Saturday, February 3, 2024

New Salem: Renaissance Mechanics - Morale

Yesterday we took a look at how Alignment and Charisma worked in Villains & Vigilantes 2.1 Rules As Written (RAW) and the answer was "very differently from my experience of Game As Played". Even by the time I started playing it in 1983 the idea of Charisma being predominantly the social stat where the bonus applied to most interactions in an ad hoc way was well entrenched, as opposed to how the game was actually designed. 

The next step in these interaction rules were the rules for Morale, which I am posting here for clarity.

So this is interesting, and again, not something I recall using. Which is fine, the rules for this whole section state that these charts are only if you don't have a clear idea what to do. But what do these say about the game world the authors envisioned? 

Again, they assume that villains will have small gangs to large organizations, and that it is the members of these groups that will be making morale checks. That's the implicit assumption of the text: the NPC making the morale check will have a reaction modifier and a loyalty modifier. This implies that they have to be loyal to someone, right? My sense is that for master villains or primarily solo villains the GM should have a clear enough sense of their motivations and personality to not require a die roll. These are for henchmen.  

Now the Loyalty modifier from the Loyalty table makes sense.  But what Reaction response are we looking at? 

Remember that as GM you're supposed to be tracking the Next Reaction Modifier for NPC interactions, presumably for every PC to NPC and NPC to NPC interaction, because the Charisma modifier only applies to the first encounter, and after that it's the Next Reaction Modifier that matters. I have to assume that once the NPC becomes a follower of a PC or NPC you roll for Loyalty, and that table sets the Reaction Modifier going forward, removing the need to track a constantly fluctuating Reaction score: they've already bought in (or are faking it). But the rules call for you to add the Loyalty modifier from the Reaction table. So who is making that roll? 

For convenience here are the Reaction and Loyalty tables again. 

To my mind, the most dynamic outcome is "whoever last spoke/acted". 

  • Normally it's the player character trying to break the thugs morale, make a reaction roll, applying the PCs reaction modifier, which, since the PCs are Good and the Thugs are Evil, will be negative, which is good for the hero because low rolls here result in penalties to Loyalty, which reduces the chance of the Morale roll succeeding. If the PC rolls high, the thugs get a bonus to their roll as the PCs isn't that Good. 
  • But the GM can also rule that while things looks bad enough for a Morale roll the villain has a chance to rally the troops, and then they are the ones making applying their reaction modifier to the roll, which as an Evil on Evil roll is more likely to give a bonus. 
Since the rules never give an example of this in play, so we have to extrapolate from the text. Still, this feels right - it's dynamic and interpretable in play. But lets look at what happens when someone fails a morale roll:

There's a strange curve here (10%/18%/22%/22%/18%/10%) that I don't quite get the logic of with the extremes being 'clever escape' and 'suicide or goes berserk'. I THINK the modifiers from the failed Morale roll also apply here (modifying a d% not a d20) but that's a guess based on the footnote - we don't know which modifiers that means but I think it being the same as the ones for Morale makes the most sense. 

The chart feels reversed to me: the least loyal people are the ones most likely to kill themselves due to the the negative penalties, while the most loyal flee or engineer clever escapes. I'd also like to see the 'suicide or goes berserk' option require an over the die max outcome so it only comes up due to reaction modifiers. 

Lets take a stab at modifying that 

This makes more sense to me - the less loyal the henchman the more likely they are to betray their boss, be ready to jump ship, or just surrender. The most likely response is running away. More loyal henchmen will put conditions on their surrender, or go berserk, or in extremis die for the cause. 

No comments:

Post a Comment