Now that the core rules of Karma in the Dark are more or less complete, I am turning my attention to optional supplements for the game. Up first, a setting supplement. These supplements are intended to give players a ready-to-play world, explore some specific genre dynamics, and provide a small number of optional rules to really bring the setting to life.
You can look at Tides of Gold as a model for this content: a defined world with brief timeline and unique lore; detailed locations and cultures; plethora of factions with goals; and small rule adjustments like the Odyssey travel system. These Karma settings will not always come with new playbooks as the base game already provides extensive options, but if a setting demands a new team or PC playbook, I will include it.
I currently have plans for three setting supplements. Based on the Twitter poll, the first one will be a rural cyberpunk-fantasy setting. I’ve included an initial description below. The setting is in active development so any or all of this may change.
Live Free or Die
When the corporations realized they could make a fortune off humanity’s desire to survive global warming—with minimal personal inconvenience—it launched a technological race to create a monopoly around the answer to the looming climate apocalypse. The private space companies dominated over renewable energy, and the wind farms and solar factories which once promised to revive rural communities became empty monuments to failure and dashed hopes. It seemed as if humanity had reached its new evolutionary stage, as the wealthy, well-connected, urbanites prepared for the great migration to the stars.
It started with a shuttle explosion. Then a 3D printing plant went haywire. The incidents picked up in frequency and intensity until people were dying in droves: medical autopsies traced the deaths back to malfunctioning cyber implants.
In 2100, the first unidentified hostile subject appeared: a giant centipede-like creature of writhing energy, it destroyed AstraDYNE’s flagship location. Some people claimed aliens were invading. Others claimed it was some deep sea life evolved to walk on land. Others started to whisper of magic, and omens of spirits taking revenge for the death of the planet.
In two years, 30% of the world’s population died.
That was your grandparents’ generation.
The world you inherited is at a standstill.
The wealthy reinforced the cities and found weapons to keep out the raging spirits. Fortified by barricades, weapons, and ruthless determination, these cities survive on computer generated air, water, and food. Robots have replaced the dead, manufacturing and maintaining the advanced technology which is the lifeblood of urban centers. Corporations maintain control of all research and development, and have bought off the government to act as a PR front, political rivalries and battles a form of entertainment to distract the masses from whatever new--questionable--experiments are being driven by the corporations’ obsession with offworld escape.
Each city is encircled by the suburbs, known by most as the quarantine zones. Humans now know the spirits feed on technology, and access to tech is heavily controlled by the security forces, and only the well protected metropolis can safely use robots for labor. The working class receives moderate security from the city forces in exchange for unceasing labor—and for acting as the shield between the cities and infected rural zones. There are promises of a lottery for offworld travel for the truly faithful.
Rural communities were left behind. Travel systems and communication networks were destroyed by the infested spirits. Only the satellite system remains untouched, and even then, houses can only risk powering on electronics for short periods. Stable industry is nearly non-existent. Communities must either accept contracts for experimental factories and plants too dangerous for the cities, or try to live off a land long-poisoned by pesticides and contaminated waterways. Some have chosen instead to seek an alliance with the infected spirits, and forsake the side of humanity.
Rural towns are bound by desperation and interdependence, but broken apart by old feuds and new betrayals, frequently engineered by the corporations. You have known no other life: living within the infected spaces, reviving failing technology, experimenting with supernatural energies, or raised in the trade of your family.
You have a chance for escape: earn the favor of the metropolis powers, or unite your community against them. Either way, you are uniquely positioned: familiar with infected spaces, embedded in the region’s politics, and ambitious enough to fight against the status quo.
Planned Setting Features:
Since this is the first time I am developing a setting like this within Karma’s rules, I don’t know how long development will take. I can estimate future settings based on this first development cycle.
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