Powder Kegs

Where there is an orthodoxy, there is always a heresy. And in the case of the Healing Church, theirs is perhaps the most involatile — ironic, considering they call themselves “Powder Kegs”. For rather than defy the church exactly, this colorfully-named group of miscreants challenges the methods of its hunters’ workshop. As hunters gravitated toward simple yet refined weaponry under Ludwig, some of their designers were evidently unimpressed. As these Powder Kegs liked to say, the weapon was worthless if boring. And this wasn’t a criticism of the church workshop’s artistry either; Powder Keg weapons look at least as crude as those of the Hunter’s Workshop. It is the church weaponry’s efficiency which they seem to find so unstimulating. Indeed, what their arms lack in elegant and ornate motifs, they make up for in elaborate and innovative inner workings. Powder Keg weapons will always involve complex mechanisms, explosions, or — in most cases — a combination of the two. In other words, they wanted beast hunting to be unconventional, convoluted, and somewhat overkill.

Hunter emblem that the “Powder Kegs”, who are known as workshop heretics, issued.

They who found fascination only in complex mechanism configuration and explosive might created odd weapons which drew a line from that of the conventional workshop.

The now late “Powder Kegs” so recited: “Something boring in itself cannot be a good weapon.”

Fed up as they were with Ludwig’s chivalric pretenses, the nonconformists split off into their own workshop where they could more freely experiment. The exact origins of this splinter faction traces way back to their predecessor, the Oto Workshop. The name implies that a man named Oto was the first to start his own factory, with its corresponding hunter badge confirming that he originally took up the Powder Keg philosophy in its description. One need only look at the Piercing Rifle — a gun designed with sniping lines of enemies down narrow streets with penetrating bullets — to see their niche thinking. The Delayed Molotov likewise shows that the spirit of oddity in Oto wasn’t limited by something like preservation. It didn’t matter if the complex mechanism was short-lived so long as it saw use at all, and who can complain about the pomp of an explosion? Oto certainly got his thrills.

Hunter emblem issued by the Oto Workshop, a faction that serves as the predecessor of the workshop heretics, the “Powder Kegs”.

Unique ideas and complex mechanisms. And odd weapons. The philosophy of the “Powder Kegs” was already alive at this time.

Rifle produced by the Oto Workshop, a faction that serves as the predecessor of the workshop heretics, the “Powder Kegs”.

It assumes hunting on thin, narrow streets, so adjustments specializing in ammo penetrability have been made, but conversely, it isn’t suitable for the likes of interception.

The text for the Delayed Molotov further clarifies these two similar workshops’ relationship, the Powder Kegs sprouting out of Oto’s work. Put simply, Oto is the Father of the Powder Kegs. He was the first inventor discontent with the church hunters’ direction, setting out to create more “interesting” ways to kill beasts on his own. After finding his niche with certain hunters, those with his same mindset joined him, where they worked hand-in-hand as apparently equals. This forced the “Oto Workshop” to be reconstituted into something broader, namely the Powder Kegs. The hunter emblem evolved from a firing hammer to a vial of gunpowder, but the workshop otherwise remained the same, just bigger in scale. The choice in symbol is itself telling — Oto was the firing hammer, and they were the gunpowder he ignited. Oto himself must have been pleased with this inspiration. Compared to his time at the church workshop, the man was now able to happily toil within a community receptive to his ideas.

Special hunting tool produced by the Oto Workshop, an old faction. A trick molotov that gets stuck on the ground when thrown and explodes after a limited time.

It is quite the inefficient hunting tool that uses and then discards a complex mechanism, but it is said that a very small portion of roundabout hunters liked it. It is probably the sprout that led to the later “Powder Kegs”.”

That isn’t to say that Oto’s old workplace was remiss in incorporating his approach into its arsenal. For example, the church’s widely-used repeating pistol was most likely his handiwork. The description for this double-barrel gun makes a point of its “complex mechanism” which Oto and his successors so loved to include. The text similarly notes how doubling the ammo consumption with the additional barrel forces the wielder to use it more strategically than your typical firearm, just like so many of their creations. Taken together, the popular weapon obviously had Oto’s touch. But if this was the limits to being “unconventional”, then it is no surprise that he and others felt that the church workshop stifled their creativity.

Double-barrel gun that Treatment Church hunters in particular use.

This gun, mostly metal-made and possessing a complex mechanism, fires two shots in one and has fast Quicksilver Bullet consumption.

It will require more prudent and trump cardish application than the workshop guns.

The Healing Church did prototype a mobile cannon firearm in order to confront larger beasts, though the English description claims that it was the Powder Kegs who fashioned it. The Old Hunters DLC supports the Japanese text, explicitly describing the Church Cannon as a variant of the main game’s cannon in its own description. This newer mortar itself resembles Ludwig’s Rifle, showing a clear linear progression from the plain prototype to the slightly lighter iteration to the present-day large-beast slayer the church workshop finally settled upon. In this iterative process, we can also see a consistent through line: practicality. The original cannon requires the most strength to wield, far more than available to the average person. Even after reducing the weight and handing it off to the physically larger bell-holders, their diminished intelligence still made it impossible to wield properly. This likewise made the reduced but still taxing ammo consumption equally worthless. Explosive firearms simply weren’t working for the church.

