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Full Version: Cash for Karma; Karma for Cash; Do you allow these
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I'm curious who allows these. They are optional, right? Our group always worked under the premese of not allowing them, so I always assumed they were optional.

If you do allow the trading is it at canon suggested rates? If not what rate?

If you don't allow one or the other, or either, why exactly?
In general I tend to use Karma for Cash to represent the random luck breaks that burning karma might take the form of.

"Oh wow this dufflebag is full of certified credsticks!"

Cash for Karma I'm a bit more leery of as I don't really think sacrificing stuff on an altar to Mammon is particularly within the character of the game. Now I do tend to use some tutoring rules that help offset the cost of learning some things so to a degree there is some mechanism for cash to karma even if it's just reduced advancement costs. However direct transfers I'd tend to shy away from.
We allow it, but with stipulations. The cost is 3D6x1000 per point of karma, rerolled for every point, up to a limit of 5 per run, and it doesn't count towards karma pool. I don't think anyone in our group has ever sold karma for cash, so it's never come up.
Sharaloth thought about allowing it, we decided we didn't need it though -- Street Sam wasn't getting any more upgrades, and it's a massively high karma campaign, though low pay.
I don't really care for a justification that explains cash/karma transfer between runs. I just let it happen. If a PC can come up with a good explanation, good for him. Might even be used in game. But I don't really care either way. It's just an accounting exercise on a PC sheet, it doesn't reall need to spill over into the game world.
The pay for our runs varies so greatly, that allowing it once might not be too bad, but down the road a little ways when we rake in a big score....and you know if you allow it once, the players will cry if you deny it later.
Put a cap on the amount they're allowed to purchase.
Capt. Dave
We've never used it for years, but started recently now that we've hit 200 Karma.
Works out pretty well so far, as we use the rules Smiley listed above. 5 Karma per session helps a bit, but it's in trade of 40-60,000 nuyen and as it's only 5 per game session, doesn't dominate over actually running.
Crimson Jack
In our uber-character game (characters above 300 karma), I do not allow either of these. That would be problematic to deal with, as the GM. In this campaign we also have quite a few house rules.

However, I voted that I allow both because we've recently started up a new campaign with brand new characters. This campaign is all canon, no house rules, and we're playing with all of the optional rules. Gonna see how it works out. So far, no abuse (25 karma into it so far).
I have no problems doing either. Each time a player wants to use it (either way), an reasonable explanation is required. Usually the trade is not for actual Karma or Cash, but for the end product purchased with either of these.

Of course, as was said earlier, Karma bought in this fashion never affects the Karma Pool.
We do 10,000 nuyen for one Karma point and vice versa (represents charitable donations or gambling respectivley.) There are a few rules.

1. You can only do one such transaction per month, so every time you make an exchange you have to pay your lifestyle cost. If two runs are placed within a month of each other, in game, then you can't have that Karma for the second run.

2. Karma earned this way does not add to your Karma Pool, Reputation, or anything except Good Karma available to raise stats or use for magic.
We allow both but I donít think I ever saw somebody sell karma.

The descriptions we use for cash for karma are high prised instructors, (for attributes and skills) or expensive magical reagents (for initiating learning spells or other magical tasks). I dislike using things like charitable donations or sacrifices but some people use them

We pay 5,000-10,000 nuyen per point of karma (role GM mood) and there is a limit of 2 points per game month (new rule this campaign because all the magicals where putting most of there cash into karma)

I dislike the loose karma for a lucky break logic as well. If I as going to sell karma for cash (fat chance considering the number of magicals I play) I would probably describe it as finding a free spirit that would pay me for my karma however I loose karma and gain money as agreed rather than the other way around.

And of cause no affect on karma pool, only karma available to spend

My groups allow the transfer in both directions at 5k per karma. The limit is that you cannot buy more than half the awarded Karma. Additionally, the bought karma must be tracked separately as it doesn't count towards Karma Pool.

