Diary of a Dark Lord ~ “The White Wizard”

There is a white wizard, cloaked in spellcraft and guile and a truly astonishing sense of self-righteousness, and he simply will not stop slaughtering The Chosen One until he kills me.

He must be such a sight, he has an actual white horse (I genuinely suspect he painted the poor beast) – and there he is, riding ramrod-straight into some tiny village or hamlet had previously known him primarily for his card tricks.  Now he looks neither left nor right (which is problematic for oncoming traffic, and many a vegetable cart is overturned in the wake of his utter disregard for basic traffic courtesy) – but rides steadily on until he reaches a certain hut.

Then, eyes blazing like a carelessly-started forest fire, he raps imperiously on the door with his sorcerous stave.  He informs the bewildered parents that he must see their offspring (he seems to have a habit of picking only children, for reasons about which I prefer not to speculate.)  He gazes at the aforementioned moppet with a disturbing thousand-yard stare, and then suddenly proclaims that this is the child of prophecy, the Chosen One, the One who is destined to bring down the Dark Lord.

The parents seldom complain.  The cause is so terribly just, the kids do eat a lot, and besides, you know what they say about wizards—“Never piss off a crazy person with a magical boom stick.”

So they pack the sprog off, with a few tears and a brave smile, and perhaps some pride and hope.

They never see the kid again.

Let’s be honest.  Even a tiny patrol of orcs is more than a match for your average pre-adolescent, even if there are a couple of unemployed companions along for the ride.  Maybe that wizard could do something, but he’s never around.  There’s always some nebulous task he must accomplish, some vital but secret mission.  He promises he’ll meet up with them later.

But he won’t.  He’s off weaponizing some other urchin.  Because he figures that, if he keeps throwing them at me, one of them will get through.

Hey, is that a knock at your door?

 

 

How To Survive A Hypothetical Horrifying Dystopian Future

In a dark Cyberpunk future, you just try to survive.We feel like almost every imaginative world of misrule could benefit from these thoughts, though this piece uses, for its medium, the now-rare genre of Cyberpunk.

In the late 1980s, visionary scifi/fantasy authors looked around them and extrapolated a terrifying future–“cyber” because it dealt with computers and tech, “punk” because it was dark and nihilistic, yet full of a fierce intensity.

Fortunately, of course, such a world could never come to pass.

But as a public service, we’ve put together some ways you–sorry!  We mean your characters–might be living in a gritty Cyberpunk dystopia.

1.  Beware distraction devices issued by private corporations!   In a traditional dystopia, in general, the government controls the masses.  But in most cyberpunk dystopias, governments sometimes seem to just provide a framework, stretched over a series of corporate interests.

If the government issued everyone with mandatory devices which tracked their location, ruined their sleep, and kept them in a constant state of overstimulation, people would very rightly rebel.

If Individual corporations created communication toys, each with more computing power than possessed by anyone in history, and those companies competed to find the most popular ways to convince people to spend more time at those devices, even making the devices central to one’s life, it might basically start controlling how we live.

Let’s be glad our characters don’t live in that world, eh?

2.  Politics and media go mad.  This is always a controversial subject, but just remember the basics:

While many dystopias dealing with government repression are simply heavily censored, Cyberpunk worlds have so much access to information that even the forces which might otherwise aim to repress info will instead join in the general insanity.  The news in dystopian worlds grows ever more insane, more unbelievable, and more shocking every day.

Since these things are works of fiction, the world news goes from disaster to disaster, with brief glimpses of hope in between.  That creates deep dramatic tension.

This should be a red alert for your characters, since news in the real world would, of course, never do this.

3.  Fortunately, a small group of plucky heroes can save us.  Fictional dystopias are brought down by plucky groups of heroes.  This ragtag group of gifted misfits, against all odds, can identify and defeat an evil villain who is making things go awry.

In real life, you can’t beat a dystopia that way.

Want to know how real-life dystopias go down?

So do we.  If you figure it out, please let us know?

-Dark Lord Journal

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IMPORTANT NOTE: This article is not a political statement for or against any party, government, or policy; it isn’t taking any sides.  It’s a perspective for viewing reality, and how you might choose to let that affect your writing.

 

 

 

How To Power A Fictional Dystopia

Danger: Radiation, and also doom. How does one write a moving dystopia?

As lovers of all manner of dark fiction, we’re big fans of dystopias.  We’d like to offer a thought:

We sometimes see dystopias as being the products of individual evil beings, or sometimes evil corporations (we’d argue that much of 1980s Cyberpunk was based on the latter).

But in our minds, there’s one thing that really powers a dystopia: The people themselves.  That is, not one single individual, or a bunch of oligarchs, or some other organized group.  The people themselves – the general mass of humanity.

It’s quite possible to create a brilliant, broken future which stars good people controlled by a bad ruler.  It also runs the danger that you’ll simply make even the best villains seem corny.  (We’re looking at you, 1970s cartoon Legion of Doom.)  It’s very attractive to see humans as basically good, but capable of being helpless before the overwhelming might of some kind of archfiend.

But it misses one of the strengths of a dystopia: the fear that it could happen here and now.

Because yes, it moves us when we see a malignant entity taking things over.  But it’s damn scary to think that we’re only a few steps (or fumbles) away from our actual reality become a horror.

Sinclair Lewis’ “It Can’t Happen Here”, for example, was written in a time of rising fascism in the world.  Its depiction of a fascist America isn’t disturbing because of the politician whose rule changes America; it’s disturbing because we see how the human beings in the story become convinced that fascism is the right thing because it suits their self-interests and prejudices.  Sure, some people are imprisoned, and some people are intimidated.  But many people just go along with it, or even help it.

And that’s what really powers a fictional dystopia.  It isn’t because the people are victims; it’s because they are accomplices.

In general, this is a blog about writing fictional villains.  But in this case, we’d like to advocate for a more insidious and (in some ways) more horrifying villainy: the potential for the despicable inside of everyone.

Walt Kelley put it best: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

-Dark Lord Journal

 
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