Throughout Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the player will come across a wide variety of Notes that shed light on many different topics.
Daniel's Note to SelfEdit
19th of August, 1839
I wish I could ask you how much you remember. I don't know if there will be anything left after I consume this drink. Don't be afraid Daniel. I can't tell you why, but know this. I choose to forget. Try to find comfort and strength in that fact. There is a purpose. You are my final effort to put things right. God willing, the name Alexander of Brennenburg still invokes bitter anger in you. If not, this will sound horrible. Go to the Inner Sanctum, find Alexander and kill him. His body is old and weak, and yours, young and strong. He will be no match for you. One last thing, a shadow is following you. It's a living nightmare, breaking down reality. I have tried everything and there is no way to fight back. You need to escape it as long as you can. Redeem us both Daniel. Descend into the darkness where Alexander waits and murder him.
Your former self,
Altstadt and Brennenburg Castle 1801Edit
Another region rich with lore is Altstadt, deep within the East Prussian woods. For centuries there have been stories surrounding the hamlet and its neighbor, castle Brennenburg. The quiet forest-clad mountains dressed with scattered lakes is as picturesque as can be, albeit the area is haunted by the dark. Ask any local and you will hear proof of the widespread superstition. All travelers should indulge themselves in such conversations since it will certainly serve as exciting entertainment. All of them have their own twists on the tales, but there are some motifs that keep reappearing.
This story reaches all the way back to the Thirty Years' War. It is said that soldiers who abandoned their duty got lost in the cold dark woods and were forever damned to roam the grounds. Their bodies wrought by their tainted souls have left them disfigured and empty of essence. Many have sighted them over the years and describe them as horrid revenants. They move silently through the woods, shying away from any beholder. They are called Gatherers as they seem to follow some ambition to steal living creatures. It is their prey which can be heard struggling inside damp burlap sacks dragged behind them which reveal their presence. What dark scheme do they follow?
A Visit UndoneEdit
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, the well known erudite, visited Altstadt at the start of the 16th century. He resided in the local inn for a fortnight as he looked for remnants of kingdoms past. During his stay all the prominent members of society paid notice and he is mentioned in many records of the time. One day he went to investigate a burrow in the northwestern glades only to never be seen again. Heinrich is known to have passed away in Grenoble some ten years later. He dismissed the notion of ever visiting Altstadt, which makes you wonder what really happened. Who was this mysterious man who visited the sleepy hamlet in the woods and what happened to him?
The Immortal BaronEdit
The Baron of Brennenburg lives a reclusive life with his family at his castle nearby Altstadt and like most those of noble birth, rumors are inherited alongside with the title. Researching the history reveals little before the castle was consumed by fire in the late 16th century. It was rebuilt by Alexander, a nobleman from the Rhinelands claiming the role as protector of the Prussian State. Alexander helped the region to flourish and remained popular throughout his presumed lifetime. The family has always been secretive when it comes to lineage and heritage, therefore the birth and death of Alexander and his offspring has never been fully recorded. This has fed the idea that the baron is in fact the one and the same who came from the West over three hundred years ago, lived through the time of occupation, and joined the coveted Order of the Black Eagle along with the great leaders of this country.
Strange stories told about the castle from villagers. Talks about strange creatures seen in the forest around the castle and one woman swears here she saw her dead cat running around. 
Regarding Closing of the Wine CellarEdit
Wilhelm and his fools have endangered my research long enough with their absentminded handling of the human vessels. The sheriff is keeping a watchful eye on the forest and is killing my trusty servants. It's just a matter of time until they follow the trail to Brennenburg. I need to lock Wilhelm and his men up to avoid further investigation from the public. The wine cellar will therefore be sealed off until the matter has been handled. Either the king's men leave or they will starve. Whatever comes first - they can rot for all I care.
Maybe I will feed them some wine, it would in a sense solve both of my problems.
I hereby offer my full attention and services to Alexander, baron of Brennenburg. This contract will reign for a total of 3 years when my freedom shall return to me. In addition Alexander, baron of Brennenburg, is to recommend my services at the Prussian royal court and within the sanctum of the Order of the Black Eagle.
May no man break this seal.
Wilhelm, house of Gerich.
Early Alchemy ExperimentEdit
This is my third attempt to produce artificial Vitae. The former compounds lacked the potency I need, but I sense I'm close. Calamine and Orpiment are a given and the Cuprite binds them well. This time I will attempt Aqua Regia instead of Aqua Fortis in hope it will produce a more even solution.
