The mischievous history of Elden Ring’s Patches, FromSoftware’s eternal scamp

For the past 15 years, I’ve been repeatedly tricked by Patches, the lovable scamp of FromSoftware’s Souls games. Despite him leaving me for dead multiple times and generally being a sniveling little shit, I never want him to go away. He’s become the best long-running joke in FromSoftware’s games since his debut appearance in 2009’s Demon’s Souls, and he made a very memorable appearance in 2022’s Elden Ring.

While Patches is a staple of game director Hidetaka Miyazaki’s Souls games, his history traces back further, to FromSoft’s Armored Core series. And according to one theory, Patches may have been secretly plaguing FromSoft games even before that.

Patches in Armored Core

[embedded content]

In the 2008 game Armored Core: For Answer, Miyazaki’s second game as director, Patches is introduced as Patch the Good Luck, pilot of the AC “No Count.” Patch’s mech is equipped with a long-range sniper rifle and electronic countermeasures, meaning he prefers to fight from a distance utilizing stealth rather than engaging in battle directly.

Players battle Patch and a handful of other enemy AC pilots in an early mission, and when things start going badly for Patch, he’ll beg for mercy. “Wait, wait! I give up!” Patch says, his mech (somehow) visibly shaking and cowering. “H-hey, I’m just following orders here.” Upon realizing you aren’t going to kill him, Patch will retreat.

Patch’s sneakiness and cowardice in battle is presaged in a mission briefing: “His favored combat strategy is to snipe from the air or from concealed locations to catch his opponents off guard.” That description sets the tone for his dishonorable, opportunistic behavior in Demon’s Souls and subsequent games.

Patches in Demon’s Souls

Patches, as he appears in the 2020 Demon’s Souls remake, in Stonefang Tunnel next to a player character
Patches, as he appears in the 2020 Demon’s Souls remake
Image: Bluepoint Games, FromSoftware/Sony Interactive Entertainment

The character’s first real appearance comes in Demon’s Souls, where he’s known as Patches the Hyena. Players encounter him twice: once in the underground mining area of Stonefang Tunnel, where Patches will lure them into a trap, and again in a dark temple in the Shrine of Storms, where he’ll greet the player and promise them riches… if only they’ll peer into a hole that leads to a dungeon below. If players do follow the trickster’s directions, Patches will boot them in the ass and send them to their presumed death. Should they survive and confront Patches, he’ll pass it off as a big misunderstanding.

After being duped by Patches and sparing his life, players then find that he’s returned to the game’s hub world, the Nexus, where he’ll serve as a merchant. In this capacity, Patches acts like he’s doing you a favor. Demon’s Souls establishes Patches as a notorious gaslighter.

Patches in Dark Souls

Patches stands next to a bridge lever, with spear and shield in hand, in a screenshot from Dark Souls Remastered
Patches, just casually standing by the button that flips over a bridge for no reason
Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via VaatiVidya

Patches returns in Dark Souls. Players can meet him in two locations, the Catacombs and Tomb of the Giants — both dark underground areas, a recurring thematic residence for Patches. He’ll introduce himself, amusingly as “Trusty Patches,” and one of the first things he does is lure the player into (you know where this is going) a trap. When players survive and return to Patches, he’ll once again dismiss his treacherous behavior as a prank. No big deal. Water under the bridge!

Patches’ turn in Dark Souls is remarkably similar to that of his appearance in Demon’s Souls, perhaps in part because FromSoft’s follow-up was now reaching a much wider audience.

Patches in Bloodborne

Patches the Spider sits on a table in the Lecture Building surrounded by books and scientific equipment in a screenshot from Bloodborne
Patches the Spider
Image: FromSoftware/Sony Interactive Entertainment via Polygon

Players next saw Patches in a very different form in Bloodborne. He returns to his old tricks, luring players into a trap by promising them treasure and kicking them off the side of a cliff. But in Bloodborne, Patches appears to have finally received his comeuppance: He’s been transformed into a ghastly spider from the neck down.

Patches the Spider takes deception to a new level in Bloodborne, masquerading as other characters in order to trick the player into taking the Tonsil Stone, a device that sends them to a place called the Nightmare Frontier and grants them an audience with Amygdala, a fearsome boss. What’s more, the revelation that Patches is a spider-man — a detail that’s obscured to the player because he’s hiding behind a door — adds a new twist to his third appearance in a FromSoft game. Once again, after the player confronts Patches the Spider about his misdeeds, he will beg to be spared, and later he’ll return as a rare spawn in Bloodborne’s Chalice Dungeons.

Patches in Dark Souls 3

Patches squats in his tucked-away location in Firelink Shrine in a screenshot from Dark Souls 3
The Patches squat
Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Perhaps the most layered deception Patches devises comes in Dark Souls 3, where he’s known as Unbreakable Patches. In that game, Patches wears the onion-shaped armor of the Catarina knights, evoking players’ memories of the beloved NPCs Siegmeyer of Catarina and his daughter Sieglinde from the original Dark Souls. Trading on their good names (and using Siegmeyer’s familiar “Hmmm…” to reinforce his disguise), Patches sets another trap for the player, sending them to certain doom at the foot of a giant.

When confronted, Unbreakable Patches blames his bad behavior on his armor, which he implies is cursed. (In reality, he stole that armor from another NPC, Siegward of Catarina, who’s clearly intended as the true callback to Siegmeyer.)