We've been using this system for about a year, and the only change we've seen in our games is fewer complaints. Now the characters who want more karma can get it, and those strapped for cash are fine as well. All in all, there are enough built in balances for SR3 that it hasn't created a problem.
Swing Kid
It really depends on the Karma/cash levels seen in any given campaign. The way I handle it depends on how far the campaign has gone. If we are running a game where the characters are pretty green, then I give Karma Points a lower street value, say 1 Karma point being equal to no more than 2-3000 Nuyen. It is important to then run the game where the players could honestly debate which is more valuable, 3000 nuyen.gif , or a Karma Point. It will become pretty obvious to a good GM, in gameplay, which is more valuable at any given point, Karma or cash.
Later in the campaign, as the team begins developing their rep, I would announce to the players that Karma is now worth, say, 5000 nuyen.gif , and so on, basing the Karma value (in Nuyen) off of the standards of wealth that the players are becoming accustomed to. If your team is getting 100,000 apiece for runs, then you could hardly stick with 5000 nuyen.gif per Karma. The value of the Nuyen is simply worth less at that point. If the same team later finds themselves washed out and penniless, then the scale could change again, depending entirely on the situation.
As to figuring out how their Karma became cash, it could simply be tied into that character's downtime. Anything from side runs not actually played out, to moonlighting as security agents (very good security agents), to simple payoffs and bribes. As to how Karma comes from money, that is even easier. A GM and a player could make the agreement that the money simply becomes "unavailable" once spent, though the character himself might think he actually still "has" the money. For example, a character might invest the money, thinking he will make a big return on the money, while the player that runs him (and the GM that runs the game) knows that he will never see the money again, whether from future losses, Decker theft, or whatever. Hell, maybe the money is simply not ever pulled out in the game-life of the player. In any case, the money is simply no longer available to the player, even if the character does not know it.
Another thing. If rules for money-karma transfers is allowed, then the campaign should have a standard limit on time transfers. We use a limit of one Karma point traded per game week. The GMs of our campaign are also very good about not letting time simply "float by" just to make these transfers easier.
The best arguement against all of this is that it simply becomes a great big pain in the ass to keep up with, and not worth it (GM arguement). A good way to handle this is for GM's to only allow trades when the player takes the time to explain where the money went or came from before he allows the trade to take place.
QUOTE (Edward)

The descriptions we use for cash for karma are high prised instructors, (for attributes and skills) or expensive magical reagents (for initiating learning spells or other magical tasks). I dislike using things like charitable donations or sacrifices but some people use them

This is pretty much what we do in my games as well, but I do require it to either be some sort of teaching aid, or supplies (the best grimoires and research money can buy, etc), or name a charity or charity project they are donating to. For example, have one player that gives her money to the hospital in Tarislar.

I also require it to be nuyen.gif 10,000/ point, and no more than half the karma reward for the session. And it does not contribute to the karma pool.

Also never had anyone use karma for cash, but it could theoretically happen!
Oh hell no.

Luke Hardison
I offer both. No one has ever offered to take either one. I don't know if that means that my exchange rate is bad or that my rewards are well balanced already ...
I allow both at 2500 nuyen a Karma point, but there are some mechanics. Normally training time is almost nonexistant. If you got two weeeks free you got the skill. If you are buying karma to raise a skill, attribute, or spell rating then I use the training rules based on the number of karma you bought. For bonding foci and summoning ally spirits I make it part of the costs associated and tack on 12 hours per karma point to the process.
We use a ratio of 5,000 nuyen per Karma Point both ways (we used to do random, but not anymore... too much work and bookkeeping), with a limit of 3 Karma per session (which roughly covers 2 weeks of game time). In our current campaign, we have been so cash-poor (compared to lifestyle costs) that most of the Karma gets converted to cash. It has most recently paid off in a brand new shiny tilt-rotor attack helicopter (which took MONTHS of saving). The shaman is the only person who consistently buys Karma for Cash, and even then, she only does it if she can afford it above and beyond lifestyle costs. The professional level of the group is starting to pick up, and they are starting to get better payoffs, so this trend may reverse soon enough. But at one point, the decker/face had something like 37 Good Karma just sitting around doing jack and squat.

