After reading a thread about the morality of repeatedly throwing your Comrades into the line of fire, I thought I would share two House Rules I intend to incorporate into my Only War game.
Actually, first up, I wrote this stuff before reading the thread. It's not a response to that thread. Okay? Okay. Onward…
Morality is defined as the principles concerning the distinction between right and wrong behaviors, an understanding of the concepts of justice and injustice, "good versus evil", and a PC's Morality score is an abstract measure of his/her observation of these principles and concepts. Morality may also be used to measure a PC's reputation (be it good or ill) as perceived by his Commanding Officers, and indeed, the Regiment as a whole.
All PCs begin play with a Morailty score of 5.
During the course of play, Players will make decisions that will reflect the intentional behaviors of their PCs, and these behaviors may have an effect on their Morality scores. The higher the Morilty score, the PC's personal values evidence themselves more positively, and vice versa.
When a PC does something that is immoral, mean-spirited/spiteful, blatantly contrary to orders, endangers his/her squad mates for purely selfish or cowardly reasons, or is beneficent, accommodating, loyal, self-deprecating or insanely courageous, the GM may ask the Player to make a Morality Check, as follows:
1- The GM determines whether the PC's behavior/intent warrants a Morality Check; if so, the Player rolls a d10.
2- If the PC is behaving negatively, and the d10 result is less than his/her current Morality score, the PC's Morality score is reduced by 1. If the PC is behaving positively, and the d10 result is greater than his/her current Morality score, the PC's Morality score increases by 1.
Morality does not define the PC. The Player does.
A Morality score or 2-3 reflects the darker side of life in the Imperial Guard. These men and women are mean, bullying, slovenly, lazy, drunkards and addicts, thieves, murderers, liars, cheats, and all other manner of ill-tempered, ill-mannered undesirables. However, if only one benefit stems from having this rabble in your Regiment, it's that they know where to get their hands on contraband and non-standard kit…and where to hide the bodies (I'm looking at you, Lt. Sobel).
A Morality score of 4-7 represents soldiers who are busy staying out of their Commanding Officers' proverbial sights and maintaining the status quo, possibly fawning for a few paltry favors. They attend (irregular but attentive) worship, give their Infantryman's Uplifting Primer more than the occasional cursory glance, are generally liked, and might tell the occasional fib, but keep their kit and noses (mostly) clean.
A Morality score of 8-9 represents the pride of Imperial Guard ideals; these men and women are awe-inspiring and larger-than-life to the common dog soldier (or ass-kissing feks to the rabble), are zealous adherents of the Imperial Cult, courageous, and above all, unquestionably loyal to the Imperium of Man and devoted to the vision and will of the God-Emperor.
Obviously, there are varying degrees of behavior within each category. A PC might teeter on the brink of receiving his first (and last) fitting for an explosive collar (known in Guard slang as "keeping an appointment with the tailor"), but who's to say he/she can't lead him/herself back from the precipice of the abyss?
In the interest of readability, I will leave out my example use of Morality.
Suffice it to say, if a PC's Morality score reaches 10, he/she may find him/herself destined for something far greater than that assigned to the common Trooper. This isn't necessarily a good thing, however. There are plenty of legendary last stands that feature these rising stars as their heroic focus. If nothing else, their heroic sacrifice will be good for the Imperial propaganda apparatus.
And, if a PC's Morality score drops to 1 (or GAH!, zero), his/her reputation is shameful and unbecoming of a soldier in the God-Emperor's Imperial Guard. The Penal Legions are always in need of replacements…
Next up, an abstraction of mass casualties.
Untold millions die every minute across the worlds of the God-Emperor's Imperium.
After a significant engagement in which the PCs' squad is supported by others from their platoon/company/Regiment, the GM will call for the Players to offer an assessment of the engagement based on a scale of 1-10, where 1 indicates a complete cock up and 10 indicates a complete route of opposition forces with (relatively) little difficulty. The GM will then take an objective view at this assessment, and through the course of discussion with the Players will come to an agreement on its numerical rating.
This discussion will serve to form one role-playing aspect of the squad's Debriefing, and is referred to as the Engagement Assessment Rating (EAR).
Note: Commanding Officers begin many Debriefings by (incorrectly) voicing the ancient Terran quote, "Men, give me your EARs."
Once an agreement has been reached regarding the EAR, the GM will roll a number of d10; as this could amount to literal fistfulls of dice inundating the gaming table, perhaps the GM rolls for two or three other squads (at most) from the squad's own platoon, a d10 per man, thirty dice, tops.
Each die that results in a number equal to or greater than the EAR results in a casualty.
The PCs now play a more significant and active role in the success or failure of the Regiment as a whole, reinforcing the importance of Regimental glory over that of personal glory.
To wrap up: immoral bastards/*******; you don't have to like 'em, but they do have their place in within the Regiment…even if that place is a cesspit of depravity and shame, and gleaming golden boys/girls aren't necessarily any better off in the long run, either.
Throwing your Comrades in the line of fire, indeed! You should be ashamed of yourself!