Karma is a character’s luck, the favor of the gods, that unexplainable factor that allows her to beat the odds. A character’s Karma attribute represents the number of Karma points a character has to spend during game play. Karma points can be used for a wide range of benefits (see Karma Effects. Karma points that are spent are temporarily unavailable (see Regaining Karma), as luck will only take you so far. A character’s Karma attribute never actually changes, even when Karma points are spent, unless the character permanently burns Karma (see Burning Karma).
Your character gets one point of Karma back after a fulfilling meal and a good night’s sleep (at least eight hours additionally, the gamemaster can reward players by refreshing a single point of Karma in exchange for inventive or entertaining actions in the course of a gaming session. Incidentally, that’s refreshed Karma points, not free Karma points—you can’t go higher than your maximum Karma. Luck only counts if you use it.
Note that: If your character comes from a period of Downtime (at least 1 Week) and starts a new Run, he automatically starts the run with full Karma.
Ways to regain Karma
|Karma Regain||Optional Extra Karma Regain|
|Full Night's Rest (including meal).||Good Roleplaying|
|Defeating a Nemesis Enemy||Heroic acts of self-sacrifice|
|Completing a Run||Achievement of important Personal Goals|
|Enduring a critical glitch without using a Close Call.||Having the right skills in the right place at the right time.|
|Resolve an Obligation.||and others, depending on your GM...|
Karma can affect your character’s world in a lot of ways. When you want one of these effects to happen, you must spend one (or more) points of Karma. A character can only spend Karma points on her own actions; she cannot spend it on behalf of others. No more than 1 Karma Boost can be spent on any specific test or action at one time. If you spent Karma for extra dice and rolled a critical glitch anyway, for example, you cannot use Karma to negate that critical glitch since you have already applied Karma to that test. Karma is spent through Karma Boosts. Boosts range in cost from 1 to 5 Karma. Boosts are straightforward add-ons you can throw into a roll. Typically boosts are selected before a die roll; exceptions are noted in the descriptions.
Pick any die and reroll it. It can be yours or your opponent’s, but the result stands no matter what you roll. This is done after all rolls have been made.
Add 3 to your Initiative Score. You can use this immediately after rolling for Initiative, but not during an ongoing combat round.
Even when caught unaware, a character can use this ability to spend a point of Karma and get a Defense Test. In roleplaying terms, this could mean they catch a glimpse of the incoming attack in a mirror, trip at the right moment, or pay attention to the tingle running up their spine. The point is they get lucky for that one moment and get a chance to avoid a lot of incoming pain.
You get to add +1 to a single die. Maybe that’s making a 4 a 5 to get another hit, or making 1 a 2 to avoid a glitch.
You can calm down and remove up to two Strain from your track. If you're about to fall unconscious due to having reached your Strain Threshold, you can use this boost immediately to stay conscious.
The character can spend one point of Karma to use a Martial Arts technique once per Combat Turn, whether they are trained in that technique or not. The move doesn’t look smooth, any effect it has is the result of pure luck, but it works the same as if the character actually knew what they were doing. Trained martial artists can use this technique to make use of a technique they aren’t trained in. This use of Karma can only be performed once per Combat.
Seize the Initiative
Move to the top of the initiative order, regardless of your Initiative Score. If multiple characters spend Karma to go first in the same Combat Turn, those characters go before everybody else, in order of their Initiative Scores; subsequently, the other players and NPCs take their actions according to their Initiative Scores. This move to the top of the order lasts for the entire Combat Turn (meaning multiple Initiative Passes), but does not actually increase your Initiative Score (meaning you might still only get 1 Action Phase you return to your normal place in Initiative order at the start of the following Combat Turn.
Gaining an Edge
You get an automatic hit. This one adds on to the total hits you roll. This isn’t an automatic success at whatever test you’re attempting, just another hit to add to your total.
Fight for your Life
When your character is about to fall unconscious, you can spend Karma to stay conscious for the remainder of this combat round. If your Initiative Score is already at 0 or below, you gain an Initiative Score of 1 until the end of this Combat Round. During this Round your Walk-Rate and all your Dice Pools are halved (before applying other modifiers). If you get the killing blow on an enemy or recover at least 1 hit point during this combat round, your character starts the next combat round with a minimum of 1 hit points and half of your current strain.
