Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lore of the Old Hunters: What we've learned; What's changed; What we can believe

This post was originally written by dmcredgrave on /r/bloodborne in this post. The only changes made were to account for the difference in format.

What follows is a very condensed, brief, basic runthrough of everything we've learned in The Old Hunters. Consider all of it as SPECULATION. Do not take it as solid fact, instead look at it as a foundation upon which to build your own theories, or simply dismiss it and come up with something completely different.
Hello I'm Redgrave, author of The Paleblood Hunt. For starters, I want to thank the people who wrote me literally dozens of messages asking when I would talk about the new lore; they were fun to wake up to on Tuesday morning. I still haven't decided whether I'm going to update the Paleblood Hunt, write something entirely new for the Old Hunters, or just leave it be and move on with my life. Whatever I do, I still want to share my thoughts on the game's incredible lore with you, the Souls community. In this thread, I'm going to be going over the information we've learned from Bloodborne's expansion. We actually got quite a lot more information than I thought we would, but only if we break it down and really take a look.
I decided I would go over each event in progression, and split up each event into three parts, what we learned, what's changed, and what we can theorize about it. So without further ado, let's get to it!

Valtr and the Vermin

What we've learned-
Valtr, one of the old hunters (and you'll note that I've decided not to capitalize Old Hunters in the case of Valtr.) is the Master of an organization known as the League, which hunts a small insect-like creature called a Vermin. These Vermin are supposedly the root of man's "impurity", though their link with the Scourge of the Beasts is unknown.
What's changed-
Throughout the Bloodborne lore discussion people have always noted that there's something there other than beasts and kins, some kind of strange third thing that they couldn't really point their finger at. The Snake Parasites, as well as the bizarre Bloodlickers at Cainhurt Castle, were a part of this third thing. Well thanks to this, we now have a name for them: Vermin. We learn from the Butcher Garb that two of the Madaras twins, who were confederates of the League, discovered vermin in their beloved poisonous snake. They lived in the Forbidden Woods and dissected beasts in the woods, spreading the filth and likely leading to the spread of the Snake Parasites. It's possible that the Vermin are also related to the maggots that we find in both Silverbeasts and in the Headless Bloodletting Beast, but that's a bit less clear.
What we can believe-
Whatever the Vermin are, they are definitely more important than just little bugs. At the end of the day, we still don't have an explanation for the Blood Magic of Yharnam and the Vilebloods. Given the existence of Bloodlickers and of Maggots in Cainhurst, it's possible that what makes the Cainhurst Knights so powerful is that they are impure, or vile.
As for Valtr, his Constable Garb tells us that there's a fable in Yharnam about a group of constables who were devoured by a powerful beast, except for the sole survivor who devoured it back. Since Valtr's Whirligig Saw gives him the title of the Beast Eater, it's possible that he's the one from that fable. Also, his helmet tells us that he has only one eye. So what happened to the other eye? Well, maybe it's what we used to get into the Hunter's Nightmare.

The Hunter's Nightmare

What we've learned-
The Hunter's Nightmare is a place where anyone who brands themselves a Hunter is cursed to go once they've become too drunk with blood to exist in the Waking World. It's a section of the Dreamlands where the hunt is eternal, an endless battle between Hunter and Beast. What's important to note about the Nightmare is that it does not represent one single point in time. It's not as if we traveled back in time, instead the Nightmare is an amalgamation of all hunters throughout history who have become blood-drunk. The first group of hunters we meet are hunters of the Oto Workshop, which appears to be some kind of precursor to the Powder Kegs.
What's changed-
The only thing really of note is that the old hunter garb states that hunters used to be "ten a penny", seeming to imply that there were hunters everywhere. This doesn't really seem to follow our preconceived notion of the Old Hunters being an elite organization.
What we can believe-
Note that the random hunters walking around don't use Quickening, they're just random beast hunters. It's possible then that the hunters of the Oto Workshop were the missing link of hunters between the elite Old Hunters, and the Powder Kegs, which would eventually transition into the Healing Church Hunters.


