Follow TV Tropes


Headscratchers / Darkest Dungeon

Go To

    open/close all folders 
     Are Light powers also a manifestation of the Heart? 
  • Are Light powers, like the Vestal's no-cost physical healing and the Crusader's scroll, also a manifestation of the Heart, or actually has another origin?? Because I always found odd that it's minions wouldn't use it, and that there exists a power that actually resorts solely on it's holy aura to counter the Heart, without asking for a price for the bearer... unless you take into consideration their past, but still, I always wanted to ask this to the devs in the official forums but for some reason the page never loads for me.
    • There are two explanations for the Light:
      • First is that it's a competing entity on the same scale as the Heart, only this one is more benevolent toward humans. Color of Madness supports this, as the Sleeper is another cosmic entity in direct opposition to the Heart. If the Light is created by a benevolent entity, then the potential conflict between the Heart and the Sleeper even further backs this up, as such an entity wouldn't want to directly fight the Heart due to the risk of destroying the world it wants to protect.
      • The second theory, supported by Word of God, is that the Light is a manifestation of the faith of humanity itself. In other words, humanity believes in the Light so fervently that this is expressed in the creation of divine powers. Either mankind actually created a god in the form of the Light through sheer willpower, or human willpower is so strong that they can create these powers themselves through sheer delusion and belief.
    • A pet theory: humanity is born of and from the Heart. The Ancestor's manifestation makes clear there is no meaningful distinction between us and it. Ergo, the miracles of the Light are a manifestation of humanity's innate cosmic powers filtered through the lens of their faith and superstition.

     Vestals.. in the brothel? 
  • How does a vestal virgin visit a brothel? Note that she can catch syphilis, so something sexual is going on.
    • Perhaps her church only considers vaginal sex to be "real" sex. If so, then she may practice other forms of sexual intercourse without ruining her "purity".
    • She could also be engaging in Platonic Prostitution, or making herself feel better by giving the ladies/gentlemen of the night a sermon. She only gets syphilis due to Gameplay and Story Segregation.
    • There's no proof that the game is set in our world. The class may be named "Vestal", but that doesn't mean she belongs to the historical Roman order of virgin priestesses (who weren't soldier-nuns anyway).
    • When paranoid, the Vestal can make a scathing remark about people trying to grope the virgin. The Vestal order may not work the same way as nuns do IRL, but the Vestal is clearly supposed to be a virgin. She may either do the above suggestion about "alternative" sexual acts or has a severely suppressed and screwed up sexuality that she's in denial over.
      • Checking the wiki, there's no instance of a Vestal talking about "groping the virgin." Further, both her trinkets and her barks imply that she sinned in some manner that resulted in her being despised by her convent before coming to the Hamlet.
      • The wiki is irrelevant. You can find the line about people trying to "brush up against the virgin" by simply looking through the game's files.
      • Being in the localization files is also irrelevant if the game doesn't have a trigger to use that dialogue line.
      • Another thing to remember is that even if she says the line, it's spoken while the Vestal is Afflicted. Characters are not in their right mind while Afflicted. She might say she's a virgin, but whether she's actually one is not really known.
    • One of the Vestal's Crimson Court trinkets is a "Salacious Diary" indicating that she's likely got some form of impurity and sexual desires. This may be what got her kicked out in the first place.
    • There’s also the simple explanation: denial. Just because there are rules to follow, doesn’t mean she actually follows them.

     Why would the Blacksmith craft a broken sword for the Leper? 
  • Why does the blacksmith intentionally craft a broken sword for the Leper to use?
    • Easy, because the Heir ordered one, specifically one snapped x units away from the hilt, since the blades the Leper uses don't seem to vary much in length. How the blacksmith first reacted to this order is another story, however. As for why the Leper demands a broken sword in the first place ... him using a ruined sword is symbolic of his status of a "ruined man". Maybe.
    • Or maybe the Leper is just used to using a massive broken sword (the one he uses resembles something that an executioner would use for clean decapitations, which would be too heavy for normal combat without a bit of it snapped off).
      • Why doesn't he use a shortened, but not broken, executioner's sword, or just another sword type altogether?
      • Possibly because he'd gotten used to fighting with this exact type of a sword but now can no longer swing something of that weight as well due to his leprosy and thus uses a sword that is the same but lighter due to being "cut short".
    • Assuming that anyone in the Hamlet knows of his royal roots, his backstory comic shows that he is, or at least was, a beloved ruler before he contracted his disease and exiled himself. He probably requested that the sword be forged that way, and when a guy that powerful and respected says "jump", you say "how high".
    • Considering the Leper's Death Seeker tendencies, he was probably very insistent the blacksmith not waste resources on him by giving him a completely new sword.
    • There's also the fact that the broken sword resembles an executioner's sword. Aside from the symbolism, the flat tips they have give them a completely different distribution of weight to a normal sword of the same size. He's basically got a fighting style that relies on a flat/broken tipped sword (which fits with his "cleave everything in two" style).
    • Adding to the above, his sword is probably the heaviest weapon of all the heroes. In order to wield something like that effectively, even a ‘new’ sword would need a similar weight distribution.

