ENTRY 10: THE PLAIN DOLL
I decided early on that the doll would be entry 10 in this series, even though you technically encounter her at the very start of the game. See, a core mechanic of Bloodborne is The Hunter's Dream, a mysterious other-dimensional space you can access through altars and these lovely little messenger lanterns. It's a serene, safe little garden where you can save your game, purchase items, upgrade or repair your weapons, instantly transport yourself to any location you've unlocked, and more! Every Hunter can presumably access this place, but you'll only ever encounter two inhabitants other than a small population of messengers.
When you first enter the Dream, the Doll is inanimate; just a weirdly lifelike, fairly tall (a full foot higher than the hunter!) mannequin left lying in the garden. Once you've gained at least one point of insight you'll perceive her as a sentient being, and she'll not only converse with you, but allow you to level up, making her the single most essential NPC in the game. But who, or what, exactly is she?
The single other character you can speak to in the Dream is Gherman, supposedly the very first hunter, now bound to a wheelchair and a permanent resident of The Dream realm where he offers some guidance and assistance to younger hunters. The Doll is actually his own creation, as far as we're told, supposedly modeled precisely after a student he had fallen in love with, but he no longer seems to have a lot of personal attachment to the being, perhaps no longer able to get past her artificiality...or perhaps he knows something about the nature of her sentience that he'd rather not talk about?
We don't exactly know how the doll was created or why she's alive, but there are some fairly concerning details you can piece together, which will be coming up in more than one of our coming reviews. All we know for most of the game is that she exists to serve all hunters in any way they ask, and she feels tremendous love for them, but she herself ponders over whether that love is truly real or something simulated. She certainly doesn't display a normal range of human emotion about anything else; you can even kill her, spilling her curiously silvery, white blood, and she'll respawn without a care. She also has a lot of affection for the Messengers, calling them "the little ones," adding to that theory about them being the degraded souls, after-images, echoes or remnants of other hunters.
As the kindest, most helpful and least visually threatening thing in Bloodborne, the doll is of course its most beloved character overall, her fan-art appearances only slightly exceeded by Vicar Amelia on the grounds that Amelia is also a sick ass giant monster people find more exciting (or outright easier) to illustrate. Between the two, however, the Doll is arguably a much stranger creature, since we know even less about WHAT she is, and there's almost nothing else like her in Bloodborne........aaalmost :)