The Gatherers are Alexander of Brennenburg's servants. They are the primary enemies in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. The Gatherers come in two variations: Grunts and Brutes. They patrol various parts of Brennenburg Castle, attacking Daniel when he is seen. As Daniel is unarmed, they cannot be killed and therefore must be avoided by running or hiding behind objects to avoid being seen. The Gatherers will always alert the player of their presence with an audible growl when entering Daniel's immediate area. When Daniel sees these monsters, his sanity will lower. It is best to avoid direct eye contact with the monsters and to evade them completely.
Grotesque and malformed, the Gatherers serve as the game's primary enemies, patrolling the corridors of Brennenburg Castle and chasing Daniel on sight. Daniel is unable to fight back, and as such his only means of protection are fleeing and hiding. Monsters do not stick around for long and are not always thorough in their investigations, usually providing Daniel ample space to hide.
Their loyalty to Alexander of Brennenburg is made known later in the game when Alexander explicitly orders them to stop Daniel from continuing forward in his mission. Other references to this connection with the Gatherers can be found when Daniel's location is unknown to Alexander. Alexander will furiously ask, "Where is he now?" and the Gatherers will continue to search for Daniel. In the Transept, after getting the Orb pieces, Alexander will command: "Find him."
The Gatherers first appear in the Archives, Wine Cellar, and Refinery, although these are purely cinematic encounters; players will remain safe unless they make a deliberate effort to engage the monster. In the Archives, after witnessing an actual Gatherer, Daniel can hallucinate that one is chasing him, but it will disappear before it gets too close. However, in the Refinery, intentionally running up to the Gatherer will cause it to spot and chase Daniel. The first dangerous encounter with a Gatherer will occur in either Storage or the Guest Room, depending on the player's course of action upon reaching the Back Hall. The Gatherer in the Guest Room will only spawn when Daniel steps in front of the open cabinet in the side room to the right of the entrance, and can be avoided entirely by keeping away from the open cabinet. If the monster does spawn, the open cabinet is intended as an obvious, introductory hiding place to teach the player about evading future encounters. Gatherers in the Storage and Prison blocks pose a much greater threat. Hiding when alerted of a Gatherer's presence is always the safest option, but sometimes the need to run will be inescapable.
Daniel mentions in his diary the presence of sneaky and skulking servants in the castle. According to the loading screens, these servants smelled of spiced wine permeated by clove and sage. In the short story The Outrider, Gabriel is able to follow the mysterious creature due to the same particular smell. The creature is then revealed to be a servant Grunt. It is unclear whether the servants mentioned by Daniel are Gatherers, like the one encountered by Gabriel. If this is the case, they must be covered by a cloak - as in The Outrider - to avoid raising suspicion from their monstrous appearances.
The Gatherers usually appear when Daniel picks up a plot item or steps into certain zones. When a Gatherer appears, it will make a monstrous cry and start to look for Daniel. Specific, intense music tracks will play while a Gatherer is roaming and stop when the Gatherer leaves, indicating safety. When a Gatherer spots Daniel, the Terror Meter starts heard and begins the chase.
When giving chase, Gatherers will alter their speed in relation to their proximity from Daniel. At close range they will slowly stagger towards him, but will quickly pick up speed from a distance. They are capable of tearing down wooden and metal doors to knocking obstacles out of their path. Surprisingly, they don't assume Daniel is hiding even if they see him enter a dead-end room, and simply give up the chase. Even hiding in a dark corner can be enough to get them to leave confused, which indicates they don't possess much intelligence. Gatherers are able to break closet doors if they see that you are inside (if they see you enter a cabinet or see you peeking out by opening the door). The cabinet will, like broken doors, remain destroyed. If trapped inside a room by a Gatherer, the player can try picking up an item (a barrel, a chair, a rock, etc.) and throwing it at the monster. The Gatherer will be knocked back momentarily, and if the player hurries, they can dart around it and possibly manage to escape. However, this action will not only drain Daniel's sanity, but the Gatherer will also recover quickly and charge Daniel in the blink of an eye. This is not recommended to do If the Gatherer has just noticed Daniel. Doing so will cause the Gatherer to instantly charge at him at full speed. There is always a warm-up time before the actual chase begins. If a Gatherer has just noticed Daniel then it is possible to quickly hide or duck around a corner. Doing this will either cause the Gatherer to lose interest or going into a short "search" for Daniel. Only when the chase music begins, then you should start running. The Terror Meter is not the key to being chased.
