Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Pathfinder Musings: Morale Saving Throws

Two weeks ago, I talked about RPG combat and ways you might make it more interesting. A piece of advice I gave was to have your opponents fight intelligently, which includes attempting to escape if things don't go their way.

Occasionally, when utilizing this piece of advice, you might ask yourself a very simple question: When should I have an NPC or a group of NPCs retreat? Generally, you can probably figure this out by simply thinking about what these particular NPCs would do based on who they are and what their motives are. However, you might want to sometimes leave this kind of thing to chance, especially against random mooks.

Well, I think I have an answer for you. I think we can figure out a pretty simple house rule based on an idea from older editions of Dungeons & Dragons: Morale.

Whenever an NPC is reduced to half its total number of hit points or fewer during the course of battle, has no way of harming the PCs during its turn, or happens to be greatly outnumbered by the PCs, the Game Master may have the NPC make a DC 10 Will save. NPCs who succeed this will save realize they will most likely lose this fight and attempt to escape as soon as possible. If escape is impossible, they will surrender.

Particularly large groups with a centralized leader should use a slightly modified version of this rule. When a group loses at least half of its members during a fight with no loses on the opposing side, the leader of the group makes a DC 10 Will save. Success means the leader orders his group to retreat or surrender if escape is impossible. If the leader of the group is reduced to 0 hit points, knocked unconscious, or otherwise incapacitated, the group will attempt to flee without the need of a morale role. If the group has a second in command, that NPC will make the Will save for the group inside, following the same rules as listed above.

These are supposed to be very simple rules that a Game Master can generally memorize and utilize at the table relatively easily. However, seeing as these are meant for Pathfinder, I still need to figure out how certain rules interact with them. With that being said, I feel you could use them as is without much of a problem. Just remember this should only be used sparingly, mostly for minions and randomly generated conflicts. Like any rule, don't let these become a straight jacket and restrict you. Picture them as just another tool to add to your GM toolbox.