In the realm of tabletop role-playing games, character development is a critical aspect of creating an immersive and engaging experience. To provide players and game masters with a dynamic and nuanced approach to character alignment, we present the Sins and Virtues Alignment System, based on the Wretched Transgression mechanics. This system offers a different perspective on character motivations, going beyond the traditional good versus evil, chaos versus order dichotomies. Naturally, the Sins and Virtues can also be combined with a traditional alignment system.
Sins and Virtues as alignment revolve around the concept of Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Holy Virtues, which represent the moral compass guiding each character’s actions and decisions. By selecting one Sin and one Virtue for their character, players are encouraged to explore the complexities of human nature and develop a more three-dimensional persona for their character. This alignment system intends to enrich role-playing by adding depth and consequences to the character’s choices, fostering engaging storytelling, and inspiring creative outcomes. As characters embrace their chosen Sin or Virtue, they must deal with the inherent boons and banes associated with their alignment. This duality reflects the reality that both positive and negative traits can lead to compelling narratives, and even the most virtuous characters may face challenges stemming from their moral compass.
Different Ways to Use the Sins and Virtues
The Sins and Virtues alignment system offers flexibility and adaptability to suit various role-playing scenarios and campaign styles. Here, are four different ways to use the system:
Characters as Anti-Heroes: Choose One Sin
In darker, grittier settings like the ones in the Wretched RPG game line, characters are portrayed as anti-heroes. In this case, players can choose only one Sin to define their character’s motivations and flaws. By embracing their sinful nature, characters tread a morally ambiguous path, grappling with their darker side (perhaps while still striving for redemption or seeking their own twisted sense of justice).
Characters as Heroes: Choose One Virtue
For more traditional, heroic campaigns, players can opt to choose one Virtue for their character. This choice encourages characters to embody the best aspects of humanity and strive to do good in the world. By focusing on their Virtue, characters face challenges and complications arising from their commitment to uphold their moral compass in a world that may not always reward such dedication (especially if you are playing in a cruel and unforgiving Wretched setting).
Characters as Nuanced Individuals: Choose One Sin and One Virtue
To create complex, multifaceted characters, players may choose one Sin and one Virtue. This combination reflects the reality that people possess both strengths and weaknesses, with internal struggles often driving their actions and decisions. By exploring the interplay between their chosen Sin and Virtue, players can create dynamic characters that grow and evolve throughout the campaign.
Combining with Traditional D&D Alignment
For those who wish to incorporate the Sins and Virtues Alignment System into a traditional OSR game, it can be used alongside the classic nine-alignment grid. By selecting one Sin or Virtue, players add further depth to their character’s alignment (e.g., Lawful Good, Chaotic Neutral, etc.) and explore how their chosen Sin and/ or Virtue interacts with their broader alignment.
Deadly Sins (aka Transgressions)
To begin, choose one of the Seven Deadly Sins that best represents the character you have in mind (or the one you will randomly generate).
When a character indulges in a vice related to their primary Transgression and it causes trouble for the party, the Game Master should reward them with a Wild Die* for cinematic moments during the following game session. This is well-suited for horror, thriller, exploitation, and hard sci-fi genres. For fantasy, urban fantasy, or pulp genres, consider increasing the bonus to a number of free Wild Dice equal to the character’s level.
- The function of Wild Dice is explained in the Wretched Role-Playing Game core book. If you don’t intend to use those rules you can use just the optional experience bonus below.
Optionally, the Game Master may choose to award player characters an extra experience bonus (10-20% extra points) for causing interesting complications while behaving according to their transgression.
Each Transgression comes with a Sinner’s Bane, a constant drawback for the character in the form of a penalty, and an optional Sinner’s Boon, which grants a bonus. While the Bane is mandatory, the Boon’s inclusion is at the discretion of the Game Master.
Summary of the Seven Transgressions:
Gluttony: Obsessed with food, drink, and/or drugs.
Sloth: Lazy, dislikes strenuous activities.
Wrath: Angry and aggressive, prone to starting fights.
Envy: Jealous of others, covets what they possess.
Pride: Vain, self-absorbed, and attention-seeking.
Greed: Desires more than a fair share of items and possessions.
Lust: Lecherous and driven by carnal desires.
Your character is prone to fits of anger and rage, whether they manifest as sudden bursts of violence when provoked or long-term feuds that take years to resolve with revenge for past wrongs. Though occasional anger is not always detrimental, your character is likely to lose their temper at the worst possible times, spreading chaos.
Sinner’s Bane: Whenever there’s a confrontation, you must roll under your Wits to control the urge to engage in violence (verbal or physical).
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you are trying to intimidate someone, you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Your character is obsessed with material possessions, money, and/or other forms of power, which impacts their behaviour. Greedy characters might corrupt others, allow themselves to be corrupted, or even hurt or kill rivals to get what they want.
Sinner’s Bane: Every time someone tries to bribe the character or makes them an interesting offer, the player must roll under Wits to resist temptation.
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you are engaged in acquiring wealth or material possessions, you receive a +1 bonus to a related roll.
The slothful character avoids activities requiring physical or mental effort and tries to lead a life with minimal exertion. Sloth can negatively impact productivity, cause the neglect of important tasks, and result in missed opportunities.
Sinner’s Bane: When faced with situations requiring quick thinking and fast action, the character suffers a -1 penalty to Initiative rolls due to their inherent laziness.
