Speeding up D&D 4E Combat: Morale

A large problem many groups have with 4E D&D is that 4E combat takes a very long time. Various methods have been proposed to fix this, such as reducing monster hp, but after some discussion we realised the best way of doing it is simply to revive the Morale system, used in 1st and 2nd Edition, but thrown out in 3rd. The problem with these systems is, like the whole editions themselves, they were overly complicated; I’ve seen an attempt at adding Morale to 4E that mostly just put the 2nd Ed system in… and it looked terrible. So, we decided to do it from the ground up: a complete, effective, and simple Morale system for 4E D&D.

Update: We discuss the Morale Rules on this podcast clarifying a few details.

Overview

This article will cover the following, in order:

  • The new Morale system
  • Effects of using the new Morale system
  • Problems with existing systems
  • How we developed the new Morale system, why we did what we did

The 4E D&D Morale system

Download One-Page Printable Summary

The core concept in the Morale system is the Morale Check.

A Morale Check is a Saving Throw (PHB 279). Anything that modifies a Saving Throw modifies a Morale Check.
 

If a Morale Check is passed, then there is no effect.

If a Morale Check is failed, then the creature immediately tries to Flee the battlefield by whatever route seems appropriate. This Fleeing provokes Opportunity Attacks. The creature will continue to Flee in all its subsequent turns.

Mindless creatures, such as Undead and Elementals, never take Morale Checks.

Morale Checks are only made by NPCs and Monsters, not by PCs: the Player always has the final say in what their character does. Creatures that would logically be immune to Morale, like Undead, never have to take Moral Checks, and the DM can rule that certain creatures and foes are exempt from Morale Checks.

Remember that Elites and Solos get a natural bonus to Saving Throws, and thus to Morale Checks.

For purposes of Morale, a group of creatures may have a Leader: this Leader may or may not be an actual “Leader”, as defined in the Monster Manual, it just has to be in the position of leading the others. A regular everyday Orc could count as a Leader if the rest of the Encounter Group consists of Goblins.

In addition, for all purposes in the Morale system, a Minion counts as 1/4 of a full creature, and round down: so 3 minions count as 0, and 6 minions count as 1.

A Creature Makes a Morale Check When:
 

  • It is Bloodied for the first time
  • 50% of its group are Dead or have Fled
  • The Leader of the group Dies or Flees

The Morale Checks are made at the end of the turn the condition is triggered in. So, if Toki reduces a creature to 50% health (making it Bloodied), Toki finishes anything else he’s doing in his turn, and then the creature takes a Morale check. A creature can be forced to take multiple Morale Checks in a single turn, and they can cascade. So, if the create Toki Bloodied fails its Morale Check and Flees, and that reduces the group to 50%, then the rest of the group have to take Morale Checks.

As mentioned above, Minions count for 1/4 and are rounded down. Thus, if you have a group consisting of a single Orc, and 4 Goblin Minions, all 4 Goblins have to die before the Orc takes a Morale Check for 50% of the group being dead.

The DM can call for Morale checks at any time outside these conditions, if he deems it appropriate.

Bonuses and Penalties to Morale Checks
Situation

Modifier

Group outnumbers foes 2:1 or better

+2

Group outnumbered by foes 2:1 or worse

-2

Creature is Brave

+2

Creature is Cowardly

-2

For non-Leaders: Leader is Alive

+2

For non-Leaders: Leader is Dead or has Fled

-2

Group is a 50% strength or less

-2

All modifiers are +2 or -2, so basically you just need to know “good” or “bad”. Most of these will be common across most or all of the monsters in a group, so it’s easy to keep track of.

For outnumbering, don’t forget that Minions only count for 1/4.

For Brave and Cowardly, this allows the DM to give some variance in creatures. Goblins are Cowardly, whilst Minotaurs are Brave. It’s up to the DM to decide what monsters deserve these ratings. A creature defending its home is automatically Brave: if the creature is naturally Cowardly (so, a Goblin defending its home), then the bonus and penalty cancel out.

