Dungeon World Flags

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Flags are replacements for bonds in Dungeon World, originally suggested by “From Bonds to Flags”, a blog post by Rob Donoghue. The text here contains a more formal rules write-up of the idea and how to deal with some of its side effects. It is largely drawn from the text of Fourth World and is released here under the the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

Most sample flags here were first published in a post on G+. Other example flags can be found on the internet, including a large collection assembled by Scott Selvidge.

All characters demonstrate foibles and eccentricities which serve to complicate their lives. These are represented by flags. Flags replace Dungeon World’s use of bonds, inverting their pattern. Instead of bonds connecting your character to other characters, your flags define behaviors that other players enable. By selecting a flag, you signal what sorts of interactions and complications you are looking to explore, giving other players permission and encouragement to complicate your life by incorporating your flag into play.

Flags are phrased as instructions, requests to the other players to treat your character a certain way. As such, the best flags…

  • …suggest an action specific enough that it is obvious when another character hits it.
  • …create some sort of conflict or tension, usually by giving your character a choice to make.
  • …give you an opportunity to demonstrate something about your character that might not otherwise be showcased.
  • …enable taking action in a way meaningful to your character.
  • …bring enough consequence to the story to develop a relationship between your character and another.

When another player follows the instruction indicated by your flag, (called “hitting” your flag), the End of Session move (below) will reward them for doing so. This means that players should be aware of the flags of the characters at the table, and think about how they might hit them in play. Note that hitting another player’s flag usually means confronting them with a tough choice that pits their personality against a situation. They may choose to embrace their personality or compromise it for the situation. Either way, just setting up the choice means you hit their flag.

Each character should choose two flags (some games may wish to have characters choose as many flags as they would have had bonds). As flags are intended to represent deep-seated personality traits, they tend to resist change; however, if it makes sense to drop a flag and/or gain a new one, go for it.

Example Flags

  • Accommodating: counter my proposal with a less attractive one I must either accept or disrupt the harmony of the group.
  • Androgynous: put me into a situation that might get me to inadver- tently reveal my gender.
  • Ardent: convince me to do something I shouldn’t in order to please a god.
  • Aspiring: make me an offer that threatens my social standing.
  • Bumptious: challenge my knowledge and prove that I have more to learn.
  • Compassionate: offer me an easier solution that requires I exploit those weaker than me.
  • Curious: convince me to try something I probably shouldn’t.
  • Deceitful: believe and act on a lie I’ve told you.
  • Delinquent: call attention to something valuable or useful that would cause problems for both of us if stolen.
  • Delusional: offer me a more effective solution that requires I abandon my mis-perception or erroneous belief.
  • Devoted: offer me an easier solution that requires I compromise my relation with _______________. (Choices include: family or a family member, a particular organization, another party member, a lover, a friend, someone to whom you have sworn allegiance, etc.)
  • Eccentric: include me in a social interaction where my personality imperfections will be viewed as charm.
  • Exploitable: offer me a flimsy reason to voluntarily put myself in danger for your gain.
  • Graceless: include me in a beneficial social interaction I must spoil with blunt observation or crass behavior.
  • Greedy: offer me financial reward to undermine a friend.
  • Gullible: tell me a lie I believe.
  • Heroic: let me keep you from going first into danger so I can go myself
  • Honest: involve me in a deception I must ruin.
  • Irresponsible: convince me to shirk my duty.
  • Jealous: offer me an opportunity to praise a rival.
  • Peculiar: refuse my aid because I’m different.
  • Pious: give me a reason to explain or demonstrate the folly of one of your sins.
  • Portentous: seek my divinations in a moment of uncertainty and trust them implicitly.
  • Preoccupied: entrust me with something important that I will likely lose or mess up.
  • Pugnacious: offer me a peaceful solution that I must derail with violence.
  • Righteous: offer me an easier solution that requires I violate my principle of _______________. (Choices include: ‘non-violence’, various religious beliefs, moral code, sworn vows, ‘chastity’, ‘might makes right’, entitlement, institutional prejudice, etc.)
  • Scandalous: defer to me when a social convention needs violated.
  • Selfish: suggest I sacrifice something (tangible or intangible) to improve the lot of others.
  • Skilled: seek my help in learning how to _______________.
  • Sycophantic: insist I publicly compare the greatness of two people from whom I seek favor.
  • Trustworthy: confide in me a secret that would damage you if revealed.
  • Unsophisticated: exemplify a social convention or intricate concept I must misunderstand.
  • Vengeful: offer me a reasonable path that I must reject to gain my revenge.
  • Visionary: offer me an easier solution that interferes with my dream of _______________.
  • Wise: ask for and take my advice on a difficult matter.

Move Changes

Removing bonds from a game changes some of the game's moves:

Aid or Interfere

When you help or hinder someone, say how. You may do so either before or after they have rolled, but before the outcome of their action is known. If you do it…

  • …using brute force, roll+STR
  • …with speed, agility, or physical finesse, roll+DEX
  • …with vitality, toughness, or vigor, roll+con
  • …through emotional manipulation, roll+CHA
  • …through analysis, logic, or book-learning, roll+INT
  • …some other way, roll+WIS

On a 10+, they take +1 or −2 to their roll, your choice. On a 7−9, they still get a modifier, but you also expose yourself to danger, retribution, or cost.

End of Session

Replace the text about bonds with something like: When you reach the end of a session, if you hit a flag of any other character during the session at least once, mark XP. If anyone hit at least one of your flags this session, mark XP.