Don't know if this was already posted somewhere. Sorry if I repeat things.
Let's talk karma.
The "real-life" definition is on the lines of "do good things and good things will happen to you" and the opposite "do bad things and bad things will bappen to you".
I won't debate if this is true IRL or whatever. I'll try to express this in in-game terms.
It is not always possible to comprehend good and evil, but on some occasions it is crystal clear. If something is totally "wasted" and nobody can have an advantage out of it, then it is pure evil for everyone. In other cases a so-called "win-win" situations may arise. This is when everybody has advantages, and this would be pure good.
Now this was easy. Follow me a little more please.
In some situations the good for one is the evil for the other. In medieval rome it was common to say "mors tua vita mea" (your death is what makes me live).
The presence of karma would now require to counter-balance the "shift" of order. Let's consider some PK situations:
- the aggressor dies, the defender survives:
in this case the aggressor has done an evil act, the defender had to defend himself. Let's count for the aggressor a "-1" and the defender a "+1".
- the aggressor survives, the defender dies:
in this case the aggressor has done two evil acts. Let's count "-2" for the aggressor and "+2" for the defender.
If we add now the loot mechanic the looter receives an additional "-1" and the looted a "+1". So we have:
- NO LOOT: aggressor dies, defender survives:
aggressor "-1", defender "+1"
- NO LOOT: aggressor survives, defender dies:
aggressor "-2", defender "+2"
- W/ LOOT: aggressor dies, defender survives:
aggressor "0", defender "0"
- W/ LOOT: aggressor survives, defender dies:
aggressor "-3", defender "+3"
As we can see there is a "shift" of karma (the numbers between "quotes").
What should karma signify? It should not be something that passes by over time, but that stays there forever. To raise karma you have to be PKed. To lower karma you have to PK. This should be the only way to change karma.
Now, what can we do with this? An evil character would please his evil god with negative karma, while a good character would please his good god with positive karma.
Either way, evil and good are just standpoints.
But the "balance" of the game would come from another side: karma is used to modify PvP between evil and good.
evil vs evil is not influenced by karma. This is just pvp without modifiers. the same goes for good vs good. but when good fights evil and viceversa, karma is taken into account. The ground rule of karma is to "balance" things out, back to "0". So the negative karma (most evil characters) would handicap and the positive karma (most good characters) would boost.
This way, karma would always flatten out to "0" in the long-term and win/lose is just a matter of short-term.