I should know better by now; I should expect anyone I meet in Ring of Elden will either suck or have some kind of tragic scenario that will parch my bones in existential dread. Probably I should kill every NPC I see just to save myself the angst, leaving only Pope Turtle and his pure heart in this accursed and immortal country. But maybe I’m just mad at that jerk you met in the beginning.
Let me back up for a second. So when you first enter Castle Stormveil, you meet a man called Gatekeeper Gostoc. At first he seems like a pretty decent guy, going so far as to advise you not to go through the main entrance lest you enter a world of pain. He mentions a side path, which sounds like a great idea – let’s skip all that nasty stuff! And so, go ahead, do your best to get to Godrick without getting cheered on by a knight-errant or worse, disgusted by all the hanging limbs.
I wasn’t very good at it. Stormveil and its narrow corridors, high cliffs, and powerful enemies were, for a very long time, my most hated part of the game. Ring of Elden so accessible in relation to its souls predecessors is the open world; When faced with danger, you can usually turn around and run to safety or find something else to do. And while you can choose to head towards Godrick upon reaching his castle, the goal is to see what’s inside. Plus, the fandom loves to talk about when everyone finally managed to kill Godrick. Stormveil Castle is less of a dungeon and more of a challenge.
Should I do it? No. Did I feel like beating him would prove something to me? Sort of. What this really meant in practice was that for an embarrassing number of hours I continued to die in Stormveil. I entered with runes and new offensive items and left with empty pockets, defeated and depressed. But one thing about killing things repeatedly is that you can see what they are worth, in terms of experience (or in this case, in terms of runes). And it was through this process that I noticed something was wrong.
Why was my character suddenly gaining fewer runes? I knew what giants normally drop, as I farmed them outside of the castle all the time. But for some reason, whenever I picked up runes that I dropped after I died, the amount I picked up was always less than the amount I initially died with. It was fishy, but at the time I assumed it was probably just one of many unexplained mechanisms in Ring of Elden, or maybe some other oppressive feature of that specific dungeon. I forgot about it, because it wasn’t like there were enough runes to accomplish anything, anyway.
When I finally killed Godrick, Gostoc surprised me and came out, only to start stomping on the grafted fool’s head. A little jealous watching this unfold, I lamented that the game doesn’t give you a bespoke “fuck off” moment after major wins, just for added gratification. Well, good for him, I thought. Usually this is when I start coming back to a dungeon to clear things I missed and recheck secrets. Finally, during my triple check, it’s wiki time. With a game that hides as many secrets as Ring Elden, You can never be too careful.
I do not know How? ‘Or’ What I got to the page, but I looked at Gostoc’s page and I sat in horror when I realized: it was him. All this time, this guy has been ripping me off. As the wiki explains, Gostoc robs you each time you die in the castle, apparently pocketing around 30% of the hard-earned winnings you leave on the ground.
In fact, it’s even more messed up than that. Gostoc does everything possible to rob you at least once by putting you in a dangerous situation. There’s a moment, for example, where you’re locked in a room in Stormveil Castle with a very tough knight. When you experience it you think – oh, that’s just typical souls brutality. Bosses and mini-bosses find a way to trap you, usually behind the fog, so it felt like the game was pulling its usual tricks.
But fans have found evidence that Gostoc has been suspiciously prowling various locations in the castle, apparently teleporting there from his original starting point. While he’s not squarely behind you, the fact that he’s there – and seems so sneaky in the first place – gives the illusion that he’s following you. So according to the theory, maybe Gostoc is the reason you were framed in the first place? The Wiki claims you can hear his laugh, but I can’t quite remember if I heard that at the time. There’s definitely footage of him sneaking around, and if you approach him during those times, he seems oddly guilty of something. This is why he will offer you an object out of nowhere. He pockets much more valuable things.
It took me 27 hours to finally beat Godrick. Although not all of them were spent specifically in Stormveil, given the number of times I died there, by my calculations I made this man extremely wealthy. And he had the nerve to present himself as a merchant, charging me for his merchandise. And where did he get his inventory, anyway? I’m sure I’m not the first he’s been scammed, judging by all the corpses strewn around the castle.
Ring of Elden is of course not the first game to do something like this. I remember Fallout 2, which features a town where little kids can steal your character. And not just money either. Although this has never happened to me, reports suggest Fallout 2 children can apparently catch key items, saving you from easily completing major quests. But even though I bitch about games pissing me off like this, I’ve done worse! To fall also lets you “reverse pickpocketing”, so you can stick an actual grenade in someone’s pants, which Gostoc would probably approve of.
Unsurprisingly, many players happily report that they killed him for his misdeeds. Most seem surprised by Gostoc’s betrayal, if they ever find out. However, murder could be a mistake if you take a longer view; one of the best comments on his wiki page is from a player warning do not to kill him, it turns out that if left alive, Gostoc sells some pretty rare and important upgrade material later in the game.
At least some murders aren’t premeditated. “Damn I killed him in one of his hideouts thinking he was hostile,” one player wrote in the wiki comments. “Could they at least [have] gave him a unique appearance? Stupid Fromsoft.
However, perhaps the most unlucky players are the casual players who claim that somehow, either by glitch or haunting, Gostoc continued to steal them after his death, even outside of Stormveil himself. Whether or not that happens is almost irrelevant. If Gostoc has in fact found a way to continue tormenting players beyond his death reel, or if it turns out players have just been imagining things, the Gatekeeper has the final say.