How to check morale?

I tried to search the forums, but the search application continues to be a bit flaky.

I was wondering how one checks morale. I know when, but for whom?

Do I roll for every monster? Each side? Each group or individual that gets its own initiative roll?


Great question. I wasn't as clear here as I ought to have been.

The intent is that you make one roll for the entire side, adding each creature's morale modifier and comparing the modified total to the Monster Morale table. 

Here's the official rule, with certain text bolded to show you what was intended:

"The Judge usually makes morale rolls under two conditions: when one side of an encounter has lost a member due to death, or when half the group on one side is either killed or otherwise incapacitated. If both results occur in the same round, one morale roll is made at a -2 penalty. Solo monsters roll morale when they lose half their hit points. To make a morale roll, the Judge rolls 2d6, adding the morale rating of the monsters, along with any other adjustments he feels are reasonable, and consults the Monster Morale table. Retreat means that the monsters will make a full retreat (as explained under Defensive Movement) on their next action. "

Here's a complex, interesting example:

The PCs encounter 8 goblins (ML -1) and 2 ogres (ML +2). The PCs swiftly kill 1 ogre. The goblin/ogre "side" has lost a member due to death, so a morale roll is required. The Judge rolls a 5. This means the remaining ogre (ML +2) has an adjusted die roll of 7, "Fight On", but the goblins (ML-1) have an adjusted die roll of 4, "fighting withdrawal". The goblins leave the battle on the next round. 

The ogre now finds that half the group on its side is out of the fight, so it must make another morale roll. The roll is a 7, modified to a 9, "Advance and Pursue". The ogre gets even more aggressive.

The PCs now gang up on the ogre, which is effectively a solo monster. When it loses half its hit points, it will have to make another morale roll. This time the modified die roll is a 2. The ogre surrenders. 



Neat! Thank you. How does that mesh with henchmen checking for morale when they reach half of their hit points, as mentioned in another thread?

For reference: Henchmen and Morale

well, I screwed that up with the very first fight against a pack of rats! I’ll slowly learn all the intricacies. I think the confusion for me was that it seemed like it was impossible to be reduced to half membership by means other than dying, it hadn’t occurred to me that retreat might prompt such a thing.

Oh wow, we’ve been playing this wrong for quite a while now. Totally forgot that a single death provokes a morale roll; only been doing it at half casualties. I expect monsters and henchmen will begin to flee much more often…

Hmm, do henchmen have to roll as well? I thought as long as the PCs keep on fighting they stay as well…

Apparently all NPCs get morale checks. So much for using Charisma as a dump stat. :frowning:

You know, while this seems fine and dandy for the monsters, it’s going to suck when your fighter goes down and sends all of your henchmen running for the hills right when you need them most. Those ungrateful jerks! :slight_smile:

You’re worried about them running away? - not all morale rolls come out that way.
Last time I went down an NPC shouted “They got him! The BASTARDS!!” and the entire Henchman contingent charged the same barricade that I had like Light-Brigade-flavoured nutters.

Ha! Good point.

“No, you idiots! We’re retreating! Stop fighting! You’re carrying our treasure!”

It definitely makes Charisma a more important stat, and Charisma-based characters like Paladins with morale modifiers for like-minded hirelings more interesting and their morale-affecting abilities more relevant.

The more I think about it, the more I like the way Charisma is handled in ACKs. Having a “charisma character” seems like a valid, non-broken, interesting thing, with that guy being the one that has the reliable gang that backs him up, assuming that the encounter doesn’t end amicably anyway due to a good reaction roll. If all you’ve got to work with is a rocking Charisma, you will, just by playing to that strength, end up a “leader of men”.

I don’t know. It sounds cool.

I agree. It’s something I never touched when we played 1st Edition back in the '80s… no DM I played with dealt with it either. When we were teenagers we probably didn’t want to consider the idea of monsters surrendering or running away before we could butcher or fry all of them. But now I think it’s great. I love the unexpectedness morale checks bring to the table… it’s a lot of fun, I think.

I’ll hop on the bandwagon and say that ACKS handles the concepts of Charisma better than any other system I’ve looked at. I really like what Alex and Co. has done with that aspect of the game.


Believe me Dave, I was as surprised as you were. I half expected them to turn and flee, but the dice said no… Fortunately for you :wink: