What is Heroes & Other Worlds?

Heroes & Other Worlds is a game of adventure inspired by Metagaming's classic Melee/Wizard/TFT system combined with inspiration from the Moldvay edited basic game. The rules are easy to learn and use standard six sided dice. The system is simple, sensible and flexible in the spirit of classic role playing games from the early 80's. Become a Hero, Other Worlds await!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fight or Flight?

D20 games used a morale by creature type so the DM could check by rolling dice if the creature would fight or run. The higher the morale #, the more elite (less likely to run) the creature is.

TFT systems did not have morale, and when playing D&D, we never rolled against morale anyway, we just used it as a guideline.

I toyed with potentially adding morale to HOW, but it seemed like a needless stat addition.

That being said, in the Silver Dragon adventure from Metagaming, there was a morale system inserted:

"Each time an opponent in an enemy group is downed make a die roll for each remaining opponent. Each opponent will react according to the one die roll made for him. This reaction may be for the combat round to follow the current initiative roll or for another time period designated. Add one to the roll for each opponent previously downed.
"Die Roll    Reaction
 1 - 3      Continues fighting, no reaction
 4          Hesitates, will not engage voluntarily this turn,
              but otherwise fights normally.
 5          Hesitates, will not take any attack option this turn.
 6 - 7      Break and run, will try to disengage and/or run off
              map away from danger.
 8+         Surrender - opponent drops to knees, drops weapons
              and tries to surrender.

"An opponent who rolls a Break and Run will only Hesitate (no attack) for one turn if he is the only one to have the Break and Run reaction. An opponent who is Engaged when he rolls a Break and Run will try to Disengage for two turns, if unsuccessful he will then continue to fight normally. An opponent who isn't engaged will run from the map at every opportunity at top speed, dropping all weapons and trying to avoid the adventuring group. Any opponent or Character who leaves the combat map is considered out of the battle and can't return." 

I think a "fight or flight" check is an interesting option.  I have in mind it would come when an creature (or character?) is at 1/2 ST and again at 1/4 ST with a +1 modifier to the d6 roll at this point.  The roll would be done using a version of the metagaming chart above.  

A modifier would apply to the roll based on how the overall battle was going.  So for the testing creature, if your side outnumbered your foes (-2 to your FoF die roll) same number as foes (0-no modifier) If your side is outnumbered by your foes (+2 to your FoF die roll)

Still pondering some different options (and this would be an optional rule) but I thought I'd share this work in progress all the same.


  1. In my opinion it shouldn't apply to characters, running away and surrendering are tactical options for players.

    1. I agree. Players should choose, not be forced to surrender or retreat. I don't think D&D ever did that (I know we didn't). I'm sure that wasn't the intent here.

    2. Good feedback and I agree, thanks!

    3. D&D did that, before it was called nothing more than Blackmoor. I've read the rules in Dragons at Dawn, and kind if like the idea of morale checks even for PCs.

  2. I like the general idea of a Moral check. We used it back in 1eD&D days but not exactly as written. I'm not sure how it was handled because I was never the DM but I remember it was handled in such a way that I developed the strategy: "kill the biggest mofo in the room first".

    What you describe above seems awfully complicated but I know I'm the simpleton in this bunch. What about something like this:

    When a foe is reduced to 1/4 ST, the foe will begin fleeing. If attacked while fleeing, the foe will make defensive reactions but will not take offensive actions unless it's route is blocked by enemy combatants.

    If I had ST60 and was reduced to ST15, I would seriously consider fleeing - even if I was a fire-breathing dragon fighting a one-armed dude.

    1. ...but this doesn't have to be a general rule either. it can just be part of the creature/foe description.

    2. Thanks ewookie for the feedback, I appreciate it.

  3. I like the idea of basing a Terror's MC on their behavior, such as territorial, aggressive, etc. have a number for each creature. Fall below half in number or STR make a roll or run.

    1. That's a an interesting and sensible idea! Thanks Mabon

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. another M&M to add to the bowl of ideas and mix around: morale check = (2 or 3)d6 vs. current ST. roll under = fight. roll over = flight. no need to make up a new stat. the behavior patterns (territorial, aggressive, etc.) can determine: #die used, modifiers, when(if) the check is made, etc.

    1. I like ewookie's take- simple and less cumbersome than a chart.

  5. And here we close the circle so to speak. I had toyed with X/ST but you run to problem when say an ST120 creature falls to ST60 3/ST or 4/ST just does not work so using ST to test for morale does not work.

    Okay so why not IQ? When ST hits half, test X/IQ. Well how to use IQ determine the fight or flight reaction is where I run into trouble. Should flight occur if you roll under the IQ...or over IQ.

    Let's look at 3/IQ taking flight if over-- that works until you reach a smart (high IQ) opponent and then the smart guy rarely runs...which seems contrary to a higher IQ.

    Let's look at 3/IQ taking flight if under -- that works to make smart people flee, but means creatures of lower intelligence (dogs, cats, wolves, snakes) will fight to the death...which seems contrary to our own experiences in the real world.

    If a ST test is flawed and an IQ test is flawed and a chart is needless complication, then I think we circle back to the creature's behavior as Mabon suggested and build on the idea ewookie discussed.

    I think a simple d6 roll based on the behavior pattern of the creature would do it. Test at half ST and test again at 1/4 ST adding +1 to the die roll. The first numbers are chance to stay in the fight/ second is chance for flight.

    Cowardly 1-2/4-6
    Territorial/ Unpredictable 1-3/4-6
    Aggressive 1-4/5-6

    Let me know what you think and I appreciate all the great ideas and feedback. Of course the right answer may really be we do not need this at all. :)

    1. Cowardly: fight 1-2/3-6 flight

      Territorial/ Unpredictable: fight 1-3/4-6 flight

      Aggressive: fight 1-4/5-6 flight

      Had to edit the table a bit for clarity. Then I noticed so strange wording on my original reply. Sorry, I should not write until after the first cup of coffee.

    2. i hid under a rock for a few days. i'd like to take up your ST120 creature example. that ST120 creature is a bad-ass mofo. that sort of toughness breeds pride. so no, he will not run away until his ST is below 18. sounds right to me.

      but my suggestion of rolling against current ST had a particular context in my mind. the context being the players are fighting several foes. let's say a pack of 6 wolves. the morale check is only made when a wolf is slain. then the remaining wolves roll against their current ST. those that pass, stay and fight. those that don't run away. when another wolf is slain, morale check again.

      i haven't given this deep, detailed thought. the number of remaining critters should be a factor in the morale check as well as the behavioral type of the critter. perhaps the # of remaining critters should adjust the ST of each critter while making the ST-based morale check. i hope that made sense. as i re-read it sounds complicated.

    3. I appreciate the feedback! The high ST issue is one that I don't is resolved by just waiting until its strength is down to 15% or less of original and then rolling t0's and 70'so fit a 3 or 4 dice model. We will have to agree to disagree on that.

      So the D&D morale issue (testing when others on your side die) is a hold over from the war game roots of D&D from the 60's/70's. I think that idea is good for armies, but on a skirmish level it should not be the reason for testing.

      I think the more personal "how much damage have I taken" then test morale is more inline with skirmish level combat. You could certainly have modifiers for a death of a leader or as I suggested earlier, modification for the number of guys left in the fight on my side (more/equal/less) but I am not sure ST based tests work and having morale tests dependent on whenever there is a death of compatriots is right for a skirmish game.

      Just my thoughts.

    4. "I appreciate the feedback! The high ST issue is one that I don't is resolved by just waiting until its strength is down to 15% or less of original and then rolling t0's and 70'so fit a 3 or 4 dice model. We will have to agree to disagree on that."

      i didn't understand that. maybe we actually agree there.

      i do agree to disagree on the rest of that post though. i think it's just as valid in small packs (skirmish) as it is large packs (armies).

    5. And I appreciate that reasoned disagreement! Nothing is written in stone and its good to have options to experiment with, thanks again ewookie! :)

    6. then again, if you roll against current ST when an ally is slain, you get the best of both worlds...indivdual damage and group damage both factor in.

  6. (i think that's how we did it in 1e days. when a foe was slain, each remaining foe made a morale check against it's morale#.)

    1. (which is why it was smart to kill the creature with the highest morale# first)

  7. Here's what i had in mind:

    Each foe makes a morale check against current ST whenever one of it's allies is slain. The behavioral aspect of the foe determines the # of die used in the check.

