What’s the scariest map?
Nothing is more horrifying than language. Through the tumultuous æons of our bleak existence, it has been our main bastion of dread. Conjuring images too terrible to comprehend, we have used it to break down the psyche and utterly demolish all hope in the face of our nightmares.
According to the good ol’ OED, “cursed” first appeared in 1393’s beloved classic, Piers Plowman. In it, William Langland tells the tale of an everyman’s quest to find true Christianity. “The countrey is þe corsedour þer cardinales comeþ ynne” (for those without Old English training: “The country is thee more cursed/cursder where cardinals cometh in). The church is still trying to administer enough aloe to soothe that burn.
These odd 621 years have not changed much about the word except when the 1700s had to go and spark a new spelling craze with “curst”. This stayed the fashion until 1862 when “-ed” was reinstated to its former glory.
While curses are never fun, they always have cures, making this map more of a minor annoyance.
My first thought for the mines was to call bullsh*t. Everyone knows that only ghost and spirits can haunt things. To my surprise, however, Blizzard decided to go with a classic definition spawned in the 1800s by J.M. Good. The study of medicine actually used “haunted” as a way to describe an infestation and, indeed, the mines are infested with those rodent things.
The word, however, has been with us much longer than that. 1325 birthed it but not in the form we so love today. Back in Medieval times, “haunted” referred to something that was practiced or used (i.e. “Y shal be haunted in they comaundement.”). This use still exists, but our favorite fearful flavor of it came around in 1660. F. Brooke thought it advantageous to describe the Isle of Devils as being haunted with spirits. This use so captured our collective imaginations that it is still the first word we look to when discussing ghosts and ghouls.
I have this thing with horror films: so long as the thing/things can be killed, it’s not that scary to me. Sorry mein Golem.
Garden of ‘Terror’
The most populated word in this OED adventure, terror comes to us from damn near every old European language. Terrour, terreur and terrere are all easily recognizable forms of this extreme bit of language. We know it existed in the language as early as 1325, but our first real glimpse of this masterpiece of language didn’t come until around 1400 in Legends Saints Scottish Dialects by W.M. Metcalfe. “He… but rednes ore terroure of goddis son wes confessoure.”
This map is more seductive than anything. I feel like I’m being praised and punished by some sort of succubus and of all the things that makes me feel, it’s certainly not terror.
Indeed, the term black heart is more of a description than an actual word, but the two have still coexisted for almost 400 years. Mr T. Herbert coined its association with malevolence in his Some yeares travels into divers parts of Asia and Afrique, follow up to his popular Descriptions of my daile lyfe including breakfast, supper and feedying my cat. “Espie their strength and winne black hearted fauters to his intentions.” As with any decent pirate, however, the name simply needs to be a combination of two nouns that sound relatively menacing when tied together.
My dreams perpetuate this nightmare. No matter what I do, no matter where I turn, there are doubloons. I was out on a walk the other day and found myself trying to smash open treasure chests only to realize they were dumpsters. Ye gods, may you have mercy upon my soul.
Who should I play on Halloween and why?
First off, you need to really isolate the type of fear you want to instill in people when they see you coming. This immediately dismisses any and all smaller and cuter heroes. Nova, Brightwing, Li Li, Tyrande and Sgt. Hammer are all right out. In addition, humans are far from the essence of nightmares.
Instead, head for the monsters. Zagara, Stitches, Anub’arak, Azmodan, Diablo and Abathur are your best bests. Lucky for you, they are also widely varied when it comes to their role on a team, so if you suck as a tank, you don’t have to play a tank to elicit pants wetting fear.
There is one character, however, that captures the imagination in a disgusting manner. Murky is the absolute worst. And if you don’t believe me, just remember what you feel when you hear that alarm clock sound right before he respawns for the 27th time. He’s the perfect slasher movie villain. No matter what you do, no matter where you battle him, he can never be killed.
Plus, what’s more horrifying than a child?
A murloc child.
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