Dungeonauts and Dragoons

I’ve started another project that I will be updating periodically. It’s a scroll through Dungeons & Dragons story called:

(Click the banner to go right to the site.)

Only two parts of the first arc are out at the moment, but more art and writing for it are in the works.

Here’s a brief summary:

Reese (the Dungeon Master) and his friends, Viv (the Drow Wizard, Beswick), Perry (the Elven Bard, Fazoon), Liz (the Draconian Fighter, Brax), and Danni (the Gnome Thief, Pip) engage in shenanigans aplenty as they discover the ancient roots of magic that go beyond just the 8 schools of arcana called The Elements. Together, they must gather the four powerful artifacts that represent The Elements of Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth before encroaching dark forces can get their claws on them first. It’s a race against Time to save the world.

And here’s the characters in the story’s style of art:

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Unwanted Interruption

Sometimes, there is poetry in everything I see,

everything I breathe.

Images become words

that blend together and become prose.

 

Tree trunks so damp they look charred,

a wet Brown that climbs upward,

boosting Reds and Yellows

until they have enough reach to touch Blue.

 

And then I stop breathing.

Interrupted.

Pulled from my pretension.

My overly romantic reverie,

to notice, startled

a wasp nest hanging above my head.

 

I pass it quickly

and hope

that I may still be able to find myself

in nature once again.

 

But it’s too late now,

and I’ve already gone too far.

I can no longer hear the whispers of the wasps

as I leave them far behind.

“Adopt-A-Rock!”

I’m currently enrolled in a video game development class and we were given an assignment to create a “physical game”, or, a game that isn’t played on a computer. I made mine more narrative based. Before I relay the premise and rules, I’d first like to say I in no way actually condone playing this game and it’s going to be pretty brutal as a fair warning for those of you with weak constitutions. Here’s the pitch:

“Adopt a Rock!” would be played in a group (3+ people). Much like having a pet rock, the participants each adopt a rock and declare that they will raise it from infancy into adulthood. The maturation of the rock is fairly short, so the rearing will only take place throughout a week. The week is sectioned off into different points in the rock’s life and each day there are tasks the parent of the rock must perform to ensure the rock makes it into a prosperous adulthood. If one of the participants loses their rock or misses any of the tasks that needed to be performed, they are stoned.

The game is a microcosm of not being able to live up to society’s expectations and the ensuing punishment that follows. In rare cases, if all or more than less participants lose their rocks, they can stone the outnumbered parents. Such cases reveal the hypocrisy that lurks steadily beneath society’s most upheld traditions. If someone is stoned and the game is chosen to be played again, there is a probability that a person who has already been stoned will not be able to properly perform all the required tasks due to previously received injuries. This is a game not meant to be played, but observed to understand the narrative that has been created.

Inspiration for this game was drawn from Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery”, the satirical elements from Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”, and, the ever popular 70s craze, “Pet Rock”.

And here is the actual set of rules

*Note: Rock puns are bolded for unnecessary emphasis:

Rule 1: You will adhere to the guidelines provided.

Rule 2: If you do not perform all of the necessary activities, you will be subjected to pain. (I.E. You will be stoned.)

Rule 3: Majority rules (A.K.A. Numbers matter. If there are more losers, they can overrule both Rule 1 and 2 and subject the winners to pain instead (I. E. They will be stoned.)

Rule 4: If the numbers of winners and losers is tied, pretend the game never happened. What rock child? You never had a child. You never had any friends either. Everything from the past week is to be forgotten by any means necessary. If it is addressed in anyway, someone’s getting stoned.

Rule 5: If this is not the first playthrough, there is no help allowed to those who have been subjected to pain previously. They must work through any disabilities given to them from previous rounds.

Day 1: Pick a rock. Declare this your rock. This is your child. Your helpless, infant, sedimentary child. You will raise them from infancy to adulthood. During your first day, you and your rock make a play date with all the other new parents and rock children. You carefully help them move around and get excited for them whenever they learn a new word or take their first steps. But beware. Piss poor acting is frowned upon and you don’t want your rock advancing faster than the other rock children. As the parent, this falls on your shoulders to manage, because rocks do not skip grade levels by themselves. They only skip if you throw them.

Day 2: Once more, you meet up with all the other rock parents. It is your rock’s first day of school and everyone is a little bit nervous, for more than just a few reasons. You all lay your rocks down in an open space and say heartfelt goodbyes. Tears are mandatory. You then go off and play a separate pretend game together. When recess ends, you go to retrieve your rocks.

Helpful tip! Praying that other kids haven’t moved or stolen your rock does nothing but ease some of your fears. There is no God.

Day 3: Your rock parent group meets once again. There’s an important soccer match today and all of your rocks must participate in this mandatory extracurricular activity. Who knows? It might look good on a future college application. Some of them probably look back that far, right? You begin kicking your rock from one end of the play area to the other, being careful that your rock doesn’t fly too far away where you might not be able to find it. As long as you make it to the other end, you are safe. The parent that comes in first must congratulate their child while the last parent to arrive must berate their child, either commenting on how they were disappointed or critiquing their performance.