In previous games, the Karma for Cash/Cash for Karma thing varied depending on the campaign. For example, we played a campaign in Denver where all the characters were high school students/dropouts. In that case, a lot of Karma was spent to get cash to get cool cars, latest clothes, etc. In another alternate DocWagon campaign, Karma could be spent to get more resources for the DocWagon team. In our high powered game, I think about half of the cash was spent buying Karma points.
I allow both, with stipulations that usually prevent anyone from making use of them.

Selling karma for cash is, in a sense, selling your soul. Maybe not your SOUL, since that would be Essence or something, but your life experience, your identity. After selling enough points (around 5 or so) you get hit with Amnesia. The more you sell, the more severe your Amnesia gets.

Buying karma with cash is the reverse. You're adding life experience to your own. But it's someone else's life, that they sold for money. After buying enough points (again, around 5 or so) you get hit with Flashbacks, featuring memories that are from someone else's life (or lives). The more you buy, the more frequently the flashbacks are triggered, until they start intruding on your dreams and everyday life.
QUOTE (CirclMastr)
I allow both, with stipulations that usually prevent anyone from making use of them.

Selling karma for cash is, in a sense, selling your soul. Maybe not your SOUL, since that would be Essence or something, but your life experience, your identity. After selling enough points (around 5 or so) you get hit with Amnesia. The more you sell, the more severe your Amnesia gets.

Buying karma with cash is the reverse. You're adding life experience to your own. But it's someone else's life, that they sold for money. After buying enough points (again, around 5 or so) you get hit with Flashbacks, featuring memories that are from someone else's life (or lives). The more you buy, the more frequently the flashbacks are triggered, until they start intruding on your dreams and everyday life.

Would that not also apply to the bonding of foci. You are putting your experience in the focus and thus loosing it for yourself.

What about if you meet a spirit with the karma drain power

What about a spirit that has to be given karma dose he get a flashback flaw.

I don't understand where people get the idea that cash-for-karma is some sort of mystical sacrifice, where you melt down a credstick on an altar to Cthulu or something.

You want to know a really easy way to picture cask for karma? College. Vocational classes. Practice at stuff, to exclusion of all else. Going to a self defense class. Taking martial art lessons.

It's all a matter of the GM communicating with a player and working out the details with them in a way that fits their game. I don't think anyone's ever said "you just throw a credstick away, then get better at pistols," or anything like that. It's not supposed to be quick fix that just happens for no reason -- role play it out a little bit. Hell, you could even use it as a plot hook for a couple runs ("Uh oh. Remember those couple of thou you spent on transportation to and from that fitness and survival course, and on tuition, last month? Turns out it's a militia/cult/bug spirit breeding ground! Good thing you brought your guns!").

I don't think the cash for karma (or karma for cash) rules are inherently broken, if the players and GM do their job, and find ways to make them work for a given game. If making people go nuts and sell their soul (or buy someone else's) is the way you want to work it, and it works for your game? Great. But make it work somehow.

Don't just toss them in there without thinking about it, then complain when your players abuse it ('cause you weren't paying attention).
Funny thing happened yesterday - I read this thread and voted for "neither allowed" because in the group I play in we don't use either option (result being that my chars either have too little cash but heaps of karma or exactly the opposite).

Then about 10 Minutes after voting my boyfriend (and the other main GM in our group) phoned me and asked me my opinion about allowing these options. Reason being his new char could do with some more karma and has too much money on his hands. Something isn't allowed until he has a problem with it not being allowed. GRRR!

