Morale 2 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 27
Last week we discussed Morale and how it can be an important part of your game. I for see a problem in our future though. I like to keep my homebrew rules for new systems to a single page, as evidenced by all the tools I create on my main articles. A single page of rules is easy to print off and review during a game and keeps it simple and I am going to try to do the same for morale… wish us luck!
Have you ever noticed that if you shout morale very quickly and multiple times it sounds like More Ale? Which I think is very clever and I should get bonus points for realizing it… also, its a good reminder that if you give your crew more ale, their morale will improve!
Before I get too involved with our morale system, let’s review Of Ships & Sea - UA and what they have to say on morale:
A ship requires a number of able-bodied sailors to crew it, as specified in its stat block. A crew’s skill, experience, morale, and health are defined by its quality score. A crew starts with a quality score of +4, and that score varies over time, going as low as –10 and as high as +10. It decreases as a crew takes casualties, suffers hardship, or endures poor health. It increases if the crew enjoys high morale, has good health care, and receives clear, fair leadership.
A typical crew member uses the commoner stat block in the Monster Manual.
A poorly led or mistreated crew might turn against its officers. Once per day, if a crew’s quality score is lower than 0, the captain must make a Charisma (Intimidation or Persuasion) check modified by the crew’s quality score.
If the check total is between 1 and 9, the crew’s quality score decreases by 1.
If the check total is 0 or lower, the crew mutinies. They become hostile to the officers and might attempt to kill them, imprison them, or throw them overboard. The crew can be cowed into obedience through violence, combat, or offers of treasure and other rewards.
When the DM ends the mutiny, the crew’s quality score increases by 1d4.
Life aboard a ship is a constant wear on the crew. Spending time in port allows the crew to relax and regain its composure. If a crew’s quality score is 3 or lower, the score increases by 1 for each day the crew spends in port or ashore.
Raise Morale (First Mate Only)
The first mate can manage the crew’s time to grant extended breaks, provide instruction, and improve morale. Once per day, if the crew’s quality score is 3 or lower, the first mate can make a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check. On a successful check, the crew’s quality score increases by 1.
From what I can gather, WotC wants us to have a Morale scale of -10 to +10. If the Morale score is ever lower than 0, once a day the Captain must try to Intimidate or Persuade the crew and then add/subtract the crew’s morale to the total. 10 and above, you are good and the morale stays the same, a check of 9 or below and the morale decreases by 1. Have a total below 0? The crew mutinies.
That’s going to be a pretty hard check to ever fail… which is probably the point. A bard at 3rd level who throws an expertise towards their Persuasion and has a decent Charisma of 16 is looking at a +7 bonus to their check and it only increases from there. A level 10 bard with a max charisma would be making this check at a +13 which would mean, even with a Morale score -10, they will never mutiny. The lowest they’ll ever get is a 1 on the die which means a 4 total. Not sure how realistic that is, though I can imagine pirate lords ruling through iron fists and intimidation… I’m just not sure that they would keep a crew once they actually dock. I think we could make it so that once the crew reaches -10, there is a mutiny… cause really, if you are letting it get that bad… you pry deserve it.
But before we get too distracted… let’s start at the beginning of Morale. You are a new captain with a brand new crew! How do we start with Morale?
Well, I like that WotC starts you with a +4… but how did they come up with that number other than pulling it out of their ass? Maybe a better place to start is at 0 and let’s build up from there.
One of the ways our crew is going to get a happier morale is if they spend time on shore, so let’s give a +1 morale boost for that.
Another way is our crew is on time for their journey, and that’s another +1 (even if they don’t keep up that pace for long).
They still have fresh food (if the tight-wad pirate captain buys it) so that’s a +1.
(So far) there are friendly/non-abusive officers, so that’s a +1.
And that ticks a lot of our boxes that we were already talking about last week when determining our Morale:
Those are five metrics we can use to determine the happiness of our crew. There are a few smaller things that can affect crew morale, but that’s what we are going with for right now as the others are more edge cases.
