Published by ShawnKinley on

man in red and black jacket standing on snow covered ground during daytime

Moral Kryptonite

Superman, with that super strength, vision, speed, and ability to fly would  become super boring if we knew he had absolutely no weakness.

Kryptonite saps the Man of Steel’s super powers to the point he can be broken by a gust of wind.

 Imagine bringing out that bar of Kryptonite just as Superman is tasked with saving Lois Lane from an imminent explosion or rescuing those crying orphans from the burning building. Ouch!

Having this crack in the armour is what every super-powerful hero needs to add risk and vulnerability to their story.

MORAL Kryptonite is that little demon inside of us that weakens our ethical path. You are the environmentalist counterbalanced by a passion for fashion who finds “The PERFECT Shoes” made from leather of an endangered Pudú of Southern Chile? Maybe you are the struggling writer who finds an amazing lost manuscript hidden in an elderly man’s old desk he’s desperately selling for food.

What is it that would push you over the edge to make a choice that would drop your status in the eyes of others?

GAME: Moral Kryptonite


BENEFITS: Playing with Status and being altered for stronger narrative choices.

# PEOPLE: Any number of people in a scene (2 – 4)

GOAL: Establish a stable status relationship and then break it with a moral offer.


  1. Develop a stable relationship in your scene with a distinct status difference: (Parent/Child, Boss/Employee, Police/Citizen, Famous Actor/Fan, etc)
  2. Create a couple of minutes of stable detail and establish the character’s relationships with each other.
  3. Find a moral dilemma in the details of the high-status character and have that person make a poor moral choice.
  4. Have the lower-status person discover the weakness and be altered (disappointed, angered, disillusioned, etc)



Jonah is a 6-year-old child from a little town in Canada. He and his parents arrive home after “Halloween” celebrations where Jonah has collected a little pail full of Candy. He shares one piece of his treasures with Mom and one for Dad. He loves them!

Jonah’s parents put him to bed and tell him a bedtime story about a little rabbit who shared his carrots with all of his friends and lived happily in Rabbit-town.


While he sleeps, his parents get ready for bed themselves. The pail of candy is sitting on the table. Dad looks to the other room where his wife is out of view. Thinking no one will notice, he takes a candy. 

His wife walks in and reprimands him. He convinces her that it’s no big deal. The boy will never know and in fact, Dad argues, he is saving his son’s teeth from all the sugar in the sticky treat. He convinces her that it’s ok, and she is convinced to take a piece of candy too.

(LOWER STATUS PERSON BEING ALTERED & High person’s status drop)

Then they have another candy, and another… then Jonah walks in to ask for a glass of water and sees them surrounded by the empty wrappers.

He’s extremely upset and disappointed. at them. The father tries to defend their choice. The son will accept none of his rationalizations. “BAD DADDY!”

THEN – we can take it further… because it would be fun to.

Seeing that his status is plummeting, the father blames his wife for eating the first candy. “SHE MADE ME DO IT!!!”  Now we have the husband and wife being altered by the events.

Where you take the story after the moral fires are burning is up to you…

  • Jonah sends the parents to their room.
  • Jonah makes them eat the rest of the candy in front of him while he describes the devastating effect this will have on him as an adult.
  • Jonah dreams about the Rabbit from the earlier bedtime story who tells Jonah what he must do.
  • The parents fight in their room… but the flavour of the candy draws them back to the scene of the crime for just ONE MORE treat- except this time Jonah has set a trap!)


  • Make sure that you work on developing a strong understanding of STATUS. Read any of Keith Johnstone’s writing on the subject.
  • Push Improvisers to stay away from instant trouble in their scenes. Establish a non-negative, non-problematic relationship with established status. It will allow the fall in the relationship to be more impactful
  • Develop a strong set of MORAL details. What do people like? What is important for them? These details are tools for you in this exercise (and all scenes) for altering relationships.

IMPORTANT: The details matter in improvisation. All of the fun details at the beginning of the scene help you find endings.  Without the details, you’ll end up creating random information to solve your problems and it never feels as good as having already laid the table with possibilities earlier in the scene.

man in red and black jacket standing on snow covered ground during daytime


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