     Religious characters shun the abomination, but not the Occultist? 
  • Anyone else think it's a bit odd that the Religious characters shun the Abomination but have no problem working with an Occultist?
    • It might be because the Abomination didn't always have his monstrous side under wraps, unlike the Occultist, who apparently hasn't had any ... accidents yet.
    I would but I am not fully in control... (From a depressed Abomination refusing to perform a camp skill.)
    How can it be my fault? I have no control over it! (From a selfish Abomination during camping)
    Perhaps this violence will soothe it, keep it sleeping... (From an Abomination becoming masochistic)
    I am a threat to the innocent. Darkness claim me. (From a depressed Abomination moving forward on his own)
    • Looking at his backstory comic, in which he (either on purpose or accidentally) transforms into a beast and breaks free to slaughter his captors, the above is pretty plausible.
    • Pure politics. The Occultist heals the Leper and Crusader, and doesn't take their usual spot in a party. Vestal got outvoted.
    • The Occultist is a scholar, he simply has a bit of a weird focus to this but hey, the weird stuff is something he calls on, not a part of himself. The Abomination, on the other hand ... well, he does not call on that monstrosity of his, he lets it loose; that's quite an important difference to people who don't really care about getting to know their companions in-depth.
    • Another thing to remember is that church doctrine is not 100% ironclad and that it can change depending on how high-ranking members view and interpret their doctrines and texts. It's entirely possible that the Occultist and those like him (since one town event implies there are communities and organizations of such practitioners) are "accepted" under the current Church of Light doctrine, but that Abominations are not.
    • It's also possible that the religious characters are reacting not so much to what the Abomination is but to the brand on his head. The big "A" on his head may be a brand of excommunication or heresy within the Church of the Light, and those who devoutly follow the doctrines of the Church are expected to shun those with the brand. In this case, it wouldn't be that the Abomination is a transforming monster but rather that the Abomination committed a crime that led to them being branded, akin to the Heretic Brand in Dishonored.
    • Adding to the above, the story doesn’t really explain the ‘how/why’ of the abomination’s monstrous side. The Occultist could be liken to something like a mercenary as far as the church is concerned. ie They think its wrong, but too useful to persecute. The Abomination might have a very specific stigma attached to him. It also helps to keep in mind: the church has an ‘A’ brand, and they expect everyone to know what that brand means. So, its implied: “Our church hates you enough to have a brand specifically designed for your type of person.”
  • As or the Leper who like Abomination are both outcasts. The Leper does not like how under extreme stress the Abomination cannot transform and ironically enough able to become heroic when he is a monster. The Leper is not as cruel when afflicted and apologize for his failures.
    This rider is more wild and untamed than the warmount he rides to war.
  • And now that the Color of Madness patch is out, religious classes will party with either with no dramas. Presumably sharing a bonfire with the Abomination for almost a year caused the Leper to relent, and he went and yelled at the rest of them.

     What was the ancestor's goal? 
  • What exactly was the ancestor planning to do with his "thing", i.e. the progenitor of all mankind? And, far more to the point, how could he have showed it, and told all about it, to the Prophet when he himself should have already been driven mad by it in the first place?
    • It's most likely that at this point in his notes the ancestor had only just reached the portal leading to the "thing", and his plan with it was exactly what caused the Prophet to lose his mind once he realized the ancestor was about to do what he'd warned against - awaken it.
    • We know as of The Crimson Court that the Ancestor's drive to reach the Heart only emerged after he had tasted a drop of the Countess' blood, which gave him the knowledge of the Heart's existence. Considering that drinking more of the blood of the Countess turned the people of the Court into horrifying mutant vampires, it stands to reason that the Ancestor's debauched madness was only further enhanced and that he wasn't thinking very rationally afterward.
    • The introduction to the game says as much as to why he went after the Heart: he was bored and didn't know what was down there, and his mad debauchery was demanding ever greater sources of power and eldritch knowledge.
    • Some of the language in the narrative suggests he’s not so much ‘trying to right his wrongs’ as ‘trying to remove the embarassments of his failed experiments.’ Everything having to do with the Swine army suggests this. For the mercenaries, Hag, and Siren, it sounds more like revenge or spite out of disgust. For the Prognosticator its trying to finish off an irritation that refuses to die. For the Necromancer, it sounds like offing the competition.
    • For The Sleeper, his narrative sounds more like remorse for a missed opportunity. He regards every other area as an outright failure. For the farmstead, he seems actually pretty pleased with the results. Putting all that together, he wants the embarassments gone, and he wants the power hanging out at the farmstead.