The experiment was unsuccessful. The solution is highly acidic and proves impractical to put to any use except as a detergent. Organic tissue reacts especially violently to the solution and should be handled with the greatest care. I might be able to use the recipe, but I'm losing hope that I will find an alchemic solution to my predicament.
The lack of a chimney to properly vent the fumes from my most recent experiments has taken its toll on many of my less stable ingredients in storage. Some seem unaffected, but many are stained by the fumes and will be difficult to salvage. I shall do what I can and move them to the wine cellar.
Wilhelm's Last WordsEdit
My name is Wilhelm, house of Gerich. These are my final words, my confession and testament. Two years ago I was summoned to the castle Brennenburg. As most of the aristocracy, I was curious about what this supposed knight of the Order could want from me and accepted the invitation. The baron was friendly and offered me a proposition.
It dawned on me that the nature of the contract was sordid and that the reason I was chosen was because of the follies of my past and not the honors I've been rewarded with during my time as a soldier. I was to kidnap healthy humans upon his slightest whim and do so without asking questions. In return he would attest to my character at the royal court, advancing my position within noble society. I would like to claim that I struggled with my decision, but it came swiftly and I accepted wholeheartedly.
Ever since that day I've brought men, women, and children to Brennenburg. I can't remember the numbers, but there were many, perhaps even a hundred. None of whom were ever seen or heard from again.
Tonight the baron invited me and my men down to the wine cellar to celebrate our work. I had my suspicions as we descended the stairs, but he insisted and joined us in a toast. The wine tasted fine and my men drank without restraint.
So begins the punishment for our sins. The baron has locked us up and returned upstairs. Forgive me for what I have done. I was weak and fell into his diabolic ways. My men are screaming, their skin has been pierced by their own tangled bones. I feel my insides revolt against their God given nature. Blood has begun to pour from my eyes and I can no longer...
Canis Lupus Familiaris - 1658, April 12
After a short study it is clear that the agitation found among humans can be found in the dog. Fear and pain induce stress which seems to trigger an endogenous response, causing the animal to burst with energy. I believe that the catalyst is produced in the brain. It is difficult to determine exactly where and what it is, but I can sense it, it reeks of cosmic genesis.
There is an inherent problem in harvesting this energy since the creature is bound to die from the exercise. I must refine this process of torture to enable any real work to be done. More experiments must be performed, but it seems that only human beings are able to produce the amount necessary. It might be their ability to appreciate the severity of the process that ultimately augments their experience of terror.
Letter Regarding the Discovery of an OrbEdit
To my most trusted student and friend Johann Weyer.
The most remarkable thing happened as I was traveling through the Prussian woods this summer. I finally found one of the orbs I have been looking for the last twenty odd years. It is as inexplicable as the Heliodromus described it in the Hortus Conclusus. It was as it was told about, an underground Mithraic temple crowned with the unearthly artifact. The orb was big enough to fill my cupped hands and the texture was smooth and jagged - its color washed while rich. Contrast is not enough to describe its nature. It was an impossibility, an artificial paradox captured within stone.
I was staying in a nearby village called Altstadt, investigating one of the antiquated trails, when I finally found the cavern. I went inside and suddenly I could verify the truth of these enigmatic artifacts - they were real.
As you can understand, this is the most important discovery of my life, but it has also become my greatest fear. As I entered the underground chamber I could feel that I was trespassing. Because of my curiosity I did my best to fight these instincts and fetched the orb from its place. I scrambled out of the chamber and into the woods. I could sense something was following me, it bayed loudly as it closed in. The beast, this guardian of the orb, was relentless in its pursuit.
I made my way to a nearby ravine where I stumbled upon some men fishing in the lake. I tried to warn them as I passed, but fortunately they remained as I continued my escape. When I heard their cry of pain echo through the valley, I felt such a tremendous sense of relief, thinking I would be spared.
Suddenly a blue shimmering light engulfed me and the colors of the forest were washed away before my eyes. I kept running through the bleak surroundings, the trees had turned charcoal black with leaves of cinder, the ground covered in murky water. I pressed on through the drenched land as the glowing ember gave way to the rising wind and rained on me. I could hear pleading screams in the distance and I joined in as pain and fear overtook me. I fell to the ground gasping for air.
This certainly must sound strange, but I had been carried miles away across the Alps to a grassy field outside Genoa. The guardian had taken the orb from me, but still until this day I fear its return. Sometimes I lay awake at night listening for the howling cry I heard in the forest. It has been nearly a decade since that day and I still haven't been able to write about the incident.
