ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Forgiveness in Dark Souls

Updated on December 4, 2015
Raven swooping upon the Chosen Undead as seen on www.flickr.com.  Also, The Morrow is a bird.
Raven swooping upon the Chosen Undead as seen on www.flickr.com. Also, The Morrow is a bird. | Source

What does forgiveness mean to the character and the player in Dark Souls?

Time to Pay the Price

In terms of the lore of Dark Souls punishment and forgiveness is handled by Velka, allegedly a goddess, and Oswald of Carim. Specifically, Oswald is a pardoner, and Velka’s Book of the Guilty is a divine hit-list comprised of betrayers and blasphemers who get hunted by the Blades of the Darkmoon. Set out of the way from many other NPCs (perhaps as an indication that one must make a pilgrimage and choose to seek atonement) Oswald, while sounding cheery enough, is obsessed with the sinful actions of the player.

Velka doesn’t seem to make any appearance in the game, but one fan theory speculates that Velka is tied to raven iconography. Such a theory suggests Velka may be responsible for the raven that takes the player from the Undead Asylum to Lordran. Typical of the game, hard evidence is elusive, and the player must determine any validity to these suggestions.

Oswald of Carim, the pardoner, as he appears in Dark Souls.
Oswald of Carim, the pardoner, as he appears in Dark Souls. | Source

Run on for a Long Time

In the game’s mechanics, Oswald has the role of absolving the player of sin if he or she requests it and pays the price in acquired souls. As a game-play mechanic, this absolution is centered on forgiving unwarranted aggression toward NPCs, betrayal of covenants made with the factions, and the invading of other players in an attempt to take their humanity. Like many other mechanics in Dark Souls, it challenges the player to consider the risks and rewards of any action. Want to kill Ingward, Patches, or that Undead Merchant? Want to join Solaire’s gloriously incandescent covenant and brush off the Way of White? Want to use that Red Eye orb because Kaathe and the Darkwraiths seem to know what’s up? The player can do all these things, but that also means accruing sin and sometimes attracting the attention of the Darkmoon Blades who mete out vengeance. Of course, a visit to Oswald and a lump sum payment in souls can clear many those misunderstandings, though some can be paid only in the blood of the guilty to the Darkmoon Blades. Nonetheless, it is only human to commit a sin, and Oswald will accept confessions any day.

Welcome to Lordran by SparklyCrow
Welcome to Lordran by SparklyCrow | Source

A Stranger Comes to Town

What about the nature of the player’s character—the Chosen Undead—in the game? Of all the sparse background and demographic information available at character creation, nothing suggests the character is from Lordran. The character is taken via raven from the Undead Asylum to the birthplace of Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight. No matter what character is made, he or she is an intruder in this land and arguably an aberration as an undead. Nonetheless, the Chosen Undead marches into and kills across Lordran at will or even at the behest of other characters like Frampt. The player’s character bursts into Quelaag’s home and murders her. The Bell Gargoyles, Iron Golem, Ornstein, and Smough, are all discharging their duties to protect their locations from the very threat of annihilation the Chosen Undead embodies. Does the Moonlight Butterfly deserve death? Does Sif? It doesn’t take intense reflection to see where the player’s character might legitimately be seen as the villain of Dark Souls. There is no one to punish or forgive the Chosen Undead for all the destruction he or she causes in order to progress in the game. Why? To paraphrase the Oswald: are these deeds, too, not drenched in sin?

“Cometh Thou to Confess? Or to Accuse? For Indeed All Sin is My Domain”

As players witness over the course of the game, none of the other gods of Lordran measure up to their deific status. Gwynevere and all the brilliant splendor of Lordran are illusions, and all but one of the gods is long gone. Aside from Gwyndolin, what remains of Gwyn and the Witch of Izalith, and arguably Nito, there aren’t any other gods to be found. Others are mentioned, but with so much of the lore being questionable it isn’t a stretch to imagine the players inhabit a post-divine world.

Maybe there is no Velka

Maybe there is no Velka, there is no final arbiter of justice. There is only the player, and how he or she decides to carries it. Much like the ambiguous ending, the ethicality of what the player accomplishes in Dark Souls is really determined and given value by that player. Is the world a better place once the Chosen Undead rekindled the First Flame or walked away from its ashes after the regicide/deicide committed against Gwyn? The game won’t say. Velka won’t say. Hidetaka Miyazaki won’t say. As with so much in Dark Souls, the justification, the absolution, and the punishment for what has happened is for the player’s interpretation, and no amount of souls paid to Oswald will help a player sleep better after having to cripple and kill Sif.

This hub was written for Critical Distance and its series Blogs of the Round Table, and other articles in the November series can be found here.

© 2015 Seth Tomko

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)