This is a tentative rework for Karma, the Enlightened One. Those of you who know me probably know my opinion on her: I think New Karma is fun to play and relatively problem-free, and Old Karma was so jumbled up and dysfunctional that she desperately needed an overhaul. So why rework her again? I think there are at least two compelling reasons: the first is that Karma currently has no real niche, and so doesn't especially shine as either a mage or a support unless her numbers get far too high. The second is that, for all of her old problems, Old Karma did have a lot of interesting aspects that got needlessly taken away when they could've been improved: putting aside the unnecessary loss of her fans and Yin-Yang dress, Karma had this cool niche as a front line mage whose heavy emphasis on duality allowed her to simultaneously help her allies and crush her enemies, a niche that has remained untapped until now. There was likely a lot more that could have been done to preserve some parts of her old kit, notably her iconic shield bomb, but she was League's first overhaul, at a time where Riot's design and redesign philosophy was at a much earlier stage and didn't factor player input as heavily as it does now.
This is where I think a more modern overhaul could come in, even if it's not the one I'm proposing here. It's kind of ironic that Karma, a champion whose core theme is duality, also has a fan base torn between her old and new versions, and the kit I'm proposing aims at trying to reconcile the two, while doing a few new things of its own: on one hand, she still has a Mantra focused on big, impactful effects, and tighter and clearer mechanics akin to New Karma, but has Old Karma's much more direct focus on duality and mid-range combat. The overarching goal is to try to bring out the best of both Karmas to make a champion with a well-defined niche and thematic/gameplay fantasy, with clear strengths, weaknesses, tradeoffs and intuitive options for herself, allies and enemies.
Passive:Karma generates 5 Gathering Fire every second she deals damage to, or takes damage from an enemy champion or large monster. At 100 - 55Gathering Fire, Karma gains a charge of Mantra.
I initially considered adding Karma's old Inner Flame as her passive, but instead opted to move her near-death power to her shield bomb further below, as that was its main purpose, and instead decided to use this as an opportunity to give Karma her double Mantra back. Karma's old Mantra didn't really work because her empowered abilities didn't feel like they had optimal use cases, aside from the occasional 1-health E mega-nuke, and Karma's current Mantra doesn't quite work because RQ usually trumps both other options due to its superior damage. I made Mantra a lot simpler for this current kit, making it turn every spell into an AoE, and moved Karma's duality directly to her abilities, so the end result is that Karma should have the option for more organic Mantra usage in fights, particularly since each of her abilities would become especially good at different stages of combat. In the end, Karma still has to get in the thick of combat to get the most out of her Mantra, but also gets to feel better about spending a charge.
There are only a few changes I made to Karma's base stats, namely a nerf to her autoattack range (500 from 525) and a buff to her base health and growth (570 plus 90 growth from 522.44 plus 83 growth). I'm designing Karma mainly as a close-range mage, and as such she could afford to lose a little range in exchange for more durability. I'm also reducing the range on Karma's spells and removing all of her CC (which wasn't particularly prominent on her old kit), but in exchange I'm giving her tons more damage and utility. The idea behind this is that Karma gets to be the ultimate utility mage, with enough in both to work well as a mage or a support, while sacrificing the crowd control most mages and supports take for granted. As such, I also deliberately gave her abilities below strong bases and good AP-to-damage scalings, though no AP-to-utility scalings as I think she should be able to have a decent baseline level of effectiveness even without AP (I also intend for her to build a little bit of durability, in particular Rylai's Crystal Scepter and Zhonya's Hourglass, which would likely both be core on her).
RANGE:500 / 60°
COST: 70 Mana
Active:Karma charges the target area, which detonates after 1 second, dealing magic damage to all enemies hit.
The application of this ability combines a bit of Heavenly Wave, with its conic AoE, and Soulflare, with its delayed detonation, and I think blending the two could solve the two abilities' problems: Heavenly Wave wasn't a healthy ability because it didn't have any counterplay at close range, but Soulflare is problematic because it turns Karma into yet another poke champion, when she has a host of things that could make her stand out better.
As with the rest of Karma's kit, I moved her duality directly to her abilities, and made Mantra turn it into a cover-everything AoE. Ideally, this should let her cleanse and protect select targets on the fly, and create a massive safety zone when needed, particularly against CC-heavy melee champions. In lane, this should also give Karma an extra reason to be picked, as she could momentarily save herself or her ally from otherwise fatal crowd control (but not damage) at the right moment, and thereby use this ability for reactive play even when she can't approach her opponents easily.
RANGE:500 / 1000
COST: 70 Mana
Active:Karma tethers herself to the target unit for 2 seconds, dealing magic damage to every enemy the tether collides with, capped against non-champions, and to her anchor at the end of its duration if they are also an enemy.
