despite my best efforts trying to keep this analysis of bloodborne limited to the contents of the game and its development, fromsoft incorporates a great deal of japanese folklore, superstition, mythology, and common knowledge that flies right over my, and evidently most people’s, heads. after the shetani’s lair video series about sekiro wrapped up, i realized i didn’t know shit about anything. there was absolutely no way that i wasn’t missing enormous chunks of cultural context. the game might take place in pseudo-victorian england, but it would be literally insane to suggest that the devs solely took inspiration from western culture.

armed with the benefit of hindsight and sekiro, a game which was much more explicit about its real world influences, we are able to better identify ideas that were toyed with in bloodborne that came to full fruition in later games. however, research into literally any of this was a task easier said than done. it turns out there’s not a lot of english language research about japanese shamanism and esoteric buddhist practices. and also i can’t read japanese. the best i can offer you is what little research i have available that i can confirm with my own two eyes. there is a lot of misinformation.

this is the purpose of these annoying author’s notes. i’m going to assume you have approximately the same amount of knowledge that i do during these explanations and not bother to translate words excessively.

anyway: shinshi are animals who act as divine messengers for the kami and are revered as such at shrines. relevant to bloodborne and this upcoming chapter: insects and invertebrates can be shinshi; one of the seven lucky gods, bishamonten, is served by centipedes1. the godly great ones of bloodborne are more like kami than the old testament god; they prefer to use terrestrial beings to communicate their will. but what does it mean to be a divine attendant…a celestial emissary…a messenger? and why would someone want to become one? who benefits the most in a relationship between a god and those that care for them?

how does it differ from parasitism?


1. an incredible resource about mukade symbolism in war. i would also like to say: i have not found anything in english that identifies centipedes as symbols of “impurity” or kegare. this appears to be bad fan lore. like, they are gross and no one really likes them, but they have qualities that lead people to associate them with a “lucky god”.

goodbye, tutorial level. now the REAL bloodborne begins. gehrman gives you what is considered a “big hint” in fromsoft games:

“The moon is close. It will be a long hunt tonight. If the beasts loom large, and threaten to crush your spirits, seek the Holy Chalice. As every hunter before you has. A Holy Chalice will reveal the tomb of the gods, …where hunters partake in communion.”

he says “the moon is close” so casually that you might think it’s some kind of local figure of speech. but no, he’s being literal; the moon is uncomfortably close. what he’s saying is that if you’re getting your ass kicked, then go find a chalice to open a chalice dungeon. sure. but…where?

“Most of the Holy Chalices lie deep within the tomb of the gods. And the few that found their way to the surface… Were lost again in the hands of men. But if the old hunter tales remain true… …one of the Holy Chalices is worshiped in the valley hamlet. Yet the town is in disarray… It was burned and abandoned, for fear of the scourge, home now only to beasts. The perfect place for a hunter, wouldn’t you say?”

oh ok that helped. not. bitch. the doll doesn’t have much to say either:

“Over time, countless hunters have visited this dream. The graves here stand in their memory. It all seems so long ago now…”

yeesh. fine. we will just be on our way then.

here’s the progression of recent events: after using a key that opens the gate in “the (underground jpn) tomb of oedon” where no tomb can be seen, you are now being sent on a quest to retrieve a chalice that will open a “tomb of the gods” underground. is it not reasonable then, to assume, that the entirety of pthumeru is the tomb of formless oedon?


on our short trek from the tomb of oedon to his chapel, we pass through a weird…sewer…drainage room thing with a ladder leading to a modest library. a note on the table reads:

“The Byrgenwerth spider hides all manner of rituals, and keeps our lost master from us. A terrible shame. It makes my head shudder uncontrollably.”

this note is REALLY weird. even cross-checking the re-translation guide doesn’t do much but reinforce the literal meaning of the note: there’s a spider at byrgenwerth (another rom, we don’t know this yet) hiding rituals, even the ritual involving the lost (or, in a better translation, unseeable/invisible) lord. bummer. ahhhh my head is rattling. but…who wrote this? about who? and why?

“ok”

 

it’s time to be a Fromsoft Lore guy in the worst way: we’re going to dissect this note down to its atomic structure in order to wring any and all possible meaning from it in a futile attempt to try to come up with a tortured explanation for nonsense. skip all this italicized text to return to planet earth.

who wrote this note? if we knew that, a lot of things would be cleared up. the potential suspect list comprised of known individuals who have passed through that area recently is pretty tiny. can’t be fauxsefka, because she doesn’t use this route to reach the clinic. alfred doesn’t seem to have much interest in the church, knows little about byrgenwerth, and seems unaware of most things in general. an unnamed and unknown NPC of no consequence? well, maybe. probably, even.

but what about gascoigne? you find this note immediately after defeating him by using a key he drops. it clear he did not progress past the library, as the incense would have driven him off (and the chapel dweller’s reaction suggests you are the first hunter they’ve seen/sniffed). there’s a possible clue left in the library that points to a hunter having passed through recently: the blood gem workshop tool. its one of three “misplaced” workshop tools found in the waking world. a hunter took this with them when they left the dream and left it in a chest in oedon chapel. that narrows down the pool of candidates quite a bit. gascoigne obviously knows what blood gems are, he gifted one to his wife. and this is before we’ve even discussed gascoigne’s connections to a “lost master”.

who is this note about?  the words used for titles in the english translation are all over the place and “master” could mean anything from “school principal” to “great ones”. this has made trying to pin the subject of this note down near impossible. the japanese is more specific: “lords” in this note is translated as “主” and is almost never in the script otherwise. the only relevant usage even remotely close is it’s use is in a different note later as a flowery way to refer to whoever has assumed the role of vicar of the healing church (essentially: “lord of blood ministration”). it is also used for micolash (“lord of the nightmare”), the japanese name of the bloodletting beast (“lord of the beast blood”), and for master willem of byrgenwerth ONLY in the graveguard set item description1. in the case of micolash and the bloodletting beast, “lord” can be read as “host” as well. but NOT like a parasite host!!! specifically like, a household host. “host of the beast blood” is intended to be literal.

now time to play “guess who?”: willem could be described as “lost” metaphorically, but he’s also like, right there. out in the open. he’s considerably less lost than our other two options, micolash or laurence/host of the beast blood. willem doesn’t use the 主 kanji usually; he’s “headmaster” willem or some other title that makes it clear he’s from a school. forget willem. it’s not him.

i’m pretty sure japanese players were supposed to intuit a connection between the “lord of the beast blood” and the “lord of blood ministration” and this nuance was lost in translation. and while there is a vacuous spider in lower pthumeru blocking access to a secret 4th labyrinth layer where a hunter can find a lost lord of the beast blood, it’s clearly not in byrgenwerth. it’s not the big doggie.

micolash, head of the rogue school of mensis, is literally lost in the nightmare acting as it’s host/lord. access to the corpse of micolash is blocked until rom, the byrgenwerth spider, is defeated. so. having eliminated any alternatives, the note is almost certainly about micolash. but. why? who in oedon chapel gives a shit about micolash?

there are a truly confusing number of connections between gascoigne and the school of mensis (and thus, micolash). the most specific and startling connection is that the music box that gascoigne has a good/bad (?) reaction to plays “mergo’s lullaby”. this exact song plays during a fight with the wet nurse of oedon’s presumed (but like, come on. it is) child, the titular mergo. if gascoigne’s daughter is sent to iosekfa’s clinic, you will obtain the level 1 formless oedon rune from her body which, as we discussed in the last part, depicts the blood moon descending during a (mensis) ritual; levels 3 and 4 of the rune are found in oedon chapel itself.

gascoigne’s garb reads:

The dingy scarf is a Holy Shawl and symbol of the Healing
Church, from which Gascoigne would eventually part ways.

“Father” is a title used for clerics in a foreign land, and there is no such rank in the Healing Church.

reads a bit differently now…perhaps father gascoigne did not bring a foreign form of worship to yharnam. gascoigne left the healing church in order to start his own, based on the foreign practices of pthumeru.

only today the church is abandoned, and some say that the residents of oedon have all gone mad.


well, whatever. let’s forget about going straight out of oedon chapel for right now (dude, trust me) and head left. there’s some new enemies here, the church servants* and church giants. datamined names reveal that the giants are references to frankenstein; giant, lumbering, undead monstrosities whose flesh is rotting off the bone. the servants, however, have an interesting translation quirk: they are called “messengers of the church” (使者) using the same kanji as the messengers of the dream…or emissaries! 使者 in bloodborne are literally the middlemen who facilitate communication. the messengers of the dream help us talk to other hunters, the church servants have a more blunt message to deliver to the citizens of yharnam (“stay out of the way”, expressed by getting your shit kicked in), and the celestial emissaries were created as means to communicate with great ones. the church servants are the worst at their comms job, since they can only point, growl, and scowl at you2 if you cross their line of sight. you get what you pay for, i guess.

quick lore recap: the giants and servants are chalice dungeon pthumerians that have been made docile by use of blue elixir, which they both have a rare chance to drop (the giants were apparently once chained up and still carry the shackles on their ankles). the blue elixir appears to have had an impact on the appearance of the church servants as, unlike their chalice dungeon counterparts, their mouths are closed. this substance appears to be sourced from celestial emissaries (the only other enemy that drops the item) and used exclusively by the choir, as it is purchasable after the acquisition of the cosmic eye watcher badge. it would have first been discovered within the celestial emissaries of isz gravestone, which was made accessible by the discovery of the great isz chalice. the healing church and the choir began to experiment with making their own emissaries in the research hall. there’s tons of blue elixir lying around the research hall but ONLY the disembodied living head enemies drop the elixir. but the drop rates are teeny-tiny…therefore, they had to run a LOT of experiments before they successfully (?) began to manufacture it in the orphanage. stay tuned.

heading up the stairs on the right splits into two dead ends. to the right is an incense laden staircase3 leading upward that terminates at a closed gate that will only open if you purchase the hunter chief emblem. again, don’t do this. instead, head left. now you’re just above the great bridge where you fought the cleric beast. don’t fall down, you’re not going to land safely. you can pick up the monocular here and have your first encounter with the crystal lizard4 analogue for this game, the wandering nightmare. if you miss him and he poofs away to the nightmare, don’t fret, he’ll be back next time you reload the area. there’s some other beasties here to deal with: crows, hunter’s minions and another church giant with a unique ball and chain weapon with a healing church shawl design engraved on it. a funny note about the monocular is that the location and corpse you pick it off of suggests that its previous owner was using it to peek at the moon. before, you know, something got him. god it’s bright. is it supposed to do that.

there’s one spot in this general area hidden behind some gravestones that’s a bit strange. there’s a corpse with another hunter’s set with a slight variation on the classic look that adds a stupid looking top hat. but linger too long at your own peril! or you’ll find yourself being dragged into the air by an unseen force before being crushed and then your head exploding from frenzy damage. if you move out of the way in time, all you’ll be able to perceive is an eerie, noisy cosmic void bearing down on where you once stood.


alright, before we move on, there’s an elephant in the room to address. if you have absolutely no or limited experience with bloodborne, then you don’t know about the cathedral ward door. you see, past the church giant with the ball and chain is a small stairway leading down to a dead-end alcove. within this little space are a plethora of incense pots and a chest with a (terrible) blood gem in it5. there is also a usable door that says nothing but “closed” when used.

but the thing is: this door will never open. there is no way to open this door, ever. other doors that you cannot open do not do this and the unspoken game-play law is that if you can interact with a door, you can open it later. multiple patches have come and gone and not a single one has removed the prompt from this door. and the purpose of the door turned out to be completely mundane: it’s simply an unused shortcut that was removed because it was too demanding on map load times. the shortcut was removed. but it’s ghost whispers “closed” to any hunters who approach.

