In Dishonored, your Chaos score effects several things in the game. High chaos not only changes the ending you will receive at the end, but it will also make your gameplay a little tougher since it adds more rat swarms and Weepers.
Getting a low chaos score essentially means knocking people out instead of killing them, or avoiding them entirely.. or a little bit of both.
Each mission has non-lethal options for taking out key targets as well. Some of these options aren’t given to you directly, you may have to look for them through sidequests and such, but they’re there. These apparently
Unless you’re trying to get the Clean Hands achievement / trophy however, you can afford to kill a few people, you just don’t want to make a big practice of it.
Basically, you want to stay below a 20% kill ratio of characters in a mission.
One thing you need to pay attention to as well is what counts as a kill.
Obviously, killing any human counts as a kill, including weepers (those sick, puking people you find in the streets). Rats, Hagfish, River Krust, and Wolfhounds don’t count as kills however, so slaughter them to your own delight.
Rewired traps also count as kills, so Arc Pylons, Watchtowers, Walls of Light, etc.
You also need to take care of the people you knock out as well. For example, let’s say you knocked out a guard and left him lying in the street. Later on after you left, a roaming pack of rats came by and finished him off. That counts as a kill, since you were technically responsible for him being unconscious. This also applies to dropping unconscious people off of high ledges, or into rivers, so do yourself a favor and use those handy trash bins scattered around the map.
Keep in mind that if you get a really high chaos level in one mission, it may take a few missions after that to even it out, so don’t be alarmed if your next mission still shows high chaos even if you didn’t kill anyone.