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!



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!


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!


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.”


2 thoughts on “the hunter

  1. Old Man of Kharkanas says:

    Just caught up once more with this. Fantastic work, the now-finished history series refreshed my memory, informed me of a ton of new stuff I was unaware of before, and cut through a bunch of preconceptions and fan lore I had unwittingly absorbed. I look forward to seeing the same done to the rest of the game with this main series section (and then maybe the final parts of the iceberg explainer!)

  2. hoonter of hoonters says:

    love to read a living document on all the ooey gooey nuts and bolts for this weird game, good job!
    every new bit is a fun read, can’t wait for the real unhinged stuff later.

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