Battle Brothers

Battle Brothers

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Abel Mar 15, 2019 @ 1:04pm
[Spoilers] Davkul
There are many mysteries that surround the universe of Battle Brothers. Among them is the elusive figure of Davkul.

I've compiled extracts of the game text where the word appeared to get a better sense of, as the player character asks to a shunned witch, 'what is Davkul?' or as one of your employer may elegantly put it, 'what the fark is Davkul?'

The question of 'what' rather than 'who' is very interesting and already says a lot about this entity. We know that it is a god and more specifically that Davkul is the elder god and is revered as such by cultists. He is opposed in that regard to the old gods who may actually not be as ancient as he is. This opposition manifests itself quite gruesomely in the 'Cultist vs Old Gods' event when a monk faces out a cultist in a contest that involves more than words.

The seemingly beaten cultist says:
Such darkness! Davkul is most pleased! Man isn't tempted by the darkness, he is called to it! Lost without it! Gleeful in its return!
or sometimes:
The light steps in, but darkness is patient. Davkul awaits you all.
Light versus darkness. The old gods and Davkul. And in darkness, cold, infernal flames envisioned in the 'Cultist Finale' event:
Walking to a flickering candle, the cultist holds his hand over the flame and the fire comes to a standstill, pointing upright and unmoving. You've seen icicles more animated than it. [...] A whiteness snaps back over you, a rush of wind, tent flaps curling outward, candleflames tilting impossibly without going out, and a frigid coolness that has your first breath seen floating across the air.

So Davkul is not only a god it is also a concept, a symbol albeit a very real one. This explains why the aforementioned witch answers the 'what' question thus:
I have heard nothing about this Davkul. A supposed god you say? Well, he has not spoken to me.
Because Davkul is not only darkness it is also death. This can be inferred from a dialogue about death, the giving and receiving it, between the protagonist and a struck down hag in the 'Oracle' event:
Oh, sellsword! We shall see what you are when Davkul has you in his hands.
The 'How Far is the Sun' event is also very informative in that regard.
Originally posted by How Far is the Sun:
The cultist gets up and looks at the sun. As he continues to stare at it, a shadow slowly emerges over his face, as though some entity were shielding him from the light. Suddenly, he raises a hand and starts drawing some aerial rites with his hand. You swear the darkness on his face is moving as though an imprint of his drawings, a sort of shifting tattoo. When he's finished, he takes a seat. "The sun is dying." The men look concerned. One interjects. "Dying? What do you mean?" The cultist stares at him. "Davkul wills it that all may die." One man asks if this supposed Davkul will die too. The cultist nods. "When there is nothing left to die, Davkul may finally rest. A crueler god would have departed already. It is by Davkul's good graces that he will go last, and for that we praise him."

'Davkul wills it that all may die'. Davkul oversees the passing of all beings. He will go last and was likely born first. Beginning and end, a full cycle. But the end of a world is the beginning of a journey to another destination. Davkul is not only the god of darkness or death, he is also the master of a world where they reign and where nightmarish creatures reside. In the 'Religious Peasants' event one fanatic shouts:
Davkul shall see you in the next world!
And we get a glimpse of what this world could be with the 'Historian Mysterious Text' event when a historian reads a ancient scroll unleashing ghouls
as though he were a man being wrangled from a deep sleep, and indeed bringing with him the monsters that would inhabit the dreamworlds.
The protagonist is then called out:
Oh naive one, does thou think Davkul does not listen?

When we say 'dream' we think Alp(traum) which means nightmare. The 'Hunting Alps' contract suggests that there is a link between these and Davkul. Your employer explains:
There is fear of bizarre monsters afoot, things that feed upon dreams. I thought it the error of superstition, but they came to me last night and I stared into its eyes. I woke in the attic praying to Davkul.
Another hint is given by the 'Cultist vs Uneducated' event:
Davkul awaits. You see him in your sleep. You see him in the nights. His darkness is coming. No light burns forever.
The darkness is sleep and death as a very chatty farmer tells:
I pray to the old gods and even that Davkul fella every now and again. Do you know of Davkul? I'm not sure what to make of it. One time this man came by with a scar on his forehead, said he'd show me the way of darkness. I said I see darkness everytime I nap. This scarred fella said one day I won't wake and I said good! Ha! So then this scarred bastard starts getting upset with me...