The last time we spoke you told me about your interest and ongoing research into the mythic orbs and I realized I owed you the truth about my visit to Altstadt.
Your friend and mentor,
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa.
1658, January 9
Further disappointment. The antiquarian's latest findings yielded nothing. I'm still unable to grasp the inner workings of life and its relation to the power I sense within it. I shall pursue more books on the subject, but I suspect it will be in vain. Since no research has been made in my particular interest I must attempt to fill that void myself. Clearly humans emanate more of the energy I seek, but I hope animals will suffice as they would prove less of a hassle to acquire.
Elevator Machine InstructionsEdit
If the elevator breaks down again, make sure to use the steam engine to build up pressure before channeling it into the machinery.
Adjust the levers to get the right amount of pressure inside the chamber. The meters should read: Up 8 & Down 8.
Make sure the flow is set according to the following chart:
- Trinity Steam Set Functions
- Four-phase Amplitude
- Complete Steam Flow Cycle
Note that the machine will not check proper configuration until all rods are inserted.
Regarding Explosive MixtureEdit
I have prepared the explosives you needed for clearing the flood drain. I can't stress enough how important it is that the mixture is handled with care. Please try to tell your featherbrained servants this before you go ahead with your plans. The liquids are not by themselves explosive and should be kept separated to avoid further mishaps. I have arranged two large vats in the next room for the ingredients. All you need to do is to mix the liquids and you are ready to go.
Machine Equipment MemoEdit
Note that there are only two spare rods left in the storage for the elevator machinery. Make sure to only discard the ones which are badly damaged and keep the others in the inner Study rooms in case all three would crack again.
In Case of a Missing RodEdit
If a full set of three rods is unavailable, there is one rod in the inner Study rooms which might work in case the elevator breaks down again. Unless it is absolutely necessary, always use the spare rods in the storage before using a mended one.
The vaccine enabling my men to work in the fungi-ridden sewer is a definite success. Unfortunately, only a few of the servants have been remedied as the procedure proved difficult. The others will perish, and eventually I will have to create more of them to keep my experiments running.
Note that an injection of vaccinated blood will work as a shield long enough to pass the sewers without any risk of infection. It will do fine for prisoner transport.
The strange deaths among the servants and the prisoners have finally been resolved. It seems that the drain sewer which has recently been opened up for use as a means of transport is plagued by a peculiar poisonous fungi.
The victims seem to have suffered an extremely quick outbreak of sickness affecting the entire body. Some of my men, including myself, are blissfully spared by this calamity but it is clear that this cripples my progress. The prisoners die quickly and their contaminated vitae lacks the energy I seek.
I shall immediately start working on a vaccine.
13th January, 1799
The work I have put into this machine is unequaled by the reasoning of any man. The thought that generations of men have passed away since I first attempted to reconstruct the design is most tiring. The limitations of this world have made my work incredibly difficult. It has forced me to build the thing almost a hundred times larger than the delicate contraption it tries to emulate.
Not to mention the flow of tamed lightning crudely replaced by pressured steam pushing its way through pipes and turbines. It shames me to think of what the inventor would have thought of my monster. Where he works with a magnifying glass to carefully fix all the parts, I push five men to erect a tower of wrought iron in the hope it will have even the tiniest hint of the power found in a Traveler's Locket.
Agrippa Channels WeyerEdit
Weyer taunts me from the other side. I trusted him with my true reason for my efforts and still he insists on me releasing Agrippa. How an enlightened man can show such lack of compassion in a seat of power disgusts me. I can't bring myself to part from Agrippa as he is and has been for centuries my only link to the worlds beyond.
Weyer claims he tries his best to release me from my banishment, but that he needs me to give him Agrippa first so he too can help. If he could guarantee success, I would happily oblige, but how am I to part from him if my return might be denied. I know what they are capable of, I have seen their deception.
Optimism is a most hopeless feeling, but I must retain it. I shall prepare for his release.
To release Agrippa without killing him, Weyer told me to feed him a tonic made from a paralyzer, vitae, and Tampter.
The poisonous fungi should work as a paralyzer if I can find the internal gland from a large specimen. The Choir seems to be a fertile grounds for this sort. I should then be able to extract its contents with the proper tools.
The vitae could be extracted as usual from any agonized human victim's blood. I just need large amounts to distill it properly. Remember to collect this during the next torture session.
Tampter on the other hand will prove more difficult. I don't think it exists in this world. Simply writing the word with these letters looks wrong. I believe it's a property of the secretion in the water dwelling Kaernk. I will have to address Weyer with this as he will have to supply me with a host. Also a properly prepared well should suffice to contain it.
