Ni Karma is a roll bonus system, that is also zero-sum (i.e., points leave the system at about the same rate they enter). "Karma" can be thought of as "favor of the loot gods", where it skews loot towards those with the most favor. You get this favor by attending raids, and lose it when winning items. Specifically the term "DKP" is avoided because karma does not really act as currency. But for those that love the idea of DKP, they can hoard points and then it DOES act as currency... but items can become quite expensive in this case.

Design goals

Ni Karma (or NKS) was designed to solve the following issues well:

  • Loot received is generally proportional to time spent raiding
  • Points can be saved for better loot
  • Little to no inflation
  • Difficult to break/collude, without it being obvious
  • An element of luck (some might see this as a disadvantage)
  • The possibility to exclude others with much lower scores (veterans advantage over newbies)
  • Items only get disenchanted if really nobody wants them
  • System can be scaled to include dungeons of different difficulty

Detailed description


The system is officially called the Ni Karma System (or NKS), to distinguish it from DKP, zero-sum DKP, and other loot distribution systems. (Karma can be thought as "favor of the loot gods" as the more you have, the more it skews loot towards you. It should not be equated to currency or DKP.)

Quick summary

  • Gain "karma" for attending raids.
  • When an item drops, your karma is added to a standard /roll, if you choose.
  • Highest roll+karma wins item, winner loses half his karma.
  • Tiers prevent everyone from rolling. You may only roll if you're within 50 points of person rolling with the highest karma.

New members

New raiders start with 0 karma. Karma scores can never drop below zero (but this is configurable). If a penalty or enforced expenditure (by the minimum cost rule below) would bring a score below 0, it is set to zero instead.

Earning Karma

The following is a list of possible ways to earn karma. This list should be understood as an example, each raid using this system is encouraged to tweak it any way they like.

  • +5 karma for showing up for raid on-time.
  • +5 karma at the end of the run
  • +5 karma for replacing a dropped out member
  • +5 karma per boss kill

one simple and elegant alternative would be

  • +5 karma per hour spent in the raid

It is possible for raid leaders to hand out bonuses to the entire raid, if a raid spends significant time to progress/learn how to defeat a new boss. Karma may also be individually granted to those filling in empty slots to help the raid succeed.

As with all standard DKP systems, guild leaders need to pay attention on how much karma enters the system. If too few points enter the system, veteran raiders will be at a disadvantage, if too many points are awarded, veterans gain too much of a lead. For speed and to smooth out the extremely lucky rolls, rollers have to be within 50 points of the highest karma use. The leader should consider how many more raids/hours/commitment one person needs in order to completely lock out a new player on a loot drop, by having over 50 more points. A good starting factor would be 2-3 raids, which equates to about 10 hours. This means that people who have done 10 hours of raiding more than someone else, do not have to roll against them because they will have at least 50 more karma. Therefore, the karma entering should be approximately 5 points per hour, or about 20 karma per raid. This is a good value for fairness' sake. Spikes, such as special awards for new boss kills, won't harm the system, but continuously awarding too much karma will have a detrimental effect.

Distributing Loot

When an item drops, the master looter first announces which classes and/or builds are eligible to compete for the item. Eligible raid members have now three choices: pass, roll without bonus, or roll with bonus.

If nobody with a karma score of 50 or more is willing to use their bonus, the loot master may open the item to other classes/off-specs at his discretion. If nobody is willing to use a bonus of 50 or more, in the end all raid members able to use the item are allowed to participate in the roll.

Members choosing to add their karma bonus to their rolls must use it fully -- no partial amounts.

If the item is won by someone using their bonus, their karma cost is [half their karma rounded up to the nearest multiple of 5].
(eg. Karma = 82. Cost is 82 / 2 = 41 --(rounded up)-> 45. Final Karma = 82 - 45 = 37.)

There is no karma loss if none was used by the winner (except for class items - see next).

Class set items always cost at least 25 karma, and at most 100 karma.

There is no such min/max loss cap on multi-class items. This is configurable, but imposing a maximum cost will affect the zero-sum property.

After announcing the usage of bonus, those people whose used bonus is 50 points below the highest used bonus are excluded from the roll. If the highest karma used is 50 or lower, anyone eligible may roll with or without karma.

