"'Too stubborn to quit, too stupid to die.' This was how a Lieutenant of the Cabal once described Caleb, and he wasn't too far off. Driven by his quick wits and the shear force of his vicious nature, Caleb has become an unstoppable force of malice and spraying bullets. Using his good mix of speed and toughness along with his familiarity with a wide variety of weapons, Caleb is the brawler, the kind of person who runs into a room guns blazing, getting chewed up by everything the enemy can throw at him. But his utterly ruthless style guarantees that when he enters a fight, no one gets out alive. These traits have made him the recognized leader of the Chosen."
--Blood II: The Chosen Website
Caleb is the main character of the Blood franchise. You play as him exclusively in Blood and primarily in Blood II: The Chosen; you can play through the single player campaign as the other Chosen, but without any storyline or cutscenes. He is the leader of the four Chosen and is by far the most powerful, renowned for his aggressive nature, sadistic tendencies, and violent sarcastic humour.
He wears classic wild west clothing - a leather trench coat or duster, black boots, brown pants, white shirt, and a cowboy hat. His favourite weapon is the Sawed-Off Shotgun. He is most known for his gravely voice, glowing red eyes, and tendency to spout out witty one-liners. When left alone, Caleb will sing old show tunes to himself; "E1M1: Cradle to Grave" shows him as being capable of playing the organ. During the games he exhibits great skill with firearms, explosives, problem solving, and endurance.
Caleb is voiced by Stephan Weyte in both Blood and Blood II.
Early Years and the Cabal
Caleb was born in western Texas in 1847. By the age of seventeen he was well known as a merciless gunfighter with a hunger for bloodshed. Seven years later he came across a burned-out homestead with a single occupant, a woman named Ophelia Price. She was completely mad when Caleb found her, but from what he could gather from her near incomprehensible ramblings, she and her husband were members of an evil cult called the Cabal, who worshipped the dark god Tchernobog. When her husband later tried to leave the Cabal they responded by torching their homestead, killing him as well as their young son. Ophelia blamed her husband for their plight.
Caleb was immediately taken by Ophelia's beauty and took her under his protection. She became Caleb's doorway to the cult as well as his lover. He and she rose through the ranks to become two of the Chosen—the elite servants of Tchernobog. Along with Ishmael and Gabriel, the four Chosen served the dark god well, preparing for the day when He would take over the world, although earning the ire of others high in the cult like Cheogh, ruler of the gargoyles.
Betrayal and Revenge
Main article: Blood
Sometime after 1871, Tchernobog summoned the four Chosen to The Hall of the Epiphany, His main chamber. Caleb and the others thought that they were to be given orders. Instead, Tchernobog tells them that they have failed Him, and proceeds to disavow them. The four stand stunned as Tchernobog sends in his lieutenants to take the Chosen out one by one. Shial descends from a thread of silk and takes Gabriel off into the darkness. Cerberus bursts Ishmael into flames and consumes him. Lastly, Cheogh swoops out of the black and kidnaps Ophelia. Tchernobog casts Caleb into a bottomless pit, telling him to "consider [his] power, in a hollow grave".
In 1928, Caleb awakens to find himself entombed inside a mausoleum in Morningside Cemetery. Armed initially with only a pitchfork, he fights his way through a long and bloody quest to retrieve the other three Chosen and find some answers. He first makes his way to the Altar of Stone, where he finds Ophelia crucified and deceased on a slab of rock. Cheogh attacks, but Caleb defeats him and cremates Ophelia's corpse. Next, Caleb heads to the frozen north to seek out Shial, whose lair can be found deep within the bowels of the Earth near the arctic circle.
After defeating the spider queen he finds Gabriel within a cocoon, dead. Caleb plucks out his heart and consumes it in order to gain its power, but not before apologizing to his "old friend" in advance. After that, Caleb travels to France, during the middle of an unexplained bombing raid. He moves through several civilized areas, including a bank, a morgue, a meat packing plant, a dam, and sewers until finally finding the lava-filled cavern where Cerberus makes its home. Caleb kills Cerberus after finding no trace of Ishmael, and moves on to other areas, eventually finding a large temple, which leads to the organic entryway to the Hall of the Epiphany.
