Flags within Dungeon World were originally suggested in the blog post From Bonds To Flags by Rob Donoghue. It was further refined here and made available in a slightly modified format on ADW under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.
What Are Flags?
Personality Trait + Flagged Interaction Flags are a game mechanic originally intended to replace bonds. While bonds connect player character to one another via backstory, flags request specific roleplay opportunities that other players can enable through actions their characters take. By selecting specific flags, you signal the sort of interactions you are looking to explore between your character and the other adventurers. Essentially, you are giving other players permission and encouragement to complicate your character's life by incorporating your flag into their roleplay.
Flags are phrased as a suggestion on how other adventurers should specifically interact with your character during the game session that is connected to a personality trait you are granting them. The best flags:
- begin with a personality trait that is appropriate for your character's alignment.
- 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's personality that might not otherwise be showcased
- enable you to taking meaningful action and co-create some good fiction.
- bring enough consequence to the story to develop a relationship between your character and another.
Each character should choose at least two flags. The selected personality traits tend to resist change because they are qualities inherent to your character's psyche. The flagged interaction, however, can be updated during End of Session or even during Make Camp should circumstances really warrent it. Generally, however, flagged interactions remain on your sheet until you wish to explore a different roleplaying opportunity instead.
When another player follows the instruction indicated by your flag, (called “hitting” your flag), the End of Session move will reward them 1 XP for doing so. Hitting a characters’s flag usually means confronting them with an internal or external conflict.
- Accommodating: counter my proposal with a less attractive one I must either accept or disrupt the harmony of the group.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
see Collected List of Flags for a comprehensive list.
System Changes to Accomodate Flags/Remove Bonds
Aid or Interfere (Basic Move)
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 (Special Move)
When you reach the end of a session, if you hit a flag of any other character during the session at least once, mark 1 XP. If anyone hit at least one of your flags this session, they mark 1 XP. GM, at their discretion, may additionally reward 1 XP to other characters who's contribution (perhaps spawning an Aid or Interfere move) during the fiction was instrumental in shaping the story.