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you engage in actions where slowness or passivity could be beneficial (e.g., hiding silently somewhere), you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Your character is obsessed with their abilities and appeal to others. Narcissistic and self-absorbed, they are primarily focused on matters that put them at the centre of attention. They may constantly seek validation and believe they are the most important person in any situation.
Sinner’s Bane: Whenever there’s a situation that threatens your character’s reputation or status, you must roll under your Wits to resist the urge to defend it by any means necessary.
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you lead or command, you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Your character is lecherous and driven by uncontrolled desire. This appetite leads them on a constant search for carnal pleasures, which can cause conflict and strain relationships.
Sinner’s Bane: Every time the character attempts to resist seduction, they face a -1 penalty to the roll.
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you engage in seduction or charm, you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Envy is characterized by feelings of discontentment and resentment towards those who possess something your character desires. Envious characters covet both material things and the qualities of others, leading them on a destructive path to obtain what others have.
Sinner’s Bane: Whenever your character is presented with extremely valuable commodities belonging to someone else, they must roll under Wits* to resist the temptation of stealing or destroying what they cannot have.
- Wits=Wisdom in the revised Wretched rules
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you attempt to sabotage or undermine someone else’s success or reputation, you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
The definition of gluttony varies from culture to culture. Gluttonous characters typically overindulge in food, but their appetite can extend to other things, such as drugs or alcohol. Though gluttony may seem harmless initially, it can become a serious issue under certain circumstances.
Sinner’s Bane: When the character is in the presence of whatever they crave, the player must roll under Wits to control the character’s urge to indulge.
Sinner’s Boon (Optional): Whenever you forage or scavenge for food, drink, or drugs, you receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Firstly, choose one of the Seven Virtues that best exemplifies the character you have in mind (or the one you will generate randomly). The Virtues serve as a touchstone to communicate the essence of your character. By adhering to their chosen Virtue, the character receives benefits; however, there is a drawback that impacts the entire party: Every time a character’s heroic actions causes trouble for the group, the Game Master should award them with a Wild Die. Optionally, the Game Master may choose to grant player characters an additional experience bonus (10 to 20% extra points) for creating compelling situations while acting in accordance with their Virtue.
The Seven Virtues Summarized:
Temperance: Exercising restraint and self-control in all facets of life.
Diligence: Unwaveringly hard-working and tenacious.
Patience: Serene and composed, capable of weathering adversity.
Kindness: Benevolent and empathetic, showing care for others.
Humility: Unassuming and respectful, prioritizing others over oneself.
Charity: Selflessly giving and aiding those in need.
Chastity: Maintaining purity in thought and action, respecting personal boundaries.
Temperance defines your character’s ability to maintain moderation and self-control in all aspects of life, preventing excessive indulgence or addiction. This virtue promotes a balanced and healthy existence but conflicts with other characters may arise when hasty action is needed.
Virtue’s Bane: In situations demanding prompt action or decision-making, you must roll under your Wits to override your penchant for contemplation and moderation.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When resisting temptation or exercising self-control, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Diligence embodies your character’s unwavering work ethic and determination, as they never shy away from challenges or responsibilities. This virtue can result in remarkable achievements but may create tension when the remaining party opts for short-cuts or try to shirk their duties.
Virtue’s Bane: Confronted with a chance to avoid work or take short-cuts, you must roll under your Wits to resist the compulsion to see the task through diligently.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When tackling a complex or arduous task, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Patience represents your character’s tranquil disposition and their ability to withstand hardships while maintaining a level head. This virtue fosters wise decisions and robust relationships but can generate conflict when others demand immediate action or emotional reactions.
Virtue’s Bane: In situations requiring an emotional response or swift action, you must roll under your Wits to suppress your innate patience.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When resisting provocation or maintaining composure, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Kindness encompasses your character’s generous and compassionate nature. This virtue fosters enduring relationships and goodwill but can lead to strife when others exploit your kindness or perceive it as a weakness.
Virtue’s Bane: Encountering a situation where your kindness may be exploited, you must roll under your Wits to resist the impulse to help.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When performing acts of kindness or compassion, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Humility signifies your character’s modest and respectful attitude, as they consistently prioritize others’ needs above their own. This virtue strengthens bonds and encourages selflessness but your humility may be mistaken for lack of confidence or ambition.
Virtue’s Bane: In situations that call for self-promotion or asserting your own needs, you must roll under your Wits to overcome your natural humility.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When engaging in acts of selflessness or deference to others, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Charity embodies your character’s generous and selfless spirit. The charitable character constantly seeks opportunities to assist those in need without any expectation of reward. This virtue fosters a positive reputation and robust community ties but exposes your character to exploitation.
Virtue’s Bane: When encountering a situation where your charitable disposition could be taken advantage of, you must roll under your Wits to resist the impulse to give.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When partaking in acts of charity or selfless giving, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.
Chastity signifies your character’s commitment to maintaining purity in thought and action, respecting personal boundaries, and upholding moral integrity. This virtue can cultivate strong, trust-based relationships but may create tension when others perceive your chaste nature as prudish or inflexible, or when allowing yourself to be seduced by someone would facilitate your course of action.
Virtue’s Bane: When confronted with a situation that challenges your personal boundaries or moral code, you must roll under your Wits to resist the urge to compromise your principles.
Virtue’s Boon (Optional): When resisting temptation or maintaining purity in thought and action, receive a +1 bonus to your roll.