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Daniil Dankovsky, The Bachelor
The truth is my shepherd. Whatever happens, I will find answers. And justice will be restored. I will perform the operation. Medicum morbo adhibere.
- Animal Motifs: Several different characters liken him to a snake. Fittingly, he wears a snakeskin coat.
- Audience Surrogate: While not strictly required, the game nudges you in the direction of playing his route first for this reason. As an outsider to the town, characters tend to be more patient and willing to explain local customs to him than to the native Haruspex.
- Break the Haughty: Hoo boy.
- The Dandy: He has shades of this on the Haruspex's route, where he generally stays in his laboratory in the upper-class district of town and employs Burakh to do the dirty work for him. Downplayed in his own route.
- Deadly Doctor: His starting weapon is his scalpel, and he has enough knowledge of firearms to dispatch bandits and most other assailants as necessary.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Daniil arrives to the Town-On-Ghorkon by night and somehow ends up staying at Eva Yan's house due to what's described as a 'chance encounter'.
- Failure Hero: Daniil's wins are few and far between, his allies either fold or betray him, and ultimately it's the Haruspex who discovers the Panacea. It's not shocking that he eventually decides the only thing about the town worth saving is the Polyhedron.
- Gentleman Snarker: Has a sharp wit and a rather dry sense of humor.
- Ignored Expert: Daniil has to spend much of the critical early hours after the outbreak has begun just trying to convince people it even exists. By the time he does, it's too late.
- Immortality Seeker: His life's work revolves around trying to find a way to defeat death itself, and he finds himself oppressed and his laboratory in danger of closure for his controversial opinions on the subject. Unlike most examples of this trope, his desire to end death extends to all of humanity and is one of his few unambiguously virtuous traits.
- Implied Love Interest: There's no real romance options in the game, but Daniil starts the game lodging at Eva's house and can flirt with both her and Maria Kaina.
- Insufferable Genius: Practically every time you engage in dialogue with other characters while playing as him, at least one of your dialogue options will be rude, smug, patronizing, and/or dismissive. It also seems that when the player is not in control of him, he defaults to behaving like this.
- Pragmatic Hero: Truly desires to save lives and end the plague, but Daniil tends to believe that his logic is infallible, and by extension, that all of his actions are justified and the only correct path.
- Pretentious Latin Motto: Infrequently peppers his sentences with Latin phrases as a means of highlighting both his high education and pretentiousness. He drops two in the very first scene of the entire game.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Downplayed. His route can easily be viewed as this. In his default ending, he destroys the town at the whim of the dark and morally ambiguous Kain family in order to preserve the Polyhedron, knowing full well that the Plague sprang from it's construction. The Powers-That-Be note that Daniil's 'doll' usually played the villain in their stories.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: In truth, Wrong for the Right Reasons. Almost every single assumption he makes about the nature of the plague are correct, such as identifying that it needs a living host to propagate and thatthere's an individual carrier spreading the disease. Being both an outsider and an educated man of science meant that the answer — that the town itself was the sick carrier — was so far beyond his line of thinking that he never stood a chance at finding a solution.
- Sabotage to Discredit: The Powers-That-Be send him a letter cheerily handing over control of the Sand Plague outbreak to Daniil. Simultaneously, he receives another letter from a colleague at Thanatica, this one informing him that the Powers-That-Be have doubled down their efforts to destroy the lab. It's implied by the opening text scrawl that they may have had knowledge of the approaching second outbreak beforehand, and somehow engineered his arrival there in the first place.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: His default model wears a well-fitted black and red longcoat made of snakeskin. He can also end at least one conversation by praising the interlocutor's suit and inquiring about their tailor. This can (and likely will) be subverted as the plot progresses, as he increasingly dons shabby but protective clothing to ward off the plague.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: To the point where sometimes the only dialogue options you get are varying levels of snark. Subverted a bit in that he's only 5'2".
- Tragic Dream: He wants to defeat death itself. His dream leads him to the Town-On-Ghorkon, and then Death proceeds to show him exactly what he's up against.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: There's a reason his bound are called 'Utopians'. His default ending has him sacrifice the town for the sake of preserving the miracle-shaping, law-defying Polyhedron, all in preparation for a new Utopia to be built under its shadow on the opposite side of the Gorkhon.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Though he likely wouldn't view himself as such, much preferring to call himself a rationalist or a skeptic, his goal of defeating death itself is idealism to the point of naivety.
