Saturday, February 9, 2013

It's Early! And the Confessor.

"Giants appear to be Men to the casual observer, but differ, Dear Reader, in many ways: Their blood is black or brown-black and complexions vary depending on specific lineage. A Giant unexposed to sunlight -- such as the so-called "Godlings" that dwell in the Labyrinths -- will be pale like marble with a bluish or reddish tint to their skin. Those more accustomed to Sunlight -- such as the "Eaters" from the Wastes -- will tan to deep browns all the way to jet-black. Some Giants will become "Ironclad" under certain circumstances -- their skin hardening with the strength of steel -- O, beware, Gentle Reader, if encountering a Giant so endowed! Some races of Giant are able to temporarily "enlarge" their bodies and still others will have tremendous growth spurts under certain circumstances. Giants are immortal and do not die of old age, continuing to grow, but very slowly, after reaching maturity. You will recognize the Ancient Ones amongst them not only by their size, also by way of their many scars and disfigurements -- they are a violent species. . ."
-From the Manuals of Anis Al-Farid, Explorer & Adventurer

It's early this Saturday morning (in Philadelphia) and we just missed a serious snow storm that hit mostly to the North. Good thing as I have a conference this weekend. I wanted to post some further information around how I have conceived of alignment in Sophia's Children before heading out!

Alignment is an immutable aspect of a person's Soul in Sophia's Children. It cannot be changed after selection at character creation (in-game, this is expressed as the essential characteristics of a person's Soul). One important caveat: a player-character may behave in whatever manner they please (so, too, for other beings within the universe of the game). Their alignment is a combination of Id and Super-ego -- inner, automatic thoughts; deep, base urges. A person who acts out of line with their alignment on a consistent basis chooses to suppress their inner urges. For examples: A Lawful Good Old-Guard Knight has taken on a life of plundering, but is constantly wracked by guilt and the knowledge that what she is doing is wrong. A Dominant Evil Bandit Prince has changed her ways and has become a Champion to the poor, but -- in the back of her mind -- the old urges to indulge her hedonistic appetites and to kill still call to her.

In other words, the choice to act in accordance with one's Alignment or not is an important character concept and game aspect. There is no system of "punishing" this choice, except that the DM will interject the "inner voice" of their Alignment from time-to-time. The goal of some of the systems I have placed into the game are to catalyze emergent gameplay -- we'll see how this goes in the future. . .

Anyway, the gameplay element to select alignment is through "The Confessor." This is a serious of questions that a player answers for their character to discover what their Alignment is. In-game this is visualized as the character visiting a Holy Person to confess their Sins.

I am developing what is essentially a series of ethical dilemmas that, whenever the selections are made all the way through, will confer a score that can be translated into an Alignment preference. The goal of the entire game system is a total reliance on simple pencil and paper, but I turn this test into an online quiz for ease of use as well.

Here is an example question:

The Man
The year before, a Man from the area had terrorized your family and neighbors by stealing from their residences. When he was finally caught by the Guard, he returned home after paying a fine. One evening you catch this Man in the act of vandalizing a neighbor's property. As you approach him, he breaks down sobbing and speaking to unseen voices -- you then notice the deep scars on the back of his skull and the temples of his forehead. Do you: 1) Shout for assistance from your neighbors as you have caught this criminal again, or 2) Quietly take the Man by the hand to the local Church into the care of the Priest there.

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