you are the hunter! you are on the hunt! rush through the streets of central yharnam in your foreign garb cutting down the twisted, monstrous citizens with wild abandon! carve your way past wooden coffins and ornate caskets-hey, what.
the abandoned carriages were one thing, but the deeper you go into central yharnam, the more bizarre your surroundings become. there’s a horse in an advanced state of decomposition stinking up the street (with like, stinky gas clouds you can see lol) that none of the locals have bothered to clean up. empty wheelchairs and baby carriages are doing some heavy environmental storytelling. coffins and caskets are propped up against confusingly placed gravestones and statues, some of which have been chained shut (to keep opportunistic body snatchers out, or to keep whatever’s in there inside). and in an act of unprecedented catholicism, the townsfolk are uh…they’re uhhh. doing crucifixions.
there are a few houses with red lanterns you can knock on. word about you has spread surprisingly quickly. if you were expecting a bravo for putting your life on the line for a city you don’t even live in, you’d be wrong.
when you open the shortcut from iosefka’s clinic to the center of town, there’s an alcove you can dip into with a heavy hitter: the aggravatingly poorly named “executioner“. you can easily see why people would be inclined to call them executioners based their visual resemblance to the western stock character. but the japanese is more like “dismantling man”1 or, using the parlance of the setting, butchers. they have some visual overlap with other butcher themed enemies who are chopping up bodies for nefarious yharnam purposes. and they share the same pattered hood from the butcher’s set!
before discovering this detail and learning about the loss in translation, these guys seemed truly inexplicable and confusing. the areas they appeared in felt random and they have no identifying markers to indicate which faction they belong to and what their purpose is besides kicking our ass. well, they’re dismantling/butchering people. they even keep some trophies on their belt, if you can get close enough to see.
in a central square, yharnamites sprouting fur and claws shamble toward a scourge beast they’ve nailed to a cross. more than a dozen stand around blankly staring at the beast until a church bell tolls in the distance, then they begin their slow, aimless shuffling back up the road to continue the hunt before the bell’s toll calls them back. they seem barely aware of their surroundings until they see you, which sends them into a frothing rage. they are armed with saws, cleavers, pitchforks, axes, crude wooden shields, torches, and the slowest shotguns ever created in human history. back in the old days you could just sidestep bullets if you were paying attention. oh, and there’s some dogs or whatever. like, real dogs. not people dogs. irish wolfhounds and dobermann were the dogs of choice, apparently.
new time players, you might find yourself stuck and frustrated with this part. the game wants you to realize that in every encounter, you will have two options: kill them all or beat feet.
bloodborne lesson three: if it sucks, hit da bricks!
it’s pretty hard to ignore the fucking tolkien-esque troll pounding on the gate and roaring, but closer inspection will reveal that the huntsman’s minions are just very big regular (?) boys in the process of becoming wolves who just happen to want to hit you with a brick (or an entire statue, in one case). their behavior is simple and childlike, and upon death some will plead for the warmth of a “sister” (from the church, like a nun). there no basis for this belief i have other than choosing to believe it because it’s funny: without the guidance of the huntsmen, the minions continue their masonry work without direction, resulting in the awkward piles of statues and gravestones all over central yharnam. this is why the placement of these elements are so awkward and strange; they’re just kind of on autopilot doing what they always do. i think it can be reasonably assumed that these were once children under the care of the church who flunked out of their orphanage program. or passed it. it’s not clear.
carrion crows are so bloated that they are too heavy to fly, either because they have gorged themselves on raw human corpse meat or the eyes they plucked out for a snack have hardened and turned into pebbles. quite thrilling.
i think everyone notices that the pebbles resemble eyeballs a little too closely to be a coincidence. and given the description of the blood stone shard, found in the bodies of deceased yharnamites, they probably were.
