Hogwarts Legacy almost had a morality and reputation system

It's a recurring element of the Harry Potter books that student witches and wizards are constantly judged by their teachers, handed demerits that punish everyone in their House ("50 points from Gryffindor!"), and warned away from forbidden magic like the Unforgivable Curses. Which is why it came as a surprise that, ahead of the launch of Hogwarts Legacy, Avalanche Software explained players wouldn't be judged for casting evil spells.

"It was important for us to give players who sought out to be a Dark Witch or Wizard an opportunity to do so," lead designer Kelly Murphy said at the time. "This is the ultimate embodiment of role-playing: allowing the player to be evil. Additionally, this was important because it comes from a place of non-judgment by the game creators. If you want to be evil, be evil."

As YouTuber GrandTheftDiamonds discovered during a datamine of Hogwarts Legacy SQL files, it seems Avalanche wasn't always convinced that was the right way to go. As their video documents, the PhoenixGameData SQL file contains references to certain actions having a cost in House Points—including the use of Unforgivable Curses like Avada Kedavra.

Appropriately, the Killing Curse is assigned the maximum penalty listed: -100 points. Casting Imperius to control someone's mind would have cost -50 points, and actions like Extortion and Bullying would have lost you points as well (-50 and -25 respectively). Few things were assigned positive points, but among them were studying in class (10 points), and participation while attending a club (5 points). Combined with some minor penalties for sleeping in class, playing the clown, or otherwise misbehaving when you ought to be learning, that suggests another feature was cut from Hogwarts Legacy—a system for choosing how you behave in the classroom that might have made it feel a bit more like Bully with broomsticks.

Other data in Hogwarts Legacy's files describe punishments beyond losing 100 points for Hufflepuff when you commit an actual murder. Tables like CrimeSceneInvestigations and CallAF, which GrandTheftDiamonds sensibly presumes stood for "Call Authority Figure", make it seem like Avalanche was considering a chance of players being caught and punished for misbehavior. Each crime is assigned a severity that affects how many investigators will be called in, how long they'll investigate, and how much area they'll cover, and the CrimeEnforcementMatrix table includes actions like "CrimeResponseScold" and "TabooGameOver" as results of being caught.

Another system that seems to have been considered during development was a reputation score, with the MiscDataDynamic table including entries that list ranks going from Hate, up to Dislike, Indifferent, Familiar, Cordial, Friendly, and finally Companion. It makes sense that if Hogwarts Legacy kept track of your morality, that could affect how NPCs see you, like with Fallout's karma system. 

Hogwarts Legacy Guides

Hogwarts Legacy screenshot

(Image credit: Warner Bros )

Hogwarts Legacy spells: Every spell you can learn
Hogwarts Legacy Merlin trials: How to solve the trials
Hogwarts Legacy Room of Requirement: How to get in
Hogwarts Legacy Demiguise statues: Unlocking Alohomora
Hogwarts Legacy eye chests: How to crack them open
Hogwarts Legacy broom: How to take flight

It's been suggested by plenty of players that something felt off about the finished game, with our own Morgan Park remarking that there sure is a lot of murdering in Hogwarts Legacy. Implementing systems that would result in actions having consequences might have gone some way to making up for that, but it seems like Avalanche was confident in its decision to nix the idea. "Characters will react visually and audibly to seeing the player cast an Unforgivable, but we don't have a morality system that punishes them for doing so—this would be too judgemental on the game maker's part," lead designer Kelly Murphy said ahead of launch.

Maybe it's something to be explored further in a sequel. Given that Hogwarts Legacy made over a billion dollars, it's hard to imagine that a follow-up isn't in the works. 

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and Playboy.com, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.