The Leader bonus and penalty only apply if the group has/had a Leader. The Leader doesn’t give himself a bonus, although the Leader happens to be an Elite, then he will have a natural bonus. This can mean a Leader has more chance of fleeing that the other monsters; well, that’s fine: the Leader decided they’re all doomed anyway, and legs it before he shares the fate of his underlings.

As to rewards, Fled monsters naturally give full XP. For loot, my solution is thus: if a creature is holding something valuable that is feasibly dropped, let it drop it as it flees. Otherwise, give the same loot to the party in a different way: insert an extra treasure chest or something. The structure of 4th Edition’s rewards system is such that this works fine.

Effects of the new Morale system

The obvious effect is that combats are faster. Once the battle hits the half-way point, with half the monsters dead, the Morale penalties and Checks start piling up, and the battle will finish quicker as monsters Flee. This timing ends up being pretty good, with monsters generally starting to flee as the party finished using their interesting Powers: the Morale system helps reduce the amount of boring At-Will slogging.

After some playtesting, we found that players would sometimes try to specifically target the Leader of the group. If they could take the Leader down quickly, the dramatic -4 difference in modifiers coupled with the instant Morale Check often caused many monsters to immediately Flee, ending the battle quite quickly. This led to interesting tactical decisions: sometimes, a Leader is so much tougher than the rest of the group that trying to take them down first is suicide, whilst other times, killing the Leader first is very feasible.

Problems with existing systems

The most commonly recommended way to shorted 4E combat is to reduce (say, halve) the hitpoints of monsters. However, this doesn’t work all that well, for a few reasons:

  • It’s indiscriminate. Tougher creatures sometimes suffer from this a lot.
  • It’s unbalanced. Certain classes become stronger or weaker: Controllers are generally weaker, since dead creatures don’t need controlling, whilst Strikers are usually stronger, since their damage counts even more.

What about existing Morale systems? Either the 2nd Ed system, or the 4E system I said I found? Well…

  • Overly complicated: the list of times to take checks, and modifiers, is huge and silly. It’s impossible to remember them all.
  • Don’t scale well: A 20th level Dragon should damn well flee if a 22nd level party is wiping the floor with it. The existing systems make it harder and harder for high-level creatures to fail a Morale Check.
  • They don’t fit with 4th Edition: 4E standardised a lot of things, and it makes sense for a Morale system to use those standards, rather than tacking on a whole new system.

This Morale system solves all those problems. For how we dealt will all this, keep reading.

Development of the Morale system

With our 4E D&D combats taking forever, I set about trying to make a Morale system. I cracked open the 1st and 2nd Edition DMGs, and had a look. Urgh.

The 1st Ed system wasn’t all that bad, but used percentages and was a little complex. The 2nd Ed system moved past percentages, but had a list of modifiers a mile long, including for whether the creature is Lawful or Chaotic, and whether there are allied or enemy spellcasters. In addition, neither system was very 4E-ish, and inherently couldn’t be.

I considered how best for a Morale Check to be made. The 4E system I’d seen before used the Will Defence, but that has two problems:

  • The whole scales-with-level thing
  • Certain types of creatures have higher Will than others. A Wizard shouldn’t be braver than a Barbarian.

This led me to Saving Throws: they are a very 4E-ish concept which are constant across levels, are very hard to modify, and are consistent across all types of creatures. I then had the awesome realisation that since Elites and Solos get a Saving Throw bonus, they naturally get a bonus to Morale Checks, which would otherwise have been a problem. This means that more interesting monsters that are the focus of a fight will stick around longer.

I compiled a list of Morale situations and Modifiers, and we tried it out. The original list included a few things suggested by the 1st and 2nd Edition rules, such as bonuses and penalties for No Ally Slain and No Enemy Slain. The modifiers were also a bit more varied than +/-2.

We noticed a few things: firstly, half of the modifiers and situations had lain forgotten and unused, but, what we had remembered had worked pretty well, with a few minor issues. So, we scrapped everything we had forgotten, standardised the numbers, adjusted a few things (after a few playtests, adding the -2 penalty for group under 50%, to help finish things off), and things started working right.