i can only presume that the devs kept this unopenable door “closed” because…they think it’s funny. well, they’re right. it is funny to yank our chain lol. you rascals! well, we deserve a little ribbing now and then to keep us humble.


just ignore the giant fucking cathedral in the middle of town for now entirely. you heard the old man: get thee ass to old yharnam. we’re going down some stairs to another strange little chapel where a handful of yharnamites are on patrol with their rabid dogs. there’s no incense here warding these huntsmen off, so they’re free to roam as they please, building small bonfires and shooting at anyone who approaches the upper levels of the chapel. that’s probably because there’s a switch in the middle of the top floor that will reveal a secret passage under a conspicuous sarcophagus. a corpse hanging on a ledge overlooking this secret passage holds a madman’s knowledge. what lies ahead of us? were these huntsmen keeping us from getting in…or keeping something from getting out…? both?

put that aside for a second and exit the chapel through the closed door. it dead-ends here, but there’s someone to meet. alfred, hunter of vilebloods!

he’s quite pleased to see you. fromsoft does something quite devious here in his introduction:

“You’re a beast hunter aren’t you? I knew it, that’s precisely how I started out… Oh, beg pardon. You may call me, Alfred. Protege of Master Logarius – Hunter of Vilebloods! So, what say you? Our prey might differ, but we are hunters, the both of us. Why not co-operate, and discuss the things we’ve learned?”

none of that means anything to a new player, but any dark souls fan likely jumped at the chance to “co-operate” with someone with an uncharacteristically sunny disposition. the similarities to solaire are certainly intentional, as they share the same voice actor. although, if the purpose was to trick the player into inherently trusting him by invoking solaire’s charm, then his plotline winds up falling flat. i think he’s the unfortunate result of the plot-chop.

well, there’s really no reason not to trust him. he really is a polite boy, all things considered. he’s much more informative than the rest of the riff-raff, but he’s also long-winded. which means some i’m also about to be long-winded. he gifts you some fire paper and teaches you how to pray (a gesture). the “papers” in bloodborne are sandpapers scraped on the blades to apply an effect. i have an interesting theory about fire paper: its fixed locations in the game are in old yharnam and the pthumerian labyrinths. the only enemies that drop it are chalice dungeon pthumerians wielding flaming weapons (implying they were using the paper themselves). i think the fire paper was a pthumerian invention relating to their own fire-based abilities, and it’s use on the surface came about as a result of ludwig’s tomb prospecting parties. after obtaining the radiant sword hunter badge (soon), which is described as a symbol of those who are “the heirs to the will of Ludwig“, the hunter will have access to the tools of a tomb prospector, fire paper included.

asking about the healing church reveals that hunters are kept out of the loop on how blood ministration works and the current situation as we know it is that the church is in control of the blood. the translation lost a little clarity here that the re-translation clears up: when he says “the holy medium of blood healing is venerated in the main cathedral” what he MEANS is “the literal body the blood came from is worshiped in the big cathedral”. the leaders of the church can be found in the upper strata of the church. good to know. that’s a good long term goal if we want to ask about “paleblood”.

you can also ask about byrgenwerth, now that you read that note on the table about their spider problem. byrgenwerth is a university and, as a hunter, you should be familiar with the “tomb of the gods” underneath yharnam (we aren’t, we’re getting the chalice to do that right now). the students of byrgenwerth once returned from the tombs with “a holy medium” (the word used in japanese is the one used for the catholic rite of the eucharist) and the rest is history. except now byrgenwerth is abandoned and forbidden ground by the healing church; the only way to open the date is by knowing the password.

he does drop one strange statement about byrgenwerth: he isn’t sure how many of the old students are left alive. one might think he means “currently at byrgenwerth”, but that wouldn’t make much sense if the college is abandoned. what he means is: it’s unknown how many scholars are out there in yharnam at all, who they were, and where they went. but one thing is for sure: only they would know the password that opens the gate that allows passage to the decrepit grounds.

alfred wears the executioner set, sans the gold ardeo (for now). currently he wields two tools of the church, the kirkhammer and ludwig’s rifle. curiously, he carries a vial of lead elixir. when you meet him, he is praying in front of a statue he believes to depict the martyr of the healing church, logarius. his statue is enshrined in this small, abandoned chapel where the healing church hides another secret.

 


1. to a less relevant extent, it’s used to describe the “lords” being kept and watched by the keeper and watchdog of the old lords, two chalice dungeon exclusive bosses.

2. a reference to the 1978 “invasion of the body snatchers”. no real meaning, it’s just a scary thing for something to do to you lol.

3. there are no beasts in this area of the cathedral ward. not yet anyway.

4. in the “souls” half of the “soulsborne” games, crystal lizards are unique enemies who run away from you and disappear if not killed quickly. they drop highly valuable weapon upgrade materials. bloodborne is no different, except the cute lizards are now grotesque abominations of god and man.

5. im not thinking too hard about “why is there a blood gem in a chest in a weird open space and not just on a corpse” because i assume the chest was added to try to discourage players from getting too interested in “closed”. it’s blocking the door conspicuously.

6. alfred is not blood-drunk. this is another gamer lie. alfred uses the same set of eyes the players do.

* the image of the watchman with a lantern, cane and a bell clad in a broad-brimmed hat and overcoat is taken straight from the georgian era of london’s history.

using the key dropped by gascoigne and activating the cutscene into the next area triggers the progression of time. it’s very subtle, but the sky drops into a deep orange twilight. the time zone page on bloodborne-wiki demonstrates it perfectly.

lore-wise this means nothing. game play-wise, it means a bunch of flags were just flicked on and it’s time to do some side quests. some of this stuff will have you going “well, how was i supposed to know that??!” and, well. you aren’t. if the game wants you to replay it over and over again as part of the intended game play experience (and it does. completing the chalice dungeons takes at LEAST a few runs in order to gain the materials and levels required; it took me 4), then they have to keep this shit at least a little fresh the first few times you play. you get rewarded/punished in different ways for backtracking, talking to people multiple times, how you help people and some items can only be obtained on repeat runs. what i’m saying is, don’t worry about it. play the game once without a guide so you can get really confused and pissed off about what you just did. THEN you can play with a guide, and subsequently realize you missed 45% of the game’s content entirely.

the cutscene that activates the change is unremarkable, and exists to hide the map loading lol

you probably noticed the guy oozing around on the right. oedon chapel serves as your waking world safe-room and this fellow is your gracious host. you are very unlikely to know this at first and will be alarmed at his off-putting appearance. but the oedon chapel dweller is a good fellow. just look at that smile!

the chapel dweller is a blind pthumerian, as we can see from the black nails, gaping mouth, and ridiculous proportions. this is never explicitly stated, so it’s in italics but…look at ‘im. like other pthumerians we will meet from the chalice dungeons, he is draped in red and wears an incense pot around his neck. he has some of the same fashion sensibilities as the labyrinth ritekeepers, including the short stature as a consequence of having non-functioning legs. he has them. they’re just non-operational. same with his eyes. if you’re a huge fucking JERK, you can hit him once and he will “give” you a pebble (you knocked his eye out lol). but don’t hit the poor lad. he’s just trying to do his job. or something. i don’t really know what he’s doing here. people just assumed he lived here. he could just be taking shelter here as well. because its really weird for a pthumerian to be just hanging around in yharnam right? i’ll spoil this for you now: you will not meet another truly friendly, true pthumerian. there are other (unfriendly) pthumerians emerging from the chalice dungeons later tonight (spoilers!!!) also draped in red. did he come with them? who knows. we know from his comically sad dialog1 that no one prior to us liked him or believed in him, including his mother.

at one point in development, the chapel dweller would have turned on you during the blood moon and would start trying to kill all the npcs you gathered at the chapel lol. a enemy mob version of him called “demon’s fanatic” would have appeared in the pthumeru chalice dungeons alongside what is now known as the “hunting dog” (“beast of fanatic” in the file names). the spikes in the dogs make more sense aesthetically after finding out they were supposed to be paired with a guy with an equally spiky staff.

sorry for the blender UI. and the marilyn monroe pose.

this enemy version could do pthumerian fire magic and his spiked bat has spikes not unlike the spikes of the transformed bloodletter.

spikes are a very unusual feature in bloodborne weapons, even enemy weapons2. the bloodletter “is the only effective means of expelling gained blood” so let’s assume that the evil twin of the chapel dweller’s spikes serve the same purpose: bloodletting. the version that would have turned on you would have a direct interest in blood, as both he and the good twin will drop your first caryll rune of the game if you choose to brutally and heartlessly kill them: formless oedon. you should not do this, as he’s a fine chap who has done NOTHING to harm you…and you can always wait until right before you finish the game to dice him like an onion.

it’s easy to forget about oedon, of the chapel you’re currently occupying, because he literally only appears in two item descriptions and the name of two locations. and yet…if you look carefully or are completely insane…you might notice his presence seeping in where you least expect it.

let’s start with the stupid key that got you into this place, your first exposure to oedon’s name. the location where you fight gascoigne is the “tomb of oedon” and no, i don’t know why the fuck he has this key. like, literally i couldn’t even begin to guess. it’s not even the most confusing oedon and gascoigne connection in the game, somehow. the key says that the residents have all “gone mad” which seems narratively interesting until you read the translation, which is closer to “are unscrupulous”. it’s just another way to try to steer you away from trusting the chapel dweller. a n00b trap.

it’s made explicitly clear in translations that the tomb belongs to oedon and is NOT the tomb belonging to oedon chapel. however, clever players will notice a glaring problem with this tomb: there’s no tomb. a tomb is an enclosure for a corpse; it needs four walls and a roof. unless…there is no corpse to cover.

formless oedon:

A secret symbol left by Caryll, runesmith of Byrgenwerth.

The Great One Oedon, lacking form, exists only in voice,
and is symbolised by this rune. Those who memorize it enjoy
a larger supply of Quicksilver Bullets.

Human or no, the oozing blood is a medium of the highest
grade, and the essence of the formless Great One, Oedon.
Both Oedon, and his inadvertent worshippers, surreptitiously
seek the precious blood.

huh. what. that’s so much shit that doesn’t mean anything to us. functionally, it draws quicksilver from your blood to create extra bullets, but what about the rest of it?

some absolute genius figured out the visual inspiration for the rune and thank god! because otherwise it just looks pennywise. it’s the blood moon as it descends above yahar’gul! we won’t see this until later, but we know it happened at least once in the past.

oedon has a strong association with the blood moon, so much so that this moment became tied into what little physical presence he has. this is probably the closest thing to a visual representation we have of the otherwise formless oedon. somehow the “formless” part trips people up. he is metaphorically formless in the same way that the incoagulable blood has no form and literally formless in that he has no body. he literally exists only in voice. keep this knowledge in your back pocket.

now, WE know who caryll is, even if a new player doesn’t. it’s strange that formless oedon is a “secret symbol”3 when there’s a chapel dedicated to oedon like. right here. out in the open. there are 5 versions of this rune (each one offers different bonuses. for example, formless oedon 1 gives you +1 quicksilver bullet, and so on) that increase in visual clarity with each level, and the runes associated with oedon are going to be uncommonly bloody in appearance. i’ll spoil two of these rune’s locations because we are not going to organically encounter them without online play: level 2 and 5 are in the lowest levels of the pthumeru chalice dungeons4 within special treasure areas where you plunder fancy coffins containing a mummified pthumerian corpse.

wait, where was i. oh yeah, chapel dweller.

