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 big, impactful Mantra, 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.
Innate: When Karma casts a basic ability, she switches stances, alternating between War and Peace.
Each ability in either stance has its own independent cooldown, and Karma enters the game in War stance.
This is meant to be how Karma expresses her duality. Originally, I had baked both effects into each basic ability, but that ended up making them individually a bit too strong, and since they each had an enemy- and ally-oriented effect, they didn't really have many use cases where the abilities would be used to their fullest. Splitting up the effects also means Karma essentially gets to keep her current frequent casting while having abilities on longer cooldowns.
The idea behind alternating forms with each cast is that Karma should put more thought into using each ability, instead of just using whichever one is available. Since each effect is useful only in a very specific situation, "wasting" one just to have access to the other side of her kit would incur serious tradeoffs. It also means Karma, by nature, would need to be both offensive and supportive, and wouldn't be able to just fire away pure damage or hang back and do nothing but throw around utility.
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).
COST: 50 Mana
Active:Karma charges the target conical area, which detonates after 1 second.
War - Soulflare: Enemies hit by the detonation take magic damage.
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.
The net result with this ability is that it should still give Karma some level of area denial, except it would be much closer-ranged, and in exchange she'd get to also provide areas of strength for both herself and her allies. While part of the front line, she could lay the ability's offensive form towards her enemies and its utility form towards her allies, or use both in the same direction when making a push or an escape.
COST: 50 Mana
Active:Karma tethers herself to the target champion or large monster for 2 seconds, which breaks if she and her anchor move too far away from each other.
War - Resolve:Karma deals magic damage to every enemy Spirit Bond hits, capped against non-champions, and to her anchor at the end of the tether's duration, if they are an enemy and it remains unbroken.
「 Magic Damage:10 / 12.5 / 15 / 17.5 / 20% (+ 2% per 100 AP) of target's maximum health 」「 Maximum Non-Champion Damage: 500 / 550 / 600 / 650 / 700 」
Peace - Renewal:Karma gains bonus movement speed while the tether lasts, and grants the same bonus for 2 seconds to every ally Spirit Bond hits, and to her anchor at the end of the tether's duration, if they are an ally and it remains unbroken.
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. Karma's frontliner mage status is also the reason why I added a 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.
COST: 50 Mana
Active:Karma infuses the target champion or large monster with energy for 2 seconds.
War - Defiance: The target detonates at the end of Essence Burst's duration, dealing magic damage to all other nearby enemies. The target detonates early if they die.
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.
COOLDOWN: 100 / 75 / 50
Active:Karma recites her mantra for the next 6 seconds, entering War and Peace stances simultaneously, and causing her basic abilities to have no cost or cooldown.
During Mantra, each unit can only be affected by each ability once, regardless of how often it is cast.
When I did the first iteration of Karma's kit, her duality was built into her basic abilities and Mantra just made them hit a lot more targets. The end result was that her abilities were each massively strong and kinda confused, and Karma essentially had this massive level 1 advantage and nothing much to look forward to thereafter. Generally, the problem with level 1 ultimates is that they force champions to be really early game-focused and not scale well, and the problem with "basic ability plus" ultimates, i.e. ultimates that empower basic abilities, is that they a) tend to make basic abilities feel weaker by comparison, and b) tend to only be used on one "optimal" ability, to the detriment of the other two.
Because of this, I changed Mantra a little more drastically, making it a "true" ultimate that gets unlocked at rank 6. She still gets to affect a lot of targets, but becomes the epicenter of her own power. Since this ability would be most impactful the more targets there would be around Karma, i.e. in teamfights, which would be her primary means of scaling into the late game.
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?