Looking for some help with Rob Donoghue’s notion of flags to replace bonds…

Looking for some help with Rob Donoghue’s notion of flags to replace bonds…

Looking for some help with Rob Donoghue’s notion of flags to replace bonds (http://walkingmind.evilhat.com/2015/09/07/from-bonds-to-flags/). Creating these is harder than it sounds, as the idea is to have a player trigger an interesting choice in another player.

Here is a list I’ve come up with (including the suggestions from Rob, slightly modified). I’m interested in both feedback on and additions to this list. Bear in mind that flags take the form of instructions to other players and work best when they give you a choice to make. Often this is a choice between an ingrained personality/world view with a current situation.

– Accommodating: counter my proposal with a less attractive one I must accept to maintain harmony.

– Aspiring: make me an offer that threatens my social standing.

– Compassionate: offer me an easier solution that requires I exploit those weaker than me.

– Curious: convince me to try something I probably shouldn’t.

– Deceitful: believe and act on a lie I’ve told you.

– Devoted: offer me an easier solution that requires I compromise my relation with _____________. (Choices include: family or a family member, a particular organization, another party member, a lover, a friend, someone to whom you have sworn allegiance, etc.)

– Graceless: include me in a beneficial social interaction I must spoil with blunt observation or crass behavior.

– Greedy: offer me financial reward to undermine a friend.

– Gullible: tell me a lie I believe.

– Heroic: let me keep you from going first into danger so I can go myself

– Honest: involve me in a deception I must ruin.

– Irresponsible: convince me to shirk my duty.

– Peculiar: refuse my aid because I’m different.

– Righteous: offer me an easier solution that requires I violate my principle of _____________. (Choices include: ‘non-violence’, various religious beliefs, moral code, sworn vows, ‘chastity’, ‘might makes right’, entitlement, institutional prejudice, etc.)

– Sycophantic: insist I publicly compare the greatness of two people from whom I seek favor.

– Unsophisticated: exemplify a social convention or intricate concept I must misunderstand.

– Visionary: offer me an easier solution that interferes with my dream of _____________.

Some others that seem like they might work, but I couldn’t think of a decent conflict/choice they would generate:

– Decisive: Rob suggests “allow me to make a decision so you can criticize it”, but this isn’t really a choice or story conflict (other than player bickering).

– Gracious

– Hedonistic

– Humble

– Jovial/jockular (ruin the moment with humor)

– Judgemental

– Rebellious

– Trustworthy

– Vain

18 thoughts on “Looking for some help with Rob Donoghue’s notion of flags to replace bonds…”

  1. To my mind, the act of setting up the choice is “hitting the key” (and worth xp), regardless of what choice is made as a result. This changes the phrasing of the instructions and, I just realized, might not have been the original intent.

  2. This is very cool. When I GM Burning Wheel, I do this transformation to player instincts, turning them into simple imperatives. Never thought about doing that with fellow PCs, that’s awesome.

  3. I was just putting the finishing touches on my own replacement for Bonds when I saw this post. I had looked at flags and liked the general idea, but also found that creating new flags was hard. Kudos for doing the hard work.

    What I have the hardest time with is the trigger conditions and the agency of the choice. E.g., these two flags

    Gullible: tell me a lie I believe.

    Deceitful: believe and act on a lie I’ve told you.

    Are essentially the same just with the trigger and choice agency swapped between character with the flag and the other PCs. I think this could end up being very confusing.

  4. Ultimately, a character’s flags are a request to “enable me to be [FLAG]”. This may involve another character setting up a situation or it may involve another character following through on a situation, but at the end of the session, if the players can say “Thank you for enabling me to be [FLAG]”, then they’ve hit the flag / earned the XP.

    So, the Guillible vs. Deceitful flags are basically mirrors of each other, and that’s ok! You could probably rephrase deceitful to put the responsibility for setup back on the other character with something like “Invite my input and don’t question it (at least for the moment)” if you wanted.

  5. I think it’s important to remember that flags should ultimately enable taking action in a way meaningful to your character, and that they bring enough consequence to the story to develop a relationship between the enabler and the enablee. So it’s not just a matter of making them profound, they also need to tie into the playbook and create momentum.

  6. Some examples from the “Discerning Realities” podcast (episode 11):

    – Seek my divinations in a moment of uncertainty and trust them implicitly.

    – Challenge my knowledge and prove that I have more to learn.

    – Let me sneak off on my own, even when the consequences for getting caught may be dire.

    – Encourage me to steal a well-guarded item.

    Not crazy about the third one (the choice/conflict not entirely obvious; maybe it works better in play than I’m guessing), but the others are great.

    More examples please.

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