The Role-Playing Solution

The first (and best) way to handle morale is to determine it without rolling any dice or consulting any tables. This gives the biggest range of choices and prevents illogical things from happening. To decide what a creature does, think about its goals and reasons for fighting.

Unintelligent and animal intelligence creatures attack and most often for food or to protect their lair. Few ever attack for the sheer joy of killing.

Those attacking for food attack the things they normally hunt. A mountain lion, for example, doesn't hunt humans as a rule, and it doesn't stalk and attack humans as it would a deer. Such creatures normally allow a party of adventurers to pass by unhindered. Only when the creature is close to its lair does the chance of attack come into play. Animals often fight to protect their territory or their young.

When they do become involved in combat, animals and other creatures rarely fight to the death. When hunting, they certainly try to escape, especially if they are injured. Their interest is in food. If they can't get it easily, they'll try again elsewhere. Most often, it is only when pressed, with no avenue of escape, or perhaps when its young are threatened, that an animal will sacrifice its own life.

Of course, in an AD&D game, a creature can attack and fight to the death when that will make for the most drama and excitement. For example, say a group of characters spot a grizzly bear blocking the path ahead of them. Instead of wisely waiting for it to shamble off, the party foolishly puts some arrows into it. Enraged, the beast attacks the party with berserk fury, causing serious harm and teaching them an important lesson before it dies.

Intelligent creatures have more complicated motivations that the need for food and shelter. The DM decides what the creatures want. Greed hatred, fear, self-defense, and hunger are all motivations, but they are not worth dying for.

As a guideline for intelligent creature and NPC motivation, consider the actions of player characters. How often do they fight to the death? Why would they? At what point do they usually retreat?

Certainly, NPC adventurer parties should behave similarly to player characters. After all, their concerns are much the same as those of the player characters--getting cash and improving themselves. They are not very interested in dying.

On the other hand, members of some fanatical sects may willingly sacrifice themselves for the cause. Even so, a few have been known to reconsider at the last minute!

The morale of NPCs and intelligent creatures should also jibe with known facts about his, her, or its personality. If an NPC with the party has been portrayed as cowardly, he probably won't willingly march into the jaws of death. One noted for his slavish loyalty, on the other hand, might stand his ground, dying to protect his friends or master. There are many choices, and the AD&D game works best when a person, not the dice, makes the choice.

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