“…Hmm? Oh… you must be… a hunter. Very sorry, the incense must’ve masked your scent.”

you’re stinky, but that’s good for the blind chapel dweller who can smell you coming and going. he has a simple request for you: if you find any sane people left in yharnam, tell them there’s shelter from the beasts at oedon chapel. sure thing, boss. let’s turn around and head back to central yharnam first to weigh our options. if you head back to doctor iosekfa from the very start of the game, she has an interesting proposal:

…Oh, well, hello…
Splendid. Let me ask you a small kindness.
You’re soon off to hunt, I presume?
Then, if you find any survivors…
Tell them to seek Iosefka’s Clinic.
Upon my Hippocratic oath, if they are yet human, I will look after them, perhaps even cure them.
This sickness, these beasts, they are not to be feared.
This time the night is long. I may be trapped here, but I should do something to help.
I’ll even offer a reward for your cooperation. Tempted?
Well, off you go, then.

i was debating to myself when to reveal this, but it seems like it was pretty obvious to everyone except me: the woman you’re talking to now is not the same woman as before; its a completely different voice. this character does not have a canon name, so we will refer to her as “fauxsefka”5 to differentiate her from the original. she’s exceedingly devious in this opening monologue, yet she never lies to you at any point. in fact, maybe she’s being a little too honest in hindsight. regardless, this fake iosefka doesn’t give out blood vials anymore. instead, when you send someone to her clinic, she will give you a little insight and some items.

now you can choose to send survivors to either oedon chapel or iosefka’s clinic. there are two characters you can attempt to direct to safety at this point, the old woman from earlier who bitched us out and gascoigne’s daughter. sending the old woman to oedon chapel nets you this charming thank you:

Do you think I owe you something? Well, that’s a fine lark. I’d say. This whole mess that Yharnam’s in, it’s all your fault, you fidgety outsiders! Our blood’s ruined, tainted by your ilk! Don’t you come near me! I know your type!

you’re WELCOME, you old bag. if you send her to fauxsefka, you’ll net a point of insight, some numbing mist6 and an assurance that the patient is doing quite well. good luck fixing your crooked-ass face, bitch!

if you return to the little girl in the window, you can and should lie to her about knowing what happened to her mother. otherwise, you lose the brooch this play-through AND her quest ends here; the game will look at you incredulously with its hands up like “you really told a little girl her mom was eaten by her dad?!” and frankly, its got a point. what’s wrong with you. instead, keep the brooch and tell her about oedon chapel. next time you reload the area and kill the pig in the sewer, it will drop a new item: the red messenger ribbon, a hat for your little friends.

Red ribbon that messengers are oddly fond of.

The thick, pungent red was drawn from the organs of some unfortunate victim.

A strange choice indeed, but perhaps for the messengers wearing this accessory constitutes a form of mourning.

swag. in retrospect, it was kind of unrealistic to expect a six year old to navigate the streets of yharnam on her own while its crawling with bloodthirsty universal horror monsters, but your hunter doesn’t seem too bothered by this outcome. git gud, kid.

OR you can send her to iosefka’s clinic to get some insight and lead elixirs7. but no swag. choose wisely…!

oh! and gilbert! sweet gilbert. he’s still hacking away in his little house. he gives you a flamethrower, which really would have come in handy during the previous two boss fights, but you can’t yell at him because he’s dying. you can’t tell him about shelters, because he doesn’t have the strength to leave his home.

“What inflicted me was incurable, but this town gave me hope…

Their strange blood bought me time.
I was most fortunate. Unharmed by the plague of beasts, I can even die human. *coughing*”

that’s the spirit. while we’re gallivanting around and headed back to oedon chapel, let’s take a moment to appreciate the statues of central yharnam and what they can teach us about yharnam culture. some of the statues in bloodborne are clearly plot and lore related; others are literally just replicas from various places in france. the yharnam ones are easy to find because they look demented instead of stately and royal8.

you know, when i graduated with an art degree i knew i wasn’t going to be using it to do anything of value but this is worse than i ever could have imagined.

anyway, the statues that appear to be original feature common themes: bandages, covered eyes, lamentations toward the sky, and bizarre proportions. gotta be honest, the artist carving this rock to look like fabric bunching up might be some kind of actual prodigy. that shit’s hard.

lol at that spout placement. note the messengers at the figure’s feet. throughout central yharnam, sculptures of messengers are used to hang lamps; evidently they are a common and familiar part of yharnam life. though the figure’s face is veiled (another recurring feature), their gaping mouth reveals that they are a pthumerian. take a closer look at their hands; at first glance it may appear that they are leaning on the lamp post, but a closer look reveals that the pthumerian IS the lamp post. it’s using both hands to support the iron fixture and the messengers are desperately propping them up.

pthumerians appear quite often in sculptures. these wailing pthumerian woman turn up frequently. a weird note on this sculpture: in this depiction, they still have hair.

as for the remaining statues in this area, i don’t have any brilliant insight as of yet. i still need more time to untangle what’s appropriated from real life and what’s wholly original.

good hunters…did you REALLY look at the sky? the directions gilbert gives you and careful observation will reveal that the brilliantly bright orb in the sky right now is not the sun setting, but the moon rising. however, that’s not the surprising thing. have you noticed how the moon lays…in front of the clouds?

 

1. dialogue after the death of all npcs: “I only wanted to help… Just once in my life… They told me it would never work… My mum always told me, everybody kept telling me… I should’ve know, I shoul’ve… Gods, please, I’m sorry, so sorry…”

2. the closest i could find was the pthumerian elder’s burning mace thing, which is similar to the bloodletter in that it’s a ball of spikes on a stick. but not really.

3. some of the UK translations differ from the US in notable ways, but one is that the US may have erroneously marked some caryll runes as secret when they should not be. this is not one of those runes.

4. the root chalices, anyway

5. both characters use the same character model. iosefka/fauxsefka is always actually behind the door when she’s talking to you.

6. unsure why this is the resulting gift she gives you for nearly every character. but i presume its unused anesthetic from whatever she did to them. or just shit that was lying around. there is a more supernatural connection between iosefka’s clinic and cainhurst beyond just the appearance of numbing mist but we’ll cover that when we return to the clinic from a different entrance.

7. i don’t know what to make of this! lead elixirs are already a very enigmatic and rare item. true to its item description, it “materializes only within the most desperate nightmares” such as the nightmare frontier, the nightmare of mensis, and the hunter’s nightmare. its only appearance in the waking world is in the immediate vicinity of a portal to the nightmare frontier. this kid…does? have a connection to the nightmare? dont worry about it for now.

8. i’m like 99% sure that the gryphons and spouts in central yharnam are gargoyles from notre dame. 

ahh here we are back in the hunter’s dream with at least one insight, home sweet home. things are a little different now. the doll is now animated and speaks to you in the soft voice from the opening cutscene:

Hello, good hunter. I am a doll, here in this dream to look after you. Honorable hunter, pursue the echoes of blood, and I will channel them into your strength. You will hunt beasts… and I will be here for you, to embolden your sickly spirit.

spill blood, collect blood echoes, bring them to you to make me stronger. sure. thanks toots. if your insight drops back down to zero, the doll will return to her inanimate form (but you can still level up). if you’re an animal, you can kill her; you can still level up using her body and the next time you visit the hunter’s dream, she’ll be revived and repeat her opening dialog like its the first time you’ve met. obviously, there are gameplay reasons for you to be able to level up even if you “kill” her…is what i would say if fromsoft was a normal company!!! but there’s a huge chunk of dark souls where some jackass kills the firekeeper at your “safe” zone and it puts the fucking fire out until you finish an optional side quest. fromsoft didn’t have to be nice, so i do not know if its significant that the doll can be “used” even when killed, nor what the mechanisms of the blood echo process are. or if it even matters. you know how it is with bloodborne!

things are worth exploring here now, so let’s get into the nitty gritty. let’s stick with doll facts. most pressing, the doll bleeds what can really only be called “pale blood”. it’s a shade entirely unique to her. it is NOT cum. its NOT.

the doll has a number of randomized behaviors. she can be caught sleeping (?!), praying at plot important graves within the dream, and, before it was cut in the day one patch, would hum a russian lullaby about a wolf getting you.

if you talk to her a few more times, she has some more information for new hunters:

Did you speak with Gehrman? He was a hunter long, long ago, but now serves only to advise them. He is obscure, unseen in the dreaming world. Still, he stays here, in this dream… …such is his purpose.

we haven’t talked to gehrman yet, so guess we’ll do that. funnily enough, it IS possible to run into gehrman before this point. the first time you visit the dream, there’s a decent chance that the old man will spawn behind the workshop where you can walk up on him having a little snooze. WAKE UP BITCH!!!!!

what she means by “obscure, unseen” is that gehrman seems to be literally flickering in and out of the dream. he leaves you a note on the floor later because he’s just AWOL. when you go talk to him inside the chapel-turned-workshop, he’s dressed like a cartoon hobo and his brain is turning into mush.

Ah-hah, you must be the new hunter, eh? Welcome to the Hunter’s Dream. This will be your home, for now. I am [extremely long ass pause as he tries to remember his own name] Gehrman, friend to you hunters. You’re sure to be in a fine haze about now, but don’t think too hard about all of this. Just go out and kill a few beasts, it’s for your own good. You know, It’s just what hunters do. You’ll get used to it.

wow great advice gehrman thanks. “try killing things”. he should recruit for the u.s. army.

talk to his stupid ass again:

This was once a safe heaven for hunters. A workshop where hunters used blood to enhance their weapons and flesh. We don’t have as many tools as we once did, but… You’re welcome to use whatever you find. …Even the doll, should it please you…

alright, shut up creep! eat lead!

 

ooergh

if you simply can’t resist the temptation and hit him with your weapon, he just poofs into white sparkles (and not black nightmare clouds, curiously. other characters either leave corpses or turn into nightmare clouds). fuck this guy. what else we got in here. there’s a workshop bench to do weapon upgrades and maintenance. there’s a weird candlelit altar we can’t use yet. there’s a big huge steamer trunk for storage. there’s a weird statue with sutures on her forehead left over from an alpha build probably. and there’s a note passed to you in secret by some messengers when you approach the back corner of the room:

To escape this dreadful Hunter’s Dream, halt the source
of the spreading scourge of beasts, lest the night carry on forever

not helpful, thanks.

now, hunter: did you know you are SMELLY??? more than one character will express surprise at your smell, noting it as familiar, strange, pleasant, and “moonlit”1. in fact, your smelly smell gives your presence away in at least one failed attempt to be sneaky later. i imagine that if yharnamites are losing their eyes and turning into dogs, their sense of smell is getting a boost, right? that’s how it works in fiction? it’s a singular scent associated with hunters that’s not “blood or beasts”that seems to be a rare smell to…sniff…? in modern yharnam. that smell is probably the unique flora of the hunter’s dream!

https://www.bloodborne-wiki.com/2017/09/flowers-in-hunters-dream.html

flora vs fauna is, legitimately, one of the dichotomies set up by bloodborne as becoming unnaturally intertwined, in conflict, and corrupted. the flowers in game are supposed to be lightly analogous to real life flowers but retain unique characteristics that make them impossible to pin to just one plant. these specific flowers look like most star flowers. this is not the only time the plant being referenced has some kind of space theming, so i think it’s a reasonable guess. there’s a field we can’t access yet full of what looks like funeral lilies[link] which are also a very catholic flower for a very catholic game. these flowers do not appear in the waking world. and they do something weird and subtle later, so stay tuned.

there are two stores here in for the form of baptism fonts staffed by babies. the font that uses insight as currency isn’t selling anything cool yet. the blood echo store has expanded its inventory as a result of obtaining the sword hunter badge, now you can buy the kirkhammer3 and the hunter chief emblem. the emblem is a depiction of the act of communion. we’ll find more proof of this later.

A cloth emblem that belonged to the captain of the Church
hunters long ago. Opens the main gate that leads to the
round plaza of the Great Cathedral.

