Certain monsters, such as trolls or most undead creatures, are fearless and never need to check morale. The majority, however, will not continue to fight a hopeless battle, seeking to retreat, surrender, or flee. The GM determines when morale checks should be made. Generally, morale" should be checked when it becomes clear that the monsters are losing the fight, or taking unacceptable losses. No more than two morale checks should be made per battle, however; if the monsters pass a second morale check, they are assumed to be fanatical and will fight to the death.
The base morale for most monsters is 50%, plus 5% per hit die of the monster. (Thus for example a monster with 8+1 hit dice gets [8×5%=] +40%, for a total base morale of 90%.) The GM should adjust this according to how cowardly or heroic the monster might be, and also according to the prevailing circumstances. For example, if the monster is very cowardly and fighting opponents who are inflicting serious damage on its fellows without taking any casualties, then the GM might impose a -30% penalty to its morale check. If it is elite and fighting close to its battle standard, the GM might allow a bonus of +10%.
Player characters do not need to check morale. However, hirelings, henchmen, and men-at-arms should be checked for normally. In this case the NPC's morale may be affected by his or her liege's charisma score and/or former conduct towards the NPC; the henchman's alignment may also be taken into account. (As a rule, Chaotic Evil henchmen are much more likely to betray their masters than Lawful Good ones.)
Effects of Morale Check Failure: Creatures that fail their morale check by a margin of 25% or less will generally seek to make a fighting withdrawal. If they fail by 26% to 50%, they will generally turn and flee; a failure by 51% or higher indicates that the creature surrenders. However, the GM should use logic in conjunction with this guideline, taking into account the creature's intelligence and what it knows. A cornered creature that cannot flee, for example, or a monster that knows that its opponents move faster than it does, will surrender rather than make a futile attempt at flight.
No Quarter: Any creature subject to morale that sees surrender is not accepted, sees a prisoner being slain by the other side, or has some reason to believe it will be executed if it surrenders, will never surrender, regardless of other considerations. Such a creature will fight to the death if it cannot flee.
Table of Common Morale Check Modifiers (all cumulative)
|Per friend killed, surrendered or fled||+5%|
|Own side taken 25% casualties||+5%|
|Own side taken 50% casualties||+15%|
|Own side greatly outnumbered (2-1 or more)||+20%|
|Own leader hors de combat||+25%|
|Per foe killed, surrendered or fled||-5%|
|Own side inflicted 25% casualties||-5%|
|Own side inflicted 50% casualties||-15%|