... now with 35% more arrogance!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Social Morale Example

Brendan asked for an example of the social morale idea I posted about earlier. I don't have the time to write up a complete example (got lots of spell stuff to work on,) but then it occurred to me: let's just play it out!

You are hired to transport a chest of taxes levied on the local populace from the village of Startham to the county seat of Nottingham. You've been told that if the monies do not arrive intact at their destination, you will be considered outlaw and hunted down; if it arrives without any obvious shortages, you will be rewarded 50 gp each. You have a written inventory to hand to the sheriff upon arrival.

You have been intercepted by 20 bandits, who lead you to the bandit king, Robin Hood (who may or may not be as pure and good-hearted as local legend suggests.) You are 1st level and can be any of the four main classes, but your ability scores are average (10 straight across.) You have up to 100 gp of equipment. You also have two pack handlers, two mules, and two burly mercenaries.



  1. I'm a fighter. I tell Mr. Hood that we wish to pass through the woods he "owns" and would like to do so free of toll or molestation. We have no beef with bandits, and will leave them be and say no word about what we've seen in exchange for passage. Is that what you were looking for?

  2. Yep, that's what I'm looking for. Incidentally, although I'm using Robin Hood as an aid to visualization, I'm letting the dice determine his actual behavior, rather than assuming he's exactly the same as portrayed.

    [ GM rolls 11 on 2d6 for reaction. He's friendly and not aiming to harm, but because that's what he does, he's still going to ask for a toll. ]

    [ GM rolls Charisma 14 for Robin, which gives +1 to Loyalty. However, Loyalty roll for bandits is 10, so total Loyalty is 11, still average. There will be no loyalty adjustment to Morale. ]

    [ GM rolls 5d6, one for every 4 bandits, and subtracts 1 from the roll, based on a judgment call: your request isn't hostile or insulting, and Robin seems to have the upper hand, so they are less inclined to disobey. Unfortunately, three of the dice come up 6, so even with the adjustment, 12 of the bandits won't follow orders. Since they are in a superior position, there response will be insulting. ]

    Some of the bandits begin laughing derisively, calling you "Cowards!" and "Foppish lackeys o' the sheriff!" Some smile and casually display their knives, tapping them meaningfully on the palms of their hands.

    Robin says, "No, good fellows! Let's not treat these men disdainfully, they are our guests! And we shall charge no toll of them... but the sheriff, now, we do need to levee a fee against him, for use of our woods! I say yonder chest would be a fitting sum!"

    [ GM now rolls 4d6, one for each of your hirelings. The pack handlers remain meek and obedient; one of the mercenaries is stern, but makes no response. However, the other mercenary fails the morale test with a 6. Since he's a mercenary, his actions get interpreted as aggression rather than fear, although obviously he's not going to do anything blatantly suicidal, at least not at this point.]

    Otto Von Braggart grumbles, reasonably loudly, "Just say the word, boss, and I'll gladly challenge any o' these yahoos to single combat, so long as they grant us free passage should I win!"

    (I'll give you or any new readers a chance to respond before the next set of rolls.)

  3. Nice one, Otto - I will make the offer to Mr. Hood, who seems civil - Otto vs. one of your dudes - we win, we keep the money and pass free. We lose, we still pass and you can keep say, half the loot in the chest. My men won't like me giving away their pay, and I won't stand for being outright robbed. But a wager is a wager. Sounds bueno, Mr. Hood?

  4. [ GM rolls 11 on 2d6 for Robin's reaction, with a -1 penalty, because he knows where the chest's contents came from and where they're going. Still in good enough humor to consider your proposal! ]

    [ GM rolls 5d6 again for bandit morale, no modifier this time. One roll is 5, another 6, so 8 of the 12 bandits who were jeering previously take Otto's challenge and your suggestion as an insult and become aggressive. ]

    Robin starts to respond, but one of his men shouts, "Enough of this! Let's gut 'em!" He and seven others draw steel, while Robin glares at them with disapproval.

    [ GM rolls for morale for your NPCs. Fortunately, no failures this time around. At this point, Robin would probably order his men to stand down and there would be another round of checks, but unless anyone has some unanswered questions about social morale, everything else should pretty much be routine after this. ]