The main gate is shut tight on nights of the hunt, and could
only be opened from the other side with this emblem. In
other words, the captain’s return, and this
emblem, determined the end of the hunt.

so until ludwig returned and gave the all-clear, the hunt was considered officially “on” and the church gates closed. that’s bad news for us, because we need to get in there. for a new player, the emblem is pricey at 10k echoes. and frankly, what do you get by skipping part of the game on your first run? nothing. save the emblem for NG+.

you can also pick up the yharnam hunter set, but the lore doesn’t tell us anything WE don’t already know. it’s new info for a new player, but WE know all about ludwig and his crew and the tragedy and so on.

the doll has one last thing to say before we head off:

Ahh, the little ones, inhabitants of the dream… They find hunters like yourself, worship, and serve them. Speak words, they do not, but still, aren’t they sweet?

i guess so. the messengers are kind of ugly-cute in their own way. they’re certainly helpful little fellas. we learn from various stupid items that they enjoy playing dress up the way that children do, prefer the dark, and, though we won’t find this out until much later, they can be found in secret areas of the chalice dungeons.

alright, let’s get back to it. adios, good hunter. try not to fall in.

well, the bridge was a bust. the only person willing to help us is gilbert, so let’s go back and ask for advice.

Yes, I see… But the great bridge is the only way to the Cathedral Ward. And during the hunt, the bridge is closed… Hmm… You could try the aqueduct? There’s a rather, how shall I put it, colorful area south of the great bridge. From there, an aqueduct leads to the Cathedral Ward.
Not a place you’d normally want to visit, but… I don’t imagine you have much of a choice. Do you?

this english translation fucking sucks. for one thing, no normal person would describe where we’re going as an “aqueduct”, unless gilbert is actively trolling us. it’s a sewer. its not “colorful”, a word you would use to describe a rowdy neighborhood. its POOP. but, he has a point. we can probably infiltrate the cathedral ward from below if the route above is no good.

if you drop off the side of the great bridge, you can reach an area full of caged puppies that immediately break out of said cages and try to kill you (this happens to the hunter so often that he should probably get insured against it). one especially stubborn mutt barks directly at a house with a red lamp, where you can engage in conversation with an old woman about safe places. kinda awkward because you’re new here and you don’t reall-

Yeah, I should’ve known. Ya good-for-nothing…
No respect for the elderly is what that is! Yeah, fat lot of good you outsiders do.
Go on, admit it, you think we’re all mad, don’t ya?
Well, go and stuff it! I know all yer tricks!

wtf

the building in front of you is one of the few buildings in this game that’s completely inexplicable to me. the art book calls it the “dry dock” but that’s insane. part of the area they would have to fill up would be the open sewer in the center of town. how can these people fucking stand there and blame US for spreading the plague when there’s a major waterway filled with THEIR shit and THEIR dead bodies. fucking whatever dudes!

you can reach this area earlier by rolling through some crap near the red lantern’d house full of people who laugh at you. once you figure out that rolling into things can reveal secret locations, you can use this knowledge to break shit in the dry dock to access the rafters. you can carefully walk on these in order to cut down the strung up corpses of some unlucky bastards. it’s a good day for you, however, because one of these fellows is holding the SAW SPEAR!!!!! this thing is like the saw cleaver but better. i will never forget how it saved me in the chalice dungeons. if you know, you know.

more rolling reveals a balcony where an imposing silhouette is taking a break after a fight. her name is eileen the crow.

eileen is a hunter of hunters, a respected position given to someone “from a foreign land”(in this case, northern england, yharnamites are so xenophobic, they’re afraid of people who live 3 hours away) who is tasked with putting the hunters who have gone mad from the hunt out of their misery and severing their connection to the dream. it would be a big problem if blood drunk hunters just kept respawning in the hunter’s dream over and over again. so, eileen uses “one of the oldest weapons in the workshop”, the blade of mercy,  to “end their contract”, so to speak.

we can intuit some interesting things from the blade of mercy’s description and its relationship to the only other siderite forged weapon in the game, the burial blade, (used by gehrman to sever hunter contracts once they are “fulfilled”). both item descriptions mention that siderite “fell from the heavens”, likely in the form of a meteor based on real world siderite discoveries. both blades deal arcane damage, hinting at their cosmic origin. it all comes down to this: aliens did it.

eileen is a good natured woman who is old enough to have hung out with some of the more obscure old hunters. her iconic outfit is, of course, based on the plague doctor uniforms from the 16th century bubonic plague and late 2000s halloween parties. her mask contains “incense to mask scents of blood and beastwhich is an alarming statement, if incense is a burning corpse5. i hope what she has in there are like, ashes. and not little chunks of people.

i have some eileen speculation i’d like to review with you: eileen’s title was granted to her from her predecessor, who in turn so on and so forth. in the past, we know of a foreigner who “killed a compatriot“. if brador was the first hunter of hunters (ostensibly), then the caryll rune for the hunter of hunters depicting a bloodletting6 makes more sense.

the tradition of bloodletting hasn’t let up. eileen’s gear mentions this interesting tidbit:

Hunters of Hunters dress as crows to suggest sky burial.
[the hunter of hunters] gave the dead a virtuous native funeral ritual, rather than impose a blasphemous Yharnam burial service upon them, with the hope that former compatriots might be returned to the skies, and find rest in a hunter’s dream.

yharnamites are evidently seen as freaks for burying and burning their dead. and also probably for slicing them to fucking pieces. on the other hand, the “sky burial” is not like the somber and reserved real world practice you might be thinking of. remember the two guys hanging from the ceiling in the other room? and one of them had a trick weapon? that guy was probably a hunter, right.

eileen is pleasantly surprised to see you and gives you a warm outsider to outsider greeting. with a warning that tonight is an especially bad night to have arrived, grandma eileen gives us some great items (bold hunter marks), teaches us a fortnite dance7, and sends us on our way.

she’s got a point. we’re a hunter, and a hunter must hunt. and all toasters toast toast.

alright, now we can just fly past most of this. kill the dudes or whatever. don’t forget to pick up the madman’s knowledge some rats are chewing on. once you get into the poop water, there’s some rotted corpses sploshing around being ominously animated long after they should have died. they’re just yharnamite hunters who didn’t make it, we can tell by the bold hunters marks they rarely drop.

you also run into another common fromsoft enemy from the animal kingdom: a huge pig called the “maneater boar“. it’s been chowing down on the bottomless poop and huntsman soup down here in the sewers; now it’s huge and hepped up on blood and they will burp nasty slow poison on you. enjoy the horrible spectacle of doing a visceral attack on it from behind and pick up the saw hunter badge held by a dead hunter in the pig’s lair. this badge is unremarkable and just gives you access to the entirety of the beginner’s arsenal. the workshop that once produced it is “gone” but the bath messengers will recognize it and “entrust you” with new items to purchase. this is the purpose of collecting these badges; to expand the store. different factions have access to different items. some of these revelations are interesting…!

one of two paths down here will inevitably lead you to the origin of the off-tune ~spoooooky~ music box, a chained up house with bars on the window. knock knock. anyone home? why yes, it’s a tiny child all by herself.

Who… are you?

I don’t know your voice, but I know that smell… Are you a hunter?

Then please, will you look for my mum? Daddy never came back from the hunt and she went to find him, but now she’s gone too I’m afraid. I’m all alone, and scared.

see, you stink. sure kid, no problem.

Really? Oh, thank you!

My m-mum wears a red jeweled brooch. It’s so big and.. and beautiful. You won’t miss it.

Oh, I mustn’t forget… If you find my mum, give her this music box. It plays one of daddy’s favorite songs. And when daddy forgets us, we play it for him so he remembers. Mum’s so silly, running off without it!

sounds foreboding and ominous. thanks for the music box.

A small music box received from a young Yharnam girl. Plays a song shared by her mother and father.

Inside the lid is a small scrap of paper, perhaps an old message. Two names can be made out, however faintly.

Viola and Gascoigne.

you will not believe the fucking rumors and lies made up about this stupid item. it does have SOME mysterious qualities to it, but they will not become relevant until the very, very final portion of the game. as far as i can tell, the only intended game mechanic purpose of the tiny music box is as an assist to new players who might be struggling with the next boss. if you summon gascoigne as a co-operator, he will chuckle if you play it for him. everything else is entirely incidental as a result of the music box having an AOE effect that will accidentally jostle things around it.

the sewer leads you to the other side of the great bridge, but requires you to take a back route through what looks like a graveyard. to set the scene: you stumble into a sacred place for respecting the dead covered head to toe in pig entrails and literal, actual shit and are reasonably assaulted on sight for your behaviors and appearance. there’s a tall man8 here; maybe you recognize him, if you summoned him for the cleric beast. otherwise, you can intuit from his dress, his weapons, and his actions that he is a fellow hunter who is about to tip into full on hunt induced madness. and if all that isn’t bad enough, he’s irish.

this is father gascoigne, an old hunter once aligned with the healing church (evidently in a “honorary clergy member” sort of way9).

gameplay-wise, gascoigne is intended to be the first REAL bottleneck of the game. the cleric beast tests whether or not you can even play a soulsbourne game, but gascoigne will force you to learn how to play the game by its own standards. the parry/stagger/visceral skill is essential to playing the game and refusing to adapt to the fighting style of bloodborne will result in frustration caused entirely by YOU!!!!! stop jumping AWAY and dodge TOWARD the boss, coward! don’t stop to heal!! use the rally mechanic!! NEVER BACK DOWN!!!!

bloodborne lesson five: DON’T BACK DOON, DOOBLE DOON

ok now i can post the music:

a banger track. when it transitions to the second phase track during the fight, it matches your BPM skyrocketing as you realize whats happening. even listening to it now i get goosebumps remembering the feeling of being the hunter and suddenly having the familiar dynamic completely flipped. you are about to become the hunted.

gascoigne is a mirror match on steroids; he has a hunter’s axe and a blunderbuss he can wield one-handed due to being fucking huge. hunters who are able to connect dots will discover that playing the music box will cause gascoigne to stagger in dad-themed anguish, giving them an opportunity to move in for some hits. when gascoigne kills you (he will), he gives you this little bit of exit dialogue revealing that he’s under the impression YOU’RE the beast:

Too proud to show your true face, eh… But a sporting hunt it was.

after losing 30% of his health, he’ll transform his axe and say this:

…What’s that smell? The sweet blood, oh, it sings to me. It’s enough to make a man sick…[the laugh of a man having a wonderful time]

after losing 70% of his health, or hearing the music box three times, gascoigne will clutch his head and transform into a fearsome beast. you can use the music box ONE last time post-transformation before it no longer works. DO NOT USE THE MUSIC BOX THREE TIMES BEFORE HE TRANSFORMS!!!!! you want to put off beasthood as long as you possibly can, because that’s when shit will hit the fan. gascoigne part two has the all the hallmarks of an abhorrent beast in the making right down to having the biggest hit boxes of all time.

do what you have to do to survive, but now is a good time to just unleash molotovs like your life depends on it (it does). put the poor bastard out of his misery. once you’re able to calm down and breathe again, you’ll be sure to notice the difficult to miss corpse that’s been knocked through a wrought iron fence and onto a roof10.

she’s holding something:

A woman’s bright-red brooch, engraved with the name Viola.

Perhaps the jewel is a gift from a hunter.

ahh, poor miss viola…that’s gonna ruin christmas. according to the bloodborne-wiki’s datamining adventures, the red jeweled brooch icon is stored with the cainhurst icons, meaning it’s likely the same type of gem found in the cainhurst knight garb. 

heartbreaking, isn’t it? a family torn asunder by what is, essentially, a terminal illness caused by forces and powers far beyond what any of them could ever even begin to comprehend. this family was made to suffer for the sins of others and remained largely ignorant to the supernatural machinations that lead to their horrific demise. the hunt’s victims are not limited to the beasts. everyone suffers when someone pursues their self interests.

alright! now let’s crack this motherfucker like a walnut!