As the DM of these playtests, I was quite pleased at how simple it was. At the beginning of the encounter, I counted the number of monsters (accounting for Minions being 1/4), and wrote it down. Then, I halved that, and wrote it down as, basically, the group’s Bloodied value. I then wrote the initial modifiers down, and from then it was simply a matter of keeping a tally of monster deaths, and occasionally checking to see if the outnumbering situation had changed. The change to everything being +/-2 made it very easy to keep track of the modifiers, and, since the modifiers are so simple, I didn’t have to keep referring to the rules sheet.

The wonderful thing about using Morale, rather than something clumsy like reducing monster hitpoints, is it feels D&D-ish in its randomness. With a few lucky or unlucky rolls, the entire feel of the combat can change, and can lead to memorable stories. On one occasion, , a player managed to Bloody the Leader… who failed his Morale Check and fled. All the other monsters thus had to take Morale Checks, and enough of them failed that the group was reduced to less than 50% strength, forcing another check, in which all the rest of the monsters fled.

Conclusion

Overall, we’re pretty happy with this Morale system. If you decide to use it in your game, please come back and tell us how it went, and any opinions you might have on how to improve it further.

Custom D&D4e Morale Rules Summary Sheet

DriveThruRPG.com

About Duncan

Ellisthion is currently loving 5E D&D, whilst still running the original 1st Ed AD&D Temple of Elemental Evil. He's also spending way too much time playing Dota 2.
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  • jrronimo

    Sounds pretty interesting. I’d be interested to see it in action in my group.

  • jrronimo

    Sounds pretty interesting. I’d be interested to see it in action in my group.

  • http://www.mephit.it jure

    do you think it’s possible to find a 3.5 version somewhere?

  • http://www.mephit.it jure

    do you think it’s possible to find a 3.5 version somewhere?

  • Ellisthion

    Well, the idea of this morale system was to speed up 4E combat: we find 3.5 combat tends to be fast enough. However, there isn’t any reason why you can’t just use this system for 3.5: whilst a few things (like checking on first Bloodied) are technically 4E-specific, they aren’t extremely so. I think it would be quite easy to use this in 3.5, if you want.

  • Ellisthion

    Well, the idea of this morale system was to speed up 4E combat: we find 3.5 combat tends to be fast enough. However, there isn’t any reason why you can’t just use this system for 3.5: whilst a few things (like checking on first Bloodied) are technically 4E-specific, they aren’t extremely so. I think it would be quite easy to use this in 3.5, if you want.

  • Vivi Blue

    Obviously this makes encounters a little easier, since some of the work is taken out for the players. Do you find yourself bulking up the encounters a little to make up for that? Or would that defeat the purpose behind this?

  • Vivi Blue

    Obviously this makes encounters a little easier, since some of the work is taken out for the players. Do you find yourself bulking up the encounters a little to make up for that? Or would that defeat the purpose behind this?

  • http://www.diceofdoom.com RupertG

    We are a very story focused gaming group, and one of the frustrations that we found in moving on to D&D4e was the amount of time our largish group took with combat (hence the development of this system posted here).

    To answer your question, no, not really as that would defeat the purpose of the exercise. It hasn’t truly replaced all encounters either. Some monsters do fight to the death – others don’t fail their morale check – so it can be hard to know as well.

  • http://www.diceofdoom.com RupertG

    We are a very story focused gaming group, and one of the frustrations that we found in moving on to D&D4e was the amount of time our largish group took with combat (hence the development of this system posted here).

    To answer your question, no, not really as that would defeat the purpose of the exercise. It hasn’t truly replaced all encounters either. Some monsters do fight to the death – others don’t fail their morale check – so it can be hard to know as well.

  • Nicholas

    I have a few quibbles with your solution. First, it seems your version, even though you call them “Saving Throws” do not follow the normal conventions for Saves. In 4E Saving throws happen at the end of the victim’s turn, not when the Status Effect is applied.

