Our Karma Distribution System

A while back, we decided that we wanted to figure out a way to make the karma system more interactive and more real time. We took the concept of bennies from either Dresden/Fate or Savage World, and brought it into our Shadowrun 4th Edition game. Players were given a handful of Poker chips that had their initial scribbled on it. Originally it was one chip for each player, but we later raised that amount to be one or two above the number of players. The GM took a handful of red and blue poker chips. The white ones with the player’s initial on it was worth .5 Karma when received from another player. The Blue ones were worth a full Karma, and the red ones were given out to mark a problem or debt that the player had picked up during the session; to remind the GM and the players that there was a shoe that was yet to drop.

During the course of the game, if someone did something cool, you’d throw them one of your chips. If they took one for the team, or had the right skills at the right time, or any of the other things that the GM might have awarded the end of session, that was a reason to throw them karma. Also, if they did something you thought was worth rewarding, if they exhibited behavior you’d like to see again, you threw them a chip. A particularly cunning plan, or a great joke, a quick recovery when something went wrong; all good reasons to toss a chip over.

The GM still tosses out the occasional bit of Karma from time to time, for things he thinks should be rewarded, and there’s still the end of mission Karma for obstacles faced and challenges overcome. In the long run, this won’t be more karma than the players would receive, but because it’s more tied to specific events, it tends to encourage better play.

Anyways, that’s our system, and I think it’s one you might like.

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