There, Tchernobog reveals to Caleb that He killed the other Chosen in order to ensure that Caleb would return, seeking vengeance, with the strength of each life he had taken making him stronger than He "ever could have wished". With this power, Tchernobog will "throw open the doors between the worlds and inherit the Earth". However, Caleb defeats Him (and the reincarnations of His former lieutenants) in battle, and evades the Hall after killing one last annoying Innocent or unarmed Cabalist in the temple.
Main article: Cryptic Passage
Caleb travels to the Carpathian mountains after he hears of an ancient scroll that was taken from him. This scroll is said to be capable of upsetting the balance of power in the otherworld, but Caleb finds himself detoured by the Cabal. Fighting through such places as a dock, monastery, library, graveyard, opera house and even a steamboat, Caleb eventually ends up in a castle where, after taking a teleporter to the otherworld, he finds where the scroll is being held. After defeating the Lord of All Nightmares, Caleb takes the scroll for his own use.
Main article: Plasma Pak
After the defeat of Tchernobog, Caleb learns that the Cabal are training a new rank of Chosen. Caleb starts in a shopping plaza and migrates to several temples, killing every last Cabal member he finds along the way, and interrupting some kind of unearthly ceremony that the cultists were performing. He then enters a large area meant as a training ground where he finds several red-robed cultists, the Chosen-in-training, who he destroys along with their stone beast forms.
1928 to 2028
After the events of Blood and its various expansions little is known of Caleb's doings. Gideon says in cut parts of his introduction to Blood II that Caleb has tooled around the world, doing relatively little with his time. However, the Blood II instruction manual and associated propaganda also states that he is still striving for leadership of the Cabal and to resurrect his beloved Ophelia, as well as the other Chosen.
CabalCo and The Ancient One
Main article: Blood II: The Chosen
By the year 2028 the Cabal had reorganized themselves as the monopolistic mega-corporation CabalCo, under the watchful eyes and visionary leadership of Gideon, a man who was groomed for the role. The Cabal regained their quest for world domination, almost totally controlling the world through both economic and political power. Despite this, Gideon still felt unsatisfied as long as Caleb, the Great Betrayer, continued to walk the Earth. Whether due to his pride or because he wanted to assert total control over the Cabal, Gideon seeks Caleb out, throwing all of his vast resources against him.
Gideon seizes control of a train that Caleb is riding on, starting a cat and mouse chase that eventually leads to the Lafayette Museum of Antiquities, where Gideon attempts to destroy Caleb with a Singularity Generator. The weapon fails, and instead brings back Gabriel (now Gabriella - "it's a long story"), who later disappears through the same vortex. This causes the fabric of reality to begin to unbind, already weakened due to the fact that Tchernobog, the maintainer of the realities, is dead. This allows creatures like the Shikari and Bone Leech to enter our world from a different reality, bringing havoc in their wake.
Caleb pursues Gideon throughout New Town, invading several CabalCo buildings, such as a meat-packing plant, a water treatment facility, and a Cabal Safehouse. Along the way, Gideon tries to use the Singularity Generator on Caleb again, unwittingly bringing back Ishmael. Gideon manages to escape, and Ishmael tries to convince Caleb that he has in fact inherited the power of Tchernobog and that he must use it to seal the ever growing rifts. Caleb ignores him and instead continues his pursuit of Gideon. Ishmael also later informs him that Gideon is holding a resurrected Ophelia at his temple, stating that she was actually the first to come through the rifts into this reality.
At CabalCo Headquarters, Caleb fights his way past the security checkpoint and a power station, and reaches the temple where Ophelia is being forcibly held against her will. Gideon manages to to whisk her away before Caleb can rescue her, causing him to once again become enraged and continue his pursuit of Gideon. They finally confront each other on the rooftops of CabalCo Headquarters, where an epic battle ensues. Gideon escapes through a portal to the other reality and Caleb, against the advice of Ophelia, follows him through.
