DeathPaladin brought up the interesting Deadly Sin system from White Wolf's World of Darkness tabletop roleplaying game. Now, the World of Darkness games obviously have a lot of mechanical systems involved with the sins (and Virtues as well, actually), but that's part of their whole gothic-fantastic nature. (The games used to be called gothic-punk, but White Wolf later ditched that description.) These games are probably best known for their vampires, but White Wolf's systems span all kinds of different monsters. This Sin idea is replicated across many of them.
While there's many different examples of methods for fleshing out your character, I actually really like the Deadly Sin game. Applying an archetypical behavior and flaw to your character gives you a "roleplay button" to spam whenever you feel like you're torn on your character's proper reactions.
Let's take a look behind the jump and see how we could use the Seven Deadly Sins in the context of our World of Warcraft. (For the record, the Seven Sins we're going with are Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride.)
Lust is certainly a favorite among many roleplayers, but this Sin could easily be found outside the inns of Goldshire. A particularly virtuous paladin who, upon seeing the San'layn for the first time, might find herself overwhelmed by their beauty and grace. Or, perhaps, a Draenei who has spent most of his adult life aboard the Exodar might desperately be seeking some kind of carnal experience.
Lust is probably the most delicate of the Deadly Sins, mostly because it always seems to come out in some slightly creepy ways. If you can roleplay the sin discreetly, however, your character might be seeking to indulge in one last flash of life before facing their death in Icecrown Citadel.
Gluttony seems to manifest itself in every raid I've attended. Have you ever been on a progression-minded raid where no one busts out the Fish Feast? Besides, Blizzard has done a tremendous job making a variety of food available for your characters.
Drunkenness is also a manifestation of Gluttony, which is incredibly common among the dwarven people. If you're an opponent of the sin, you might find yourself protesting the alcoholic dwarves outside Ironforge. A gluttonous drunk would certainly spend the entire year looking forward to Brewfest.
Greed is a major motivator for the goblins and banking alts littering around the Auction House. If you're a sufferer of the Greed sin, you're constantly yearning to pile even more cash into your ever-growing pockets. Your character may even have studied their economic craft at the hands of a goblin, learning the finest methods for turning a single copper into thousands of gold.
But not all Greed is based on the commerce. A simple street thief might stalk the alleys of Undercity, seeking out unsuspecting victims to sap and rob. Not every thief is a rogue, and thuggish muggings are likely common in the war-torn land of Azeroth.
Sloth is actually a fairly difficult Sin to portray in WoW, because the very nature of a MMO is predicated on action. You're going somewhere, doing something, killing someone. Your characters are in constant motion, and the world is always in some kind of activity around them. But a slothful character probably hasn't mastered all of their class skills, or maybe it's something as simple as a mage who refuses to go to the work of making a magic buffet.
Sloth also doesn't have to be about laziness. It can be expressed as a resistance to change. I suspect hundreds of Night Elves will rebel against their brethren who have taken up Arcane magic, and not all of them because of the harsh lessons learned by the Sindorei. Some will simply feel the winds of change blowing across Kalimdor, and want no part of altering their lifestyle.
Wrath is so easy to roleplay, I almost feel like I shouldn't write about it. A quick-to-anger warrior who rattles his sword at the slightest provocation, or a harsh paladin who lays violent judgements at the slightest hint of vice. A betrayed lover who seeks revenge on the one who done-her-wrong. The opportunities are pretty limitless on how to portray a character whose primary sin is Wrath.
My favorite Envy story actually came from someone roleplaying in a raid. As the group of twenty-five crusaders cruised up to Kel'Thuzad, the mood was fairly tense. Everyone was excited. As the fight started, the death knight in our group licked his lips. Sweat was forming along his forehead. The player was doing a great job roleplaying the character's obvious excitement.
The priest (during a brief lull) asked about the death knight's problem. "The weapon," the death knight answered. "The Betrayer is nearly mine."
The loot rules were an out of character mechanic, but there was some general hand-waving and fanwanking about it still being kind of in character. Ultimately, it turned out someone else got the Betrayer of Humanity that happened to drop. Out of character, everyone congratulated the winner.
In character, though, the death knight lost his bloody mind, and immediately tried to attack and kill the weapon's new wielder. The entire raid group was shocked and appalled, and peeled the death knight from his aghast victim. The death knight's only excuse was that the winner (a paladin) already seemed to have everything in the world, and it was unrighteous that he would have the Betrayer as well.
While it's a specific example, it's still my favorite Envy story in the game.
Pride is all around us. It's constantly messing with us. Every character probably struggles with Pride, to some extent. But to really embody and roleplay the flaw of Pride is to play a character with deep self-esteem issues. It's to struggle with the idea that you're constantly trying to make up for some inadequacy, or constantly trying to improve yourself. Ironically, I tend to play fairly humble characters, mostly because I prefer to watch other people do their thing. And isn't that very much its own version of pride?
Of course, sometimes it seems like every blood elf is a Pride Elf. It's just kind of the nature of the beast.
What about you? Have you ever tried to roleplay a character based on the Deady Sins? Do you think that it's something you might try?