Z-Souls. In the DBU system, Z-souls are an independent trait that will rise and fall regardless of your character’s other aptitudes. A Z-soul indicates your character’s strengths, weaknesses, morality, dark sides, and dynamic qualities of their persona. It defines your character’s natural mannerisms, behavior, or disposition. Think of them as an alignment or strength of personality. A Z-soul should clearly reflect your character’s background, origin, or concept. Z-Souls can be used to contrast the outward nature of your character, and to create sources of conflict that make for excellent role-playing. You will work with your group and ARC to create a persona for your character. Below are two examples of Z-souls.
Hope (Z-Soul). Being hopeful means believing that evil and misfortune cannot prevail, no matter how grim things become. Not only do you believe in the ultimate triumph of morality and decency over malevolence, but you also maintain a steadfast belief in a greater sense of cosmic justice. All will turn out right in the end, and you mean to be around when it happens.
Pride (Z-Soul). Self-confidence runs amok. It is the belief that one’s every action is inherently accurate, even when it should be obvious that it is anything but. You refuse to back down when your decision or reputation is called into question, even when the evidence is clear that you are in the wrong. Your ego does not accept any outcome that suggests fallibility, and you are willing to see others suffer rather than admit that you’re wrong.
Karma Meter. A Z-soul has two primary functions. First, it establishes some abstract character trait that defines your character, to ensure your character isn’t just a piece of paper full of numbers. Second, it gives you and your group an incentive to properly role-play by giving bonuses to combat encounters.
Karma is rated from one (1) to ten (10) and is the measurable numerical value of your notable deeds. You can gain Karma by accomplishing particularly heroic or astonishing in-game deeds. Karma is generally gained through proper role-playing or by accomplishing a special or important task that reaffirms your core persona. You can also lose Karma if you perform or act in a way that conflicts with your Z-soul. If your character chooses or is forced to act against their persona or personal judgment, they might lose a karma point.
If your karma points drops to two (2) or lower, you will suffer from negative effects. If you only have two karma points, all dice rolls suffer a negative one (-1). With only one karma point, you will suffer a negative two (-2) to all dice rolls. At zero Karma points, you will suffer a negative three (-3) to all dice rolls and all opponents gain superiority against you. Being reduced to zero karma often indicates the drain of your mental and emotional resolve.
Starting Karma. When you create a character your karma meter will start with five (5) points. You can earn more points through role-playing and encounter rewards.
Spending Karma. You can employ karma to modify in-game circumstances in your character’s favor. As you are rewarded and accumulate karma, you can spend your points to gain temporary bonuses, special re-rolls, or passive advantages. Below are some varied examples that you can negotiate/trade your karma to perform. Typically, in most events you spend karma, you will spend one point, although sometimes your ARC might require you to spend more than one.
- You can add an extra dice (d10) to any roll, even after the roll has already been made.
- Surviving a fatal blow.
- Repeat a morale test to resist the effects of animosity, a transformation side-effect.
- Completely re-rolling a failed skill check to attempt to pass an important save.
- Change your character’s position in the initiative order, temporarily allowing you strike an enemy before they strike you.
- To resist natural or unnatural compulsions, charm, mind control, or other such urges.
- Simulate a skill proficiency for a skill that you are not proficient with.