Created from a bright-red brooch, this blood gem strengthens the effect of rallying. A quintessential hunter skill, rallying symbolizes the battle-worn hunter who is often the only thing standing after a bloodbath.

look, if you give this to the kid, it’s just going to piss her off and make her cry and get all sad and shit. we don’t have time for this. i’m sure we’ll think of some sort of excuse about where mom went by the time we see that kid again.

the implicit cultural ramifications of this information are that this rare blood gem was not considered a horrific and morbid gift, but rather a prized possession meaningful enough to a woman to be on her person when she met her untimely death. there’s no proof that gascoigne was the one who actually killed her, though the narrative provided by the little girl strongly implies that this is the case. there genuinely is an equal chance it could have been the huntsmen gascoigne is carving up in his opening cut scene and we’re walking in on the final moments of his revenge. in a world (and series of game releases) that is largely sexless and in which relationships are few and far in between, the tiny slivers of romance in the actions of an unarmed woman facing the dangers of the hunt in search of her monstrous husband, in the melody of lullaby shared by two lovers, in the form of a jewel fashioned into an enviable and recognizable brooch…why not let us be happy…and revel as babes…? why not let us at least imagine that viola’s death was not so entirely horrible that it had to be at the hands of her beloved husband?

the lamp that appears after the fight and the key dropped by gascoigne will reveal that this location is the “tomb of oedon”. oedon chapel awaits us just through the gates.

 —

1. fauxsefka dialog: “Ah, moonlit scents…”

2.  arianna dialog: “Oh, my, what a queer scent… But I’d take it over the stench of blood and beasts any day. “

3. don’t overthink the use of nordic runes on the kirkhammer, fromsoft has been using runes as shorthand for magic since dark souls.

4. crowfeather garb description, presumably because of the immunity outsiders arguably present

5. and it is. when you break the incense pots in the world, human remains pour out.

6. the un-transformed bloodletter also resembles the shape of the rune. source: your eyeballs

7. teaches you a gesture. these are used to communicate with players for online play but the doll will sometimes clap, bow, or tilt her head in confusion if you do some gestures at her.

8. i dont think gascoigne’s height is a result of any external influence. he’s like a foot and a half taller than us. i think he’s just a lanky fucker. he should have been balling. also, you know, gameplay reasons.

9. gascoigne’s garb description: “The dingy scarf is a Holy Shawl and symbol of the Healing Church, from which Gascoigne would eventually part ways. ‘Father’ is a title used for clerics in a foreign land, and there is no such rank in the Healing Church.”

10. HER BODY DOES NOT DISAPPEAR AT ANY POINT DURING THE GAME. IT IS A GAMER LIE. A GAMER TRICK.

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.

 

bloodborne begins just shortly after your hunter-to-be asks an unknown question regarding a mysterious “paleblood“. in the opening cut-scene, a rare moment where the player occupies the POV of the hunter themselves, a man wearing the most evil top hat humanly possible dressed like a scarecrow that just got mugged of his eyeballs (the “blood minister”) rolls toward you in his Evil Horror Wheelchair™️ and starts saying a bunch of shit that makes no sense to you or anyone, for that matter.

“Oh, yes…Paleblood…”

this lying ass bitch has no idea what “paleblood” is. i guess there’s no proof he’s actually bullshitting us, but why would he know what it is. he says it in the same cadence as someone trying to soothe a startled horse and not like he has any definitive understanding of the actual question being asked. i think this guy is just making a hard sell like a car dealer. he is truly a character of no importance in any version or build of the game. i think its funniest if he’s just some asshole who makes a commission per hunter he gets to sign up and is like “oh for sure, dude. whatever. sign here.”

the hunter agrees to “sign a contract” (create a character) which is a relatively unexciting process save for a few notes:

  • the “noble scion” origin (a set of pre-made character builds to start with) has the descriptor, “scion to a respectable line with faith in your pedigree” and specializes in bloodtinge.
  • the “military veteran” origin is the only mentions of a war that occurred recently enough for you to have partaken in it. just a little (truly) useless flavor.
  • everyone’s favorite is the low stat challenge origin “waste of skin”: “You are nothing. Talentless. You shouldn’t have been born.” y-you too.

for this playthrough, our hunter is going to be a man named hunter, in honor of all the 6-11 year old boys who get yelled at in targets across america. we too are going to get yelled at by a bunch of strangers for getting into things we are not supposed to. however, the hunter has no canon gender, age, or appearance. the only information set in stone about the hunter is that they are just some schlub from out of town who remembers very little about their life before showing up in yharnam. that, and they do not have the common sense to refuse a blood and/or unknown substance transfusion from the world’s sickliest senior citizen who looks like he hasn’t washed his hands ever in his life. the hunter is a fucking idiot lol. what a dumb ass. like, after he figures out what he’s been roped into why doesn’t he just go home and take a nap. is he stupid?? let’s kill him

“Whatever happens…You may think it all a bad dream…”

this is the only appearance of the blood minister in the entire game. he is an inconsequential character, but a bizarre one. i seriously don’t think he’s particularly important to the plot and world of bloodborne; i don’t think he’s the missing lore link who will tie all this shit together once and for all. but there are points of his monologue that come off as quite strange when you think about it too much: what the hell does he mean by “you need only unravel its mystery” when it comes to yharnam. what the fuck does he mean by that. in the japanese translation he seems to be a little more direct in his sales pitch: yharnam blood will lead you to paleblood. but he won’t talk to outsiders until they “sign a contract” and get a yharnam infusion. still weird. why would he know how to get paleblood???  well, at least we get SOME information out of him. maybe?

the minister once had a larger role in the game but, in my opinion his excision from the plot was a creative one in the game’s favor. he appeared briefly as an NPC you can speak to after you wake up from your blood transfusion. he would assign you a backstory that ehhhh, you know. it overreaches a little too much in comparison to what a completely blank slate offers us. the minister’s exposition dump fucking sucks1:

“Welcome, weary traveler. To the great city of Yharnam. The troubles you must have seen. Your homeland, plagued by a sickness that spares few. You suffer. Your loved ones suffer. It’s like a curse. But there is hope for you yet. The blood used in ministration, the trade of Yharnam, is a special thing indeed…The only thing that can cure your sickness…”

the result is a bit too on the nose and raises the same questions: why does this asshole know this? maybe we look like we come from a certain place; everyone DOES instantly recognize us as a yharnam outsider, after all. i dunno. it answers some questions but raises more that are confusing and not worth investigating (what is the disease? where did the curse come from? are we visibly sick? how so? etc). i like it better when the hunter is just some dipshit who asked a question that got him roped into an eternal shift as a dog catcher for the city as cosmic punishment for his curiosity.

the hunter does in fact have a bad dream with some heavy-handed imagery: a scourge beast2 made out of blood emerges from a puddle of, take a guess- blood before reaching its claws toward you with slow and palpable dread. on the first viewing, you may think that the beast is creeping forward to attack you while you’re helplessly strapped to a gurney, but on “new game plus” (NG+) knowing what you know about the scourge, it will realize that the beast is extending its hand toward you in invitation. then it erupts into flames for no apparent reason and dies. consider this both a metaphor for your good wholesome blood fighting off the beast scourge in the transfusion and a tutorial: dogs hate fire. the hunter reacts like “huh, well that was weird. well, back to transfusin’.” absolutely no sells this. what a pro.

suddenly, you are swarmed by what appears to be an alarming number of ghostly white, deformed, infant critter things. they slowly, almost gently, crawl all over you doing god knows what until the hunter decides he’s had enough of this shit and blacks out (as you are about to wake from this dream). as your consciousness fades away, a soft, russian-accented voice addresses these little freaks with solemn admiration:

“Ahh, you’ve found yourself a hunter…”

you wake up on the gurney alone in a strange medical ward. there is nothing to interact with or signs or any other life in this transfusion room. except a note in your own handwriting3:

“Seek Paleblood to transcend the hunt.”

now, this is very important: step one of bloodborne is to die. after leaving the transfusion room, the player will almost immediately be accosted by a scourge beast with half a health bar4, suggesting that the man he’s gobbling down put up a decent fight before he became dinner. don’t be afraid.

the first lesson of bloodborne: it’s okay to die.  

after you get your shit rocked, you will regain consciousness in a strange place. the amount of brain damage we must have from passing out so much must be incalculable.

 

before you is a garden of white cosmos (the flower, not outer space. but, get it. lol) with a cobblestone path leading to a dwelling of some kind. perhaps a chapel, judging from the empty baptismal fonts stationed near it. its doors, and the wrought iron doors opening up into a field of lilies, are locked tight. to the left, there is an item you can examine.

further up the stairs, the little baby dudes are back, weeping loudly and weirdly. they have some gifts for you: a trick weapon of your choice and a gun* to pair it with. the weapons, an axe, a saw, and a cane, are modified day to day tools or equipment and are well worn from age and use. a first time player would be wise to pick up the saw cleaver and the pistol. the threaded cane is a trick to make you hate playing video games and i don’t know who the blunderbuss is even for. having a spread shot will not be to your advantage with how we will be using it.

you can wander around a bit more, but there’s not much else here. gravestones litter the tiny landscape, but you cannot “use” most of them yet. there is one you can use right now to teleport from this location to back to yharnam by means of the strange blue-purple lanterns you will now find along your journey. these will act as checkpoints, respawn points, and your means to return to this hub world.

beyond the fence that lines the perimeter of the small, floating rock the garden sits on, there is nothing but a sea of clouds pierced with strange, wooden beams that continue up into infinity and down into whatever lies below. the pale moon hangs high overhead.

this is the hunter’s dream.

note: music does not typically appear in the overworld in fromsoft games. this allows you to listen in on enemies trying to sneak up on you or get spooked by the sound of footsteps. special exception are typically carved out for the “safe” hub areas like the firelink shrine of dark souls or uh, the other firelink shrine from dark souls 3. the hunter’s dream is no different. please enjoy the linked music, especially when we get to the boss battle bangers.

now get the fuck out of there and go kill that dog!!!!

the bottom red line blocking a doorway is the one we’ve just come through at the start; it’s now locked and can no longer be accessed for now. after respawning at the lamp, our hunter is free to fearlessly cut down the scourge beast and make their way outside. it’s twilight in central yharnam. the sun is setting.

BUT: if you return to the locked door, you’ll find that you can chat to an NPC behind it. the woman introduces herself as iosefka, who is a doctor (presumably). she informs you that you can’t be let back in without risking further spread of infection. as thanks for your service, however, she offers you a single use item you can come back and stock up on one at a time: iosefka’s blood vial. it’s uh, weird.

