Karma: This was an experimental system I used in the post-DSB world, and it was very popular with the players. Instead of granting players bonus experience for story awards, good roleplaying, and clever tricks, they get something called Karma instead. Karma can be spent to improve your character in ways that the rigid class rules don’t normally allow.
Karma is intended to help your character branch out and to blur the line between classes. It is not intended to allow people to hyper-specialize their characters.
Here are some things that Karma can be spent on:
Item Cost Limits
Hit Point 4 Maximum hit die
Skill Point 4 Normal skill caps apply
+1 to any save 20 see below
Feat 40 none, but must meet prereqs
Ability Point 40 limited by racial max
+1 Base Attack 60 see below
Only ‘weak’ saving throws can be improved. A wizard could improve his Fort save to that of a fighter of equal level. A single-classed fighter cannot use karma to further improve his Fortitude (although he could buy the Great Fortitude feat or improve his Con score).
Ability scores cannot be increased beyond the normal limits for a character of that race and level who rolled perfect 18s during character generation. For most races, the cap starts at 18 and increases by 1 for every 5 levels. A 13th level elf would have a maximum Con of 19 and a maximum Dex of 23. Magical bonuses and inherent bonuses from wishes do not count against this cap when buying points with Karma.
Improvements to BAB count towards multiple attacks. You can only improve your BAB by one ‘class’ (eg A wizard could improve his BAB to that of an equal-level cleric, and a cleric could improve his BAB to that of a fighter). You cannot improve your BAB beyond that of an equal-level fighter. If you’re already a fighter, you don’t need more BAB. Go buy some feats or something.
Karma was balanced on the assumption that players would accumulate roughly 40 Karma every three levels.
Karma is usually earned by adventuring, but characters can also earn karma by practicing their skills and taking lessons. In general, a good 40 hours of work is enough to earn one point of Karma, although this can be sped up by going to certain schools and academies. The DM can (and will) limit how much progress you can make this way.
Getting Complicated, an Optional Rule:
There’s a design problem where buying skill points gives you a fixed benefit, but buying Intelligence gives you a scaling benefit. For any amount of skill points bought, there is always a level at which buying Intelligence would have given you more skill points for the same Karma. It was not my intention to build a trap into the rules that punishes players for not number-crunching and meta-gaming, but it happened anyway. Here’s a solution that preserves skill points as a viable purchase.
Any Karma that has been spent on skill points may be redeemed at any time to count towards buying a point of Intelligence. It acts as if the points previously spent on skill points were simply down payments on the Intelligence point. The actual skill points previously purchased are NOT lost. If this transaction causes the player to gain more skill points than the Intelligence point would normally grant, he incurs a skill debt that must be paid off before he can gain any more skill ranks. This debt can be paid with either normal level-up related skill points or with Karma purchased skill points.
Example: Ranger Rick is a 6th level Ranger. He really likes skill points, and has spent 24 Karma buying six extra skill ranks. He decides that he wants to switch over to investing in Intelligence. He can cash in those 24 Karma, giving him a credit towards an Intelligence point, which costs 40 Karma. He can then spend an additional 16 Karma to make up the difference and gain a point of Intelligence. At 6th level, a point of Intelligence is worth 3 skill points. The six skill points he previously bought count against this total, so Rick does not actually gain any skill points right away. In fact, since he has effectively paid for only 3 skill points, while possessing six extra skill points, he has skill debt equal to 3 skill points. He will easily be able to pay this off with his next level up, and then he can start reaping the rewards of his investment.
Players may use a similar method if they wish to redeem Karma spent on Hit Points for Constitution.