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4E Morale systems

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yeah, I thought long and hard and tinkered and tested various schemes for morale, until I just came to the conclusion that loss of morale is and aught to be like losing a bunch of hit points. Now, if you have these hit points that you aren't actually going to use, because they're inevitably going to be lost due to whatever circumstance, then why have them to start with? You see where I'm going with this?
Lower hit points fails completly to give me ally dependent OR leader dependent
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I guess what I'm saying is, I wasn't happy with the cut-down E-Classes and I don't THINK I'm happy with the deep tinkering that your options require either. I mean, they actually seem rather complex to me, complex to understand at least.
Part of that's just me, I make anything sound complicated. ;)

But, the crux of the cut-down idea is literally just pairing away the other two resource sets from a given class. Not s'much trying to compensate or balance them.

I suppose I got the idea from Ars Magicka, which assumes PC mages, but let's you play a 'custos' with the understanding you're a lesser being if you choose to...
 
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Lower hit points fails completly to give me ally dependent OR leader dependent
Well, here's another option, give monsters 'healing' as a leadership capability. That provides a type of morale measure. You could even provide a rule which assesses a damage 'toll' on monsters in psychic damage every turn, and then give leader monsters a way to provide a compensating amount of 'healing'. Now a group of monsters which lacks a leader becomes far less threatening, and one with a strong leader more threatening (and monsters with no morale, such as undead simply get nastier in general). Numbers could produce a more modest effect, so if the monsters seem to be plainly winning, then they suffer relatively little 'morale damage' and vice versa. GMs can reduce the damage in other situations, such as monsters who cannot surrender, or ones which may be particularly well motivated.
 

heretic888

Villager
Quite curious as to what you've implemented. I see what @AbdulAlhazred is saying wrt hps, but his solution seems unsatisfying to me. (Perhaps there is no satisfying system for this.)
Pretty much what I stated in my last post:

A non-player creature makes a morale saving throw when any of the following take place:
* They are bloodied for the first time in the encounter.
* Their leader is defeated.
* Their side is reduced to 1/2 its original numbers.
If a creature is particularly cowardly they get a -2 to the save, if particularly brave or reckless a +2 to the save. Elites and solos get their regular bonus to the moral save (+2 and +5, respectively). If a creature makes the save, they keep fighting; if they fail, they flee or surrender.


Of course, I adapted this from LostSoul's excellent Fiction-First 4E adaptation: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?278034-4E-Hack-quot-Fiction-First-quot-Playtest

I find its a pretty useful technology, as it gives you more wiggle room in using harder encounters and is a good antidote to "combat takes forever" than can happen in 4E.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Well, here's another option, give monsters 'healing' as a leadership capability.
Well it is certainly on the possible fixes and effectively ties the whole group power to the leader ability.

The solace in numbers element would need to be something else.

Perhaps an ability enemy has bonus hit points per ally currently on the field. (and loses them when they die)

I do like the idea of thinking morale is all in terms of hit points.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I find its a pretty useful technology, as it gives you more wiggle room in using harder encounters and is a good antidote to "combat takes forever" than can happen in 4E.
I do like the idea of thinking morale is all in terms of hit points.
Those are kind of in opposite directions. Hps /do/ seem to handle morale, already, with Bloodied being required before Intimidate can force a surrender. So there's that.


Perhaps an ability enemy has bonus hit points per ally currently on the field. (and loses them when they die)
On the flip side, creatures with 'poor morale' could gain a vulnerability or gain ongoing psychic (save ends?) when morale triggers are hit (leader bloodied, leader "slain or hors de combat," half of numbers dropped, etc).
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Those are kind of in opposite directions. Hps /do/ seem to handle morale, already, with Bloodied being required before Intimidate can force a surrender. So there's that.
Embracing hit points are a morale measure is more 4e appropriate or more 4.5e appropriate in my opinion I agree they are opposites

On the flip side, creatures with 'poor morale' could gain a vulnerability or gain ongoing psychic (save ends?) when morale triggers are hit (leader bloodied, leader "slain or hors de combat," half of numbers dropped, etc).
That is not a bad affliction actually.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Embracing hit points are a morale measure is more 4e appropriate or more 4.5e appropriate in my opinion I agree they are opposites
I've also always thought minions could represent creatures with very poor morale. They'll march along and hit things until it's driven home to them that they're facing a real enemy that can hurt them, then they fold. Could also make minions a renewable resource, since all those minions that got hit didn't necessarily die, just ran/hid, surrendered, or otherwise stopped fighting...

