Between Dark and Light

A Designer Diary on the Morality system in Force and Destiny

"Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny.”
–Master Yoda

As a rare and powerful Force user, you have the chance to make an incredible difference in the lives of those around you. An unexpected act of compassion or mercy may give someone hope or even save lives. Giving in to a negative emotion like resentment or hatred could result in the loss of life or even alter the fate of an entire civilization. The Star Wars®: Force and Destiny™ roleplaying game lets you see the immense effects of your moral choices upon others, and learn whether they lead you to greatness – or to darkness and evil. 

In today’s preview of Force and Destiny, our own Katrina Ostrander, a content developer for the Force and Destiny Core Rulebook, discusses the game's Morality system and how it incorporates an important Star Wars theme into your roleplaying experience. 

Strength and Weakness, Dark and Light

In Force and Destiny, each Player Character has a Morality value that measures how close a character is to the dark side or the light. The value is tracked on a scale from 1 to 100: the lower the number, the deeper a character has plunged into darkness, but the higher the number, the closer she is to the light. When a PC commits cruel or selfish acts, or is motivated by anger or fear, she accumulates Conflict, which can pull the Player Character’s Morality score in a negative direction.

That’s not all that a PC’s Morality represents: players must also choose their character’s emotional strengths and weaknesses. These often come into conflict with one another, and the light and dark sides of emotions can be two sides of the same coin. Selfless love for all has to potential to serve as a great force of good in the galaxy, but selfish love can become a source of jealousy and hatred. Curiosity and fascination can lead to obsession and compulsion. Pride is not so far removed from arrogance. Weighed over the course of a session, a character's choices between their emotional strengths and weaknesses determine whether the character walks down the path of the dark side or becomes a light side Paragon.

Force and Destiny includes an optional rule for triggering Morality. When Morality is triggered in a session, it’s up to the player and Game Master to dramatize this conflict between the character’s emotional strength and his emotional weakness. The story should nudge the player to choose between the two options: to give in to an emotional weakness or draw strength from within. At the end of the session, the resulting change in the character’s Morality, whether it’s nudged closer toward the dark side or the light, becomes magnified.

For example, Diana is playing Kasuni Tamm, a Togruta Seeker whose emotional strength is Enthusiasm and emotional weakness is Recklessness. Kasuni’s greatest asset is her ability to maintain boundless enthusiasm no matter what she faces, but her enthusiasm can lead her into dangerous situations someone more cautious might have avoided. This session, the Game Master has triggered her Morality, so he devises a scene that will challenge one or both of her emotions.

During play, Kasuni and her bogwing companion have scouted ahead and happened upon a small camp of Imperial scout troopers. Kasuni could wait for the rest of her companions to catch up with her, but her zeal for the rush of combat borders on recklessness if she engages the enemy alone.

Diana decides that Kasuni gives in to her negative emotions, in this case manifesting as recklessness. Despite having the advantage of surprise, she’s soon outmatched by the Imperial forces and is almost defeated before her friends catch up and bail her out of trouble. At the end of the session, when Kasuni is tallying up her Conflict and checks for the her Morality increase, she doubles the result, whether for good or ill.

Inner Conflict and Epic Consequences

In trying to develop Morality for Force and Destiny, we went back to the movies and television shows to get at the heart of what the struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force really meant for the characters. Although the Jedi and Sith codes epitomize the characteristics of the light and dark sides of the Force, for most characters in the Star Wars universe, the struggle between light and dark becomes personal.

In the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker draws strength from his bravery even as the Emperor tries to push Luke to give in to his hatred. In the prequels, Anakin Skywalker’s love for his mother and Padme inspires him to do great deeds, but his attachments also lead him to commit grave acts of cruelty. In Rebels, Ezra’s fear allows him to tap into powers otherwise unavailable to him, but ultimately his compassion is what fuels his quest to protect others from the Empire.

Instead of being an external source of conflict, Morality deals with the internal turmoil of a character. This inner conflict should help to inspire deep roleplaying opportunities in your Star Wars: Force and Destiny campaigns, including the potential for real character growth that will have repercussions in the galaxy at large. Which side will you choose?

Thank you, Katrina! 

It's Your Choice

Will you succumb to the easy answers and emotional temptations of the dark side, or adhere to a strict personal moral code? Will you become a nefarious and powerful villain, an unknown hero, or tread a path somewhere between the two? Whatever choices you make during your adventures in the Star Wars galaxy, the Force and Destiny  roleplaying game is certain bring to life their dramatic, potentially world-changing consequences.

Pre-order your copy of the Force and Destiny Core Rulebook from your local retailer today! 

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