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Karmic Past

by Bruce Heard

To follow up with the previous idea, here's another that has to do with "tempting fate". In other words, every time a PC interferes with another creature's astrological fate (time of death), that character is in fact "tempting fate".

Every time this happens, cosmic forces are disturbed and mark ever so imperceptibly the agent of the disturbance. There is no need to calculate every living thing's astrological ToD -- and perhaps its was indeed the subject's time to go when the PC intervened. So the simpler way to check this out is to roll percentile dice. If the score is equal or less than the subject's level or Hit Dice (min. score = 1), then the agent has tempted fate for the worse.

For example, a PC defeats a 20 HD dragon and carries the final blow, roll percentile dice. If the score is 20 or less, then its was not the dragon's time to pass away, and therefore the PC is guilty of tempting fate -- regardless of motivations and alignments involved. Fate is fate, whether good or bad. :o)

If so, add one (1) point of karma to the PC. This isn't good. Because from this point on, accumulated karma points act as penalty modifiers to future karmic rolls. So for example, a PC has accumulated 5 points. If he defeated that 20 HD dragon again, the score to roll would then be 25 or less.

Eventually, the agent's life begins to suffer the effects of cosmic reprisals. Every time the karma total reaches or exceeds a multiple of 7, a new karmic roll is required. If the unadjusted score is equal or less than the agent's own karma total, then one of the following happens (whichever comes first):

* ... Next successful saving-throw: becomes catastrophic failure instead, or

* ... Healing spell: when the agent is the beneficiary of any healing, cure, neutralise poison, raise dead (or comparable magic), that spell fails completely, or

* ... System Shock: success score is halved, rounded down.

In some cases, karma can be accumulated indirectly -- such as with rulers ordering a war or being involved with a mass slaughtering of some kind. Average out the levels of the subjects, and make ten karmic rolls (no one should have to make more than ten karmic rolls as the result of any single event).

Whenever someone's karma total reaches 98, not only does one of the above happens, but the agent also permanently loses 7 hit points, or one (1) point of CON or CHA (roll at random). The karma score then "resets" itself back to 7. Naturally, these scores should be kept by the DM and never be revealed to a players (unless of course the PC pays a skilled astrologer to determine how bad his/her karma is).