    To me, the concept in 4E would instead work something like a Status Effect of “Broken Morale” would apply to the Monster, of which the effect would be something akin to Fear. The Monster’s Saving Throw would be to recover from the Status Effect. So your Morale rules still seem to be an exception, rather than in step with standard Saving Throws.

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, it seems to me that 4E deliberately did away with “Save or Fight Ends” type effects, of which Morale is one. In fact, many “Psychic” effects in the game in fact are translated simply into Hit Point loss, because Hit Points, even moreso than before, are abstract and include such notions as the Will to Fight.

    If I really wanted to add Morale to 4E I’d go with that model. A “Broken Morale” status effect could include some kind of fear or movement effect AND ongoing damage. That would represent loss of the drive to fight. The cascading effects of Morale could be represented by something akin to making failed Morale Saves inflict the “Broken Morale” status effect on adjacent creatures, or creatures in a Close Burst 2 radius or something.

    That seems more inherently 4E-esque to me, and the final piece of the puzzle would be determining how the initial Broken Morale status effect is applied, which you would want to balance so not as to overly favor a Striker vs Controller or whatever. It also has the effect of speeding up combat by the application of ongoing damage.

  • Nicholas

    I have a few quibbles with your solution. First, it seems your version, even though you call them “Saving Throws” do not follow the normal conventions for Saves. In 4E Saving throws happen at the end of the victim’s turn, not when the Status Effect is applied.

    To me, the concept in 4E would instead work something like a Status Effect of “Broken Morale” would apply to the Monster, of which the effect would be something akin to Fear. The Monster’s Saving Throw would be to recover from the Status Effect. So your Morale rules still seem to be an exception, rather than in step with standard Saving Throws.

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, it seems to me that 4E deliberately did away with “Save or Fight Ends” type effects, of which Morale is one. In fact, many “Psychic” effects in the game in fact are translated simply into Hit Point loss, because Hit Points, even moreso than before, are abstract and include such notions as the Will to Fight.

    If I really wanted to add Morale to 4E I’d go with that model. A “Broken Morale” status effect could include some kind of fear or movement effect AND ongoing damage. That would represent loss of the drive to fight. The cascading effects of Morale could be represented by something akin to making failed Morale Saves inflict the “Broken Morale” status effect on adjacent creatures, or creatures in a Close Burst 2 radius or something.

    That seems more inherently 4E-esque to me, and the final piece of the puzzle would be determining how the initial Broken Morale status effect is applied, which you would want to balance so not as to overly favor a Striker vs Controller or whatever. It also has the effect of speeding up combat by the application of ongoing damage.

  • Nicholas

    A few more thoughts, my trigger for Broken Morale would probably need to be somewhat crature specific, and become essentiallly part of their Monster Manual Stat Block. While I wouldn’t want to apply this universally, for social creatures like your typical Goblins I would probably go with something akin to:

    Morale:
    A Goblin will suffer from Broken Morale if it becomes Bloodied after 50% of its allies have been defeated. If a Goblin was Bloodied prior to loss of 50% of its allies then it will suffer Broken Morale the next time it is attacked (regardless of whether the attack hits or does damage.)

    Broken Morale – Save Ends, Special
    Effects:
    Ongoing Damage 5
    Seek Refuge

    A creature suffering from Broken Morale will attempt to disengage from combat and seek refuge with its allies. This creature will use its Move action to move adjacent to others of its ilk, even at the risk of drawing attacks of opportunity. Once adjacent to at least one ally who does not suffer Broken Morale, the creature will end its turn and make a Saving Throw.

    Special: If a creature fails a saving throw to end Broken Morale, the Broken Morale effect is applied to all adjacent allies, who will in turn be forced to take ongoing damage and seek refuge.

  • Nicholas

    A few more thoughts, my trigger for Broken Morale would probably need to be somewhat crature specific, and become essentiallly part of their Monster Manual Stat Block. While I wouldn’t want to apply this universally, for social creatures like your typical Goblins I would probably go with something akin to:

    Morale:
    A Goblin will suffer from Broken Morale if it becomes Bloodied after 50% of its allies have been defeated. If a Goblin was Bloodied prior to loss of 50% of its allies then it will suffer Broken Morale the next time it is attacked (regardless of whether the attack hits or does damage.)

