The Anarchy of King Stephen
The concept of alignment, while commonplace to Fantasy d20 games, doesn’t mesh well with the overall milieu of the Kingdom of Wessex. The interplay of the Catholic Church against the path of Islam is a central struggle in real-world history, and its shadow falls across the alternate history at play here. Likewise, morality on a human scale tends to be much less discrete than alignments can really capture.
The central morality play in the Kingdom of Wessex, when it shows up at all, is aligned along the Good-Evil axis, giving much less focus and prominence to the Law-Chaos axis. The concept of sin is deeply ingrained in medieval society, and most sins, while they do fall under the Chaotic banner, are considered sinful because they are considered Evil. Meanwhile, those who are free from sin are so because of their overwhelming goodness and virtue and because of their adherence to the “straight and narrow.”
In any case, the traditional distinctions are irrelevant, save that a person who is relatively free from sin would be labeled “good,” while a person who is a frequent sinner might be considered “evil” by the powers that be.
Every character has a Sin score, which ranges from 0 to 100. The lower one’s Sin score, the more beatific and saintly the character is. Conversely, the higher the character’s Sin score, the more depraved and demonic the character is likely to be.
The primary mechanic is the Sin check: the character rolls a d100, and if the result is greater than their current Sin score, they fail the check. Otherwise, they pass. The effects of this success or failure depend on the situation in which the Sin check was called for.
Note: It gets harder and harder to fail a Sin check as the character falls deeper and deeper into depravity. This is intentional, as passing a Sin check usually has negative consequences.
Because this is a fantasy game, Sin does have a few mechanical effects. First, characters with a Sin of 50 or higher register as evil for purposes of spells like detect evil, or for magical items that are keyed to an alignment. Conversely, characters with a Sin of 20 or lower show up as good for similar spells and effects.
Sin also has an effect when a character attempts to use a Relic, which is a particular kind of magic item associated with a particular saint. In order to use a Relic, a character must make a Sin check; a success on the check means that the Relic refuses to function for that character, and will not do so until the character’s Sin score has decreased.
Finally, Sin plays a part in the character’s final reward. A character with a Sin of 0 is heaven-bound, and probably destined to eventually become a Saint. Characters with a Sin of 100, on the other hand, are damned, and go to Hell upon their death. Characters inhabiting the middle ground instead end up in Purgatory, where they might spend decades or centuries being purified of their sins that they may enter Heaven. (It really all depends on how many Masses are said on their behalf, after all.) The only mechanical effect that this has on the game is that characters who are in Heaven or Hell may not be raised from the dead by any means. Only characters in Purgatory are able to be brought back.
Adventurers tend to lead sinful lives. Between all the killing, pillaging and running wild they do, it’s frankly a miracle that they don’t all end up condemned to Hell. At least, insofar as the Church is concerned.
Once a week (on Sunday), if a character has committed any sins during that week, he makes a Sin roll (in practice, this will happen once per session for the characters present, covering sins from the previous session). This check is modified by the number and type of sins committed. If the character fails his Sin roll, he gains Sin equal to the modifier to his Sin check.
Characters who indulge in their Vice also immediately gain Sin; see Virtues and Vices for details.
In order to shed himself of the stain of Sin, a character must go through an entire session without committing a single sin. If he is able to do this, at the beginning of the next session, he makes a Sin roll, unmodified. If he makes the check, he loses 1d6 Sin.
Characters who obey their Virtue also immediately lose Sin; see Virtues and Vices for details.
A character who has fallen into evil may petition the Church for a holy quest of atonement. At the conclusion of the quest, the character loses Sin as determined by the DM.
It should be pointed out that Sin has very little to do with gameplay; it is intended as more fluff with a bit of crunch to spice things up. A character’s Sin score is a reflection of his actions; it does not dictate them. Even a character with a Sin of 100 isn’t required to act evil; he has simply sinned enough that his eternal soul is damned unless he finds some way to atone.
Even characters who do not follow the teachings of the Catholic Church are subject to Sin, as what passes for sinful is surprisingly consistent among all the religions of the world.