Tuesday, February 5, 2013

An Official Retirement

I suppose this is more of a formality at this point, but hey, why not.

Unless you really haven’t been paying attention, you may have realized that there haven’t been all that many blog posts here for… a really really really long time. There are several reasons for that. A slowdown in blogosphere activity, a greater focus on my fiction writing, and a general decline in interest on my part.

On top of that, when I first made this google account, it was connected to my student email address. With graduation in sight, that email address is going to be gone in less than a year. Now, I could just change the email attached to this. But for various reasons, including a smidgeon of tinfoil hat paranoia, I’m letting this account die, and moving on to a new one. As such, after my university email is gone, my access to this account will also be gone, leaving me without means to update the blog. And because of this, I’ve decided it’s finally time to say goodbye. I’m not leaving the Mythos entirely; I’ve still got to finish my Fearblog, Mephi, and my Slenderblog, Picking at Ruins, before I consider that (although PaR is currently on hiatus until I finish the major Mephi update I'm working on). But Encyclopedia Slenderia will officially not be having any more posts. It’s been a good run, and I’m glad I got to be a part of this Mythos. I have to thank all the people who read my blog; when I started, I never imagined I’d get this many followers.

If you’re still looking for a place to get your Slender fix, SlendySlayer Reviews is a good site for finding quality blogs and vlogs. And I occasionally hear rumors that maybe Slenderbloggins will one day come back, so you might want to keep an eye on that in case any of those rumors come true.

But for now, all good things must come to an end, even if the announcement of that ends comes several months after it happened. Fare thee well, Encyclopedia Slenderia. And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ignore Everything I Have Said

Okay, maybe not EVERYTHING everything. I don’t want you to ignore this post. And there’s probably plenty of other things I’ve said in here which you shouldn’t ignore. Okay maybe “everything’s” a bit broad a generalization-ARGH WHAT AM I SAYING FOCUS OMEGA.

This post is going to be about canon. And since it is also going to be about me shouting NO STOP THAT at the way a lot of people are doing things, I figure we should start with a silly picture regarding canon as a means of getting things off with a more cheerful tone.

Anyways, canon. Those of you who know my non-Slenderia writing are likely aware that the majority of my focus has shifted away from the Slender Man Mythos toward the Fear Mythos. I do still have active projects in the Slenderverse, but most of my writing time is being spent on my Fearblog and Fear creepypastas. And there are several reasons for this, but one of the biggest for me is how both universes treat their canon.

You see, two of the mottos for the Fear Mythos are “There is no canon” and “Everything is up to the writer.” While I have heard the claim that the Slender Man Mythos also has no canon, in practice this isn’t always the case. Throughout the history of the Mythos, I have seen several instances of people claiming that a blog is “doing it wrong” or “not really Slender Man” when they try to do something different than the norm. Contrast to the Fear Mythos, where the mentality is “whatevs man, we’re all afraid of different things. The Fears have different universes. Wanna make a new Fear? Das cool, brah.” (quote from Slendyslayer) The reason for this is, I believe, because the Slender Man Mythos is viewed as a setting, while the Fear Mythos is viewed as a writing tool. In the Slenderverse, there is the assumption that every story takes place in the same universe, where every story adds more to the overall canon, and with every inconsistency handwaved away by “dimensional bleeding” (this is primarily with blogs; while there have been vlog crossovers, there is much less of an effort to create a consistent setting in that medium.) In the Fear Mythos, on the other hand, it is assumed that, unless stated otherwise, all stories take place in their own universe, with the only connection being a shared pantheon of eldritch abominations. Even those abominations are not consistent: at the base you start with the “Vanilla Fears,” which are the most basic concepts of what the Fears are (ex. The Fear Mythos Series Bible currently describes the Wooden Girl as simply as “The Wooden Girl is a life-sized marionette of a girl. She uses her strings to control others. She is said to represent the fear of control.”) From that bare bones description a writer can go in any direction they want to.

In the early days of the Slenderverse, the shared setting was one of my favorite aspects. Seeing people come together and create an entire universe together out of nothing was fascinating. To document that phenomenon was one of the main reasons I made this blog in the first place, and my World of Slender Man post was almost a celebration of that creation, taking in the entire universe which we had made as a whole. Yet as time has passed and I’ve gained more perspective on the Mythos, I’ve begun to find that the shared setting often has stifled creativity rather than encouraged it.

In its more extreme instances, this has resulted in series being trolled out of existence because they did something different; two examples being Breaker and Frap and Friends (blog is dead, therefore no link). In its more common form, the stifling of creativity comes from writers seemingly following a canon checklist when creating their stories. “Alright, slenderproxies, check. Path of Black Leaves, check. Slender Man is silent, evil, and spends more time chilling in the background than actually doing anything, check. Protagonist either runs from Slender Man, fights proxies, is a proxy, or studies the Slender Man, check.” And so on. I don’t mean to insult Slenderblogs, as there are many good blogs which work creatively within the formula. But at the same time, they are still working within a formula. And as time passes, that formula has only grown, as more is added to the canon and more points are added to the checklist.
Then there’s the issues of continuity snarls and lockout. As each story continues to work within the same continuity, they add more to that continuity and build upon all previous stories. Within a small group of stories this works fine, but as the number of stories grows, such a system makes the overall continuity begin to become increasingly complicated and difficult to penetrate. Most major stories these days work under the assumption that their audience is familiar with several other aspects of the Mythos prior to coming to their series, which can turn many new readers off from a series. “You must read/watch series X,Y, and Z prior to reading this blog” is not the best marketing strategy. Just imagine what would go through the brain of some poor soul who happened to stumble upon the current Mythos and everyone is talking about Redlight v2; they wouldn’t have a clue what was going on.

