Hoo boy. This is gonna be hard.
Bloodborne is the closest thing to a horror game that I will ever put in my ‘Top Five Favorite Games’ list. So, with today being Halloween and all, I figured I may as well talk about it again. Specifically, one of the game’s most interesting and important characters: old man Gehrman, the First Hunter.
Gehrman doesn’t have a lot of time on screen or dialogue. What little time in the limelight he does have doesn’t exactly give us a clear image of his character! The story of the first hunter is almost entirely hidden in cryptic dialogue and item descriptions.
Because From Software doesn’t want to make my job easy. But I never back down from a challenge! Luckily, I have a secret weapon to make my job easier: the Bloodborne Wiki! Thank god for nerds on the internet!
Let’s get started, shall we?
The Wound: Alone in a Dream
While there have been many hunters to enter and leave the Hunter’s Dream, Gehrman is easily the oldest. He has stuck around for many years, outlasting every hunter that has come. He is the first hunter and he remains firmly on top.
Unfortunately, his journey hasn’t been an easy one. Along the way, Gehrman has lost many good friends to the Hunt. Lady Maria, Laurence, and Willem were all excellent hunters and good friends to the Father of the Hunt. But they came and went, leaving Gehrman alone. And we know those weren’t the only ones; according to the Wiki, there are a total of three hundred and sixty headstones in the garden where Gehrman’s boss fight takes place!
He has executed three hundred and sixty people just like your player character! Hunters that he’s mentored, that he’s freed from the dream. Whether it was the order of the Moon Presence or of his own volition is unknown. But the fact remains: he struck them down. And he is all that remains.
Because the Doll just isn’t good enough company, I guess. Though I suppose looking like an old friend wouldn’t do much to ease his pain…
The Want: Free Me of This Awful Dream
Gehrman’s desire is simple (for once). He wants to meet the same fate as those he has sent away from the Dream. He wants to hang up his cape and scythe and be rid of the Hunt, once and for all. Simply put: he wants to die.
Unfortunately, he can’t. So long as the Moon Presence keeps him in the Dream, Gehrman can never be free of his fate. He will continue to send Hunters into the Dreams of other Great Ones for as long as it is necessary. No matter how much he begs, pleads, or whines, his fate will always remain the same.
Until you come along.
The Need: A Good Hunter in the Dream
Gehrman is either a complete slave or a selfless man. Either way, he aims to end your life at the end of the game to free you from the same fate that he himself is suffering. Unfortunately, by doing so, he forever seals his own fate.
Luckily, the cycle can be broken. You can resist Gehrman’s wishes. Fight back. Overcome the First Hunter and kill him yourself. Prove to the Moon Presence that there is a Hunter here more useful than Gehrman.
Or better yet: prove to the Moon Presence that there is a Great One here far more dangerous than it. One that the Presence itself has let into its Dream. You. Either way, Gehrman can at long last be free of his nightmare.
The Lie: A Mystery… in a Dream
Shut up, I’m not reaching!
It isn’t especially clear if Gehrman believes some sort of a lie. It isn’t especially clear if he has enough free will to do so. For all we know, everything he does throughout the entire game is the will of the Moon Presence. But we can make a few speculations.
Assuming that Gehrman is unaware of the Moon Presence to begin with, it’s possible that he believes the Dream to be completely inescapable. That he has forever doomed himself. That the only way to prevent future Hunters from suffering the same fate is to kill them after their first Hunt is complete.
It’s possible that Gehrman believes that he’ll be free of the Dream after all of the Great Ones are destroyed. It would explain why he’s so eager to help you out throughout your quest. It would also go to explain why he seems kind of depressed before the final battle; he thought that you’d free him, but he’s still there. Now all he could do was go through the loop again.
Or perhaps Gehrman is aware of the Moon Presence. But he believes that he isn’t being entirely controlled by it and that his actions are his own. Or perhaps he is being controlled by it and he believes that he is doomed to that fate forever. Maybe he thinks that it will let him go once it’s satisfied.
Again: this is all speculation. For all I know, Gehrman doesn’t have a Lie. Perhaps he’s just a sad old man, painfully aware of the truth and damned to accept it. Unless From Software were to clear it up themselves, there can be no way of ever knowing.
And let’s be honest: do we even want to know? Where would we get our fun if we did?
There. I did a thing for Halloween. My quota as a content creator on the internet has been fulfilled.
Honestly, this one was a lot more fun than I had expected! I thought that I’d have torn out what little hair I have left by the time I was done! But trying to break down a character so wreathed in mystery was far more entertaining than I had thought it would be!
Still, don’t expect to happen often. I do want to be able to sleep at night. Though NaNoWriMo won’t make that effort very easy…