After death, a substance in the blood hardens, and that which does not crystalize is called a blood stone.
blood gems, blood stones, and pebbles all form under the same mysterious circumstances. the blood in yharnam either never coagulates or hardens into solid stone. a funny note about the crows is that they will sometimes, rarely, drop other round objects they’ve eaten such as antidotes and beast blood pellets. lol. stupid ass crows.
clearing out this area will quiet things down enough that you can hear the faint tinkle of a music box coming from a home behind a locked gate. we’ll keep that in mind and head up the stairs to the great bridge, which leads to the cathedral ward so we can ask about paleblood like our pal gilbert told us to.
this proves to be harder than it looks; there’s a pair of scourge beasts walking back and forth aimlessly just to be in your way. you COULD try to take them on now…or you could cross the road and check out the rickety scaffolding that someone has been building that leads into the…sewer? its gotta be a sewer, right? astoundingly, there’s coffins down here too…and a different type of huntsman. the large huntsman is the tipping point between man and beast…but not quite fully there; the large huntsman will NOT take bonus damage from serrated weapons, a feature unique to enemies classified as “beasts”. however, he WILL take damage from beasthunter blood gems. he is also developing an uncanny resemblance to the ailing loran cleric.
this area is also home to the first appearance of a fromsoft enemy staple: giant rats. fromsoft thinks that rats and dogs move like knight chess pieces and will attack you by changing direction mid-air somehow. these rats are called “labyrinth rats” in the art book, which is probably why they look so fucked up. they too have been snacking on the magic blood that turns you into a monster. the rats on the surface have either just started their transformation or have been above ground long enough that they no longer inflict rapid poison like the rats in the chalice dungeons with the larger boils.
i didn’t bring you down here to get the shit kicked out of you and eaten by rats. at the very end of the route is a sheer cliff and a large huntsman waiting to surprise you and push you off of it. kick his ass and take a look at what he was fiddling with: a hunter’s corpse. well, sucks to suck, bitch! let’s make like new vegas and steal this shithead’s clothes.
what a handsome boy we are now.
the quintessential hunter set was based off the fashion sensibilities of the legendary old hunter djura2 and the need for speed emphasized by the hunters of the old workshop, like maria and gehrman. your foreign set had terrible stats (except for a good resistance against slow poison (ashen blood). the stats of the set have the light implication that you, as an outsider, have an immunity or resistance to ashen blood. hence why the plague metaphor exploded into flames in your really nice dream you had. but the hunter set, with its capes and full body cover and thick leathers, protects you from all means of physical damage and beast inflicted damages. uhh. most beast inflicted damages. i mean THIS guy is fucking dead after all.
many of the conventions established by the old hunters still appear in the outfit beyond the hat; the gloves and boots are fortified with the anti microbial metals and now straps run up and down both legs, rather than just a single strap on the right.
lookin’ good! you should now look like the guy on the box. you won the game, congratulations.
armor is weird in bloodborne because it actually matters, unlike other fromsoft games where it seems to exist exclusively so we can play dress up with our little jerky man. with the hunter set, you now have a fighting chance against those scourge beasts. now you simply go into a stranger’s house so you can kill everyone inside unprompted. on the first floor, all the way in the back, is an intriguing lantern light and an item.
haha just kidding idiot. its an old man in a wheelchair who is about to or likely already has shot you directly in the face with the first handgun invented to kill elephants. slap him so you can read the lore note.
When the hunt began, the Healing Church left us,
blocking the great bridge to Cathedral Ward, as
Old Yharnam burned to the ground that moonlit night
incomprehensible if this is your first play-through. and a little confusing if you are keeping up. the re-translation is clearer:
(On the) night of the beast hunt, the Great Bridge to the Cathedral Ward was blocked off.
The Healing Church intends to abandon us.
Just like the night of that moon, when *Old Yharnam was abandoned in flames.
oh wait. shit. that’s the bridge we need to be on. what do they mean blocked. oh fuck!! they’re gonna old yharnam us!!!
head back to the great bridge and go take a look at this bridge situation for yourself. but then…you hear a deafening, but familiar, inhuman screech! it’s the sound of whatever howled at you earlier!
AND THEN A GUY JUMPS OUT AND GETS YA!!!
