Saturday, December 23, 2017

Character Creation: Karma Roleplaying System

I mentioned the last time I made a character that I only had two games left from the Haiti bundle, which were Roma Imperious and the Karma Roleplaying System. As I am on Xmas break, and I'm not gaming today, and the weather outside has turned from shitty rain to sloppy snow, and I have nothing in particular to do today outside of running an errand for my mother, I think I'll do this game and thus close out that particular batch of RPGs.

Incidentally, I'm planning on making more characters while on break, so if anybody reading this has suggestions or requests for which games I should do, I'd love to hear 'em.

The Game: Karma Roleplaying System
The Publisher: Bards and Sages
Degree of Familiarity: None. It reads a lot like your basic D&D clone, but I admit I'm skimming.
Books Required: Just the one, but see below.

So, Karma has a lot more support than I thought, but again, it reads a lot like D&D in that it's a trad game, uses a d20 + some numbers, and it's just a system. There's a lot of focus up front on deciding what kind of setting your group is using and what that means as far as magic, expectations, genre, and so on, which is cool. What I'm missing is some examples - there are a few little paragraphs like this:

No real step-by-step world-building with the whole group involved, though. I admit, however, that given that this game came out in 2008, that kind of play wasn't terribly common anyway (I mean, universal systems are much older than that, but the kind of collaborative world-building I'm talking about wasn't really a thing), so it's not really fair to get persnickety about that.

It does mean, though, that I need a setting before I can really make a character. I normally make magic-using characters, but reading ahead, I see that they have a different and more complex system, and I'm not sure I'm up for that today. Hmm. Oh, heavens, look at this, though: I have a thing called Karmic Revelations that gives us a post-apocalyptic world in which to play Karma, and thus gives me a setting to work with. How nice.

Well, the character creation section of Revelations explains that there's no magic in this irradiated wasteland, so we replace Mana with Adrenaline. Cool, sounds good. Also it gives us a list of Mutations, some of which are from the Karma core with some tweaks. One of those is Blind, which in Revelations means (or can mean, I hope) that you just don't have eye sockets and that can garner some weird reactions. Personally I think there are some other Mutations that are much more jarring, but whatevs. I think maybe I'll go in that direction for my character, kind of a Book of Eli thing without all the heavy-handed religious BS.

So, where do we start? We start with Attributes...oh, lord. I hope I'm reading this wrong.

OK, so there are three categories of Attributes (Physical, Cerebral, and Spiritual). Each category has four Attributes. You prioritize categories just like this was a White Wolf game, but you only get 3/2/1, which means that of your 12 Attributes, at least half of them have a rating of 0. According to the book, having a rating of 0 means that you have a handicap or something that prevents you from making full use of that Attribute. the hell...?

(If you've been reading, you know I hate games that make incompetent starting characters, so this one is a special kind of hell for me. But again, maybe I'm reading it wrong. This is why examples of character creation are helpful.)

Oh, OK! Jesus! You start with one in each Attribute automatically. Whew. So how would I get a 0? Maybe there are drawbacks or something that lower them. Anyway, much better. OK, so I'm gonna prioritize Cerebral, because I know my guy has no eyes and I don't want to make him a blind seer or whatever. I'll put my secondary in Spiritual, though, which leaves my tertiary in Physical. I'll put that one lone point into Constitution. For Spiritual, I'll put both points into Empathy. For Cerebral, I'll put two into Intellect and one into Wits. What's next?

Abilities! Abilities (skills, basically) are divided into groups. If you've got a point in a given ability, it's trained, and you add the higher of a given Attribute pair to a roll. If it's untrained, you use the lower. Sounds reasonable. I get a free point in each group (which seems intuitive enough, except that each ability in the Combat Group is called "weapon group, [whatever]", which was confusing for a second), and then 10 more to put anywhere.

Since the setting I'm working with has no magic, I can skip Magic Group. So. For my freebies, I'll put one into Weapon Group (Simple), which is stuff like "pick up a rock and hit someone with it." I don't feel the need to put more points into combat stuff; I'll pay this game the complement of assuming that a character without explicit combat skills would still be viable.

For Knowledge Group, I'll put my free point into Humanities, and then I'll put one point each into Mechanical Aptitude and Social Sciences. 8 points remaining.

For Social Group, I'll put my freebie into Diplomacy, and I'll put one of my other points in there as well, plus one more into Resolve. 6 left.

For Talent Group, I'll put my freebie into Alertness, and then I'll put one into Alertness, Leadership, and Linguistics. 3 left.

Wellness Group! I'll put one into Mental Health, and then I'll put one into Reflexes. That leaves me with 2, so I'll put one into Linguistics (for a total of 2) and the other one into Reflexes.

Now, Specialities. I get 2 of them, and I take them in Abilities where I have 2 or more. That means I can take Specialities in (hang on):


Cool, OK. I'll put one into Linguistics for Translations, and one into Alertness for Listening.

Then I can take a Profession, I think? This gives me a suite of bonuses to existing traits to reflect training and experience in whatever my line of work is. I like this idea, actually, though now I have to think about my character a little more.

OK, then. I love language and translation, and I think it'd be cool to have a character who has an ear for such things (though of course visual communication is beyond him). I think we'll assume he was born to two people from different cultures and grew up speaking both of their languages (which languages those are would require me reading the backstory for Revelations, so stick a pin in that). I'll put my free Attribute point in Intellect, raising it to 4, and I'll put my free Ability points into Linguistics and Presence. I'll take a Specialty in Etiquette (under Presence).

So then there are some derived traits, but as we know, those should go after the bonus point stage, because the bonus points can raise your base traits. Grr. Anyway, skipping ahead to bonus points, I get 15. Oh, wait, powers work differently than I thought, but because I'm using the Revelations setting, I get one mutation to start with, so I'm gonna choose Blind.  Aaaaand there's nowhere to write powers or mutations on sheet. Well, never mind, I know I have it.

OK, cool, so I have 15 freebie/bonus points. Attributes are 5 each, and that seems like the best high for the buy. I'll buy up Dexterity, Wisdom, and Charisma to 2.

Now the derived traits. Damage Threshold is 12, Adrenaline is 9, Karma is 6. Those seem on the low end, but eh.

Just some background, then. So, Wing was born to a Chinese mother and an American father, after the Revelation stuff happened. Born without eyes, he grew up listening intently to everything around him, and learning the languages of both parents. His parents died when he was 12; he's still not sure how. He heard it happen, and it was pretty goddamn horrible, but he hasn't been able to match what he heard to any creature he's learned about before or since. He didn't hear gunshots, though, which makes him think it wasn't people.

In any case, Wing wears dark grey clothing (trying to stay neutral), and a pair of big honkin' sunglasses to hide the fact that he doesn't have eyes. He has natty black hair, and his hands are covered in scars and burns (since he tends to lead with them). He carries a cane or a walking stick sometimes, but he tends to lose them.

Wing speaks multiple languages and is willing to act as a translator. He has a reputation as scrupulously honest in his translations, but that's not altogether true - he's not above manipulating things to benefit himself or the party he feels is "better." When he's found out doing stuff like that, he's ready with a linguistics-based explanation. It's worked so far.

And I think that's it. What game should I do next?