     How can Dismas carry his own head in a bag? 
  • How can Dismas carry his own head in a bag?
    • The Collector is a dimension traveller. He simply happened upon the (many) dimensions where Dismas, Barristan, and Junia bit it. So the head Dismas is carrying around is not his, exactly — although it's understandably stressful to do so.
    • The Hamlet may be caught in a Vicious Cycle with the final boss. The head of Dismas in the bag is merely from a previous cycle. Same person, but different point in time.
      • Very much that, yes. NG+ supports this theory.
    • The Sleeper's presence plus the Heart of Darkness strongly imply that the Estate is trapped in a temporal loop of some kind.

     How do you control who the final boss attacks? 
  • How does the Heir control which heroes the Heart of Darkness takes? Also, why does the Heart of Darkness allow the Heir to pick both sacrificial heroes in the first place? One hero makes sense, but why both? As the main page points out, if the player knows what is coming, the Heir can simply take two, somewhat disliked heroes and sacrifice them to the boss. Why doesn't the Heart let the Heir choose one hero and, perhaps after implying the other heroes would be safe, immediately kill another hero without the Heir's input? Also, why can't the Heir pick oneself as a sacrifice? For a creature of immense power and cruelty, the Heart of Darkness could be a bigger jerk than it is in-game.
    • It's like this: The Heir is travelling with the adventurers (this is why the final boss stuff got witnessed, you know), even if not shown on the screen, and ordering them around. There has to be a sacrifice, and presumably if it is not done, then either the Heir would have bitten the dust or everyone would. So the Heir, being their boss, can tell someone to take it instead or even force them to do it. That's basically it; you aren't a commander telling a random unnamed unit to sacrifice themselves for the good of all, you are a guy standing behind your party who pretty much pushes one of them to die just to avoid dying yourself. And sure, you could do that to an adventurer you do not like, but considering what you are doing, it would just make you a bigger arsehole (because, rather than being out of fear, it would be premeditated).
    • The Heir is not part of the expedition and has no control over it. It's just another gameplay mechanic.

     Why does the Heir never get attacked? 
  • Why do none of the monsters in the game ever take a lunge at the Heir? Even the Heart of Darkness doesn't, even when it's on the verge of death and, given how the Heart allows the Heir to choose which heroes the Heart insta-kills, likely knows where the Heir is?
    • Well, it wants the heir to make this crusade to sacrifice as many lives as possible, so it will most likely prevent the monsters from jumping directly at the heir because then this crusade would most likely come to an end. And why it doesn't when it is almost defeated? That's most likely because "Come unto your maker" can as it looks in its current state only be used a few times and most likely only in a few meteres around it and besides, at this point, killing the heir would be too late anyway, the heroes fighting it wouldn't know directly and even if, they would most likely keep killing it and at this point the Heart is most likely too busy preventing the heroes from defeating it. Which was very likely not its plan.
    • The Heir probably is standing so far behind the party that you'd assume the monsters would want to break through the heroes first. The fact that they're the one carrying the torch might also have something to do with it, as a lot of monsters in various lore do fear fire to some degree, so they'd rather attack other targets if any. And as for the one specific attack, my headcanon is that this one attack is aimed either at the whole party or at the Heir specifically, which is why you can choose: you push forward someone to take the attack either for all or for you specifically (I prefer the latter to be true) and the attack animation is simply not an accurate representation of the true horror of the attack.
    • Word of God is that the Heir isn't part of the expeditions and stays at the Hamlet.