OOGA BOOGA BOOGA!!
i’m putting this in an author’s note because its not like. lore related. but they have footage documenting how this song was recorded. every song was performed by a live (?!) 65 piece orchestra and a 32 member choir in the lyndhurst road congregational church (a converted music studio). it took 6 composers two years to compose and they are absolutely not fucking around when it comes to their purpose in the game development cycle. when i post the soundtracks, i really do suggest you listen to them as you read along. they’re good. and you get to imagine all of them being sung by the most normal looking people in the whole world. someone’s grampy was belting out the most evil sounding latin on weekdays.
oh, and keep this in mind: boss tracks will have a distinct change midway through the track. in the game, this is usually triggered by a boss entering a second phase.
as a result of working through the timeline in chronological order, we’ve already seen cleric beasts by way of laurence. so, this is just laurence without fire. or laurence is a cleric beast on fire. whatever. he was a cleric and now he’s a beast. simple as. now that we can see him properly, we can make out some distinct characteristics. and i’m going to suggest something ~thematic~.
the cleric beast has no eyes, only sockets where they used to be. most of the enemies we run into have milky, blind eyes (including the dogs and crows) or have covered their eyes using a mask or bandages. people have often wondered why the covered eyes is a thing and how they chase you so good if their eyes are covered, and i think i have a pretty good answer: remember the beast/cosmos dichotomy? if the result of allying yourself to the cosmos is that you obtain many eyes, and given all the pebbles just…lying around all over the place…could it be that they’re just…falling out (one such case being the eye of a blood drunk hunter)? and as for how they see you, well…remember the fully blind (and probably dead) bloodletting beast WITH the head? puppeted by an enormous maggot? they don’t need eyes to get you.
the cleric beast looks like he’s been through the wringer. he’s missing huge patches of hair, he’s got nails sticking out of his legs, and frankly it looks like his head has been charbroiled. his face looks freaky and unrecognizable because it’s scar tissue and exposed skull. whoever this was likely just escaped from his own burning crucifixion. lmfao hey i just noticed he has the item he drops at the end of this fight, the sword hunter badge, around his neck.
and yeah okay he has a huge vagina cavern in his chest with a clit and everything and a huge arm that makes it look like he beats off a lot. okay. are you happy.
i’m not going to ruminate over the yonic and phallic imagery, but it is there. i can’t just not comment on it. you will see this style of chest deformation in repeatedly in those transforming into beasts and with the beasts come blood, the moon, and open wounds. the phallic cosmos (lmfao i know how i sound) is associated with infestation, the alien, and the space (literally) surrounding the moon. look there’s a c- english paper in here somewhere that dives into how both of these extremes revolve around attempting to explore the unique horror of pregnancy and birth but i’m not going to subject that to anyone. see, now you’re sorry you asked about the vagina cavern.
i will share my bloodborne wisdom with you for fights. just seeing the cleric beast will net you your first two points of insight, so if you die, you will be able to level up. since he is a beast he takes damage from fire and serrated weapons. if you are really, really struggling you can summon an ally by the name of old hunter father gascoigne3 near the fountain. i refuse to believe that you struggle so much that you have to wait a full moon cycle until you can summon old hunter alfred. i didn’t even know you could summon alfred for this fight. you cannot be that bad. it is not possible. and if all else fails, go left.
bloodborne lesson four: go left.
the cleric beast, hysterically, explodes into a rain of blood and leaves you with two more points of insight and the sword hunter badge.
use the lamp that appears to warp back to the hunter’s dream for a quick rest.
1. this is using the name for them in the art book. bloodborne-wiki has a different name for them (literally just “executioner”, which would fuck up my RANT) but it came from datamined files. so i am unsure if they are mistaken or if the datamined name is different.
2. hunter’s cap description: “Recognizable by its withered feathers, this cap is fashioned after one of the old hunters.”
3. gascoigne at one point was supposed to be a friendly NPC you meet on the great bridge to explicitly help you with the cleric beast. he has cut voice lines and a working AI and everything. i have no idea why they cut this, except maybe it made everything too easy. its too bad, it really adds a lot of sauce to gascoigne’s short arc in the game.