Artemy Burakh, The Haruspex
Any choice is right as long as it's willed. That's the truth of the matter.
- Animal Motifs: Fittingly for the Steppe native, he's represented by a bull, and he's as imposing and powerful as one. Further symbolized by the town itself being a literal wounded bull, Artemy serves as the eyes through which we view the Town from an insider's perspective.
- As You Know: Played with. Because of the fact that it is possible to play Burakh's route before the Bachelor's, the Haruspex has a lot of dialogue where he can ask questions that he should know the answer to, which will usually prompt a confused or insulted response from the natives who expected that - as Isidor's son - he would know all of this already. The in-game reason for this is because he hasn't been back to the town in about ten years.
- Book Dumb: Downplayed. He's not uneducated, but he never earned a formal degree, and as such lacks a lot of specific scientific knowledge - he knows what works, but doesn't always know why. For example, when developing the Panacea in the Bachelor's route, he has to enlist Daniil's help to examine his sample because he only has a vague idea about what antibodies even are.
- Character Tics: Artemy's animations for his character model frequently show him offsetting his jaw when he's deep in thought.
- Cold Equation: Is more than willing to end the suffering of the soon-to-be-dead infected in order to find a cure for the plague.
- Determinator: When Artemy gets a letter from his father informing him of his imminent death, instead of waiting for a train, he walks the tracks home. On the Russian Steppe. And has to kill two armed men with his bare hands as soon as he arrives. And all of this is just the opening sequence of the game.
- A Friend in Need: Early on, Artemy's only allies are two of his three childhood friends: Bad Grief and Lara Ravel. Rubin, meanwhile, spends much of the game thinking Artemy killed his own father/Rubin's mentor.
- Friend to All Children: All of his adherents are children, and he speaks to all of them like they're his equals.
- Good Is Not Nice: Easily the most antisocial of the protagonists, his manner of speaking is extremely blunt and to the point, even when he's attempting to be polite. And when he's not, he's rather curt with people he's not interested in and is quick to threaten violence when he takes offense. That said, he does truly have the best interests of the town at heart - even as that same town tries time and time again to hunt him down and kill him.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Starts the game with low reputation and has to work to clear his name and regain standing. While it's possible for him to max it out, doing so can actually be counterproductive to the playstyle needed to survive and progress on his route.
- In-Series Nickname: Cub, by his childhood friends.
- Like Father, Like Son: His father was a Menkhu who managed to snuff out the First Outbreak, and Artemy is bound by tradition to take on his inheritance and follow in his footsteps. He's also the one who manages to develop the cure.
- Magical Steppe Dweller: Downplayed. While he comes from a steppe tribe, is a shaman, and follows mystic traditional beliefs, he's still more or less integrated with the more modern society of the town and does make use of technology and science as well. His abilities also are more a function of his position in tribal society and teachings than actual magic, but he fits this role in the story regardless.
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: Although he's later cleared of the murder of his well-respected father, he never quite manages to shake the 'Ripper' image that came with it.
- Pursuing Parental Perils: He's a Menkhu, as his father was, who uses the skills he learned from him to relentlessly seek a cure for the plague that killed his father.
Clara, The Changeling
Those who favor hard logic and direct action are bound to be misguided. Only a miracle can set us free without us having to destroy something. And I can do miracles. Just let me!
- Dub Name Change: Clara's title is, fittingly, the one with the most ambiguity as to its meaning. In Russian, it translates bluntly as 'Impostor' or 'Pretender'. The original localization interprets it as 'Devotress', possibly due to her bound being so devoted to her cause that they're willing to die for her miracle. The HD remaster finally settles on the more neutral 'Changeling'.
- Enemy Without: Clara should have been more careful with her words. By claiming the deaths caused by her powers were actually caused by someone else, Clara accidentally creates her own antagonist.
- Speaking with the Powers That Be implies this is because the two are in disagreement about what her role in the story should be.
- Fourth-Wall Observer: A limited example. Since playing as Clara requires having played one of the other players, she is a lot more aware of the weird meta narrative then the other two protagonists. She even investigates the other Fourth Wall Observers at the theatre.
