Sneak peek: Karma & Traitors update

Hello everyone!

We’re happy to say we’re approaching the first big update for Barotrauma. Due to Gamescom and PAX West coming up, scheduling has been a little tricky, and we can’t promise an exact release date, but here you can read about what to expect. And as always, check our Trello for a summary of what’s to come.

The update will center on griefing moderation tools, and we’re hard at work with easier server hosting, to be added soon as well. We’re hopeful that these put together will significantly improve the multiplayer experience. Details about the new hosting method will follow closer to publishing it; read on here for more about keeping your servers nice and/or interesting.

Griefing moderation

Griefers in Barotrauma

The first thing to note here is that Barotrauma is not planned to have any hard-coded anti-griefing measures – the last thing we want to do is limit the range of possible play styles and experiences. What the update will bring to the game is optional tools for server hosts, and so, rather than anti-griefing, we call it griefing moderation.

Leading up to our Steam release, we already made various changes to make griefing less of a problem than it was in Legacy Barotrauma: the current stock subs are designed to restrict access to destructive items to some degree, there are automated warning systems, and many of the most destructive items have been nerfed. Perhaps most importantly, with Steam it finally became possible to ban players based on their Steam ID, so griefers can’t circumvent IP bans by using a VPN.

However, some messing around is half the fun in Barotrauma, and we are aware that public servers are home to many honest griefers. As such, some additional measures are definitely needed to help players who want to host and play in non-griefing servers, and our answer is two-part: Karma and Traitors.


In developing our karma system, we’ve aimed for a tool that each host can customize for their server, not a one-size-fits-all solution. The rules that govern karma are optional (toggled on and off at will) and all associated parameters are editable by the host in order to create the exact level of moderation they want for their server.

Karma parameters
A few of the customizable karma values in-game

The basic principle is a numeric karma value. It starts at 100 at the beginning of a round and decays gradually towards 50, which is the neutral value. This default decay will be faster if you lose karma points by your own actions, and slower if you gain karma points by being a good crewmate – so in addition to the natural decay, your own actions in the game will cause you to lose or gain karma. Here are some examples of default good and bad behavior:

Fix a hullRun a non submerged reactor too hot
Harm a creatureCause a meltdown
Heal a playerDamage doors
Follow an order from the captainTrigger spam filter
Calm maintained onboard the subCause flooding with a pump
Objective achievedWire grief

The actual values are so fine-grain and dependent on so many factors that it doesn’t make sense to delve into them here too much. Also, as the update is still in the works and being tested, most or all of the values will still be adjusted (and can be adjusted further by the host, as mentioned). We can say with a fair degree of confidence, though, that all rewards and penalties will be halved while wearing a full clown suit!

So, this is the basic karma mechanism; the further below 50 karma you get, the more you will be facing unpleasant consequences. There are three notable effects of low karma:

  1. Europan herpes, a vicious disease with a number of symptoms that grows gradually worse as your karma continues to fall, and possibly
  2. automatic kick/ban if karma falls below a certain threshold 
  3. cannot select certain jobs if karma is below a certain threshold.

Like the autokick and job limitations, Europan herpes is best treated by increasing your karma: all symptoms are removed when karma returns to 50 or greater. In case of having been kicked and banned, you may additionally need to negotiate with the server host.

Consequences of griefing in Barotrauma
Griefing isn’t pretty!


The other half of the upcoming update is traitors. The traitor system is of course nothing new to those who have followed us for a while, nor is it by any means an original Barotrauma concept (SS13 for instance features traitors prominently). Our old traitor system left much to be desired, and we’ve reworked it in many ways for this update.

The traitor mode is, in a way, designed as a creative outlet for the itch to grief. However, it doesn’t simply mean licence to grief, and we feel it can be so much more than that. Over time, we’ve heard many people remark that traitors, done right, could easily become the most engaging game mode, and we hope we’ve achieved some of that now with the added suspense, uncertainty and more sophisticated traitor objectives.

Traitor objective message in Barotrauma
Ever wondered who the traitors serve? Who knows…

In a nutshell, a traitor is chosen at random from a server’s players, and he or she has secret objectives that they receive orders for, without the other players knowing. The objectives are to be completed with stealth and precision, and sinking the sub and exterminating everyone inside, instead of eliminating only the designated target, will not count as a job well done.

We’ve reworked the traitor objectives to consist of multiple steps, both to make them more interesting to the traitors themselves and also to give the rest of the crew a fighting chance of detecting the traitor. Unlike in Legacy, there can no longer be multiple traitors in one crew.

Like the new karma system, traitors are optional, and the server host can choose whether or not a round will include traitors. Traitors can also be set to maybe for some added suspense – that way, you can’t be sure whether someone in your crew has a murderous agenda.

New server icons (WIP)
New server icons (WIP)

As a side note, we’re also adding icons that represent the style and features of a server to make finding suitable servers easier for players. This is not limited to griefing moderation, so server hosts will be able to advertise, for example, a non-VC, karma-enabled, 24/7 server more easily with icons. The icons may or may not make this next update, but they will be added to the game soon.

Thanks for reading, and do let us know what you think. And, if by any chance you’re near PAX or Gamescom, come say hi!


  • August 2, 2019
    Nathan D

    Awesome, can’t wait to see people attract space herpes.

    • August 7, 2019
      Ben Dover

      I really want people to still get space herpes even without karma. Maybe something similar to a Husk could be added?

    • August 8, 2019

      Oh you too ? What a surprise 😉

  • August 3, 2019
    Schlompo Gomblinki

    For the love of God, please add an option to keep the old traitor system. My group and I added some custom rules to it and it works well. This update would mess stuff up. We all love having several traitors.

    • August 5, 2019

      Without going into keeping the old traitor system, the limitation to one traitor per crew is for the time being. We may add multiple traitors again after we’ve proved and polished the reworked mechanics with this simpler setup.

  • August 11, 2019

    Fact: Regalis is an absolute lad for replying to so many community members all the time.

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