This page contains lore theories by Rakuyo. Please understand these are musings and interpretations by a player, and are not to be taken as official or representative of other's views. Warning this page contains depictions of extreme graphic violence.
Launched in 1990, Berserk is a dark fantasy manga that may be considered one of the most profound sources of inspiration behind the Souls Series.
Berserk is centered around a cursed swordsman by the name of Gutts. Marked as a demonic sacrifice, Gutts is locked into an eternal war with the dark.
Among the many traits assimilated by Souls series are: "giant swords", "crazy armor", "crazy monsters", "undead", "the dark" and an extremely grim worldview.
A growing list of commonalities lies below, discussing among other things the origin of Yharnam, various Souls enemies, NPC's and otherwise enigmatic tidbits.
"The Kushans" are an imaginary race of Hindu/Ottomans, and their appearance in Berserk did much to generate and form the oriental armors of Dark Souls.
He may very well be the idea behind "Flame God Flann", owing to Grunbeld being a "fire dragon ", while "Flann" is Gaelic, referring to "red hair" .
Undead in Wheels
These bodies once belonged to victims of the Holy See Religious Order. They've since become possessed by angry spirits and attack outsiders.
In terms of talents, Rakshas is more of an assassin than a necromancer, though he demonstrates more macabre abilities in 2016.
This vampire is plausibly one of the reasons Bloodborne was ever made, establishing a prototype of vampires being ferocious beasts .
A recurring antagonist, Zodd lives to fight. He's a challenge seeker, and desires only to face a worthy opponent.
It's this thrill seeking, suicidally high risk mentality that really articulates the main idea behind the Souls series.
When the fight is over Gutts tortures the fiend for information, then lets him burn to death.
The Mad King
In the Souls universe, The Mad King is among its most tenacious themes.
"Surely you have seen for yourself… the pain and suffering that fills this world!
But fight poison with poison. God is merciful, and so, created the Old One.
The Old One will feed upon our souls, and put an end to our tragic realm of existence!" - Old King Allant
"I have had enough of this rotten world. No one wishes to go on…" - Old King Allant
In DS1, the protagonist embarks on a journey through the land of lords, Lordran. But the lords have lost their minds, and madness rules the kingdom.
The once great king of this realm - Gwyn - has been reduced to a mindless hollow. The whole world in fact, is doggedly going to hell.
In Berserk, the King of Midland is an important antagonist.
Originally he was a patron of Griffith and his Band of the Hawk, but this changed after Griffith kills his wife and seduces his daughter.
The King lusted after his daughter himself, and tried to ravage her. This led his daughter, Charlotte, to run away with the Band of the Hawk.
Griffith, who's since become a demon king, later returns to Charlotte and marries her, substantially increasing Griffith's power.
The Collapsing Pupil
A hunter who goes drunk with blood is said to be taken by the Nightmare, destined to wander forever, engaged in an endless hunt. It is a fate that no Hunter can escape"
A collapsed pupil is symptomatic of the Scourge of Beasts, the mixed in themes of "collapse" and "pupil" may therefore infer something about the nature of Beasthood.
Called "Hollowing" it symbolized the protagonist descending into a state of horrible madness, transforming into an undead monster that would eternally feed on Souls.
An alternative theory focusses on the iris, not the pupil. The iris is a muscle, designed to constrain the pupil. Its destruction may symbolize the destruction of "restraint".
In Berserk, the collapsing pupil belongs to a woman named Casca. It symbolizes her recollection of Berserk's eclipse, during which she was violently raped by demons.
The dark figures, swirling in her eyes, are actually the silhouettes of those demons towering over her. Which backs my theory that the swirling shadows depict The Dark.
The demon eclipse launched Griffith's ascension to the rank of demon king. Griffith, who she adored, participated in the rape. The whole of which destroyed her mind.
With her mind destroyed, Casca becomes a childlike fool and is left incapable of speech. She also responds with extreme terror to anything reminding her of the event.
Casca's descent into madness also provides backing for the alternative "no-restraint" theory, which posits that the relaxing pupil symbolizes the end of rational control.
One particularly twisted shape of the "eclipse/eye" appear in a striking monologue by the Demon Wolf, a manifestation of the darkness that surrounds protagonist Gutts.
During the eclipse, the eclipse itself behaves like a morbid and changing eye. In the end, the Skull Knight shatters the eclipse, thus proving that the eclipse was illusory.
At the same time, Gutts starts to wear the black armor that would make him notorious as "The Black Swordsman".
The Dragonslayer's first reincarnation into the Souls series is named "The Dragon Bone Smasher " - A bladeless, thick mass of iron used for smashing.
Bloodborne has no lack of oversized weapons, and it's Church Weapons in particular that adhere to being blunt and oversized .
