Gwyndolin of the Darkmoon is a character in Dark Souls I whose role is somewhat understated. It’s entirely possible to finish the game without ever seeing her, hearing her voice, or knowing that there’s even a character named Gwyndolin. Despite that, her machinations set in motion your character receiving the Lordvessel, defeating the Lords, and linking the flame. She is one of the most important characters in the game, whether you actually meet her or not.
Gwyndolin is also, in canon, a transgender woman. If you defeat her in combat, it’s possible to wear her armor, which are described with outdated trans terminology.
Robe of the Dark Sun Gwyndolin, protector of the forsaken city of Anor Londo.
The power of the moon was strong in Gwyndolin, and thus he was raised as a daughter. His magic garb is silk-thin and hardly provides any physical defense.
The game’s overall tone does not treat Gwyndolin’s gender ID with a whole lot of respect, with a lot of misgendering. Which, in a weird way, helps her characterization.
I mentioned earlier that it’s possible to never meet Gwyndolin. It is, however, a requirement that you meet her sister, Gwynevere, Princess of Sunlight.
Gwynevere is a large, conventionally attractive, large-breasted woman with a constant smile on her face who treats you not as yet another Undead, but as her personal savior. Gwynevere is also not real. Attack her, and she suddenly vanishes, revealing that not only was she an illusion, but so too was the bright sun outside her home in Anor Londo. Breaking this illusion makes you a target of Gwyndolin, and the Darkmoon Blades, her personal assassins.
The differences between Gwyndolin and Gwynevere are pretty striking. In a behind the scenes interview, it was revealed that the reason Gwynevere’s breasts were so comically large was due to an “overzealous graphics programmer” that Hidetaka Miyazaki (the series director) didn’t have the heart to stop. In this, they had inadvertently made Gwyndolin’s character stronger.
“Passing” is a term that’s used to describe a trans persons ability to “pass” as a member of the gender they ID as, in the eyes of a cis-focused world. In other words, whether or not you look like a “real” woman or a “real” man. Gwynevere is an attractive, softly-voiced, curvy woman, whose presence quite literally brightens the room. The way she speaks to you can be, at times, almost subservient. To a lot of men, that’s their ideal woman. It certainly was to Miyazaki and the unnamed artist
In contrast, Gwyndolin is small. Her body, head to toe, is completely covered, so as not to show off any masculine features (or the fact that her legs are literally a bundle of snakes). She clearly struggles with her voice, trying her best to sound feminine (in a nice, almost definitely inadvertent touch, her voice actor is male). She keeps herself alone in a room, at the end of a long hallway, sealed behind a fog door, which itself is sealed behind a hidden wall that can only be opened by a ring found in a completely unrelated area in the game. Her only communication with others is through that fog door, never revealing herself. Without her ability to create illusions, her home of Anor Londo is a dark, eerily quiet place. She’s clearly a woman who, despite any outward confidence she may show in combat or when addressing you as a subject, clearly has anxiety, dysphoria, and tremendous insecurities about herself.
Gwynevere is Gwyndolin’s hashtag #Goals. The sorceries of Lordran that allow you to change your bodily form are only temporary, so sadly, Gwyndolin’s dream remains as that.
Then Dark Souls III happens. But as this is already getting pretty long, I’ll be breaking the next segment up into two separate parts.
2. Burial (coming soon)