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Morality scale versus Integrity scale

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  • Morality scale versus Integrity scale

    What are y'all's thoughts on the Morality scale versus the Integrity scale? Personally, I far prefer the Morality scale, as I like the measurement of losing your aversion to performing certain once-intolerable actions. I understand the Integrity scale, and it's not bad. But it just doesn't seem to hit the "You're becoming a monster in your own right, and here's the proof, Guy Who Is Okay With Murdering Innocent People Without Flinching" way that the Morality scale does.

    Also, if you don't like the Morality scale, why not? I'm curious, because I know some people really don't like it, but I've never really gotten an answer as to why.


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  • #2
    Morality's teeth are tied to the derangement system, which I have never liked. The notion of immorality inflicting neuroses and madness is a rather narrow genre conceit that implies an outdated and callous understanding of mental health, further blurred by the lexicon's muddy conflation of gothic rhetoric (the very name of "derangements") and psychological terminology (obsessive-compulsion, schizophrenia), and the unnatural linking of particular pairs of "corresponding" mild and severe derangements (with the implication that Irrationality is a condition that then exacerbates or escalates to Multiple Personality, or that nervous, unconscious talking to oneself can become the onset of schizophrenia). Just generally speaking, I would rather not have something resembling real-world diagnoses on the mechanical suggestion list for character traits in a roleplaying game, much less a list called for in specific circumstances and from which a player must occasionally select something.

    I am much more comfortable, and occasionally quite pleased, with the modelling done by the Conditions which Integrity calls for. Ordinary failures result in failures of judgment and shaken behavior patterns which are a good way to work genre-appropriate vulnerable behaviors into the game in a way that gives players more agency and investment in the doing (YMMV, of course). Dramatic failures result in much more abstracted ailments and dysfunctions that are more clearly about mapping to genre conventions than real-world diagnoses. Spooked remains my favorite Condition in the game, in its elegant use of the resolution beat as a carrot to entice players into actions that put them in danger and draw them further into the orbit of the unknown without being punitary.

    Morality's Hierarchy of Sins is a little rigid for my tastes. An attempt to structure objective morality, or even (despite the name of the trait to the contrary) a shared human basis for what is safe or natural behavior and what is transgressive and rattling, is always going to raise questions from players with different experiences, and the more particular and detailed it gets, the larger the risk of disconnect. Integrity hews pretty hard in the opposite direction, which I acknowledge might not be some players' cup of tea without more concrete guideposts. But personally, I'm plenty comfortable using the writeup of Integrity as a measure of when a breaking point should be called for, and it certainly is less in the way of specifics to keep track of.

    I appreciate that Integrity, unlike Morality, doesn't break from the game's standard mechanic of building dice pools by summing traits. This is the least of Morality's weaknesses, but fewer mechanical exceptions to track does make for more pleasing symmetry and simplicity. I also appreciate that Integrity calls for fewer rolls.

    Morality has one thing over Integrity overall in my eyes: it has teeth. I may not like how the teeth are implemented, but degenerating Morality feels more dramatic than falling Integrity. The effects of an ordinary Integrity failure, aside from impacting your dice pool for future breaking points, are transitory, and rather light even on that scale. A dramatic failure matters, but the danger seldom emerges unless you're strict with stacking circumstantial penalties on the rolls. As it ends up at the table in my limited play experience, Integrity might as well not be tracked as a numerical trait. Breaking points are called for as isolated incidents whose results don't need to change anything on the character sheet except the current set of Conditions suffered.

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    • #3
      Very well stated. I concede that one person's view on Morality might not stack up with another's, and you make a fair point about mental health vis a vis Derangements and the like.

      You really hit on it at the end, though. Losing Integrity is just, like... so what? You know? It just doesn't feel important. And maybe that's what I'm really drawn to in the Morality scale.


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      • #4
        On the other hand, for me all that teeth of Morality felt like fake teeth because of how ridiculously disconnected from real life (well, my real life) it was, and how blatantly it supported only a narrow viewpoint for something that claims itself to be a universal standard.


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        • #5
          I actually like the idea of morality, however, as Stupid Loserman said, tying it to mental illness was not a good idea. Aside from it being pretty offensive, it also wasn't very interesting as a repercussion. I'd be pretty interested to see a version that kept Morality but modelled more on the conditions of Integrity.


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          • #6
            I think the "teeth" or Morality is being a bit overstated as well. The odds of gaining derangements in 1e is pretty low, and after you drop to Morality 1... so what? If you got lucky and didn't get any derangements you... basically become immune to psychological responses to your actions. I remember old threads from people more optimization focused than the games assumed detailing how dropping Morality as fast as possible was actually the best way to play the game (assuming you weren't the group exorcist or something). So if you had players wanted to lose Morality ASAP, only pausing to undo a bad roll and getting rid of a derangement, the teeth really aren't that bad. Well, that and derangments didn't exactly have the harshest mechanics; esp. if you only have 1-2 mild ones.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              I think the "teeth" or Morality is being a bit overstated as well. The odds of gaining derangements in 1e is pretty low, and after you drop to Morality 1... so what?
              I ran the numbers once, and dropping from 7 to 4 Morality, not getting a derangement at any of the three drops was more likely than all other possibilities put together. That stopped being the case when you dropped from 7 to 3, but it was still the most likely outcome by some margin.

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              • #8
                IIRC (it's been awhile) it's really the drop from 4 to 1 where there's a major risk of degrangements; but that's pretty logical with how the math of the system worked. I believe dropping from 7 to 1 averages ~1.5 failed derangement checks if you spent no effort on going up to undo one, or have access to anything that might give you bonus dice to those rolls.

                Of course, it's also probability which means in a group of five or so players, the odds are also pretty good one person gets off free, and another gets 3-4, because it's a big enough sample size for some variations from normal to be common to crop up.

                I think it is one of the bigger advantages in comparison for the Integrity system: even with the randomness involved, the long term impact on the player characters is less likely to grow noticeably disparate. If a group has rolled four times, and averaged 50/50 success rates, but on player passed all four, and on failed all four... it matters, but it's not that harsh in the long run. It's a 2 dice difference on breaking point checks in otherwise equal situations. In the 1e rules it would be a massive difference in terms of how the character that failed four times would be played.

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