The Ferryman (渡し守 Watashimori?) is a character (or multiple characters) in the Castlevania series. His role in the games is simple: he awaits for transporting the player across a river (seeing as swimming isn't an option). Sometimes he requires specific items, but nevertheless, he will take the player where the player needs to go.
The Ferryman is most likely based on the Greek mythological character, Charon. Charon was the ferryman of Hades, who carried the souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron, which divided the world of the living from the world of the dead. A coin to pay Charon for passage, usually an obolus or danake, was sometimes placed in or on the mouth of a dead person. Some authors say that those who could not pay the fee or those whose bodies were left unburied, had to wander the shores for one hundred years. This payment characteristic is similar to those versions of the Ferryman in Castlevania where the protagonist must present him with a special item in order to obtain passage on his boat.
In the 5th and 4th centuries BC, Charon is often depicted as a rough, unkempt Athenian seaman dressed in reddish-brown, holding his ferryman's pole in his right hand and using his left hand to receive the deceased. Other Latin authors also describe Charon as an old man clad in foul garb, with haggard cheeks and an unkempt beard, a fierce ferryman who guides his craft with a long pole.
In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri described Charon in his Divine Comedy as having eyes of fire. Elsewhere, Charon appears as a mean-spirited and gaunt old man or as a winged demon wielding a double hammer, although Michelangelo's interpretation, influenced by Dante's depiction in the Inferno, shows him with an oar over his shoulder, ready to beat those who delay. In modern times, Charon is commonly depicted as a living skeleton in a cowl, much like the Grim Reaper.
The Ferryman appears in Rondo of Blood as a minor character, transporting the hero across bodies of water in two occasions. He does not ask for Richter or Maria to give him anything in return, and, in fact, will supply them with items if they speak to him after he has transported them.
The Ferryman also appears in Symphony of the Night as well, but in two forms. The first form he appears in —that is, the first the player can see— is his Rondo of Blood incarnation, which is considered to be a cameo appearance. To see this, the player must go to the Outer Wall and descend to the lowest possible point, then go to the telescope at the far left and press ↑. This will make Alucard look through it and see the Ferryman from Rondo of Blood rowing on the river.
The second incarnation in this game appears in the Underground Caverns, where he will ferry Alucard over damaging bodies of water after he obtains the Merman Statue and until he obtains the Holy Symbol, which allows him to swim without being damaged.
First appearance of the Ferryman in the series. He can be found standing on his boat at the bank of the Dead River, awaiting for anyone who requires his services. Once Simon steps onto his boat, this mysterious being will immediately start rowing offshore without saying a word. A horde of Fish Men will attack the ferry as both characters traverse the waters and Simon will have to fend them off, lest he's knocked down and devoured by these rapacious creatures. The Ferryman, on the other hand, seems to be used to the dangers of the river and will not even flinch at the sight of these aquatic monsters.
He will normally take Simon across the river to the town of Aldra. However, the Ferryman hides a secret; if Simon presents him with Dracula's heart as proof of his past victories, then the Ferryman will instead take him upstream through a secret path which leads to Brahm's Mansion, where Simon will be able to claim yet another relic: Dracula's eyeball, which is guarded by Death himself and who will challenge anyone who dares to go near it. This cryptic event, along with the summoned whirlwind spirit from Deborah Cliff, was one of the main reasons why many players from the era couldn't finish the game, not to mention that no hints were given in-game about this and many other secrets.
The Ferryman appears in two different locations in Rondo of Blood. First, he can be encountered stationed near a little platform located in the middle of nowhere in Stage 2'. This place is very well hidden and the player will most probably miss it the first time around if they don't know about it beforehand; or learn about it the hard way, if they are knocked down from the bridge above and manage to catch a glimpse of the Ferryman while falling to their doom. To find him, the player must first make their way across the aqueduct above until they reach the second screen. Once there, they will have to drop through the fourth collapsed part of the bridge to land on the platform where the Ferryman awaits. Once stepping onto his boat, the Ferryman will gladly offer to take them to the other side. A ferocious shoal of Mermen will attack the ferry while both characters leave shore and the hero must fend them off until they make it out of there alive. The Ferryman will take the hero directly to Stage 3', without having to confront a boss.
The second place where he can be found is in Stage 4'. To find him, the player must first make their way through the first screen of the level. Once on the second screen, the player must jump over a log and ride it downstream across the river until they reach a cavern. Here, the Ferryman will be waiting for them and take them just a couple of oar-rows forward to reach the next ledge. If the hero steps back onto his boat, the Ferryman will gladly present them with a full HP restoring item. If the hero climbs back onto his boat a second time, an increasingly bothered Ferryman will award them a Key instead. Yet, if the hero gets greedy and dares to step back onto his boat a third time, the Ferryman, now very upset, will throw an invisibility Potion at them to take them off his back. Any further attempts to step onto his boat will award the same results from there on.
The Ferryman, now more cheerful than ever, can be found in a flooded area of the Underground Caverns. Stepping onto his boat prompts him to say: "I'll take you to a place which might be interesting for you. Hehehehe!", and start rowing, leading his master, Alucard, across the uneven terrain of the cavern, dropping the ferry down ledges and using a special elevator to reach higher ground again, until they finally reach to the other side. Alucard will not find much opposition while traveling with the Ferryman, other than a few annoying bats. He must be careful of not falling off the boat, though, or he will take heavy damage from the water while being overwhelmed by the myriad of creatures that dwell underwater, all this while desperately attempting to catch up with the boat and climb back to safety. Alucard will have to ask for the Ferryman's services a second time in this location once he has finished his business on the dead end part of the cavern.
The Ferryman can be encountered a second time and in a much more important role, as he will now lead Alucard to a secret room where a very important item can be found: the Holy Symbol, which will allow him to breathe and sustain himself while underwater. However, this time around the Ferryman won't appear in his intended location unless Alucard summons him by having acquired the Merman Statue beforehand. Now, in a much more serious mood, the Ferryman will say: "I'll take you to meet your destiny...", and begin the voyage. Again, Alucard will have to defend against a swarm of bats while the Ferryman opens a gate midway through their journey, which will allow them access to the other side. This gate would have prevented the player from proceeding further if they had attempted to make it to the other side without the aid of the Ferryman.
The Ferryman appears briefly in a cutscene at the very beginning of the game in Cornell's storyline. He guides the hero on his boat through the Foggy Lake until they reach what appears to be an old abandoned galleon. Cornell disembarks from the boat and climbs up to the ship's deck via an anchor's chain. The Ferryman then turns around and heads back into the mist, with an unknown destiny and never to be seen again.
Reprising his role from Rondo of Blood, the Ferryman now sports a new design and has English translated dialogue.
- Welcome aboard, O Prince. Shall I guide thee 'cross the river?
- Thy destiny awaits, O Prince.
- It is ambiguous as to what side the Ferryman is on, as he has no issue ferrying the Belmonts and other heroes, yet calls Alucard by his royal title and dwells within the castle, implying that he serves some sort of allegiance to the Dracula royal family (similar to the Master Librarian), although it could be said that he is against Dracula as he only appears to aid the heroes.