This has led to a very repetitive setting, where experimentation is encouraged only so long as it remains within proper boundaries. Sure, you can say that anyone can write anything they want to, and technically that’s true. There’s nothing stopping someone from writing a completely unique story and posting it online. But if you want to play with the cool kids, you need to play by the rules. Most of the popular Slenderblogs are ones which follow the standard conventions of the Slenderverse. You do get some more unique stories amongst the popular blogs, such as Records of an Impossibility, but even that blog is tied to the general Slenderverse canon. Two very good blogs which I’ve recently read have been LakeReflections and Nowhere, No One,Nothing, both of which are very different from the normal Slenderstory. Yet while both often receive acclaim from those who read them, they tend to be overlooked in favor of the more conventional stories. (Seriously though, check them out. They’re good and completely different than most of what you’ve probably read in the ‘verse.)

Looking again at the Fear Mythos for comparison, where things tend to get a lot crazier. Slender Man’s one of the more popular Fears to use, but he is much less defined than in the Slender Man Mythos. In Fear, Slendy is a tall guy in a business suit who usually doesn’t have a face, and around whom people tend to disappear/die. That’s it. Everything else about him is completely dependent on what the writer wants. Most writers tend to borrow heavily from the canon of the Slenderverse, using ideas such as proxies or the Path of Black Leaves, but they’re also completely free to do something radically different. Someone could write a story where it is discovered that Slendy’s one weakness is kittens, and the blog ends with the protagonist throwing kittens at Slendy until he dies from cuteness. And this would be completely alright. Hell, my own blog has a time traveler attacking the Slender Man with a flaming sword in the middle of a hidden research facility being used by a secret CIA conspiracy to conquer the world (OF COURSE), and that was acceptable for the Fear Mythos. Just looking at the blogs I’ve read recently, there’s Chain Mail, which used the end of the friggin’ world halfway through as a plot point (something which could never happen in a shared setting,) and City of Sinopia which essentially goes “Hey everyone I’m creating a new Fear for the sake of this story and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.” And then of course I must mention OH GOD THE RAPTURE IS BURNING. Words cannot describe RAPTURE, except to say that it is completely unlike any Slender or Fear blog which you have ever read. There is no way it could work in the mainstream Slenderverse, because it spits in the face of every established canon concept of the Slender Man Mythos and how Slendy stories are supposed to go, and it does so without any shame.

What I’m trying to say here isn’t that everyone should drop ship and head over to the Fear Mythos although you totally should because we have cookies and the Wooden Girl always could use more pets. What I am saying is that writers need to be less afraid of breaking away from the “canon” of the Slender Man Mythos. All the things I discuss in this blog are wonderful tools to be used in a story, but one shouldn’t feel that they have to be a part of that story’s setting. Say you’re writing a story which doesn’t need proxies for the story to be told? Then there’s no reason to feel obligated to include proxies just because everyone else says Slendy uses proxies. Want to make a story where Slendy’s actually a benevolent figure? Go right ahead; even if every other story contradicts you, you’re writing your own story. Their canon shouldn’t matter to your canon. Don’t be constrained by the writing of others; be free like buffalo! But not hunted to near extinction like buffalo! Because that would be bad!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Slender Man Fan Games

Ah! After ten thousand years, I’M FREE! It’s time to CONQUER THE EARTH!

*Ahem* Anyways.

In the past month, we’ve had two Slender Man games posted to the Slender Man section of Unfiction. The games, titled Slenderman and Slender, are both independently developed games which can be freely downloaded online.

In Slenderman, you investigate a house and a forest, collecting tapes and items while fighting proxies and avoiding the Slender Man. The graphics are low-tech, but the game still creates an appropriately dark atmosphere, and has many shout outs to Marble Hornets.

As for Slender, in it you are trapped inside a heavily wooded area, where you try to collect 8 pages while simultaneously avoiding the Slender Man. In terms of graphics, it’s superior to Slenderman, though the gameplay is much more minimalistic. There’s no proxies, no items apart from the pages, just someone in a forest trying to stay alive as the Slender Man hunts them.

As both are free and only take a short time to play, I highly recommend checking each out. Links are provided at the end of the post. However, I also feel that by comparing the two, we can take lessons from the games which can inspire future games/stories.

To begin bluntly, I believe Slender to be the superior game to Slenderman. While Slenderman is not without merit, it fails to be a frightening experience. Slender, on the other hand, is something I’d put on par with Amnesia: The Dark Descent in terms of how much it frightened me (possibly even higher than Amnesia, as Amnesia ceased to be scary for me the moment I realized I could predict exactly where the next scare would be based guessing where I’d put the next scare were I making the game.) The question then is, why? Why does Slender manage to be more frightening than Slenderman?

