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Someday, one of them will enter the Trope Pantheons
Yes.
Yharnam was destroyed by rumors of the Paleblood
Stories about a "panacea" in Yharnam that could cure all ills led to every crippled, sick, and otherwise desperate person in the world descending on the city, including the protagonist. Of course, the sick brought their diseases with them. Soon, the entire city, with its population swelled by refugees until its infrastructure was already buckling, began drowning in plague(s). Which is why the real-life city is empty when the protagonist wakes from their dream.
  • Seemingly unlikely considering how it isn't a literal dream, it's like the Dream Cycles from the Cthulhu Mythos, where people are brought into a dream by evil entities.
  • There is also nothing to suggest that the city is empty. Just because you don't see a soul in a small square at the moment of dawn doesn't mean that there aren't people living in the waking city.
    • Confirmed, in a sense. The miracle blood the Yharnamites have been using actually slowly turned them into beasts. The same can be said with the chalice dungeons.
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The game takes place in the same universe as Dark Souls
Is anyone really surprised by this WMG? Bloodborne could take place during an Age of the Dark, when the First Flame has been reduced to ashes. Humanity reigns supreme, but it has begun to go into overdrive and turn people into beasts, as happened to the residents of Oolacile. There's even a boss monster in the previews who is almost identical to Manus, suggesting similar origins. And of course Marvelous Chester with his pseudo-Victorian garb originates from Bloodborne's time period. He is supposed to be from the future from your character's perspective, after all.
  • Dark Souls III lends some extra credence to this theory. Aldrich, Saint of the Deep, has a vision of the future after the impending end of the Age of Fire, the era of a Deep Sea, after consuming Gwyndolin, a deity most closely associated with the Moon. The Abyss Watchers already drink of the blood of the Old Wolf of Farron to gain power - maybe a distant precursor to the practice of blood ministration (the Old One taint could have either come from Abyss corruption or some idiot finding the Old Ones and trying to repeat Farron's blood rites). Seath and Oceiros' combined research led to the conception of a (supposedly) powerful child after horrid experiments on captive women. Ocelotte and Mergo's mothers were queens, the downfall of whose kingdoms were marked by their birth. And last but not least, before Yharnam and Pthumeru, the land was called Loran, which sounds quite a lot like Lordran...
    • Adding to this, the Pthumerians look very much like Hollows, and if the Undead Giant is any indication, are in fact walking corpses. So... Pthumeru is Londor post-Lord of Hollows ending? It doesn't hurt to mention that the Keepers of the Old Lords wear black cloth over chainmail armor, use katanas, and use a variety of fire spells that are extremely similar to Pyromancies seen in Dark Souls 1, 2 and 3. Additionally, Queen Yharnam's theme is "Queen of the Vilebloods", the Cainhurst helmet belonging to the current Vileblood Queen's guards looks very similar to Yuria's mask... The real question is, would this make Yharnam the Ashen one? Or simply their descendant?

Bloodborne takes place in the same universe as Demon's Souls
We have reason to believe that the Maiden in Black's voice actress, Evetta Muradasilova, is making a return, possibly to reprise her role. We have also seen and heard an utterance of "Umbasa," which indicates that the religion we saw in
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Demon's Souls is also making a return. Bloodborne likely takes place many centuries after the (good) end of Demon's Souls. With the Old One asleep once more, the Soul Arts have been lost and people can no longer rely on sorcery or miracles. So they turn to the sciences to solve the problems that (literally) plague society and develop technology more akin to what we see in our world. Hence, we see more refined uses for gunpowder and medicine. The story of Bloodborne could be something completely new and independent to the tale told in Demon's Souls...or it may be the result of somebody trying to recreate the Soul Arts without the need for the Old One, if not an outright attempt to awaken the Beast once more.
  • Another point in favor of this theory, Sony owns the rights to Demon's Souls and there were rumors of a Demon's Souls 2 in development around the same time as Dark Souls 2. Unless something has change, Bloodborne is a Sony exclusive... It would not take much to say its a sequel taking place ages after the Second Blight of Demons. Its not like players would be returning to Boletaria, the said throughout Demon's Souls that once the Old One is lulled back to sleep, the land covered by the colorless fog vanishes(though they did not specify if the landmass itself vanishes or just everything on it.). Given the Tower of Latria aesthetic, Yharnam could easily be some city build in the distant future of Demon's Souls.
    • (same poster as above) Another point in favor of this is during the Alpha Testing, there was a secret boss called Priest Gascoigne. When he killed you, he would say "sick creature... may you rest in peace... Umbasa". In Demon Souls, the religious side of the Nexus would say Umbasa as a farwell. Though this may spawn even MORE WMG if Umbasa is present in the release version. Maybe the Panacea will have ties to the Old One... or even more interesting The Last Monumental/New Archdemon(i.e. the player character from the Demon Souls).
    • Another interesting fact is that Father Gascoigne's armor set states that he has a tattered scarf from the Healing Church(you can seen an intact one on the black church set) but parted ways with them, and that the title of "Father" is not part of the Healing Church, maybe he came to Yharnem from Mirdan(granted there is no indication that Father is a title of the Holy Land Mirdan but they are the ones who say Umbasa)?
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    • Alternatively, the Gainax Ending offers another possibility: this game is a prequel to Demon's Souls, explaining the birth of the Old One itself. And if this is indeed the case, that means the Plain Doll, who acts motherly towards the baby Old One, becomes the Maiden in Black.
      • This could be, as The Plain Doll cannot truly be killed, similar to the Maiden in Black, and popular Demon Soul's fan theory was that The Maiden was a motherly figure to the Old One.
  • The Moon Presence is called "Moon Demon" in the Japanese version. It/she is literally the only being called as such in the game. Perhaps it is somehow related to the demons from Demon's Souls, perhaps even the Old One itself.