    Broken Morale – Save Ends, Special
    Effects:
    Ongoing Damage 5
    Seek Refuge

    A creature suffering from Broken Morale will attempt to disengage from combat and seek refuge with its allies. This creature will use its Move action to move adjacent to others of its ilk, even at the risk of drawing attacks of opportunity. Once adjacent to at least one ally who does not suffer Broken Morale, the creature will end its turn and make a Saving Throw.

    Special: If a creature fails a saving throw to end Broken Morale, the Broken Morale effect is applied to all adjacent allies, who will in turn be forced to take ongoing damage and seek refuge.

  • Nicholas

    Final thought, sorry!

    In my above example, once a creature has been Broken and Saved to end it, the only way for them to become Broken again would be to be “infected” by the Panic caused by adjacent allies who fail their saves. The Bloodied effect would only be used once on any particular monster.

  • Nicholas

    Final thought, sorry!

    In my above example, once a creature has been Broken and Saved to end it, the only way for them to become Broken again would be to be “infected” by the Panic caused by adjacent allies who fail their saves. The Bloodied effect would only be used once on any particular monster.

  • Ellisthion

    Firstly, thank you very much for sharing your ideas with us.

    Secondly… wow. That is… really good. I kinda feel like you’ve just trumped everything we did.

    When we were designing our system, I must admit we didn’t even think of applying Morale as a status effect: perhaps we are too rooted in previous editions! :-)

    To be honest, your suggestion feels more 4E-ish, more elegant, and would require even less paperwork. It’s… neat.

    The idea Save-Ends Broken Morale appeals strongly to the Warhammer gamer in me; plus, it’s simple and effective. In addition, I very much like the Morale-damages-HP idea: I have always strongly supported HP representing far more than physical injuries, and I think that especially with the way 4E deals with HP, it’s fantastic.

    I think we’re going to be trying this at the first opportunity.

    Again, thank you very much for sharing this with us!

  • Ellisthion

    Firstly, thank you very much for sharing your ideas with us.

    Secondly… wow. That is… really good. I kinda feel like you’ve just trumped everything we did.

    When we were designing our system, I must admit we didn’t even think of applying Morale as a status effect: perhaps we are too rooted in previous editions! :-)

    To be honest, your suggestion feels more 4E-ish, more elegant, and would require even less paperwork. It’s… neat.

    The idea Save-Ends Broken Morale appeals strongly to the Warhammer gamer in me; plus, it’s simple and effective. In addition, I very much like the Morale-damages-HP idea: I have always strongly supported HP representing far more than physical injuries, and I think that especially with the way 4E deals with HP, it’s fantastic.

    I think we’re going to be trying this at the first opportunity.

    Again, thank you very much for sharing this with us!

  • Nicholas

    No problem, my pleasure!

  • Nicholas

    No problem, my pleasure!

  • Rob

    Thank you for these two solutions. I personally prefer the first option as a method for free-wheeling DMs that have a lose set of rules but prefer to manipulate those rules to suit the drama of the encounter. The second would be better for someone using software to manage multiple creatures morale and ongoing damage. Just my two cents. I think I’ll try the first option and see how it goes. It is a bit more “dramatic” to see the enemy throw down it’s spear and run, and also requires me to track fewer ongoing damage effects.

  • Rob

    Thank you for these two solutions. I personally prefer the first option as a method for free-wheeling DMs that have a lose set of rules but prefer to manipulate those rules to suit the drama of the encounter. The second would be better for someone using software to manage multiple creatures morale and ongoing damage. Just my two cents. I think I’ll try the first option and see how it goes. It is a bit more “dramatic” to see the enemy throw down it’s spear and run, and also requires me to track fewer ongoing damage effects.

  • Buddy

    Possibly stupid question: Do players get credit (XP) for fleeing creatures? Are goods (money and items) lost by not killing a fleeing enemy?