The biggest reason is because in Slender, being caught by Slendy means an instant loss, whereas Slenderman is relatively consequence free: if Slendy catches you, all that happens is you get teleported back to the start. As soon as you learn this, Slendy stops being something to be frightened of, and turns into an annoyance. There was a point in my first playthrough where the I saw Slendy approaching me as I was trying to turn a gate crank. Had it been a game where being caught by Slendy carried any consequences, this would have been an extremely tense moment, as I tried to turn the crank while keeping an eye on Slendy so that he didn’t teleport forward and catch me. Instead, I just ignored him, and kept turning the crank until he caught me. Then I ran from the start point where I’d been taken back to the gate crank, finished turning it, and kept on playing. Compare this to Slender, where my reaction upon seeing Slender Man getting near me tends to be, and I quote, “OH FUCK FUCK FUCK JESUS CHRIST FUCK RUN FASTER RUN FUCKING FASTER FUCK WHERE’D HE GO WHERE THE FUCK OH FUCK HE'S RIGHT THERE FUCK FUCK.” (Yes, this game will turn you into Noah Maxwell.)

In addition, Slenderman’s inclusion of proxies doesn’t help the game much. If you’ve seen Marble Hornets, you probably won’t be surprised at any of the places where they jump out. And even when they do manage to catch you, as with being caught by Slendy, it’s no big deal. All you need do is mash the spacebar to wrestle them to the ground and kill them. They’re just another minor obstacle to easily overcome on your way to the next objective. The game has no risk, and therefore I couldn’t find any reason to worry about any of the things which were intended to frighten me.

And while I hope to avoid spoiling the games as much as I can, the ending of Slenderman was… odd. Out of all the possible ways they could end a horror game, they went with what might have been one of the least frightening.

Still, I don’t mean to discourage you from playing Slenderman. It does have its good moments, and of course, it’s free. But if I’m going to uphold a game as doing an excellent job of creating horror with only minimal gameplay, Slender is going to be my top pick.

Useful Links
Green Meteor Team: Slenderman: http://www.greenmeteorteam.com/slenderman.html
Slender Unfiction Thread (With Download): http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=35488

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Fear Mythos

Image by betterthanstrawberry

Holy schedule slip batman.

Hey. I’m still alive. And still posting. Hooray!

Now, I’m sure none of you know, but today is a very special day. No, not Valentine’s Day. I have no interest in humanity’s strange obsession with reproduction, except for the side effect it has of making every grocery store put their chocolate on sale. Today, you see, is the anniversary of the Fear Mythos.

“But Omega, I thought this blog was about the Slender Man Mythos, not this strange and different Fear Mythos!” Well, settle down. I’m getting to that.

The Fear Mythos is an offshoot setting of the Slender Man Mythos: while the Slenderverse has the Slender Man as the Big Bad of the entire setting, the Fear Mythos portrays him as just one of a whole collection of eldritch abominations called Fears. As both settings feature Slendy, there’s been some crossover between the two, to the point where some theorize that they’re the same setting, and Slendy just happens to be the most active Fear (explaining why blogs about him outnumber blogs about every other Fear.) There are some inconsistencies, but we can blame all of that on dimensional bleeding and move on.

The two Mythoses (shut up it’s a word now) also have several differences beyond in-universe setting, chiefly stylistic ones. Unlike the Slender Man Mythos, the Fear Mythos was a planned setting: a group got together and organized what the setting would be, rather than several individuals all offering their own interpretation as happened in the Slenderverse. This meant less of the chaotic, rapid genre building which the original Slender Man Mythos had, but did give the Fearverse the advantage of not having quite as much early installment weirdness. In addition, stories in the Fear Mythos tend to be more self-contained; crossovers have happened on occasion, as well as brief nods towards other stories, but nothing to the degree that happens in the Slenderverse.

Probably the best way to describe what the Fear Mythos is would to just post a list of who all the Fears are, but TVTropes already has that covered. So in order for this post to have some real content, I went ahead and interviewed CuteWithoutThe (Of course he totally looks like that. He told me so himself, and why would he lie. Also, he would like all the ladies in the audience to know that yes, he is single.), the man who started the Fear Mythos.

Omega: Alrighty then. Let's start with an obvious question. What made you want to create the Fear Mythos?

Cute Without The E: Well, to be honest, it was a mixture of certain things. The most obvious factor was just a certain boredom of the average slender blog. I felt...just not content with how things were being done with the Slender man. Another thing was just the need for escapism in that point in my life. I wanted to create something that reflected how the world felt to me at that point in my life.

Omega: So you decided the best response to this was through adding several additional eldritch monsters to the setting?

Cute Without The E: It was more of the fact that The Slender Man didn't really reflect what I was afraid of. Yes, he's scary, but he didn't keep me up at night. I wanted to convey different feelings. At first, The Fear Mythos wasn't exactly about Fear, but all the feelings one would go through when confronted with eldritch beasts. Slender Man is great and all, but I wanted more reactions to basic things. If that makes any sense, ha.
So I added what I thought best reflected those feelings, at the time.