The product of a slow and careful refinement process,
this rare blood vial appears to be a clinic original.

girl what the fuck. what does that mean. it restores more hp than a regular blood vial but that’s not really going to help you in this game. i think this is generally accepted to be serum, which is similar to plasma except the blood is allowed to clot before it’s put in a centrifuge. the result is a thin yellow liquid with no white or red blood cells. i think the “slow and careful refinement process” is supposed to be a little tongue in cheek means of differentiating this spooky not-blood from the spooky-not blood of real life; the centrifugal process is anything but slow and careful.

after chopping the dog into mincemeat, you will gain your first blood echoes. you will carry this “collective will” from the blood until you can use it to level up (after we explore most of the first section, the challenge of this first bit is to learn to hang onto your blood echoes). blood echoes function like souls in the souls games with one exception: enemies can pick up your dropped blood echoes (!) necessitating you to defeat them to gain them back. this will also be your first experience with the rally mechanic; in order to encourage and facilitate lightning fast, high risk/high reward game play, you can recover a large percentage of lost hp by consecutive retaliating attacks within a short time limit. each hit recovers more of the lost hp. the in-universe explanation for this is that the blood from your enemies invigorates you. makes sense. just like real life.

exiting iosefka’s clinic, there’s a sight you don’t want to see near a hospital: a graveyard. it’s fenced off for now so the only way is forward into central yharnam, which is in absolute disarray. strewn about are suitcases and clothing with no owners, there are carriages that have been abandoned and the horses nowhere to be seen, and the locals are total dicks. the huntsmen roaming the streets during this twilight of the hunt keep yelling terrible things at you that hurt your feelings like “YOU ARE NOT WANTED HERE!” and “YOU PLAGUE-RIDDEN RAT!” and it’s all very unkind. also they’re hitting you with axes and shooting you in the face and such. luckily, they’re also pretty lethargic, so you can get the jump on most of these guys just by running up on them from behind. the problem is the sheer NUMBER of huntsmen stumbling around tonight. everybody is out and about.

there’s only three huntsmen in the way here and two of them are taking a little nap on the floor; this is the games way of introducing you to the different “states” enemies can be in: patrolling, alert but static, and “asleep”. after dispatching of these fellows, pull the lever on the right to drop an iron ladder down to where you can reach it.

as you climb the ladder, an absolutely HIDEOUS, but distinctly inhuman screech will echo out. don’t worry about it. keep climbing. at the top is your next checkpoint blue lantern and a very curious red lantern, hanging outside of a window covered in padlocks and chains.

the image above is a little inaccurate, the gate to the left should not be open yet. right now, there’s nowhere to go but right. but first. let’s go up to the window and have a little chat with the occupant. red lanterns indicate the presence of an NPC inside of a building you can speak to. this scottish fellow is gilbert.

bloodborne lesson 2: make friends!

he’s so sick he can’t even stand, so he’ll have to speak to you through the window. he, like you, is an outsider5 and and came to yharnam looking for a cure but got the same welcome from the locals. he warns you that the town is cursed and to get out once you get whatever you came here for. but he’s up to chat and answer some questions:

“Paleblood, you say? Hmm… Never heard of it. But if it’s blood you’re interested in, you should try the Healing Church.”

yeah, that sounds like an organization with good intentions. let’s try it. gilbert advises you to cross the valley via the huge bridge you can see from where you’re standing if you turn around. from there, we’ll progress to the cathedral ward where the grand cathedral is located. normally, gilbert says, yharnamites do not share their secrets with outsiders. but if you take advantage of the chaos of the hunt…well, we might have a chance.

tally-ho!

1. here is a lance mcdonald video about this cut content. all of this shit is from a very old build where the “ebrietas” he mentions in his cut content was the name of the moon presence. its very far removed from the end product.

2. all of the fromsoft cut-scenes are rendered in engine, but i don’t know where this guy is in the files. i would be interested to know what his eye color is. hard to tell.

3. the japanese translation clarifies that what is called simply “handwritten scrawl” in english is YOUR handwritten scrawl.

4. you CAN defeat this wolf with only your fists, but there’s no point. the game doesn’t reward you. if anything its more contemptuous of your behaviors and abilities because now if you want to progress the game you have to go and stand around waiting for someone to kill you like a total moron.

5. very strange that he’s able to determine you’re an outsider entirely by how you dress.

*completely inconsequential but funny detail: one of the messengers is looking down the barrel of the pistol lol

i didnt really intend for this blog to become almost exclusively bloodborne but this is a much more permanent and easier to access place for this kind of information for people who do want to seek it out. anyway using Methods and Resources, i have been ripping apart bloodborne models from the ps4 disc and putting them back together very poorly in blender.

WARNING: my colors spaces and shaders are not lore accurate; i’m just not knowledgeable enough with 3d to achieve that. they are not completely wrong, but they are likely to be noticeably “off” from bloodborne “canon”.

i spent a lot (A LOT) of time struggling with the various (and genuinely very impressive) tools available for futzing with fromsoft files, but none of them would load the textures, even with lots of messing around. as a result, the process is annoying and takes a lot of time “by hand” to do across like 4 different programs. if you try to request a model or ask me how i do this i will drive to your house and spray you with a hose until someone calls the police on me. i don’t have anything better going on so don’t try it, buster!

now check this out:


the first endless and eternal struggle was simple: i just wanted to peek at the unused “moon” skin for the scourge beasts. this was the result of several hours of honest effort. she’s beautiful, but not what i wanted.

several very specific blender tutorials later and i did it.

uhhh. sort of! here’s what i assume is the more lore accurate coloring from bloodborne-wiki:

mine looks a little too “attack the block” instead of the signature moonlight great sword coloring. but i was excited enough i gave him a photoshoot.

bleh!!! bleh!!

some other finds include: a hank hill ass and the space pope.


the big mergo’s attendant was chosen at random, and i was surprised to see she had this weird unused skull item. this color is unaltered, its very bright blue and blonde hair. really weird.

they also have an ass.


 

i was going through the object files while eating a snack last night and found one of the weirdest/stupidest things ive ever seen. all the files are like in the 1KB-5,000 KB range except for this 44,000kb monstrosity that im pretty sure is the carriage the cramped casket jumps out at you from in yahar’gul. i have no idea why its this complex lol.

but it had a bunch of shit inside as well. it looked like a mix of stuff layered on top of each other that was used and stuff that wasn’t or maybe was used in like, a promo at one point. peeling away layers revealed that the interior of the stupid thing has fully rendered lanterns and fire (????????).

after all that was stripped away there was a. pile. of 6 coffins. this shit made me laugh ngl. so i removed all of the coffins blocking my path (common bloodborne problem)

underneath i found what looks like a breakable incense (?) pot and some gravestones and some other shit. there were still a bunch of layers to turn off so i kept going.

i don’t remember this rose being used anywhere.

underneath the huge pot was a little statue and a lamp on a chain

and underneath that………..

was a thing

i have no idea. it looks like a hole. it doesn’t look like anything. i think this is one of the funniest things to hide at the center of such a needlessly complex collection of assets: a thingy


then i remembered the whole reason i wanted to do all this. and yes, the slimy crawler enemies ARE distended torsos and breasts.

eeek!

this period of time in the canon is a big fat question mark as a result of reshuffling ideas one million times behind the scenes. how long it took the first red moon to recede is unknown. its not known if there were other red moons between then and now. it is not known if the first moon ended organically or because of external factors. we don’t know how the church got on or what yharnam was like before we arrive. we don’t know what’s normal at all (this is a frequent position to be in when it comes to fromsoft storytelling. often times you realize in hindsight that the person you were talking to is bloodborne equivalent of homer simpson.

the history of yharnam between now and the arrival of the hunter is unrecorded by the game, either because it was uninteresting, cut from development, or intended to be an in universe secret that is so mysterious that even the people doing it don’t really seem to know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it. yharnam makes a lot more sense if you imagine everyone has been inhaling chemical fumes from the burning of old yharnam for the past 50 or whatever years. or that they’ve been licking mercury off their fingers or whatever.

any remaining old hunters who participated in the fishing hamlet massacre were imprisoned by the healing church in order to maintain the control of the narrative it had over what few yharnamites it had left roaming about what remained of yharnam. the power of the red moon, the origins of the scourge, the defilement of kos, and that awful thing laurence called forth from the sky; all of it had to be hidden away. but the remaining, active members of the church hierarchy (at this point, mostly a bunch of nobodies) were not capable of anticipating how devastating the wrath of kos would turn out to be. her long-simmering curse plucked the hunters succumbing to the moon’s power and their own blood lust off the streets of yharnam on the night old yharnam burned. that night, specifically, was a catastrophe for public safety.

old hunter garb:

One day, the hunters disappeared, and Yharnamites began to whisper of the hunters’ sin.

Drunk with blood, chasing after beasts, they would pass on to the Nightmare, every last one of them

the old hunters, who would once retreat to the dream and then return good as new, disappeared permanently from yharnam. hijacked from their trajectory either to or from the dream, they were funneled into the hunter’s nightmare to engage in a bloody, endless, purposeless hunt.

brador, whose loyalty to the church appeared to be based entirely on the fact that they let him kill people with no repercussions, continued his work as a church assassin in the hunter’s nightmare. it was, after all, the only remaining proof of what happened at the fishing hamlet with the whole “baby mutilation” thing. brador’s job was to prevent overly curious hunters from reaching the nightmare’s darkest secret, and god he loved his job. he’s locked up in the same cells as the other old hunters, but apparently voluntarily. brador does not have to leave the comfort of his embarrassing NEET nest to do his job.

after this, as far as one can tell, the hunts returned to a normal ebb and flow. sort of. various characters will casually mention that they’re experiencing an unusually long night the night the hunter arrives, which a really strange thing to say so casually. that’s normal for yharnam, i suppose. not so much for people who should know that the sun and moon are famously predictable entities. its not like they go wandering off around the galaxy.

as a precaution, the church would lock its gates for its own protection on the night of the hunts; without any hunters of their own, the church was forced to depend on uhhh. slave labor. they started sourcing their own church servants by pumping pthumerians from the labyrinth with blood, dressing them in doctor uniforms, and kicking them into the street. the ones walking around the cathedral ward look much more hydrated and cleaned up compared to their peers in the labyrinth, but they’re still a little…wild. the church opted to just put bells on them so any yharnamite knows to run the other way, like a rat would with a belled cat.

this enemy type drops blue elixir, a strange goo that hunters can use to turn invisible (and, therefore, avoid enemies). but for the common folk (and pthumerians), the elixir “numbs the brain”. as for the origin of the goo, consider this: the celestial minions in isz gravestone (and ONLY the minions in isz, not the over-world!) have a chance of dropping blue elixir. you can buy elixir from the hunter’s dream once you obtain the choir related “cosmic eye watcher” badge.

there are other places to get it too.

meanwhile:

and time passed. god knows how long. long enough that the remaining old hunters have turned grey with age. gehrman has been aging this whole time into a withered old bitch. more people died. coffins began to pile up in the streets. it has to smell so fucking bad in yharnam. between the blood and the dogs pooping wherever they please and all the dead things…AND it’s fake-victorian england so you’ve got the usual english odors mixed in there (open sewers, fish head pies, piss, tesco, etc). dreadful.

anyway, there’s something i’ve been keeping to myself until now that it’s time to talk about. let’s review what we know about the old blood, objectively:

incoagulable blood was found in the mysterious pthumerian labyrinths beneath byrgenwerth. this blood was used in medical treatments on a day to day basis and by hunters in the heat of the hunt. the effects were immediate, intoxicating, and addictive. there is a “substance in the blood that hardens” that results in the formation of coldblood, beast blood pellets, blood shards, blood gems, and pebbles. but why does the blood never dry?

the blood does not coagulate because it is not dead. it is animated by the collective strength of the willpower of its previous owners. this “will” (as its called in japanese, LastProtagonist describes them as “the unfulfilled hopes and desires of one who has passed away.”) of the slaughtered accumulates in one’s blood through the process of blood ministration or the blood spilling in the hunt; when you receive “old blood” you are also receiving the ancient will of the “blood echoes” of all the previous recipients as well.

hunters knew what blood echoes were, how to get them, and sought them viciously for strength. this is the in-universe explanation for why those assholes hit you and pick up your blood echoes. i mean, it’s a gameplay thing too but like. they’re also being assholes.

Hunters sustained by the dream gain strength from Blood Echoes. They imbibe the blood with thoughts of reverence, indeed gratitude, for their victims.

remember when i suggested that the “holy medium” the byrgenwerth students found was ritual blood in part 1? the deeper you go into the labyrinth, the stronger the ritual blood becomes. this is communicated by its visual transformation in the item art: it bubbles with life and slowly forms itself into one and a half pthumerian-esque skulls.