What we've learned-
While Ludwig was indeed a chivalrous, honorable man, he was just as susceptible to the Scourge as everyone else. Eventually he was dragged into the Nightmare, where he wallowed in a pit of corpses.
What's changed-
My previous theory, that of Ludwig being the Forgotten Madman, is now pretty much squashed.
What we can believe-
According to the Holy Moonlight Sword's description, Ludwig discovered the blade long ago. Although Ludwig was a figure of great renown and an enormous public figure, and despite the fact that he was known for wielding the Moonlight Sword, not many people ever saw it. It seems Ludwig was very protective of the Moonlight Sword, keeping it close to him. The Guidance Rune tells us that Ludwig looked at the blade for just that: guidance. He closed his eyes and saw small, bright beings offering him guidance and wisdom. He closed his eyes and let them speak to him, and guide him. He lost all of his fear, he lost all of his worries, and he became the Holy Blade.
Even in the fight against him, Ludwig addresses the blade as if it is alive. "My true mentor. My guiding moonlight." Exactly what it is that was REALLY guiding Ludwig isn't clear. He gazed into the abyss and saw something on the other side, and it controlled his actions. Whatever it was, it couldn't have been good. If I lived in the Bloodborne universe, I certainly wouldn't trust anything that had the word Moon in its name.

Laurence and Brador

What we've learned-
When it comes to Laurence surprisingly little, we've only got more questions. He gets even MORE complicated than before, if that was even possible. Brador however is a new character whom is discovered in a self-imposed imprisonment in an underground cell. He was supposedly a Healing Church assassin, and he killed a cleric beast at some point in time. He also appears to hunt other hunters, as Simon warns us about. (Oh and I'm just going to go ahead and call the hunter in the Harrowed gear Simon. Can we agree on that? He drops Simon's bowblade, he wears the garb of an old Healing Church Hunter, the bowblade tells us that Simon was in the old Healing Church. Occam's razor seems to point towards that being Simon, right?)
What's changed-
Ok so... SURPRISINGLY little. Again, not much of our previous understanding of Laurence actually changes with this new information. Recall that the Laurence we fight is inside of the Nightmare, not the Waking World. We still encounter Laurence's Skull in the Grand Cathedral. Remember how we can encounter Micolash's corpse in the Waking World, and his consciousness in the Nightmare. Something similar occurs here.
The only thing really bizarre is the discovery of Laurence's HUMAN skull inside of the Nightmare, something which shouldn't be possible. Again, fucking WEIRD stuff. The skull itself states that it only exists within the Nightmare, so who the fuck knows what's going on with that.
What we can believe-
Laurence, the first Vicar of the Healing Church, also became the first Cleric Beast. When he was so horribly infected with the scourge, his allies had to take him out, just like they had done to the others who had been infected. The weapon of the Healing Church Assassin known as Brador is called the Bloodletter, linking it to the Bloodletting Beast which is possibly Laurence's Corpse, as the gash on his skull fits perfectly with the gash on the Beast. Whether or not Laurence is the Bloodletting Beast, it's possible that Brador was the one who put Laurence out of his misery, cutting his head off, scalping him, skinning his back, and giving his skull to the Healing Church while leaving his mangled corpse behind. The scalp that Brador wears is called "Brador's Testimony", and states that he hid himself away, deep below in a cell. The Church aided him in this, to ensure their secrets would be kept. Again, his testimony, the testimony of a man who held the greatest secret of the healing church, that the Old Blood was turning people into monsters. And it's no wonder he volunteered to lock himself away; how could you not go mad in the act of killing something that used to be the beloved leader of your religion?
Oh and here's something kind of weird. Not really a theory or anything, just food for thought. If you were to wash away the blood, the garb that Brador wears looks REMARKABLY similar to the Foreign garb that the PC Hunter wears at the beginning of the game. The Beast Hide Garb even states: Without the attacked beast hide this foreigner garb wouldn't raise anyone's eyebrows.

