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Author Topic: A Simple & Quick Karma System  (Read 318 times)

Zachary The First

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A Simple & Quick Karma System
« on: May 12, 2007, 08:16:46 am »
Something I was throwing around with players:

Sometimes, even though you may be running a basically good-themed game, players get impatient, overreact, and act out of character.  Supposedly good characters brawl in the street, shoot those who insult them, and basically...well, sometimes Knights of the Dinner Table can hit pretty close to home.  Now, as a GM, I live by the idea that a game without consequences for the character's action is near-worthless.  To make some of those consequences a little less immediate, I thought about Karma:

What follows are simple for Karma;  I'm not going to get into any moral relativism here.  Let me just explain my reasoning here for an act of bad karma.

Bad Karma:  Burning down a war orphan's hospital because the town mayor made you mad; shooting a party member in the back because he angered you or you want his swag.

Probably not bad karma:  Killing a villian and accidentally injuring an innocent bystander

Stuff I'm not even going to touch:  Killing villianous war orphans; shooting a party member to kill another villian.

Good Karma:  Y'know, hero stuff.  Sacrifice, valor, and noble deeds.

So the thought is, when all other rolls have been exhausted, and we come to a point where we need a roll to see if Lady Luck wants our character to survive.  The players rolls a karma roll of percentiles; 1-50 Fail/Die/Bad Stuff, 51-00 Pass/Live/Good Stuff.

Now, players start the game at a 0 modifier.  Bad acts give you a negative modifier, good acts give you a positive one.

So if St. Monty the Penitent goes a little crazy one night and slaps around a serving girl because she made fun of his scar from that Bugbear, not only is he possibly going to be in trouble with his Holy Order, have serving girl's bandit brother looking to beat him down, and have to explain his actions to the judge, he's also going to get a bad karma modifier.

The relative karmic bonus/penalty depends on the severity of the act (GM's discretion)

Small...+1/-1
Medium...+5/-5
Large...+10/-10

So next time St. Monty hovers between life and death, and only has a karma/luck roll to make, he'll be at -5 to make it.  Whoops!  Rolled a 52!  Normally, that would make it, but with a -5, that's a 47!  Hope someone can Resurrect!!

Please note that amazingly big acts, such as genocide, can quickly tilt the scale one way or another, beyond the normal +10/-10 bonus.

Karma modifiers accumulate over time, and can  only be purged by some amazing (or hideous act).  The maximum you can have is a +49 or -49.

Now, this isn't for all games, and it's not supposed to be applied to most "grey area" actions.  But for those times when you're looking for a little more in-game consequence, I think it might be a good add-on.
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J Arcane

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A Simple & Quick Karma System
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2007, 08:42:04 pm »
Fallout handled Karma primarily as an NPC reaction modifier.  Basically, word gets around, the PCs are big movers for good or bad, so when you do something big, people will hear about it.  

Much like in your system, when you do good, you get a positive bonus, and when you do bad, you get a negative bonus.  But, the poles reverse, effectively, depending on who you're dealing with.  A positive bonus gives you a good reaction with other people with a positive bonus, while a negative Karma gives you a bonus with bad people.
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