All is lost. I must once again start over. Ever since I recovered the Orb first found by Agrippa, I have depended on it for my research. The incident with Wilhelm made me most impetuous. Fearing a paucity of prisoners, I proceeded with the Final Ritual without proper foresight. The Orb cracked and fell into six parts.
I have tried everything, but have of yet to mend the thing. Unless I can think of a way to piece it together, I will have to find another. There is still life in the pieces and even if the Orb isn't restored, I might be able to salvage some of its power for some other purpose.
Centuries have past in vain and I begin to wonder if I will ever be able to see my love again. How much longer can I sustain my life?
Notes on TortureEdit
There are quite a few things to be said about torture. I had figured that the reaction I would get from the victims would be highly individual. Thankfully this is not the case. The humans all have a very similar approach to dealing with physical pain and the terror of anticipation.
I can't stress enough the importance of restraining the victims before proceeding. Even the most timid creature can break out in fits of violence where their strength exceeds their expected prowess. If proper care has been put into breaking the victim, this should not be a problem, but it will also hinder the effect I am after. The right steps to take are, therefore: to restrain while the victim is still dazed, proceed by presenting the form of torture you are about to apply, and then to continue with the actual act.
The point of presentation is to infuse terror. The human mind is extremely efficient, as it will trigger itself into greater fear simply by imagining it. While applying pain, make sure to avoid massive damage as it will prove more efficient if the process can be sustained. Also, apply the pain in doses, if possible with breaks to let the body settle. If you are whipping or cutting the victim, strike once, wait for the pain to subdue, then strike again.
As long as the body suffers it will continue to produce the vitae and saturate the blood with its properties. Only with careful performance will the victim yield maximum effect. If the victim doesn't behave as expected, it is likely that all will be for naught. Before this happens, feed them the Amnesia drink and try again later.
Last Prisoner NoteEdit
There is little left to say. I write solely to prevent myself from revisiting the memories of these last few days. If I am fortunate, I will fall asleep and time will pass without effort. I have begun to wean myself of my prison.
When I first arrived I felt like I was being buried inside a tomb, but now I feel the close walls comforting me. As long as I am in here there is no pain, the walls protect me from the outside. I even laughed earlier as one of my wardens dropped a key down the pipes. It gave me hope for a second, thinking I could escape if only I could somehow reach it from here.
In my dreams, Alexander, I am king. In my dreams I best you and escape your clutches, and return with all the knights of the realm carrying pistols and sabers. In my dreams...
Herbert's Lost Diary (Removed from the game)Edit
17th May 1839
Early afternoon. It has come to my attention that there has been an accident. Daniel, my research assistant, has been trapped inside the burial chamber. All men are ordered to lift the massive stone hinder.
Recovered Daniel after one hour of entrapment. After some preparation the workers hoisted the heavy stone with block and tackle.
Daniel is delirious and his mind is slowly recovering. I have decided to have him leave for England. It would be foolish of me to risk not just his life, but the expedition's success by keeping him here.
20th May 1839
Those imbeciles. How dare they sacrifice my expedition to their superstition. The camp is in chaos and they blame the Orb. They won't get their hands on it. I shot one of them to put them in their place. It can't be helped, they are animals, all of them. They killed four men in the most gruesome way. Their skinless bodies torn apart. They say the desert took them, but I know murder when I see it. I have sent Abdullah to contact the French in Algiers.
22th May 1839
That thing is after me. It has been hunting me for days. But I keep out of its trail, so I will persevere. I can see a settlement at the edge of the desert. I'm getting closer. I can see it. But it is not me, it is Abdullah. Through his eyes I see, his mind I hear. Confined to myself, I see only death dressed in the Orb's darkest shadow.
- There is a line of code in the english.lang file found in the game's configuration files that was most likely a test from the developers in the development of the HPL Engine. The lines read:
- Note test
"This is a damn test!"
"Yes I am not kidding!"
"Perhaps I am?"
"This is a new page, that much I am sure of!"
"More in the other test hahaha!"
- Diary 1 test
"This is diary 1!!!!"
"this is the next paragraph tha the character speaks! Fun fun speaking!"
"Now for the final thing the character says..."
"Arghh.... I die.... diee.....DIE!"
- Diary 2 test
"This is diary 2!!!!"
- The line "[voice player_react_guardian2.ogg]" appears a lot on the first diary test, suggesting that the developers were testing out playing sound files whilst reading a note in game, possibly for Daniel's voice acting in his note to self.