Thoughts on Morality

The topic of morality has been on my mind recently for numerous reasons. One is the ongoing speculation with #dndnext in regards to alignment (some excellent discussion on it here). Another is that the question of morality and how it’s handled in games is something I think about quite a bit. There’s a faint thread of it in my blogging. My interactions on Twitter touch on it from time to time, but I’m often reticent to discuss those types of things due to the medium (I find 140 characters is a difficult space for me to express thoughts like this fully).

My designer-brain engaged, and I started thinking of how I’d create a game who’s primary purpose was to explore the issue of morality. Consider this an initial step in that process: info-gathering on current RPGs that have morality as a predominant feature.  Here’s my research list and thoughts so far.

These are in no particular order (seriously).

Star Wars (various flavors)

Obviously, morality plays a major role here with the Light Side and Dark Side of the Force. Honestly, I’m not as interested in this, as this is a little too black and white for me.

Dogs in the Vineyard

Sorcerer

These two intrigue me. I’ve heard rumblings of Dogs for quite some time now, but I just haven’t had the opportunity to play it yet. I’m less familiar with Sorcerer, but it might be worth picking up both of these when I get an opportunity.
I know the “fruitful void” comes up in discussion about these types of games, and that’s an interesting design space I may need to cogitate on more fully.

World of Darkness

This one came up in both its old and new incarnations, with Vampire being mentioned more than the others.

How We Came To Be Here

I know nothing about this game, not even that it existed.

They Became Flesh

I’m intrigued by this, although I know next to nothing about it.

Dragon Age

From what I hear, this one has morality all over it. The rub is that it puts characters in moral quandaries. This is a good thing and is applicable to what I’m looking for.

So what am I missing? I know there have to be some more games out there that deal with morality (either directly or indirectly). Post a comment below or hit me up on Twitter.

Retooled Lord of Chaos Epic Destiny

I had the wonderful opportunity to be on the Tome Show last night with Jeff Greiner (@Squach),  Tracy Hurley (@SarahDarkmagic) and Michael (@OnlineDM1). We had an awesome time talking about the newest D&D 4e book, Player’s Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos.

My purpose today is not to rehash what was said there. You’ll have to wait for Jeff to post the episode. Rest assured I’ll edit this post to include the link. My purpose today is to try and create my own implementation of the Lord of Chaos epic destiny (found on page 140). Michael and I both felt that this epic destiny left a lot to be desired, so I thought I’d take a crack at improving it (with all due respect to the designers that crafted it).

Without further ado, I present my altered version of the Lord of Chaos. (Note that I’m only including the mechanics, as I don’t want to reprint the entire entry from the book.)

Lord of Chaos

Master of Chaos

Master of Chaos

I’d keep the level 21 and 24 abilities intact.

At level 25, gain the Minor Whim of Creation power (which was the level 26 utility power with a few changes).

At level 26, gain the Whim of Creation power (brand new).

At level 28, the Lord of Chaos also gains the ability to use his primary stat instead of Intelligence for the Influence Unstable Plane skill (page 10 of the Manual of the Planes).

At level 30, the Whim of Creation power is replaced with the Chaotic Creation power.

I also think it would be a good idea for the DM to suggest / impose that the Master of Chaos create a demiplane or stronghold within the Elemental Chaos as part of his destiny.

These are my rough thoughts on what would be good. I haven’t playtested them, but I’d love to hear about it you use it at your table. Also feel free to leave me a comment or tweet me if you have comments or suggestions. (I’ll even take criticism, as long as it’s constructive.)

Where’s the Posts?

I’m sure you’ve all noticed the lack of posts around here recently. Real life concerns have left me little bandwidth for playing or even thinking about games and gaming. Maybe someday soon I’ll blog about what has happened. I’m still trying to decide whether there is anything of value that I could say that others haven’t said better.

Having said all that, several things have been happening. I’m freelancing a bit now and trying my hand at editing, too. Nothing to show for it just yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know when that changes.

I’ve also had the opportunity to try my hand at some Fourthcore D&D. What is Fourthcore? It’s an amazingly fun way to play, that’s what. I’ve never had so much fun dying repeatedly. It was even for charity! Watch for the spicy language when following the links. In case you wanted to know how we did, we managed to get the all-time lowest score! See?

I’m thinking about writing my own fourthcore adventure, and I’ve got some ideas on what I’d like to do. Naturally, I’d put some planar goodness in it.

To be honest, my posting may be infrequent, as I’m not playing many games right now. I’ve had a draft post dealing with morality in games sitting in the hopper that may or may not see the light of day.

I haven’t forgotten my Planescape 4E project either; it’s just on hiatus.