The Research Hall

Just gonna go ahead and condense all this into one section. Despite it being a fuckawesome level, it's actually super light on lore. The only thing that's noteworthy is that it's interesting to see how the Healing Church's research was going in its formative era, before the Choir came to power. Eventually, the Choir would commune with Ebrietas and their research would culminate in the Celestials, but the Lumenwoods we encounter are an interesting link in that sort of scientific progress.


What we've learned-
Maria was one of Gehrman's students, one of the Old Hunters (<---capitalized), and appeared to either assist or run a lot of the experiments going on in the Healing Church's formative days, likely working alongside Laurence. She was born in Cainhurst and was a distant relative of Queen Annalise which explains her tall stature, pale skin, and white hair. There are two major events that we know happened in relation to Maria: First, at one point she threw her blade, Rakuyo, into a dark well after she could "stomach its presence no longer." Second, she died. REMEMBER, even if someone is dead in the Waking World we can still fight their consciousness in the Dreamlands. Behind the chair where Maria is seated there is a large coffin, and atop it are what appear to be coldblood flowers, just like the ones found in the Hunter's Dream. This is likely Maria's coffin.
What's changed-
A couple of things. The Plain Doll was quite clearly inspired by Maria, meaning that the Small Hair Ornament was likely Maria's originally and not made for the doll. As Maria is quite explicitly stated as being Gehrman's student, this puts to rest any and all theories that the Doll was based on a wife or daughter of Gehrman. The big question that remains is whether the Winter Lanterns are imitations of the Plain Doll, or of the woman who inspired it. Compelling arguments could be made for both.
What we can believe-
Lady Maria, one of the Old Hunters and a student of Gehrman's, one day threw her beloved sword Rakuyo into the well in a small Fishing Village. She was disgusted with something that either she or the other Hunters had done, and could stomach looking at it no longer. Some time after this, Maria passed away. How she died is unknown, but her death must have been VERY painful for her Mentor, Gehrman. Maria's garb states that she had "great admiration for Gehrman, unaware of his curious mania." It's not exactly clear just what Gerhman's relationship with her was, whether it was romantic on one part, both parts, or it was some kind of perverted obsession. Whatever it was, he was so distraught by her passing that he created a doll in her likeness; master craftsman that he was, the doll was painstakingly created to imitate her.
It's possible that this is how the Moon Presence and the Great Ones were first drawn to Gehrman, as the Moon rune reminds as that they are sympathetic in spirit. Perhaps the Moon Presence even promised to bring his beloved Maria back to life... for a price.
Edit/u/Gibits notes something interesting about Maria.
Maria seemed to have slit her own throat. Her blouse is covered in blood originating from her neck. It seems she was disgusted by her own actions and took her own life as her weapon discription implied she became disillusioned. Also remember how Yharnem attacks you? By stabbing herself and using the blood to form projectiles. And how does Maria attack you in her second phase? With blood attacks coming out of her throat.


