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.
Alignment. In the Dragon World, alignment is something far more blatant and obvious than in other settings. Sensing energy usually allows a character to pick up on subtle hints of alignment, and there are certain items or abilities that can only be used by someone with a certain alignment! As such, when filling out your Z-Soul – you must select between Good, Neutral or Evil. This is the alignment of your character. Depending on your actions, this may change over time.
Pure of Heart. Rather than being good or evil, characters can also have hearts that are pure. Pure-Hearted characters tend to be more naive and open than other characters but they are defined by being true to themselves with very little (if any) internal conflict. Although a good pure-hearted person may unknowingly do ‘evil’ acts or be forced to do so in certain circumstances, it does not make them any less pure or good… The definition for what is ‘Pure of Heart’ in their game is something that should be thought through by your ARC.
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 0 to 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. While in a Combat Encounter, you can NOT gain, spend or lose more than 3 Karma during a single Combat Round, but you can spend as many Karma Points as you like.
If your Karma Points drop to 2 or lower, you will suffer from negative effects. If you only have 2 Karma Points, all d10 dice rolls suffer a -1 penalty to their Natural Result (this can cause a Botch Result or prevent a Critical Result). With only 1 Karma Point, you will suffer a penalty of -2 instead. At 0 Karma Points, you will suffer a -3 instead, and all opponents gain Superiority against you. Being reduced to 0 Karma often indicates the drain of your mental and emotional resolve.
Starting Karma. When you create a character your Karma meter will start with 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. Spending Karma is considered an Out-of-Sequence Action and can be done at any time, even during rolls or after you find out the result. As you are rewarded and accumulate Karma, you can spend your points to gain temporary bonuses, special re-rolls, passive advantages or you may even be allowed to change the environment. Below are some varied examples that you can negotiate/trade your Karma to perform. Typically, in most events where you spend Karma, you will spend one point, although sometimes your ARC might require you to spend more than one.