Beware The Honest Ones
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Basic Information

Beware The Honest Ones is a characterization trope. A character falling under this trope is an idealist, but he is often surrounded by other characters with more dubious morality. As a result, the others are ready to discount him as naive or even an idiot, sometimes delighting in using his honesty to their advantage.

However, in this case they are mistaken - sometimes, such a character will do something so staggeringly bold which is all the more surprising to the others because they discounted him because of his beliefs.

The other main problem being that an honest character may be a lot less inclined to negotiate or compromise on key issues and can be a significant obstacle when doing the right thing involves doing something wrong as well.

On the other hand, traditionally the vast majority of scams rely on the target being dishonest in some way and are liable to bounce off an honest man.

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Game and Story Use

  • In campaigns centered on back-stabbing, intrigue, and gray morality, the PCs are unlikely to trust someone who appears honest, idealistic, and principled since too many other people around them only pretend that they share these qualities. If such a person comes into conflict with their own agenda, they might sabotage or fight him with the usual dirty tricks. And when they learn that that person is actually as honest as he appears, he will have become an implacable enemy of the PCs precisely because he is so honest - and the PCs will have to adjust to the fact that they do not hold the moral high ground in this conflict.
  • PCs can also be faced with an NPC who is clearly a good guy, but equally clearly in their way - who demands that they go through the proper channels or allow the appropriate authorities to deal with it when either would be inappropriate.
    • Also, such amusing things as guards that you don't really want to kill, but are too honest to be bribed or blackmailed.
  • Likewise, an NPC who projects their own honesty onto other people and is unwilling to accept that the villain is not what their carefully constructed fa├žade would imply.
  • Lawful stupid is the reductio ad absurdum of this trope.
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