Large gun that the Treatment Church workshop once prototyped.

The thing is just like holding a stationary cannon, and was scrapped long before being put to practical use at the time due to its absurd weight, recoil, and Quicksilver Bullet consumption.

But if against hopelessly large enemies…

Large gun used by the Treatment Church. A kind of cannon. Characterized by curved trajectory and explosions upon landing.

It originally assumed use by the large, brain-numbed men, so is difficult for ordinary human hunters to handle.

But ultimately, even the large men lacked the intelligence to handle the firearm. It is said that this weapon was unsurprisingly left to rot.

In the end, both cannon designs were discarded, the prototype having never seen practical use; we acquire ours in the refuse-filled village of the Forbidden Woods. Based on the Hunter’s Nightmare, the later iteration was likewise thrown in storage beneath the Grand Cathedral, forgotten or lost by the present day. All of this is consistent with a history with the Healing Church, not the Powder Kegs. Sure, the heretics were no stranger to prototypes as seen with the Rifle Spear, but that they would discard the concept for being unwieldy is unimaginable. Almost all their products are in some way awkward to convention, and the text for Djura and company’s weapons prove difficulty to not be a Powder Keg’s concern. The cannon’s English description is clearly in error, perhaps because the localizers failed to properly update the text with revisions to the script on the Japanese side. Indeed, the explosive weapon at least fits with the Powder Kegs, so FromSoftware might have been toying with its backstory and availability earlier in development.

Atypical “trick weapon” produced by the workshop heretics, the “Powder Kegs”. It is known as the weapon favored by the old hunter Djura.

Launches as if driving in a very thick stake via a strange and complex mechanism. It is a one-shot kill weapon, so it leaves large openings and has high difficulty of use.

However, that very difficulty in using seems to be the “Powder Kegs”’ way of doing things.

In fact, a Powder Keg connection likely still applies. Oto and his ilk succeeded in attracting a small but sizable subset of the hunters, those who truly loathed the beasts and so appreciated their works’ plain aggressiveness —in other words, they recognized that the added force of the explosions and mechanisms also added to the beasts’ suffering. As a result, we can come across various hunters using the Boom Hammer or some other Powder Keg creation. In particular, one of the Yahar’gul hunters wields their Rifle Spear along with a cannon, so it is possible for the heretics to have adopted the sidearm — Oto might well have been responsible for the prototype, after all, and when it comes to design, it isn’t too far off from the Stake Driver or Gatling Gun. But regardless, we can definitely thank the cannon’s failure to catch on among church hunters for Oto founding an entire new faction in Yharnam.

“Trick weapon” used by old hunters. It is produced by the workshop heretics, the “Powder Kegs”.

It is a giant metal hammer with a small furnace, so the strike after raising the firing hammer whirls up flame and ignites a violent explosion upon landing.

Crush and burn up the beast. It is said that that plain aggressiveness was favored by hunters who detest beasts.

Despite this, there was never any obvious conflict between the three workshops, only the friction of clashing ideologies. Ultimately, their end goal was the same: kill more beasts. And so long as the Powder Kegs didn’t get in its way, both the Healing Church and Hunter’s Workshop appear to have been content with letting the third party be. Only now, there is no third school for trick weapons — the Powder Kegs are supposedly all dead. This begs the question of what did them in. In all likelihood, they were all victims of the Old Yharnam Incident. We never do come across their actual workshop atop the valley, so the building may be located somewhere in the unexplored parts of the old city; Djura setting up a large and heavy gatling gun down there adds to the implication. In that case, the chances of them dying to beasts or flames is incredibly high.

The timing is reaffirmed by their latest invention. The Rifle Spear was based on the Reiterspallasch lost with the destruction of Cainhurst — while the localization only renders this inspiration as a possibility, the Japanese text uses the same language for other evident truths described in certain chalice descriptions. Such a design couldn’t have been created long after Cainhurst’s ruin, which is contemporary with the events in Old Yharnam when we already see hunters wielding it. Most likely then, those familiar with the castle from their church workshop days invented their own blade-and-gun-in-one during that period. The fact their armament never got past the prototype stage thereby suggests that the engineers died before it could be iterated upon. In other words, the Rifled Spear must have been designed no earlier than the onset of the old city’s beast epidemic. Some subsequently began adopting the trick weapon before it became a relic in the aftermath of the incident. The Powder Kegs have only their affiliate hunters as their booming legacy; they themselves went out with a whimper.

“Trick weapon” produced by the workshop heretics, the “Powder Kegs”.

It is a prototype combining a spear with a simple gun and even said to be imitating a lost Cainhurst weapon.

It is not a weapon with abilities worth special mention as a standalone, but a “trick weapon” doubling as a gun is something special like no other.