Debating A Morale System, Part I

The title of this post is rather exciting, isn't it? Well, that's about the amount of excitement I actually have towards the subject at hand. I've been kicking around exactly how I would handle morale in my Wilderlands game for months, with a few ideas here and there, but mostly just a firm belief that I want a Morale system in my game.

I've solidified the fact that I do want Morale, and though it might muddy the waters with another mechanic, I try to run my game as light as possible when it comes to dicing, and so I think should add very little in the way of complexity or drag to gameplay.

There are many a game system that has been put out in the past 30+ years that have incorporated Morale systems of some sort, and I have narrowed my focus down to a few that I feel could translate well (usually with a few adjustments here or there) to my own game.

Here are the ones I narrowed down to, with a short view on Pros and Cons, as well as any needed conversion, were I to use them:

A Scion system:

Scion: Demigod, pp88-89, "Morale Failure"
...The Scion can shake an enemy's leadership and seed and outbreak of cowardice among the men. When he makes himself visible to an opposing force's leader, his player rolls (Manipulation + Presence) against the leader's player's roll of (Willpower + Integrity + Legend).[snip]
Conversion: Once per combat, as a full-round action, a character can try to force a route. To do this, the player rolls Intimidate versus a DC equal to the opponent's (base Will modifier + Wisdom score + HD). Only one roll is needed and is checked against all enemies that can see him, up to five times his level. Those affected refuse to attack the character or any group he is a part of for one day per level the character possesses. Likewise, if the roll fails, that target cannot be affected in this way by the character for an equal amount of time.
Pros: This puts the rolls in the player's hands, and gives them control over forcing the rout, giving the PC something to do. Fast gameplay resolution.
Cons: Primarily, player abuse could become a problem. If someone twinks their Intimidate, they could easily avoid every confrontation. The DCs of the roll could prevent this from happening, as they sometimes would be prohibitively high.

A Warhammer Fantasy Battles system:

Warhammer Fantasy Battles, Seventh Edition, pp37-39 "Combat Result, Combat Result Bonuses, and Break Tests"
...Once all the models engaged in the combat have fought, you must determine which side has won. Of course, if one side has been completely wiped out in the fight, the other side is automatically the winner, regardless of the rules given below.
Each side scores a number of combat result points equal to the wounds caused in combat. It does not matter which particular units inflicted the wounds, just add up wounds caused by that side in the fight. Do not forget to add the wounds suffered by big creatures or characters that have not been removed as casualties. Do NOT count the wounds that were saved by an armor save or a ward save (in other words, only count unsaved wounds).
As well as points for wounds caused, a side can claim bonus points under certain circumstances - for example, if it has a standard bearer, if it is attacking the enemy in the flank, or if it is fighting from higher ground.
Each bonus point is added to the number of points for unsaved wounds inflicted to obtain a final combat result score for each side. So, for example, if both sides cause 3 wounds, the result is a draw, but if one side has a standard it adds +1 to its score, beating the enemy by 4 points to 3. These bonus points can make all the difference between winning and losing the combat[snip].
The side with the highest total combat result score wins the combat. The other side has lost and must take a Break test, as described later. If both sides have the same total, the result is a Draw and the combat will continue in the next turn.
The higher the difference between the winner's combat result score and the loser's, the bigger and more decisive the victory. An 8 points against a 7 points victory, for example, is only a slight win because the difference in scores is only 1 point. An 8 points against a 2 points victory, however, is extremely decisive, as the difference in scores is a whopping 6 points. The difference in scores is important because it is used when working out whether a defeated enemy stands its ground or turns and flees.
Combat Result Bonuses
Extra Rank: ...[snip]... If your unit's formation is at least five models wide, you may claim a bonus of +1 for each rank behind the first that the unit had at the start of that combat turn, up to a maximum of +3.The bonus can be claimed for an incomplete last rear rank, so long as it contains at least 5 models.
If you have several units fighting in a combat, count the bonus from the unit with the most ranks. Do not add up the bonuses from all the units fighting.
The bonus is lost if the unit is fighting to its flank or rear against an enemy unit with a unit strength of 5 or more. Note that this applies while the enemy unit in the flank/rear is combat - if the enemy unit breaks and flees, or is reduced to a unit strength of less than 5, the unit regains its rank bonus at the beginning of the following turn.
Skirmishers and fast cavalry never gain a bonus for extra ranks [snip].
Outnumber Enemy: ...[snip]... If the combined unit strength of all your units in the combat is greater than the combined unit strength of the enemy units, you receive a +1 bonus [snip].
Standard: ...[snip]... If any of your units includes a standard bearer in its front rank, you may add a +1 bonus.
Note that if several units' standards are involved in the combat, you still only add +1, not +1 for each standard. [snip]
Battle Standard: ...[snip]... If the army's battle standard bearer is in the fight, you may add a +1 bonus [snip]. Note that this bonus is on top of the unit's standard, so a unit with a normal standard and the battle standard recieves a +2 combat result bonus.
High Ground: ...[snip]... If you are fighting from a higher position than your enemy, for example, your troops are occupying the crest of a hill, then you may add a +1 bonus. In the case of a fight involving multiple units, the side that has the fighting rank in the highest position gets the bonus.
Flank Attack: ...[snip]... If you are fighting against an enemy unit's flank, you may add a +1 bonus so long as your unit has a unit strength of 5 or more after both sides have attacked. Note that you only count +1 even if both flanks of the enemy are engaged. The bonus is only applied once, regardless of how many flanking units are involved in the combat. If both sides have flanking units the side with the most flanking units gets the bonus.
Rear Attack: The same rules for a flank attack also apply to units attacking the enemy in the rear, except that a rear attack gives you a +2 combat result bonus. This bonus and the bonus for a flank attack are cumulative, so if you are attacking in the side and rear you will receive a bonus of +3.
Overkill: ...[snip]... If a character fighting in a challenge [snip] kills his opponent and scores more wounds than the enemy has, each excess wound scores a +1 overkill bonus towards the combat result, up to a maximum of +5. This bonus only applies in a challenge [snip].
Break Test
The side that loses a combat must take a test to whether it stands and fights or breaks from the combat and runs away. This is called a Break test. You need to take a separate Break test for every unit involved in the combat on the losing side.
Take the test as follows. Firstly, nominate the unit for which you are testing and then roll 2D6. Add the difference between the winner's combat result score and the loser's. If the total is greater than the unit's Leadership (Ld) value then the unit has broken and will flee.
Insane Courage
Occasionally, in the middle of a battle, the humblest regiment can be filled with steely courage and discipline and decide to stand their ground, no matter what the odds! Such unpredictable occurrences are represented in the game by the Insane Courage rule. This simply means that if a unit rolls a double 1 for its Break test, it will always stand its ground, regardless of how badly they have lost the fight.