Superstition is an interesting choice of words. The very existence of Davkul is sometimes doubted, as we've seen or even entirely denied. One prisoner meant to be sacrificed to the elder god says to the crowd:
Fark your god, he means nothing! It's all a lie!
Cultists themselves are treated by others as dumb, lowborn or disgraced people. The conditions for the 'Cultist vs Uneducated' event tells as much. As does one of the backgrounds for disowned nobles:
Seen with the cultists' book of Davkul tucked under an arm, he was disowned and cast away from his family's estate, never to return.
or for masons:
A misplaced blueprint had the mason building the temple of the Davkulians and not the temple of the Davkuliads. Now he says the gods themselves are after him.

Davkul is a contested entity but his wrath and his vengeance can be terrible as the 'Supposed Witch' event shows:
Originally posted by Supposed Witch:
The cultist speaks again. "Kill yourselves. Each of you. Tonight. You've angered Davkul and his rage is a debt you'd do best to pay yourself." The monk opens his mouth to say something, but his nose cracks as though indented by an invisible stone. He lurches, blood spewing from his nostrils. The cultist nods. "Hmm, he is angrier than I had thought. Davkul awaits us all, but he is now on your doorstep." Screaming, the monk falls to the ground as his jaw sickeningly cracks open, his mouth left permanently ajar.

Davkul is also a demanding god albeit a generous one. By making human sacrifices in his name the protagonist can obtain some of the best armors in the game. This occurs twice. First with the 'Come Across Ritual' event when your group discovers an assembly of cultists giving themselves and a unwilling participant to the consuming fire of Davkul thus depicted:
A face appears in the flames, its shape bulbous and churning in the smoke and fire. It is cruelty embodied, and could be no better painted by flames than by darkness itself. It turns and grins.
A semblance of the god power is shown:
the bonfire whips forth a great magmatic tentacle that grabs the chained man and yanks him into the flames.

Giving to receive. A sort of trade for the god benevolence as a cultist explains here:
Originally posted by Come Across Ritual:
"You have taken from Davkul [by freeing the prisoner], but the debt is paid." You ask what it is he has in his hand. The cultist holds up what had been retrieved from the flames. It is a skull patched over in leathered flesh, and stretched taut over its face is a freshly singed visage, presumably of the man who had tossed himself into the fire. Slight hints of his face twist and turn, his mouth wringed ajar, misshapen by a cruel and murmuring darkness. Still holding it aloft like a native showing off a prized scalp, the cultist speaks bluntly. "Davkul awaits us all."
or elsewhere in the 'Cultist Finale' event:
If we do this, Davkul will be most happy. If not, well, we shall see. Not even I know what may happen then.

As the item name suggests, it is a glimpse of Davkul, a glimpse of darkness, of death and of another world where beings are transformed and reconfigured. The description says:
The Glimpse of Davkul is a gift bestowed upon man by ancient and dark powers, a helmet merged with human skin and bones through the most unspeakable of rituals. A glimpse of a future where man shall become one with creations from a realm beyond. It shall never break, but instead keep regrowing its scarred skin on the spot.

These same ideas appear in the description of the Aspect of Davkul, the other piece of the armor set:
A grisly aspect of Davkul, an ancient power not from this world, and the last remnants of the sacrifice from whose body it has been fashioned. It shall never break, but instead keep regrowing its scarred skin on the spot.
The armor can be obtained in the 'Cultist Finale' event by sacrificing one of your mercenary to the elder god:
Davkul is the one in need - and he needs blood, a sacrifice. [...] he demands the blood of a warrior. A true fighting spirit [...]
If he agrees to the demands the protagonist then goes off to bid farewell to his companion only to discover that he's already gone, or not?
Originally posted by Cultist Finale:
In the bed is not the sacrifice, but a torso, its flesh torn asunder and stretched around armor made of unknown metal, teeth for rivets, tendons for strappings, bones for pauldrons, a cuirass of absolute carnage. The cultist stands in the tent's opening."Davkul is most pleased and has graced us with an aspect of Death."

At one point, Davkul himself says:
I'll give you Death, mortal, and warmed in its comforts, Death shall be visited upon your enemies. The sacrifice will not be lost, he will be with you always, this I promise you.
This is a rare case of the god taking shape to discuss terms at the bequest of the captain and the narrator describes the scene:
The tent melts away, slipping into the folds of an immense and immutable darkness. The cultist is gone. In his place is a black cloak, its arms to your shoulders, a slate of granite for a head, its edges chipped and cracking. It appears there is something behind this mask, behind this futile effort to keep your mind safe from its true visage. A voice speaks, a guttural, booming voice that is yet narrowed into a brutish whisper only for you to hear.