But, how do we know when to adjust the morale of the crew? I think we are going to need a bit more information, and we are going to stick with the basic premise of the -10/+10 morale scale.
The crew’s morale is determined by their Morale Score. This is a scale of -10 to +10 and may change day-to-day. If the Morale Scale should ever reach -10, the crew mutinies. See Mutiny for more information.
Now, how does this work with our categories laid out above? Let’s look at food first: When the crew has Food, is it fresh food? Old rations? Half or no rations? those are important to know so we can look at Food like:
Food is a major factor in the welfare and morale of the Crew. When the crew first gets Fresh Food, their Morale Score increases by 1 and if they go back to rations their Morale Score decreases by 1.
If they are ever given less than full Rations, their Morale Score decreases by 1 every day while on partial Rations. This penalty stops if they are given full Rations and their Morale Score increases by 1.
So when the ship first leaves dock or leaves an island and the ship has stores of fresh food, the Morale Score improves by +1! Now, if the party has to make the hard decision to cut Rations, the morale is going to automatically drop every day. Easy peasy. Let’s go ahead and do: Weather, Schedule, Pay, Officers and Shore Leave.
While out at sea, the ship can be tossed by wild storms or have beautiful and clear days to sail through. The weather can affect crew morale and may lead to many refusing to leave below deck for fear of being swept into the tumultuous ocean. During Typhoons or Gale Winds, the crew’s Morale Score is reduced by 1 for every day of bad weather and the crew may refuse to go on deck if their Morale Score is -5 or lower during these storms.
If Strong Winds help propel your ship faster towards their destination, the crew can sense the surge of wind at their back and are excited to be moving faster across the waves, the crew’s Morale Score increases by 1.
Other weather effects are considered normal and the crew is not likely to be effected by it. If the ship experiences supernatural or magical weather that negatively affects the ship, the GM may decide that this provides a bonus or penalty to the crew’s Morale Score.
It’s important to keep on schedule for the sake of the crew’s mental health. Many expect to reach land when they were told they were going to do, and don’t take it too kindly when they can’t stretch their legs on solid ground. When a ship becomes Lost, the crew’s Morale Score decreases by 1 if they are still Lost by the end of the day, their Morale Score continues to decrease by 1 at the end of every day they are Lost.
When the crew is ahead of schedule and heading towards their destination, they gain a +1 increase to their Morale Score on the first day that they are ahead of schedule. This +1 increase only happens once per trip.
The crew expects to be paid a percentage of the freight and their Morale Score can reflect unprofitable voyages. At the end of every voyage, each crewmen expects to be paid at least 1 silver piece per day of work. If the ship is unable to pay that, the Morale Score drops by 3.
If the ship pays the crew 2 or more silver pieces per day of work, than the Morale Score instead increases by 1 for each extra silver piece that the ship pays the crew over the expected earnings.
Officers can play a large part on behavior during a voyage, and their interactions with the crew can do a lot to help improve the Morale Score. At the end of each day, the First Mate can choose to spend their day granting extended breaks, providing instructions and finding ways to improve morale. Once per day, the first mate can make a Charisma (Persuasion) check against the crew’s Morale Score + 10. On a successful check, the crew’s Morale Score increases by 1.
While the first mate is working in this manner, they are unable to do anything else with their day.
If the officers on board the ship are forced to take disciplinary action, the Morale Score decreases by 1 for each offense. The GM may decide that certain circumstances do not require a decrease to the Morale Score.
A big part of sailing on a ship is landing in exotic ports and new experiences. When the crew is allowed Shore Leave, either at port or on an island, their Morale Score increases. If the crew’s Morale Score is 3 or lower, the score increases by 1 for each day the crew spends in port or ashore. If the crew’s Morale Score is 4 or higher upon taking shore leave, their score increases by 1.
And that’s going to be it for today. This is a pretty good start to our Morale Score, and next week we should be able to get it all finished up and pretty!
New, Uncharted Island
The crew shouts with excitement as they see a previously unknown island off in the distance! To determine the island, roll a d100 on the Island Discovery Chart, re-rolling any results for previously discovered islands.