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Karma symbols, from 1 to 10.

Karma is an overarching mechanic and important plot element of Rain World. Although the game appears at first to have no incentive against sheer trial-and-error exploration, the karma mechanic is the game's way of encouraging survival and careful play. When the player survives a cycle by hibernating, the player's karma will raise by one point, indicated by the wheel going upwards in the hibernation screen. Inversely, when the player is killed, their karma decreases by one point, down to a minimum of rank 1.

The player's karma level can be checked by tapping or holding the map button, where it will appear as a symbol to the left of their food meter. The player will also be able to see their karma level, as well as the symbols for karma levels above and below theirs, by waiting on the continue screen after hibernating or dying.

Karma Gates[]

Main Article: Karma Gate

The primary purpose of karma is to go through the gates between regions. Above each side of a gate will be the symbol of the requisite karma level. If the player is at or above this level, the gate will open to allow the player to pass through to a new region. Karma gates may have different levels for each direction. A few karma gates out of difficult regions are set at karma level one, and will allow the player to pass through even at minimum karma.

Karma Flowers[]

Yellow flowers can often be found in the place of the player's last death. These flowers, known as karma flowers, offer a sort of safety-net for the player's karma when consumed. If a player consumes a karma flower, their next death will not result in any loss of karma, signified by a ring around the player's karma level. This protection does not stack, and eating a second karma flower will have no effect.

Maximum Karma[]

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This section contains major plot details. If you have not made significant progress in the game, then it is recommended that you read no further!

Initially, the player is only able to go up to karma level 5, but a few beings in the game are able to raise the player's maximum karma. The player is able to reach a karma level of up to 10 through two different methods.

The simplest method of raising the player's maximum karma is by visiting Five Pebbles at the top of his compound. In addition to guidance and other benefits, Five Pebbles will immediately raise the player's maximum karma up to 10.

The player's max karma may also be raised by visiting the Echoes scattered throughout the world. The first Echo will raise the player's maximum karma up to 7, and each additional Echo will raise the maximum by one. When Karma is being raised this way, the symbols for each value from 6 to 9 will appear different depending on the players current maximum karma.

Once the player has visited 4 Echoes, their maximum karma will reach 10, and further echoes will not raise the maximum. These Echoes will also bring you up to your new maximum karma when visited. Since the player cannot go past a maximum karma of 10, visiting these echoes after Five Pebbles will have no effect on the player's maximum karma.

Whenever the player's maximum karma is raised, their current karma will also be raised up to their new maximum.

Karma Symbol Meanings (speculative)[]

While the meaning of each karma symbol has no bearing on the gameplay of Rain World nor the experience of the main slugcat characters, it is implied that each level of karma has a corresponding meaning behind it and was significant to the Ancients of the past.

On the very top of Five Pebbles' superstructure, five tapestries can be seen depicting the Ancients along with the five initial karma symbols. Each tapestry shows the Ancients committing acts similar to that of the three poisons in Buddhism, or the seven deadly sins of Christianity.

However, it is uncertain what each of the five levels of karma mean and whether or not each act is considered negative or positive. Pearl dialogue from Looks to the Moon, such as "[…] how to shed one of the five natural urges which tie a creature to life," from the red pearl found in Farm Arrays, suggest that karma levels are indeed a parallel to the three poisons and/or seven deadly sins. Such a suggestion implies these acts were sought to be avoided and purged by the Ancients in order to detach themselves from the carnal world and prepare themselves to ascend.

The first karma symbol is shown on a tapestry depicting two Ancients; one is stabbing the other in the stomach with a spear-like weapon. Due to the first karma level being displayed amongst this illustration, it is implied that this symbol relates to the concept of wrath, contempt, or the act of violence against another of your kind. This interpretation is also supported by the fact that the first karma symbol can be seen on The Outlaw and The Hunter achievements, both of which require killing other beings. With the assumption that the karma symbol meanings correlate with undesirable traits, it may be assumed that the Ancients believed it was unholy to enact harm upon each other.

The second karma symbol is shown on a tapestry depicting two Ancients engaging in sexual intercourse. The representation of intercourse may indicate that sexual relations on their own interfered with the Ancients' ability to ascend, or it may symbolize the concept of desire for worldly experiences/objects entirely. The Ancient's distaste for intercourse may also come from their desire to increase their chances of ascension and escape the cycle of reincarnation found in Rain World—with less of their species providing offspring, fewer chances to reincarnate may occur.

The third karma symbol is represented on a tapestry that depicts two ancients kneeling before each other, seemingly clasping forearms and exchanging two items. The Ancient on the left holds out what appears to be a lantern, while the Ancient on the right holds out what appears to be a scroll. This image can be interpreted in a number of ways—friendship, trading, sharing, communication, guidance, etc. This karma symbol can also be seen in the symbols for The Chieftain, The Friend and A New Friend achievements; every achievement that involves befriending other beings. However, one central theme persists: an attachment to interpersonal relationships and material objects. This may be a demonstration of how the Ancients encouraged a detachment from one's relations and property in order to be worthy of ascension.

The fourth karma symbol is displayed on a tapestry which depicts an overweight Ancient eating a cooked animal whole, surrounded by vines of blue fruit. This illustration seems to relate directly back to the deadly sin of gluttony, or may symbolize the concept of over-indulgence and personal greed. Additionally, this symbol can also be seen on The Hunter and Stolen Enlightment achievements, and displayed by the yellow overseer when encountering either food or creatures that wish to eat the Slugcat; anything related to consumption. Either way, following the interpretation that the symbols of karma are related to negative acts, it is clear that the Ancients held excessive consumption and self gratification as detriments to their pursuit of ascension.

The fifth karma symbol is shown on a tapestry depicting an Ancient kneeling while holding two shields at their sides, both shields protect the Ancient from three daggers. Additionally, the tapestry depicts a ring of what seems to be people. This same ring is also seen on the second tapestry, and could be interpreted as portraying a (over)population of people. This imagery is the vaguest of all the tapestries, yet central themes seem to be that of self preservation, desire for living, one's own ego, and survival. Furthermore, the achievement depicting the fifth karma symbol is referred to as "The Survivor" achievement. As the Ancients desired to cross themselves out of the cycle of reincarnation, it is clear that an attachment to living would be a deterrent to their pursuit of greater being.

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