In the other reality, the exit point for the rifts, Caleb travels through several ancient tribal structures, until he finally catches up with Gideon again in an abandoned temple. Gideon changes into a giant spider and fights Caleb in a final battle to the death. Caleb ends up the victor and eventually wanders into an ornate arena featuring three tombs, each containing one of the Undead Chosen, skeletal forms of his former comrades. These corpses speak for The Ancient One, the invader of our reality, uttering threats and other forms of intimidation, which Caleb promptly ignores.
He dispatches the undead forms of his companions and finds the lair of their controlling master, a large squid-like beast, who he defeats in combat. The other Chosen then catch up with Caleb, with Ishmael warning him that he has no other choice but to use his power to seal the rifts or all of reality will perish. Caleb finally gives in, and waves his arms as focus power flows out from inside him. The screen then displays a textual epilogue:
"Does Caleb really close the rift? Does Ophelia get her two-minutes of gift? What the heck happened to Gabriel... er, Gabriella? What if Ishmael can't get home? And, where did he get those tattoos? Tune in next time on: As 'It burns, it burns'. Enjoy these answers and more soon... we promise."
--Blood II: The Chosen epilogue
Encounter with The Nightmare
Main article: The Nightmare Levels
Gideon acts as narrator, telling how he is now a ghost trapped inside his skull. Caleb and the other Chosen, still stuck in the other reality, are trying to get home the only way they know how - by walking. They stop to make a campfire and pass the time telling scary stories, something which attracts the attention of The Nightmare, an ancient psychic monster resembling a giant undead dog. Caleb tells about his time in the frozen north, seeking Shial in the bowels of the Earth, when he is suddenly sucked through a portal and actually finds himself replaying the incident he was previously describing.
The others, nonplussed by Caleb's disappearance, continue telling their own stories. At the end of each, Caleb appears and tries his best to figure out what is going on before disappearing again. After Gabriella's story is finished, he wonders where he will "be whisked off to next", as he is "all out of Chosen to visit". He eventually ends up in an old west ghost town, possibly based on or inspired by his own gunslinging past. Caleb eventually discovers an old mine shaft that leads to the lair of The Nightmare, who he promptly slays, ending his psychic journey. Nothing is known of what happens to Caleb, Gideon, or the other Chosen after this point, as this the end of the official Blood canon.
"We all got tired of the the player-as-cultist character, so Kevin is working on a new player character model... The new character really rocks..."
--A Weekly Blood Development Update, October 14, 1996
See Also: Development of Blood
As indicated by his appearance in the Blood Alpha and the quote above, Caleb was originally supposed to look like an ordinary Fanatic, indicating that the Blood developers did not at first have as ambitious a plan for the player character. The alpha also contained various Cultist sprites presumably meant to be used for the player after recolouring, depicting crouching and jumping. It is also shown in the alpha that his original name was Michael and images of his original look can be seen in some early promotional screamshots, one of which was released in a Polish computer magazine in 1995. Ophelia's original name was supposed to be the similar sounding Rachael. The hand sprites are based on photos of Kevin Kilstrom, similar to how the hands in Doom were those of artist Kevin Cloud.
The late addition of Caleb lead some previews to ponder over what role the protagonist would play in the game:
"Blood is your archetypal Halloween mystery ... however it’s more than a cheap five cent horror spook ride you’d find at the local travelling carnival, as the designers are taking time to develop a main character that looks like Zorro on roids... Current plans are to implement a voice for the main character, a la Duke Nukem, but we reserve judgement on this feature until we see the completed package. Suffice to say, the developers have their work cut out for them in differentiating this character from the cult favorite Duke Nukem."
--"GameSlice Blood preview"
It is not known when Stephan Weyte became involved with the project, but he has revealed in e-mail responses facts about the character's development occurring during the game's brief (and presumably late on; the January 1997 development updates mention the writing of voice-over scripts) recording sessions:
"Oh, such a talent! Don't know how much you know about recording these games but even though they're are around for a long time, the recording sessions are done very quickly, time is money and all that. It was my idea, moi; however, to sing and come up with the apropos songs; that's what made Caleb the different, sardonic and loveable character that he is! The computer nerds and designers who do the games ain't theater or film script writers; if allowed, it's the actors who flesh out what is typically a stereotypical and boring (to me) character."
