“The Titan picks up the Orc Chieftain and hurls him through the air!”
“The Orc Chieftain hits the wall, and is eviscerated by the impact!”
“The Orc skirmisher screams in horror.”
How did things get to this delicious stage? Let’s take a few steps back, and start a hefty series about MORALE – which is to say, what will encourage your allies to fight to the death for you; your foes to sacrifice themselves defending their cities; creatures to decide, whether to throw their lot in with you, ignore the idiotic adventurer trying to recruit them, or join up and then turn on you when you fail them in battle; and and observers of eviscerated friends to lose their minds in the horrors of war. Oh, the horror.
In Ultima Ratio Regum, the morale system is based firstly upon the kind of brain – if any – each creature has. Creatures are divided into three broad categories based on their intellect, and assigned different behaviors, and interactions with morale, accordingly. The three categories are “brainless“, “animal“, and “intelligent“, in terms of the complexity of the morale functions assigned to them. This first entry will explain a bit about what is meant by each, and the morale understanding each has, before next time moving onto more flowcharts, and a discussion of both the positive and negative modifiers to any creature’s morale.
Brainless – these creatures either have no brain, or their brain is sufficiently primitive that they can think of nothing beyond attacking. Creatures in this category are the rarest, and include zombies, Shoggoths, various creatures in the ‘inhuman’ category, the eusocial creatures in the ‘giant insect’ category, some spirits, some other undead, and a few other things. These creatures will attack their foes unrelentingly no matter how dire the damage to them, and no matter how many limbs they have lost in the process. If you sever both a zombie’s legs or destroy a Shoggoth’s locomotor membrane, it will crawl/slither towards you across the ground; by contrast, any animal or intelligent creature having taken such damage will have given up the fight by then.
Importantly, brainless creatures can still be recruited to your cause by a variety of means, though interacting with them and gaining their favour is obviously not an option.
Animal – animals can respond to half of the morale modifiers in the game: the negative half. Which is to say, they respond just like any intelligent creature when they are injured, or lose a limb, or whatever, and will be slightly damaged by seeing their friends hurt, but their morale is not increased by witnessing the martial triumphs of their allies. Therefore, each individual in a pack of wolves, for example, will fight until it is too badly injured to go on – they may attack as one, but ultimately they care only about their own survival, and will likely fight on if they remain unharmed but their allies are killed.
Animals cannot be ‘recruited’, as such, as but it is possible to tame them. More on precisely how this is done in a later entry – both because it’s fairly complex, and because I haven’t completely worked it out yet.
Intelligent – these creatures have brains, albeit of varying quality, and the capacity to recognize what’s going on in the battle around them. Intelligent creatures respond to both positive and negative morale modifiers – they will be bolstered by seeing their allies succeed, and weakened by seeing their allies hurt. These foes are least likely to fight to the death – though they often will – but will be the most willing to back off, take stock, rally their team-mates and await a better chance to attack you and your allies.
They can be recruited by any number of means, but generally if the faction and species both like you a lot – or you have an organizational/hierarchical position of power – you might be able to get them to follow you.
For the demo/alpha, there will be hopefully a few creatures from each category wandering around the increasingly-large overworld, and any number of the dungeons beneath. If you have any thoughts on the ‘brain’ categories, and if there’s anything that strikes you as particularly stupid/clever about the differences, post below!
Coming Monday: Detail of the morale system, or: how to terrify an Orc into insanity (Part 2).
Coming Friday: Detail of the morale system, or: how to terrify an Orc into insanity (Part 3).