In most scenarios if the creature is unaware of Daniel's presence, looking away from the Gatherer will keep the player safe. Also, by hiding in a dark corner and by crouching it reduces your chance of being noticed by the Gatherer. Avoiding direct eye contact with the creature is essential to survive and keep Daniel's sanity up. Looking at it will cause it to notice Daniel quicker as well as rapidly drain his sanity, regardless of the distance between Daniel and the Gatherer. Additionally, it is possible to remain hidden from a Gatherer by holding a large object, like a barrel, in front of you. This calls into question the Gatherers' intelligence.
Avoiding the Gatherers is not a difficult task. In most situations, Daniel is given fair warning of the beast's entrance into the map so the player should be able to find a decent hiding spot. A common misconception is that darkness is something for a player to avoid at all times. However, in the presence of a Gatherer, the player sometimes must use their lantern to stay sane. Players should not be afraid of pulling out their lantern while there is a monster on the map. However, a player should not use their lantern while in direct contact with it.
The best solution to avoiding a monster chasing Daniel is to quickly enter a room with a door. The player should immediately close and barricade the door as the creature will quickly begin to break in. If done successfully, the monster should be unable to enter the room and continue patrolling. In addition, players should avoid the temptation to look back once a monster has given chase. At top speed, their proximity to the player is closer than most will expect and checking will most likely result in the monsters landing an attack.
Interestingly, if you watch a Gatherer for long enough, it may become startled by a noise, holding its hands to its mouth and looking around as if in fright; it may also put its face in its hands and appear to sob. Whether this means they have any semblance of humanity left in them is a mystery.
A note found in the castle hints at the origin of the servants: This story reaches all the way back to the time of 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?
- As revealed by this note, these creatures were originally soldiers who deserted their stations and got lost in the woods, presumably near Castle Brennenburg. It is strongly implied that their disfigurement is a consequence of drinking Alexander's poisoned wine, which causes the drinker to be blown to pieces, as we see in the room in the wine cellar where Wilhelm leaves his note. Snippets of audio from a flashback, when one of Wilhem's men mentions that his chest is about to burst and another pleads for Alexander to let them go, are titled "Transformation" in the game's files. Their lack of essence may hint at the fact that they have been drained of vitae; however, since they are still wandering around and not dead like the rest of Alexander's experiments, this can't be known for certain. Assuming that Alexander was behind their transformation from men into monsters, these creatures have been his servants since the 1600's, capturing live humans for Alexander's experiments.
- The process for turning a human into a Gatherer is only hinted. The only evidence is given by the note that describes the fate of Wilhelm and his men, who had their bodies deformed after drinking tainted wine, offered by Alexander. Probably just drinking the "wine" is not sufficient and more steps must be taken, like binding them to Alexander's will and grafting the metal pieces into their limbs to keep the bones in place.
- It is speculated that Alexander turns only strong-willed and robust subjects into Gatherers, like the soldiers and Wilhelm and his men. These men could be used to pain due to their military training and experience, thus making them inadequate subjects for vitae extraction, but effective for the Gatherer's role thanks to their strong build.
- The Gatherers might be the one and the same servants encountered by both Daniel and Gabriel. This theory can be supported by the fact that Daniel finds a wide collection of white clothes inside the Castle rooms that the monsters may have used to hide their true horrid appearance.
- It's possible that the Gatherers aren't monsters at all, but humans that Daniel hallucinates as horrible monsters (similarly to how Daniel sees Alexander's portraits with low sanity). This is the most likely explanation for why Daniel saw nothing strange about them (behavior aside) during the events preceding the game.
- The developer logs describe the gatherers as beings from beyond that had been summoned into the bodies of humans. Once inside humans, they did their best to deform the host into a body that they were used to controlling by shattering bones, tearing flesh, and producing cancer-like growths. This in turn resulted in a scene where the player witnesses how some humans under great pain are taken over...