Item descriptions found on Church Weapons reveal that the Church began creating gargantuan weapons for the purpose of facing gargantuan beasts.
"It exhibits several departures from the workshop's design, suggesting that the Church anticipated much larger inhuman beasts." - Ludwig's Holy Blade
The Asylum Demon
The Berserk version of it actually has two faces, one human, one beastly. One can still recognize how the Asylum Demon's face is a composite of both faces .
Smough - The Executioner
Many of Executioner Smough's other qualities were likely inspired by the angel faced wheel executioner , a member of Mozgus' band of torturers .
These apostles were modeled after angels. Despite their wickedness, Mozgus declared them proponents of God's fire, whose will is the only truth.
It's possible that Kentaro Miura sought to crack people's presumptions by giving monsters angelic designs, thus accusing the value of appearances.
The face of the wheel executioner is that of a cherub , . Cherubs are a very pure sort of angels, often represented as chubby toddlers in art.
In this context, the childlike features represent a mockery of innocence, implying that stupidity and deformity explain the executioner's evil deeds.
Smough is a product of the same line of thinking: his fair, plump face, and small head insinuating a childlike, angelic nature, in spite of his actions.
"An old wooden amulet resembling the Old One.
It can utilize both miracles and spells.
The symbol of God was nothing more than the Image of the Old One." - Talisman of Beasts
"If you truly are a disciple, then you must have a talisman in God's image.
After the dark arts spread across the land, holy miracles were witnessed once again.
It is God's way of telling us we must stand up to the Demons." - Quotes from Saint Urbain
Urbain becomes confused near the end of the game, failing to recognize the call of The Old One as anything demonic, he rather hears a child's crying.
"From where does that howl come?!
That is no Demon. It sounds more like a poor hungry child.
Do you have any idea what it might be?
Something about it sets me at great unease." - Saint Urbain
The god Urbain worshipped was nothing but the deceptive Old One, in close analogy with Mozgus who worshipped the equally deceptive Idea of Evil.
His faith proved to be mistaken, and his Miracles came from The Old One just like any other magic. This logic may have been inherited by Dark Souls.
Mozgus' executioners brought about Executioner Smough, Smough then inspired the angelic Winged Knights, which are presumably villains as well.
It's a tradition that gave rise to characters like Sephiroth, FFXIII's Orphan and more abstract villains like FFX's "Sin".
One series stands out for creating worlds where angels and demons are pitted against each other, based on their opposing, but equally monstrous belief systems.
The Shin Megami Tensei series released its fourth installment in 2013, it's set in a post-apocalyptic world where Law (angels) are pitted against Chaos (demons).
As the plot unfolds, it is revealed that the creator - YHVH - is behind both sides, who created them to keep humanity in an endless cycle of despair.
Both series are very difficult, both began with very humble graphics but great atmosphere, that atmosphere being one of pervasive emptiness and foreboding.
It's quite possible that people at From Software like SMT, and that they might also incorporate elements like Merkabah, the final boss of their most recent title.
In Bloodborne "The Executioners" form an obscure band of church assassins. There're many things about them that are suspicious, like their peculiar hats.
Over time, it lost its innocuousness and it turned into a hat of shame instead. Criminals were made to wear it, after which they were spat on and humiliated.
Later still, the hats began to be associated with flagellants , who wore these hats as a means of atoning, through pain and humiliation .
A version of the capirote became part of the mass executions performed by The Spanish Inquisition , who forced them on those sentenced to death.
At present, the capirote is most identified with the Klu Klux Klan , a congregation of right wing extremists with a history of terrorism and racial murder.
The meaning of "Ardeo" is "to burn" (again thank you Mitch L), which does suggest that the Executioners worship something similar to Dark Souls "Fire".
"In olden times when the Chieftain of our people summoned the clan on an errand of life and death, the Fiery Cross, extinguished in sacrificial blood, was
sent by swift courier from village to village. This call was never made in vain, nor will it be to-night in the new world. Here, on this spot made holy ground
by the blood of those we hold dearer than life, I raise the ancient symbol of an unconquered race of men" - Thomas Dixon Jr. (Ku Klux Klan Advocate)
There's another quirk to the Gold Ardeo, in that it is shaped like a "candle snuffer ". "To snuff someone" is slang for murder.
"Snuff" refers to a morbid internet phenomenon, involving the torture, rape, and murder of a person, for the purpose of circulating the recorded material.
"Acts of goodness are not always wise, and acts of evil are not always foolish, but regardless, we shall always strive to be good." - Executioner Garb
Ludwig was an Executioner, as is evidenced by his garb matching that attire , , . He also admits to having had opponents, who thought him a mere brute.