    Basically I’m asking if there is a negative effect on players for a fleeing enemy. The concept of speeding up a winning battle is interesting but I’d hate for my players to get bummed about fleeing enemies because of lost rewards.

  • Buddy

    Possibly stupid question: Do players get credit (XP) for fleeing creatures? Are goods (money and items) lost by not killing a fleeing enemy?

    Basically I’m asking if there is a negative effect on players for a fleeing enemy. The concept of speeding up a winning battle is interesting but I’d hate for my players to get bummed about fleeing enemies because of lost rewards.

  • Ellisthion

    Not a stupid question. I certainly agree that players shouldn’t lose out on anything.

    Players definitely get XP. As per the DMG, as long as the players overcome the encounter in any way, they get the XP.

    As for treasure, any foe who has something truly extraordinary is probably plot-significant and won’t flee. For regular loot, there are a couple of approaches:

    *Fleeing foes drop some loot as they flee (all is unrealistic, though)
    *Valuable loot, like magical items, are conveniently reassigned to foes which the party *have* killed
    *Keep note of how much loot they missed out on, and have the players find that much more later. Maybe the next monsters have more stuff, or they find a treasure chest along the way.

    I personally prefer the last one because it maintains some level of realism.

  • Ellisthion

    Not a stupid question. I certainly agree that players shouldn’t lose out on anything.

    Players definitely get XP. As per the DMG, as long as the players overcome the encounter in any way, they get the XP.

    As for treasure, any foe who has something truly extraordinary is probably plot-significant and won’t flee. For regular loot, there are a couple of approaches:

    *Fleeing foes drop some loot as they flee (all is unrealistic, though)
    *Valuable loot, like magical items, are conveniently reassigned to foes which the party *have* killed
    *Keep note of how much loot they missed out on, and have the players find that much more later. Maybe the next monsters have more stuff, or they find a treasure chest along the way.

    I personally prefer the last one because it maintains some level of realism.

  • http://halforcbard.blogspot.com Camelot

    Excellent idea! I’ve tried ending combats early in the past, but it’s really hard to call when the battle is clearly won. Sticking a saving throw on it makes it so much cleaner!

    Sorry to Nicholas, but I wouldn’t use your system. Creating a new status effect for everyone to memorize and having to come up with additonal stats for each monster before the game is more work that for me would defeat the purpose of morale checks. A quick and simple saving throw at the instant when the odds are looking bad is easy and requires no extra work or game rules. I’ll definitely be using this!

  • Foobar Gnomelover

    Just found this blog, so sorry for basically necroing the discussion.

    First of all, if you were looking at just 1st and 2nd Edition AD&D you weren’t looking back far enough.

    Every version of Basic D&D has a morale system, going back to Chainmail. Chainmail’s system was pretty complicated. The system you propose is very close to the systems presented in the Moldvay/Mentzer/Rules Compedium versions.

    Second, if combats are slow because the DM is having every creature fight to the death, then your DM needs to adjust his style. Morale was pulled from the game because D&D is not a war game simulation and the designers believed DMs were smart enough to know when monsters should flee or stand their ground. Creatures in 4E have a bloodied value partially because it lets the DM know when they should think about running.

    Maybe a morale system is appropriate as a corrective tool to help change habits, but the game as a whole is better for not having those rules built in, IMHO.

    Finally, I think you come close to designing an elegant morale system for 4E, if such a system is going to be used. But it is still too complicated. You are right to build it as a saving throw, but leave it as such and get rid of your modifiers. As you note, elites and solos get bonuses to saving throws (and other creatures may have powers that serve a similar function) and so they can act as the “leaders” you mention.

    For example:
    Morale
    A non-PC creature makes a saving throw when:
    * it is bloodied for the first time
    * 50% of its group are dead or have broken morale

    If the creature fails the saving throw it stops attacking and either moves to flee the combat (if it has an Int score lower than 10) or surrenders (if it has an Int score of 10 or higher).

    The end.

    But again, there is no morale system in D&D post-2nd Edition because DMs are empowered to decide when monsters run away.