Omega: Makes sense to me. How did you actually get the project started? I know there was a TVtropes thread, and I've heard that others were working on similar projects which they decided to bring into the new setting, but I haven't heard a detailed account of the origin yet.

Cute Without The E: Well, it's a bit hazy for me right now, but it all started on my birthday exactly a year ago (2/14/11). That day, I was just realizing how much closer to death I was. With that, Death was on my mind almost every day. Adding to this, I was suffering through multiple other depressing subjects, such as abuse and basic social anxiety. I wanted to concquer those feelings, but couldn't in my real life....so I started using the Slender Man mythos as something to escape to. I once thought to myself, "What if The Slender Man wasn't the only thing out there? What if he represented something?" With that, I started designing creatures. I tried to design my feelings, and the first design I came up with was The Dying Man; the Fear of Death. I decided that I'd call him an "Elemental", and I thought that perhaps Slender Man was an elemental too. With other designs, I decided to post them in TV Tropes and try to get a project of some kind started around them. The thread was called "A New Mythos" (at the time, it is now renamed The Fear Mythos). Other people were extremely interested, and from there, we ended up adding multiple creatures. Over time, it evolved into the current incarnation you see today.
The first Fears were The Cold Boy, The Archangel, The Dying Man, The Wooden Girl, The Convocation, and The Manufactured Newborn, I believe.
EAT came up soon after that

Omega: The Manufactured Newborn predates EAT? Did not know that.

Cute Without The E: Yerp. The second post in the thread was Alliterator complimenting on his name.

Omega: Hm. Well, the Mythos has evolved in a lot of ways since its original conception; which changes about it have surprised you the most?

Cute Without The E: Hmmm. Tough one! I believe I'd have to say how big it's gotten. I mean, I never expected to actually land an interview with Mr. Sir. Awesomega! Seriously, people just seem so perplexed by it, and many are saying that they prefer it over the Slender Man mythos.

Omega: That leads into my next question: Were you expecting to get so many people from the Slender Man Mythos involved in this?

Cute Without The E: No, actually. I thought, at first, that people would just like to stick to the basics, you know? I thought that many would be resistant to change. I thought we'd be a bit separated, socially and creatively.

Omega: Aaand instead you got droves defecting over.

Cute Without The E: Hey, what can I say? We got cookies. And by cookies, I mean awesome.

Omega: Onto the Mythos itself, which Fear would you consider your favorite/the one which you're most frightened of?

Cute Without The E: I am extremely partial to The Dying Man...when I look at The Dying Man, I am reminded of earlier parts of my last year, where my biggest fear was my actual day to day life. Depression's nevera fun thing to go through, and The Dying Man is basically that, personified. I wouldn't say I'm exactly afraid of him though. Ever since the early days, I've been a bit numbed to fearing these eldritch beasts. I mean, I've been writing for them alot, so I guess it's a bit expected. The Dying Man is also my favorite because without him, there wouldn't even by a Fear Mythos. So I owe him so much.
My favorite Fear that I have not created would be The Cold Boy; I like creepy poems, and rain and snow and Winter...what can I say?

Omega: Alright. Next question: Why did you make the decision to have Slender Man be included in the Fear Mythos, rather than creating an entirely different setting?

Cute Without The E: Well, at first, I basically wanted to have the cake and eat it too. Or something...not sure if that saying applies here. I wanted to write for him, but not be limited to only having him, I guess I could say. And, in the early days of the Mythos, I liked contrasting him with The Dying Man...I've forgotten why I originally did that, I think it had something to do with the general mood that surrounds those characters. Also, I foresaw that many writers would probably like to have him in the Mythos too.

Omega: Do you have any predictions for what you think the future of the Fear Mythos might look like?

Cute Without The E: Millions of Fears, if people aren't strict about what they let in. >___> Ha, no seriously though, I believe that if we keep going at the rate we're going, we might overtake The Slender Man Mythos. It might seem a bit arrogant to say that, and might even seem a bit more arrogant of me to say that I actually WANT that to happen, but that's what I think will happen. The Slender Man Mythos is great, and many of the blogs are amazing, but I believe that there is so much more potential in The Fear Mythos. We have an amazing group of writers now, we have amazing fans, and I just think that it's going to get better from here on out.

Omega: One last question: Which Fearblog is your favorite?
(Hint: The answer is Mephi)

Cute Without The E: Darn. You just had to ask that question, didn't you? Uhhh. While Mephi is in my top five, I am sorry to say that it is not my favorite.
(still loveya)

Okay, ignoring Mephi, what is your favorite Fearblog?

Cute Without The E: It would have to be between three of Alliterator's blogs; Brighter than a Spoon, Snowball in Hell, or And When The Skies Opened.
He's an amazing writer, an amazing friend, and an amazing coworker, by the way.
(and you are too!)

Omega: Thank ye!
That should be enough for this post.

Cute Without The E: waiiiit
do I get like a
dedication post, like a shoutout post, haha?
(joking, haha)
I would like to thank all my fellow Fearbloggers though, (including you).
Thank you!

Omega: Yer welcome. And thank you for coming up with the Mythos!

