Monday, September 27, 2010

Reactions Under the Dying Sun

I am a late convert to the use of the Reaction Roll.  I never, ever used Reactions Rolls or Morale or the Hireling Reaction roll during my first phase of gaming (aka the 1980’s).  Back then, I scoffed at the idea of having the dice tell me how monsters and npc’s would reaction to things; was I not the Dungeon Master?  I knew what would happen.

It is only recently that I have come to see the usefulness of these things.  And, much more recently, I realized that while Spellcraft & Swordplay does have Morale rules, it does not have Monster or Hireling Reaction rolls.  What appears below is meant to add those back into Under the Dying Sun.

Alert, imaginary readers will note that none of these mechanics are exactly what have been presented in other iterations of the game.  I was, however, guided by the versions that appeared in Tom Moldvay’s Basic Rules. Somewhere (and I can’t recall where; feel free to remind me), I saw the suggestion that if you look at Moldvay’s Monster and Hireling reaction tables, you can see what looks like two specific expressions of an implied, underlying, universal mechanic.  The mechanic is, in essence:

Roll 2d6
  • 2 is terrible
  • 3-5 is bad
  • 6-8 is neutral
  • 9-11 is good
  • 12 is fantastic.

Granted, the Morale rules don’t follow that - being a simple binary mechanic of flight or fight - but nevertheless, that idea struck a chord within me.  I had long played with the idea that Basic/Expert D&D had certain strivings toward being a 2d6 system; a striving I wanted to tease out.  That was, in fact, one of the reasons S&S so appeals to me.

So, taking the idea of an underlying, universal reaction mechanic based on 2d6, I present the following:

Players usually have full control over their reactions and behavior.  But, the attitudes of non-player characters may be more randomly determined. Whenever the characters encounter someone else, human or otherwise, the Referee may wish to make a Reaction Roll.  If the creature met is mindless or would obviously be disposed in some way toward the characters, the Reaction Roll can be eliminated.

The Referee may add modifiers as seem appropriate. The lead character’s CHA is the most common modifier. The Reaction Roll is compared to the table below: find the Difficulty Condition modifier required to make the roll a success (11+). This gives the nature of the reaction. A roll of boxcars is automatically an “Extremely Positive” result.

The interpretation of the Reaction Result is made by the Referee based upon the circumstances. Some guidelines are given below.

Encountering Hostiles
If the encounter is between potential hostiles, including predatory beasts, the following results:

Non-player characters will usually make morale rolls at two points in combat: first, when they suffer their first casualty; second, when the force is reduced to half it’s initial strength. Retainers make Morale Rolls just as any other non-player character.

Hiring Retainers
The players may wish to hire the services of mercenaries, porters, guides, and so on. Once such individuals are found, the player may make an offer and roll:

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