The party can chance upon what seems to be a dead man, in fact a cultist left out after a ritual which we learn more about:
Originally posted by Sacrificed Man:
Before you can leave, the cultist bends low to the sacrificed man and whispers into his ear. A moment later, the dead man's head lurches. His eyes widen and nostrils flare. The cultist looks over to you. "He wasn't dead. His blood was used to satiate Davkul. Had we needed his death, we would have burned him." He pauses, turning to the man whose wounds are mysteriously healing before your eyes like mud filling in a footprint. The cultist pets him on the cheek. "Come, friend, and serve Davkul." The un-sacrificed man jumps to his feet and instinctively turns toward you. Somehow, he already knows you're the captain here and bends a knee. "If you allow it, I will fight for you and, in doing so, spread the faith of Davkul." His voice is robotic, as if he'd spent the last year practicing the oath.

Even more puzzling than the strange cult devoted to Davkul is the language that it sometimes use. One of the cultist backgrounds tells:
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Davkul R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. Nn'nilgh'ri, nn'nglui. Sgn'wahl sll'ha ep'shogg.
This language doesn't seem to share anything with those of western Europe. It would prove difficult or impossible to decipher without more indications. This looks very close to the language of the Ancient. The name Davkul appears in one of the possible outcomes for the 'Deliver Item' contract when you discover an evil artifact that you can choose to destroy:
Davkul. Yekh'la. Imshudda. Pezrant. DON'T. [...] DON'T.RAVWEET.URRLA.OSHARO.EBBURRO.MEHT'JAKA.DON'T.DON'T.DON'T.DO--
Some of the words in that sentence make sense like 'intruder' and 'peasant' but they are mixed with English.

To finish this essay, let's picture a ritual:
[...] you begin to hear the murmurs of a chant [...], eventually finding a large bonfire with cloaked men circling around it. They stomp their feet and throw their hands up, shouting some token words to their elder god, Davkul. It's a bestial ceremony, roaring and growling abound, and the men dance about with their oversized clothes like darkly spirits still angry at the world they'd departed.
following a 'Cultist Procession'
going through the city; a steady stream of people seemingly manifested themselves out of thin air and now slowly makes its way along the main roads. Clad in muted colors they ring bells and chant monotonously the name of Davkul.
And now you are ready to sing these litanies among your fellow cultists:

Bring death, yours or ours, for Davkul awaits us all.
Davkul awaits you!
Davkul awaits us all.
Davkul awaits. Come and greet him.
The light steps in, but darkness is patient. Davkul awaits you all.
Davkul awaits. You see him in your sleep. You see him in the nights. His darkness is coming. No light burns forever.
Davkul awaits us all, but he is now on your doorstep.
Davkul is coming.
Darkness is coming.
Davkul shall see you in the next world!
Spread the faith of Davkul.
Last edited by Abel; Mar 15, 2019 @ 1:25pm
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Showing 1-15 of 15 comments
Zirgantz Mar 15, 2019 @ 6:05pm 
I highly recommend to you Cultist Simulator, by Weather Factory. You might be the rare type of person who could thoroughly enjoy that game.
Abel Mar 15, 2019 @ 7:27pm 
:) Good suggestion, Zirgantz! Thanks!
turtle225 Mar 15, 2019 @ 9:08pm 
This must have taken a billion years to dig up and write out. Thanks for taking the time. Guess we know more about Davkul than what might first appear. When you put it altogether like this you can a pretty good picture. I wonder if the new Cultist origin will have new dialogue to add to the backstory.
Damn man amazing work
Abel Mar 16, 2019 @ 5:07am 
Thanks guys :) !
Yes turtle, I think we will learn more about Davkul with the new origin. That's what gave me the idea in the first place! I also did some research on the Empire and the False King but I don't think there's enough to go by. It's still much of a mystery.
Zirgantz Mar 17, 2019 @ 7:00am 
Originally posted by Abel:
I also did some research on the Empire and the False King but I don't think there's enough to go by. It's still much of a mystery.

I am also very curious about that. IIRC the False King is how the ancient dead refer to the player character in some contracts. Why a random mercenary captain would be called a King, even false, is beyonb me, but it is possible that the ancient dead refer to any figure of authority that doesn't answer to their Emperor as a "False King".

Apart from that, I believe the most interesting piece of lore we have is the foreshadowing of the Undead Scourge crisis. Again, I'm going from memory, but I believe there was something along the lines of an unforgivable crime committed nation-wide, when the Empire decided to invade the "Great Beyond". What and/or where that "Great Beyond" is isn't mentioned but I think it is rather safe to assume it is a place that belongs to the gods, hence forbidden to the living. Maybe the Empire planned to invade what would be considered Heaven (or some other form of the afterlife realm) in the BB mythos, which would be the ultimate crime one could commit against the gods, and instantly got wiped out/cursed for their sin.