Cute Without The E: All in a day's work, friend

Useful Links
Fear Mythos TVTropes Page: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheFearMythos
Fear Mythos Forums: http://theonlythingtofear.b1.jcink.com/index.php?
Fear Mythos Wiki: http://thefearmythos.wikia.com/wiki/The_Fear_Mythos_Wiki

P.S. This has nothing to do with the interview, but my ego demands I post this.

Cute Without The E: Loved Smiting the Gods
Looooved it
Best blog ever

Omega: Damn straight it was.

Cute Without The E: if you had asked best Slenderblog instead of fearblog, I would have said that
was that a collab project?

Omega: Yes, it was a collab project.
Each character was written by a different author.
This is going into the interview by the way.

Cute Without The E: damn

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Path of Black Leaves

Well, it’s been over a month since I’ve added any actual content, so I suppose I should be getting to work here…..

The Path of Black Leaves

Simplest description: It is a path. Which has black leaves on it.

More detailed description: The Path of Black Leaves is one of the Mythos’s few open source locations. The Path is an alternate dimension, related to Slender Man (and possibly the Bleeding Tree), which can be used by some of Slendy’s followers as a means of transportation. Traveling through the path is similar in theory to traveling through a wormhole in science fiction, or other forms of dimension hopping: the user enters the Path at point A, moves along the Path, and comes out at point B. Distance within the Path is different than in our regular world: A trip which would take days of driving can be done in a short time on foot through the Path. As such, people who can use the Path have a limited form of quasi-teleportation; it’s not instantaneous, and it does require physically moving, but it’s much, much faster than conventional forms of transit.

As for describing the appearance of the Path, well…. That first description might be the best, really. The distinguishing trait of the Path of Black Leaves is the presence of black leaves, either on trees or blowing around. In its first appearance in White Elephants, Robert didn’t even realize where he was at first, assuming it to be another delusion. The description he used was, “Dead quiet street. No one in sight. The trees on the sidewalk are filled with Black Leaves.”


Going to be a bit of a short history, as unlike Redlight or the evolution of proxies, the Path of Black Leaves doesn’t have a narrative attached to it. It first showed up on White Elephants, in the post titled “Black Leaves,” where Robert stumbled across it after accidentally walking through a portal a proxy left open (those wacky proxies and their comedic ineptitude!) It gained its name several posts later, when Robert used the Path to rescue Reach from Redlight. There was no follow up post explaining just what the Path was, which meant it was left in the hands of everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection to create their own explanation (which is THE BEST way to form canon, if I may say so.) However, this also makes finding specific points of change difficult to locate.

Following the introduction of the Path, the ability to open portals to and travel across it was added to Revenants’ collection of powers. Several times over, it was insisted that regular humans either couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, use the Path, but that never stopped non-Revenant proxies (and Robert, Konaa, plus any other protagonist whose author wanted to throw their character through the Path) from using it whenever it worked with the plot. After Revenants were retconned, use became much less exclusive, although the ability was still mostly focused on Slendy’s followers, with only a few exceptions. By now, it seems as though that entire idea of only superhumans using it has been dropped (at least on blogs which want to keep using the Path), or altered to make it so that regular humans using the path have a harder time than proxies. “Conduits” (humans with special powers) have also been used as characters capable of accessing the Path, but their lack of popularity in the Mythos as a whole means that this ability was rarely shown.

In April of 2011, the PTC of Observe and Terminate launched a scouting expedition into the Path. This was the first time anyone had tried actually exploring the Path, instead of just using it as a road. It… didn’t turn out very well for those involved. At all. Only one man returned alive, and his memories of the expedition had been wiped. Another mission was sent by the PTC into the Path in May, this time with a more aggressive, militant focus than mere exploration. The results were slightly more successful: they failed completely in all their objectives (hurting Slender Man and finding out what happened to their last expedition), but at least none of them were killed that time. After that failure, the PTC chose to cease all further missions into the Path.

Following the PTC shenanigans, focus on the Path shifted almost exclusively towards only using it as a device for moving characters around, rather than a plot point in itself. The Bleeding Tree was alluded to have a connection with the Path, and sometimes shown to be located within it, but no detailed reports were made about the connection. The only big event to happen to the Path was at the end of the third Redlight arc, when Zombie!Robert claimed to have taken over the Path. But that seizure of control didn’t appear to stick long, due to a combination of Robert’s reputation as an unreliable narrator and the simple fact that too many blogs were using the Path as part of their plot, that it couldn’t just be dropped on account of a single blog’s storyline.

So what is it

That is an excellent question, and the answer is I have no idea.

Like Slender Man himself, there’s been no final, canon definition of the Path of Black Leaves (except for a minor explanation in the Fear Mythos.) All we’ve got to go off of is that it’s a separate dimension under Slendy’s influence.

Now, what this implies is that Slender Man has multiple dimensions under his control. When the Path was first introduced, many assumed it was the Other Side (or Slenderworld, or Slendy’s Home, or whatever you want to call the dimension which may or may not be where he comes from or where he resides in.) However, the two are distinct locales: when the Other Side was first described in White Elephants, it was a swamp, without any mention of black colored leaves. In fact, in the Path’s introductory post, Robert described it as looking like street he’d been on, with the only difference being that whole complete and utter lack of people plus unnaturally colored leaves. Later writers added features which made the Path better resemble the sort of place you’d imagine Slendy living in, turning it into a SPOOOOKY forest. Even then, there continues to be a distinction between the Path and Slenderworld, in the rare cases where both crop up in a blog.

