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DarthGM

Morals of the Story (Morality/Conflict in-play)

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I have a question for those of you who have sat down with a group of PCs and played with the Morality/Conflict mechanic.

 

I've had two 3-hour sessions thus far, and I think between a group of 6 PCs, 3 of them have earned Conflict and it wasn't more than 1 point for the whole session.  As it is after two sessions we've got PCs who are in the upper 60s of Morality, with next session appearing to herald the arrival of at least one Light Side Paragon.

 

I've put in a few cases for PCs to earn Conflict, but maybe I'm simply not providing enough choices.  No one seems willing to spend any Dark Side points on Force powers, and are very careful to keep "on the straight and narrow".

 

Has anyone else encountered a similar situation?  What's your group's experience with the Morality/Conflict mechanic?

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I've had the exact opposite.  I played through with my old group on the adventure in the beta, and I even warned them every time they would gain conflict, and man did they not care.

 

by the end of part 1, they had a lot (off the top of my head I can't remember, but it was close to 10), and then they started using the force in earnest... yikes.

 

But this group usually plays the dark side of any game (big vampire fans) and they like the idea of using the dark pips more, for the more likely occurrence of pips.  so I think they are almost gaming to be dark.

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The group I've run for (two sessions so far) had one of the players remark that they were all such a bunch of Paladins in that the most Conflict earned was 2 points for 2 of the PCs, and most of that was for some self-serving deceptions, while in the second session nobody earned any Conflict.  Heck, three of the four are on the verge of becoming Light Side Paragons, though for two of them it was due more to their Morality being triggered for this session and then rolling fairly high on their d10 while having zero Conflict points that did it.

 

With this group of players, it seems that the idea of being Force users (with one of them kind of identifying as a Jedi-in-training) guided them to be nobler in deed and action than they might have been playing EotE.

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Just ran a session. We had a couple gains and 1 decrease; however, the rule states that each PC rolls D10. Does this mean that if a PC has 0 conflict he just adds the value of the roll?

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It seems like there really isnt much of a middle ground  for Morality, either you avoid Conflict-causing actions in general (aside from the occasional 1 or 2 point effect) and quickly reach Lightside Paragon, or you dont avoid them, and quickly fall to darkness.

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It seems like there really isnt much of a middle ground  for Morality, either you avoid Conflict-causing actions in general (aside from the occasional 1 or 2 point effect) and quickly reach Lightside Paragon, or you dont avoid them, and quickly fall to darkness.

I'm not sure where you are getting this mathematically. If a player gets 4 or 5 conflict per session then on average their morality will remain neutral.  If due to poor luck with the dice they slip one way or another then they can take less or more conflict accordingly.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the mechanic as I believe it to be broken in some other ways, but mathematically it works out. 

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Personal motivations?

 

Phil, I wonder if there are ways your means of 'tempting' them could be more personal or more connected to their specific strengths/weaknesses AND to the specific details of their backgrounds or motivations?

 

For example if you had a Togruta PC who was an orphan, then perhaps she sees Togruta orphans being herded up as slaves, rather than some other race. Or if the slaver herding them up sees her observing them and gets in her face about it, arrogantly challenging her to do something about it.

 

Tempting GM?

 

Also, I think it was Sam Stewart who talked about the GM acting as a sort of "Imp of the Perverse", deliberately tempting the players themselves to make use of the dark side. "It's only one dark side point, what could happen..." There might be other psychological ways you can influence your players. :)

 

Higher stakes?

 

In drama, characters are meant to start out from a status quo but be forced to go through considerable darkness and challenge to get what they're after. Perhaps your stakes haven't been high enough.

 

It pushed Luke pretty hard to have a vision of his friends being tortured on Bespin, enough for him to abandon his training and rush to save them.

 

If your challenges were harder or the stakes were higher they might feel more compelled to use those dark side points on their powers, because the light side points just weren't getting the job done. If they feel they can accomplish what they need to do with only the light side, they'll stick to the path.

 

 

Just some thoughts!

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It seems like there really isnt much of a middle ground  for Morality, either you avoid Conflict-causing actions in general (aside from the occasional 1 or 2 point effect) and quickly reach Lightside Paragon, or you dont avoid them, and quickly fall to darkness.

