Expiring karma/luck


I came across an idea the other day about using luck points similar to ezd6. There was a player max of 6 points, I believe, and the players could buy the equivalent of a hero coin with 6 points. The twist to the idea was that there was a GM side d4 roll at some point that would reduce the players available luck points to the roll result. A kind of push your luck to collect points and hope they don’t go to waste.

I thought it sounded kinda fun but I’m wondering about a couple of issues:

  1. How, as a gm, do you perform the expiration roll without making the players feel like I’m arbitrarily “stealing” their luck points? I was thinking about making it a monster ability maybe or using a “concealed” timer. Also had thought about a small deck of cards that a drawn each round.

  2. What would you call it? “Luck expiration” seems kinda boring lol.



I don’t fully understand the proposed rule. Do PCs start at 1 luck and then collect more? If so, how are they collected?

And how does “push the luck” enter? That is: what is the alternative to collecting six to get the hero coin?

I think it can be fair to steal things from the PCs, but then the risk-reward balance needs to be very clear. But without fully understanding your rule, I would suggest considering that the theft happens on a natural 1.


I’m somewhat borrowing this rule from dmscottys ezd6 game.

Each player starts each session with 3 luck points. Luck points can be used to increase a die roll result by 1 per point. Points are “rewarded” for failed rolls. Pushing your luck comes from taking the chance to collect luck to purchase a hero coin and risking losing the points via the yet to be named “luck expiration” roll versus spending them to increase individual die results.

Hope that makes sense?


Thanks, that makes a lot of sense!

My concern would be that you might have conflicting design goals. It seems to me that “Get a luck point when you miss” is meant to balance probabilities between PCs with high and low stats - low-stat characters misses more often, so they get more luck, which boosts their stats temporarily. Basically, we allow character customization at the beginning of game, and then subtly nullify some of that customization during play. This is cool, but requires some serious calibration.

In light of this, I would argue that “Save to a hero coin” is an attempt to recalibrate. It makes collecting luck slightly more tactically interesting (spend now, or wait?), and makes low and high stats more distinct: now, lower stats means higher likelihood of hero coin.

This brings us to luck expiration. Luck expiration recalibrates in favour of spending luck, for everyone. I think this is useful if the problem is that players become too obsessed with collecting hero coins, so that luck no longer works the way it was originally intended - ie. to make low characters succeed more often.

So I think it can be an excellent rule if it helps your game. But I just wanted to point out that each of these rules seems to be designed to recalibrate another rule. So another way to approach the problem could be to revise those rules. For example: instead of saying that characters start with 3 luck, perhaps they start with 1d4 luck and reroll at each rest? That would make luck expire and return, without adding a timer or new rule?


i believe DM Scotty explained that he runs a similar rule when he played ICRPG, on a fail they get a D6 to roll, which can be collected in a pool and spent how the player likes.


I would have a finite number of luck tokens/dice in the bowl, and once they’re all distributed among the PCs, gaining luck come from the player who least recently received one, that way, they’re motivated to spend them, and if someone is having a really off night, they may collect so many that they can buy a hero coin.


Conceptually I like this idea, here are my thoughts on how to bring it to any table.

  1. Everyone starts the campaign with 1 Luck Point, better if it is a real-world physical object, they are after all the heroes and thus luckier than farmer John who was assailed by koblds.

  2. Player Characters gain luck when they fail an Easy or Normal Roll, but not a Hard roll, know thy risk and reward.

  3. When players spend luck they place that luck into a Karma Pool that the GM can spend on Monsters, Max expenditure is a d6 on Attmpets and d4 on Effort. No Hero Coins for the baddies.

Now the Test

  1. Is it easy to remember?
    a) Gain on failed non-hard attempt roll
    b) Spend to increase attempt roll by +1 for each point spent, max 6 or
    c) Spend 6 to gain a Hero coin.
  2. Does it present a dilemma?
    a) Spending can boost the opposition by d6 to attempts and d4 to effort.
  3. Is it cool?
    a) That’s for you to decide.

This mechanic I think is used in “Kids on Bikes/Broomsticks” called ‘Adversity Tokens’; without the karma pool addition.


I like everything but this part for my table. I’m playing with my kids and wife, so I don’t want to have too many points where I (as the GM) am being their adversary directly as opposed to the world/monsters being their adversary.

I’m going to have to mull some of these suggestions over and play with them a bit and see what shakes out. Any other ideas are absolutely welcome! I’ll continue posting here with what we end up coming up with and any adjustments we make along the way.



It could be that any karma that enters the pool must be spent in that encounter or is lost at the end of the encounter. That limits the number of points the foes have to use, be they low level mooks/super mooks, support/boss monsters, or experienced diplomats. Karma generated only affects the current encounter.

Instead you could also rule that the any karma in the pool must be spent when available by the opposition. As all roll being made in the open the players see at all time the beifits of their luck and the universal karma balancing the scales. If only one point is in the karma pool the first opponent gains a plus 1. If there are 3 points they gain 1d2 to the Attempt and 1 to the Effort, or any other combination. The die rolls in the open keep it fair and it allows the players to see the trade off in real time.

Lastly you could remove any bonus to the opposition at all. Instead the gm rolls a karma die d4 and removes that much luck when the character succeeds an Attempt. This to me is less appealing as there is no reason for the loss of luck other than the pendulum of fate swinging the opposite direction, and it takes the player’s choice out ot the equation.


you could take a note from the last project blackflag playtest and cap it at 5 and roll a D4 once you hit 6, just add in you can trade 5 in for a hero coin. i like jaides input with it only lasting the encounter but it could remain as in the playtest you only get it for failing rolls