Karma is a way of measuring the worthiness of one's soul. It is used to recognize the idea of "what goes around, comes around," in the sense that good and evil deeds are rewarded in kind sometime in the future.|
Why bother with gaining karma? It is required for several quests, including the star, moon, and sun armor quests. Also, if you are a member of a player run subpath, to become a guide or add members you must have karma. If you choose to never join a player-run subpath and so agree to receive the specialized skills that the npc "dogs" will teach, the higher spells also require karma. Karma may be used in the future for other, more mundane interactions. If you commit crimes, your karma will suffer, and when it gets too low NPC's will no longer talk to you, and you will have to either gain karma or get a pardon.
Karma can be gained in several ways, more of which are in development. You can complete certain quests, hold positions of honor where your altruistic works are rewarded with karma, or help new players adjust to the game. The most popular form of this is by helping new players and getting rewarded for it using the mentor spell, which can be learned from your guildmaster.
Once you have the spell, you must be careful to use it correctly, or your karma will not be credited for teaching the new player. When the player you are mentoring is between the 3rd and 8th levels, you must cast "Mentor" on them. You do this by facing them, casting the spell, walking one step back and forward, and then answering the questions posed in the pop-up box.
New Player, N Mentor, M
------- NM ------- (facing each other)
1. Mentor casts karma, and walks one step back.
2. Mentor walks forward to face new player again.
3. Mentor and new player answer the questions in the pop-up box.
That's not it, however. To receive karma, the mentor must cast the spell again after the new player reaches level 15. This is required so that the new player can have a voice in saying if the mentor really helped him, or was just being greedy for karma. Also, the new player must not have mentored anyone before mentor is cast upon him again. The mentor and he must now go through the above ritual again, using the procedure outlined above. One popular way to know when the new player reaches the 15th level is to use the "gratuity letter" as a signal flag, as it is sent from the guildmaster at that time to the person the new player named as their helper when they chose their path.