Wednesday, June 16, 2010

City of Dimension - DJ Art

I created a character in late high school or early college named DJ Art. DJ was visually based on Vampire Hunter D (tall, slim, teenage girl boy-crush man-pretty, and with an awesome hat) but otherwise independent.

At that time, I had discovered the world of freeform message board roleplaying. My D&D group had broken up and I needed my RP fix. One board system in particular really drew me in: Venura. Venura consisted of a number of interrelated and completely independent roleplaying boards all housed under one convenient URL and utilizing one convenient log-in/account. By the time I arrived, many of the existing realms (each separate RP board was called a realm) were defunct, abandoned after months of use or isolation. Every few weeks I made a point of going down the list of realms to search for new arrivals. A few times, I also looked through the dead realms to see if there was anything of interest. One board was devoid of input except for a link to a Geocities or Angelfire webpage. On that page, there was a character submission form for the RP that would have taken place on Venura. The hook for the game was that no characters could have special powers, a wide departure from standard roleplaying (as the goal for many roleplayers is to explore something besides the mundane). The novelty of it struck me and I decided to envision such a character. Of course, being the rule-bending bastard that I was, I made DJ Art.

DJ Art stands for Dimension Jumper: Alternate Reality Timelines. DJ Art was an artist who owned a combination art supply store and gallery and probably taught a few art lessons on the side. He had no special powers. He married young but his wife died soon after (the reason was never established; perhaps it would be too cliche to say she died of complications during childbirth and the child also died, leaving him completely alone and burdened with a terrible loss that fueled his art for years to come; also, her name started with an L (Lenore, Laura, Lisa, Leanne, Lindsay?)).

One day, while closing up shop, he entered the back storeroom and found that beyond the doorway lied, instead of shelves of paints and paper and such, a vast, unending expanse of blackness. As he stared dumbfounded into the darkness, the doorway disappeared behind him. When his initial shock faded, he noticed a glowing light before him. A nonexistent spotlight shined down from the void and illuminated a small table standing on nothing.

(I always imagine the scene from Disney's Alice in Wonderland where she is walking the colored path and the broomdogthing sweeps it away; she sits down on a rock illuminated in the middle of a dark forest; when I was young, that forest was so dark on our VHS copy of Alice in Wonderland that it seemed like there was nothing in the background at all.)

The table was covered with a white linen cloth and a large lace doily. In the middle of the table stood a tall, thin crystal vase holding a single red rose. A mysterious voice entered his head (DJ had the distinct sense that the voice was not being heard by his ears) and told him that he needed to set right what was wrong. DJ questioned the voice, out loud (why not?), but to no avail. Moments later, he found himself standing the middle of a city park at dusk. Thus his first adventure began.

DJ is transported to various alternate realities and alternate timelines in this manner by the mysterious voice. Once there, he needs to figure out what is wrong and then fix it. He has to accomplish this with no special powers because he is just a normal human being. Once accomplished, he finds himself back in the void with the mysterious table and a wide open doorway. Sometimes, the doorway leads back to his store. Other times, it leads to another alternate reality. He eventually figured out that the table was the key to telling the difference. If it appears exactly as it did when he first entered the void, he is back home. If not, he is not. And it seems as though the further the table differs from that initial configuration, the further out of whack the alternate reality he enters.

One of my favorite stories with DJ is when he entered an AR (alternate reality) and saw a young woman who reminded him of his wife (and by reminded, I mean his wife and that girl were almost twins when it came to looks). He fell in love with her (which was very inappropriate, considering she was a teenager and he was in his 30s) but found out that what he needed to set right in this world was getting her to fall in love with another boy her age.

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