That is not a bad affliction actually.
One advantage is that it's not even a 'system.' Just assign traits to model high morale (regeneration until bloodied, or regeneration not on rounds that 'trigger' morale, temp hps, etc) to particularly brave/motivated creatures, and traits like the above for those with poor morale.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
I've also always thought minions could represent creatures with very poor morale. They'll march along and hit things until it's driven home to them that they're facing a real enemy that can hurt them, then they fold. Could also make minions a renewable resource, since all those minions that got hit didn't necessarily die, just ran/hid, surrendered, or otherwise stopped fighting...
Serious wounds seem a perfectly viable or a PTSD issue either of which undermines them for a foreseeable future. Affliction territory which could be elaborated

One advantage is that it's not even a 'system.' Just assign traits to model high morale (regeneration until bloodied, or regeneration not on rounds that 'trigger' morale, temp hps, etc) to particularly brave/motivated creatures, and traits like the above for those with poor morale.
as a system it is "patch" like, however to get some of the benefits discussed you kind of have to do it rather systematically ie pervasively anyway so...shrug

Any implementation via hit points ought to integrate quite well with the rest of the game.

I do particularly like regeneration when
  • personally not bloodied
  • when your leader is hale, ie not dead or bloodied (again this could be a leader ability)
  • more half of your allies still stand.

I find heroic regeneration like that of the Longtooth shifter kicking in specifically when you are bloodied is rather good. When the going gets tough the tough get awesome -- doesnt have to be about shape change.
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
I do particularly like regeneration when
  • personally not bloodied
  • when your leader is hale, ie not dead or bloodied (again this could be a leader ability)
  • more half of your allies still stand.
Nod, it's 'morale regeneration' keeping your spirits up while things go your way.

I find heroic regeneration like that of the Longtooth shifter kicking in specifically when you are bloodied is rather good. When the going gets tough the tough get awesome -- doesnt have to be about shape change.
Which is ideal for modeling a racial regeneration of wounds - not that you have a lot of wounds when bloodied, but once they're gone, you're not regenerating, physically, anymore...
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Which is ideal for modeling a racial regeneration of wounds - not that you have a lot of wounds when bloodied, but once they're gone, you're not regenerating, physically, anymore...
Sure it works for the retro - wound model ;) but its also the pacing turn around the hero is tougher and more bad ass when under stress than they are when not stressed.
 
Well it is certainly on the possible fixes and effectively ties the whole group power to the leader ability.

The solace in numbers element would need to be something else.

Perhaps an ability enemy has bonus hit points per ally currently on the field. (and loses them when they die)

I do like the idea of thinking morale is all in terms of hit points.
Yeah, my thinking and practice has evolved through 4 stages:

1) 4e - there simply is no provision for morale as such, except for the highly broken Intimidate implementation (which is IMHO garbage). This indicated the lameness of having a system that breaks with the "get the enemy to 0 hit points and he's defeated" paradigm, which is a good solid paradigm.

2) Morale system v1 - This was just basically an adaptation of what happens in AD&D (which is how I would classify [MENTION=81242]Lost Soul[/MENTION]'s mechanics too). It requires managing morale as a separate system and has the same disadvantage as the Intimidate system from 4e, it creates a 'second path' to defeating monsters, with attendant problems.

3) Morale system v2 - This was basically what [MENTION=996]Tony Vargas[/MENTION] is proposing here, that morale is some sort of a hit point penalty which creatures take when certain conditions are met. This DOES fix the issues with #1 and #2, now you have one thing to worry about, hit points. I've already stated why it is unsatisfactory, as it is ESSENTIALLY just cutting monster's hit points.

