I've got some questions I'd like clarified on morale. My assumption is that morale checks are made at the soonest available opportunity after the proper conditions are met. Therefore, if a group of PCs wins initiative and slaughter half a goblin gang in one go the goblins would make a morale check that same round, as soon as their turn comes up. Conversely, if the goblins act first and the PCs slaughter half the gang in one go the morale check would technically occur on the goblins' turn during Round Two (so, in this instance, the PCs could conceivably attack a second time before the goblins roll for morale.
My main question is how this interacts with the rules for movement on p. 101, which explictly states:
Combatants who want to use one of these forms of movement must declare their intention to do so before they roll initiative for the round, and may not change their mind during the round.
This seems to imply that, in the first example above, if the goblins fail their morale check miserably they would not be able to retreat until their turn on round two, since the assumption would be that they have already rolled initiative for the round and did not declare defensive movement. However, I don't think that interpretation makes much sense, especially since you could have a situation like this: Actions declared --> Initiative rolled --> PCs win and slaughter half the goblins --> Goblins make morale check and roll a 2, indicating a full retreat --> Goblins cannot do this since it was not declared, so they do what was originally intended --> Round Two, actions declared, goblins state they will flee --> Initiative is rolled --> PCs win and slaugher the rest of the goblins.
[quote="ACKS Core pg 110"]
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...Retreat means that the monsters will make a full retreat (as explained under Defensive Movement) on their next action. Fighting Withdrawal means the monsters will make a fighting withdrawal (as per Defensive Movement) on their next action.
That's all "on their next action", which means one could do a morale check after resolving the outcome of Round 1, therefore it occurs at the end of Round 1 or before initiative on Round 2. So if they lose initiative, they could get slaughtered, yes.
That being said, though, any goblin in the example who is not engaged could just run, as that's not a declared action, if the morale roll is done at point of the condition being met.
There was some discussion on the mechanic here:http://www.autarch.co/forums/ask-autarchs/why-do-you-have-declare-you-are-withdrawing
ACKS Core doesn't seem to define a "morale phase" like D@W does, so, it's largely up to the Judge. I've usually done it at the tick of the round with other housekeeping.
What about a creature being subjected to a Fear spell, or a low HD creature caught in an Insect Plague spell, where fleeing is forced by external forces?
(as always, IANAA)
Fear I expect is a special case. The spell effect overrules the normal movement rules - a saving throw is involved, etc.
Insect Plague - The monster entry implies that leaving the swarm's area is voluntary. The spell effect "automatically drives off" creatures of <3HD, which is different than the "forced flee/fear" spell effect. (I bet that subeffect is an artifact out of B/X)
I'd read it as the creature making the decision to leave the effected area at the first point they are able to do so - so, within the regular rules of movement if engaged in combat. It'd be like lighting the ground on fire under a melee - anybody not in melee can pop right out, but combatants will have to both disengage.