When all is melted in blood, all is reborn.

a hunter’s spilled blood becomes part of an unfathomably old collective collective consciousness united in death and used to “embolden [the hunter’s] sickly spirit”, as a old friend would say. but blood echoes are not simply limited to the wet blood in your veins. don’t forget about the animated bones of the darkbeasts, or the powers inherent in a blood gem, or the art of quick-stepping hidden in the bone of an old hunter? what about…ah. well.

just keep it in mind.

then, one day, a foreigner arrived.

Perhaps its wearer had to stay out of sight, and travel by cover of darkness.

It is said, after all, the traveler came to Yharnam from afar.

Without memory, who will ever know?

and that foreigner…was you!

one way the fromsoft team has historically tried to tie plot threads together is by using color to indicate connections that are otherwise not outright stated for the audience. sometimes, these connections are so obtuse that its not until the game is datamined that it becomes clear what the fuck the color was even trying to communicate. trying to track colors and their usage in bloodborne is a huge pain in the ass. i’ve done my best to pick out some that stick out in my mind significant either for their ubiquitous nature or how annoying/weird they are.

let’s look at these beautiful colors together…be a rainbow shrimp with me…


red

crazy to imagine, but the game called “blood”borne has a lot of reds in it. let’s check ’em out.

arcane curse red

i have yet to discuss the properties of blood in yharnam that lead to the creation of arcane curse. it does arcane damage just like the blue version, but it’s red. found only in castle cainhurst and associated items.

 

arcane magic red

counterpart to arcane magic blue, but not associated with castle cainhurst. the hues here are more inconsistent and i’m wobbly about including the witch of hemwick’s AOE attack.

 

frenzy red

a handful of church doctors outside of amelia’s boss room have a stick shaped like the hunter’s mark. if they poke you with it, you get your first taste of the frenzy status effect. you won’t like it. while ebrietas is not the source of the healing church’s blood supply, she DOES spit frenzy inducing blood. she might supply them with their frenzy stick….aura.

 

rapid poison red

it’s the “bleed” status from dark souls and also the frenzy status from this game, but weaker. when your rapid poison bar fills up, you lose a percentage of your health. rapid poison is associated with pthumerian corpses or vileblood.

 

confederate summon red

spots where you summon allies for boss rights typically have an orangish hue to help them stand out from lanterns. however, if you are wearing your “impurity” rune, you can summon your confederates from the league to help you out! their color is red.

 

sinister bell red

when a “sinister” type bell is rung by the bell ringing woman, it summons either an enemy hunter (in online play) or a weird red construct that resembles a mob type enemy. ahhh its so sinister. the image on the right is giving bloodborne veterans heart palpitations from rage/terror.

 

blood red

it’s blood and it’s red. some blood isn’t red. vile/old/beast blood is. the blood of great ones is red. most of the blood is red.

 

red eye buff

there are two kinds of red eye buffs. one is to signal that the enemy will drop a vermin after death. the other is to let the player know that this enemy is stronger than the others. it might have super armor or the power to buff other enemies’ attacks.

 

rally potential red

you’re going to have to trust me and this youtube guy when we say this is what this does because i can’t find proof of this shit anywhere outside of hacked chalice dungeons (?). this extremely rare aura on this enemy means they can rally their health back the way the hunter can. i had seen this called “vampirism” before when it was misunderstood to be them stealing your health and not using the rally mechanic.


orange

one thing to keep in mind when looking at all of these reds and oranges is that these colors were likely chosen so that they would stick out against the dark blues and purples of the environments. what we’re looking for is mostly visual consistency in HOW these colors are used to tie threads together.

fire

you know what fire is.

 

the orange light of fucking get you

for whatever reason, the brain of mensis emits a bright orange light when you’re in its line of sight. this might just be a case of a nice color to contrast the purples of the nightmare.

 

ashen blood orange

the bloodletting beast has a unique blood color that’s really only noticeable in good light. very rusty! all the other beast blood is dark. nothing like this at all. diarrhea blood lol

 

summon me orange

the average, non-unique summon spot color. seems to be orange so you can differentiate it from the purple glow of lanterns from afar.

 

summon you orange

the strange teleportation bath in yahar’gul has a color very similar to the orange of the summon spots. this is another instance of a color that appears once. but the connection is similar enough i should mention it. and yet…different enough…who knows.

 

healing church orange

the beasts associated with the healing church can do an unusual move to restore their HP or to mend the limbs you “break” (allowing you to break them again for another big hit). amelia’s animation makes it the most clear that it’s an act of prayer. the bloodletting beast seems to be huffing something up off the ground. blood? its always blood, lets just say its blood.

 


blue

probably the second most consequential color in the game. where red indicates the presence of beasts and blood, blue will signal the arcane and cosmic.

arcane magic blue

the counterpart to red arcane magic. still does arcane damage. the difference is aesthetic/plot/origin.

 

cosmic blue

this overlaps a lot with arcane magic blue. the only real distinction is that the blue color comes from specific cosmic entities, like exploding stars or meteors. as you can see the best strategy is running and screaming.

 

madman wallar blue

in order to communicate to the player that you can summon wallar in addition to another companion of your choosing, his summon sign is a bizarre take on the arcane blue. it’s unique to him. they should name the pantone after him.

 

bolt blue

the famous blue sparks from loran that captivated archibald. likely a result from the dry, desert air. kin hate this shit. zzzzzap!

 

fuck your entire life blue

the colors are similar enough to lump them together and they’re both equally bullshit in different ways. there’s a few enemies with this specific, weird, ring of binding magic. it’s tremendously annoying and comes from a variety of sources, such as a spell being cast or a baby crying. seems to be pthumerian in origin. brainsuckers love to use this from 500 ft away, and then takes his sweet ass time running up on you before subjecting you to a 30 second animation you will feel every single second of.

the other is the very rare, very stupid chalice dungeon warp trap.

 

been here blue

messengers in the chalice dungeons (and in the nightmare frontier, oddly enough) will light their little lantern after you enter a room to let you know you’ve been this way. thanks fellas.

my theory is that the ones you find in the nightmare frontier were removed from the loran labyrinth during the school of mensis’ exploration of both areas. it’s very easy to get lost in the nightmare, it makes sense why they’d want to use this free tech they were familiar with.

 

elixir blue

while the celestial emissary bosses do not drop blue elixir, their mob counterparts do in the chalice dungeons. the blue-eyed werewolves from the orphanage (where the celestial emissary boss is located) also have a small chance of dropping the mysterious “blue elixir”.


purple

what if it was purple!!!!

slow poison purple

try to avoid breathing this in if you can. fart gas.

 

lantern purple

a mysterious color. and not the only lantern to shine with it; the church servants carry one around that looks like it came from the labyrinth. not sure what to make of it, to be honest.

 

blood echo purple

enemy eyes will glow purple to indicate if they’ve picked up your blood echoes, requiring you to defeat them to get them back. this is nearly the same purple from the lanterns. weird!

 

cosmic purple

ludwig’s pals from back in the day were given an unusual fate in the hunter’s nightmare. since they were all tomb prospectors, i think its fair to assume they picked some weird shit up down there. however, they glow and use magic with a unique purple color that rings like a bell. i assume all this shit was done specifically to annoy me personally because of how little it matches anything else.

 


greyscale

black, white, and everything in between. so, uh, gray.

nightmare mist black

 

lmfao sorry for how itty-bitty the pic in the middle is. that’s the messenger’s gift in action, which is the item that defines what this stuff is. you’ll see it when attacking mergo’s wet nurse in lieu of blood (indicating she is a construct of the nightmare, evidently) and when you travel via a headstone.

white laser of explode now

DIE

corpse fire white

appears only in yahar’gul after the blood moon rises. inexplicably rings like a bell when you get close. your guess is as good as mine.

 

“it’s not cum” white

its spit. arcane spit.

 

kin blood grey

its hard to see this shit spewing out while the hunter is in the middle of trying to squish this bug, but its that murky shit in the center of the frame. possibly mercury? possibly not.

 


oddities&unknowns

for the stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else.

moonbeam green

this is the only green of significance i know of in the entire game. a long running reference to the unique seafoam hue this sword has in every fromsoft game.

 

fucked up fire blue

i could not even BEGIN to try to tell you what the fuck this is. it only appears when you have 15 or more insight, like the eyeballs on the lanterns these guys use. there’s only two of these guys in the game and this fire appears nowhere else. the fuck!

 

bell-ringing buff red/bell-ringing attack purple

the red robed bell-ringing pthumerian women from the one reborn fight will buff him over and over unless you take them out first. they’re the only ones with this ability and i have no idea what they’re doing. conversely, the chalice dungeon versions have a weird purple AOE that iirc drains your health. these are unique. i dont know why they do that.

 

what the fuck red

when the snatcher/kidnapper enemies are at 75% health, they will suddenly stop, scream like a velociraptor, glow red, and then start kicking the shit out of you 3x as hard and fast. i don’t know. its scary.

the pale moon changed.

yharnam changed.

something was happening in old yharnam. something predictable, yet shocking.

[…] the baffling sickness that ravaged Old Yharnam long ago

These tablets only provide short-term relief. The ashen blood ailment eventually triggered the spread of the beastly scourge.

alternative translation from LastProtagonist:

A mysterious ailment once *plagued the old town (Old Yharnam)

with an interesting translation note:

*Plagued is taken from 蝕んだ – Which literally means worm-eaten in one sense. (Other definitions of the term include spoiled, rotten, eat into, destroy.)

perhaps ashen blood is not a disease spread by bacteria, but the result of a parasite infesting a host. don’t forget: the augurs of the great ones are invertebrates. until now we have only been considering the mainstream snails, slugs, and kos parasites. but there are other invertebrates as well…maggots, vermin, amoebas…

As it was, clerics transformed into the most hideous beasts.

the church had made one notable discovery during their various stupid scientific inquiries: the ghastliness of one’s beast-hood had some correlation to how much the afflicted embraced their fate. their attempts to just roll with becoming beasts failed and in the process they discovered a rune they then immediately deemed forbidden: beast’s embrace.

After the repeated experiments in controlling the scourge of beasts, the gentle “Embrace” rune was discovered.

When its implementation failed, the “Embrace” became a forbidden rune, but this knowledge became a foundation of the Healing Church.

alternative translation from LastProtagonist:

Knowledge of it has certainly become (a/the) cornerstone of the Healing Church.

the church was well aware of the seductive power of the blood. and they were terrified of it. there’s an old healing church prayer you can hear a handful of church members recite that acknowledges the temptation of beasthood.