4) Morale system v3 - (this hasn't been implemented) Model morale as a positive influence on creatures hit points when they are in favorable morale situations. Thus leaders effectively heal their allies, bolstering their hit points. This would most likely have to be coupled with a system like #3 where hit points could wane due to situational factors. However that might be able to be factored into a combination of initial hit points and the effects of at least some powers.

As you can see, coming up with something that is both workable and satisfactory is hard. Mostly I have come to the conclusion that it is not really worth it. Instead simply downrate the levels of weak morale creatures, or even just slice off a surge, or add a surge, worth of hit points to creatures based on their situation before the fight starts.
 
I've also always thought minions could represent creatures with very poor morale. They'll march along and hit things until it's driven home to them that they're facing a real enemy that can hurt them, then they fold. Could also make minions a renewable resource, since all those minions that got hit didn't necessarily die, just ran/hid, surrendered, or otherwise stopped fighting...

One advantage is that it's not even a 'system.' Just assign traits to model high morale (regeneration until bloodied, or regeneration not on rounds that 'trigger' morale, temp hps, etc) to particularly brave/motivated creatures, and traits like the above for those with poor morale.
Yup, that's what I'm going to do in HoML from now on is just model it as specific traits that you can add to stat blocks. In effect it becomes a set of 'monster themes', high morale, or low morale, with a couple variations of attributes that can be added depending on what the GM thinks is appropriate.
 

heretic888

Villager
I'm of a somewhat different mind here.

To me, having hit points directly simulate morale has the same problem as having hit points directly simulate meat or health or whatever. It basically has no bearing in the game's procedures whatsoever except as Color. Whether meat or morale, being low on hit points doesn't affect your performance (barring a few exceptions like bloodied dragonborn and the like) whatsoever nor does it have any direct bearing on your character's fictional positioning. Hit points clearly don't simulate *anything* really, except how close a character is to death. In that regard, hit points have more in common with bennies in Savage Worlds or fate points in Warhammer Fantasy than it does with, say, harm levels in Apocalypse World or Blades in the Dark. Its a doom clock, plain and simple.

My experience with the Intimidate skill's morale effect is it almost never gets used. The DC is high enough that, unless a character is super-optimized for a high Intimidate bonus, it is absolutely not worth the effort to waste a standard action on it during a combat situation.

I disagree with AbdulAlhazred's assertion that having a "second path" to defeating enemies is problematic, especially in a Story Now style of game. In fact, opening thematically appropriate avenues toward resolving encounters is pretty much intrinsic to Story Now type games. I actually go further than this in my own games, and often have Skill Challenges operating in tandem with Combat Encounters with the PCs able to "win" the encounter using either approach. The morale system I described is just icing on the cake.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Yup, that's what I'm going to do in HoML from now on is just model it as specific traits that you can add to stat blocks. In effect it becomes a set of 'monster themes', high morale, or low morale, with a couple variations of attributes that can be added depending on what the GM thinks is appropriate.
I think it works well - there may be problems with the Intimidate as a route to end of fight but it was made hit point dependent (so philosophically its not a blow regardless of the very likely problem of mechanics such as skill pumping and so on)

Insert the discussion here of the problem with sleep spell and you may see my point of view on it with the two of us swapping seats.
[MENTION=60326]heretic888[/MENTION]
My problem splitting it is basically distinguishing willingness and ability to fight on in a way that just isnt done in game AND that not distinguishing is why healing is called both healing and inspiration and similar things all over in the game as it stands.

About Intimidate - likely if you do uber optimize it you can end the fight entirely multiple enemies knocked from bloodied to functionally zero, with one standard action.
 

heretic888

Villager
[MENTION=60326]heretic888[/MENTION]
My problem splitting it is basically distinguishing willingness and ability to fight on in a way that just isnt done in game AND that not distinguishing is why healing is called both healing and inspiration and similar things all over in the game as it stands.
Well, like I said, hit points don't really represent *anything* about the characters other than an abstract doom clock. We can describe it as a "willingness to fight" or an "ability to fight" all we want, but at the end of the day its just Color; by which I mean, it has zero impact on the game's procedures or on the characters' fictional positioning with the exception of a few traits and powers that trigger when bloodied (and, even then, the game's procedures don't care one whit if you're Bloodied with 100 hp vs being Bloodied with 1 hp).