The 'Beasts' are based off, or ARE werewolves.
Think about it. They only come out at night, often under a full moon. It’s a Viral Transformation, quite literally a disease: that was transmitted to the protagonist via bite. It’s a race against the clock to Find the Cure!: like many werewolf plots. The victims of the disease inevitably turn into monsters against their will…often with fur, fangs and claws. The transformation is slower and more varied than usual but the tropes are all there, to say nothing of the bosses that transform mid-fight or the ACUTAL wolf-like beasts. You even use (quick)silver bullest for christsakes!
  • Except the bullets do barely any damage to the werewolves, only letting you rib their organs out by sstunning them. Not to mention werewolves entirely go out of style as you continue, and the plague transforms people into giant fly-men, people with snakes bursting out of their heads, or hooded giants that serve the will of the ancient ones. The wolf-like enemies, in the end, are more like Ghouls, in the scheme of things.
  • Confusing them with werewolves is pretty understandable. It's the game's way of tricking the player into thinking they are playing a Gothic Horror game. It's not until you meet the freakier monsters that you realize the game is a tad more Lovecraftian.

The Witch of Hemwick is trying to become a self-made Great One.
Being granted "eyes lining your brain" or just extra eyes in general seems to be the first step in becoming a Great One. The difference is, while Micolash and others prayed to the Great Ones in the hopes of obtaining these additional eyes, the Witch of Hemwick decided to cut out the middleman and grab some extra eyeballs on her own.

The Insight mechanic indicates how many eyes are lining your character's brain.
Insight is indicates by an eye icon. You gain it by delving deeper into Yharnam's unpleasantry. You can trade it to the Messengers. The world gets more screwed up as it grows higher. You gain a lot of it by ingesting One Third of Umbilical Cord, the byproduct of a Great One's birth. Your character is gaining eyes on the brain, allowing them to see as a Great One sees.

After the Childhood's Beginning ending, you will help other humans ascend or resist the Great Ones.
You become the first human to successfully become a Great One without forgetting what it's like to be human, becoming a benevolent Eldritch Abomination that will help humanity either become like yourself or fight other Great Ones in the world outside of Yharnam. Essentially, you become an unambiguous Big Good, a Pro-Human Transhuman. The Plain Doll, though not a human, is a being that can feel and express love and kindness, and her serving as your caregiver may help the Hunter retain their humanity as they mature.
  • Alternatively, you could end up as the next Rom, desperately trying to prevent humanity from realizing the Nightmare all around them. Because, given From's track record, and considering the inspiration, this is the most likely "Good Eldritch Abomination" ending.

The reason you never fight or even meet Kosm/Kos is because they are not only far beyond your level, but the level of all the other Great Ones.
It's doubtful a Great One powerful enough to transform Rom is just some brain monster. Kos/Kosm was apparently powerful enough to transform Rom into a Great One without going to the absurd lengths of Oedon, and Micolash, an insanely powerful arcanist, implies what Kosm/Kos has given him is only a SLIVER of his power. In short, Kos/Kosm is the Yog-Sothoth of Bloodborne, and Ebrietas might even be his daughter, considering his name is implied to mean "Cosmos," as Micolash says something along the lines of "Oh, it was Cosmos." Perhaps Kosm/Kos IS the Cosmos itself?
  • if Kosm/Kos is not just a tasty bit of foreshadowing at a future DLC boss, and is as the above poster suggests The Cosmos Itself, then that would make it more along the lines of Asathoth. Formless Oedon seems much more Yog-Sothoth than the Great mysterious Kosm/Kos
  • Jossed. Kos makes an appearance in the DLC, and she has a clearly physical body.
The 'Make Contact' gesture is how to politely say hello to a Great One, and humans communicate with them primarily by body language.
Considering how you get the best Moon rune by performing the gesture in front of a Great One that's not actively attacking you, this is probably the best way you can start a conversation with a Great One, and to keep talking you have to perform all sorts of other gestures. There seems to be a really precise requirement to it, as when you perform Make Contact you shift your arms to the opposite direction after exactly 35 seconds. How your character figured this out from a corpse stuck in one position is anyone's guess.
  • maybe its because of how "Insight"ful the Good Hunter is... regardless of actual Insight counter... Though this theory is rather awesome, in fact maybe its not just the arrangement of the Limbs but the time delay and motion that is the full polite greeting.

The Words of the Great Ones can change people's nature.
Epic Name Bro pointed out that Caryll the Runesmith made the rune workshop tool after Master Willem was lost to the Church and yet killing Willem nets you an "Eye" Caryll Rune. He then goes on to hypothesize that a Great One may have "spoke" the rune into Master Willem. He further posits that the Hunter's Mark item uses the same rune as the Hunter Oath Rune but was different in nature, leading him to speculate that a Great One "spoke" it into your character at the beginning of the game.