     Why are cultists allowed to roam free? 
  • Why are the Cultists and the Madmen allowed to battle alongside the horrors of the Estate? The Swine worship the Arc Symbol that the Cultists wear, yeah, but it'd be doubtful to think that they'll let some free, perfectly fresh human meat just walk among them. The Fishmen in The Cove, the Undead in The Ruins, and the Fungal in The Weald are probably too territorial to just accept the Cultists fighting among them, especially considering how the Undead and Fungal are basically mindless. The most puzzling thing, though, is during the Wolves at the Door quest, where the perfectly human Brigands have Madmen razing the town with them. They couldn't have weaponized the psychological tormentors so easily without going mad themselves or having the Madmen just flee instead of following them into town.
    • The Fungals seem to be created and controlled by the Hag and her coven of Crones and Viragos. I imagine they at least would be able to strike bargains with the Cultists. The Pelagics worship the same god, definitely can be bargained with, and share an interest in human sacrifice. They way I imagine it more generally is that they just gang up on your party when they hear you coming, or pile in opportunistically when they see you fighting another faction. They might hate each other, but they hate you more, and you're objectively the greater threat.
    • It's likely that the Heart and the cultists serving it are acknowledged and accepted by the various hostile factions running around the estate's grounds. Since all of the unholy corruption and foul magics that birthed each of the forces in each region originated from the Heart, it would make sense that those who served it are accepted as part of their own, or that those who work for these groups would be unwilling to risk the ire of the cultists and their true master.
    • It could be that the Madmen aren't actually fighting you there just running around screaming which is why they're so difficult to hit, they never actually attack your heros they just constantly scream which really stresses your heros out, and all the other enemies just ignore him because they're busy fighting you, for Wolves at the Door it would make sense that a bunch of crazy people would escape the sanitarium during the raid
    • If you want to make this darker: the Madman might be a slave / prisoner, tortured to instanity by whatever faction captured them. He might not be so much ‘allowed to roam free’ as ‘so broken, he’ll follow orders to some extent and undermine the morale of future groups.’ Going even darker: some of those Madmen might have been your heroes who weren’t ‘completely dead’ by the end of a fight.
    • For the Cultists, they represent the Heart. They’re either frenemies with the other factions, or those factions find the Heart too intimidating to declare war on.

     How can the Swine Prince see Wilbur's flags? 
  • If the Swine Prince is blind, how can Wilbur communicate with him via flags?
    • It might not be blind as much as it "got really, really, really bad eyesight", akin to a frog's (motion-based). Wilbur's flags moves in direct waving motion towards the designated targets, so the Swine Prince/King/God just swings in that direction and due to being so massive, avoiding the strike is a feat of luck at best. Or for a easy example, Wilbur is the "matador" to the Swine Prince's/King's/God's "bull".
    • Wilbur squeals rather loudly while marking heroes, it could also be him just shouting the general location of a target he wants dead.
    • The Swine Prince probably doesn’t ‘see’ in the conventional sense. He’s a partial eldritch abomination. If he was still subject to the rules of normal biology, the exposed brain and intestines would have done him in long before the heroes face him.

     The Fanatic announcing his presence in town 
  • When the infection rates in the Estate reach a high enough point, it will catch the attention of The Fanatic, a zealous madman who's on a crusade to eradicate everything infected with the Crimson Court with no exceptions. When that town event happens, you can spot him standing in the center of town with his pyre and... that's it. Did he come into town just to let everyone know personally he's going to kill them all, and then leave without making a single move on them? Along with that, wouldn't someone as fanatical as him try to tackle the Crimson Court's vampires in their point of origin now that he's in the area? For someone so devoted to killing vampires, he seems to be avoiding the source of the problem.
    • The Fanatic is explicitly described as insane and irrational.
    • Its likely that the Fanatic didn't "announce" his presence so much as he just passed through town and was noticed. There's also the fact that he is a vampire hunter, which means there's a good chance that at first glance everyone thought he was another heroic adventurer and didn't realize he was going to kill anyone infected until later on. He's probably also going into the Court periodically as well - there's a town event where you can recover some of his anti-vampire weaponry where the art depicts it as being found in the Court - it's just that we don't see him and never see him directly unless he's coming after our heroes.