He has even gone as far as to say that the general style of the voice was his own devising:
Nick Newhard described Weyte's development of Caleb's mannerisms in terms of the humourous atmosphere of the game's development.
The staff at Monolith Productions also shared some of their own original intentions for the character on the official Blood website, explaining how he was always meant to be an anti-hero forever tainted by terrible evil:
"From the beginning, our intention was to explore the awakening of a powerful, unthinkable evil that threatens the existence of all humanity. We were never particularly interested in the whole dichotomy between good and evil, however. Just as Lovecraft wrote about madmen who had gazed too deeply into the heart of the forbidden, we wanted our player character to be someone of questionable morality. The character's past is somewhat stained, and there are definitely some demons still lurking in this person's conscience."
Further, designer Nick Newhard has explicitly described Caleb as being fundamentally amoral:
"Blood's character is not so much evil as he is amoral. He's in it for the power and will destroy anything in his way--including Tchernobog."
That said, it has also been suggested that the game's original protagonist was more straightly heroic until Kilstrom finished his darker looking visual design.
Another oft-debated point is Caleb's hair. In the Blood full motion video (FMV) cutscenes he appears to be totally bald, but in the Blood II artwork and similar he is depicted with longer dark hair. Some have suggested that his apparent baldness in the original game is from an act of penance or submission to the Cabal, whereas later he is free to grow his hair as he likes. The original face sprites in the Blood Alpha show the character with short dark hair. Ultimately, the issue was enlightened upon in this anecdote shared by Kevin Kilstrom:
"Well, I'll give you the ultimate answer, and I hope it's not too disappointing. I would love to hear the reasons that people came up with and hear the ideas that they might have. The real reason that Caleb was bald in Blood is because of technical limitations. I always envisioned Caleb as Ash from Evil Dead so for me, he always had short hair that was hidden under his hat. I didn't put hair on the actual Caleb model because by the time I digitized him and cleaned him up, you couldn't see his hair anyway. And actually, the model's head is painted all black (including most of the face) so that it would always be in shadow no matter what kind of lighting he was in."
Some have maintained that his baldness in the opening FMV, the only one where this is clearly discernible, is merely due to the difficulties of animating hair for three dimensional models (though Ophelia has red hair with moving bangs). A similar debate surrounds the apparent appearance of Gabriel while being abducted by Shial, making some confuse him with Ishmael (the only bald character in Blood II). The view upon technical limitations is substantiated further in Kilstrom's comment, as well as providing insight regarding the process behind the FMVs:
"When it came time to do the cut scenes for the game (which were very low-budget and last minute), the 3D modelers borrowed the stop-motion puppets to use as reference for the 3D models that they were building. When Caleb was made I didn't even think twice to let the modelers know that he is supposed to have hair because I never expected his hat to come off. However, there is that one scene when Caleb is flying end over end backwards and his hat flies off and he's got a completely bald head. I never liked that scene because I never envisioned Caleb as being bald. It never got changed because the 3d guys we had back then weren't the best and it was very difficult to get things changed once they were already animated. You may also have noticed that Caleb doesn't have any ears either. So there you have it, the unfortunate real reason that Caleb ended up being bald!"
Early builds of his model for Blood II also generated some controversy over trench-coat colour, as explained by Eric Kohler:
"Several people on the forum have expressed dismay over Caleb's clothes (specifically his coat) being brown instead of black. Don't worry, the colours aren't set yet, I have been considering tweaking his colours for awhile, I just haven't had the time yet. We'll probably wait until the end of development to go back and mess with that sort of stuff. We might even use our new mesh deformation to give his coat very natural movement. It all just comes down to how much time we have. Anyway... don't fret, nothing's final 'till we ship."
--Eric Kohler's .plan file, April 23, 1998
The lead designer of the game James Wilson III, when asked during the development of Blood II, also described his (ultimately somewhat unrealized) ambitions for the character in a period interview:
"It is not so much how he will mature as how he will deteriorate. In Blood, Caleb was little more than a collection of one-liners and an attitude. That was fine; he could not be much more than that given the scope of the game, and I was happy so much personality came forth. Blood 2 will flesh him out significantly. The player will get a very real sense of the kind of person he is, what his motivations are, and how the weight of time has worn down his mind. Players can still expect the same attitude, the same sense of humor, and yes, the singing, but I think they will also be intrigued by seeing a character they know thrust into new situations, like dealing with the other Chosen. This is a man who has done nothing but kill for a hundred years, so his social skills are not exactly what you would call polished. Well, Caleb would probably disagree, since he polishes his shotgun every day."
