I can't believe I could've gotten high with Elden Ring's NPCs. Tragedy!
FromSoftware has a long history of leaving scraps of cut content in its games, and lore fanatics likewise have a long history of digging those secrets out of each game's code to study them. That process is just beginning with Elden Ring, but YouTuber Lance McDonald has already put together a video on a fascinating feature cut during Elden Ring's development.
An NPC named Monk Jiko, who doesn't appear in the finished game, once gave you a quest to help him create "dreambrew, the nectar of the demigods." Jiko gives the player an item to collect "dream mist" from sleeping enemies scattered throughout the Lands Between, and Jiko then gives the player bottles of dreambrew distilled from that mist. You could then share that dreambrew with NPCs—perhaps all of them, though McDonald's video above only shows a conversation with Kale the merchant—to see some new dialogue and learn about their dreams.
McDonald and another dataminer named Sekiro Dubi discovered this dreambrew mechanic in the Network Test version of Elden Ring distributed last fall. While Monk Jiko wasn't encounterable in the area Network Test players had access to, dataminers quickly found a way to bypass the Network Test's fog wall, and McDonald and Sekiro Dubi were able to restore the unfinished mechanic. In the final version of the game, the sleeping animals you could collect dream mist from are mostly removed, and the collecting mechanic is gone entirely.
Based on the locations McDonald found some of the animals, it's clear FromSoftware had planned for them to be a way to encourage and reward exploring seemingly empty nooks and crannies of the Lands Between. Sekiro Dubi made a separate video speculating that at some point in development, capturing the dream mist may have also been tied to obtaining spirit summons.
In the finished game there's one moment where you enter an NPC's dream, which feels like it would make a lot more sense with this dream mechanic intact. It's hard to know how complete the feature was before FromSoftware decided to cut it, but I wonder if there's any chance it makes a comeback in a future update or expansion.
The bits of NPC dialogue the dreambrew would've triggered are what I'm most curious about. "Many of the characters in Elden Ring do have unused dialogue waiting to be datamined, which once accompanied this mechanic. The monk himself also once had a sprawling storyline which flowed deeply through the overarching campaign," says McDonald at the end of his video. He's saving that good stuff for a future video.