Pen and Paper RPG House Rules

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Shadowrun Overhaul Rules: Karma and Character Advancement

As the rules stand in SR5 there is really very little to prevent characters from all basically looking the same within an archetype after sufficient Karma is received. There is very little incentive to raise skills past 6 as it makes more sense to buy as many specializations in your key skills as possible, raise any attribute, and expand your character’s secondary and tertiary abilities. What’s the point of opening up Skills to 13 if few characters will ever improve past 7 or 8 even after achieving ridiculous amounts of Karma?

From a cognitive science point of view the game seems to think that adding completely new knowledge and skills or improving abyssmal attributes is extremely easy while mastering something is incredibly hard and unlikely. Gaining the fluency in a language equivalent of an year of high school or college in 21 languages is apparently the same as gaining professional fluency in one language which in an university environment would take four or five years. It also punishes the metahuman with greater than normal attributes from being able to achieve the same spot on the bell curve as an human. An Ork with a Body of 6 is the equivalent of an human with a Body of 3 but the human would only spend 20 Karma vs 35 to improve his Body as the rules currently stand despite being in the same statistical situation.

The other problem is that the system really encourages min/maxing which discourages people from actually making the characters they want to make and love or punishes them for doing so.

Also, after character creation for the most part you are assumed to be an adult. Adults improve upon crystallized knowledge extremely well but have difficulty with novelty and learning new things. The min/maxing discourages making a character with a dozen knowledges at 1 representing a normal person’s amount of dabbling but instead rewards characters that have high skill levels in a few knowledges and pick up all the 1 and 2 rating knowledges and skills for that matter in game play.

Also, for example in “real life” improving one’s Charisma from 1 to 2 should be extremely hard as an adult just as reaching your full potential would be for an human to go from 5 to 6 just as it is harder for an adult to learn the basics of a completely new field than it is to slightly refine their ability.

By having Initial and Terminal Karma costs higher it encourages more realistic distribution of Attribute Ratings by players. As it stands it makes more sense from a meta pov to have a character freshly made with a 5 in one attribute and a 1 in another than it is to have 3 in both even though it is much more likely statistically for the latter to be true. It also meshes well with the idea of there being greater cost for Qualities after character creation.

It also encourages characters from really wanting to improve their Knowledges without thinking they are wasting their Karma.

Plus, this system is very simple and doesn’t require the player to look at a table in the book and try and figure out the best thing to do after an adventure.

Game Mechanics:

Definitions:

Initial Rating: Learning a new Skill or Knowledge by getting a 1 Rating in it or spending Karma to improve an Attribute at its minimum for that metahuman type. For example an human improving Edge from 2 to 3 would be improving her Initial Rating in that Attribute and if she learned the basics of Sperethiel and gained a 1 in the Language she would be gaining an Initial Rating and paying the higher Karma Cost.

Terminal Rating: Achieving the pinnacle of ability in a Skill or Knowledge or achieving the maximum possible for your metahuman type in an Attribute. For example an human raising their Edge to 7 would be achieving the greatest amount of luck they can achieve without magic or a Quality and if she raised her Blades skill to 12 she would be the finest swordswoman a normal human would be without being born with a special talent or aptitude in which case her Terminal Rating would be 13.

Karma Cost: The first number is the Initial or Terminal Karma Cost for improving or adding a new Rating. The second is for everything in between.

Attributes: 30/+15

Active Skills: 10/+5

Active Skill Group: 25/+12

Knowledge Skills: 3/+2

Language Skills: 5/+1

New Specializations or Martial Art Style: 7

New Martial Art Manuevers: 5

New Concentrations: (this is a “new” category) 7

New Positive Quality: 2 x Character Creation Karma Cost

Remove Negative Quality: 2 x Character Creation Bonus Karma

New Complex Form: 4

New Initiate Level: 10 + (Grade +3)

Spells, Preparations, Rituals, and new Power Points up to Magic Rating: 5

 

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8 responses to “Shadowrun Overhaul Rules: Karma and Character Advancement

  1. shr5rcp 4 June, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    We have implemented the karma based builder in our software.
    This is the discussion thread : https://github.com/UrsZeidler/shr5rcp/issues/15

    The main question would be defining the Karma values for the Metatyp and the archetypes.
    Feel free to add.

    Like

  2. Pingback: Shadowrun Overhaul: Alternative to Priority Table for Character Creation | Scion House Rules

  3. shr5rcp 5 June, 2014 at 12:35 am

    Thanks, we will take a closer look.

    Like

  4. shr5rcp 15 June, 2014 at 8:30 am

    We made a new release candidate :
    https://github.com/UrsZeidler/shr5rcp/releases

    Added a karma ruleset roughly after you advice.

    Like

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