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Why do I lose karma when I take bandit things, like objects found in some Powder Gangers camps?

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up vote 18 down vote accepted

Those items belong to another faction, in this case the powder gangers. This is stealing, as far as the game is concerned and is punished with karma loss. The game does not take into account whether you're allied with a faction or whether they hate you and shoot you on sight, it always is counted as stealing.

Fallout morality is slightly schizophrenic, killing powder gangers is good but stealing from them is bad. You have to accept that as a quirk of the game, there is no way to make sense of that.

But don't worry, karma is not really important (Details in this question) and you earn enough karma anyway if you're playing good.

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Karma matters with your companions: some, like Cass, will stop following you if you are evil. – Wilerson Jan 6 '11 at 20:54
@Wilerson You're of course right, there are some things influenced by karma, I added a link to an appropriate question by me. But I still would argue that karma is mostly irrelevant, and if you're playing good you're earning more than enough karma to offset a little stealing. – Mad Scientist Jan 6 '11 at 21:06
If karma does not affect too much or it can be regained easily I will stole more useful things in the future. Thanks :D – Drake Jan 7 '11 at 0:17
I steal everything everywhere (I wish I had a pack Brahmin with me... or two... or three...), but I do good deeds on quests, so I'm still Mojave Jesus. – DarkStar Jan 11 '11 at 14:13

Because two wrongs don't make a right. Just because you have killed a baddie does not mean you can take their stuff. The stuff could be stolen for instance. You get good karma for killing them as the "world" around you perceived them as a threat.

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This really isn't an accurate explanation of what's going on here. See Fabian's comment for the more correct answer. – Nick Vaccaro Jan 14 '11 at 17:10
Of course it is, all games are modeled to some extent of perceived systems. The karma system in fallout nv makes the most sense out of all karma systems I see. – DeanMc Feb 22 '11 at 15:37
"Two wrongs don't make a right" would more accurately describe the killing of the opposing faction's member in the first place: the wrongs are typically committed by opposing people, not by the same person. – Dave DuPlantis Jun 7 '11 at 17:38

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