- Main article: Soundtrack
Grunts and Brutes have their own set of music; both enemies having three states of music for themselves making a total of six. The three samples of music "explain" the actions of both enemies:
- Danger: The monsters wander around without knowing of Daniel's whereabouts.
- Search: A monster has seen Daniel, but lost sight of him. They will try to find Daniel for a short time.
- Attack: The monster(s) see and give chase.
There are also extracts of music that play when these enemies appear, but don't play as redundantly as the three samples mentioned above, as they are used for the cutscene itself, and not just the Gatherer alone. This same format of music is also used for Suitors.
It's worth noting that the Attack state for each monster is not particularly audible, because the Terror Meter blares over it.
Main article: Servant Grunt
Main Article: Servant Brute
- Throughout the castle there are several rooms that Daniel cannot access, such as in storage or the prison. The doors to these rooms often have blood stains and, sometimes, human remains around them. If a Gatherer killed Daniel they sometimes spawn in these rooms and snarl if he tries to open them; however, like Daniel, they are unable to open them as well. After the first Grunt in the Storage despawned, some decals indicating that he walked to the locked door become visible on the floor. These rooms may be the living quarters of where the Gatherers reside.
- If the player holds certain props (crates, drawers, etc.) up to their face so the Gatherer cannot see Daniel's head, they will often pass by as if he isn't there (unless he is making noise). This seems to be a bug, or could be down to the lack of intelligence displayed by the Gatherers.
- One can look directly at the servant Grunt which spawns behind the second door in the food storage area of the storage without it affecting Daniel's vision.
- In the Choir, by jumping onto a pillar across a chasm and alerting the Brute of your presence, you can trick it into rushing off the edge and falling down. The same goes for the Chancel, although this is a bit tricky, as it requires you to jump on top of the Brute's head and jump off of it just as it falls off the edge.
- In the Sewers, Daniel will find one servant Grunt torn apart by the Shadow that is hunting him, or possibly a Servant Brute, which is more likely. Its body parts are amputated, something a Brute might do with his blade arm. It could be seen a warning, as they appear as real enemies in this level first.
- The Brute is covered in metallic plates, similar in appearance to Roman armor.
- It is possible that after Daniel escapes from the cells, the Gatherers may not have actually intended to kill him. They may only have wanted to recapture him to sacrifice him to the Shadow so that Alexander can complete his ritual.
- The overall intelligence of the Gatherers is unknown and questionable. As previously mentioned, they do not usually notice Daniel if he has a prop over his head. He can also repeatedly hide the prop in front of him and take it away to let the Gatherer notice him and place it back to hide again like a game. They are also easy to avoid overall by either retreating, closing doors, or hiding in deep dark corners as they do not wander very far when searching for Daniel. A Brute in the sewer is easily tricked by throwing a rock to distract it and won't move from where the rock lands, though it does seem to notice Daniel as he attempts to escape the sewer. They also will not venture into different areas, even when chasing Daniel (though Frictional Games most likely made it that way to make the game easier). In addition, they cannot climb ladders (though Brutes can't because one of their arms has been replaced by a blade). They are even sometimes seen to go the opposite direction that Daniel runs in after searching for him; however, three Servant Grunts were able to work together to capture Daniel in the Chancel. The Gatherers seem to use speed, strength and number rather than wit to stop Daniel.
- The Gatherers have many bugs (or signs of stuper), such as wrong smashes, becoming stuck due to an immoveable crate or rock, or just not noticing you if you're holding props in the way of their vision.
- The Brute can run faster than Daniel, and charges if Daniel is chased for a long time.
- Brutes have a harder time trying to communicate unlike the Grunts, mainly because their faces are split into an almost floral shape.
- Oswald Mandus manages to procure a Gatherer's body for his experiments from the area around Brennenburg 60 years after the events of The Dark Descent.
- In one of the notes found in A Machine for Pigs, Mandus wrote that the body of a Gatherer sent to him from Brennenburg has "the smell of the Orb upon him" and suspected the body as his "Great Uncle's work."
- The Gatherers can apparently still understand human speech. This is evidenced by the fact that they obey Alexander when he directly commands them to find Daniel. They may also be able to hear Daniel's rambling on low sanity, which may be the reason Daniel can be detected more easily when his sanity is low.