And that in a nutshell one half of my dislike for this mechanic.

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It seems like there really isnt much of a middle ground  for Morality, either you avoid Conflict-causing actions in general (aside from the occasional 1 or 2 point effect) and quickly reach Lightside Paragon, or you dont avoid them, and quickly fall to darkness.

I'm not sure where you are getting this mathematically. If a player gets 4 or 5 conflict per session then on average their morality will remain neutral.  If due to poor luck with the dice they slip one way or another then they can take less or more conflict accordingly.

 

I'm not a huge fan of the mechanic as I believe it to be broken in some other ways, but mathematically it works out. 

 

The thing is, NOBODY EVER gets about 5 conflict per session. moral people will top out around 2-3 per session, and hack and slashers will probably get a minimum of 10, or else they feel bored.

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Is there some mystique here that hack and slash and morality are not compatible?

 

Maybe it's just me, but the GM tailors the game theme based on what the players want.  if the Players want hack and slash, conflict should be given out differently than in a game focused on temptation and corruption and walking the difficult road.

 

Of course, if a player flashes lightning at every minion group they see, that's their choice, but GMs should work with their players, not sit on a soap box and tell them that they are bad, or playing the game wrong.

 

At the same token, if players are not ever gaining conflict, the GM should challenge them.  make situations that have no good outcomes, and force players to EITHER accept conflict to resolve a situation, OR think creatively and come up with viable non-conflict solutions.

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Is there some mystique here that hack and slash and morality are not compatible?

Mystique? No... it's just that "hack first ask questions later" trends towards villainy (unless you're playing D&D where genocidal racism is hardcoded into the game as "Good" and "Lawful").

 

Of course, if a player flashes lightning at every minion group they see, that's their choice, but GMs should work with their players, not sit on a soap box and tell them that they are bad, or playing the game wrong.

So far I don't think anyone has posted to that extent.

 

 

At the same token, if players are not ever gaining conflict, the GM should challenge them.  make situations that have no good outcomes, and force players to EITHER accept conflict to resolve a situation, OR think creatively and come up with viable non-conflict solutions.

So carry on as they have been? Good call. Won't stop the morally righteous from scaling the Morality Ladder at break neck pace, but hey whateves. Edited by evileeyore

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Eeyore:  It seems your thinking on this is a little binary.  Some groups want to play a more expendables like game (like as force users in a rebellion setting) and while morality should come in (as a mechanic) if the game is expected to be combat heavy, hack and slash, the GM should take that into account, and adjust the conflict consequences to account for this.

 

Inevitably, war leads to conflict, hence why palpatine drew the Jedi into the CW like he did.  it is inevitable in terms of the slide toward the darkside.  But using the FaD guidelines as a hard and fast always on structure, no jedi would last without significant conflict.  Instead, I like scenes such as when Annikin force choked the separatist general to interrogate him when padme was in danger, instead of finding a more low conflict solution.  That's the kind of tension, in a higher action game, that should generate conflict, not just going into a battle guns blazing.

 

All I'm saying is that these are very subjective standards, as every GM and group of players ahs a different threshold for what should generate conflict, and that's ok.  If the standards cause extreme results (such as few players straddling the middle numbers, 40-60 for any length of time) then maybe the guidelines should be changed.  because even for a group of "paladins" there should be some challenge, some test of their morals.  and a group that wants an action game w/o being "evil" should have relatively fewer morality challenges to help encourage the feeling of high action.

 

Not sure if I'm explaining myself well here, but this is a very subjective issues based on theme, tone, and table desires.  And a hack and slash game is not mutually exclusive with climbing "the morality ladder," to follow your phrase.

Edited by Thebearisdriving

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Eeyore:  It seems your thinking on this is a little binary.  Some groups want to play a more expendables like game (like as force users in a rebellion setting) and while morality should come in (as a mechanic) if the game is expected to be combat heavy, hack and slash, the GM should take that into account, and adjust the conflict consequences to account for this.

In such a setting the PCs could still be hewing to the blasé Morality mechanics and climbing.

