Morality, Sins, & Depravity
“Come now. Be brave and cast off the confines of this construct of morality. For what is courage but the ability to act as others do not? Come, and be free.”
~Kolbath, devotee of Kuarl
Human morality is a reflection of the values and taboos of the culture in which they belong. The sins of a given culture represent what their general population perceives to be wrong or forbidden behavior. There is inevitably some strain and isolation when one deviates from the norms of their society. Even if a character does not personally believe that a particular sin is wrong, they still bear the weight of judging eyes and attitudes around them, and they still feel that pressure on their mental and spiritual health.
Some sins exist that all human cultures can agree are wrong or not in line with how a person should behave. Five common sins exist among all of humanity. From there, variance exists from one culture to the next as to what else is right and wrong.
When your character commits a sin, you should report it to staff as soon as you are able so that it is recorded on your character sheet.
The sins and cultural variances are described below.
Mortal: Withholding surplus supplies from the needy (Forgotten Ones addition: letting goods go to waste)
Deadly: Abusing your power or position to exploit others. Consuming another human for sustenance, utility, or power.
Mortal: Dereliction of Duty
Deadly: Breaking of your sworn word (a promise or an oath)
Venial: Forcing someone to become addicted to something, poisoning, killing humans in self defense
Mortal: Murder of another human
Deadly: Torture and rape
Venial: Engaging in a Triumverati ritual or unwittingly assisting in pursuit of their goals (above and beyond basic existence)
Mortal: Willingly assisting Triumverati in pursuit of their goals (above and beyond basic existence)
Deadly: Converting to the Triumverati
(Forgotten Ones Variant)
Venial: Assisting the holy men and women (cultists) of other gods
Mortal: Refusing a Rite of Vecatra
Deadly: Swearing allegiance to anything other than Vecatra
Venial: Sexual relations outside of an oathbound partnership
Mortal: Exploitation of another, unintentional consumption of human flesh
Deadly: Willingly performing extreme sexual perversion (necrophilia, bestiality, incest, etc.)
Venial: Bragging about accomplishments
Mortal: Displaying or flaunting wealth
Deadly: Sacrificing others in your place
Venial: Failing to respond to an insult in kind
Mortal: Turning down a duel or challenge
Deadly: Disrespecting a peer
Venial: Intentional or recreational intoxication (consuming any alchemical concoction that includes the euphoric, intoxicant, hallucinogenic, or addictive qualities to the point that it affects you)
Mortal: Letting fear dictate your actions when you have the power to do something else, running in fear
Deadly: Losing yourself in a rage
Venial: Unchaperoned association with eligible people outside your culture
Mortal: Giving away cultural artifacts to outsiders or destroying them
Deadly: Marrying or reproducing with outsiders
Venial: Being downed or helpless
Mortal: Suffering flawed or weak leadership (they admit defeat or give up, they don’t have the skills necessary to meet the needs of leadership, etc.)
Deadly: Admitting defeat or failure in front of another
Venial: Taking sides in the affairs of outsiders
Mortal: Materially supporting one side over another in a dispute
Deadly: Refusing to accept surrender (putting your own emotions over the greater peace)
Five Common Sins
Blasphemy/Forgotten Ones Vecatra Variant
Additional Cultural Sins
Depravity points are earned when a character commits a sin that violates their culture’s Morality. These points of Depravity are symbolic of how out of alignment your character is with the general beliefs of their society.
A Venial Sin is worth 1 point, Mortal is worth 2, and Deadly is worth 3.
Once your character has obtained a certain level of depravity in a particular sin category, they do not continue to earn more depravity for the same level of sin.
For example, if a character were to commit murder, they have earned 2 Depravity points, as this is a Mortal Sin under Violence. If that character were to continue committing murders, they do not gain any further Depravity beyond the original 2 points they obtained from the first murder.