Give ally 1 Karma: You do something that offers an advantage for another member of your team. Take away two of your own Karma, and give one to a teammate. They have to use this Karma during their next Action Phase or it gets lost.
A character can spend Karma for a teammate for the purposes of avoiding an incoming attack. It costs two of the character’s Karma points, and the teammate must be within range for them to see what is coming and warn their teammate. This ability is used after an attack has been declared to grant the defender the benefits of the Full Defense action.
The character can spend Karma to remove 4 points worth of Called Shot penalties for any Called Shot. This means most Called Shots aren’t penalized, and some of the trickier moves are made easier by character’s astounding luck.
Roll the maximum of five Initiative Dice for a single Combat Round. You must activate this boost before rolling Initiative. You still add your Initiative modifier to the roll.
Either negate the effects of one glitch or decrease the severity of a glitch by one level (hard glitch -> glitch // critical glitch -> hard glitch).
Deus Ex Machina
Create a special effect: Bring your creativity to the table! You spend this Karma and something fortuitous happens. It’s up to you and your gamemaster to determine what it is, but it should certainly turn the tides slightly in your favor. Burst pipes, approaching sirens, incoming DocWagon, an angry spirit, something that adds a little more oomph to your side or puts a little stress on the enemy.
Count 2s as glitches for the target: Time to get counteroffensive! When an opponent rolls, both 1s and 2s count in their total to determine if they glitch, hard glitch or critical glitch.
Push the Limit
Add three dice to your test, either before or after the roll. This can allow you to take tests that might otherwise have a dice pool of zero or less thanks to various modifiers in play. Using Karma in this way makes the Rule of Six come into play: for every 6 you roll, count it as a hit and then re-roll that die, adding any additional hits from the re-roll to your total. If you decide to use this function after your initial roll, only your Karma dice use the Rule of Six. This use of Karma also allows you to ignore any limit on your test.
Re-roll all dice that did not score a hit on a test roll. Second Chance cannot be used to negate a glitch, hard glitch or critical glitch, it does not use the Rule of Six, and it has no effect on limits.
Variable Karma Boosts
I Know a Guy
People come and go in a character’s life; there are people encountered at parties and conventions, ex-army buddies, neighbors with unusual hobbies, and so on. After a while in your travels, you’ll know a few people, but not well enough to be contacts, or maybe they are people who could have been contacts if you’d gotten to know them better, or people who still would be a contact if circumstances were different. Take, for example, Han Solo and Lando Calrissian from Star Wars or Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark. With the gamemaster’s permission, “I Know a Guy” allows the player to use Karma in pulling a contact from the character’s past. It’s expensive; players must spend Karma points equal to the desired Connection Rating of the contact +1. The resulting contact’s Loyalty starts at 1, although the gamemaster may change the Loyalty of the contact to suit the background and storyline of the adventure. The Karma spent on this contact does not refresh until the next point that the character earns XP. After the mission/adventure, the character can immediately spend the required amount of XP ((Loyalty + Connections) x2) to add the new contact permanently. If that XP is not spent, the individual fades back into the character’s past until they use Karma once more to summon them forth.
Sometimes it’s not enough just to spend a point of Karma and hope for the best. Sometimes you need guaranteed results—or a miracle. In those circumstances, you can choose to burn a point of Karma, meaning it is gone and will not be recovered through the normal means (though in the future you can spend XP to move your Karma up again). Burning a point of Karma has two potential uses:
Pay-2-Win (Burn 1 Karma)
Automatically succeed in an action with four net hits. This has to be an action the character is capable of performing — he cannot, for example, score a success in a skill like Mechanics if he does not have ranks in that skill. Limits have no effect on this — the character gets four net hits regardless of the applicable limit.
Not Dead Yet (Burn 2 Karma)
There are circumstances—a bullet to the brain, a live grenade in the pants—that by all rights should result in a Crosser’s inevitable death. In these cases, a player may elect to burn a point of Karma in order to keep her character alive, against all odds. Note that this does not mean she entirely avoids the effects of the potentially fatal action. The bullet still hits their head, and the grenade still goes off. Instead of dying, though, the character manages to keep breathing somehow and maintain a thin thread of a pulse, giving others a chance to stabilize her and hopefully provide some quick healing. The gamemaster should devise the exact circumstances that lead to the character surviving the current threat.