Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Inspirations

This began as a response post to DIY & Dragons' excellent post on childhood fantasy inspirations, but somewhere along the way I broke off the rails of the prompt, and now we have this.

Soundtrack is recommended, but not required.

Warning: Contains spoilers.

New Phyrexia



Some ideas never truly die. They burrow into the mind and fester, growing and infecting, colonizing. Making part of you an extension of themselves, and in so doing, making themselves an extension of you. They haunt you, and you become, to them, a haunt. Some ideas set you along a path, give you a distant destination, and that is their first gift.

My introduction to MTG was Mirrodin Besieged. I believe my love of science fantasy, and of worldbuilding, began here. I began reading through MTG card lists for the lore snippets (which will likely be a subject of another blog post).
I believe I can sum up the story like this: I was reading through the New Phyrexia card list for the lore, and came upon this somewhat innocent card name. "War Report" is not a particularly evocative introduction to a card compared to something like "Phyrexian Obliterator". Then I read the card text.

The death of a world that, quite frankly, I had fallen in love with, hidden in the card text of an unobtrusive pack-filler common. 

This taught me the power of flavor text. The words may have been on the card, but the actual destruction of Mirrodin played out in my own mind as I put the pieces together.

No MTG set has been able to hurt me like this since, and to this day I remain searching.


Hyper Light Drifter




Some ideas never truly die. Like a flash-imprint, they leave their reflections burned into you. They can never leave your vision, you could never dare tear your gaze away. They are the light that burns in the core of your consciousness, casts dancing shadows on the walls of your hollow brain that you scramble to decipher like some paleolithic sage. Some ideas turn you into a lighthouse. You begin to emit, to burn, and that is their second gift.


I was wholly unprepared for the effect this game would have on me. I had started it as a recommendation from a friend, and was somewhat intrigued by what I had seen on Steam. Then I saw the opening cutscene and everything changed. Part of me has found a home in that vibrant, broken, nameless world.

Hyper Light Drifter showed me the ways in which games can be intensely, luminously, incandescently beautiful, and now I burn with the frustration and knowledge that nothing I create will ever be beautiful in that exact same way. And yet, perhaps that... gross incandescence can set my own works alight with a fire all their own.

Bloodborne




Some ideas never truly die. They are planted in your mind, but you are the flower that blooms. Evolved, perhaps unknowingly, perhaps unwillingly. An evolution of courage, for evolution without courage only leads to ruin. These new sets of eyes are yours, and they peer inward. The world feels different, and yet it has always been the same: you have been transformed. Some ideas grant you new eyes, and that is their third gift.

Bloodborne has taught me how a work can have layers upon layers of meaning. It has taught me how a work can infect and transform everything it touches with new layers, how it will infect the viewers with the eyes to see them.

Bloodborne follows in the tradition of Lovecraft, but in doing so, it infects Lovecraft's message and turns it into a challenge against his beliefs. It is a beautiful coincidence that Bloodborne is regarded to be the best Lovecraftian video game, and yet it contains hints and themes that completely undermine his tradition. That evolve it, and in so doing, evolve us.

Perhaps the ultimate other is not so other after all. With enough eyes, perhaps we will see.

Dark Souls

Some ideas never truly die. If you find them in the process of dying, of fading, then the absences they leave behind will be greater and more beautiful than their living forms ever could have been. Things given power by what they are not, what they couldn't have been, what they never will be. The invisible inertia that sets the cosmos whirl, the dark matter that steadies it on its axis, they are within you, too. Some ideas represent an absence, the vast majesty you can find within yourself, and that is their final gift.

This gift is also from Kyana, who taught me the word Lacuna, possibly the most important word I now know. A cavity. An absence. 

Part of us will always be searching blindly in a dark cave, a lacuna deep within ourselves. For when faced with whatever pockets of the unknown still remain in this world of light and bright screens, we fill them with reflections of that primeval void. Lacunae become imperfect mirrors, and through them the self is broken down, refracted, and reforged. The self-destructive pursuit of information that I have become part of seeks to eliminate the last traces of mystery from the world. It is in these lacunae that mystery still lurks, and it is in this mystery that the search for meaning is given purpose.

"Perhaps you've seen it, maybe in a dream. A murky, forgotten land." It is my belief that if you search for meaning in games long enough, you will eventually stand before its decrepit gate, without really knowing why. That land might be called Lordran. Or Drangleic. Or Lothric. Or perhaps even Lorgan, for if Mystery did not keep many pseudonyms, it would no longer be Mystery.

In Dark Souls, words confound. Time is fluid. Space is stable, dependable, but uncooperative, for it remains staunchly silent. You must seek truth in the spaces between words; in TTRPGs, we must seek truth in the spaces between worlds.

***

Some ideas never truly die, while they live on through us.

8 comments:

  1. This is beautifully written.
    (I don't say it because my name is mention in the text)

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  2. Thanks for sharing these! I first played Magic around the time of Fallen Empires and Ice Age, and their worldbuilding had a similarly lasting effect on me.

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