Conversion: At the end of every initiative count, certain combat result criteria are checked and tallied, which then determines a winner for the round.
First, each side is awarded a point for every successful attack inflicted on the enemy. In the case of AoE attacks, it only counts as one.
In addition, points may be awarded for extra ranks (exceeding the enemy's numbers by multiples of their own numbers (so if the PC party has 4 people and there are 12 goblins, they would gain +2). This number is in addition to a flat +1 for outnumbering the opponent.
Standards (if displayed on banners) may also grant bonuses, giving a +1 for a personal crest and a (additional) +1 for the recognizable heraldry of a known lord, nation, general, etc. If the standard bearers have become the latter, their colors only grant a +1 bonus, though additional personal heraldry would grant the additional bonus.
Strategic advantages, such as superior flanking or high ground also grants a +1.
Finally, if a critical hit is scored that deals more than the victim's hp total, then an overkill bonus is awarded to the side whose member scored the hit. The bonus is applied on a +1 basis per additional multiple or fraction thereof up to +5. So, for example, if the target had 14 maximum hp and an attack did 38 damage, then the bonus granted would be +2, since it is 1 and a fraction times more than the maximum hp of the target.
These factors are compared against each other and cancel each other out (so if the PCs have high ground, but goblins have a standard, they would cancel each other out 1 for 1). Once the math is done and the winner is determined for the round, the loser rolls to break.
The break test is covered by unit, so if you have 7 goblins and 4 hobgoblins, the group would test separately. NPCs with class levels or otherwise differentiated abilities may be checked by themselves or in their own groups, as determined by the GM. To perform the test, simply roll a d20, modified by the difference between the winner's and loser's combat result, with a DC of 12. If the roll fails, the group has broken and will flee, unless the die turns up a 1, in which case they stand their ground and will fight to the death no matter the odds.
Pros: It's different. Combats can be very mercurial, which seems like it might more closely mimic realistic happenings. I really like the thought of standards affecting morale.
Cons: Too fiddly. Anything that happens every round can quickly get swept up in the current of action and forgotten. The numbers would take some getting used to, and might not be everyone's cup of tea, since it shows its wargame roots.

And there we have just two of the many morale systems I have looked at. More to come, as I work my way toward something I'm happy with. Comments and suggestions are very welcome!

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