RPG Gaming

Surprise, Initiative and Morale

By Marcus Pan

A more complete set of combat rules will now be utilized in Inferno's campaign. Additional sections to the combat rules to be added are surprise, initiative and morale. They are discussed in more detail on the following pages.


Surprise is something new that will be added into the combat rules of Inferno's campaign. Instead of skipping this sequence and going directly to the initiative and combat itself surprise of either party is now possible. This will provide a more well-rounded campaign.

Upon determining that an encounter happens the first thing that should be done is determine the distance of the offending monsters. A D20 is rolled and that is the number (feet in dungeons, yards in outdoor settings) used for the distance. After determining the distance a D% must be rolled first to determine if the party is seen (01 - 50 = unseen). Then another D% is rolled to determine if the monsters are seen by the party. If both groups see each other there is no surprise. If only one side sees the other the seeing side may gain a free surprise attack on a roll of 1-2 on a D6. If neither side sees the other both may be surprised by rolling 2D6 (one each party). The winner gains a surprise attack. If equal, neither side gets a free attack.


DISTANCE: 1-20 feet/yards
SIGHT: 01-50 unseen
SURPRISE: 1-2 (D6) or 2D6 (higher)


Initiative is a much-used combat rule, but here it will be further explained and defined.

After distance and surprise circumstances are figured a round begins with the determination of initiative. If no special adjustments to this rule are needed (i.e. haste spell, slow creature, etc.), initiative is figured by both sides rolling a D6. The higher number gains the initiative and the party gets to act first. If the initiative roll is equal then both sides act at the same time. I.E., all hits are simultaneous and if a creature or person is killed on an enemy's hit in a round such as this that creature still gets its last attack before falling.


Morale is another new rule never before used in Inferno's campaign. It will make creatures make a decision in a losing battle of whether or not they should run away or stay to fight. This adds more realism to the game and makes it more well-rounded as far as battles go.

Listed in monster descriptions of the Monstrous Compendium used for encounters is a number assigned as a morale value. This number determines whether it is a cowardly or brave creature. A D20 is used to determine morale. If the number rolled is greater than the number listed as its morale value (the highest value is used for the value if a range of numbers is given) then the creature flees. A free attack at the creature's rear can be given if the creature was previously in melee combat and the character is next to attack. The creature will flee as soon as its turn comes.

There are a few times when to check morale. Morale is checked as a group and not separately for each offending creature. Morale is checked in the following instances:

* If the party looks rather powerful, the creature(s) may flee before even engaging in combat.
* If more than one monster, morale is checked for the group if half of their numbers are killed (round upwards).
* If there is only one creature, morale is checked when the creature's hit points reaches half strength.
* Any time a PC strikes a critical hit or the points struck off are rather large as compared to that of the creature's attacks.