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Karma symbols, from 1 to 10.
Karma is a mechanic and important plot element of Rain World. When the player survives a cycle by hibernating, the player's Karma raises by one point, indicated by the rising wheel in the hibernation screen. The player's Karma also decreases by one point when killed, down to a minimum of level one.

The player's Karma level can be checked by tapping or holding the map button, where it appears as a symbol to the left of the food meter. This can also be seen on the continue screen after hibernating or dying, between the preceding and following symbols.

Karma Gates[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Karma Gate
Karma is primarily needed to pass the gates between regions. Karma symbols can be seen on either side of gates, which open if the player is at or above the required level. Karma gates can have different Karma requirements for each direction, and some Karma gates leading out of difficult regions allow the player to pass through even at minimum Karma.

Karma Flowers[edit | edit source]

Main Article: Karma Flower

Karma Flowers can be found in set locations around the world, and insulate the player's Karma when consumed. The player's next death does not result in any loss of Karma after Flower consumption, signified by a ring around the player's Karma level. This protection does not stack, and eating a second Karma Flower has no effect.

Karma Flowers also spawn at the location of death when playing Monk head.png Monk, at the location of death after eating a Karma Flower for Survivor head.png Survivor, and for both Slugcats in the final death location of a Hunter head.png Hunter run.

Maximum Karma[edit | edit source]

Slugcat no right.pngSPOILER WARNING
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 (character) icon.png Five Pebbles at the top of his Five Pebbles Safari Icon.png compound. In addition to guidance and other benefits, Five Pebbles immediately raises the player's maximum Karma up to 10.

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

Once the player has visited 4 Echoes, their maximum Karma reaches 10, and further Echoes do not raise the maximum Karma. These Echoes 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 has no effect on the player's maximum Karma.

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

Spoilers end here.Slugcat thumbsup left.png

Karma Symbol Meanings (speculative)[edit | edit source]

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 it is unclear if these acts were considered negative or "sinful" acts or were only considered obstacles to breaking the cycle of rebirth. RWPearl.png Pearl dialogue from Looks to the Moon (character) icon.png 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 Safari Icon.png 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. 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. 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 icon.png 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. 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 daggers. 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. 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.