The Fear Mythos (which may or may not be in the same canon as the Slender Man Mythos, depending on what you’re reading) is slightly more standardized in their use of the Path. In their canon, several the Fears, including Slendy, have a dimension for playing around in. Other examples are the Plague Doctor’s Crumbling Castle, the Convocation’s Bleak Shore, or the Wooden Girl’s Screaming Tower. The Path of Black Leaves is just one in a whole collection of nasty eldritch dimensions in the Fear Mythos.
An important thing to note is that the Fear Mythos makes a careful distinction between the Path and Slendy’s (and other Fears’) teleportation abilities. Those abilities are based on the use of the Godsway, which is only accessible and useable by the Fears. The main Slender Man Mythos is much less clear cut on this; occasionally the Path has been used as an explanation for Slendy’s offscreen teleportation abilities, while other times teleportation is just one of Slendy’s abilities, with no need of the Path’s assistance.

Useful Links
White Elephants (Black Leaves): http://fighthimuntiltheend.blogspot.com/2011/02/black-leaves.html
The Archive (CW002: “Path of Black Leaves”) : http://scribesigma.blogspot.com/2011/07/cw002-path-of-black-leaves.html
Observe and Terminate (Basic Gist of the Report): http://nightcrawler-observeandterminate.blogspot.com/2011/04/basic-gist-of-report.html
Observe and Terminate (Operation Headhunter After Action Report): http://nightcrawler-observeandterminate.blogspot.com/2011/05/operation-headhunter-after-action.html

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

Perhaps if I wasn't busy writing essays on Hitler, Virginia Woolf, and King Edward II, you'd get a full post now.
I might even discuss an interesting detail I was just reminded of this morning on another blog ("Beneath Stone Skies" mentioning how in original Core Theory, Halloween was like a mini-Solstice).
I could go into the fact that my headphones haven't stopped making weird MH style distortion noises this entire day.
Or maybe I'd just go on another Slender Hunting adventure.

But since I lack the time for any of those, you're just getting a video made by BanishedZaber which goes with the season.

Happy Halloween.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Evolution of Proxies

Remember back when I was delaying posts because I was too busy playing Minecraft? I miss those days. That was a fun reason to not write posts. Now I’m not writing posts because I just don’t have the time to, and that’s not nearly as much fun.

So one of the questions I’ve most been asked is, “How do I let people know about my series?” Well it looks like I’ll never need to answer that again, because Slenderbloggins has an entire article on the subject now. http://slenderbloggins.net/?p=494

Now onto proxies. Anyone remember this post I made way back when? Wow that’s horrendously written. Can’t believe I ever wrote like that. And over half of it is just me quoting Reach. Terrible. (I’ll give myself about 2 months before I look back at this post and say the same thing about it). But enough about me. Things are definitely different now than they were then. A lot of that info has become completely obsolete in the months that have passed since then. But we’re not going to go back and change the post; first off, it offers a snapshot into what the Mythos was like at the time. And second, changing thing takes effort. Horrible, horrible effort. What we’ll do in place of that is look at proxies, not from an in-universe “what their traits and abilities are” perspective, but at their changing story role within the Mythos.

The Evolution of Proxies

Early Days-Cultists, totheark, and Hallowed

Think back. Way, way back. Slender Man is still a brand new idea, just starting to spread beyond the SomethingAwful thread. Proxies? What on earth is a proxy? Closest we had to them was the occasional cultist, but those still weren’t quite what we’d call proxies nowadays.

Then Marble Hornets came along and changed everything in the Mythos. For many, it was their first taste of Slender Man. Even for those who had already been involved with Slendy, it would have a huge effect on the Mythos to come.

Marble Hornets introduced two characters important to the establishment of proxies: Masky and totheark. Masky was a mysterious dude wearing a mask (revealed in season 2 to be Tim) who had popped up occasionally to attack/stalk Jay, for some reason. And totheark was the owner of a YouTube channel who posted SPOOKY and mysterious videos in response to Jay’s entries, even hacking into the main Marble Hornets channel once. During season 1, details about the character were very slim, leading to a lot of fan speculation about them (though that isn’t to say that season 2 hasn’t been equally stingy in what they reveal). There wasn’t (and at this time, still isn’t) a consensus on many of the details about these characters, such as whether or not they’re actually separate people, or what “side” they’re supposed to be on. Because of this, it still is unknown what their relation to Slender Man is; some believe them to be serving him, others disagree. Thus it’s hard to say if they qualify as proxies. That, however, isn’t important. What matters is that these two/one character[s] made a template from which future proxies would be based on.

