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> SR5 Priority-based Karmagen
post Jan 22 2014, 03:17 AM
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I'm new to SR5 (just picked it up). I'm mostly familiar with the SR3-era, though I have played 2nd and 4th a bit.

Seeing discussions of 'karma efficiency' (and having to worry about it in order to be competent) makes me twitch, more than a bit, so I threw this together and am looking for critiques. I do like the idea of priorities, though, so just dumping everything into a giant karma-pool was a bit unappealing.

Thoughts are welcome!


The GM first chooses a style of play, as per normal. These are based off the ones mentioned in the SR5 core. The numbers are for the amount of karma you get for choosing something for the A/B/C/D/E priority, respectively.

High Life: 750 / 600 / 450 / 300 / 150
- Free Karma: 150, background karma: 450

Prime Runner: 500 / 400 / 300 / 200 / 100
- Free Karma: 80, background karma: 250

Normal Runner: 450 / 360 / 270 / 180 / 90
- Free Karma: 60, background karma: 180

Street Runner: 400 / 320 / 240 / 160 / 80
- Free Karma: 40, background karma: 120

Street Scum: 350 / 280 / 210 / 140 / 70
- Free Karma: 20, background karma: 70

Attributes and Skills:

These are pretty straightforward - the karma is to be spent on mundane attributes (not edge, resonance, or magic) and skills/skill groups/specializations, respectively.


If an allocation is above E, you get Magic 1 or Resonance 1 for free. Choose a 'class', and pay the associated cost (listed below). The remaining karma from allocation must be spent on magic/resonance or related skills/spells/forms/power points for mystic adepts/etc.

Aspected, Adept, Technomancer: 160
Magician: 240
Mystic Adept: 350

Adepts must still purchase power points with karma, per normal, at a cost of 10 karma per power point. This may still be done after chargen, whether because magic is raised or because not all power points were initially purchased.

The intent here is to make magic rarer the more 'common' a group is.


Unlike other allocations, these take up their designated allocation entirely, regardless of mode of play.

Troll: B
Dwarf, Ork: C
Elf, Human+: D
Human: E

Normal human pcs/important npcs (those with E priority) get +1 Edge, so it begins at 3. The maximum remains 7.

Human+: Whether through being a designer embryo, genetic engineering, gene therapy contaminating your parents' germ line, excellent pedigree, outstanding upbringing, or some other cause, the character stands out amongst humanity as a whole. Choose two different physical or mental attributes (ie. not edge, resonance, or magic). You get +1 to the starting value and limit of these two attributes as if it were a racial bonus.

The intent here is to have a difference in value between races for the mode of play. Human+ because designer embryos are already a thing, and to mitigate 'why play a human?' at high resource levels.


Depends on Allocation. All values are in nuyen gained per karma spent, and this counts for spending 'free karma' for nuyen as well.

Plus: No availability or equipment limit of any kind.
- A: 20,000 B: 12,000 C: 9,000 D: 7,000 E: 5,000
High: Availability limit 18, deltaware available.
- A: 5,000 B: 4,000 C: 3,000 D: 2,000 E: 1,000
Prime: Availability limit 15, betaware available.
- A: 1,000 B: 1,000 C: 1,000 D: 1,000 E: 1,000
Normal: Availability limit 12, alphaware available.
- A: 1,000 B: 750 C: 500 D: 250 E: 100
Street: Availability limit 10
- A: 200 B: 175 C: 150 D: 125 E: 100
Scum: Availability limit 9
- A: 100 B: 90 C: 75 D: 60 E: 50

Background Karma:

May be spent on cash, contacts, language skills, or knowledge skills.

No more than half may be spent on a single category out of the four.

A minimum of 10% must be spent on each of knowledge skills (not languages) and contacts.

Contact connections/loyalty are purchased as if they were language/knowledge skills, so a 6/6 contact costs 42 background karma, for example. A character may only begin with a number of contacts equal to their charisma score.

Up to two additional native languages may be purchased, at a cost of 25 background karma for being bilingual, and an additional 35 karma for being trilingual. These count as language points (a trilingual 'normal' runner would have to use their free karma to purchase more languages, for example).

The character may burn half of their background points to be considered 'rich', counting as being one game type better for cash allotment purposes. Any further cash must be purchased via free karma. This money is not free, the player should work with the gm in order to determine what enemies were made, what was stolen, and what debts are owed, in obtaining this wealth. This scales in severity with campaign type - a street scum may have pawned a gang leader's prized bike. A high life runner may have sold his soul to become a cyberzombie.
- As with any character concept, the GM is free to say 'no' outright to this. It is primarily present to support some higher-end game concepts like 'six million nuyen man', and such. Accordingly, at higher levels of play it is rather dependent on supplement availability, where throwing around millions of nuyen is a thing.

Free Karma:

Free Karma can be spent on anything you can normally spend karma on after chargen, or cash. This specifically excludes the bilingual quality, which is removed as a quality. Additional native languages are purchased using background karma, and can only be done in chargen.

Karma gained from negative qualities is worth double the listed amount (the default karma during chargen is worth double), likewise, karma from positive qualities costs double, as that is the after-chargen cost.

Limits are the same: You can spent up to your entire initial free karma allocation on positive qualities, and can gain the same amount from taking negative qualities.
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