However, Depravity in a particular category may be reduced by methods such as an Atonement ritual from one of the various religions or from the Confidence ability. Atonement rituals will wipe clean all Depravity from an entire category, reducing it to 0, whereas Confidence will reduce the Depravity score by 1 point. A character may not benefit from an Atonement rite if they are Faith in Self, nor may a Faith in a Higher Power character benefit from Confidence. Should the character again commit murder after this, their Depravity earned would be either 1 or 2 points – whichever brings them back up to the level of the sin
There are limits to how much the human mind can endure. Limits to suffering. Limits to how much we can justify of ourselves and our actions. At the point where one crosses the threshold of these boundaries, perceptions can become warped, and Insanity sets in.
Once your character has earned a certain amount of Depravity points, which may vary based on your character’s stats, your character begins to acquire Insanities. These insanities represent the increasing dissonance the character feels with their community, and they can worsen over time as more Depravity is acquired. This starts with staff assigning a Mild Insanity appropriate to the situation at the time the Depravity points first go past the character’s limit, and from there, either new Insanities may be added for each additional point over the limit, or existing Insanities may worsen.
A character’s normal Depravity threshold is 5 Depravity. A character with Faith 2 has a depravity threshold of 7. Once a character has crossed their threshold they start to accumulate insanities on top of the depravity they are earning. 1 point over will typically add a mild insanity or increase an existing insanity by one level, while further transgressions indicate a more drastic change in the psyche. Insanities gained will be generally relevant to the transgression.
Insanities have three levels of intensity: Mild, Severe, and Crippling. Mild insanities tend to be subtle and more easily hidden. Should a situation present itself where the mild insanity can be triggered, the sufferer will feel the pull to act in a certain way. For example, if they are left alone with an object, or something easily steal-able is in reach, they will take the opportunity to indulge in their kleptomania. Mild insanities are able to be temporarily ignored if the insanity-triggering situation presents itself, with a use of the Discipline skill.
Severe Insanities are far more intense than mild, and are the result of worsening depravity or a character sinking deeper into their troubled psyche. At this level, an afflicted character will attempt to cause the insanity-triggering situation to occur, whether they are aware of it or not. They will perhaps subconsciously create the very situation they may be trying to avoid. For example, the character suffering from kleptomania may actively cause distraction or convince someone to leave their valuables alone with them so that they may indulge in their compulsion to steal. Should the character have a Discipline to spend, they are able to bring the insanity down to the mild, purely opportunistic, level. However, they still need to leave the triggering situation or risk acting upon their insanity all the same.
Crippling Insanities are those that have progressed to the point where much of the character’s entire worldview and actions are all centered around the insanity. Daily function is often drastically impaired, and it is extremely difficult to hide an insanity such as this for long. Concerns of proper behavior and morality are no longer of concern to the afflicted character, as their insanity becomes the burning need that they must satisfy at all times. It is no longer sufficient to simply try to steer situations into opportunities for the insanity to be enacted.
Rather, the character suffering from a Crippling Insanity spends much of their time planning and specifically working towards situations where their insanity will be satisfied. At this level, the Kleptomaniac will spend as much time as they can pickpocketing whatever they can get, planning heists of whatever strikes their fancy, breaking and entering into homes, and taking whatever they can lay their hands on – not because they need it, but because they simply must. Using the Discipline skill reduces an Insanity down to the Severe level for a few minutes so that the suffering character may have a few minutes of relative clarity – enough to not immediately act upon their insanity unless the situation can be coerced into it.
Types of Insanities
There are four main types of insanities: Delusions, Compulsions, Phobias, and Obsessions.
Phobias are an intense and irrational fear of something.
A Mild Phobia prevents a character from taking any action which might reasonable result in them facing the object of their phobia, or places them in the direct presence of it. For example, a character afraid of spiders will not touch a chest that a spider was reported to be seen near or on. Even if a Discipline is spent to allow the character to open the chest, they will have the Fear condition on them for the duration of the scene. Should the character not have Discipline, but they are forced to be in the presence of the object of their Phobia, they will have the Terror condition until they are removed from the situation.
