Seven Deadly Sins
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Basic Information

The Seven Deadly Sins - as defined in Judeo-Christian morality, are considered to be the sins, or spiritual offences, most likely to lead to the loss of eternal life (hence the "deadly") … or perpetual damnation (which is arguably worse). They are not, perhaps, the most terrible sins - in as much as one sin can be judged better or worse than another (those would be either the Four sins that cry to heaven or the sin against the holy spirit), but they are particularly endemic and persistent. Appropriately these seven sins are opposed by the seven heavenly virtues, which are their mirror and opposite.

They are generally thought to consist of:

Although the sin of Acedia - a form of despair and/or moral turpitude, or indeed the sin of despair itself was either substituted for sloth or added to the list. The sin of vainglory or boastfulness was also sometimes attached, but most authorities thought it to be either a sign or an element of pride when considered in detail. Acedia and despair are, presumably, opposed by hope or faith. For those who want to shuffle things about, it would probably be reasonable to run greed and gluttony together - gule (itself an old name for gluttony1) might make a good name for this composite sin of incontinent getting and consuming, alternatively those with a modern taste for minimising the concept of sexual sin could conflate lust and gluttony, perhaps as luxuria (Latin "indulgence"), a sin of any kind of sensual overindulgence.

Similar concepts apply in other cultures - such as the five poisons of the Buddhists or the five thieves of Sikhism, and the antecedents of the modern sins can be found in Greco-Roman philosophies.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • The new World Of Darkness RPGs have an interesting alignment/morality mechanic based on these and the seven virtues: each character has a vice and virtue, acting on which will allow them to regenerate willpower points (a game metacurrency).
    • The WoD version gives you one point of willpower for the vice and a buffer refill for the virtue - an alternative might be for the vice to refill willpower and the virtue luck or somesuch.
  • These are traditionally portfolios for (factions of) demons and/or devils.
    • Speaking of which, having a patron of each sin would make an interesting "business as usual" version of the four horsemen.
  • They would also make interesting themes for a set of schools of magic, possibly sponsored by the appropriate demons.
  • Those designing a fictional religion might want to sample some of the alternative sins suggested above based on cultural fit.
    • Note that even a religion of evil is likely to despise some of these sins - very few people, for example, appreciate sloth when there is something they want done, whatever it may happen to be. A religion that considers sloth a virtue will probably be playing widely but for penny stakes.
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