Patches also appears as a separate character in the second add-on for Dark Souls 3, The Ringed City. Further in the future, at the end of the world, Patches has gone hollow — mad, in Dark Souls parlance — and lost his memory. He thinks he’s a knight named Lapp, and seeks to recover his identity. Thanks to the player, he does manage to regain his memories and, shortly after pledging his undying friendship, reverts to his old ways, luring the player to treasure and kicking them into a pit. It’s a fitting end for Patches in the world of Dark Souls, but turns out, his journey has not ended.

Patches in Elden Ring

Patches squats near a small campfire in Murkwater Cave in a screenshot from Elden Ring Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via Polygon

Elden Ring players meet the man known as Patches the Untethered early in the game if they find his underground dwelling in Limgrave’s Murkwater Cave. For the first time in a “Souls” game, players meet Patches in combat. He’ll attack the player for trying to pilfer his belongings, but he will plead for mercy and attempt to de-escalate the fight when he’s at half health.

Patches will then resort to his old ways, tricking the player into opening a trapped chest that will teleport them to a far-off location where they’ll face a giant enemy. After this, Patches will once again become a friendly merchant for players should they revisit him, and if they progress his quest line far enough, they’ll be treated to a classic Patches ruse that ends with the player getting kicked off a cliff’s edge.

Perhaps Patches’ most amusing display of cowardice in Elden Ring comes in the boss battle with Starscourge Radahn. In that memorably epic fight, players can summon a long list of NPCs to fight with them, including Iron Fist Alexander, Blaidd, and — surprisingly — Patches. But while other NPC allies will battle Radahn to the death, a summoned Patches will run away just moments after being called to fight.

Is Patches immortal?

Patches, wearing the armor of “Lapp,” looks down upon the player he kicked over a ledge in a screenshot from Dark Souls 3: The Ringed City
A typical view of Patches after being kicked off a ledge
Image: FromSoftware/Bandai Namco via VaatiVidya

Patches’ story arc in Dark Souls 3 would certainly imply that, given that the grave-robbing trickster appears to have survived from the original Dark Souls to the end of the trilogy’s world.

In an interview for the original Dark Souls, Miyazaki said Demon’s Souls’ Patches the Hyena and later versions of Patches in Dark Souls games and Bloodborne were different people. “Officially, it’s just a ‘coincidence’ that they look alike,” Miyazaki said on the podcast Game no Shokutaku, though the host implied Miyazaki was being facetious (or trying to not get into trouble, giving that FromSoft has worked with different publishers across titles).

Miyazaki later said in an interview for Bloodborne, “As [Patches’] creator, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride that he’s made it this far,” implying that the character has survived across multiple centuries and the world-ending events of his games.

With the recently released Elden Ring: Shadow of the Erdtree DLC, there are hints that that game’s world connects to the Dark Souls universe, perhaps serving as a precursor to those games. A new item in Shadow of the Erdtree vaguely references the Lordvessel, an important item in the first Dark Souls.

[embedded content]

But Patches may have existed in some form in the FromSoftware game catalog even before Miyazaki joined the company in 2004. In a video from 2023 about Patches’ “true origin,” YouTube creator Blinge theorizes that FromSoft’s Japan-only PlayStation 2 game Shadow Tower: Abyss may have given us the earliest version of Patches, although the character at the heart of this theory doesn’t bear that name. Shadow Tower: Abyss features a nameless trickster who lures the player into a treasure room that houses a deadly trap. That proto-Patches also drops players into monster-infested waters by knocking a bridge out from under them, just as “Trusty Patches” does in Dark Souls.

Shadow Tower: Abyss pulls all of these tricks on the player as they pursue a powerful spear. And it just so happens that Patches’ weapon of choice throughout Dark Souls, Dark Souls 3, and Elden Ring is a spear.

Other recurring Patches themes

In addition to pulling basically the same trick on players over and over again in the Souls games, Patches has another recurring trait. He gives players various emotes that reflect his supposed repentance for trying to kill the player. In Dark Souls, players earn the “Prostration” emote. In Bloodborne, it’s “Beg for Life,” and in Elden Ring, it’s “Grovel for Mercy.”

British actor William Vanderpuye has long voiced Patches (and “Lapp” in Dark Souls 3), starting with Demon’s Souls. Japanese actor Naomi Kusumi has assumed the role just twice, in 2008’s Armored Core: For Answer and in the 2020 Demon’s Souls remake, a new connection for the character. Outside of those two games, Patches has only been voiced in English.

Patches has only ever appeared in games directed by Miyazaki himself. That’s almost certainly why he doesn’t appear in Dark Souls 2, which was co-directed by Tomohiro Shibuya and Yui Tanimura. Patches’ closest analog in that game is Mild-Mannered Pate, a spear-wielding trickster who is voiced by actor Peter Serafinowicz. Patches also doesn’t appear in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or the VR adventure game Déraciné, which were led by Miyazaki.

What’s next for Patches isn’t clear; FromSoftware hasn’t announced any projects beyond the recently released Shadow of the Erdtree. In interviews, Miyazaki has expressed concern about overusing Easter eggs and cross-game references, like FromSoftware games’ trademark moonlight swords that have been featured across multiple franchises. But Patches’ tenacity and survivability almost guarantees FromSoft fans will see him again someday.