I've found my own little ways of "exchanging" money&Karma:
My "too-little-money-too-much-karma"-char has invested that karma to diversify her knowledge and abilities and is actively looking for better paying runs. If the GM comes up with a run where the pay isn't good enough, my char doesn't do that run.
The "too-little-karma-too-much-money"-char has gone on holiday. She's actively looking for new experiances and people. I've talked to my GM that I want to play this out and so far it's been.. erm.. interesting. wink.gif

One could say that by roleplaying the chars I've exchanged money&Karma.. I've spent time and energy to make that exchange happen - I don't need any rules about exchange rates or justification. I just looked at my chars and thought about how they feel about themselves.
Buying karma with cash is allowed in my game, but on the following conditions.
- only during character creation.
- 25000 per karma point.
(And if they don't like it, they can lump it.) biggrin.gif
Critias has some good stuff.

It's a little more difficult to justify when doing karma for cash though. I don't think I would ever say "You've been helping out some buddies so they gave you loads of cash."

I'd probably ask the person what they need the money for and then have them spend the karma by helping a buddy (either with training, installing a security system, etc...any sort of downtime thing) in exchange for what they were looking for, since he "happens to have one laying around" or might be able to find him one.
Herald of Verjigorm
Cash into karma: purchased learning aids
Karma into cash: Vegas
I don't recall actually participating in either, but the concepts are easy enough.
Crimson Jack
QUOTE (Kagetenshi)
Oh hell no.


Preference or something else? Curious.
My thoughts:

It has to be something more than "Let me just put my nuyen in a wishing well..."

Karma at the cost of money can be represented by a character buying time at a pistols range. (Or, if you're doing what my PCs are doing and building your own place in the middle of nowhere, just building one there and using it). Of course, me and the other people I play with have a house rule where rolling all 6's is a "breakthrough" and adds a skill point, sooo to some extent it might seem a little too much. Then again I've only seen one set of four 6's ever (Plenty of Devil Numbers, though, especially when I play Risk)

For a mage, spending money could be buying incenses and meditational stuff and the like, or various talismans and whatnot. Sure, it would have to be hella-powerful stuff and expensive, but I've always wondered how on-the-level talismongers and the like get Karma for foci production and such things? Do they just go on runs or what?

In general, I'd want to know the use of the karma points gained before granting it. Then I'd set a fair cost (Wanna buy some Karma towards strength? Buy a treadmill, fatty!) then let it be.

Some things might not be buyable, such as launch weapons. At least not up to a certain point.
Talismongers don't spend karma to produce foci, only mages do when they bond foci....I think.

Thought it took Karma to do the initial bonding.. and if there is no initial bonding, the foci is useless, wasted?
First Bonding costs, MitS Pg 45. Either the Talismonger has to put up karma for the focus, or he can share some or all of that burden with a fellow magician. The karma costs for first bonding, by the way, are INSANE. They can be reduced via expensive means, but unless you wanna use 10+ units of Orichalcum in your focus talismongers pay bucketloads of karma for even the less powerful foci (except expendible spell foci, those are still dirt-cheap).

Edit: On the other hand, this is also a good reason for why PC magicians don't just learn enchanting and stop shadowrunning on the proceeds. Sure, you can earn huge wads of cash, but you need a reservoir of built up good Karma approximately the size of Lake Ontario to keep the biz going indefinitely, and for that you need to 'Run. Of course, if you just want to retire the character anyways, it's always an explanation of 'what they're doing now'. Sams open up Weapons World franchises, why not have the magician go into Talismongery?
Capt. Dave
QUOTE (Sharaloth)

Edit: On the other hand, this is also a good reason for why PC magicians don't just learn enchanting and stop shadowrunning on the proceeds.

Making orichalcum doesn't take any Karma and can net you bucketloads of nuyen.

As to enchanting, investing the extra time to make a lot of orichalcum and handmake the material basis of the focus out of 4 virgin materials is well worth the Karma you save.
Well, the way I've just always seen it is that running can't be the only way to get Karma in the universe. Just makes no sense that if someone wants to improve a skill they have to go on a secret mission, even if the improvement is as a race car driver.