This seems like a great theory, but let's take it further. Anyone who is a beast, like the Suspicious Beggar, would have a Beast Rune dangling in their mind. I would further suspect that creature that is a human turned Kin of the Cosmos would bear the symbol for Kin inside them in a similar fashion, even though currently there are no Kin runes the player can equip. [[Maybe Fake Iosefka had a process to implant Kin into humans to turn them into Celestial Mobs.]] Even further, perhaps Patches and the rest of the Human-Headed Spiders had the symbol for Spider "spoken" into their minds.

Why are the Great Ones doing this? Which ones are doing what and for what purpose? Well the obvious candidates are The Moon Presence for turning people into Hunters and tying them to the Hunter's Dream, and Formless Oedon, especially in the case of the Beast Plague as his medium is blood, so of course Oedon would want blood shed. Ebrietas would probably being the one turning people into Kin.

Another point I thought of, the first few moments after your character gets his blood ministration, a bloody beast comes up and reaches out to touch your character, only for a molotov to drive it off. This may have been symbolic of the Hunter and Beast Runes fighting for dominance in your mind.

Djura has a point.
Djura explains that “the things you hunt are not beasts, they’re people.” While the beasts you encounter in Old Yharnam are hostile to you, there are signs that they’re not really mindless monsters. They appear to have built up a society of sorts, many of them wear robes, indicating that they are willing to make clothes to fit their new bodies, and they even appear to have unique religious beliefs. If anything, they seem to be the opposite of the huntsman mobs you encounter everywhere else. While the Yharnamites are humans who are figuratively and literally devolving into beasts in their endless Witch Hunt, the beastmen of Old Yharnam are becoming a bit more human. They’re not a Torches and Pitchforks mob looking for someone to blame for their problems, they just want to be left alone.

The only sign of maliciousness we see is that they appear to conduct some sort of ritualistic sacrifice on Blood-Starved Beasts, which frankly nothing compared to what the Healing Church has been doing (and you’re unlikely to feel much sympathy after going through the pure hell of killing a Blood-Starved Beast yourself). Considering that the Healing Church conducted a passive purge on Old Yharnam, it’s understandable why the inhabitants there would be hostile to outsiders as well.

Indeed, you don’t even need to go to Old Yharnam to complete the Hunt and end the Nightmare; Gehrman just points you in that direction so that you can steal the Holy Chalice from them. The Old Yharnamites really are no threat to anyone. YOU’RE the one trespassing on their domain, murdering them as you see fit, and taking whatever belongings you like.

"Yharnam Blood" is far more literal than any first time player realizes.
Getting through the chalice dungeons reveals that the queen of the ancient Phtumerian Super Beings, who had uncovered the Eldritch Truth, was a woman named Yharnam. During the Boss Fight with Yharnam, she uses blood in a variety of ways that no other entity does in the rest of the game. Reading the Formless Oedon Formless Oedon Rune gives the detail that Oedon uses blood as a medium and his "inadvertant worshippers" seek blood. Nothing is really known about Blood ministration, only that Lawerence, against Provost Willem, used "old blood" as the foundation of his Healing Church. Yharnam the Queen is extremely old, and shown to still be around somewhat in the time period the game takes place in.

I submit to this humble WMG that when the old man who gives you the blood ministration at the opening says "Easy! With a little Yharnam Blood of your own!" he is literally giving you a dose of the Queen's Blood.

Darkbeasts create electricity as a specific defense mechanism against the Kin
All of the Kin have a weakness to Bolt damage, even the Great Ones like Ebrietas. Darkbeasts can emit lightning. Maybe the reason why they do this is that those afflicted with the Beast Plague but still hostile to the Kin can actually 'evolve' to help themselves survive fights against them. Maybe they were enemies of the various factions trying to contact the Great Ones, and though they are no longer human still have hatred against their sworn enemies. What if Darkbeast Paarl was a prisoner of Yahar'Gul, and became the lightning monster that it is because the prisoner absolutely HATED the Kin?

The Plain Doll is actually a Great One
Epic Name Bro theorized that the Plain Doll is actually the one who sustains the Hunter's Dream, and may in fact BE a Great One who has power over Blood Echoes. She seemed surprised that you were able to talk with Gehrman, as she mentions that 'Gehrman is unseen in dreams'. It may be a hint that Gehrman is actively hiding from her.

She bleeds Pale (white) blood if you attack her. Also note that she cannot ever be truly killed. She may, in fact, be a Great One who is looking for a surrogate child herself (YOU) and the Childhood's Beginning ending is her wish finally fulfilled. Congratulations, Plain Doll, you now have kin.

