Fear, natural and magical

There are some example of fear from monsters, like fear aura of dragons (save vs Paralysis), and mummies (save vs. Paralysis), although so far I’ve found only those two in the first book. Both sources are magical, from the looks of it. And of course there is Cause Fear spell (save vs Death), Wand of Fear and Drums of Panic (both save vs Wands).

Yet there are also spells and abilities which actually protect from fear, like Remove Fear (which grants a second save), or Bless (that grants saves against magical fear), Bard can Inspire Courage which acts as Bless and also grants saves against magical fear. Berserkergang makes character immune to fear completely while raging. And I’m sure there must be some I didn’t notice.

For some reason I also expected to see magical items granting the save or immunity, but didn’t find any in the first book, although there are some in HFH, that grant immunity from natural and magical fear. There also is a custom class power that does the same (Chosen, Zaharan ruinguard, etc).

So what is natural fear ? Is there one really ? I would think that failed morale roll could qualify as one, but somehow it feels distinctive from fear. Intimidate ? But again it doesn’t have the same compulsive and unthinking effect. Or it does and result is the same as magical fear ?

It all feels…strange, incoherent even, and I feel like I’m missing some important part of the game mechanics. I wonder how it was used in original D&D, and how it was used in your games, was it more common ?

Any good advise, especially on non-magical fear ? Maybe some house-rules from horror-based RPGs, especially on first levels ? Streamlining it into coherent rules for fear, explicitly tying them with morale rolls, and include player characters ? After all it doesn’t feel like a game of chthonic horror when every character is fearless, except when a magic spell was cast on them, right ? Or maybe it already is coherent and I simply misunderstood it ?

I would think morale checks would be the primary example.

Typically, “natural” fear is something that is only going to have mechanical effects against NPCs. Although, it would be interesting if magical resistance to natural fear was kind of like the mechanical opposite of magical fear.

PC affected by magical fear: Runs, regardless player desire.

PC magically immune to natural fear: Cannot voluntarily withdraw from battle. You feel no fear!

It is incoherent as most of the effects were imported from BX/BECMI/AD&D. In general, Fear effects are not among the unified mechanics of ACKS.

As Sable Wyvern said, natural fear would be a morale check. PCs are permitted to “override” natural fear to enable the player to maintain agency over his character, but it can be valuable for NPCs and henchmen and so on.

This thread brings up the issue of saves in general. I have never understood the saving throw categories, going all the way back to AD&D. In this thread we see fear saved against as paralysis, death, or wands, depending.

Would there be issues with importing the 5E saving throw system to ACKS? That system isn’t perfect, but to me it makes sense that, for instance, having a higher dexterity helps you dodge something, a higher strength helps with breaking free from a grapple or entangling vines, higher wisdom/willpower with resisting things like fear.

I allow that there may be advantages to the AD&D-style system that I am missing; like I said I have never understood it.