A Severe Phobia prevents a character from entering into any situation where there is a chance of their phobia being present. For example, the character with the phobia of spiders will not be able to enter an old or abandoned area or venture into dark area where spiders might be dwelling.
A Crippling Phobia prevents the character from taking any action where there is the faintest chance of their phobia being present. Walking too close to the forest or to plants, opening an unfamiliar cupboard, or entering a dark room could all signal the presence of spiders, and thus the character will avoid such activities.
Delusions are altered views of reality that are persistently believed, despite any evidence or proof offered to the contrary.
A Mild Delusion would be that one aspect of the character’s reality is permanently changed, and anything reasonably associated with this belief is also changed in their mind, and they cannot be convinced otherwise. For example, a character may be convinced that they are a king in hiding. Any proof presented that would indicate a low birth was obviously forged.
A Severe Delusion involves a more elaborate and extensive alteration of reality surrounding the founding belief. For example, not only is the character a king in hiding, but those around them are actively working to discredit them and prevent them from taking their rightful throne. Those who disbelieve the character or question them publicly may need to be taught a lesson.
A Crippling Delusion colors every aspect of the character’s daily life and drives them to take constant actions in line with their reality. The character that is convinced they are a king in hiding needs to now ensure that everyone understands their awesome might, and anyone who questions them, or inconveniences them is certainly an insurgent who must be dealt with brutally. Those in positions of power must be deposed, and public examples must be made of any who do not acknowledge the character’s divinely bestowed power as an immortal king tasked with shepherding humanity.
Obsessions and Compulsions
Obsessions are a continually intruding thought or preoccupation. And Compulsions are a sense of being forced to take a particular action, even against one’s will. For the purposes of descriptive actions a character may take with one of these insanities, they are treated as two sides of the same coin.
A Mild Obsession or Compulsion means that a character will forsake all other actions, goals, or desires other than the object of their obsession or compulsion if it is present. For example, a character with an obsession with a certain drug will be unable to resist taking it if it is offered, or otherwise in their presence, even to the detriment of themselves or their companions.
A Severe Obsession or Compulsion would cause a character to create scenarios in which they can gratify their insanity. A character may abandon their post to follow a known alchemist to ask if they have the particular drug, or they may miss appointments because they need to search for a dose of the drug. A character with this level of Obsession or Compulsion Insanity will gain a Despair if they do not in some way satisfy their Insanity at least once per event.
A Crippling Obsession or Compulsion is completely unable and unwilling to be without the object of their obsession/compulsion. They will take any and all actions that will make it so that they never have to go without the subject of their insanity ever again. A character may forget to feed themselves or perform any acts of basic care if it means being apart from the subject, and they can no longer function in any way without it.
Some cultures believe that insanity is a soul-sickness or a possession, as the afflicted individual is no longer in control of their actions. Regardless of the cause, all agree that insanity requires some form of treatment in order to be cured.
For the temporary suppression of an insanity, the Discipline skill allows one to pacify a single level of insanity, and the skill refreshes with rest. Other skills may also affect insanity. However, for more permanent cures, other measures must be taken. First, a character’s Depravity must be taken down to their threshold or lower before they can begin to take curative action towards their insanity. Once that has occurred, a character may benefit from a Therapy action. The Therapy action is a Downtime action that both the afflicted character and another character must commit to. The afflicted character spends their time between Markets (game events) discussing the source of their trauma and insanity with the other character taking the Therapy Downtime action. At the start of the next Market, the afflicted character’s insanity is reduced by one level of severity.
The Therapy Downtime action may also be used to cure Despair. Additionally, some characters may have a Perk that allows them to perform the Therapy action at a game event, in which case the Insanity is lowered (or Despair removed), at the completion of the in-game scene.
Characters may start play with a Mild or Severe Insanity that cannot be bought off with therapy if they choose the Sick-the-Head Flaw. The specific insanity must be chosen from the list below:
Eager for more?
We’re still in development, but you can subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date on all of our latest setting and rules releases.