Day 4: Middle school is probably the hardest time for every rock. You meet with your friends once more and bring your rocks together so they can attend classes. Each of the parents will take turns giving a lesson to the rocks. You must come prepared with materials and interesting facts, but don’t try to outshine your friends too much.

Helpful tip! Whatever you do, don’t stutter. Middle schoolers can smell weakness and they can unleash all their pent-up frustrations at the drop of a hat.

Day 5: Your rocks are now high schoolers. Their classes are harder and the pressure to polish themselves until they’re the diamond you’ve always wanted has been building up for quite some time. As such you must act out a futile suicide attempt. You set the scene and get creative. Extra praise is given to those that add lots of entertaining drama. When your rock ultimately cannot go through with the attempt or is pulled back from the brink of death, you have to end on a heart to heart where you must come off as seeming sympathetic but hint at the fact that you have no idea what your rock is going through and you will never fully be able to understand it. Really cement that your rock is alone in its feelings.

Day 6: Your rock is a college student now, and, as such, they must get a job to help pay for their tuition. Each rock gets a job in retail and each parent must now act as a grouchy old person, ruining their day. The idea is that this customer is actually the parent in disguise, going to the rock’s workplace so they can be taught patience and the value of hard work. You may be as cruel to the rock as you can and your rock can do nothing but take the abuse. Rocks don’t speak or move so this should be the easiest task.

Day 7: Day 7 is judgement day. If your rock has made it to the end, a hardened adult, ready to take on the world, congratulations! You’ve won! If you have lost your rock or have failed any of the tasks provided throughout the week, you are to receive your punishment. You will be labelled a “Bad Parent” and you will be stoned. If more people are “Bad Parents” than “Good”, enact Rule 3. If there is a tie, enact Rule 4.

Edgar Allan Poe Would Have Been Internet Famous

As time passes, it is expected that some pieces of literature, which might have been considered renowned and prominent works in their prime, have gone out of style. So, how is it decided what pieces resonate with the current generation? The capability of a piece to be modernized depends upon the relatability of the text, and, today, one of the most relatable authors of the past is Edgar Allan Poe. His theory surrounding self-deprecation, or what he calls, The Imp of the Perverse, and his ability to inflate situations to ridiculous effect are expressed in many of his works, including “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Cask of Amontillado”. However, Poe’s “Imp of the Perverse” also lives on in an unexpected place. Modern fans of Poe have taken these ideas of self-deprecation and hyperbole and have made them more personal and relatable to themselves by creating inside jokes spread throughout online communities, or, more commonly, they are referred to as memes.

To examine this strange yet interesting phenomenon, Poe’s writing must first be understood in its original context. In “The Tell-Tale Heart” the moment that reveals humanity’s self-deprecating nature is when the narrator decides to invite the police into the scene of the murder to chat right after committing the heinous act. “In the enthusiasm of my confidence, I brought chairs into the room, and desired them here to rest from their fatigues, while I myself, in the wild audacity of my perfect triumph, placed my own seat upon the very spot beneath which reposed the corpse of the victim (Poe 501).” The narrator wants to boast about the murder, but to do so aloud will have him arrested. Therefore, he instead indulges this perversion by inviting the police to inspect the house, which he cleaned every trace of the heinous deed from so well. He even purposely sits upon the very spot the old man is buried beneath the floorboards.  This very decision proves to be his undoing, which he ultimately causes. “They sat, and while I answered cheerily, they chatted of familiar things. But, ere long, I felt myself getting pale and wished them gone. My head ached, and I fancied a ringing in my ears: but still they sat and still chatted (Poe 501)”. Through no one’s fault but his own, the narrator is pressured into confession, slowly driven mad by the imagined sound of the old man’s heartbeat under his feet. “’I admit the deed! – tear up the planks! here, here! – it is the beating of his hideous heart! (Poe 501).”

This irony of a person coveting and then invoking their own destruction, while horrifying in some regards, can be humorous to people with odd tastes. In October of 2016, Tumblr, a social media site, known for manufacturing self-deprecating, hyperbolic memes in great quantity, took Poe’s story “The Cask of Amontillado” and managed to transform it into a meme. This stemmed from a post created by a user called popularlesbian who started a thread by stating, “im not petty and i dont see the point in holding a grudge. Anyway would you like to come into my cellar and taste a fine vintage [sic]”. Another user, called hamburgertrousers, responded by answering, “me in a silly hat, completely wasted: boy would i! [sic]”. This transformation of the text exaggerates the ridiculousness of the story. What once made it so horrifying now creates a feeling of hilarity instead.

The meme was also developed to include memorable historical moments that fit in with the narrative of “The Cask of Amontillado” a little too coincidentally. While Trump was on every news site promoting a wall he wanted built in between Mexico and The United States, Tumblr users noted the similarity between Trump’s wall and Montresor’s. Tumblr user funlittleinteresting posted, “Montressor: ‘When you don’t like someone, just put up a wall between you and them!’ / Soviet Union and Donald: ‘ohhhHHHHHhhhhhHhhHHH’ [sic]”. There were also instances where the meme was deployed to allude to the horrible 2016 clown attacks that were occurring in some parts of The United States paralleling with Fortunato’s harlequin get-up.