「 Magic Damage:10 / 12 / 14 / 16 / 18 / 20% (+ 2% per 100 AP) of target's maximum health 」「 Maximum Non-Champion Damage: 450 / 500 / 550 / 600 / 650 / 700 」
Karma gains bonus movement speed for 1 second every time Spirit Bond deals damage and at the end of its duration, and so does her anchor if they are an ally.
Mantra:Spirit Bond creates additional tethers from Karma and her anchor that each attach to the nearest unaffected champion in their respective range, who also each produce a new tether of their own and repeat the process until no potential new anchor remains.
As with the above Inner Flame, this is sort of a mashup of her tethers. Old Karma's Spirit Bond was bad because it felt really confusing to use optimally and didn't really have an amazing payoff, and New Karma's Focused Resolve is kind of mediocre partly for being a Ethereal Chains ripoff, and partly because Renewal doesn't really feel optimal in most cases, even when trying to escape from an enemy at low health.
The idea behind the ability here is that Karma gets to damage multiple enemies by clotheslining them as with Spirit Bond, which would work on a frontliner mage, but also gets to nuke her main target by holding out on the tether. With allies, the gameplay would revolve around those same two options, with both getting rewarded with impactful movement speed. One of the reasons I chose to put the movement speed back here is because it lets Karma keep pace with her allies, whereas Inspire currently tends to create some distance between her and her allies. Additionally, I think Mantra here would have a strong use as an initiation tool, whereas her Mantra + shield would become much more focused as a mid-fight mass protection effect. That's also a reason why I added a special maximum health scaling, as it would give a clear reward for getting close to tanks and bruisers without necessarily bringing squishies down too quickly. I also think Jungle Karma deserves to be a thing if it can work, and so max health damage would let her get through her clears better.
RANGE:500 / 250
COST: 70 Mana
Active:Karma infuses the target unit with energy for 2 seconds, causing them to detonate at the end of the duration and deal magic damage to all other nearby enemies. If the target dies prematurely and is an enemy, Essence Shield detonates immediately.
This is technically a combination of both Karma's shields, by dint of being another shield, but let's be honest, I just wanted to give her back her shield bomb. The notion of gaining massive protection and dealing similarly huge retributional damage to enemies while at low health is in itself fine, the problem with the old Soul Shield was that its instant nuke made it feel unfair and kind of unpredictable to enemies. Because of this, I attached the detonation time to the end of the shield's duration, which would give enemies a fair warning and communicate the ability's threat better via the massive shield that would initiate it.
An advantage to the missing health scalings I added here, aside from allowing Karma to deploy ludicrous shield bombs without having to resort to bonus AP elsewhere, is that it would make this ability work especially well on tankier enemies, which would obviously synergize well with the frontliners Karma would be around, but could also complement Karma's own build, which would likely include at least one tanky AP item. I think the ability could also work well as an enemy-targeted effect as a result, mainly since the main target wouldn't be affected (so it's not point-and-click unavoidable damage), and placing it on low-health opponents could encourage her and her team to finish them off and lay down a maximum potency nuke.
Passive:Karma stores a charge of Mantra periodically, in addition to the Mantra charge provided by Gathering Fire.
Active:Karma empowers her next basic ability within 8 seconds, making it free to cast and putting it on the same cooldown as its basic form.
Karma begins the game with one rank in Mantra, but cannot rank it up. Instead, each of her basic abilities have 6 ranks.
I originally wanted to blend in a bit more of New Karma's Mantra, but instead I took her old one-point-ult, as I wanted Karma's basic abilities to be consistent enough that she wouldn't need Mantra to make the base effects feel good. I majorly increased the ability's cooldown relative to previous Mantras, though mainly because the emphasis would be on situational charges with heavy downtimes, instead of a steadier trickle. The fundamental model for each Mantra effect is a bit closer to New Karma's still, since it empowers abilities via AoE instead of enabling their duality, but I think that would still be thematically fitting for a leader who inspires her allies as a team, plus Mantra itself would have two charges unlocked by opposite means (i.e. aggressive play versus waiting).
The cooldown I gave Mantra, beyond its recharge time, is there for pretty much the same reason Smite has a small cooldown: I don't think it's particularly interesting to charge two Mantras back-to-back, but the cooldown itself is low enough that Karma could get to use Mantras for different occasions, including pre-fight and post-fight.
What do you think of this kit? As someone who might prefer Old Karma or New Karma, or who's indifferent, do these changes appeal to you? Is there a part of Karma I forgot to include, or should have paid more attention to?