a "Morale" skill (following the normal skill-rules).  It wouldn't really be a "skill" per se, but an ability that increases with experience just as a skill does.

Check-to-improve whenever you face a morale-challenge and succeed.

 

If you play with Pendragon/RQG style "Passions" &c, and have "Augments," then "Loyalty" and "Hate" and all those could affect morale...

 

I'd be reluctant to introduce an all-new mechanic, when the existing BRP mechanics seem so apt to the task.

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I’m not sure morale is the right word although it is a concept used in a military sense and has crept into war simulations and hence combat in roll playing games. I remember being struck by the military historian, John Keegan’s book, The Face of Battle, in which one of his central theses was that not many soldiers fired their guns in anger or in a purposeful way. It wasn’t necessarily a point about morale, more about that soldiers would rarely put themselves at risk out of self-preservation. Examples I remember were of the platoon who hid from the enemy until a group of the enemy surrendered when they all to a man opened up and killed all the surrendering soldiers. Or the Napoleonic era Lieutenant who told his man to stand firm in the Defensive  Square as they were pounded by solid shot cannonballs. The troops could see the trajectory of the ball and where it was going to hit, reducing ranks of men to mush. This was all ok until the cannonball was coming directly at the Lieutenant.

I’m a Psychotherapist so I tend to look at things from a psychological viewpoint, whether it is behavioural or evolutionary psychology or just rational and logical thought and behaviour.  Self-preservation is a behaviour or set of behaviours that ensures the survival of an organism and is universal among all living organisms. Self-preservation is basically the mechanism that prevents an organism being harmed or killed and is considered to be a basic instinct even in single cell organisms who will move away from danger.

Pain and fear are further mechanisms that interact with and guide self-preservation. It is unlikely that many sentient creatures will fight to the death unless there are other higher goals or motivations involved (ie altruism in which the sacrifice benefits the group; defending one’s young; a highly motivated political/ religious cause). 

How are these constructs transferred into RPGs?

I think motivations and goals of the individual or group are important, which can be GM dictated and  passions (love/ hate/ loyalty) both of which can override self-preservation and fear.

Intelligence which makes a risk-assessment of the situation both of the enemy troops and their own capabilities

Intelligence and Insight which aid decision-making

Dexterity which influences quickness of physical action

But should it be a mechanism at all? I’d rather see it as a sensible decision made in terms of not dying (unless you’re a berserker and death is a means to a glorious afterlife). I’m not sure that it should be really down to a dice roll as to whether the fight continues. What is the difference if the opponents fade away into the forest only to stalk the player characters and look for an advantageous time to conduct an ambush or several hit and runs to cause damage, waste defensive resources so that they can gain advantages? I think its all about narrative rather than mechanics.

4 hours ago, Atgxtg said:

If it were about Intelligence then the bright people on one side of a battle would be taking off after the first round.

And that quote is definitely a truism

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7 hours ago, g33k said:

You could just add a "Morale" skill (following the normal skill-rules).  It wouldn't really be a "skill" per se, but an ability that increases with experience just as a skill does.

That would work, escept that if it functioned like a skill it would almost always get better when low. In BRP terms I think POW and the SAN rules seem to work out the best. Get shot at a lot and you could suffer from shell shock. About the only thing I think it needs is the possibility of a POW gain roll.

 

7 hours ago, g33k said:

Check-to-improve whenever you face a morale-challenge and succeed.

 

If you play with Pendragon/RQG style "Passions" &c, and have "Augments," then "Loyalty" and "Hate" and all those could affect morale...

Don't forget Valorous/Cowardly

 

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4 hours ago, Nozbat said:

 

I’m a Psychotherapist so I tend to look at things from a psychological viewpoint, whether it is behavioural or evolutionary psychology or just rational and logical thought and behaviour.  Self-preservation is a behaviour or set of behaviours that ensures the survival of an organism and is universal among all living organisms. Self-preservation is basically the mechanism that prevents an organism being harmed or killed and is considered to be a basic instinct even in single cell organisms who will move away from danger.