  • As tempting as it may seems, the plain doll ave several dialogue lines that tend to show that she is a human creation. She wonders if the creator can love the creation, while the creation can do nothing but love the creator. She also plainly tell that she was made by humans, and never gives reason to doubt her, as even if she's unaware of your presence, she'll pray for you. There is also the matter of her second half in the Nightmare of the Old Hunter, Maria. Once she is defeated, it has an effect on the Doll, showing that she has a deep connexion to a human, something a Great one wouldn't have.
  • However, she may be the Great One's "Helper". Oedon has the Oedon's Chapel Dweller, who attract people which Oedon scans in search for a suitable mother for his child. The Brain of Mensis, or Mergo, has the Wet Nurse which help in the nursing of Mergo and the sustaining of the Nightmare. Maybe the Moon Presence has chosen the Doll as the on that helps the Hunter survive and strive. In that perspective, in the Childhood's Beginning ending, she becomes *your* helper, watching over your growth in an inaccessible Dream world.

The Pthumerian Queen Yharnam is the source of the cursed blood
The pthumerians used blood, presumably granted to them by the Great Ones, to become super-human beings. However, by the time Byrgenwerth found the Old Labyrinth, it was a dilapidated mess, and the remaining pthumerians were either beasts or desiccated things that attack you on sight... except for Yharnam herself, who is locked and shackled in the deepest reaches of the Labyrinth.

What if, then, the source of the corruption is Yharnam's blood itself? Presumably, the leader of the pthumerians would be the one in contact with the Great Ones, and the one that passed the blood that turned them super-human. What if, then, in perhaps an extra bid for power, Yharnam sought to and succeded in becoming pregnant with the child of a Great One? And with it, brought corruption to her blood? Perhaps the mix between Great One and pthumerian made her blood cursed, slowly turning any that drank it into mindless beasts. The pthumerians realized this too late, and tried to lock her away (which is why she is shackled and sealed), but by then the damage had been done, and the blood that once made them super-human brought their own end as they all turned into monsters. Since by then the blood was probably sent everywhere, this is also why the blood that the scholars of Byrgenwerth found turns people into beasts, as it is likely Yharnam's own cursed blood itself (or at very least the blood of pthumerians that turned cursed after they drunk Yharnam's).

I'm less sure about this part, but if the above is true, it could also explain why defeating Mergo (who is pretty heavily implied to be Yharnam's child) presumably ends or at least halts the spread of the curse (allows you to transcend the hunt and wake up, after all); its conception is the whole reason the curse exists in the first place. Luckily, the School of Mensis got in contact with the unborn creature's mind, allowing you a way to stop its influence in the city. But considering that the source of the curse itself is not dead (for even if you kill Yharnam, her conscience lives on, as described in the Yharnam Stone), it's likely that, eventually, someone else will find their way into the Labyrinth, find the cursed blood, and bring the scourge of beasts to another land.

The true villain is...
The Moon Presence. Most of the Great Ones and their Kin seem to non-hostile to humans or even helpful. Oedon and several other Great Ones offered their children to humans, Mergo is a baby and tried to help the School of Mensis ascend, Mergo's Wetnurse protects Mergo, the Brain sits there and gives you a rune if you Make Contact, Kos, some say Kosm, helpd Rom ascend, Rom doesn't attack directly until she's nearly dead and Ebrietas allows humans to summon her via her Augur. It's said they're sympathetic and will answer if called upon, even though it doesn't work out. But the Moon Presence created the dream specifically to kill an infant Great One, and on that path you end up killing most of the other Great Ones and their Kin. They also trapped Gehrman and possibly all of Yharnam in the dream and does the same to you in the Honoring Wishes ending. Apparently they don't want humanity to ascend, and are willing to kill the Great Ones to stop it. That also explains why they attack you if you've used three Umbilical Cords; you're ascending and turning into a Great One, so it tries to kill you before the transformation is complete.

The Moon Presence is the most powerful of the Great Ones, or barring that the only really smart one.
Why? Because unlike the rest of its brethren, it is not merely sympathetic to humanity but understands us. It's the Great Ones' answer to Provost Willem. In much the same way humans can, with some magical help, partially summon Great Ones and their servants to their aid, the Moon Presence through the Hunters' Dream summons Hunters to do its bidding. The Healing Church might have been an attempt by Great Ones to share knowledge of the cosmos, but those Great Ones thought they could bend humanity's fear and awe of them into being gods and control that information. The Moon Presence taps at something deeper — revulsion — and uses it to compel the service of Hunters, giving them only the information they need via proxy (old Gerhman) and setting them loose knowing what they're likely to achieve.

If that doesn't convince you, consider this. Much is made of Formless Oedon's strength, to transcend being and exist purely as blood and voice, or Kos's (some say Kosm's) ability to grant eyes to the lesser as indicative of similar strength. In response, the Moon Presence doesn't have a name. Think about it; for all Oedon's might he can still have part of his essence encapsulated by a rune and appropriated by Hunters. Further, leveling in the game requires blood echoes that the Moon rune enhances the collection of, establishing a relationship between the power in blood you shed from others and the Moon Presence. (Another instance: the sigil next to Level in the menu is a crescent moon.) You can't capture its strength in a rune without empowering the dream it has trapped you in! The Moon Presence's whole schtick is taking the power of others and using it against them. The grand plot of the game divorced from any human concern is the Moon Presence giving Hunters the power to steal the strength of their foes and slaughter them with it.

