By Guy Rainey / October 9th, 2013
A new trailer for the upcoming turn-based RPG Darkest Dungeon tries to paint a picture of complete desperation. Torchlights are going out, and the party is surrounded by monsters that are killing party members. The developer, Red Hook Studios, is trying to make the dungeon of Darkest Dungeon an enemy in its own right.
While the challenging dungeon-crawling gameplay appeals to me, the most striking thing was this image.
This is the Plague Doctor, one of the five party members in the trailer. His appearance is based on that of the real-life plague doctors, particularly those of the 17th and 18th centuries, who treated victims of the Black Death in Europe. Their bird-like masks contained strong-scented items, like herbs and dried flowers, that they believed would counteract the disease-spreading miasma of dead Black Death victims. (This was long before the germ theory of disease replaced miasma theory in the 19th century.)
A character concept inspired by the historical plague doctor also exists in the Fear Mythos open writing project. After the creation of the Slender Man, fans who devoured the many horror blogs (a.k.a. “creepypastas”) devoted to the character found the mythos growing stale. They proposed adding the Slender Man character to a new cast of characters, dubbed Fears. In some stories, these Fears are the preternatural embodiments of certain fears. For instance, the Slender Man is (in some stories) the embodiment of the fear of the unknown.
The Fear Mythos’ Plague Doctor is the embodiment of the fear of sickness. If you’re wondering how a development team can use him, it’s simple: he (along with all Fears) is open-source, meaning he’s sort of public-domain. But is Darkest Dungeon in any way connected to the Fear Mythos? If so, is the game’s Plague Doctor a human or a Fear? Is the dungeon some sort of Fear itself, like the Fear Mythos’ sentient Empty City? Will the game feature the Slender Man in some capacity? I know I am now more interested in this project.
Darkest Dungeon is currently slated for a fall 2014 release on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, although other platforms and a Kickstarter are being considered.
To learn more about the Fear Mythos, check out the Fear Mythos Wiki.
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