Depravity and Insanity
"A sheathed sword in the face of evil is tantamount to evil itself."
Gothic has a Morality system to represent the values of the culture that the characters belong to, and to provide a mechanical anchor to represent the mental or spiritual strain that they represent. The morality system for most characters in Gothic is represented by the Seven Deadly Sins. The reason for this is not necessarily that the Seven Deadly Sins are correct or accurate, but that the characters in Gothic subscribe to them. A character from a very different background or location may have a different set of rules that they live by, but this is uncommon for characters that live in the Throne.
SEVEN DEADLY SINS
- Venial - Impassioned violation of another. Undue threats and aggression.
- Mortal - Intentional injury or violation of another. Killing in self-defense.
- Deadly - Premeditated murder or torture. Killing in cold blood. Inflicting unusual horrors upon another.
Wrath sins specifically apply to non-Anathema humans, however gratitude from the church has stretched this to cover Dwarves as well.
- Venial - Telling small lies. Unnecessarily using powers when mundane solutions are available. Lies for personal benefit.
- Mortal - Abandoning your duties or breaking oaths. Refusing others help when doing so is within your means. Living a lie or double life.
- Deadly - Dereliction of accepted responsibilities.
- Venial - Becoming intoxicated by choice
- Mortal - Recreational or intentional drug use
- Deadly - Voluntary addiction to anything
- Venial - Conducting a conversation with a heretic, reading heretical writings.
- Mortal - Knowingly suffering a witch or heretic to live.
- Eternal - Knowingly extending welcome, aid , or brotherhood to a heretic. Performing rites of worship or giving prayer to a false deity - any other than The Lord. Apostasy - turning away from the Lord or willingly taking part in the rituals of other religions.
Rather than simply a Deadly Sin, the highest sin of Heresy is considered the only unatoneable, Eternal Sin. Only the purifying holy fire of the Inquisition is thought to be able to forcibly redeem such a wretch. Nothing less will do.
- Venial - Sexual behavior without proper union
- Mortal - Prostitution of your body. Using sex as a tool to get your way.
- Deadly - Rape and extreme sexual perversion
- Venial - Bragging of your personal ability or past accomplishments.
- Mortal - Abusing your position or authority for self gain outside of the duties of your station.
- Deadly - Forcibly sacrificing someone's life for your own gain.
- Venial - Taking without asking when it will go unnoticed or unmissed. Not giving when within your means.
- Mortal - Stealing for personal benefit.
- Deadly - Hoarding surplus in times of another's need. Profiteering off of the desperation of others.
What is essential is invisible to the eye. Only with your heart can you see rightly.
Sinking into Depravity/Redemption
SINKING INTO DEPRAVITY
Morality decisions and the advancement of Depravity are kept and recorded by the Staff. If a character ever gains an amount of Depravity that exceeds the value allowed by their Faith Attribute, their deeds begin to truly come into conflict with their ideals. A character in this position begins to redefine what they believe to be right and wrong, what is acceptable and unacceptable, and at the same time begin to loosen the psyche bonds that keep their behavior in check. Such characters begin to acquire Insanities to represent this change in their mental state, beginning with one appropriate Mild Insanity at the time in which their Depravity first surpasses their Faith and continue to either gain new Insanities or exacerbate existing conditions for each Depravity they gain after that. A normal character can have 5 Depravity before this occurs. An Affirmed character can have 6, a Faithful character may have 7, and a Zealous character may have 8. Heartless characters may only have 3.
According to the Church's doctrine, so-called Venial sins, or forgivable sins, are sins of conscience, convenience or passion that, while blemishing the soul, do not necessarily sever one from the Lord and Heaven. Venial sins add 1 Depravity. Mortal sins, worth 2 Depravity, are sins which kill the soul. While one labors under a moral sin, their soul is considered to be "dead" and, should they die unatoned and without Last Rites, their fate is to be damned to Hell for eternity. Lastly, Deadly sins, which grant 3 Depravity, are seen as yet worse than mortal sins, for the bearers of Deadly sins are thought to make others unclean by their association, and those who are known to wear Deadly Sins are not to be trusted or associated with lest that person's wickedness come to bring wickedness into your life as well.
For example, Colette's recent encounter with her one-time rapist has pushed her beyond the realm of caring about what is right and wrong, and she has murdered the man in an act of revenge. Colette has ordinary Faith. Colette already had 3 Depravity in Vanity on another occasion, and premeditated murder is a Wrath 3 sin. This gives her 3 more Depravity for a total of 6, one more than her ordinary Faith allows, and yields a Mild Insanity. The Staff decides that the emotional trauma over the event has pushed her to never place herself in such a situation ever again so that she will never again have to kill someone else. Colette has a Mild Compulsion to never allow men to touch her body in any way. See Insanities for specific rules.
Colette cannot gain any further Depravity for Wrath, having already maxed that category at 3. Having already broken that mental barrier, she could kill other people without further emotional strain. The next man who tried to rape her might find her more than willing to open his belly with the knife she keeps hidden in her blouse.
If Collette then stole money from her place of work in an unrelated situation to help pay for her own debts, that would be an act of Greed 2. She would gain 2 more Depravity, bringing her total to 8. Collette would gain either an additional two levels onto her existing Insanities, or 2 new mild Insanities, or any combination therein. The storyteller decides that her continued disregard for other people in favor of herself has turned her Mild Compulsion to throw off men into a Severe one. This means she will actively seek out the opportunity to make it happen, encouraging or teasing men into making advances against her just so she can throw them off in spite. As well, the storyteller gives her the Mild Delusion that the law doesn't truly apply to her, and that when the opportunity arises, she can do as she likes without really considering the law's consequences.
Removing Depravity can be accomplished through a process of reconciliation. How a character undergoes this process depends on their overall view of their place in the world in relation to higher powers. If a character believes in Faith in a Higher Power (as decided at Character Creation) they recover through formal atonement, as performed by the Atonement ritual officiated by a Priest. Upon completing the task laid out by the Priest during the confession, any and all Depravity that was gained by the act being atoned for is immediately removed. One should note however, that this means that the Depravity gained from that specific act is lost, not that Depravity equal to the sin level is lost. For instance, if a character had 2 Wrath, and then committed murder, they would have Wrath 3. If they atoned for the murder, they would then return where they were before - Wrath 2, not down to Wrath 0. This means that a life of sin may take many atonements to reduce Depravity even a little, clearing every recorded sin one at a time.
Characters with a Faith in Self do not ordinarily seek atonement from a Priest through confession, (though they may), and instead use their Willpower to work through their actions and rectify their deeds with their sense of self. Once per game event, a character with Faith in Self may spend their Willpower to remove a single level of Depravity (ie go from Wrath 3 to Wrath 2), and in this way may slowly make peace with themselves for the actions they have had to do.