Mar 22, 2012

Fighter Abilities, Morale Checks and Fatigue

I think morale enriches combat and allows PCs options on resolving combat other than slaughtering their enemies mercilessly. When I finally introduce fatigue mechanics (the fatigue saving throw concept), I plan to make morale an off-shoot of them - morale checks will be a type of fatigue check. Turning undead will be a morale check (specifically, it will force undead creatures to make a major fatigue check, and will be one of the few ways of forcing them to make such checks).

I also think that yet another feature fighters should have is the ability to force morale checks in certain situations. This represents the awe-inspiring and disheartening skill with which they dispatch their opponents, or perhaps merely their savagery. Mindless monsters like golems and undead will have special rules about making fatigue checks that will make this less useful against them. Two proposed powers:

Ferocious Hewing: Whenever a fighter deals sufficient damage to kill an enemy, he can force one other opponent to make a morale check. Failure means they must cower or retreat for one minute (DM's choice).

Champion Slayer: Whenever a fighter of 5th level or greater deals sufficient damage to kill the enemy with the highest remaining hit dice, he can force all remaining opponents to make a morale check. Failure means they throw themselves on his mercy or flee screaming (DM's choice).


  1. I think these are outcomes of combat in general, not specific Fighter abilities. A unit of men should roll morale at the first casualty and at 50% men. Similarly, a single powerful monster should roll morale when it gets hit OR in the presence of its special weakness, and at half HP.

    Compare a Fighter who drops one Orc vs. a M-U who casts Sleep and drops a half dozen.

    1. I'm not opposed to morale checks for other reasons, but there is a particularly intimidating self-assured presence that professional warriors learn to project, especially in combat and the lead up to it, that I think the rules ought to represent and that is the domain of fighters in D&D. It also matches the features of warriors in epics who go charging at the enemy and scatter them with only a few well-placed blows.

  2. I am stealing this for my homebrew barbarian class.

  3. how about this .. .

    a check is made with Difficulty = 10 + fighter's (encounter) level

    To determine morale checks;
    roll d20,
    adding leader’s charisma modifier,
    plus NPCs wisdom modifier,
    and the SQ*RT of NPCs/ monster's current hit point total. **

    Buying NPCs good gear and good treatment provides a circumstance bonus.

    **Square roots really arent that hard to determine (with a calculator 8-)
    and simulate bigger, badder, combat skilled creatures
    are braver ...
    a 10th level fighter , should be braver than a 10th level thief

    1. A 10th level fighter under this system can be represented as being on average braver than a thief through having a lower fatigue check number to roll over.

      I'm not sure what the complexity of your proposed system gives us. It also uses two stats - charisma and wisdom - that I'm in favour of replacing.

  4. One option is to consider hit points as in part morale, and allow fighters a special ranged attack - "intimidate". So when you're at 0HP you're not necessarily unconscious, but you're unable to fight - sitting there frozen in fear, etc. The "attack" of the fighter would be an intimidation - lopping off the head of a fallen foe and presenting it to the enemy with a shout, that kind of thing. The foes get a saving throw or take damage.

    That's getting depressingly close to the approaches of D&D3.5 and 4e, though, and however much we call it "intimidation", players would perceive it as k3w1 pw0rz.