Twitter in 2016 went through a similar phase in expressing Poe’s ideology when the “Evil Kermit” meme began appearing in tweets. While the image of Kermit standing next to a similar iteration of himself in a black cloak is originally from a Muppets film, Twitter took the image and ran with it so that the context was now, “This is me. And that’s evil me, trying to get me to do things against my own interest.” The original poster @aaannnnyyyyaaaa made the post, “me: sees a fluffy dog / me to me: steal him”. Another variation that illustrates this detrimental, impulsive thinking was by a user named @PinkMiruku. Her tweet reads, “Me: *sleeps late* / Me to me before class: Skip it”.

It’s remarkable that Edgar Allan Poe’s classic horror stories could be modernized in this way.  But how did it happen? Relatability, or how well this generation resonates with literature is probably the key to unlocking this mystery. 69% of Tumblr’s userbase (96 Amazing Tumblr Statistics & Facts) and 38% of Twitter’s userbase (350 Amazing Twitter Statistics) are made up of millennials. Among millennials, 1 in 5 have admitted to experiencing depression (Nefer). To this generation of jokesters on social media, Edgar Allan Poe, who suffered from depressive bouts himself, might seem like a kindred soul from the past, reaching out to them.

There are even parallels between Poe’s characteristics and those of millennials. He was described as being “defensive and threatened by negative comments (Giammarco)” while millennials are said to “overreact to natural stressors that previous generations dealt with more effectively (Nefer)”. And while “[h]e often used excessive, theatrical language, poignantly captured in his statement, ‘I do believe God gave me a spark of genius, but He quenched it in misery’ (Giammarco)” the humor expressed in the provided memes have likewise been hyperbolic to the extreme.

However, rather than allow these dark or “perverse” thoughts to consume them, this generation has found a better use. They use the absurdity of it all to make themselves laugh. They rearrange the narrative in a way that it becomes funny. They overlay self-deprecating humor over their depression because they realize if they don’t, then all it is is misery. And the results of only finding misery in misery is what befell Edgar Allan Poe: “Poe would also be described as being low in Agreeableness and Conscientiousness since he was argumentative, untrusting, and lacked self-control (i.e. his drinking, his failure to pursue education) (Giammarco)”.

What were once horror stories, meant to invoke fear in people of the dark nature that lies in the heart of humanity, are now being used as a coping mechanism for online communities of a new generation. By modernizing the text of Edgar Allan Poe, fans of literature are appreciating and celebrating his works in a whole new and unexpected way.  This phenomenon has revealed an incredibly interesting and inspiring aspect of humanity that is completely contradictory to what Poe intended his works to mean. Rather than interpreting the meaning to be “All humans hold darkness in their hearts” it is being interpreted as, “Even in the darkness there is a light.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

@aaannnnyyyyaaaa. “me: sees a fluffy dog / me to me: steal him pic.twitter.com/XuJFCBi7st.” anya, 06 Nov. 2016, 4:42 AM, < https://twitter.com/aaannnnyyyyaaaa?protected_redirect=true&gt;.

funlittleinteresting. “Montressor: “When you don’t like someone…” Fun.Little.Interesting., <http://funlittleinteresting.tumblr.com/post/151467771786/montressor-when-you-dont-like-someone-just-put&gt;.

Giammarco, E. (2013). Edgar Allan Poe: A psychological profile Personality and Individual Differences, 54 (1), 3-6 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2012.07.027

hamburgertrousers. “im not petty…” Take it from me, little buddy., <http://hamburgertrousers.tumblr.com/post/151291495391/popularlesbian-im-not-petty-and-i-dont-see-the&gt;.

Nefer, Barb. “Depression Amongst Millennials – Why Are They Affected at Higher Rates?” Depression Amongst Millennials – Why Are They Affected at Higher Rates? | Web Psychology. WebPsychology, 08 Oct. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2017. <https://www.webpsychology.com/news/2015/10/08/depression-amongst-millennials-%E2%80%93-why-are-they-affected-higher-rates-232931&gt;.

@PinkMurku. “Me: *sleeps late* / Me to me before class: Skip it pic.twitter.com/XuJFCBi7st.” Berry , 07 Nov. 2016, 12:12 AM, <https://twitter.com/PinkMiruku/status/795539480115552256&gt;

Poe, Edgar Allan. Complete tales and poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York: Barnes & Noble, Sterling Publishing Co., 2015. Print.

Smith, Craig. “350 Amazing Twitter Statistics.” DMR. N.p., 10 Feb. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017. <http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/march-2013-by-the-numbers-a-few-amazing-twitter-stats/&gt;.

Smith, Craig. “96 Amazing Tumblr Statistics & Facts.” DMR. N.p., 07 Jan. 2017. Web. 25 Feb. 2017. <http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/tumblr-user-stats-fact/&gt;.