Monday, October 6, 2008

Haidtian Alignment System

It seems to me that this Jonathan Haidt speech at TED could result in an interesting RPG alignment system.

Rough draft / concept:
We use Haidt's 5 Foundations of Morality, and the extra category of "Openness to Experience" as something akin to the Virtues of Scion (and Exalted). In short, they are infrequently used to make tests to resist certain types of action, and more frequently used to boost rolls and empower characters to succeed at tasks for which they have some degree of moral inspiration.

So, perhaps we start off by giving each character 1 dot each in Harm/Care and Fairness/Reciprocity, and 1 additional dot to add to either of those two.
Then, you choose whether the character is Liberal or Conservative.
If Liberal, you get 5 more dots to split between Harm/Care, Fairness/Reciprocity, and Openness To Experience.
If Conservative, you get 5 dots to split between Ingroup/Loyalty, Authority/Respect, and Purity/Sanctity.
(I'd love to include Moderates, but am having trouble thinking up a way to do so that doesn't make it mechanically superior or inferior to being liberal or conservative.)
At this point, I'm assuming any given trait can be rated from 0-5 (which is how it works in Scion) because it gives nice simple numbers, small enough to add to dice or use as a dice pool. A different way of handling it might be to do a percentage-based or 1-20 scale, but then you obviously need far more points. I'd have more thoughts on this, no doubt, once I know what style of RPG I'd be using this system in.

In a slightly more complicated version, we would then choose whether the character in question is a Hero or Villain. We'd feature additional traits such as "Self Interest" (and possibly "Sadism", "Greed" or "Appetite") and modify the point allocation to incorporate that, so that characters (of either Political spin) could take dots in these darker "Virtues" instead.

That would, however, start getting more like Scion's system, and I don't want to just rip them off too badly. Honestly, I've found some aspects of Scion's Virtues (and certain Virtues in particular) downright unplayable, so emulation isn't ideal. But I do love the concept of an Alignment system that actually boosts your chances of success when striving for your ideals.

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