Flexible Morals

Flexible Morals

Flexible Morals

I meant to ask this during Thief Week but missed my chance, so here it is:

When/how have you used Flexible Morals? The phrasing (“you can tell them”) makes it sound like the move is targeted towards other PCs. I’m just not sure how often PCs are trying to detect one another’s alignments, especially in DW given that each class only has two or three to choose from, assuming no modding. Most PCs will figure out one another’s alignments fairly quickly just through game play (although I can think of two instances when someone in my group misled the others for a while).

Curious to hear stories from actual games!

16 thoughts on “Flexible Morals”

  1. I have never seen it used, and I honestly think it’s one of the worst moves in core Dungeon World. There was probably intended to be more Alignment things to deal with than there are, so the ability ends up being pretty worthless.

    I have replaced it with the following move in my own games:

    Flexible Morals

    When someone tries to read your motivation behind doing something, you can tell

    them whatever motivation you like. If they don’t have a history with you, they will

    believe what you tell them.

  2. I’ve actually never had a Thief in the party, but potentially the GM could introduce a monster with a move like:

    – See one’s true alignment/loyalties/etc

  3. GM: The wise old priest casts his glance your way, String.  You can see a flicker in his eyes as he bears his judgement upon you.  What does his god tell him about you?

    String: He sees only the parts of my life that paint me in a sad, helpless light – the parts where I lived in an orphanage and had to struggle to survive.

    GM: Ah, so you’re a “Good” person, huh? Nothing about how you shanked that guy who cheated you at cards last night?

    String: Not a thing. I’m clean as a whistle, baby.

  4. I haven’t seen this one in play yet either.  Still no Thief in any of the games I’m involved in.

    NPCs can surely cast judgement though and this one would help out.

    It can also help for the tried and true cleric/paladin that won’t adventure with someone “evil.”

  5. Alignment is soul-deep, it penetrates every part of your spiritual and ethical landscape. Effectively, the Thief is always exactly what alignment he wants to be.  Want to get in with a gang of cutthroat bastards?  I bet they think you’re evil, just like them.  Want to be best friends with the virgin prince?  Not so hard when his unicorn guardian lets your kind soul pass, is it?

  6. In my meatspace game, I have an Evil Thief and a Good Human Paladin. Every time the Paladin prays and asks “what here is evil?”, the Thief player loudly interjects “Not me, I am a legitimate businessman!”

    The players know the truth, but the PCs don’t, and it has been awesome. I’m planning to use an NPC from the thief’s Guild (one of my BBEGs) to force a confrontation next session.

  7. “It can also help for the tried and true cleric/paladin that won’t adventure with someone “evil.”” 

    Yep, I’ve definitely been in D&D games that could have used that.

    “The Thief is always exactly what alignment he wants to be. “

    I like the sound of that, and I get the sentiment. In most of the cases, though, it seems like straight up lying–which is always acceptable–would work. Only a few characters will actually attempt to formally detect alignment. If it were an ability to conceal motive, that might be more useful.

    Overall, I guess it depends on the GM to create those specific situations where the thief gets to use this.

  8. Alignment is motive. Alignment is the color of your eternal soul. It’s who you are on a cosmic level. It’s where you go when you die. It permeates your entire being.

    Being able to hide that is pretty damn cool, if you swing it right.

    In the end, the GM needs to recognize it and “be a fan” right?  Just like they need to give the Fighter bars to bend and the Wizard needs mysteries to unravel.

  9. We had an interesting intersection between a Thief and my Paladin the other night.

    The Thief has always pretended to be Lawful, and he’s not actually Evil, so he hasn’t shown up on my radar when I’ve prayed to sense evil. But the Thief is a constant liar.

    When it came time to consecrate myself to a new quest, it was about uncovering the truth of a certain prophecy. So I chose “senses that pierce lies” as one of my boons.

    The question that emerged was “am I aware the Thief is faking it every time he pretends his alignment is something else other than what it is?”

  10. It certainly isn’t a huge move. It’s not as big a deal as trap sense or whatever, but it’s there for a reason.

    Mostly it’s to exempt the thief from alignment. That may or may not come up often, but we thought it was important. It says something about what the thief is. 

  11. Whoa. Exempt from alignment? I never read it that way. I mean, the thief’s got an alignment tick box, just like everyone else. If that were missing it would make more sense.

  12. I use alignment-based traps and magic items sometimes. Like magical mold spores that are only triggered by Lawful-aligned characters (that’s why the monsters are never bothered), or a magic sword that refuses to attack Lawful-aligned characters. I had an NPC once who was “anti-neutral,” so he would behave like the opposite alignment of whomever he was interacting with.

    Or if I wanted to get all Moorcock cosmic battle on a campaign, it would matter there, too.

  13. I made an upgraded racial move for tieflings:

    Honest face

    You can tell anyone who can possible judge you your alignment. It can be any alignment.

    Didn’t try it yet, but I think it will work like a charm. 

  14. I’ve never used it (and my thief has survived to level 6 so far), but it makes me feel safer about my ability to pass myself off as someone I’m not. I play a very high charisma thief who’s chaotic and I don’t have to fear that good aligned characters will discriminate against me because I can always plausibly pretend to be “what they want to see.” That makes a heck of a lot of cons easier. 😉

Comments are closed.