So why is it such an easy boss fight comparatively? Simple: you're a Spanner in the Works. Look at all the graves throughout the Hunters' Dream. There are graves underneath the shrubbery everywhere; hell, even in the final boss arena it's possible the tree is growing out of a gigantic mound of graves (some parts of the ground are just more tombstones). It didn't plan for a Hunter to actually ascend; all who had tried before in some fashion were either rendered mindless (Vacuous Rom) or raving beasts (Laurence as the Blood-letting Beast deep in the chalice dungeons).

  • Consider also literally the credo of the Choir: "the sky and the cosmos are one." The largest object in the sky is the moon! Especially when the line between man and beast is blurred and it becomes giant red! What does that imply about the Great Ones who are hunted by the Moon Presence's hunters?

On the nature of blood ministration and the healing properties of blood.

Building on some of the above WM Gs concerning Queen Yharnam, this troper proposes that the effects of her blood permanently alters recipients of blood ministration whether it turns them to beasts or not. In the description of blood vials, it's revealed that after the first in fusion, i.e. an infusion performed by a Healing Church blood minister, all successive blood infusions "recall the first, and are all the more invigorating for it".

I submit first ministration is always done with Queen Yharnam's blood. The church has a monopoly on that; it must, since poor Gilbert for example couldn't just finagle a vial from someone. So why does common blood— Arianna's, Adella's, and the blood fond in vials which is presumably harvested from enemies— heal the hunter?

Because it's not the blood that's special, it's the recipient. Yharnam's blood transforms humans into someone else, even if they aren't sprouting fur and fangs. After you take Yharnam's blood, any blood can heal you but some "vintages" are better than others.

I also submit that it is entirely probable that some Yharnamites fled the city and have not outwardly mutated. They're still out there, and they still know how good it feels to have new blood in their veins. All they need are a few things from an apothecary and an unsuspecting populace...

Ludwig is the Cleric Beast.

The game states that the individuals affiliated with the Healing Church often become the worst, most vicious beasts. It would make sense that Ludwig, the first Hunter of the church, eventually succumbed to the Beast Plague himself and transformed into the monster we now know as the Cleric Beast. The boss does drop the Sword Hunter Badge upon defeat after all, and Ludwig was best known for his skill with the sword. Furthermore, this troper has reason to believe that Ludwig becoming the Cleric Beast draws parallels to Artorias the Abysswalker from Dark Souls. Like Artorias, Ludwig was a celebrated hero and respected warrior who was legendary for his swordsmanship skills, and who eventually fell to his own "darkness"— Artorias was consumed by the Abyss, Ludwig succumbed to the Beast Plague. The Cleric Beast's resemblance to Manus can also be considered as a reference to the fall of Artorias.

  • Jossed, as of the announcement of "The Old Hunters" DLC. Ludwig's Beast form is shown to be a new monster altogether. But while Ludwig may not be the Cleric Beast, he's still technically a Cleric Beast.

The Pebbles aren't rocks.
If you look closely at the picture of the pebble, you'll notice some circles cut into it. And considering the nature and importants of eyes in Bloodborne, you learn another bit of nauseating truth. The "pebbles" are human eyes, calcified and harden to the point that they're mistaken for mere pebbles. Crows are very commonly found to carry the "pebbles", and more than a few horror movies have shown corvids go for the eyes of their next meal...

The Moon Presence isn't a Great One
The Moon Presence, if looked at objectively, looks vastly different from the Great Ones in many respects. It has no facial features, and is covered in sharp objects all about, where as Great Ones are made of more natural and comparatively soft materials. All the Great Ones we've seen; Kos, Rom, Ebrietas, all have names and sexes among themselves. The Moon Presence has no name and is just as androgynous in appearance as anything. Lastly, as another WMG pointed out, The Moon Presence is very hostile to the Great Ones. It created the Hunter's Dream that trains humans to be able to slay Great Ones, and it turns hostile to the Hunter if they consume the Umbilical Cords to begin transforming into Great Ones themselves.

The Moon Presence is a separate species from the Great Ones, and clearly has an antagonistic relationship to them. Natural predator perhaps?

  • To me it always seemed that Moon Presence is local take on Nodens from Lovecraft? He is known to occasionally help people, but more importantly, he hunts Elder Ones (Great Ones here). He appeared as an old man, who was still strong enough to fight, who was riding a chariot (what seems to reflect Gehrman pretty well in a sense) - and was hunting eldritch gods in dreams. Nodens is as close to a Hunter as one can get, and is close to MP.

The Moon Presence not only isn't a Great One, it's not even on their level
As mentioned in the WMG above, the Moon Presence is clearly an enemy of the Great Ones, and many generally accept that it's more powerful than the Great Ones you encounter or learn about in-game. But if it's their enemy and is more powerful than them, why doesn't it kill them itself? Why rely on such unreliable tools as Hunters to do battle, considering how much more probable they are to go insane or die horribly than to slay a Great One? The Presence's plan is filled with Fridge Logic that seems to point to only one explanation.

Simple: For all its influence over the Hunters and reality-warping powers, it's still woefully beneath the Great Ones in terms of both power and eldritch... ness. The reason it leads Hunters to pursue the Great Ones is because any confrontation between it and them is a guaranteed Curb-Stomp Battle. This could even be why it seals itself in the moon: to hide from them.