- Healing Hands
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Clara's mystic powers mean that her reputation is constantly dropping, rumors swirling that she is a witch, or a steppe demon, or even a manifestation of the plague itself. However, her Healing Hands allow her to raise said reputation quite easily.
- Jeanne d'Archétype: The messianic individual who simply popped into existence, with healing hands and a direct line to the Powers-That-Be.
- Mystical Waif
- Living Lie Detector: As long as Clara knows the name of a person and a secret about them, she can force them to speak the truth.
- Reality Warper: Clara has a limited ability to change reality - however, it generally has consequences. For example, her Healing Hands also have a chance of striking a person dead.
- Rise from Your Grave: Starts the game in a shallow grave.
- Shadow Archetype: Aspity is this to Clara, being another Mystical Waif whose mysterious origins complicate the story.
The Ruling Families
- Generation Xerox: Of Nina Kaina. She seeks to become the Dark Mistress and rule the survivors of the town with an iron fist.
- Antagonistic Offspring: With his son, Khan.
Khan / Kaspar Kain
- Lotus-Eater Machine: He guards the Polyhedron because it is one for the children.
- Married in the Future: To Capella in the Haruspex ending. This is more politics then anything else: if the Kains and the Olgimsky families were united, there would be no political unrest.
- Meaningful Name: Khan is the leader of the Dogheads, the biggest gang in town. He also fancies himself as a future General.
- The Wise Prince: To the extent that a 13 year old can be. He evacuates the majority of the town's children to the Polyhedron, which the plague cannot reach, and rebels against the corruption of the rest of his family.
Vlad Olgimsky / Big Vlad
- Good Old Ways: Of the ruling families, Big Vlad has the biggest connection to the Steppe and the Earth. This also puts him on immediate bad footing with the Bachelor, who he sees as an interfering outsider.
Capella / Victoria Olgimskaya Jr.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: She spurs the Haruspex into protecting the children of the town, and he herself leads the town's children alongside Khan Kain.
- Married in the Future: To Khan. It was her idea to ensure peace between their families.
- Meaningful Name: Her name means "chapel", referencing her future status as Mistress.
- Waif Prophet: Heir to the title of White Mistress, although her powers will not be full until after the plague is over. She laments this, as Maria Kaina is able to come into her own during the game, placing Capella in danger.
Vlad the Younger
- The Atoner: He buys the entire market of Panacea up... but then distributes it for not even a fraction of what he bought it for, as penance for locking down the Termitary. He leaves none for himself, and even makes sure to distribute it to the three women he nearly condemned to death by recruiting them to test the plague.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Being a military man, he's more worldly than most of the Steppe natives and holds fewer of their superstitions. Subverted hard as the plague begins to get worse. His heavy-handed use of authority causes him to imprison innocent people with impunity, and those who didn't die in their cells take up knives and take to the streets.
- Addled Addict: Despite being the only living Mistress, her visions are only trusted by those closest to her because she's addicted to morphine.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: Katerina was this when Nina and Victoria were alive. When Nina died, Katerina took up the mantle of the Dark Mistress; when Victoria died, she tried to move back to the light, but couldn't. It's this imbalance that's implied to have caused her fall from grace.
- Younger Than They Look: Katerina is the only living fully-realized Mistress. Her counterparts that she stood beside are lauded as legends that transcend the ages, her voice sounds raspy and weathered, her face is creased with lines, her manner of dress resembles that of a widow's... and then you do the math and realize she's only 30.
- Dented Iron: Of a sort. If it weren't for his extreme age, his blood would have cured the plague itself. In fact, the first vaccine the Bachelor is able to synthesize is based on Simon's blood, and gives an 85% immunity to the plague for four hours.
- The Patriarch: Of the Kain family. His death has the family reeling.
- Vague Age: Simon was thought to be immortal, and indeed may have been, if it weren't for the fact he was the first to catch the Sand Plague.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: She was so cruel that the Kain's popularity rose after she died, because they looked positively humanist in comparison.
- The Sacred Darkness: As the Dark Mistress, she was seen as the embodiment of this when she was alive.
- Hero of Another Story: Five years previously, Isidor "caught the previous outbreak [of the Sand Plague] by the tail". His death at the start of the Second Outbreak makes things far worse, as it forces the Bachelor and the Haruspex to start from scratch in finding the cure.
- 100% Adoration Rating: Everyone, from the lowliest orphan children to the highest of the great families, loved and respected Isidor. His death is so shocking that random townsfolk were easily convinced to form a lynch mob versus the man accused of murdering him. Pity that the Haruspex was innocent of the crime, as it makes your job a lot harder.
- Uncertain Doom: A really weird example. While she's almost certainly 'dead' and cannot be saved through gameplay in any way, the game mechanics still treat her as alive after Day 7. Eva is never marked off Daniil's Bound list and an Executor is never placed outside her house, and the Executor outside the Cathedral on day 12 implies that this is because she believes that she's still alive. Whether that means she succeeded in putting her soul in the Cathedral is never explained.
- Hysterical Woman: Eva spends most of the game being absolutely inconsolable about the Plague, to the point where it's portrayed as ridiculous despite the Sand Pest being a very real, deadly threat. She even misses her chance to skip town because she fainted after staying up all day worrying about it.
- Senseless Sacrifice: On day 7, Eva commits suicide by leaping off of the Cathedral in an attempt to use her soul to power it. It... probably didn't work.
- Addled Addict: He spends most of his time intoxicated on twyrine, to the point where he hasn't completed any new projects in years.
- Drowning My Sorrows: He's traumatized by what he saw during the First Outbreak, and has become addicted to alcohol and painkillers to cope.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to his brother Andrey's Red.
- Verbal Tic: He has a tendency to call people 'old boy'.
- Agony of the Feet: He hurt his foot before the game began, which is why he doesn't leave his gang's hideout.
- Kids Are Cruel: He gives the Haruspex a mission to murder a former member of his gang who stole a box of "shmowders", one of the few ways to cure the plague. It's up to you on how this is handled. In the remake, he instead wants revenge on the gang member for murdering three dogs the "Soul-and-a-Halves" cared for.
- Street Urchin: After being ousted from the Polyhedron by Khan and Taya, he formed his own gang, the "Soul-and-a-Halves".
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: Hers died during the previous Sand Plague outbreak.
- Street Urchin: She lives in the railway center alone.
- Waif Prophet: She's able to listen to the Earth. If she survives and the Haruspex ending is chosen, she is destined to become a Mistress in ten years, along with Capella and Grace.
- The Artful Dodger: An orphan, like several of the other Termites; however, he doesn't associate with any of the child gangs, prefering to stick it alone.
Mother Superior/Taya Tycheek
- A Child Shall Lead Them: The Butchers are completely loyal to her, as are a number of Worms and other children.
- Family of Choice: She treats the entire Termitary as hers, including the Haruspex once he becomes the Elder.
- Take Up My Sword: She willingly left the Polyhedron after her father died, becoming Mother Superior of the Termitary.
- Abusive Parents: Her father was one, as he forced his wife and daughter to drink twyrine.
- Due to the Dead: Her only goal as caretaker to the cemetery. At night, she brings gifts the dead might like to their graves.
- Waif Prophet: She speaks to the dead. If she survives and the Haruspex ending is chosen, she is destined to become a Mistress in ten years, along with Capella and Murky.
- Ambiguously Human: Aspity looks human, but rumors about her true nature abound, some of which she herself will claim to be true.
- Mad Eye: In the remake, one of her eyes is permanently dilated.
- Meaningful Name: Her name is a combination of 'asp' (a type of snake), 'spit', 'pity', and 'spite'.
- Nature Spirit: She claims to be a spirit of the Earth sent to uphold the Law. Exactly how true this is in actuality is never made clear.
- Beware the Nice Ones: When the military arrives, Lara begins asking around for a gun because she wants to murder Commander Block. It can be inferred it has something to do with the execution of her disgraced father.
- Good Samaritan: Runs a shelter, and will provide free milk and bread to the player starting on Day 3.
- In-Series Nickname: Gravel, by her childhood friends. She seems to like it the least of the group.
- The Fatalist: Yulia self-identifies as one,and does some truly foolish things during the plague, which she seems to view mostly as a way to test her personal philosophy.
- Taking the Heat: She wants to take the fall for Lara, who is trying to murder Commander Block.
- Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: She's a gorgeous young woman... who was also a part of a caravan that regularly kidnapped children.
- Fairest of Them All: Rumor has it that she used dark magic to steal the youth and beauty of children.