"Oh, my, Just as I feared. Then a beast-possessed degenerate was I, as my detractors made eminently clear.
Does the nightmare never end?!" - Ludwig, The Holy Blade
The Executioner's Chariot Soul has a peculiar description:
"Soul of the Executioner's Chariot, that holds control over the Undead Purgatory.
The chariot was created only to torment Undead, and it took the form of a horrendous mad steed, a window into the soul of its master."
The Executioner's Chariot, created only to torment Undead, took the form of a horrendous mad steed, a reflection into the soul of the executioner.
Ludwig is another such, horrendous, mad steed. An executioner, who torment a sea of undead without relent. Until the player stops him.
"Lance forged from the soul of the Executioner's Chariot. Its cross-shaped blade causes bleeding.
The perverse design of this spear mirrors the chariot from which it came, a merciless creation that endlessly tortured the Undead."
The Shield Crossbow which can be forged from the same soul reads:
The merciless chariot inflicted agony upon others with utter impunity,
and the crossbow created from its soul strives to protect from possible retribution.
Such descriptions don't bode well for the morality of "executioners". Perhaps the latest example of the same idea: "The Cathedral Evangelist" showed up in DS3.
"God approaches Ezekiel as the divine warrior, riding in his battle chariot. The chariot is drawn by four living creatures, each having four faces (those of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle) and four wings. Beside each "living creature" is a "wheel within a wheel", with "tall and awesome" rims full of eyes all around." - en.wikipedia.org
"You still will not fall? You are truly the embodiment of filth. Nonetheless... just as darkness is pierced by light, your defeat is part of the natural order of things.
Now learn of the humans' filth and its powerlessness before my light!" - Monologue by the seraph Merkabah as he/she's depicted in Shin Megami Tensei IV
"Now, there is one thing you must know.
By the oath of the League, those who bear its rune will see vermin.
Vermin writhe deep within all filth, and are the root of man's impurity.
…All vermin are to be crushed.
The League exists to expunge all vermin,
ridding us of any trace of human corruption.
And so, until we are rid of all vermin,
you must continue to hunt and kill.
This bloody fate is ours alone.
Do not expect the world to grasp our work…
Members of The League cleanse the streets,
of all the filth that's spread about during the hunt.
Like any half-decent hunter ought to, you know?
Haven't you seen enough of these wretched beasts,
freakish slugs, and mad doctors?
Sentence these fiends to death.
Now you're all set to hunt and kill to your heart's content.
What do you say? Why not join the League?" - Valtr
Throne symbolism can also be found in Yahar'gul, where it adorns gates with imagery of an older man sitting on a throne , ad infinitum.
"I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire." - Daniel 7:9
"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal:
and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne,
were four beasts full of eyes before and behind." - Revelation 4:6
In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream, and visions passed through his mind as he was lying in bed.
He wrote down the substance of his dream.
Daniel said: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me were the four winds of heaven churning up the great sea.
Four great beasts, each different from the others, came up out of the sea. - Daniel 7
“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated, and the books were opened.
“Then I continued to watch because of the boastful words the horn was speaking.
I kept looking until the beast was slain and its body destroyed and thrown into the blazing fire. - Daniel 7
It is quite possible that all these thrones, and possessed wheels , symbolize Merkabah, and that the shroud is yet another rendering of the same thing.
Yharnam as The Demon City "Windham"
"Windham" is the capitol of Midland and a central location in the Berserk storyline. It begins as the city of The Mad King, but is ultimately seized by The Kushan Emperor.
By parallel Yharnam is afflicted a polymorphous defilement, often nameless , at other times called "Ashen Blood Disease " or Scourge of Beasts.
In Yharnam, crocodiles and elephants are replaced by werewolves and overgrown swines , and not Arklow Knights, but Hunters rush to the rescue.
The horror, called "The Apostle Womb " connects Windham to pregnancy and reproduction, a theme that would develop far greater importance in Bloodborne.
The Womb, an amalgam of demons, bears a semblance to The One Reborn , a creature which is linked to "birth" and also to the infant "Mergo".
"Fog", eternalized in the form of Fog Gates , is a symbol of the series, but it hasn't really been in the spotlight much since Demon's Souls.
Another indicator to the importance of fog, is that it appears only marginally in waking world areas , but everywhere in Nightmare areas .
It may be this grey, colourless fog that constitutes a Nightmare. Such mist may stem directly from anything mirroring The Old One , or a Demon/Great One .
"The murk shifts and stirs. Yet another stands before us…Then so be it. For the curse of life, is the curse of want. And so, you peer…Into the fog, in hope of answers."
This fog may in fact be one and the same as "The Dark" and "The Abyss". Like in Berserk this vortex may serve to take the character to another reality .