The Nature of Emotions (Jun 15, 2012)
Emotion Control and Willpower (Jan 6, 2011)

Here, I want to talk about the goals for, the rules of, and the potential applications of my revision to the concept of the Seven Deadly Sins. First, based on the post title, you can see my approach is based on my intended application: I want to use them as definitions of failure. They need to be easy to identify and flexible in application.

Each “sin” describes a type of failure, and that failure is one of character.

The definition of hubris in Greek mythology is one that often causes the downfall of a hero, in addition to causing a great deal of chaos, destruction, and strife in the process. As I mentioned before, a Deadly Sin is like a weapon of mass destruction.

A Deadly Sin can’t be committed on accident, and it can’t be committed by omission with the exception of Sloth, or as I may soon define it: Negligence. The point is having the ability and failing to use it, but that’s something we’ll get into in a bit. Of course the principle application is one for game design, hence the need for simplification.

Now here’s my premise: each “sin” begins as an emotional response that is nurtured and obsessed over by the individual experiencing it until it consumes them and transplants their personality. Kind of like a tumor. Basically a psychic tumor. One that dominates its host and then later explodes and kills unfortunate people nearby.

Some of the Deadly Sins already line up well with emotions – Wrath with anger and disgust, Sloth with boredom and distraction, and Gluttony, Lust, and Envy with interest, ecstasy, and admiration (not necessarily in that order) but I have this feeling like they may overlap too much where people have trouble telling them apart.

Each Deadly Sin has a few things in common with its “neighbors” (looking at them like a wheel) and they all have one thing in common with each other: excess. Each Deadly Sin is something normal, something healthy and natural taken to its logical (albeit irrational) extreme. Each Deadly Sin begins and ends the same way.

My early thoughts had the Seven Deadly Sins basically pegged as “curses” or “diseases” in Fourth Edition Dungeons & Dragons terms, where they could be considered “evil diseases” or somesuch. Resisting them would require Insight checks to “stabilize” or “reverse” their effects, and it sounded like all kinds of fun in play.

Now I kind of wonder if perhaps they shouldn’t serve as “active vulnerabilities.” I don’t like passive weakness in characters, since they’re easily overlooked or misreported. Making them active and available for exploitation by one’s enemies not only makes them easier to remember (and use!) but also more engaging for everyone.

Ideally they’re all avenues of psychic attack for characters and creatures to exploit, easily labeled and modified, maybe even “harvested” in some cases, by creatures that feed on that sort of thing, like succubi or an incubus. [cue evil laughter]