--James Wilson III, May 17, 1998
Most reviewers have been complimentary of Stephan Weyte's performance:
"This is a classic tale of revenge where you play the role of Caleb - a gunslinging baddass with some serious personal issues ... he is voiced by a dude named Stephan Weyte who I think may be one of the most underrated and under appreciated voice actors in video games. The performance this guy gives is nothing short of legendary, and every line, quip, and sound is spot on. Even when he screams in comic agony when lit on fire he is absolutely brilliant.
--"Retro Review - Blood PC Game Review (Gggmanlives)"
"Players once again take on the role of Caleb, an evil and sadistic man hell-bent on revenge against the Cabal ... Caleb has plenty to say about his surroundings ... The lines are delivered perfectly and even the cheesy rip-offs will put a smirk on your face - there's just something hilarious about the way he runs into an office building full of guards and says "good morning...and in case I don't see you [again], good afternoon, good evening, and good night!"
--"Jason Cross - Blood 2 Review (OGR.COM)"
Caleb was seen as contributing a large element of the game's humour, similar to Duke Nukem:
"This game is gory like you wouldn't believe... despite this, the game has its fair share of humor. Caleb, your character, sounds like Clint Eastwood, if he'd gone into horror instead of westerns. He's been known to sing a song while he waits for you to make up your mind. He'll make some Duke-like comments. 'I think I'll donate some blood--somebody else's.' ... Caleb, your dark angel of death, seems to be a little different from Duke Nukem. Caleb is more psycho, if that's possible, giggling insanely when the gore and bullets begin to fly. Whereas Duke liked Steppenwolf ... Caleb seems to be fond of Frank Sinatra "
--"Out For Blood (GamesMania)"
"What made Blood fun to play, aside from gameplay and level design, was Caleb himself. Similarly to Duke Nukem, Caleb often commented on what was going around him or taunted enemies during combat. Unlike Duke though, Caleb was a maniac, often laughing, telling jokes and making sarcastic remarks while killing enemies."
--"Lookback on Blood (Eden for Gaming)"
Caleb has even been noted to trigger autonomous sensory meridian responses in players:
"When Caleb isn’t craving bloody vengeance, he’s usually laughing maniacally while inflicting pain on his foes. But Caleb does have a certain charm to him. At the beginning of Chapter II and III, “Even Death May Die” and “A Farewell to Arms” respectively, he has a line at the very start. “You’re going to need a bigger boat” is what he says while approaching the ship trapped in ice, and “I’m gonna paint the town reeeddd!” is what he utters after dropping in to the level. I find that this line is particularly stimulating as far as triggering ASMR goes. Also, when Caleb is left idle for too long, he often starts singing tunes like “Strangers in the Night”. When he says some of these lines, the way it comes out; so slow and coarse, it does tend to trigger of my sensillations, admittedly."
--"ASMR And Video Games: Blood (The Unnamed Feeling)"
At least one reviewer though did take issue with the prominence given to the character, and a few were more dismissive:
"Oh, and one more thing; Caleb himself isn’t half as cool as Monolith want us to think he is. He constantly spews witticisms and one liners in his raspy voice, but rather than being amusing he’s normally just irritating. Especially when 'ironically' singing cute songs about 'bring me sunshine.'"
--"Blood 2: The Chosen Review (A Force For Good)"
"Caleb manages to find some quotes from Army of Darkness that haven't appeared in a game yet (who thought there were any left?) and there are quite a few original witticisms that are pretty dang clever as well. Since not every line is swiped from Army of Darkness, after a while Caleb actually starts to take on a bit of uniqueness, albeit not especially much…but hey, in a game like this, any originality is a breath of fresh air."