     Still Not Used To Seeing It? 
  • I realize this is just gameplay/story segregation, but why is it the other heroes continue to be freaked out every single time The Abomination transforms? It's obvious even in that form, he's still on their side. Plus they should be used to seeing him change over and over. Especially if he's with other characters multiple times or even those like the Occultist who would have seen stuff like this before.
    • In a lot of Lovecraftian stories, it's not so much that something is freaky or disgusting but rather things cause supernatural fear and horror in direct response to seeing them, manipulating the chemical responses in your brain. It doesn't matter how accustomed you are to an event if every time it occurs, your body's biochemical processes respond in the same way, triggering the same reactions. You might be intellectually aware of the monstrosity and have seen it many times, but if every time it happens, your body reacts the same way — shock, fear, revulsion — then it's still going to put a strain on you.
    • There’s also the part where its suggested the heroes never actually get over what they saw in the beginning. If you look at all the different ways you can ‘heal’ the characters, none of them are necessarily that positive: alcoholism, compulsive gambling, nymphomania, clinging to faith, and self harm. If you look at the ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ traits, they aren’t labeled as such based on cultural norms, they’re labeled in regards to whether or not they benefit YOU. You’re not helping them. You’re applying bandaids until they are no longer useful. The ‘cures’ are medieval. For things like Syphilus, there’s probably no cure with their technology, so at best the medics are experimenting with black magic, which in that universe will drive the hero insane eventually. The reason (in theory) player doesn’t witness the more permanent downward spiral, is either the hero dies, or the game ends before the heroes turn into actual broken shells of their former selves.

     Heart Attacks 
  • The way the game portrays heart attacks is completely incorrect. Heart attacks via stress take years in order for the heart to degrade enough to have a heart attack.
    • To be fair, eldritch abominations are involved here. Also, a few of the main characters aren't exactly young anymore (especially the Man-at-Arms), and, considering the backstories revealed so far, them having an overall stressful life is a given.
    • Considering that this is a fantasy setting with fantastical diseases, magic, and afflictions, it's entirely possible that the stress and horrors of being exposed to such eldritch nightmares could be causing magical heart failure.
    • Look up cardiac arrest and athletes. Especially, runners, boxers, and soccer players. Its actually not that far off the mark. The heroes are constantly fighting, taking life threatening injuries, doping, getting instantly ‘healed,’ and then getting those injuries again, and doping again. Keep that going for hours or days, and its more surprising some of them go as long as they do without going into cardiac arrest.

     Returning to the Darkest Dungeon 
  • Heroes will only refuse to go into the Darkest Dungeon after they finish a quest there. The Heir could bring them all the way to the boss and retreat, and the heroes will still be willing to return with no resistance, concern, or stress whatsoever.

     Worst. Drum. Ever. 
  • The Swine Drummer's drum skin is made from a stretched-out human face, complete with eye sockets, nostrils, and mouth. In other words, their drum skin already has holes in it. How the actual hell do those drums produce any music at all — or, for that matter, not get ripped apart completely from the force of the drumsticks?!?
    • It's a drum that can literally deal damage to people when you beat on it and even force them into heart attacks. It's safe to say that it isn't a normal drum.
    • Listening to the drum ingame, the beats it emits are rather weak for a war drum, so the already present holes may have lowered its audible power. A case of When All You Have Is a Hammer... on the Swines part, perhaps.
    • It's also said that they don't really play any sort of tune, they just bang on it as hard as they can to rally their allies. So they wouldn't really care what it sounds like. Plus, the human face thing would be excellent at demoralizing their enemies.
    • We don’t know what’s in the drum, or how its made to produce the Brown Note. If you look up Aztec Death Whistles they can sound like hundreds of people screaming all at once. Its pretty unnerving to actually listen to.
    • We also don't know the interior construction of the drum. It's possible that the 'face' skin is stretched over a functional drum as some sort of drum cover.

     Why is he called "The Ancestor"? 
  • A person isn't commonly referred to as a person's "ancestor" if they're a close relative, at least close enough to be alive at the same time as the descendant, but the fact that he writes the Heir a letter indicates that is the case. So why is he referred to as such?
    • According to the Ancestor, "In truth, I do not know how much time has passed since I sent that letter." Considering the time fuckery going on in the estate, the Schizo Tech, and the fact that it seems like the plot involves a "Groundhog Day" Loop, it is entirely possible that the Ancestor sent that letter hundreds of years ago and the Heir is the latest in a line of descendants.

     Timeline of the Prophet 
  • In the opening cinematic, The Ancestor excavated below the manor, found the portal, opened it, and fled from its contents. In the Prophet intro, the Ancestor said he took the Prophet underground, showed him "the thing", and the Prophet was driven mad. How does the timeline of this sync up? I think it's fair to assume "the thing" isn't the portal; the portal's just a big door. It could be The Heart of Darkness, but that contradicts the opening narration. How are we meant to reconcile the two stories?
    • It's possible that he did show the Prophet the door, or at least some other portent of the Heart deep below. Even glimpses of the iconography of the Heart can drive men to complete madness, after all.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: