Morale / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 26
It has been a far busy week at Dump Stat thanks to Gen Con, life and so many other things. But one thing remains the same, Chris and I are always lavishing about in high morale… Well, that failed. I tried working in the morale of Dump Stat and I fear I may not be creative enough… but that’s fine, I’m creative enough for myself and that is all that matters.
As some of you may have noticed, I tend to write my posts pretty late before they go out. Much to the chagrin of Chris, I rarely give him enough time to read the first sentence before my post goes out into the wild, and this article is going to be no different. See, I work well under pressure... at least, I assume I only work well under pressure because I never give myself any time to not work under pressure, because I have so many things to work on under pressure... its a vicious cycle that I just love feeding, and yet... I'm happy like this. Weirdly enough, my morale (see what I did there?) has never been higher, and maybe I thrive just a bit too much at last minute workings... well, Chris... today is no different. Sorry, you don't get to read this until it goes public :)
I'm Happy, are you Happy?
In case you didn't notice, today's topic is on Morale. Which would be pretty hard to miss as last week I talked about working on it for this week and I keep trying to cram in morale and Dump Stat... isn't that what other websites do? Try to cram as many parallels about themselves into what they are writing about?
Morale is a tricky thing to work on as who can tell why people get upset? I mean, whipping someone is probably going to make them sadder but what about if you spend an extra day at sea? What about seeing a pod of dolphins? That should release some endorphins, shouldn't it?
Even the UA we are working off of doesn't touch much on Morale but rather touches on crew quality, which includes: skill, experience, morale, and health.
So how do we incorporate morale into our game without making it too clunky or annoying to work with? Good question Stephen, but first let's check out what the UA has to say.
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.
This is a pretty neat system where mutinies are pretty rare but not unheard of... I do find it funny that morale improves after a mutiny though. In WotC's system, everything is very DM fiat with no clear guidelines. I think we can stick with the same basic mechanics, but start adding in specificity... and maybe that's my biggest disagreement with WotC. The lack of specificity, I like understanding when and how things should work, and I understand one of the pros of 5e is that DMs are reliant to determine how things work but... sometimes I just want a bit more inspiration from the system.
Oh, That's Not Good.
So what would constitute a decrease in morale? I could imagine quite a few things:
Traveling for long periods of time
Going against alignment (good sailors doing evil things)
Lost a battle
Running out of fresh food
Working extra shifts
And there is so much more. I suppose I can cut WotC a break when it comes to not going too deep into morale and just leaving it up to the GM... but I'm not going to.
Before we go much further, let's go over things that can keep morale stabilized:
Well cooked food
Periods of rest at shore
Paid on time
Keeping on course
What about things that can increase morale:
Paid a bonus
Ahead of schedule
Now, there are several other things that can help, hurt or keep morale going. But I think we are going to focus on a few big ones that show up:
Food is going to be a major factor that the party can make sure they stay on top of. By keeping the crew well fed, they can ensure that everyone is happy... especially if they provide fresh food!
Weather is another major factor, but the party has little control over that. This can be a great way to challenge the players in keeping up morale, even if they are circling about a typhoon, a whirlpool and it's really foggy out.
Ensuring that you are on schedule keeps the crew excited and can help the crew with the long days at sea. It can be horrible thinking you may never see home, I was miserable when I locked myself out of my apartment for 30 minutes let alone for days or weeks
Another key factor that the party has control over is ensuring that their crew is paid. Sometimes this may not be up to the party, like if they are part of the crew of the ship or they don't actually own the ship and are just controlling its journey.
Officers can define the type of voyage the crew can expect. If the officers are handing out beatings and they do little to improve the working conditions, it'll be a bad time to be an officer.
Or… at least, I’d like to talk about losing morale, but I’m going to save that for next week and cut this article short! We have lots to talk about losing and gaining morale, and just not enough space for a single article on it.
Over the horizon, you can see storm clouds moving rapidly towards you.
1. The ship has sailed into a Typhoon. You are inside a storm that will be raging for 1d3 days. While in the Typhoon you are considered Lost while traveling and make no progress in the day, and must wait out the storm. Everyday you are in the Typhoon, the ship must make a DC 12 Constitution check or take 6d10 bludgeoning damage to their hull and sails. On a successful save, the hull and sails takes half damage. Visibility is is heavily obscured and after the Typhoon subsides, you are Lost and must roll on the Blown Off Course chart.
2. What you thought was a normal storm is turning into something much worse. Lightning, thunder and the rain are constantly lashing against the ship and it must succeed on a DC 12 Constitution check or take 6d10 bludgeoning damage to the hull and sails. On a successful save, the hull and sails takes half damage. Visibility is heavily obscured, but after 1d6 hours the crew spots an island to make safe harbor at. The island is home to a blue dragon.
3. The winds rushing toward you from the horizon bring about horrible psychic energies and the ship’s crew is subjected to a debilitating psychic effect. The crew must succeed on a DC 12 Morale check or become lethargic. At the end of every day the crew can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on a success.
4. Heavy fog quickly moves over the waters and all winds seem to stop. Through the heavy fog, a strange dark shape can be made out and seems to be sailing towards you. A warship of undead is on a ramming path against the party’s table. To avoid impact, the ship must succeed on a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or be struck by the undead warship. Upon crashing or moving close enough to the other ship, 10d4 undead skeletons begin swarming off of the undead warship and begin attacking. Upon the skeletons being defeated, the undead warship sinks beneath the waves.