    • Anonymous

      To be honest we’ve been sort of leaning in this direction. In the time since writing the post, we’ve found during games that having any modifiers just means you’ll forget them. What you propose is, I think, probably the most elegant system. The extra rules are unnecessary.

      Whilst yes, the DMs have the power to say that the monsters run away, sometimes it’s nice for all sorts of things to have rules to fall back on. And if they’re this simple, then, well, it will get to the point where it’s just another part of the game…

      PC: “So, that’s guy’s bloodied, he has to take a Morale Check now, right?” *grin*
      DM: “Damn, yeah.” *rolls* “Noooo! Oh, well. Pass the chips.”

  • http://halforcbard.blogspot.com Camelot

    I had another thought. Intimidation in combat has always been weird to me. I think that instead of comparing your Intimidate check against the monster’s will, you spur it to make a morale check. You only get one chance per monster per encounter. Either the monster has to be bloodied for it to work, or it gains a bonus if it isn’t.

    • Anonymous

      I always thought the Intimidate-in-combat rule was a bit of a kludge. But yes, linking it to the morale rules would make a lot of sense.

  • Osamar

    I have just found this blog through ENWORLD.
    At this moment I do not play, and have little 4ºed experience. But what about treat morale like a disease? Something like .A B C D E. levels of failed morale. And coward creatures go directly to level C, for example.

    PD. Please excuse my english.

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      There was a system that I read through years ago (the name of the book escapes me now…) which had categories for the monsters based on their motivation for entering the combat. So, for example, if they were only interested in food, they would run away pretty quickly if being hurt badly, but if they were fighting because they were defending their territory or young, they’d be more likely to fight to the death.

      At the time we were creating these rules, I suggested we follow a similar line of thought, but when we looked at fitting it into the 4e rules, it wasn’t particularly complimentary…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J77DNUO2BQC7BB2K54O32ZQSKQ bithumb

    This looks great, and I’m tempted to give it a try.

    However, how do you feel about the fact that ending ancounters early means that the players take less damage and end up with more healing surges that is appropriate to the adventure’s pace?

    At conventions I’ve seen DMs make rulings like “Ok, the monsters are down to the last 1/4 of their original number and you’ve defeated the BBG. I’ll wrap the encounter up right now if everyone wants to spend a healing surge on it.”

    So, to synthysize all that, what if any time a morale check was triggered, a player could spend a healing surge to make the monster actually make the roll?

    Anyway, either way, nice work on an elegant mechanic.

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      Attempting to deal with potential imbalances with other rules could be an issue with using any morale system (or combat shortening technique). It doesn’t particularly bother me in my games as I don’t feel the need for balancing resource use vs experience is especially important (this is a personal opinion, feel free to disagree).

      That being said, adding a Healing Surge trigger at the end of a Morale Check would compliment the system quite well, and certainly would fit easily enough to be used by any GM who felt that it was useful to their game – thanks for suggesting it :)

  • DarthKrzysztof

    This has sped things up dramatically in the two games we’ve used it in. I may have undead creatures make Morale checks if they’re bloodied by something they’re vulnerable to, like radiant damage… that might capture the flavor of the OLD turn undead rules.

  • Bilbo

    Did you follow this system for a substantial amount of time, or did you drop it as Nicholas and Foobar advocated?  If you did follow it, did it speed up your combat times?

    I like the idea of the system, and it seems simple enough, sans modifiers.

    I personally like fleeing as a motivation for moving story along.  I have had numerous chase scenes in my games which I model as skill challenges (sometimes on the fly).

  • Falco Goodbody

    I think this is a good system, but I would include an intimidate check required for a monster to make a morale check. In certain situations, obviously, this wouldn’t apply, but in others it would allow players to use a trained skill in combat: always a good thing.

  • Yourdungeonmaster

    Im pretty excited to work with this idea

    • http://diceofdoom.com RupertG

      Let us know how it goes – if there are any issues with it, or if it worked smoothly. We are always keen to hear how the rules get used :)

  • Egorlobaskin

    ahhh, it’s all too much!!
    Why not simply let the DM decide that the monsters flee, when the plot demands it?
    It’s a game after all…