Morale Rule:

Diplomacy Attitude
Morale Loyalty

Influencing NPC Attitudes of the Diplomacy Skill

Attitude - Means - Possible Actions
Hostile - Will take risks to hurt you - Attack, interfere, berate, flee
Unfriendly - Wishes you ill - Mislead, gossip, avoid, watch suspiciously, insult
Indifferent - Doesn’t much care - Socially expected interaction
Friendly - Wishes you well - Chat, advise, offer limited help, advocate
Helpful - Will take risks to help you - Protect, back up, heal, aid

Morale Check
A morale check is a Will Save with a DC of 15.

A group rolling for a morale check do it with the following modifiers to their check:

  • Alignment – Enemies of Chaotic alignment have more possibility of disbanding if conditions are not favorable. On the other hand they could enjoy more the battle and continue fighting to the dead. Check at – 2.
  • Good Odds – The enemy is half or less their number. Check at + 2.
  • Overwhelming Odds – The group is 10 to 1 or more . Check at + 2 (stacks with Good Odds).
  • Bad Odds – The enemy is twice or more the number of the group. Check at – 2.

When to roll a Morale Check
The moment the morale check is rolled depend of different circumstances:

  • Leader Lost – If the leader of the group is killed by the enemy. Tribal and gangs have this disadvantage. Groups of adventurers and organized armies don’t.
  • First Blood – If the group is made of smaller sized creatures and they are attacked by surprise, roll a morale check.
  • 10% Decimate – If the the group is been decimated by the enemy for three combat turns, a check is rolled.
  • 50% Halved – If the group is reduced to half their numbers.
  • 90% – The number of members of the group is been reduced to 10% of the group or less.

The morale system that I’ve seen is a fairly simple one based on a hit point threshold but customized to the monster/villain’s temperament. For example, a overconfident BBEG would fight to the death, but a cowardly sorcerer might attempt to flee or surrender at 50% of maximum hit points.

Customizing the level is reasonable for NPC’s (especially named NPC’s) although for generic monsters, you probably want a strategy (or possibly two) for the entire class. For example, “Owlbears are notoriously bloodthirsty killers, well known for their short tempers, aggression, and savage nature. They tend to attack without provocation.” That seems a likely candidate for “fight to the death”. In contrast, kobolds are known for setting traps and fleeing, so they likely are in the “flee at 50%” category.

I always try to play the monster’s intelligence, if they see that they will not win, they are outnumbered, many dead, wounded and the like and unless they are near mindless killers like owlbears they try to flee.
If they can’t and an offer to surrender is made I usually ask for a diplomacy or intimidate check with a DC between 15 and 20, sometimes I roll it myself.


D&D 3.0: Tales from Mystara Galero