I think the Necrosavants provide a little more insight into this. It is possible that in the days of the Empire the Necrosavant cult gained enough following in the high spheres of power that it "lobbied" (or directly organised, or simply talked the emperor/the powers that be, into it) for the invasion of the "Great Beyond" in its quest for eternal life. It is possible as well that it is them who made the invasion possible, by opening some kind of portal after years of research into the matter. If this is true, then the Necrosavant cult would be directly responsible for the fall of the Empire. Their personal breakthroughs as mages/scholarly nobles might explain why they managed to "survive" the curse, and in a way achieve eternal life, in their twisted current form, as opposed to the rest of the ancient dead.

Or it could be that it was Davkul who opposed the passage of their armies into the Great Beyond and cursed them all. It could also be that by opening the portal to the Great Beyond, it was the Necrosavants who first invited Davkul into the world.
Last edited by Zirgantz; Mar 17, 2019 @ 1:50pm
oldboys Mar 17, 2019 @ 7:51am 
It is very curious how the false king seems to be someone whith great power, so much that witches look out for his blood and fear to speak about him but the company leader has no powers and gets some occasional glimpses of the past but nothing more. Moreover why both Davkul followers and the empire seem to be at odds with the false king? Maybe the devs will give us some more information in the next DLC the barbarians or their ancestral gods might know something more about the false king and his role in the world of battle brothers
MattE/Bierbaron Mar 17, 2019 @ 8:31am 
Pssss.. I tell you a secret: Davk´hul is a mysterious flying hand in the sky. Nobody knows were it come from, but some say it decides the fate of the world!
Abel Mar 17, 2019 @ 11:37am 
Interesting analysis from everyone :) !
Yes, the Undead Scourge intro and outro teach us a lot about the Empire. Depending on the source various reasons are given to explain its fall. The Great Beyond could indeed be some kind of divine place. An explanation to why the Empire is rising again is found in the outro and it involves an 'ugly man'.
Yes, we learn throughout the game that the protagonist is the False King and that he shares the blood of the Ancients. He could be a descendant or a distant relative of the Emperor.
But I don't want to tell more here. I guess I'll open a new discussion for us to share our theories on that matter.
WarWise Mar 17, 2019 @ 2:19pm 
Just faced an event where I followed some cultists and had to face 25 cultists using daggers and flails.
I thought it was going to be easy, but they all seemed to have a lot of perks, such as weapon masteries, colossus, dodge, nimble, and seemed to have very high health and stats.

I only managed to kill 7 of them before they surounded me and mostly killed everyone.
So far this has been the most umbalanced I´ve encountered so far. I thought it was going to be an easy fight, but even if they were using rags their stats seemed to be quite high. It was a slaughter. Unlike thugs who die with 2 to 3 hits, these guys were hard to hit and could endure 5 to 6.
Mhorhe Mar 17, 2019 @ 4:52pm 
Awesome job! Thank you! :)
Zirgantz Mar 17, 2019 @ 6:13pm 
Originally posted by WarWise:
Just faced an event where I followed some cultists and had to face 25 cultists using daggers and flails.
I thought it was going to be easy, but they all seemed to have a lot of perks, such as weapon masteries, colossus, dodge, nimble, and seemed to have very high health and stats.

I only managed to kill 7 of them before they surounded me and mostly killed everyone.
So far this has been the most umbalanced I´ve encountered so far. I thought it was going to be an easy fight, but even if they were using rags their stats seemed to be quite high. It was a slaughter. Unlike thugs who die with 2 to 3 hits, these guys were hard to hit and could endure 5 to 6.

I have encountered this event as well a few weeks ago, and it ruined my company. Out of curiosity, did you have a cultist among your bros ? I did not. Maybe the outcome of the event is different if you have one with you.
Saint Scylla Mar 18, 2019 @ 5:03am 
Excellent study.

FYI you've been mentioned by Casey Hollingshead, the writer of the game, on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/Casey_notCasey/status/1107512674634604546
guardianru Mar 18, 2019 @ 7:34am 
Burn the heretic?-)))
Abel Mar 18, 2019 @ 10:19am 
@WarWise Yes, I got that one too once. These cultists do indeed have Nimble so they're hard to kill. But they're also numerous and can carry daggers which makes them really dangerous.
Thanks for the feedback guys :) !
Yep, I saw that! Credits to Casey for the writing!
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Date Posted: Mar 15, 2019 @ 1:04pm
Posts: 15