Some points of evidence:

1. The Immortality Of The Great Ones.

  • You may object to this, considering that the whole point of the latter part of the game is Did You Just Hack Apart a Great One, but think carefully. If the Great Ones are truly killed when you defeat them, why are Amygdala's various avatars still everywhere when you destroy her? And if each of the impossibly-advanced Great Ones can be (or have been) killed by a potentially-crazy invalid with a saw, why is Kos and Mergo's deaths such a big deal? Could it be that the Great Ones truly are immortal, and each time you slay a Great One you have merely fought a shadow? "Nightmare Slain" sounds much more impactful than "Prey Slaughtered", perhaps implying that the Moon Presence, Mergo, and the Orphan of Kos are truly dead when you slay them and unable to continue existing like the others (Perhaps in Mergo and the Orphan's case, it's due to being newborns and not as powerful as the others yet). As for Kos, she is stated to have given her life for her child, which may imply that she sacrificed her immortal nature as well. If the Moon Presence directly opposes the Great Ones, the stakes are much higher for it than for them.

2. Gehrman's Inaction.

3. The True Final Boss Battle.

  • Both of these points lead to the explanation for the Childhood's Beginning ending, and why the final battle is so comparatively easy. The pieces of Umbilical Cords cause whoever consumes them to "ascend to the level of a Great One" and become one themselves, similarly to Rom and a few others. As previously described, the Moon Presence loathes the Great Ones and fears their power, which drives its every action. When it picks you up to mark you as its new main servant after you've eaten the Umbilical Cord and begun your ascension, it realizes from the eldritch energy that pulses off of your body that you're becoming one of the very entities it sought to have you destroy and drops you in revulsion. Now you have only partially begun to transform, so you have the power of a Great One inhabiting the body of a Hunter. Because of this, and the aforementioned fact that the Moon Presence is too weak by comparison to directly oppose a Great One, the Final Battle is a lengthy curb-stomp in your favor, a combination of Karmic Death, Always a Bigger Fish, and The Worf Effect.

    • "The Great Ones that inhabit the nightmare are sympathetic in spirit, and often answer when called upon." I find it more likely that just like the Kos was asked to grant her followers eyes, the Moon Presence was asked to provide the means to fight the other Great Ones and it did exactly that in the form of Hunter's Dream and the Hunt. After all, it's never said that all the Great Ones have friendly relations. Ebrietas was even left behind, though this is vague enough for other interpretations. When you kill its 'avatar' or whatever Gehrman is to it, it descends to make you his replacement (when it goes for the hug, it might be attempting to 'speak' a rune into you, like the Hunter's Mark) but then notices that you begun to evolve into a Great One precisely the thing it was asked for assistance in getting rid of. You not only kill its servant, but most importantly spit on its gifts. This was an unforeseen twist for the Moon Presence and unfortunately for it, it is overcome with the power you managed to accumulate.


Yharnam is not the first nor the last city to be consumed by the Dream
When you leave the dream, you forget it. But the dream doesn't forget you, and continuing with the theme of parasites and blood it latches onto you. You may leave the land, move to Newark and at some point pass away there. Your blood seeps into the land, spawning forth another dream and another chance for the Great Ones to become parents. It may not be right away, but at some point you will be going down the turnpike and notice that the moon is much closer than you remember it being, and much redder...
  • Well. Before Yharnam came Pthumeru, whose inhabitants are responsible for constructing the Chalice Dungeons. And before them came Loran, which by the time of the game has been swept away into dust and darkness.

The Great Ones have attempted to spread their influence to other worlds/realities
It is known that every woman impregnated by a Great One is destined to lose their child. We also know that the Pthumerians, through their contact with the eldritch Truth, gained arcane powers based on blood and fire, as indicated by numerous bosses associated with the Pthumerians who have blood-based and fire-based attacks. There is another person, in another world, who lost her child, is heavily associated with fire and blood, and is thought to be watched over by some form of providence.

Mergo's Wet Nurse isn't a Great One, but a manifestation of Mergo's will to survive.

The Wet Nurse is one of the strangest and most mysterious entities in the game. It appears out of nowhere, has an appearance unlike any other Great One and more importantly doesn't bleed when you hit it, instead just releasing a cloud of feathers. So what is it?

There seems to be a spider theme surrounding Mergo. The Nightmare Apostles (those huge horrible spiders) are only found in the Nightmare of Mensis outside of the chalice dungeons, and as we can find in one of the rooms, the followers of Mensis appear to be transforming into them. There are also spiders with eyes for bodies nailed to the walls in Mergo's loft.Now look at the Wet Nurse again, and you'll see it has eight arms with multiple joints like an invertebrate. But that's not all: the Wet Nurse also wears a long flowing dress, and when it picks up 'Mergo' before the fight, it has a noticeable bulge that makes it look pregnant. Who else wears a long dress and is pregnant? Mergo's mother, Queen Yharnam.You aren't fighting a monster protecting Mergo, you're fighting a baby's idea of protection: its mother, or at least how an Eldritch Abomination perceives its mother. Mergo conjures this shade of its own mother to defend it when you get too close.

This explains why the fight is so easy: Mergo is a baby trapped between life and death, it has no idea how to fight you. The Wet Nurse is very slow for a game built around fast combat, it continues to flail at you even when it's clearly missing, and it only teleports to move away from you, never to ambush.