Jumping from MH to the blogosphere now. It was still a budding part of the Mythos, containing only a handful of stories. Most were still using Classic Slendy, with either no proxies, or followers who resembled Lovecraftian cultists more than servants (a good example of this being the cult from Dreams in Darkness.) Then we got The Tutorial. M introduced the concept of Hallowed (frequently misspelled as Hollowed) which was heavily inspired by MH’s Masky/totheark, as well as some of the behavior shown by characters in Just Another Fool. Hallowed were individuals who, as a result of exposure to Slendy, had their minds destroyed and were placed under his control. According to M, the purpose of Hallowed was to allow Slendy to get around the rules which M had placed on him. Their connection to MH and JAF is shown in the symptoms of being Hallowed: memory loss, black outs, Slendersickness, all of which were symptoms experienced by characters in MH season 1.Another sign of someone being Hallowed was speaking in codes, which would account for totheark’s videos, as well as some of Logan’s later posts on JAF.

What all this did for the Mythos was create the first template for proxies. Slender Man’s minions weren’t a vague, ill defined collection of individuals, but a cohesive group with a defined place underneath Slendy and set guidelines. Also important was how Hallowed were portrayed as directly under Slender Man’s control, instead of free willed individuals who believed they were serving Slendy. While examples of other character who would later be labeled as proxies were present at the time (such as Albert Conaghan, who would serve as an inspiration for Agents), M’s Hallowed would be the source from which later interpretations of proxies would come.

Expanding Role, Agents, ZERG RUSH KEKEKE

As the Mythos expanded, so did the role of proxies. The mind controlled Hallowed tended to be the norm at this point, and would remain so until writers began moving away from M’s original rules. Now that they were an established character type, proxies started to appear more often than they had before.

Two of the original Sage blogs were the first to use larger groups of proxies: Anomalous Data and White Elephants. The proxies in these blogs were faceless mooks who had a nasty habit of running around and trying to foil the Sages’ plans. They remained a lesser threat when compared to Slendy, but still were present in numbers (especially in Anomalous Data, where Jay’s organization clashed with groups of them on occasion.)

One thing to note is that White Elephants used the term “Agents” to describe proxies. At that time, it was just the blog’s term for Hallowed; but later it would gain its own meaning. Another addition to proxies from these blogs, one which didn’t quite catch on, was the concept that Hallowed were connected via a hive mind. It was mentioned at the end of Anomalous Data, but hasn’t had any major appearances since then.

It was during the second trio of Sage’s heyday when proxies really grew into their role. Unfortunately, that was also a time which will be remembered for going completely insane with some of the ways proxies were used.

Use of proxies in stories increased rapidly during this time, to the point where it almost eclipsed Slender Man. Proxies shifted from a peripheral danger to a very real and physical threat, with several instances of proxies attacking individual bloggers in large groups. The number of proxies also drastically increased, to the point where some bloggers told accounts of fighting off massive waves of proxy attacks (although in some cases, such as Para Not-So-Normal, these proxy hordes would be retconned away later on). A common criticism for these large numbers of proxies was comparing them to a zombie apocalypse story: a small group of runners barricaded in a safehouse, fighting off hordes of mindless minions who are killed en masse.

During this time, the language used to describe proxies began to develop. To account for the difference between proxies shown to have free will (such as Conaghan) from the mind controlled Hallowed M described, the word “Agent” was borrowed from White Elephants and became the name for a proxy who retained their individuality and personality, yet still served Slender Man. Other classifications of proxies were invented (such as berserkers or sleepers, which you can see on my earlier post on Slenderproxies), but agent and hallowed were the only ones which had long term usage. It was also then that the word “proxy” began to be used as a term for all minions of Slender Man.

Breaking from the trend of faceless proxy hordes, the blog What Now? created the character Rika. Unlike the majority of proxies running around at the time, Rika was a reoccurring antagonist, rather than a minor obstacle for the protagonists to overcome. She was a major part of the story, and actually interacted with the other characters, instead of being a totheark expy who remained out of sight. She also fit the “crazy/sadistic agent” template which would become more common later on. However, What Now? was never one of the hugely popular blogs. What brought Rika into mainstream attention was her appearance in A hint of serendipity, in the post which brought us the eternally famous “Das ass” line. The confrontation between Zero and Rika lasted only a single post, but it left such an impact that the way it's often treated, you’d easily be forgiven for thinking she was the blog’s main antagonist.

This was also the time when Reach first started to comment on blogs, and later began his blog What You Are in the Dark. He introduced Revenants, proxies who were granted superhuman abilities by the Slender Man. At the start, Reach was really the only revenant out there, but this would lead into the next big phase in proxy evolution….

Supah Powahs pew pew pew

Reach’s creation of revenants did not immediately cause a surge in their use. It took time to build up, until finally exploding in a frenzy of revenant activity. The months of January to March of 2011 were the high point of revenant appearances in blogs; I’d list out the blogs which participated in this trend, but I’m still finding more. It’s as if everyone decided they wanted to introduce their own revenant to the Mythos; even Redlight was turned into one during this time!

Looking back, it is a bit understandable why people would do this. Revenants were just “cooler” than regular proxies: all their super human strengths, plus their healing factor, yet countered by their hypersensitivity Achilles heel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for a few people to have cool revenants in their story. Everybody had to have revenants. Eventually it reached the point where Slendy’s super powered minions were stealing the spotlight from the Man himself. Adding to the issue was the tendency for people to write revenants as either changing sides, like Reach had originally done, or being far more helpful to the protagonists than their job description would imply. When a few revenants go through heel face turns, it can be interesting; when half the revenants do it, one wonders why Slender Man even bothers with making them.

