Spooptober: Dampe the Gravekeeper

Dampe the gravekeeper appears in multiple games in The Legend of Zelda series, but for the sake of simplicity, we’ll be focusing on his appearances in the Nintendo 64 titles, Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Dampe is an old man with a hunched back and a crooked face who can usually be found lurching about his respective cemetery with a shovel in tow.  My original encounter with this strange man was in Majora’s Mask, where he introduced himself, followed by the reassurance, “My face is frightening, but I am not a bad person!”  Imagine those being your first words to someone you had just met!

Yes, Dampe is an odd man indeed, and along with being a coward (who, nevertheless, works as a gravekeeper, of all things), he has also been known to work with, or against, Link in order for our green-clad hero to win useful prizes.  In Ocarina of Time, you can visit him at night in the Kakariko Village Graveyard for Dampe’s so-called Heart-Pounding Gravedigging Tour, where you have the chance to win rupees or even a heart piece.  Even though digging willy nilly through a graveyard might not be the best idea.  Dampe is also the one who bestows upon you the hookshot in the future, provided you can beat his ghost in a race.

Zelda: Link’s Awakening Screenshot Taken by Cary

But I especially remember Dampe in Majora’s Mask, where his cowardly side is more evident.  While he roams the cemetery behind Kakariko Village every night, you won’t find him in Ikana Graveyard after dark.  (And I can’t exactly blame him because this particular graveyard is definitely much creepier, considering its isolated location and the fact that Stalchildren congregate here at night!)  If you speak to him wearing the Captain’s Hat, he’ll run straight home and lock the door.  And on the third night, you can find him beneath one of the tombstones looking for the Ikana Royal Family’s treasure.  (Okay, maybe this man is braver than I initially gave him credit for.)  After guiding him through the dark using Tatl’s light, you eventually uncover a large ghost, which sends Dampe running home once again, where we find him hiding under his bed, shaking from terror!

I always found it rather disturbing that this huge underground crypt had direct access to Dampe’s house, but I digress….

Dampe the gravekeeper is certainly a unique character in the Zelda franchise’s already eccentric cast.  And I think it’s his initial introduction that made a lasting impression on me.  Considering that the poor man finds it necessary to reassure someone he just met that he’s not a bad person leads me to assume that many people have misjudged him based on his appearance alone!  Worry not, Dampe, for I am not afraid of you.  In fact, you’re a pretty good fellow in my book.