UPDATE: Now that Dark Souls III has officially been in the wild for around a week (longer if you count people who bought the Japanese version), we have updated the Abyss Watchers and Firstborn Son sections, and added a new theory pertaining to Aldrich, Devourer of Gods. 

Dark Souls. The only straightforward thing about Hidetaka Miyazaki’s byzantine masterpiece is the ambiguity it shrouds itself in. Its intentionally sparse lore invites players to use subtle clues scattered throughout the environment and in flavor text to craft intricate theses related to the game’s mythology, and as you can imagine, the Dark Souls community is absolutely brimming with proposals. Some have been generally agreed upon as canon, and others have even been verified by Miyazaki himself.

You can be sure these community lore sleuths are already combing through Dark Souls III, which hits North American stores next week, for more insight into how the latest game ties into the series’ lore. To celebrate the release of Dark Souls III — and to confuse the hell out of you — here are a few prevailing fan theories about the background story of the Dark Souls universe.

It should go without saying, but CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Aldrich, Devourer of Gods

Devourer-Dark-Souls-III

Aldrich, Devourer of Gods, is rumored to have consumed many notable gods from the Dark Souls series, including Gwyndolin, Priscilla, and Nito. Aldritch consumed Gwyndolin when she was ill, which allowed him to take on a handful of her abilities and appearance. He is most likely in the process of devouring Gwyndolin when you encounter him in the game.

Firstborn Son

solaire-of-astora

Everyone loves Solaire of Astora, the sun-gazing knight who gives the player the White Sign Soapstone and helps out with a handful of boss battles throughout the game. Players have theorized that Solaire is actually the firstborn son of Gwyn, the game’s final boss, based on the items he possesses, as well as some subtle implications in his dialogue. You can read more about that in this thread on the Dark Souls wiki.

Dark-Souls-III-Nameless-King

One alternate theory on the identity of Gwyn’s firstborn is that it is actually The Nameless King, a dragon-slaying war god from the time of the ancient lords. At some point during Gwyn’s war with the Everlasting Dragons, his firstborn betrayed his father and sided with the Dragons. The Lords were still able to defeat the Dragons, and as punishment Gwyn ordered his son’s name expelled from history. Gwyn’s firstborn was also Dragonslayer Ornstein‘s personal trainer, which would explain their similar combat style.

Refusing the Throne

throne of want

The connections between Dark Souls and Dark Souls II are tenuous at best, so figuring out how Dark Souls III fits into the overarching narrative has been an unending source of speculation for fans. The end of Dark Souls II has the player sitting on the Throne of Want, potentially leading the land back into the Light. However, Scholar of the First Sin, the Dark Souls II DLC, allowed the player to refuse the throne, quite possibly laying the groundwork for the path Dark Souls III will continue along.

The Future Is the Past

Drangleic

Many have speculated that Drangleic is a kingdom built atop the ruins of Lordran. There are many indicators, including the presence of Ornstein in a cathedral that bears a striking resemblance to Anor Londo, and several NPC references to civilizations that came before.

A Lord of Cinder

LordofCinder

We keep seeing this “Lord of Cinder” idea come up in reference to Dark Souls III. It’s even the name of the mode that allows you to summon other players. Some have speculated that this Lord of Cinder is the first player character that isn’t hollow or undead and that the player will navigate the world in this new form, with the world turning to ashes around him.

A Sound Strategy

On the Dark Souls wiki, user Ornsteinthedarkhorse attempts to unpack how the Four Knights of Gwyn, Lord Gwyn’s most celebrated warriors, defeated dragons. First, Hawkeye Gough, as a sharpshooter, would shoot the dragon to weaken it and draw it to the ground. Then, Ornstein would ravage the grounded dragon with his spear, with Artorias shielding them from its flames. To seal the deal, Ciaran would poison the wound.

From the Abyss

abysswatchers

From what we learn in Dark Souls III it’s clear there is a strong connection between The Abyss Watchers and the “Artorias of the Abyss DLC from the original Dark Souls. Farron’s Undead Legion – The Abyss Watchers – are sworn to protect the spreading of the Abyss. Hawkwood, the NPC in Firelink Shrine, was a deserter of the Undead Legion. He mentions that the legion’s duty of destroying the Abyss has no limits. The Abyss Walkers are said to look up to the “Wolf Blood Master”, which is heavily implied to be Artorias the Abysswalker. Each member of the legion consumed Artorias’ blood as a means of gaining power. This explains their similar weapons, armor sets, and combat moves. However, this also combined their souls into one, and as a result, the single soul constantly jumps between bodies of the Watchers. This can result in them occasionally fighting each other.

We are sure people will continue to pore through Miyazaki’s latest masterpiece to attempt to provide concrete answers dedicated fans have been seeking since the first game. We will keep adding more info as they do.

Let us know @getfandom if you have any new theories after playing through Dark Souls III.