After a few months of this, dislike of revenants was building up. Many didn’t want what to them looked like comic book superpowers appearing in their cosmic horror Mythos. Even Reach, the one who created revenants, had shifted his support away from them. When the blog Vivere Disce made a post claiming that all instances of “super powers” were actually hallucinations caused by Slender Man, Reach jumped on the opportunity, and made a post on WYAITD retconning revenants into a hallucination. That one post brought a pretty sudden end to revenants’ popularity; some blogs continued to use them in their stories, but in fewer numbers than before.

A more positive effect of the revenants was the shift towards proxies as characters rather than unimportant minions. Most of the time (with some exceptions) when a story brought in a revenant, that revenant was going to have a big role to play in their plot, and thus would get much more development than most proxies would previously have gotten. This trend was not limited solely to revenants, though that was where it was most visible early on: as more time passed, more people started to treat proxies in a similar manner. For example, this is the time when the blog The Morning Hunter started up, which has become the defining example of a sadistic agent character blog. The use of proxies as faceless mooks instead of characters still persisted (as did the trend of protagonists HEROICALLY slaughtering these unimportant mooks by the dozens), but it was slowly dying out, as the idea of proxies as characters took root.

The Deconstruction of Proxies

Now we’re moving onto the current phase in proxy use. As with other phases, the events which started this movement occurred before the previous had ended, and took a few months to catch on.

The main purpose of this movement was to deconstruct how proxies were used in the Slender Man Mythos; instead of unimportant minions, they were treated as actual humans, who often were as victimized by Slender Man as the Runners.

The post which really kicked this off was from the blog Walking the Hallowed Halls. WTHH was a new take on a proxy blog: it wasn’t attached to any other story, and its protagonist wasn’t some insane psychopath, but a very human, and very sympathetic, character. On February 25, 2011, a post titled, “McDonald’s Coffee is the Nectar of the Gods” was put up. The post consists of the entire Mythos being called out for its callous treatment of proxies; after all, these proxies are not cackling, card carrying villains who kick puppies for fun (well, not all of them are). Instead, most of them are regular human beings who were broken down by Slender Man. The post was completely contrary to the “proxies are evil and should die” mindset which seemed to be prevalent at the time, and for the next few months would be linked to whenever someone wanted to make a point about the humanness of proxies.

At the same time as WTHH was active, other blogs were beginning to look at the black/white morality of the mainstream Mythos in a more critical light. The Last Refuge of a Dangerous Man took Zero, a character who had previously been almost as heroic as you could have gotten in the Mythos, and turned him into a villain protagonist who caused quite the slaughter during the blog’s run. Then Smiting the Gods (am I allowed to mention my own stuff here? Screw it, I’m doing it anyways) subverted the traditional “Runners good, proxies evil” morality by having its chief proxy antagonist be, in many ways, morally superior to the sociopathic protagonist. And the ending of Now I Shall Know You Again gave us a sympathetic view of a runner slowly breaking down and becoming a proxy, as well as showing us his attempts to maintain some humanity even after falling.

In the spring/early summer of 2011, the deconstruction movement really begin, as blogs focusing on sympathetic proxy characters began to appear. Biggest of these was Don’t Shoot the Messenger, which continued WTHH’s trend of having a sane, sympathetic character provide a viewpoint into the lives of proxies, both hallowed and agents. Even the psychopathic killer proxies in DSTM weren’t treated as one dimensional characters, but were people with real reasons behind their mental disorders.

Of course, it can’t be called a movement if only one blog’s doing it, and there are several other examples of proxy blogs which portray their “villain” protagonists as being as victimized by Slendy as the runners; examples being blogs such as Strike the Set and My Half of Life. Even Morningstar, everyone’s favorite completely psychotic mass murderer, was given some sympathetic traits. At least, until…


He died. Like, today. The post just went up a few hours ago. TIMING, BRO.

This trend hasn’t meant the end for complete monster proxies. There are still quite a number of those out there, some even with their own blogs (Nightscream, Ferus, Gallows-Tree, etc.) But these sadist proxies tend to have a lot more characterization than they did in the past, or at least personality beyond “I KILL STUFF.”

Which seems to leave us in an odd situation where the proxies under Slender Man’s control appear to be divided between poor tortured souls who are really decent people living with circumstances beyond their control, and cartoonishly evil sadists who take far more pleasure in massacre than most psychologists would consider healthy. There’s a few who blur that line, but that’s still a bit of a sharp distinction there.

It’s a bit difficult to predict where things are going to lead from our current perspective. With the Slenderverse having grown as large as it currently is, there’s so many ideas being thrown around out there that it’s hard to figure out which ones will be the ones to stick. Some blogs are exploring the idea of proxies having a bureaucratic hierarchy, others are returning to the idea of giving them superhuman abilities, some are even rejecting the concept of proxies entirely. Once we’ve been granted the magical gift of hindsight, it’ll all become clear, but for now, we can only wait and find out which direction this type of character’s going to be going in next.