Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Seven Deadly Sins

I will go on a bit of a side rant here for how I shape a fantasy setting in which the players are (nominally at least) the heroes. I look about the setting and decide the Seven Deadly Sins.

Now, you may be wondering how one "decides" what Kevin Spacey has set out from on high? Wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony are what comes to mind when the seven deadly sins, but it was not always so. At one point despair replaced gluttony, other slightly different versions have also existed. In addition to the seven deadly sins are there corresponding virtues (humility v pride, chastity v lust, etc).

So when I set up a region I lay out the seven deadly sins and there virtues for the region there. I always fashion the sins as what are considered unwholesome temptations. For example in a viking setting I might replace pride, wrath and gluttony as sins (because gaining glory by smashing heads and getting tanked is the holy life if you want to reach Valhalla!) and replace them with fear, deceit and despair. To these vikings it is not good to be humble, patient or show temperance! No it is instead good to be brave, loyal with a steely resolve in the face of doom!

Where I in a dark ages Europe with a highly corrupt all powerful church (that old trope) I would replace Greed (God needs another solid gold altar!) with Curiosity. Yes good ole curiosity is now the sin, with faith being its corresponding virtue. Trying to know things man is not meant to know is evil, just accept things as part of "the plan".

For this to work well, make sure local evil things prey off these vices. Make sure there are demons in this dark age Europe who tempt with knowledge and seek only to entice curiosity in others. If this is the viking setting then make sure fear and despair demons abound!

Feel free to add other appropriate sins and virtues to meet the setting. In a Judge Dredd style game, perhaps some sort of Inquisitor or Witch hunter game, "Mercy" is a sin with "Certainty" or "Resolve" as its corresponding virtue.


  1. Nice idea for a campaign frame. It gives everyone an insight into what are the cultural and metaphysical underpinnings in that world.

  2. I think you could do a lot with this idea. Just the thought of curiosity being a sin puts an interesting light on adventurers. After all, decent folk don't need to know what's in the bottom of that ruined castle, or why there is a cave of unspeakable evil nearby, and what it holds.