The fight is the pathetic, feeble protests of an infant unable to do anything but cry and wave its arms. Considering the horror Mergo unwittingly unleashed and its undead state within the nightmare, this could be a Mercy Kill, but even so, you're still hacking apart a baby while it cries for its mum. You Bastard!.

The One Reborn is the reanimated corpse of Mergo, who's premature stillbirth was accidentally caused by the College of Mensis

  • Despite seemingly coming out of nowhere, there is a fair amount of symbolism in the One Reborn's arrival. For one, when it emerges form the eclipse, it seems to be surround in a sickly yellow fluid... which could well be afterbirth. Furthermore, there is the eclipse itself, and the phrase "behold a paleblood sky!". Paleblood can be taken as a description of a placenta, also associated with birth: therefore, the paleblood moon is the moon of birth. There is already a lot of cosmic associations in the great ones: The Moon Presence, Rom the Vacuous' own association with the moon, and Ebrietas begin described as "Daughter of the Cosmos:" hence the eclipse leading to this creature's birth/rebirth. However, this has addition symbolism: the eclipse is a par of the cosmos being blocked, or perhaps turning against itself; as well as being an all-purpose symbol of calamity. Hence the creature is not just born from the eclipse but still-born; the miracle of life gone horribly wrong. This is perhaps emphasized by it's limp exit from it's comic womb and it's clumsy collapse upon he ground.

Likewise, the malformed nature of the creature implies it's origins. It is a massive Body of Bodies; and so it is simultaneously a great one,( due to it's massive size, unusual shape and strange abilities), and human (due to being made of, well, hundreds of human body parts). This indicates it is part-human and part great-one, much like the other children Formless Odeon attempts to sire. However, it is broken, misshapen and malformed, rather than the smooth combination of human and abhuman like the Orphan of Kos. This implies that it it's development was never completed...much like a miscarriaged fetus or premature stillborn child. There is one other being in the lore of the game that fits this qualifier: Mergo, the stillborn great one. We never see the physical presence of Mergo: only it's cradle, and it's phantasmal cry. What he wet-nurse is guarding is Mergo's soul: and what we see in The One reborn is Mergo's would-be body, that died within the womb. Furthermore, it is mentioned that the nightmare of Mensis was created to nurture Mergo, and you face the wet-nurse within this dream: you're inside a great-one's "womb" so to speak. As mentioned, the one reborn was "born" through this eclipse into Yahar'Gul, Unseen Village. It may well have been summoned from the nightmare of Mensis, which you visit direly afterwards. It is also mentioned that Mensis summoned Mergo: and this may have been what killed it. Summoning could be considered a Great one being born into our universe: and the manner of The One Reborn's summoning fits this idea. Menis's misguided summoning attempt could have cause Mergo to be born prematurely or only partially, killing it and leaving the soul inside the womb. The body was recollected by the cosmos and hidden away within the nightmare. The One Reborn is this corpse.

We've already confirmed that the creature is a failed birth, but what about it's name? "The One" implies a well-known being that people do not want to refer to directly, so it could well refer to the infant horror Mergo. However, the one reborn implies it was born once and it being born again. It's first birth was it's death due to the failed summoning, but what of the second? Well, the bell-ringing women around the top of the boss arena seem to bring forth the body of the one reborn via their bells, much like they bring forth other creatures through the level. As mentioned the symbolism of the summoning evokes a birth...or in this case, the rebirth of Mergo. It's battered corpse still writhing and chanting due to the remaing power of the undead and unborn god: much like you can still hear Mergo's crying in the Nightmare of Mensis despite it's death.

In summary, The One Reborn is the reanimated, stillborn corpse of Mergo who was born prematurely due to the actions of the university of Mensis, and then reborn as the undead thing you fight in the game.

The nature of the Dream/Nightmare Realms
The game makes it pretty obvious that, in full accordance with its inspiration material by H. P. Lovecraft, the dream/nightmare realms are perfectly physical spaces — or rather, just as physical as, for instance, the city of Yharnam. Individuals known as "Hunters" differ from the rest of humanity through their ability to "dream", which here refers to the capacity to hop between dream realms/dimensions without leaving a sleeping body behind, with the trade-off being that they cannot stop hopping between worlds, as "dying in a dream" results in them simply "waking up" in another. As the Hunters burn out on the job (going violently insane in many, but not all cases), however, they lose this ability to "dream", meaning that, on one hand, they become trapped in whatever dream realm they last visited (such as the many Old Hunters drawn into the Hunter's Nightmare by Kos' curse) and, on the other, eventually die for the final time in that realm.

The player's Hunter gains the ability to "dream" when they are infused with the Old Blood found in the old Pthumeran labyrinth, although this does not seem to be the only way to become a Hunter (as Eileen was already an esteemed Hunter before arriving to Yharnam). It is unclear whether the Yharnam we explore in the game is the same as the city we see briefly in the opening cinematic and in the "Yharnam Sunrise" ending, as it is entirely possible that while undergoing the Blood Ministration, the future Hunter already began to dream, entering instead the nightmare version of Yharnam, i.e. a dream world copied over from the "real" city, and now serving mainly as a battleground between two powerful Great Ones, Mergo and the Moon Presence. But before we tackle this, we may need to examine the dream worlds we know for sure to exist:

  • The Hunter's Dream serves as a safe haven and base of operations for the Hunters, including the PC. Its Domain Holder is the Moon Presence, a Great One.
  • The Nightmare of Mensis is the hideaway of Mergo, an infant Great One and its Domain Holder, as well as of Micolash and what remains of his School of Mensis after their Ritual.
  • The Hunter's Nightmare is the final "resting" place of many burnt-out Old Hunters in the eponymous DLC. Its Domain Holder is the Orphan/Sweet Child of Kos(m), another infant Great One (although Kos herself seems to be the realm's original creator).