It means they gain a few Conflict here and there, as long as the foes they are gunning were clear and present dangers, it's only 1 Conflict to "shoot first, ask questions later".

Since I have no real idea of what an "Expendables Game" would be like (never saw the movies, no desire to) I'll just rife off them being a pastiche of 80's actions flicks which I have seen* (Commando, Predator, Escape From New York, Beverly Hills Cop, Missing in Action, The Terminator, etc) where the Hero is heroic but still guns down mooks like it's right and proper.

In most of those movies the only real Conflict generated is in the shot first mode. Occasionally the Hero will torture a Bad Guy for information which hits a 10 on this scale.

Mostly 'hack and slash" of this variety will still end up okay.

Now if you want to run an Inglorious Basterds campaign I'd recommend ditching the Morality mechanic.

 

 

* Which from a few reviews I've skimmed seems that was what they were?

 

That's the kind of tension, in a higher action game, that should generate conflict, not just going into a battle guns blazing.

Then fix it for your game.  It's not a hard set of numbers despite what some might want others to believe.

 

 

because even for a group of "paladins" there should be some challenge, some test of their morals.

Sure. And the Players knowing the Mechanic will act as righteous as possible as often as possible if "righteous" is a codified set of numbers. That's where this mechanic falls apart for me, it's too easily gamed a system.

 

 

and a group that wants an action game w/o being "evil" should have relatively fewer morality challenges to help encourage the feeling of high action.

Sure.

 

And a hack and slash game is not mutually exclusive with climbing "the morality ladder," to follow your phrase.

To me "hack and slash" means "kill the orc, take his pie, look for more orcs". It's inherently villainous unless you're playing "color-coded for the Player's convenience" style games.

High action should fit with the Morality mechanic as it exist since it was developed from a series of action movies...

Edited by evileeyore

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The only "problem" I have with the Morality mechanic is that the amount of conflict a PC might earn over the course of a session is based on:

 

1) The length of the session, or if the party is split, the amount of time the PC is in play.

2) The types of encounters: There's a lot of difference between a combat encounter and a negotiation, and while you can earn conflict through unscrupulous dealing, it's probably not on the same level as conflict available during combat.

 

The game I play in is about 4 hours, and the one I run is about 8.  After the sessions, players in both games add 1d10-conflict to their Morality.  I think it's pretty obvious that it's easier to have a high morality in the short game.

 

I might suggest that characters in short games might roll other dice, such as a d6, when rolling for their morality change.  It's a difficult call, because there are single actions which can net you a lot of conflict all at once, which would be the same for either short or long sessions.

 

As a result, I think the GM must set the "thresholds" at which he gives conflict based on the group, the style of play, and the expectations of the players.  That's all very subjective, of course, but I don't see any way to really pin it down without imposing on someone.

Edited by Scalding

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For session length, I might break it more into chapters then specific sessions.  If you're doing an eight hour session, find a logical break in the middle somewhere, like a chapter break, and total up the conflict.  I try to make the chapters roughly equal to four hours, which is about what our group usually ends up with in an evening. 

 

Our group is really only just starting to touch the morality, I'm very curious to see how it plays out.  I'm guessing most characters will trend one way or the other, without to much fluctuation.  My wife's characters are nearly always paladinlike, so her character will head for paragon pretty straight away.  The rest of our group, well it will be interesting to see.  Partially I suppose it depends on how strictly we interpret the rules and compliance.  There's some gray areas open to interpretation.

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I've been testing morality mechanics for about 6 sessions now. There are no force-users in our group. Each session takes about 5 hours. Currently most PCs are around 60+ morality - not because they are paragon's though. It's just that they often earn very little conflict points, mostly for lying and occasional slicing or theft. So on average the morality keeps going up.

 

At this point I'm not sure if this particular mechanics has a point in a non-force group, I like the idea of having such a compass for characters though. However, now I'm toying with the idea of dark side points (for evil deeds) and light side points (for being selfless etc). Or just drop this for now..

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If I were to use Morality and Conflict for Non-Force users, I would consider changing the d10 to something smaller as a house rule. Because the mundanes aren't throwing around force powers and converting darkside pips, that's once significant source of conflict thrown out the window. Mechanically, to put them on even footing with morality gain/loss, a smaller die could be a quick fix.

 

With that being said, I don't think I would use morality for non Force user PCs.

Edited by kaosoe

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With that being said, I don't think I would use morality for non Force user PCs.

I think it's pretty clear that the Morality system was written with Force users in mind.  Unless the party is comprised of amoral brutes that would give the Inglorious Basterds pause, with a d10 and few chances to really generate a lot of Conflict, the muggles are can likely expect their Morality to improve far more often than not.

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Since I have no real idea of what an "Expendables Game" would be like (never saw the movies, no desire to) I'll just rife off them being a pastiche of 80's actions flicks which I have seen* (Commando, Predator, Escape From New York, Beverly Hills Cop, Missing in Action, The Terminator, etc) where the Hero is heroic but still guns down mooks like it's right and proper.

 

I want to know if you have seen Big Trouble in Little China? Its great because just about everyone has a different reason for being a hero.

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Since I have no real idea of what an "Expendables Game" would be like (never saw the movies, no desire to) I'll just rife off them being a pastiche of 80's actions flicks which I have seen* (Commando, Predator, Escape From New York, Beverly Hills Cop, Missing in Action, The Terminator, etc) where the Hero is heroic but still guns down mooks like it's right and proper.

 

I want to know if you have seen Big Trouble in Little China? Its great because just about everyone has a different reason for being a hero.

 

 

Sometimes, a guy just wants his freighter back...

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A few thoughts on morality. First I think morality need to have a place in every Hero. the will of the Force is not just for Jedi but affects all of the Galaxy. Those who are sensitive to it are just more open to letting the Force influence them. I am not saying every game EotE, AoR or F&D game has to use it but the mechanic needs to make sense in all games, and in its current form it has no benefit/consequence  like duty or obligation dos for all PC regardless of career. As a GM I want Morality to be a tool I can have in my tool box, I use if I need it and don’t if I don’t

.

But I do have a few big issues with it.

 

1) The Die roll,

 looking at Duty and obligation are objective it goes up or it goes down with no random element. I like this as it helps the GM bring drama and consequence in at any moment with big rewards after hard choices or repercussions after choices.

 

2) This idea is already in the game.

I may be wrong in this but in a way Obligation and Duty is a form of morality. Steal a ship get some obligation! While duty is putting a cause before yourself. I often give my PCs a choice to complete the adventure in a way that will net them extra duty or cool loot to see how committed to their cause they are. I feel as if we have a tool in place already to do what morality is trying to do for all PCs and only giving mechanical boons and banes to Jedi.

 

3) Morality is assuming that the PCs do the right thing. (I understand the book addresses this but for me it is not enough.)

In duty you do the mission your duty value goes up, you run away it will go down. Obligation it moves up or down based on PC choices not just as evaluation of how the choice MIGHT affect the obligation vales after a die roll. Or rate a rebel mission success on a scale of 1 to 10 and throw a die to see what happens

 

With that said i throw this idea out there for you the internet to cut to tiny pieces. Morality is an axis just like duty and oblation but the PCs need to actively interact with it, not just not do the bad thing but the right thing. Becoming at peace with the Force is not a passive thing but something a Jedi must work at and actively pursue. Keep conflict I like the idea of it but just like the force it needs a balance. I purpose serenity, points you award a PC after a good choice. And not dumb it down as option 1 gives you conflict and option 2 gives you serenity but you must actions that go beyond just neutral choices to make progress to the next part of a adventure. I think the better way to do this is to give a PC a chance to earn conflict and later on not in the same adventure a choice with a chance to earn Serenity. At the end of the session you add your serenity to your morality and subtract your conflict. It is quick, easy, and no dice so the GM can wield it more effectively as a tool.

 Reading this thread I feel as this is the common root of all of our issues with morality is we can’t control it at the end of the day, and our PC that robed to junk dealer dry for the spare parts that were the back bone of our encounter was given 7 conflict and rolled a 9 and gained +1 morality bringing him form a 69 to a 70 and achieving Paragon....

So to sum up my rant I give you a quote from a man who had a bit to say on the issue of the force and morality

“Control, control you must learn control”- Yoda

Edited by Oogy

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