This isn't unique to 4E, by the way. This is true of all versions of D&D. Losing hit points doesn't make you more susceptible to being influenced nor does it diminish your ability to hit and damage enemies. All it does it mark how close you are to being defeated/killed/whatever. Its no different then a life point bar in most video games.

The purpose of the morale system I use in my games is threefold: 1) it gives more wiggle room in using hard and very hard encounters, 2) it helps prevent the Combat Takes Too Long syndrome without the potentially unbalancing options like rejiggering monster hp and damage, and 3) it increases player empowerment by giving them more meaningful tactical decisions in an encounter (and also mitigates somewhat the overwhelming efficacy of focus fire against single enemies).

About Intimidate - likely if you do uber optimize it you can end the fight entirely multiple enemies knocked from bloodied to functionally zero, with one standard action.
My understanding is using the Intimidate skill to force a bloodied foe to surrender can only be done to one creature at a time. Is this incorrect?
 

Tony Vargas

Adventurer
Hit points clearly don't simulate *anything* really, except how close a character is to death.
In 4e, not even necessarily death, just defeat - when you drop someone to 0, you can decide what happens to them, just KO them or whatever, instead of leaving them dying.

Whether meat or morale, being low on hit points doesn't affect your performance (barring a few exceptions like bloodied dragonborn and the like) whatsoever nor does it have any direct bearing on your character's fictional positioning.
In 4e, Bloodied can bear on both. And, you already have separate-from-hd conditions (and can arbitrarily apply just about anything in the same manner, thanks to exception-based design), breaking an enemy's morale (temporarily if the fight isn't all but over) could be rattled, dazed or even stunned, for instance.

My experience with the Intimidate skill's morale effect is it almost never gets used. The DC is high enough that, unless a character is super-optimized for a high Intimidate bonus, it is absolutely not worth the effort to waste a standard action on it during a combat situation.
Matches my experience.
One minor variation, apart from just having enemies break and run or break & surrender when it seems reasonable, would be to set lower DCs for it when the tide has clearly turned against their side and/or they're prone to surrender or run for any other reason...

I disagree with AbdulAlhazred's assertion that having a "second path" to defeating enemies is problematic, especially in a Story Now style of game. In fact, opening thematically appropriate avenues toward resolving encounters is pretty much intrinsic to Story Now type games. I actually go further than this in my own games, and often have Skill Challenges operating in tandem with Combat Encounters with the PCs able to "win" the encounter using either approach. The morale system I described is just icing on the cake.
Using a Skill Challenge structure parallel to the combat I could see, yes. It gives you a separate path to resolution.

The advantage of Abdul's approach is that it keeps the system 'simple' (less complicated? more elegant?), by using the existing mechanisms - hps, healing/regen, damage/conditions, traits, to model enemies with unusually good or poor morale. It seems like more than a few powers also want to model shaking enemy morale in various ways, already, too.

The skill challenge solution would share that advantage.
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
My understanding is using the Intimidate skill to force a bloodied foe to surrender can only be done to one creature at a time. Is this incorrect?
No it can be multiple with one action relevant quote.

"If you attempt to intimidate multiple enemies at once, make a separate Intimidate check against each enemy’s Will defense. Each target must be able to see and hear you."
 

Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Losing hit points doesn't make you more susceptible to being influenced
The bloodied threshold makes you vulnerable to various effects Deva Aura is one example.

EDIT:I guess at some level it usually seems to make NPCs more vulnerable
 
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Garthanos

Arcadian Knight
Matches my experience.
One minor variation, apart from just having enemies break and run or break & surrender when it seems reasonable, would be to set lower DCs for it when the tide has clearly turned against their side and/or they're prone to surrender or run for any other reason...
While I like it conceptually it seems to have a real numbers problem (maybe making it so it doesnt demand as much to be optimized my help)

Its actually real powerful particularly if you can bloody a lot of the field or simply doesnt work at all ie it is SWING high SWING low.
 

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