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In Thy Name- a D&D hack

August 22, 2008

This is a hack to put Flags into an older D&D game and shift the focus from raiding for loot into political and social struggles. It’s more focused than what you get with Riddle of Steel’s Spiritual Attributes or Shadow of Yesterday’s Keys. (You could probably easily tweak this for the traditional rpg of your choice, as well).

Struggles

Each player character can have up to 5 Struggles at one time (you can swap them for other ones, the limit is just so you don’t end up with a page of 200 of them). A Struggle is a personal motivation that the character believes in, is willing to take risk, to struggle for.

Struggles are broken down into three types:

Reign

Reign is about recognized authority you possess or authority you want to have over a person, people, place or thing. It’s about having control and doing what you need to protect your authority and control or expand it. This could be recognized authority- such as being Captain, you might have Reign over the troops in your unit. This could be unspoken but assumed authority- if you think as father you have the right to dictate who your daughter can marry… It could be more abstract- if you are a slave, maybe your ambition is to have Reign over your own self.

Vassalship

Vassalship is about willingly serving a person, group of people, place or thing. It’s about protecting and furthering it’s interests, if any. This could be recognized- being a knight serving a king, or it could be something you’ve taken upon yourself but told no one else – “I’ll protect my nephew, since my brother isn’t much of a father”. Vassalship could be to an ideal- Justice, Love, the Honor of the Ksari Clan.

Honors

Honors is about honoring another person, not because of power, position, or duty. It’s about honoring your friends who you would call sister, or brother. It’s about honoring a wise teacher, whom you respect. It’s about honoring a Lady whom you are in love with. Honor is the most willing of the Struggles, because it has no power, and no position involved whatsoever. It’s not about control or furthering interests- its about respecting the person for who they are.

What they do

When you take action to pursue/protect a Struggle, you gain 100 XP and an Action Point (to spend to get 1D6 bonus to any of your D20 rolls). Each Struggle can provide this once per scene.

Struggles are voluntary- your character has them because she or he believes in them (rightly or wrongly). Struggles can also be conflicting (which can be a good way to get multiple bonuses in a single scene, especially if you like drama).

Players should decide from the outset if they want to have a lot of conflicting Struggles, a few, or none at all amongst the characters- as this can determine whether you have a band of heroes united in ideals or several characters against each other.

As a GM, these give you a good idea of what to offer, what to threaten, and where to focus the flow of play for interesting things for your players. It also shifts the focus of XP gain from gold and monsters to acting on beliefs and interests (as has been done in other games – Riddle of Steel, Burning Wheel, Shadow of Yesterday, etc.)

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