    Cowardly 4d6
    Territorial/ Unpredictable 3d6
    Aggressive 2d6

    the simple d6 method based on behavioral aspect is simpler and more appealing to me. the main thing i don't like so far is doing the morale check when a foe reaches a certain level of ST. doing it when a foe is slain is more appealing to me. i think it would make the whole combat flow better. just subtract the remaining # of allies from the d6 roll to get result.

  8. (scratch that last sentence. still i had my original idea in my mind)

  9. sorry for being a post-whore. i have really fond memories/feelings about morale checks. additional thoughts: some things should never run away. some quick examples: zombies, skeletons, etc. i'm not sure if 'Aggressive' lines up with the sort of creatures that shouldn't run away but if it does, maybe 'Aggressive' creatures never run away.

    1. Hey do not apologize for sharing your ideas and thoughts! I appreciate a different point of view and your sharing gives me more to think about! Thank you very much!

  10. glad to hear that. even though we disagree on _when_ the morale check should be made, the 1d6 method inspired by mabon's input is much better than my original thoughts. simple is good for play and it is also simple for me to tweak to my own liking. sharing ideas/thoughts is a win/win :)

  11. I have to say (and yes, I dropped off the face of the planet for this discussion until this evening) that I really like:

    a) the idea of a morale check. I'd forgotten that little extra bit in Silver Dragon, but once you brought it to mind, I realized I'd used it several other adventures, but then never got around to figuring out some campaign rules for the idea;

    b) the way ewookie is approaching the idea. Simple is always better, even though there is an issue with the higher strength creatures. On the other hand, those higher strength creatures ARE going to feel pretty darn self-confident against the puny humans (or elves or dwarves, or whatever), so maybe not being subject to Morale Checks for a while is a situation reflective of their self-concept. It seems there ought to be a way around the die roll conundrum though -- perhaps by some sort of simple mathematical comparison -- for example, if a strength 120 creature were compared to a normal human type creature, perhaps you simply divide the creature's high strength by 10 (e.g., it is now treated as a 12 ST creature for this check, and when it's strength hits 60 (revised as "6" in this paradigm) it must roll against it's ST of 6. Obviously not every high strength creature could be divided by 10 and give rational results, but a ST 60 creature might be divided by 5 to get to that base human ST of 12 and the same concept would then work. The bottom line is that it should be do-able without too much in the way of mental gymnastics. And;

    c) Fenway's subsequent modification for the NATURE of the creature's personality also works very well -- and eliminates my rather arcane math.

    So, in the end, I think I'll probably opt for the cowardly/territorial-unpredictable/aggressive idea, with one exception -- I might roll for the "unpredictable" creature first to determine how it's feeling at the moment, prior to rolling the actual morale check -- perhaps 1-2 = cowardly, 3-4 = territorial, and 5-6 = aggressive. After all, the name "unpredictable" means exactly that, right? ;-)

    the math is one of the reasons why i prefer doing MCs when a foe is slain. i don't have to stop and consider after every hit on a foe: does this take him down to 1/2 ST? 1/4 ST? wth is 1/4 ST for this guy? where did i put my calculator?

    doing MCs when a foe is slain makes MORE sense for small battles than large ones. it actually makes no sense to me to do MCs (to determine fleeing) in large battles. (i think MCs should determine something else in large battles, but that's another subject). when you kill the leader of a pack, the followers will consider giving up the fight. kill the new leader and they consider some more.

    Soldier#001 will not make decisions about fleeing based on whether or not Soldier#999 was slain. however, thug#1 will consider fleeing after thug#6 is slain.

    rolling against current ST is pretty simple too.

    it's good to see you again, jeff!

    1. oh, forgot to add: peer-pressure will keep thug#1 in the fight until his peers begin to disappear.

    2. Actually, that's a pretty good point too -- how does Thug 1 even know what's going on with Thug 2 if Thug 2 is also fighting? When Thug 1 drops (dead or unconscious), Thug 2 gets a pretty good idea that things didn't quite work out for Thug 1 though, and at that point probably starts remembering a dental appointment he made for tonight somewhere....

  13. i was wrong :) rolling against ST doesn't work because there are so many low ST (ST < 10) terrors. the high ST terrors don't present a problem.

    for me, aggressive will never flee. territorial/unpredictable will flee on a 1 (1d6). cowardly will flee on a 1 or 2 (1d6).