Friday, March 25, 2011

New Ability: Morality

Now and then, I enjoy adding new abilities to the standard roster of Str, Int, Wis, etc. Comeliness was used for a long time, and, after a long stint of MERP, another ability called Perception. Thinking along the lines of Alignment as Allegiance, I thought it would be interesting, from a role-playing perspective, to add an ability called Morality.

Stay with me for a moment: What if your allegiance to Law or Chaos could be chosen, but not your overall natural disposition toward good or evil? Its an interesting, and not unrealistic, idea. Some people seem to have just been born "bad seeds", while others are just goodhearted to a fault. There is even some compelling evidence out there that criminal or sociopathic tendencies are genetic predispositions, as opposed to wholly being environmental conditioning.

So roll 3d6, and see what your character's Morality score is:

3 or less: You are a hopeless sociopath, everything you do is aimed at harming humanity.*
4-5: Bad to the bone, you can't help yourself - even with the best intentions you still end up hurting people.*
6-8: While not wholly evil, you are wholly selfish. Your own interests always win any moral debate.*
9-12: You tend to make moral decisions based on your mood, whim, or what sort of day you're having. While you see evil acts as extremely distasteful, you have also never believed that honesty is always the best policy.
13-15: You are decent person, and like to keep the best interests of others in mind, but you're not giving everything away to charity either.**
16-17: You are honest, upstanding and reliable. Helping others gives you more pleasure than helping yourself.**
18: You are a paragon of virtue. You couldn't tell a lie to save your own life. You give as much to charity as you can, and would take a knife for the lowliest criminal.**

*Able to use "evil" aligned items and spells without harm.
** Able to use "good" aligned items and spells without harm.


  1. In my 1st game, Synapse, I use an attribute called Heroism. You have to make Heroism checks to do things a normal person would be too self-interested to do. Similar idea.

  2. Sounds like a new dump stat (evil grin).


  3. Nice Idea, but I have some questions:

    Does the player do some tests on this ability? Or is it just for discription?

    If you want to do tests, then I have another question: Is it easier to be good than evil. Because the good score is higher than the evil one. I mean, you can easier roll below an 13 to 18 than a 3 to 8.

  4. Should the player know their score for this stat? it might be interesting to have this hidden from them, and have their character sheet say "13".

  5. In Tekumel, the people of the Five Empires (for the most part) are morally governed by a concept called "Noble Action." An act is considered "noble" when it is within the strictures of their professed faith and "ignoble" when they act against them.

    For instance: A worshiper of Lord Thumis, God of Wisdom, is "noble" when seeks and shares knowledge for the benefit of all. Meanwhile a follower of Lord Ksarul also seeks wisdom, but for selfish and aggrandizing ends. He's "noble" when he keeps knowledge for their own benefit. However, if the Ksarul worshiper started to share knowledge, no matter how beneficial, they would be "ignoble" and considered despicable even by the worshiper of Thumis.

  6. One of my Thursday night players just emailed me this post...I think they want me to include a "morality stat" in my new game.

  7. @Logan - you could certainly use the stat for interesting game challenges, like "resist the temptation to take up the cursed, soul-eating spear", etc, needing to roll your Morality Score or less to resist. Someone with high Morality should have little problem leaving the thing alone, but someone with an 8? ;)

  8. @Schoolmaster - Good stuff. One of these days I'll have to get my hands on a copy of Tekumel again! It is certainly an interesting concept to me, to think of the High Priest of the local "good" temple having an abysmal morality score, and the Dark Sorcerer of Chaos down the road from there having a high Morality score, this would lead to some cool RP and unexpected twists, all implied by one simple roll of 3d6.



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