Pain and fear are further mechanisms that interact with and guide self-preservation. It is unlikely that many sentient creatures will fight to the death unless there are other higher goals or motivations involved (ie altruism in which the sacrifice benefits the group; defending one’s young; a highly motivated political/ religious cause). 

Which all going to show that it isn't about INT. Single-cell organisms aren't thinking they are reacting. 

 

4 hours ago, Nozbat said:

But should it be a mechanism at all? I’d rather see it as a sensible decision made in terms of not dying

Except morale isn't a intellectual decision not to fight, but more of an emotional one. Its about confidence, enthusiasm and disciple. Again, if it were an intellectual decsion about self preservation then one side or the other probably wouldn't be there in the first place, as combat is inherently against self preservation. 

A lot of the time where one side or the other's morale breaks and the run away, it isn't the right choice tactically. Often the outcome of the battle was still undecided, or even favored those who fled. 

I still that that reflect POWs and the determination to stick thing out when they look bad. 

4 hours ago, Nozbat said:

 

(unless you’re a berserker and death is a means to a glorious afterlife). I’m not sure that it should be really down to a dice roll as to whether the fight continues. What is the difference if the opponents fade away into the forest only to stalk the player characters and look for an advantageous time to conduct an ambush or several hit and runs to cause damage, waste defensive resources so that they can gain advantages?

The difference is that isn't a lose of morale but a change of tactics. Just like an army that withdraws from the battlefield in good order isn't being routed. 

 

4 hours ago, Nozbat said:

I think its all about narrative rather than mechanics.

I don't. By the narrative, a character can always choose to act heroically. Player characters would never be afraid and so on.

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I didn't carefully read all the messages here... But just picking on the "moral as skill"...

In skirmishes, clearly, there is little to gain in staying in a lost fight, if you gonna die, retreating is the most sensible option! So I wouldn't make that sort of morale go higher as your skill increase hey?

Morale is a complicated thing, it has has self-preservation (which might be the smart thing to do), arrogance (which might be warranted or not), awareness (see how the combat is going), peer pressure (some sergeant have the duty to shoot deserters, and one often will do anything for their brother in arms), opportunity (is fleeing obviously doomed or feasible)....

Which leads me to: most of my NPC flee or beg for their lives when they see the battle going very badly against them... No need to roll anything....

mmm.. that way, come to think of it, oversimplifying morale could be modelled as a resistance roll (if needed)
perceived personal power vs perceived enemy power
and you could approximate each size by counting the number of protagonist, each one counting as 2 (full health) or 1 (wounded)

Although.. machine and undead would never retreat unless ordered...

 

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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1 hour ago, Lloyd Dupont said:

...

In skirmishes, clearly, there is little to gain in staying in a lost fight, if you gonna die, retreating is the most sensible option! So I wouldn't make that sort of morale go higher as your skill increase hey? ...

Depends of if -- and how -- you subscribe to the "Just War Theory."

If I'm holding a pass against an advancing army, and there's only 300 on my side but 10,000 on theirs... I know I can't survive.

But if everything and everyone I love is behind me, and I only need to stop those 10,000 for *one*day* and then thousands of allied relief-troops will be there to keep the enemy from further advance...   Yeah, I'm probably gonna fight the lost fight, and screw the "sensible option."

And yet... maybe not... I've never faced that kind of live-or-die everything-on-the-line choice.  Maybe I don't have the... morale... to do it.

Edited by g33k
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By skirmish I mean a few (1,2,3?6?) vs a few.... (like often happen when it's player party vs a bunch of enemies)

Clearly if there are lots of yous.... you might not die in vain, might be "worth" it.... And you might have no choice as well... (deserter are not liked much, to say the least...)

Edited by Lloyd Dupont
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My own take on the subject would be to use something akin to MouseGuard/HeroQuest/Revolution d100/L5R 5th edition, with "Hit Points" that represent one's overall situation in combat, and not only physical integrity.

In a melee, reaching 0 Points would not mean death or inconsciousness, but rather a situation where any move you take is very dangerous for you.

It would be possible to base Morale rules on those "modified Hit Points", with characters that have lost half or all their HP being more likely to flee or surrender.

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