Instead, wouldn't racing itself be what's used? When bodybuilders work out to raise their strength from 5 to 6 to win that competition, they don't go kill people, they invest time and money in the gym, personal trainers, foods and sometimes drugs.

So part of the whole situation is, to me, that running ain't the only way to get this in-game device. Perhaps talismongering itself, since that's what deducts the Karma from First Bonding, isn't gonna give it. Perhaps, however, daily meditation will give one - Just one - Karma to a talismonger. Perhaps they only get it once a week, or ever other - Whatever is reasonable. Maybe they do more than just this, maybe they spend time in libraries reading stuff, researching new methods of creating foci.

Whatever the way, there has to be a game-mechanic-balancer so that non-runners get Karma. For that afformentioned Race Car driver, simply racing is gonna gain him some experience and Karma. And as for his Karma Pool, that would represent more than just "skill" with things - It would represent his being able to act on instinct before he normally would react.

So whatcha think, does any of this pan out?
It could be very easily seen as me cashing in money in exchange for karma (and instantly spending) it with what I've been doing lately -- investing in a couple hundred 9mm rounds, spending cash for lane-time at the range, and plinking away for an hour or so. Likewise, with the jogging shorts, running shoes, and stopwatch I just purchased (though I'm not sure if it's Body, Athletics, Strength, or Quickness that I'm trying to spend the karma on).

I mean, it's easy to spend a few minutes talking to players about what they're doing in the down-time between games, and work out a way (if they want to!) for them to justify cash-for-karma before the next session of running and gunning starts up.
With my current character, one problem is that I have spent almost all of my karma on cash. :-/ I am playing a rigger, who is filling a secondary role as a decker (cursed to be in a group with 3 mage-types and an adept)... so while they have converted almost all of their money to karma, for initiating, and learning new spells, and improving their character... all of mine has gone towards repairing drones ($65,000 to repair a drone I lost last week, so I am planning on putting my next 7 karma there), upgrading deck stuff, and buying various technological things we're gonna need.

It sucks, but I kind of like that I am the group's only tech-savy character. Also, I can't complain because when we come across loot, I pretty much get dibs on anythign worth any money. But, since our GM allows cash-forkarma (and vice versa) at a rate fo 1 karma = $10,000... Everyone else has about doubled their karma, and I'm basically a well-equiped starting character (wtih a bit of karma pool). So, I dunno if I would allow such a flat rule if I were DMing. Seems magical characters tend to turn all their money to karma, and tech characters do the opposite. The DM has to balance things as it is (or else the ratio gets out of whack, or one group or the other feels screwed) so he might as well balance it to begin with, and not allow money to appear or disappear out of thin air.
I'd just ask that the team contribute to a fund that can be used for any repairs necessary to facilitate keeping them alive.
kackling kactuar
The thing is, it's difficult for a GM to guage the needs of all the characters on the team accurately enough to come up with an exchange rate that's fair to everyone. If I were you, I would just talk to him about your problem and see if he's willing to do anything about it.
When i first heard of these rules, my thought was that I would never allow them.

After watching this thread for the past couple of days, I have decided to allow exchanges both ways on a case by case basis, with the exchange rate dependant upon how the player justifies the exchange and with the condition that karma aquired in this way must be spent immediately, in such a way that is congruent to the method of exchange (i.e. Hiring a personal trainer and purchasing workout equipment and supplements, etc, in order to raise strength).
For NPCS gaining skills, raising attributes, bonding foci, learning spell, and everything else karma is good for I would have to allow cash for karma, and for NPCs I would give it at the rates for an amoral campaign. They could gain karma in other ways but you have to do something significant to get karma. To a rase car driver karma would be awarded for big rases, if he wants to increase his driving skill buy time on a practice track. Allowing it for NPCs more easily than PCs is fine by me. I mean did the sec guard have to role the availability on his security armour.