In all three cases, the Domain Holder is unambigously identifiable by the unique post-Boss Battle message "Nightmare Slain" (which incidentally also reveals that dream/nightmare realms have a certain ontological inertia, as they remain accessible even after their creator and/or holder is destroyed). Furthermore, all three domain holders are Great Ones (even though technically, the Moon Presence is never identified as such in the game), who apparently do not mind the presence of other Great Ones in their domains (e.g. Mergo and its Wet Nurse co-existing peacefully with the Brain of Mensis and Amygdala). Lastly, at least two of the three realms are distorted copies of locations from another world (likely reconstructed from the vague memories of those trapped within it): Hunter's Dream is based on the Abandoned Old Workshop, and Hunter's Nightmare, on parts of Yharnam and the Fishing Hamlet; the prototypes of the Nightmare of Mensis' indoor locations are never visited in the game, but can be presumed to exist somewhere in or around Yharnam.

All of this lends credence to the idea that the in-game Yharnam has the same nature as these three dream worlds: a copy of the "real" Yharnam, which is seen in the intro and in one ending, created by some powerful Great One, most likely concurrently with the start of the Mensis Ritual and the creation of the Nightmare of Mensis. The main sticking point of this theory is the identity of its supposed Domain Holder, for which the three most likely candidates are (in order of encounter): Rom, the Vacuous Spider; Ebrietas, Daughter of the Cosmos; and Oeden the Formless. Rom, despite playing an important role in keeping the true nature of Yharnam (whatever it is) hidden from its inhabitants, and Ebrietas, despite being the origin of the Healing Church's Blood Ministrations and thus the ur-cause of the Beast Plague mess, are immediately disqualified as domain holders by their defeat messages (the standard "Prey Slaughtered"). Oeden, however, conveniently lacks a physical/killable form and is not found in any recognizable form in the game (unless you belong to the camp who identify him with the Moon Presence), making him the prime suspect for the creation of the nightmare Yharnam, the city named after the woman who, long ago, bore his stillborn child (Mergo).

Lastly, it may be surmised that the Lesser Amygdalas serve as a sort of mystical ferrymen, transporting individual Hunters to dream/nightmare realms they have not seen before (specifically, they transport the Hunter to both the Nightmare of Mensis and the Hunter's Nightmare). This would explain why some Lesser Amygdalas simply inflict Frenzy: they attempt to bring you into another realm that you are simply not capable of comprehending yet.

Lady Maria is a Badass Lesbian, which is why she retains her agency
She's clueless about Gehrman's affection for her, her visceral attack animation differs between male and female player characters (with a female player character having a far more personal, almost intimate embrace with Maria), and notably, she's one of the few female characters in the game who retains her own free will. Compare some of the other female characters:

  • The Doll is an Extreme Doormat who serves the Hunter even if they kill her repeatedly.
  • Iosefka is killed and replaced by an imposter
  • Eileen the Crow may be the most badass hunter in Yharnam, but without you, her fate is insanity and madness like every other hunter.
  • Arianna starts as a Hooker with a Heart of Gold but ends up impregnated and losing her sanity.
  • Annalise as the last of the Vilebloods can be jumped by Alfred and ground into literal paste.
  • Even extends to the Great Ones; Rom is implied to be lesser or inferior, Mergo is stillborn, Kos/m is dead, Ebrietas is implied to be forsaken, and so on.

Now part of this can be attributed to the poor treatment of female characters in the other Soulsborne games note , but Lady Maria is a notable aversion. Especially with Bloodborne's themes of blood, pregnancy, and inevitable corruption, Maria stands out as a principled person who might even qualify for the Big Good of the Hunter's Nightmare, and while Gehrman is ultimately a figure for what he believes to be good, he's pretty creepy at the same time. What could set Maria apart is that, as a gay woman, her motivations and drives are substantially different from other women in the setting.

Yharnam is a Domain of Dread
The setting of Yharnam is limited to the city itself, and the immediate area around it. The world is treated as a perpetual cycle of despair, people are constantly suffering, and leaving is not an option. There are higher powers out there, akin to the Dark Powers, who observe the world without directly acting outside of a few occasions. When the Hunter wakes up in the Yharnam Sunrise ending, they have completed their "campaign", and can leave the mist. Only question is who is the Darklord? Potential options include:

  • Gehrman: Most obviously, since he's in the typical position of a Darklord, given what he loved in life (teaching new hunters), but it has been hellishly twisted. However, while he has done things that could qualify as an Act of Ultimate Darkness, he's far from the only one, and he does regret his actions, something Darklords do not.
  • Maria: Same reasons as Gehrman above.
  • The Pale Moon Presence
  • The Hunter.


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