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Secrets and wonders can be found in the most tenebrous corners of this place.
The Ancestor

  • Battles against Ectoplasms and/or Large Ectoplasms (only when they are the only monsters involved in the fight) don't grant any loot at all. Since said monsters are nothing but incomplete skeletons of swordsmen totally embedded in a huge mass of goo, it wouldn't contain anything useful, as any item the heroes could theoretically find after searching through the remains would be too filthy or too damaged to be valuable anymore.
  • The final boss is mocking you and your struggle. Specifically, the final boss is a general metaphor for the damage you (the heir) have done to both foe and ally alike to get this far.
    • The first stage involves defeating clones of the Ancestor, where each kill of a mutated clone will damage the otherwise invincible boss. This fight represents your willingness to murder anything and anyone in your way and butcher that which is outright disgusting, all to deal Scratch Damage to the final boss.
    • The second stage involves a tug-of-war between your characters and the Ancestor avatar and the abyssal pits of darkness allied with him. The three abyssal pits of darkness represent everything you can't easily defeat or understand. In other words, metaphorically speaking, the abyssal pits are the strange things going on in the world you (the heir) never attempt to fix, such as the corruption in the Weald. The Ancestor avatar itself is the "easy path", such as the destruction of the low-health psychological-damaging enemies over the more robust, physically stronger foes, or just the destruction of monsters over solving the long-term issues of the Hamlet beyond monsters, including the abundance of disease and the Hamlet's isolation.
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    • The third stage is a Breather Episode, allowing your characters to heal nearly all damage but likely inflicting blight, symbolizing how your hamlet is, at the moment, a safe haven. As the blight represents, however, the toll of the dungeons still inflicts scars. Heroes must be sent to the Sanitarium, Church, or Tavern in order to "fully" recover from the mental scars accumulated dungeon run after dungeon run; these recoveries can be easily undone after one dungeon run, regardless of how much gold was spent.
    • The final stage is straightforward enough, but, outside of taking certain precautions and sheer luck being on your side, you will lose at least 2 heroes, cementing that no matter what, you were always ultimately sending them on a suicide mission.
  • While the ending is suitably dark for the genre, there are hints that the Heart of Darkness was lying: for one thing, the conclusion it was promising to the world when the stars align is out of line with its demonstrated abilities, and when you first reach the Heart, it even admits that it is a lying, manipulative monstrosity that tricked you into coming to the Estate. Furthermore, the presence of Light-aligned characters with divine powers, divine visions of greater beings, and holy shrines indicates that there are benevolent powers defending the world and supporting humanity. With this in mind, the last words of the Heart seem less like a prophecy of inevitable doom and more like the the last spiteful words of a defeated villain who is trying to get one last hit in before expiring.
  • There are subtle implications that the entire Estate is trapped in some form of time-space anomaly starting after the Ancestor committed suicide. The fact that the Heir bears a suspicious resemblance to the Ancestor and that, despite each hero having a distinct background, you can recruit multiple copies of them, and no matter how many times you kill each boss, a new one will appear in the dungeons, implies that something is weird with timelines and history, and that your heroes and the bosses and enemies are all coming from slightly different timelines or universes. It is possible that, due to his connection to the Heart, the Ancestor committing suicide somehow wounded or affected it, warping spacetime around the Estate, and that the Heir, upon doing the same after wounding the Heart, may well have locked the entire Estate into a permanent "Groundhog Day" Loop and trapped the Heart in a never-ending cycle of emerging and being slain by the same group of unfortunate heroes being pulled from countless alternate universes. In effect, while the Heir couldn't permanently kill the Heart, they instead managed to trap it forever in a repeating cycle at the Estate, saving the rest of the world while damning themselves and the heroes who fought for them.
    • The theory that the Estate is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop is further supported by Color of Madness, where a comparable entity to the Heart of Darkness is causing the entire Farmstead to be trapped in an endless time loop. In fact, it's entirely possible that both entities are locking each other into a time loop due to the Heir and their heroes repeatedly killing them.
  • Why is the animation for the Swine Drummer's Drums of Doom attack a shot of the heroes' skulls cracking in half? Because he's giving them a splitting headache.
