One of the rules I miss for later editions is morale. It always seemed to heighten tensions during battle, and then a relief at the end when the foes depart. There was a sense of believability that not all monsters fight until dead.
While some bloggers and forum posters say, that they decide when enemies flee, I really don't like doing it that way. I want that decision to be taken out of my hands as sometimes I am "too fair" or even "too mean." depending upon my mood and may not even be aware of it. This is a game where chance determines outcome, and to take the dice out of morale, is equivalent to taking dice away from saving throws or even attacks. Set up the scenario, run the scenario and then see what happens based on the player's decisions and rolls, that is the game I want to run not to arbitrarily making every decision at every turn.
I fiddled around with the morale rules previously, but found that I had too many modifiers, which slowed the game. Instead this uses a starting base, default adjustments and situational ones. The trick is using just enough to give a sense of realism but not too many to slow things down. Once you have the starting morale check number you only need to track the seven listed situational ones, so there's not a lot to keep track of so book-keeping should be kept to a minimum.
Battle often occurs randomly, when unknown, unprepared foes face each other. In many of these cases, individuals often don't fight until they are dead, instead they flee when scared from the battle site. While PCs never need to check for morale, retainers & hirelings will if threatened; companion creatures should never flee.
Morale checks happen when PCs fight groups of four or more individuals, if less then that, the DM should determine based circumstances, not dice rolls. Some types of creatures, such as animals, constructs & undead never check morale, as they do not think about their own well being in this manner. If the DM decides a creature should stop engaging in battle, rolls should not prompt that decision.
When to check Morale: After a quarter of the enemies have fallen or every four rounds whichever happens first. The DM should roll secretly, if the number rolled is higher then their current morale, the group will disband and immediately flee the scene.
10 + HD + Best of any either Wisdom or Strength bonuses + default modifiers
After the first round of combat add the situational modifiers mentioned below to any morale check, this is important to track if a PC decides to use intimidate skill.
Groups use the highest or strongest individual among them from their standard race, for example if an ogre is heading a group of orcs, the ogre could fight until it chose to depart, but the orcs squad leader would make it for the orcs. The roll is applied, and since some individuals might be injured, some may flee while others will stay.
Default Modifiers are known at the start of combat and usually applied to all creatures on one of the sides and generally do not change. They always encourage foes to withstand
Situational Modifiers change as individuals are hurt or affected by the individual circumstance, these you need to roughly track.
Lawful + 2
Defending Home + 3
Hungry or desperate + 2
Dedicated Cause, Brave or Elite + 3
Outnumber foes by X to 1 ratio + X
Exhausted - 1
Minor Injuries (25% or less) - 2
Serious Injuries (50% or more) - 5
Fallen Leader - 8
Fallen Spell-caster - 4
Shaken - 4
Spectacular Display - 2
Raging & creatures immune to fear never fail morale
Intimidated: See Below
If rolling morale checks for groups that include NPCs, do not include the default modifiers, only the conditional ones plus wisdom bonus.
Cleric, Druid or Monk, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard: 10 + level + conditional modifiers
Fighter: 12 + 10 + conditional modifiers
Rogue: 8 + 10 + conditional modifiers
Paladin: 16 + 10 + conditional modifiers
Brave, Dedicated Cause or Elite: If considered elite in their race, known for bravery or on a special dedicated cause, the DM can give a bonus to their morale check. This should only apply to the best ranks, not all particular creatures.
Defending Home: If in their lair, creatures will put up a braver response, as they probably have no other place to go, so their only real hope is to win the battle.
Fallen Leader or Spell-caster: once such an important person is seen to have fallen in battle or left the battle scene, this will demoralize the troops, and make it much more likely they will flee. Note if in a unit where there is more than one spell-caster, this penalty would only be appropriate for the considered best or highest classed spell-caster. These are cumulative, so a spell-casting commander's death would inflict -12 on their morale checks.
Hungry or desperate: If so hungry or in a desperate situation , they have no other option, so they put just a little bit more into the battle, unwilling to flee
Intimidate: Normally morale is checked at specific time during the battle, however PCs can enforce a morale check on individuals by making an intimidation check vs someones Morale Number. This can be done after the first combat round. If the PC beats the creatures morale check, the creature flees.
Lawful: If aligned LG, LN, LE they add +2 on their morale checks, as their dedication to a cause makes them less likely to desert the battle
Outnumber foes by X ratio: If the foes outnumber the PCs, use the same ration as a base additional to morale. For example if there are four PCs and eight enemies, the enemies gain +2 to their default modifier. If there are twenty enemies to four PCs, change that to +5.
Shaken creatures are already trying to hold on to their wits to remain in battle, they are often the first to flee.
Spectacular Display: If the DM decides the PCs or their allies put on a display of awesome or particularly frightening sight (decapitation, unique weapon , magic weapon, etc) an additional penalty can be given to the party trying to muster their morale.