Future Press game guide description: "The Afflicted Beggar is a scourge victim first encountered consuming the dead bodies of three Yharnamites on the Windmill Balconies in the Forbidden Woods. While he makes great effort to appear normal, in reality he is barely clinging to his humanity and will reveal his true form if you attack him three times at any point in his quest. Telling him about the Oedon Chapel will cause him to take up residence outside and begin preying upon any other refugees present there…"
The Afflicted Beggar is one of our best examples of that infamous Yharnamite attitude. He is found on a rooftop in the Forbidden Woods apparently feasting on the corpses of a dead family (mother, father and daughter), and based on his actions later in the game, this strongly implies that he killed them. The Beggar is a man barely clinging to his humanity, and will transform into an Abhorrent Beast when he is attacked. For progressing his quest he will give the player Beast Blood Pellets as rewards.
Yharnamites in general don’t share much with outsiders. They keep to themselves and most seem to blame outsiders for the situation Yharnam is in, revelling in tales of “pompous” outsiders suffering for their ignorance. It’s also no secret that Yharnamites are heavy users of blood, as in Yharnam blood is more intoxicating than even alcohol. Like a drug that has no diminishing return, successive transfusions recall the first and are all the more invigorating for it. The Afflicted Beggar’s dialogue “We keep our distance, don't step on anyone's toes, right? The way proper Yharnamites ought to live! Heh heh…” Implies that the Yharnamite way is to keep to yourself and stay out of other’s business.
This all makes sense considering the stance the Healing Church takes against beasthood. The Church’s hunters are elementary doctors who understand the importance of early prevention of the scourge, achieved by disposing of victims, and even potential victims, before signs of sickness manifest themselves. Their black attire is synonymous with fear, and that peculiar Yharnam madness. Living in a society like this, the clear consequence is that one would keep to themselves for fear of being accused of beasthood and reported to the Church to be quietly ‘removed.’
The Beggar seems to have an intense hatred for the hunters of the Church, likely born of fear and resentment. He has been carrying his secret identity with him for who knows how long, and the idea of exposure must be terrifying to him. If attacked he will berate the player saying:
“You hunters have got more blood on your hands.
Die! Die, die! Hunters are killers, nothing less! You call me a beast? A
beast? What would you know? I didn't ask for this!”
“Oh, you are a sick puppy! You drink the blood of half the town, and now
this! And you talk of beasts? You hunters are the real killers!”
The Yharnamites must surely resent the hunters for their position, the way they exercise their authority and their own indulgences in the blood that the Yharnamites are so obsessed with. The Old Hunter Garb states: “one day, the hunters disappeared, and Yharnamites began to whisper of the hunter's sin.” From this it is clear that the Yharnamites were aware of the hunters plight and it took no special knowledge to know that they had performed unscrupulous acts. The Beggar has therefore come to the conclusion, perhaps through hearsay, perhaps though experience (whether his own - see below, or through seeing others) that the hunters may claim to be purging the town of beasts, but they are in fact beasts themselves. This is most certainly true, we just have to look at Father Gascoigne’s fate. The Beggar stands out from other Yharnamites as one who has accepted his beast-like tendencies, going so far as to actively seek out and indulge in them, but ironically denies that he is a beast, and manages to keep it well concealed.
While apparently just a Yharnamite too far gone with beasthood, the Afflicted Beggar seemingly has more to him than that. He wears the Madman Leggings and what appears to be the Harrowed Hood. He also has the Beast rune etched in his mind, which makes sense considering his beast-like state, but since the Afflicted Beggar’s beast like form is vastly different to any other beast, except what is found in the Loran chalice dungeons, it is perhaps clueing us into some of his history.
The Madman Leggings are those worn by the tomb prospectors of the Healing Church, chosen to explore the old labyrinth (Chalice Dungeons) below Yharnam. These tomb prospectors are not necessarily hunters, though those encountered in the Chalice Dungeons certainly fight like them. The eventual fate of the majority of tomb prospectors is to go mad when they are unable to withstand the weight of the “old knowledge”. Since the Beggar is wearing these garments, it begs the question, what is his relationship with the Church? It may be that the clothing he wears is simply what he has picked up, perhaps off the bodies of his victims, but there is a strange coincidence in his choice of headwear which implies otherwise. The Harrowed Hood description reads:
"Certain Church hunters obfuscate their identities
and slip into the nooks and crannies of the city.
This is the garb that allows these harrowed individuals to go unnoticed.
These hunters are keen to early signs of the scourge,
serving as a first line of defense against its outbreak.
Or perhaps, when the time is ripe, they find signs of the scourge where there are none.
It just goes to show, the corner beggar is not always who he seems."
What is most interesting is the use of the word beggar. This description clearly states that hunters of the Church have in the past disguised themselves as beggars in an effort to slip into the populace unnoticed. While the harrowed set is primarily associated with Simon, the Harrowed, the reference to a beggar and the plural “hunters” implies that there was certainly more than one, and we know that the Afflicted Beggar does in fact refer to himself as a beggar when he says to you at Oedon Chapel:
“Ahh, hello again. I owe this to you. It's
a wonderful place. They even let beggars like myself in!”
The Afflicted Beggar also has etched in his mind the Beast Rune. One certainly doesn’t have to be a hunter to have one of runes in etched in their mind, as we see in the case of Provost Willem and Saint Adeline just as a couple of examples, but the Beast Rune is especially interesting. It is a symbol left by Caryll, and is a transcription of the roar of a labyrinth beast. We know that Tomb Prospectors entered the labyrinth, so this is an interesting connection. We also know that Loran is part of the Chalice Dungeons, and the only other place that Abhorrent Beasts are found in game.
All of this evidence paints a picture. It seems possible, if not likely, that the Afflicted Beggar was once a hunter for the Church and that he investigated the Loran dungeons at the behest of the church leaders. We know that Yharnamites were once recruited by the Church by Ludwig from the Yharnam Hunter Set so this is not unheard of. It is there that he may have encountered the blood that would transform one into a beast just like the Abhorrent Beasts found in the Loran dungeons, perhaps the Beast rune became etched in his mind there. The things he discovered in the dungeons may have caused him to go ‘mad’ and turn against the Church. The use of the harrowed garb was established early on in the Church’s history and it is not too far of a leap for this man to disguise himself assuming the identity of the ‘Afflicted Beggar’, not just to slip into the populace, like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, but to hide himself from his fellow hunters who would undoubtedly be out for his blood should they recognise him. If these speculations were true, it would further explain his hatred of the hunters, his true beastly form and the reason he ascribes the hunters so much blame for the plight of Yharnam.
One final thing to note about the Afflicted Beggar is a simple and casual statement he makes. That his situation and the situation of Yharnam is all because of the “curse of Yharnam”. Coming from a simple Yharnamite this statement may be taken at face value, that Yharnam the city, is cursed or at least seems to be. But whether intentional or not, the Afflicted Beggar has given the player some terribly profound information, simply as a throw-away comment. There is likely a double meaning here, that the Yharnam he refers to is actually Yharnam, Pthumerian Queen and this curse is something far deeper than is immediately apparent.