  • The Abomination has a Prayer skill. In some cultures, Werewolves are actually good creatures.
  • When facing "Come Unto Your Maker", many heroes respond to it with courage, acceptance, or even welcoming their deaths, whereas elsewhere in the game, their reaction to impending death and high stress is madness and various afflictions. The reason why they are so calm and accepting in this situation and not in others is because in other battles, they are often fighting for the Heir's objectives, while when facing the Heart of Darkness, they are facing a meaningful end — whether for their faith, for the good of others, or their own redemption. While they might want to fight for gold and glory and for the betterment of others in the other quests across the Estate's lands, the Heart of Darkness is a truly final foe, and an enemy that they can redeem themselves against in battle — which, as we can tell from many heroes' backstories, is something they've been desperately seeking in coming to the Estate in the first place. For this reason, the heroes who care for their fellows, want to fight evil, or seek to right their wrongs will respond with acceptance and even joy at being chosen, while the heroes who are more selfish and only questing in the Estate for wealth and personal glory will respond with fear and terror at being selected.
  • Smashing a Bas-Relief with a shovel causes a whoppin' 100 stress to the smasher. That's because it's a depiction of the Heart of Darkness waiting to awaken to destroy the world. Smashing it makes for a visual akin to it waking up.
  • Why does it cost money to send your heroes to the Abbey's services? Because while the Abbey is likely open for everyone to come in and visit and pray and get emotional support and penance, you are essentially paying not only for one of your heroes to go there, but for the priests to pay special attention to that individual, as well as tend to them and probably feed and give them a place to sleep within the Abbey grounds for an entire week. That, and you're likely including a sizable amount of that gold as donations and offerings to the Abbey for the hero to give while they're praying or meditating. As for the Penance Chamber, you're likely paying extra gold not just for the "service" but also for medical treatments so your hero doesn't get sick or infected during their... "treatments."
  • The Big Bad of the Crimson Court DLC and the progenitor of the mosquito-themed vampires is a countess instead of a count. Of course she'd be female, since female mosquitoes are the ones that suck blood and spread disease. As for the several male Bloodsuckers, their bloodsucking male mosquito motif is not natural, being a curse from drinking her blood.
  • Why are shovels so expensive, and break after a single use? Well, going by the intro, the Ancestor already bought up all the sturdy shovels, leaving you with the shoddy ones and a general shortage that would naturally bring up the price through the rules of supply and demand...
    • Also, "shovels" are a stand-in for a number of tools, such as hammers and pickaxes, and they're being put to rough use with being implemented to clear entire blockages. And in order to quickly hew down trees and smash through collapsed tunnels and blocked corridors without leaving them vulnerable to an attack from behind, they'll no doubt he treating such tools harshly, likely breaking them in their haste to clear a path.
    • There's also reasons why the "shovels" used on certain curios are rendered unusable. The ones used to force open the giant oysters are probably broken or unusable due to the torque in the oyster slamming closed on the tool's head or shaft. Display cases are almost always trapped, so when they are used to smash open the cases, either the tool is damaged by the trap or is likely has some poisons or toxins spread across the tool, damaging it or rendering it unsafe. Using it on a bas-relief in the Cove likely has a similar effect, either breaking the tool in the process of destroying the mural, or The Heart of Darkness cursing the tool, and your heroes casting it aside.
  • The icon for the Occultist's "Unspeakable Commune" skill looks like the hands in The Creation of Adam... except God's hand is replaced with a tentacle. A clever bit of foreshadowing about the origins of humanity.
  • The Rare Antique that the Antiquarian can find is a statue of tentacles rising up around a humanoid figure. Just like the Heart's "Come Unto Your Maker" attack.
  • Why is the Thing From The Stars getting such a massive damage and crit increase together with the defense and speed with its buff? Because as the heroes have carved off all of its soft "dead weight" from its body, its crystal parts can move a lot faster and precise, allowing it to throw more force behind its pure attacks. Similarly, its massive PROT boost is because you're no longer cutting away at the dead flesh covering it, but instead hitting the hardened crystal underneath that makes up the Thing's actual body.
  • The Abomination's "Anger Management" camping skill has him meditate to suppress the beast. Ironically, this increases his own stress, but decreases the other heroes' stress. The reason for this is that the Abomination is actively suppressing all of his "abnormal" aspects, which would obviously cause a lot of stress; but his companions, seeing that he doesn't want to hurt them - and that, in fact, he's actively trying to fight the beast - feel relieved.
  • The Swine King is said to have earned his position because he's the only Swinefolk that can stand up to the Formless Flesh. Of course he can - The Formless Flesh is extremely weak to AoE physical attacks and the Swine King has the strongest physical AoE attack in the game.
  • Why does the Hellion have very little skills that move her around at all, and her only one moves her forward, making her into The Berserker? Because with her comic we saw that her backstory has her leaving her tribe to be butchered in battle as she hid in fear; she's attempting to put on a brave face and leave her cowardice behind.
  • When the first mission of the Darkest Dungeon is complete, the town Npcs flicker between their normal appearance and corrupted, flesh-riddled versions of themselves. At first the player might be tempted to think that the Darkest Dungeon has driven the Heir insane, that the Npcs are being corrupted, or worse of all, that they've been working against you the entire time. In truth, a veil has been lifted. You're seeing humanity for what it always has been: an extension of the Heart of Darkness.
    • Or perhaps instead, you're not seeing humanity as it is, but instead, you're seeing humanity as the Heart envisions it to be. As you delve deeper into the Dungeon and see the extent of the evil within, it starts to change your perceptions to match its own.
  • Related to the above, I have one that may also be an example of fridge horror. I got the idea from something someone said on the headscratchers page " humanity is born of and from the Heart. The Ancestor's manifestation makes clear there is no meaningful distinction between us and it." While that's patently untrue as stated (drawing the line between the part of the heart that doesn't wnat to associate with the other part seems like a pretty meaningful distinction to me), it did get me thinking: There is actually a real-life medical condition where a part of you "breaks away" and decides to do its own thing, to the detriment of the rest of you. Your own immune system tries to shut the process down ASAP whenever it starts, and if your immune system can't do it, our doctors try. We consider it to be that bad. The condition I'm referring to is CANCER. That's what humans are in the Darkest Dungeon universe: cancer.
  • The Farmstead sure seems to have a lot of farmhands, foremen, scarecrows, and horses. I don't know how many of those a farm like this would normally have, but it still seems excessive. Well I realised that that's because you're fighting the same ones over and over, thanks to the same spacetime kerfuckery that lets you do so with The Miller.
  • Why are the Warrens the one dungeon that has the fewest areas that need shovels, despite being ancient tunnels predating the earliest settlers? Simple: the Swine need to move around and live in there too, and would clear out many of the blockages that get in their way. Compare that to the Weald and Cove, which tend to have creatures who just bypass the blockages (the Pelagics can swim and most of the creatures in the Weald can control plants or are corrupted beasts) and the undead in the Ruins could have been lingering in collapsed rooms for years on end waiting for victims to stumble across them.
  • At first it seems strange that at the beginning of the game Dismas a thief and Reynauld a holy warrior would get along well enough to fight together, then you realize that Reynauld always starts with the kleptomaniac quirk, he's a thief too.
  • The nature of the Court makes a lot more sense when you consider the last line that the Ancestor speaks in the Crimson Court cutscenes: "Winged vermin coming to drink the tainted blood of the Darkest Dungeon." This explains not only how the Court survived all this time but also why they have congregated in such a place: they're parasites feeding off the blood of the Heart, which is seeping into the Courtyard and turning it into the fetid, bloody swamp we see in the game. It also explains why the Countess's blood revealed the nature of the Darkest Dungeon to the Ancestor: she was there to feed on the blood of the Heart beneath the Manor, and passed that knowledge on to the Ancestor when he drank her blood.
  • For a type who absolutely hates vampires, The Fanatic never actually tries to enter the Courtyard to kill vampires specifically, which normally would look strange. However, remember that you literally can't enter the area without an Invitation - an item dropped only by Gatekeepers. The Fanatic is widely known in-universe for his tendency to burn enemies alive, and this is what likely happens with any Gatekeepers he manages to catch; anything they would have is burned, and even if the Invitation survives the flame, the Fanatic is likely to try and get rid of "cursed items" specifically. He never gets an Invitation and can't enter the Courtyard (he likely not even knows that he could enter if he had one), thus all he can do is to hunt outside, hoping to slow the spread of the Curse.
  • The fact that Reynauld starts off as a Kleptomaniac despite being a holy crusader actually makes sense when you look at how a lot of real-life holy wars were waged. While a lot of real-life crusaders were motivated by religious reasons, they still spent a lot of time looting and pillaging the battlefields and countryside. He might very well have picked up his kleptomaniac habits from his time in the army.
  • You know how the Abomination automatically shifts back to human form if he afflicts? That's the beast form pulling a Screw This, I'm Outta Here!
  • Why does the Crystalline Aberrations heal whoever manages to destroy them before they explode? They are miniature pockets of warping time and space, and if cracked prematurely, unleashes its acquired charge upon the person closest to them instead for the whole party, warping their existence in time and space for a short instant. Including undoing any injury they might have suffered moments or minutes beforehand as it reverses the attacker to a former state of existence before they received them.
  • Ever wonder why critical hits don't leave corpses when they kill a foe? Considering the state of enemy corpses (often Half the Man He Used to Be or similarly dismembered), most of the creatures of the Hamlet are apparently Made of Plasticine (also supported by how easily people are dismembered in the characters' backstory comics, for example, one of the Hellion's fellow tribesmen is cut in half in the heat of battle). Anything as powerful as a crit is enough to reduce the unfortunate foe to Ludicrous Gibs or something similarly strewn about, and easily walked or shuffled around in comparison to corpses, which are at least mostly in one piece.
  • A flail as a weapon has a very high chance of hitting the person wielding it, and as such it's debated by historians whether anyone ever actually used one as such (it was primarily a device for threshing grain). So of course the Flagellant would use one, the potential for hitting himself is a perk to him.
  • The Big Bad of the Crimson Court is a Countess. The female version of a Count. As in Count Dracula.
  • The message of the Shieldbreaker's journal is pretty self-evident, but the point is driven home when you notice that they always refer to her as "a beautiful thing." It would probably mean a lot to her if someone called her a beautiful person.
  • Of Course the Courtyard and Farmstead are at permanent full torchlight. They're both out in the open where the sun can shine in.
  • Ordinarily, the Leper visiting the brothel would make for some prime Nausea Fuel, considering his situation... but he doesn't necessarily need to have sex with the people there to de-stress. Perhaps, like the Town Crier, he just wants to rest his weary body on the softest beds in the Hamlet, and they just happen to be located in the brothel. Alternatively, he may just want a companion to talk to and listen to him while he's there, with no sexual contact involved. Considering that Heroes can get locked into the brothel for stress relief thanks to the Love Interest quirk, this has some basis - a Hero may not necessarily need sex to relieve stress, they just need to occasionally reaffirm a special bond with someone back in the Hamlet. And if that special bond is with a Hooker with a Heart of Gold? That's perfectly fine for someone like the Leper, whose deteriorating body would make physical contact difficult, but his mental faculties can still be healed so long as he has someone to be there for him.

  • "The Swine are resistant to disease, thanks to their unclean living." The only way for that to happen is for several generations of swine to be born down in the Warrens, the weakest would die off because of disease, and the survivors would give birth to a more resistant generation, according to evolutionary theory. How long have the swine been down there?
    • It could be that the Swines have very short lifespans.
    • Natural selection is not, in fact, the only way for that to happen; frequent exposure to disease would cause the swine to develop strong immune systems and resistances to whatever diseases are most common in the swine warrens (based on the Swine Wretch's output, that would be "basically anything"). Doesn't rule out a long time in the pit, though.
    • Remember: the swine are failed experiments. Their genome could have been made more pliable as a result of the rapid breeding and exposure to disease.
  • Some of the negative character quirks are the sort that, in real life would, not be considered negative at all — they might even be seen as quite beneficial. A character may consider themselves enlightened or acquire a love interest, for instance. And, just like any other negative quirk, these can be removed in the asylum. Just what manner of treatments are they doing there?
    • It may be less terrible than it seems, thanks to the misleading names of the quirks. "Enlightened" and "Love Interest" respectively mean "only meditation decreases stress" and "only the brothel decreases stress", implying that the character has an obsessive interest in said activities (which is a sign of actual mental problems; Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Codependent Disorder, respectively).
    • While many of the quirk names are likely misleading, there is still the fact that regardless of that... You can go to a sanitarium, and Lock In a positive trait. Meaning that you have irreparably changed a part of that character's personality.
    • Another way to look at it: the trait’s negative because it impedes that character’s ability to serve you. They get sent to meditate on how to serve you. The activities at the bar are the ‘carrot’, and the sanitarium + church are the ‘stick’.
  • A minor example for the Gibbering Prophet sets in once you realize that those are his eyes that he's holding in his left hand.
  • "The Sarcophagus is completely empty."
    • Considering that the sarcophagus has what appears to be a statue of a knight on its lid, it may be the sarcophagus for a warrior in the hamlet. A warrior who is now undead and who you may have, in fact just killed. Or maybe not...
  • One of things that the narrator can say upon you re-entering the hamlet is that there is a "Crawling Chaos" beneath the manor. The Crawling Chaos is one of the titles of Nyarlathotep, one of the most powerful Outer Gods in the Cthulhu Mythos... you may feel true fear now. Even if what lurks under the manor is simply based off of him.
  • The Occultist will state, "Finally, the face of my tormentor. Come, then," when sacrificed to the Heart of Darkness. Unless the Occultist saw/felt something the rest of the party (and the player) could not see, this statement (plus how the tentacles he uses and the ones the cultist witches use are eerily similar to each other) implies that the Occultist gets his powers from the Heart of Darkness.
    • The Heart is capable of possessing the Occultist... so it is probably capable of mentally influencing any human who has established a link to it. Which certainly explains the Wrong Genre Savvy and Idiot Ball actions of your Ancestor. Not to mention the horrible cruelty of humanoid enemies, and the Kill All Humans mentality of the local monsters. Learning the black magic of the setting probably opens your mind up to the Heart.
    • And speaking of possessing the Occultist, consider that one of his lines is "DIE ANOTHER DAY, MORTAL. I HAVE NEED OF YOU" when he is given a virtue, and this is considered a good thing, consider the possibilities of what this could mean...
    • Considering that there are clearly other divine and supernatural entities in the universe, it is possible that the Occultist is drawing power from a different being, or from multiple beings altogether. One could be possessing him when he becomes afflicted or virtuous, and another could be the Heart.
  • If the Heart truly is the creator of humanity, it begs the question of what exactly is the true source and nature of the Religious characters' "holy" powers...
  • Assuming the Heart truly is the progenitor and source of humanity and humans are merely its pieces, this puts humans' efforts against it in a whole new disturbing light. Humans are essentially cancer to the Heart.
    • Unlike real-life cancer that eventually spells death to whoever has it, the Heart of Darkness will ultimately overtake the humans with or without help, unless the epilogue was incorrect. If anything, humans are more like an annoying fever to the Heart rather than cancer. Humanity, at the moment, is enough to keep the Heart bedridden (asleep), but not enough to kill it.
  • The Madman enemy type is a bit of a curiosity. Dressed in torn straitjackets and a tortured, wizened frame, they bear no particular allegiance to any enemy faction, yet can appear in any dungeon as part of any enemy mob. The frequency at which they are encountered makes one wonder how so many haggard lunatics ended up spread out all over the estate; then you remember that, upon your arrival, the Sanitarium of the Hamlet appears to have been abandoned for quite some time...
    • Another consideration; given the tempting power of the Darkest Dungeon, it's likely they're choosing to stick around, making their way steadily towards the epicenter of corruption. What becomes of those who make it? Given that the other enemy types within have clear, "unevolved" counterparts in other dungeons, it appears the Madmen level up too.
    • It's also possible that many of the madmen aren't native to the area and instead were lunatics driven mad by some eldritch encounter outside of the Estate, and have slowly been drawn there, much like some of your heroes.
  • Bedtime Story and Childhood treasure, given their connection, it was strongly hinted that the Arbalest's father made the doll from the dead carcass of a hare he hunted that he must be proud of and gave it to the Arbalest and then gave the bow to her in his final moments.
  • The Sanguine Vintners district provides a constant supply of the Blood. Where exactly are they getting the raw materials?
  • The blood suckers standing in the background of the courtyard, and the fact they don’t swarm you in self defense? The groups you fight are the ones that think they can take you. The ones in the audience are watching you kill their friends for their own entertainment. Oh, and those bloodsuckers that decided to fight you head on? They really don't care about putting up a show for the others, they're just the ones so hungry that they want the first dips on the "fresh meat" which just got served to the court.
  • The fact that the whole group participates in the Shieldbreaker’s nightmares, and they provide trinkets that are used by any other, means they’re real. Worse yet, there’s nothing magical about her back story. Every night she rests, her mind manifests snakes in the real world that try to kill her. Her past trauma alone is enough to make that happen.
  • An interview with the developers stated that the sequel would give players a glimpse of the supernatural apocalypse affecting the world beyond the estate. Either the Heir's efforts to defeat the Heart of Darkness failed or that the Heart and the Sleeper aren't the only eldritch horrors plaguing humanity.
  • Among nobility and royalty, a Countess is fairly high-ranked but nowhere close to the top. What if there are bloodsuckers even more powerful than the Countess lurking elsewhere in the world outside the Estate, waiting to sweep in to fill the power vacuum left behind by the Countess' demise? Imagine how difficult it would be to fight a Duke/Duchess, a Prince/Princess, or (Light forbid) an Emperor/Empress!
  • The Heart not only sent the letter that sends you to the Estate, but also Is the Narrator for it, think about the narration of the opening when you start up the game, the Ancestors voice is stilted and some of the lines seem cut wholesale from the way he says them in game, almost like they were a recording of a phrase rather than naturally flowing into the sentences, It was the Heart, using Voice clips he gleaned from the Ancestor.
  • Not so much fridge horror as fridge Squick, but the word "courtesan" is just a more elegant word for prostitute. Given that, have you ever looked at said enemy's idle animations and noticed that her dress splits down the middle?
  • Considering that there are hundreds of vampires in the Crimson Court, and they are all nobility and officials from outside of the Hamlet, this probably means that many of the government leaders and nobility for hundreds of miles are now bloodthirsty monsters locked in one small settlement. No wonder the outside lands are in such awful disarray and everything is so lawless.
    • It's also worth remembering that the Hamlet was a far, far wealthier and more populated place prior to its current state. Just how much of the Hamlet's current squalor is a result of the nobility in the area being locked away in the Court, and leaving the lands around your estate to wither and rot away?
  • You know those maggot enemies you can encounter in any dungeon? What exactly do they pupate into?
  • Cursed heroes constantly demand the Blood, but the blood of humans doesn't satisfy them. It's implied that The Blood that they drink is an alcoholic substance created by the Court or the Sanguine Vintners, but consider the dark implications of the final line of the DLC: the Bloodsuckers are drinking the "tainted blood of the Darkest Dungeon." Maybe it's not human blood that they desire, but the blood of the Heart of Darkness.
  • With the Color of Madness DLC, there's the Jeweler, who sells crystalline trinkets, and Shard Mercenaries, who fight exclusively for a cut of the Shards of the Comet from your harvests. Coupled with how the Ancestor mentions a bountiful harvest from the Miller's misfortune, and it is strongly implied that not only are people familiar with the horrors caused by entities like the Sleeper, but there's an economy around trading in the byproducts of eldritch time-warping horrors.
  • Considering all of the construction of the Estate and the amount of money and treasure and artifacts that can be looted from the ruins, as well as the sheer number of vampires in the Court, it's pretty clear that the Estate's population must have been much, much larger than it is at the start of the game and the lands were vastly wealthier. For the estate to now be in such a terrible state of total disrepair, imagine the sheer number of people who had to have been killed even before open revolt caused the Ancestor to have the bandits slaughter the Hamlet's population "to more manageable numbers."

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