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 Berserk's very pessimistic 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.
He may as 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 a symptom of the Scourge of Beasts, its structure may therefore infer something about the essence of Beasts.
A first possibility is that the pupil indicates the spreading of "darkness". For the pupil is that part of the eye that is dark and shadowy.
If the dark, shadowy area of the eye enlarges, this could symbolize the "dark" taking over. This would fit my theory that Beasts are fundamentally dark.
My alternative theory focusses on the iris, not the pupil. The iris is a muscle, designed to constrain the pupil. Its destruction may symbolize the end of "restraint".
In Berserk, the collapsing pupil belongs to Casca. It symbolizes a flashback to the demon eclipse, during which she was violently raped by demons.
The dark figures, swirling in her eyes, actually portray these very demons towering over her. This backs my theory that the expanding pupil depicts the dark.
The demon eclipse launched Griffith's ascension into a 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 madness also provides backing for the alternative "no-restraint" theory. She's no longer a rational agent and goes into a frenzy whenever she's touched by a man.
Besides Casca's tragedy, the imagery of the collapsing eye may be used to depict the eclipse itself.
It appears in one striking monologue by the Demon Wolf, a manifestation of Gutts' dark side and/or the dark spirits that gather arround him.
During the eclipse, the eclipse itself behaves like a morbid and changing eye. In the end, the Skull Knight shatters the eclipse, proving it was an illusion.
Called Dragonslayer, it is forged by an especially talented blacksmith, not long after the Demon Eclipse.
At the same time, Gutts starts to wear the black armor that will make notorious as "The Black Swordsman".
His left arm, which was lost during the Demon Eclipse, is replaced by a prosthetic. This iron arm can be outfitted with a crossbow and a cannon.
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, but it's the Church Weapons in particular that adhere to being blunt and oversized.
Their item descriptions reveal that the Church began creating gargantuan weapons for the purpose of facing gargantuan beasts.
This creates a parallel with Gutts, who upgrades his weapon because he knows he will have to fight Apostles, not mere men.
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
When The Count transforms to fight Gutts, he transforms "phallus-first ". This may very well be why Smough's armor flaunts a large hanging phallus .
Besides The Count, Smough derives many qualities from one of Mozgus' Gang . The one in question being the wheel executioner , .
The Berserk "executioners" are a band of torturers who work for the Holy See Religious Order, under Father Mozgus.
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, the message being: "don't be fooled by appearances!"
After all: that which looks like an angel, may just a demon with the animal traits of a bird, no different from a man with horns, goatlegs and a pointy tail.
The face of the wheel executioner is that of a cherub , . Cherubs are a very pure sort of angels, often depicted as chubby toddlers.
In this context, the childlike features represent a mockery of innocence. It invokes the idea that genetic abnormality caused the executioner's evil acts.
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
He becomes confused near the end of the game, as he does not recognize the call of The Old One as anything demonic, but rather the call of a child.
"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
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 the final boss of their most recent title.
So if the comparison with Souls holds true, then clerics may not have to be viewed as a band of good people gone wrong but rather as the puppets of an evil god.
In Bloodborne "The Executioners" form an obscure band of church assassins. There's many things suspicious about them, beginning with their strange hats.
Over time, it lost its innocuousness, it became a hat of shame which criminals were made to wear as they were spat on and humiliated.
Later still, they began to be worn by flagellants , who saw in these hats a way of attoning for their sins through humiliation.
These hats became part of the mass executions performed by The Spanish Inquisition, who forced them on those sentenced to death.
In our time, the conical hat is most identified with the Klu Klux Klan , a congregation of right wing extremists with a history of racial murder.
The meaning of "Ardeo" is "to burn" (again thank you Mitch L), which does suggest that the Executioners serve something akin to "Fire".
The main theme of the first KKK was the "purification" of race and society. Something that is also symbolized by their burning crosses.
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". There's another theme worth discussing, the theme of "the chariot".
"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
It is quite possible that all these thrones symbolize Merkabah, and that the shroud is yet another rendering of the same thing.
These two ideas "ascension" and "intolerance" may not be independent. History has often pursued the idea that ascension may come from intolerance.
This recurring idea has many forms. The ascetic form is that a human being may ascend spirtually by rejecting his/her "lesser traits".
What exactly these lesser traits are varies by time and place. On a social level this idea has produced abominable oppression and ethnic cleansing.
It is an idea closely related to both hatred and self-hatred, but it is not an evil idea, rather it's an idea that's open to a great deal of abuse.
Depending on what is considered "an objectionable trait" and how people approach the problem, it can produce very benevolent results.
The likes of Smough may display the most primitive form of this idea, where an evil being seeks redemption - ascension - by killing other evil beings.
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 .