Multi-class items are distributed first, then class items for consistency. (Any BOE's picked up on the way will also be distributed after boss loot.)

Ties are decided by a straight /roll with no bonuses.

If only one person was interested in the item at all, they get it as though they declared "no bonus", even if they did declare "with bonus".

Karma is kept separately for each character and cannot be transferred (except when you are requested to bring an alt character, you may apply that karma to your main character).

Losses for wins are immediate. Karma is added at the end of the night, or after loot distribution of each boss kill, if feasible. There exists a UI mod to track karma continually.

If you are told not to compete for an item by an officer, you may not roll. This may be invoked in cases of multiple defaulted/free items being won by one person who then tries to roll on other things, or other situations that seem highly "unfair". Members are expected to not be greedy, but they are also expected to not collude. Members should generally spend karma on every item they actually want.

Examples and comments

One thing no system can solve is the issue of vastly unlucky class drops. The loss cap of 100 points and the minimum of 25 points fixes much of this, however.

The sliding tier window eliminates the extremely-lucky person from competing with someone who has a much higher bonus -- but only if that person uses his bonus. Ex: Person A has a high bonus of 150 and persons B, C, D have relatively low bonuses (70, 40, and 30). If Person A wanted to use her karma, she would win it outright since nobody else is within 50 points (and thus, ineligible to roll). If 'A' declines to use her bonus then the choice goes to 'B'. If 'B' uses his bonus, everyone with 20+ karma may roll with bonus (and A may not roll, since her bonus is zero by choice). If B passes too, the option will go to C. Since C is less-than-or-equal to 50 points, everyone may roll with their declared bonus, including A and B (with a 0 bonus). If Person C used bonus of 40, he'd have far more chance of winning against those not using bonus. This demonstrates how those that save bonus will generally be the last to receive items but get the first pick at new items. The sliding tier eliminates some of the annoying disappointment if both A and B wanted the item... A has way more karma than B, but could potentially lose without the sliding tier.

Remember that there's still a minimum 25 point loss on all class items, whether bonus was used or not, and a maximum loss of 100 points. That means it's the players best interests to roll with bonus on class items if their bonus is 50 or lower, because they're going to lose 25 points when winning no matter what. The plugin actually forces a 50-point "bonus" roll on class items if they have the karma, due to the 25 point minimum cost for class items.

Each person needs to decide how they want to use their points... saving them gives first pick and is much like purchasing the items, but items tend to cost more and will reduce the number of items won. Players following this strategy will get items either very early (when using karma), or late (without using karma).

Spending karma quickly, on the other hand, gives more items cheaper, but only if the others don't want them. It's more random, and will never result in winning a high-end, top-of-the-line drop. Many times, you won't even get to roll on something you want, but many times you'll get very cheap items.

This duality is a big strength, where karma is more like currency (dkp) when saving, and more like a roll bonus (karma) if not. But the objective a loot system is to be "fair", so loot masters should use sound judgment when people are rolling on items for many different roles.

One rule used by the Knights who say Ni, which is not directly related to the system: For each instance, new members need to attend at least one previous run where at least one boss was killed in that instance before they get to roll on any items from that instance. The only exception is if they are the only person that can use the item.

The plugin is highly configurable. The Knights have recently added a 10 point minimum cost to help prevent people fishing for items for no karma, and only if nobody wants it for 10, drop the cost to zero. We normally allow people to pass to the next highest person, but if an item goes for free, it's only to prevent sharding... thus no passing to the next-highest roll is allowed in that cast.

Also unrelated directly to the system: The Knight who say Ni allow members to move karma between alts, with some restrictions. For instance, people may move Molten Core karma over 200 to BWL karma at a rate of 20%. Ex: Someone has 325 molten core karma. He can move 125 of it and get credited 25 points of BWL karma. This is some incentive for experienced players to help out in MC, since it will give them karma in BWL. It's not meant to replace going to BWL, but merely an incentive to continue attending MC.


Acknowledgments: Qed was a co-designer of this system and did a lot of the number crunching and theory. He is a fan of zero-sum and proved how this system "tended towards zero-sum" (although it is not strictly so). I'd like to thank the officers of the Knights who say Ni on Icecrown for their input, including a lot of work coming up with other possible systems, and the entire Ni guild for being so patient as we worked out the kinks