Seek the old blood.
Let us pray… let us wish… to partake in communion.
Let us partake in communion… and feast upon the old blood.
Our thirst for blood satiates us, soothes our fears.
Seek the old blood… but beware the frailty of men.
Their wills are weak, minds young.
The foul beasts will dangle nectar and lure the meek into the depths.
Remain wary of the frailty of men.
Their wills are weak, minds young.
Were it not for fear, death would go unlamented.

yet, in the end, laurence, the first vicar became a beast. the hunter can gain the beast’s embrace rune by defeating his eternally burning beastly form trapped in the hunter’s nightmare.

ugggh alright. let’s talk about laurence. i’ve been dreading this because i hate this part of the lore being so overtly WRONG.

here’s the thing: fromsoft changed its mind after the fact for some reason. this is the least i’ve understood a creative decision in my life. i’m mad online about it. for a lot of reasons.

here are the facts of the case, your honor:

  1. objectively: laurence is a cleric beast:
    1. there is a fight with “laurence, the first vicar” in the dlc
      1. the first optional boss encounter in the base game is the “cleric beast”.
      2. the cleric beast drops the “sword hunter badge”, which explains that healing church clerics were often also hunters under ludwig’s tutelage and transformed into the worst beasts.
      3. laurence is a high ranking member of the church
      4. the laurence we fight has the literal exact same model as the cleric beast but on fire.
      5. the skull you use to initiate the fight is “laurence’s skull” with the item description: “Skull of Laurence, first vicar of the Healing Church. In reality he became the first cleric beast, and his human skull only exists within the Nightmare.”
larry the worst vicar cleric beast

pretty fucking definitive right?

idiot!

remember the incredibly long and drawn out exploration of the chalice dungeons i’ve been dragging us through this whole time? prior to the burning of old yharnam, i think it’s reasonable to assume that the church tomb prospectors wrapped their exploration, but we are going to put the details aside until we experience them as the hunter; the church doesn’t stop fucking around down there for a long while. the fact that the hunter can encounter boss monsters that have been mutilated by the healing church in the past strongly suggests that hunter is not experiencing some kind of time displaced version of the chalice dungeons. they are simply empty because they are dying and there are no hunters or prospectors left to explore them. as above, so below.

the dead children collected from loran unsealed a cursed and defiled wing of the labyrinth (we’ll get back to the contents of this area later) which in turn revealed the truly final chalice dungeon: great pthumeru ihyll, the pthumerian capital. the bosses of this area (again, more later) include two pthumerians. but, by the time the hunter arrives, there’s a new addition to the boss roster: a bloodletting beast with no head. remember the headed one? it’s blind and cut nearly in half? the headless one reveals that it’s being puppeteered by massive, rapid poison spewing vermin resembling maggots.

so no head? [smashes cell phone on the ground]

the thing is: we know where the head is. the skull is sitting in the grand cathedral of the healing church being worshiped as a holy relic. before the hunter touches it to progress the plot, it glows arcane-ly through the massive gash in it’s head.

now…compare the locations of the gashes on the beast and the skull! my unfounded theory is that the church really did think they killed the bloodletting beasts. they didn’t get back up and start moving around until later either because of the undead blood or the worms.

now, my point is: this skull is laurence.

  1. objectively, laurence is the headless bloodletting beast:
    1. the skull is of the bloodletting beast or, as its known in japan “the host of the beast blood” [looks at u meaningfully]
    2. the skull is located in the grand cathedral, which is not accessible to the public after the events in old yharnam. it is the centerpiece of a reliquary dedicated to it.
    3. a note we can read on the way to slap his bald head invites all members of the church to “Place your hand on the altar’s sacred covering, and inscribe Master Laurence’s adage upon your flesh”.
    4. touching the skull plays a cutscene of laurence leaving byrgenwerth (your character is experiencing something similar to what happens when they crush a skull with a madman’s knowledge or great one’s wisdom).
    5. this teaches you the adage that laurence learned from willem: fear the old blood.
    6. in the dlc, the one of the nightmare versions of the grand cathedral has the same reliquary, but instead the skull on the altar is laurence’s HUMAN skull

SO??? WHICH IS IT FROMSOFT??? again, i don’t subscribe to the idea of projected consciousnesses in bloodborne (outside of micolash, a special case), there is no reason why laurence would be the only character in the entire game whose soul was separated from his body and made in to a terrible boss fight. and that’s really the kicker of all this shit: the laurence fight is godawful. the cleric beast is not a particularly fun or memorable fight and i don’t think anyone was clamoring for an encore. you have to fight the stupid cleric beast a quadrillion times every time you start a new game plus (its optional sure, but you need the EXP) and lighting the fucker on fire makes it so, so much worse. at the halfway point, laurence splits in two and starts crawling around shitting and farting all over the place and puking on your shoes. you can’t regain your health via the rally mechanic reliably because fire does multiple tics of damage, which sets the meter to 0 gains before you have a chance to get close enough to attack him.

it didn’t have to be this way. laurence a flambe is not in the fucking artbook. there’s no trace of the fucker at all. he was a last minute addition for reasons i will never be able to understand. someone at fromsoft felt really strongly about the fact that they might release a game that doesn’t have a tedious lava section and course corrected before the game could ship.

why laurence is NOT the burning cleric beast:

  1. his absence in the art book and existence prior to the DLC in the form of the skull on the altar makes his dlc appearance superfluous
  2. giving him the generic cleric beast design fails to differentiate a major contributor to the current crisis in yharnam to the player
  3. boss music not that good
  4. the fight is like trying to shoo a bat out of your house with a blanket
  5. optional fight underplays character’s narrative purpose
  6. yells too much

why laurence is NOT the headless bloodletting beast:

  1. the perspective in the cut-scene with willem is not laurence’s; you see his form briefly from afar1 so whatever is viewing him is doing so from a bunch of different angles
  2. how’d they get his ass down there.
  3. the shape of the skull on the altar doesnt match the face shape of the bloodletting beast with the head.
  4. there’s already a boss named “laurence, the first vicar” and its not this one

i hate fire laurence. i am on the bloodletting beast team here but both are, annoyingly, correct. they just openly contradict each other. pick one or both or neither and let’s move on. if we assume the laurence in the DLC is the real one, then the flames would imply that he died during the burning of old yharnam.

but how was laurence killed?

an experimental workshop of good repute, the powder kegs, (and their forefathers the oto workshop) built an armory of weapons that boomed, burned, slammed, crushed, and operated under a very simple mantra: “if a weapon ain’t got kick, it just ain’t worth it“. old yharnam, under siege by it’s rapidly transforming population, was now the under the purview of the powder kegs.

or, it would have been, were it not for the ideological freaks amongst them. djura was a famous old hunter whose reputation was such that the iconic stock standard hunter’s tri-corner hat was based on his own. he was described in his own hat description as “uncommonly kind and dreadfully foolish”. djura, bless his heart, could not separate the beasts from the people they had once been. what was happening to old yharnam was too much for him to take.

the healing church commanded that old yharnam be burned to the ground in a last ditch effort to contain the spread of ashen blood, but at that point they were asking too much. djura and his allies refused to continue to participate in any more of the slaughter. to drive the point home, they went as far as to renounce their hunter’s vows. which meant no more dreaming, no more reawakening, no more growing stronger. he broke his contract with the moon. no more endless life for you, boy!

the powder kegs appeared to have participated to some extent in the burning of old yharnam, but it’s not clear when they turned against the church. it’s unknown if they retaliated against the church in the heat (lol) of the moment. what we do know, is that the powder kegs began to espouse an extremely heretical point of view: what if being a beast wasn’t the worst thing that could happen? the unique beast man who drops the firing hammer badge from the oto workshop is using the beast’s embrace rune and irreverent izzy’s forbidden masterpiece, the beast claw. a strange contradiction: the more one fights their inner beast, the more warped and twisted they become. by contrast, the bestial hunter’s face is remarkably human and resembles a midpoint between the average hunter and the disarmingly human abhorrent beast.

alternative, more clear translation from LastProtagonist:

The red moon is close, the town is nothing but beasts. There’s no end. It’s all too late now. Must it all burn?

djura keeps watch over the old yharnam from the top of its bell tower now. the church left djura and the other traitors to their fate, locking the door behind them, and covered the entrance to old yharnam with a concrete slab statue in a church of no importance off the beaten path. old yharnam is abandoned, yet years later, still burns eerily. djura and his allies wear hunter’s gear that repels flame, either by ash (perhaps replicating an old ash ceremony2 from the labyrinth) or by capes made permanently damp by the undying beast blood.

this shit baffled me for a long time. like how can old yharnam still be on fire when we get there if this happened a million years ago?? but remember the slugs the fishing village was using as oil from part 2? personally, i could buy that magic slug oil takes much longer to burn. i mean, all fire in bloodborne is magical and eternal. the labyrinths should be dark as shit but only some rooms are. the most still have candles and torches that work. the fire is magical. sure. ok. its not like this is the first or last time fromsoft would make up a plot beat about a fire that never burns out.

if the yharnam hunters refused to kill their compatriots (laurence included), then someone else with the stomach for it would have to do it. someone untethered by emotional connection. a real weird fucked up guy.

a hunter of hunters.

brador, strongly implied to be the first hunter of hunters and assassin of the healing church, came from a far away foreign land. but not just ANY foreign land; brador is from the same homeland as both the hunter AND father gascoigne (a famous old hunter who makes it out the other end of tonight’s mess). his vest is a recolored version of the clothes your hunter arrives in. you can tell which one is brador’s because it looks like he just got done talking to you about huey louis and the news.

his arm bands are just a recolored version of gascoigne’s! according to gascoigne’s garb description, “‘Father’ is a title used for clerics in a foreign land, and there is no such rank in the Healing Church”.

brador, on the other hand, was no holy man, even if he is technically a member of the healing church3. in fact, he showed up wielding something that i feel like more people should have been confused and alarmed about: the bloodletter, a transforming mace in the shape of the hunter’s rune. literally what the fuck is that. did the church give it to him? did he bring it from home? where the fuck did it come from?? for the player, the bloodletter is to the bloodtinge build what the holy moonlight sword is to arcane builds. its intended to fill a missing weapon niche. but in lore….fuck man. when you use it transform it, you stab yourself in the chest with it which “expel[s] tainted blood”, turning it into a mace made of a huge chunk of blood with frenzy spikes4 coming out of it. it’s like a truly ugly and twisted version of the vileblood chikage weapon.

the antlers are not perfectly exact but they are approximate enough to say with certainty that brador killed a cleric beast, presumably laurence.

Brador donned a compatriot’s beastly scalp and hide while still moist with blood. Most of the blood stains on this hide were from that day.

NO, I DON’T KNOW HOW BRADOR COULD HAVE SCALPED LAURENCE IF LAURENCE STILL HAS HIS HEAD IN THE DLC. IT MAKES NO SENSE. but why else would i care if brador killed some random cleric guy unless it was an important cleric guy. why else would the church wind up trusting him with a monumental task later? but brador buddy, do you know how many freaky monsters i’ve fought by the time i’ve found you. i’m not impressed by your little cleric beast cosplay. grow up bitch!

ludwig was also doing not so good.

a popular theory (that i love) suggests that ludwig fought beasts on horseback during the original hunts. and because of that, ludwig has a…REALLY unique appearance when compared to the other cleric beasts. these images have been edited for clarity. i’ve done my best to label his unorthodox features. under the same principles that lead to the fused body monstrosities in the late base game, ludwig melted into his horse.

When all is melted in blood, all is reborn.

ludwig too became prisoner of the hunter’s nightmare. goodbye ludwig. see you when the hunter catches up to you.

story time!

Once upon a time a troupe of foreign constables chased a beast all the way to Yharnam, and this is what they wore.

The constables became victims of the beast, except for one survivor, who in turn devoured the creature whole, all by himself.

moral: there was a hungry man. he was so hungry everyone died. the end.

1. they just used micolash as a stand in for laurence in that cutscene, which is pretty funny. for a character that has existed in every draft of the game, laurence has never been given a physical appearance that wasn’t beast mode, as far as i know.

2. dont think too hard about the bone ash set. its just a dark souls reference lol. like how the yamamura set turned out to be a wink to sekiro’s development

3. i literally don’t know why they bothered to equip him with it because he won’t use it under any conditions, but brador carries ludwig’s rifle, a church weapon.

4. “frenzy spikes” are physical spears of blood that occur as the hunter is taking frenzy damage. the shoot out of the hunter’s skin and retreat if the frenzy meter subsides. they are literal, physical things. you’ll stumble upon corpses in the late game who have them protruding out of them every which way. typically, unlike the bloodletter versions, they are sort of crystalline in structure, like a snowflake