One thing I would not allow is buy karma for storage (eg I am out of good karma so I will buy a point in case I need to bribe a free spirit, if not I will learn a spell). When you buy karma you must spend it immediately ad the destination of the cred must make sense to the use of the karma.

As to the GM balancing the needs of the party, it is not possible.

As a mage in our current game I buy all the karma I am allowed (2 points per game month), I am teetering on the edge of focus addiction have every toy I could really want and burned half a million nuyen on researching elemental kernels a spirit told me about from the previous age of magic (an you know what, there force 1 expendable spell foci in a package so small your likely to loose them). I just spent 100K making kernels and purchased 2 squatter lifestyles outright (coffin hotel beds) and I can still support my high lifestyle for 5 months. Why exactly am I going into the arcology again?

The stealth Sammy spent all his cred on cyber wear and the Decker got a nice shiny deck, programs and a little cyber wear other borak but donít really know what to do with the accumulated karma after there skills go up a bit.

I'm not overly concearned about the rule, really.

Like I said, statistically, I'm way farther behind the rest of the group - but it was by my own hand, and I have a lot of devices that more than make up for it. No one else in the group can take a deadly wound (post resistance test) to the head during a run, and still walk away laughing. Or crying, more likely (since it means a month in the shop).

I guess, as long as you are willing to suspend disbeleif, and assume that the $10 K of junk I can get will put me on par with the new force 8 spell the mage just learned, then its all good. wink.gif Depending on the game, that could defiantly be the case.

I guess waht I was saying was that a lot of GMs seem to think, "Well, it seems tough to balance giving out Karma and Money, and I have enough things to worry about - so I suppose I'll just let them be exchanged so that the players can get what they need, and everyone is happy."

And that's pretty much how it works out, but if one player has a real money-sink, he's lible to stop advancing as a character, and if another has absolutely no desire for material possessions, he'll advance a bit faster than you might have planned. Then the GM ends up with more balance issues than he started with. After all, my rating 10 signal boosters are pretty sweet, but not one of them is going to save me when the shit hits the fan.
Has anyone thought of making it so you cannot buy a skill or equiptment solely with 'bought' Karma/newyen? Perhaps half of the cost of that skill must be bought with real Karma? and half of that new gun must be bought with real newyen?
Crimson Jack
Seems like it'd be easier to either allow it or not.
Yeah, I think most of hte difficulty would arise from the GM keeping the two pools of karma and money seperate... but as long as no one objected to having two places to write karma, and two places for money... and keepingtrack of how much is taken from each, then it seems like it would work.

However, I think in most cases, players will want oen or the other... so even if they turned all of their money to karma or all of their karma into money.... forcing htem to use half-real karma or whatever, would be the same as saying they can't convert more money into karma than the amount of karma they really earn.

It might be easier to say that you cannot convert more money from a mission to karma than the amount of karma you got from that mission - and vice versa...

Still seems complicated, since you sometimes get money outside of missions.
Well thanks for all the responses. I'm surprised that it is allowed as much as it is, 1/2 the respondants saying yes to going both ways, at least in some form. I don't see too many horror stories either other than maybe the player getting himself in a bind by sinking all his karma into cash for equipment. I was told a horror story about allowing converting once, but it was at canon rates and no limit plus i think there might have been other contributing issues.

Definately food for thought. Maybe i'll try it with one of the throttles mentioned to limit conversions to a max % of cash gained and a max % of karma earned.
I will point out that when I was allowed unlimited cash for karma at 5000 nuyen per I quickly became to powerful (playing a shaman) I donít think I even purchased more karma than I earned.

I suggest imposing a limit of 2-4 karma purchased per run (we use 2 karma purchased per month with runs being 1-3 months apart depending on the payoff).

I do, but I don't let people trade outrageous sums. usually between 5 and 10k, both ways.
QUOTE (Shadow)
I do, but I don't let people trade outrageous sums. usually between 5 and 10k, both ways.

I can think of an exception, but your costs were outrageous! biggrin.gif
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