Karma in the Dark: a dystopian-punk fantasy game
PDF release of 4.1 is out as of Oct 20, 2018.
PDF release of rulebook.
Complete set of sheets and records (playbooks, teams, special contracts).
Quick reference sheets for rules.
World creation (Google Spreadsheet).
Progress clocks to match the game's design style.
You can get an art-free version here if loading big files is difficult. Note there will be white pages where art would normally be seen.
There is an updated custom Roll20 character sheet for v4.0; currently it is a character sheet only and requires some changes for v4.1
If you don't use Roll20 Pro, there are now Google drive versions of the PC and team playbooks in the playbook folder
Karma in the Dark is a game about oppression and the temptation of selling out for easy power. The system is designed for your group to create your own world that explores the dark and light of a dystopian-punk fantasy. You control how much your campaign leans into the brutal dystopia side or whimsical tropes of fantasy.
The game includes structured world creation prompts that will help you define your group’s unique dystopian flavor and supernatural powers, then project those elements into an alternative future of your design. There are core elements of to the setting, with rules for genre-adaptions.
Want to play in a grimdark science fiction future of corporate enslavement, alien magic, and AI soldiers? Cool. Want to jump into an over-the-top cyberpunk world of fashion where rule-of-cool is the actual law and unicorns have replaced sports cars? Go for it. Want to explore an urban fantasy drama of warring fae, dwarf, and shapeshifter factions where humans are reduced to pawns and collateral damage? There are rules for that. Want to transfer an existing fictional world to the game rules? Got you covered.
However you color your dystopian world, players will jump into the role of irrelevant and disenfranchised outcasts, driven to mercenary work out of sheer desperation. Your worth is derived entirely from your usefulness to more powerful agents. As you build up relationships and impress those with influence, you have the opportunity to elevate your team to a position of power and relevance, fight back against corruption in the world, impose your ideals on the world to change the status quo, or secure a stable future for yourself.
But you cannot do it all. Your group will have to decide what matters to them in the game, and what they are willing to sacrifice in order to attain it. Will you burn up relationships to succeed at elite missions? Fail an employer to stop corruption from destroying your neighborhood? Invest everything in your community so you can change the world?
Whichever path you take, corruption brings power. If you sell out your ideals, your actions become easier. But each sell put advances your team’s conformity tracker, moving the campaign’s main corruption threat closer towards its goals and darkening the world around you. Eventually the team becomes so compromised they conform to society and the campaign ends. Decisions made during the campaign will determine the characters’ ultimate fate.
When magic returned, it didn’t bring a happily ever after. The Outbreak brought supernatural phenomenon that decimated the world. Frightening, unexplained events and creatures shattered any concept of safety. In the chaos, humanity receded into polarized groups, desperate for stability at any cost. Unknown to them, magic is scheming. It has its own agenda to remake the world.
Some say technology will be the great equalizer. Between persistent surveillance, 24-hour news, live streaming, and social media, every action is uploaded into the Feed. Once it enters the Feed, it can never be erased. People try to hide information, but there is always someone better at hunting. Eventually, the evidence will be found. And those who dive deep into the code know machines are no longer passive tools . . . there is an echo of something alive inside them.
You are one of the irrelevant. No faction considers you. No reputable vendor will sell to you. To the world, you don’t exist. If your actions are caught by the Feed, it means nothing. You have one chance at a better life: be useful to those in power. Some might call you a mercenary; some might call you a sell out. You call it surviving.
You are outmatched. Your only chance at survival is through your contacts—friends and rivals with a speck of social standing—and your team, a group of equally desperate mercenaries. Alone, you’re nothing; together, you might survive one more mission.
It starts the same way. Take one mission. Earn a rep as useful; cash in favors with those who employ you; inch your way slowly up the ladder towards real power.
It goes wrong the same way. At first, you resist becoming like those who hire you—those
who see you as an expendable asset. But as the jobs get harder, and your opponents get more powerful, you learn that fortune favors the corrupt. You can conform to the methods of the elite to grab power for yourself, or keep fighting for your ideals, and declare the war on everyone who supports the status quo. Read: everyone who matters.
The bad guys have already won. Now you have to decide: do you join the people who consider you expendable for the promise of future security, or do you resist with those who have nothing?
Sample character sheets
Each class has three different specialties you can mix and match within your soul type: magic, cyber, and mortal.