Typically, every individual begins their employment with a standard morale, usually despite what their morale may have been when working or serving under the rule of others. Note that if a new commander is placed at the head of existing troops within a standing army, the morale of those troops is increased by 2 points, so long as that increase does not exceed their standard morale.
There are many factors that can influence initial morale - some of these will be described here, but additional adjustments may be encountered in the spell tables or elsewhere in the rules.
Standard morale is 9, measured on 2d6. Whenever morale is 'checked,' 2d6 are rolled and morale is said to fail when the number rolled is below the individual's morale. A successful morale check indicates that the person continues to behave enthusiastically and with loyalty towards the designs or purposes of the leader or employer. A +1 modifier to morale always indicates a bonus to the die roll, not to the base morale. In effect, the base morale can be considered to be lower when modified positively.
Except in specific cases resulting from the character generator, charisma is not always an influence on morale. Hirelings that are leveled (ie., have 'training'), will begin employment or service with a standard morale of 8. Children younger than 15 begin with a standard morale of 10.
Morale checks may result from day-to-day circumstances or from combat.
Day-to-Day ChecksA check is made against whenever an individual encounters a situation that is life threatening or which potentially violates the moral standards of the individual. This latter does not necessarily require the hireling to be a personal witness when and where a moral fault has occurred - as news of such can compel a hireling to check their moral faith in their leader or employer.
Acts of questionable morality that would demand a check against morale would be murder, acts of gratuitous theft, flagrant use of deception, reckless disregard for the safety of hirelings, mental or physical abuse of hirelings, consistent irresponsibility towards the hireling's stated purpose for employment or a clear lack of remorse where an individual has been hurt or mistreated. Laughing at the misfortune of others would be included.
If any hireling witnesses any of the above, they must make a morale check immediately. Regardless of success or failure, that hireling will be sure to convey what they learned or saw to other hirelings in the character's employ, so that all hirelings that are able to hear of the event will ultimately make a morale check. It may require days for all the hirelings to gain knowledge of the events however. As well, if the character has not made reasonable amends for their acts, if the character's present hirelings are later allowed to speak with hirelings in another location, even though months may have passed, a morale check for every newly informed hireling will have to be made.
If a hireling is dismissed without cause or if a hireling's pay is cut . . . or if a hireling is allowed to die without the character party taking every possible action to restore the health and life of the hireling, there is a 10% chance that any witnessing hireling will spread a rumour that will have the same effect as if the character had performed an act of questionable morality. Determining which hireling spread a rumour will be difficult, but will serve to amend the situation - however, most of the hirelings in the immediate vicinity will already have failed their checks and may already have moved beyond the party's reach.
Combat ChecksHirelings that are placed in combat fall into two categories - those with combat training and those without. Combat training refers to any hireling whose purpose or job description indicates a willingness to enter combat. All leveled persons, including mages, thieves and bards, are considered to have combat training.
Any hireling that does not possess combat training must make a morale check before engaging in melee. Failure indicates that the hireling chooses to flee beyond the sight of combat. If flight is impossible, the hireling will fall to their knees and remain inactive, choosing to pray, surrender or plea for their lives, even allowing themselves to be killed rather than take up a weapon. Hirelings that succeed at their morale checks will enter combat as willingly as persons with combat training.
To be clear, hirelings with combat training do not make a combat check before entering combat.
If a hireling without combat training suffers any damage during melee, even a single point, they must make a morale check. Failure indicates that the hireling will take flight if able. If flight is impossible, they will fight only so long as there is no other option. This includes making an offer to surrender which, if accepted, will cause them to cease fighting. A successful morale check will indicate the hireling will continue to fight as best they can.
If a hireling with combat training suffers damage during melee that is not sufficient to stun the hireling, then no morale check is required.
If a hireling with combat training is stunned, they must make a morale check. Failure will produce one of three results, depending upon the degree of failure.
FailsA roll of one below the number needed to succeed will indicate that the combat-trained hireling will engage in combat every other round, falling back as much as possible. They will continue this until the combat is resolved or until they are stunned again, resulting in another morale failure.
A roll of two or below the number needed to succeed will cause the combat-trained hireling to turn and retreat at full speed for five rounds - whereupon all such persons who have thus retreated will reform (for as long as that requires) before turning back and heading back at normal speed into combat. NOTE that all other combatants within two hexes of a retreating hireling must immediately make a sympathetic morale check.
A roll of three or more below the number needed to succeed will cause the combat-trained hireling to flee until they are beyond the sight of combat.
NOTE that all other combatants within three hexes of a retreating hireling must immediately make a sympathetic morale check.
Sympathetic morale checks that result in retreat or rout will in turn cause still more combatants to make morale checks, so that a cascading effect on an entire force may begin with the morale failure of one individual.
Restoring FailsPersons who have failed their morale may make a recheck 5 rounds after failure if they are physically touched by an officer, liege, employer, cleric or paladin, who must also expend 1 action point per potentially restored candidate.
Improving MoraleWhenever a hireling, regardless of their training, succeeds when rolling a morale check due to personally taking damage, that hireling's morale is improved by 1 point.
For example, Jim the cook has rolled successfully against his 9 morale to enter into combat. This does not change his morale. Jim is then hit for 1 damage by a spear, which is not enough to stun Jim (he has 5 hit points) but is enough to cause him to make a morale check. Jim succeeds, enabling him to them attack in his turn. At the same time, Jim's morale drops from 9 to 8 for all future rolls, including within the ongoing combat itself.
Success against sympathetic morale checks, or against morale checks having to do with day-to-day circumstances do not improve morale.
Morale is improved by 1 point if the hireling has worked successfully in the company of the character or party for a period of one month (or 30 total days scattered over a longer time period). Morale is improved by an additional 1 point if the hireling has worked generally with the character or party for a period of one year, so long as the character's company has been shared at least half that number of days.
Morale is not increased by additional pay, nor by the improved status of the character. If a situation should happen in which a character has clearly (and with the hireling's knowledge) saved the hireling's life while risking clear and present danger to themselves, then the hireling's morale shall be improved to a total of 3 towards that character.
Except through the use of magic, morale may not be improved below 3 points except in the case of henchmen.