- Liquid Assets: Anna was a deformed mute who was taken in by the Ace of Diamonds Caravan. She learned their magic, and when the Caravan was captured by the authorities, Anna hid in the Town where she used her abilities to steal the hair, voice, and clothes of Willow Mellows.
- Not Me This Time: Anna's not by any means a good person, but she had nothing to do with the plague or the quarantine break in the cathedral that she'd been framed for.
- Offstage Villainy: There are plenty of rumors about Anna's past, but we see little to none of this in the game itself.
- Childhood Friends: With the Haruspex. Isidor actually wanted to adopt him.
- Heroic BSoD: After deriving the first vaccine from the body of Simon Kain, he turns himself in to the authorities for breaking the town's taboo for non-Menkhu on dissecting bodies.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Allow the plague to spread: or dissect Simon's body and try to find a cure. He chooses to flee with Simon's body, but the guilt of breaking his culture's taboos causes him to fall into a deep depression that Clara is forced to help him out of.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He's not responsible for the brigands in town, and, in fact, Grief kicked them out after they started breaking the traditional taboo of cutting bodies (i.e., stabbing random people) with knives.
- Meaningful Name: His nickname is a contraction of his given name (Grigory Fillin) and means "vulture" in Russian.
- Satisfied Street Rat: The head of a gang of smugglers, and the chief source of weapons for the healers.
- Would Hurt a Child: Like Notkin, he too was ripped off by the same kid. The Haruspex can get a larger reward for murdering the child if he goes to Bad Grief before doing the deed.
- Animal Motifs: Auroch, like the Haruspex.
- The Atoner: Like all Humbles - but doubly so in Oyun's case.
- Big Bad: For the Haruspex's scenario. Oyun murdered Isidor when he found out that the doctor was planning on challenging his position as Elder, robbing the town of its' doctor right at the start of the Sand Plague. He then attempts to kill the Haruspex through a series of trials, allegedly to prove his worth. His bullheadedness causes the Sand Plague outbreak to turn into a full blown epidemic. In the Haruspex's scenario, he can be fought and killed, making Artemy the new Elder. In the Changeling's scenario, the Changeling instead has him become one of her adherents, laying down his life to become a source of panacea.
- Inadequate Inheritor: After becoming the Elder, he saw no portents of the Earth. When he learned that the Haruspex might be the true Elder, rather then give up his position, Oyun devised a series of trials to murder him.
- Will Not Tell a Lie: ... but that doesn't stop him from telling Half-Truths to the Haruspex. His fight with Artemy comes after he is flat out asked if he murdered Isidor, a question he cannot sidestep.
The Powers That Be and Servants
The Inquisitor / Aglaya Lilich
- Fourth-Wall Observer: She is aware of the nature of the world. She was a doll owned by the Powers That Be's aunt, given a new set of clothes by them to play the role of antagonist
- Impossible Task: Like the doctors, she was given the task of solving the plague or be executed in the Capital.
- Strangled by the Red String: She immediately falls hard for Artemy. It's up to the player if he returns her affections.
The Commander / Alexander Block
- Four-Star Badass: Block is a war hero, and and whether people think him honorable or brutal, everyone considers him an extremely capable military commander (in fact, probably too capable to be sent just to contain a disease outbreak in a remote small town). There is an offhand mention of him commanding his troops in a war where he lost only nineteen men, while the enemy casualties exceeded fourteen thousand.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: With every protagonist he is always willing to at least hear their arguments. In the final day, he will follow your plan if you have one... but if there seems to be no other solution to the plague, he will level the entire town.
- Terse Talker: In contrast to every other character's flowery dialogue, Block only speaks in short sentences.
The Powers That Be
The Executor and the Tragedian
- Author Avatar: Occasionally. At the beginning of the game, they explain game mechanics (including a key point that characters WILL lie to you). Near the end, assuming you have saved not only your own adherents but the adherents of the other characters, they congratulate you on how well you did and perform one final performance.
- Psychopomp: In the main game, Executors appear at the doors of the Bound that are sick, telling you who is in danger of dying. In The Marble Nest, an Executor appears as the avatar of the plague itself, taunting the Bachelor of his failure to save the Stone Yard. In 2, the Tragedians appear as the spirits of the dead in Artemy's dreams.