At least back in the HM4e days ... at least as far as I'm concerned. In HM5e there is an ongoing argument that the game mechanic called Honor works just fine, but it isn't really the correct name for it any more. I tend to agree, and so I'm going to call it Karma.Saying that the mechanics isn't necessary is fine, but I like it. Watching characters burn through luck and companion points and honor (or karma as it shall henceforth be known) and the players squirm as they feel their cosmic luck running out is delightful. That isn't just cruel GM talk - the players seem to enjoy the sense of tension it can bring to the table as well.
What is Karma?
I'm not even going to start getting into any debates on the religious connotations of "real world karma". I'm simply stating it as the sum of a character's actions viewed as a deciding factor in the fate of future existences. What? A character's karma reflects how much they are in alignment with who they truly are. When someone is who they are and true to themselves, no matter if good or bad, they have a certain presence and respect. In all mechanical in-game aspects, it works just the same as honor.
When a character gains a level, they earn up to 16 points of karma. The GM rates them on more or less the same categories as stated in the HM5e PHB, but with some adjustment for flavor.
- Disposition: getting along with the party in the chosen role
- Role Playing: general role playing enthusiasm and participation
- Beliefs: how well did the character act true to their stated beliefs
- Honor: defending one's personal, family, and party honor
A character may also gain back a portion of karma when they spend it to do something dramatic, important, in line with their beliefs, and generally game-saving. That award comes at the end of a session. These are going to be rare awards, but the potential is out there.
If a players has their character do something so drastically in opposition of their character's beliefs, or that disrupts the game, or is out-and-out foolish, the gods (the GM) will punish them with a swift kick in the karma point pool. These are handed out moments after the action and will often cause other characters to have to scramble to make sure they don't get caught in the karma sucking vortex of bad decisions.