--"Jason Bergman - Off the Shelf: Blood 2 (looneygames)"
Others chose to engage in a more detailed overview, either for analytical or humorous purposes:
"Caleb, the lead in Blood 2, has no sense of morality, no sense of right or [wrong], only a desire for revenge. He has a purpose, Blood 2 isn't just a game about murdering random people, but there's no righteous just cause to hide behind anytime somebody questions 'well, aren't you just enjoying killing people in that game?' because the reality is you are. You're not a hero, you're not a 'good guy'. Caleb is a monster, he makes quips as he kills people, he brutally guns down innocents to sustain his own life, and in many respects he's the epitome of the nihilistic anti-hero, only [interested] in his goal of revenge and the pain he can cause."
--"Blood 2's Post-Modern vibe and keeping games interesting (Destructoid)"
"Weighing in at a whopping 405 megabytes is the cultist killing, occult, blood-spilling Caleb! With his lust for vengeance and passion for torching all manner of undead fiend, he’s the kind of sociopath you have on speed-dial when ridding the world of unholy abominations. When he’s not perforating Bloated Butchers with his pitch fork, he’s perfecting the time it takes him to make a voodoo doll out of silly putty, a bobbie pin and three shots of battery acid ... The best options when faced by legions of cultists and undead? Caleb would always say Voodoo dolls, aerosol cans with Zippo lighters, and a trusty flare gun to get those late-night, flesh-roasting bonfires really going. Mmmm, I can smell the zombie brains already."
--"Miklós Szecsei - Retro review grudge-match: Duke Nukem 3D vs Blood (NAG Online)"
"Caleb had the ferocity of Kratos, and the eccentricities of Dante. In a word, he was pure awesome. Caleb’s quest also happened to result in saving the world and delaying The Cabal’s evil schemes, but the man with the plan regards it as mere coincidence. Armed with an illustrious collection of firearms, dynamite, voodoo dolls, and other magic relics, Caleb not only lived for vengeance, but for the kill. Whether it’s The Cabal’s demonic ranks or an innocent bystander, the anti-hero delights in whatever mayhem he can carve leaving a trail of blood from his tomb to the ends of the year 2028 – an offbeat future that unfortunately solidified Caleb’s demise into obscurity."
--"Stew Chyou - Gaming’s Forgotten Faces of Horror (Thunderbolt)"
Main Article: List of Fan Fiction
Fan fiction depictions of Caleb differ based on the author. For example, in Dinner with the Preacher Caleb seems to be a very intelligent man, with great knowledge about the Cabal and Tchernobog (admitting to reading back issues of National Geographic while on rail journeys). This is in contrast with most of the stories and even some of the games, where Ishmael is depicted as the intellectual who often guides Caleb and the other Chosen.
In Dying Times, How Much Time Has Passed, and Scroll, Caleb is shown as a reminiscent man, who often looks back to times passed. There is no sign that Caleb does this in Blood or Blood II: The Chosen; they do not, however, deny this character trait.
Fan fiction pieces A Caleb Carol, Sin of Saints, Deadwood, Cult of Blood, and the multi-part Scroll all attempt to flesh out Caleb's back story before The Chosen's betrayal, while Dying Times and Strangers in the Night endeavour to expand on Caleb's activities during the 1928 to 2028 gap.
Some of Caleb's traits appear to have been passed down the generations. In Blood: I Live Again and Dead Reckoning, Caleb Sanguis has good aim and can become aggressive. These are probably traits he inherited from his ancestor.
Main Article: List of Fan Art
Like in fan fiction, various Bloodites used their own approach to drawing the Caleb. The artist known as Rust/MightyTwinkie for example depicts Caleb with long white hair, while others like Andrew "Slink" Worbel and Lena "Hellen" Iachoukova depict him with long black hair. Some like Hamish Paul Wilson and Slink shroud his face in line with Kevin Kilstrom's original physical model, while others (like Björn Wehrhan) depict him with a face like that of a male witch. Some artists also choose to give him a more skeletal or cadaverous appearance, emphasizing his status as an undead much like in the opening video of Blood II: The Chosen. Caleb has also been the subject of cosplayers, with the most notable instance being the appearance of Mistress of Fear at Comikaze Expo 2014.