What we've learned-
Wow so Kos is actually a thing, that took me by surprise. I always thought that Kos and Kosm was just the rambling of Micolash and that he corrected himself by stating "Cosmos", and that he was actually referring to Oedon. However Kos is indeed a Great One. And not just Kin, like Ebrietas or Rom, a REAL Great One like the Moon Presence. We find the corpse of Kos, a dead Great One, washed up at the shore of a small fishing village that, for simplicity's sake, I'm just going to refer to as Innsmouth.
What's changed-
Micolash was indeed referring to Kos. This means that Kos, before her death, had something to do with the ascension of Rom from human to Kin. Moreover, the Fishman in the beginning of Innsmouth is muttering, sneering:
Byrgenwerth... Byrgenwerth... Blasphemous murderers... Blood-crazed fiends.
Whatever research Master Willem and the Scholars performed, it had something to do with Kos... and it didn't end well for her.
What we can believe-
Deicide: The killing of a God. It is the ultimate crime. There is no greater sin. And yet, it's what the Scholars of Byrgenwerth did in their pursuit of knowledge. It's possible that the murder of the Great One Kos in the name of scientific research was the straw that broke the Camel's back and finally caused Laurence and Willem to go their separate ways. It was an act that affected all of the Old Hunters deeply, as Maria threw her beloved sword into the Innsmouth Well in an act of sickened defiance. As Maria's consciousness guards Innsmouth in the Dreamlands, it's possible that she was the one who pulled the trigger, so to speak.
But their crime, their sin, would not go unpunished.
Atonement for the wretches. Lay the curse of blood upon them, and their children, and their children's children, for evermore.
Kos had been pregnant when she was murdered. Every Great One loses it's child, and Kos was no different as she never got to see her child's birth. The unborn Orphan of Kos remained inside its mother's womb, and from there it projected a terrible curse. As a true Great One, the Orphan was able to claim a section of the Dreamlands as its own, and it cursed any and all who named themselves Hunters. This is what Simon alludes to when he tells the PC that it isn't fair, that they shouldn't have to bear the sins of their forebearers. Every hunter in the Hunter's Nightmare is a descendant in one way or another from Gehrman and the Old Hunters, children and children's children, and they've been cursed to be dragged into an unending hunt when they become so drunk with blood that they would do something as sickening as murdering a God. The only way to stop it and break the curse is to kill the Orphan.
Nightmare Slain.
Edit: /u/LordDivo brings up another interesting possibility for what happened to Kos.
I'm not convinced that the scholars of Byrgenworth killed Kos. The Parasite item sates that Kos' corpse washed ashore, which would imply she was already dead before anyone, even Byrgenworth, got to her. I think it's more plausible to conclude that the process of carrying a child (the Orphan) is what killed her. Her body was said to be filled with parasites. Rather I think Byrgenworth scholars learned of the corpse of a Great One in the Fishing Hamlet, and sought it out (and it's inhabitants) to experiment on. "Blood-crazed fiends" would then refer not to the killing of a Great One, but to the practical genocide of the people of the Fishing Hamlet. The skull you get from the muttering man at the beginning of the area confirms they were performing horrific experiments and dissections on the people there. The curse then wouldn't be an act of vengeance from the Orphan, at least not for the death of it's mother. But for the death of the villagers. After all, the Great Ones are sympathetic in spirit.


  1. Another possibility is that the fishing villagers were communing with the child of Kos, and the scholars and precursors to the hunters killed the orphan of Kos before experimenting on the villagers. The murder of Kos' developing child would make sense as the "first sin" of the scholars, and makes the fact that the child of Kos is the root of the Nightmare, just as Mergo is the root of the Nightmare of Mensis.

  2. The Vermin thing is super interesting, since it finally gives a more concrete explanation for why some humans exposed to Great One blood become Kin and some become Beasts.

    At first, we all just thought that Beasts were from a lack of Insight, but if this new lifeform "Vermin" is the cause of man's "impurity" and the ability to become Beasts is something inherently human that the Full Moon and the Holy Blood simply draw out, then it can be inferred that all humans carry Vermin parasites in their bodies, but the concentration is what causes various attempts at ascension to go awry.

    I also have to wonder if the Kos Parasite is somehow related to the Vermin, and if this form of life is perhaps something that is inherently hostile and inimical to Great Ones and their Kin.

    And of course, as everyone says - their insectoid nature obviously has major implications for Cainhurst. If Vermin are parasites that infect and kill Great Ones and pervert human ascension into Beasts, that would certainly explain why the Cainhurst strain would be considered "Blasphemous" to those who worship the Great Ones.