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Dragon’s Dogma 2 Has Forced Trolls To Get Creative

Most players see Dragonsplague as a hazard to be avoided at all costs. Trolls see it as an opportunity

Capcom

Dragon’s Dogma 2 is not the sort of game in which somebody can team kill you, taunt you mid-fight, or snatch away an item that was rightfully yours. Other players can’t physically inhabit your world at all, in fact, which rules out most traditional forms of trolling. But they can send NPC sidekicks, pawns, to do their dirty work. This is where things get interesting. 

Normally I’m not somebody who scrolls social media and gawks at troll compilation videos – I stopped being 12 years old decades ago – but I can respect when constraints draw novel forms of creativity out of people, regardless of medium. There is an art to both the constraints themselves and the plots people end up devising to wriggle free of them. These things deserve to be appreciated. 

Dragon’s Dogma 2 players tend to troll each other via one of three main means: Dragonsplague, the Sphinx, and forged items. The first is the most interesting, if only because Dragonsplague has just completely broken players’ brains. For those not in the know, Dragonsplague is an affliction pawns can pick up while out and about, seemingly from coming into contact with a dragon. If left untreated – by which I mean, if you don’t unceremoniously chuck your pawn into the sea the second they start showing symptoms – a pawn will eventually go on a rampage and murder everybody in an entire city. This can include crucial quest NPCs, who are a pain to bring back. And though it’s simple enough to figure out if your pawn inhaled a giant gulp of wyrm germs while in your presence, pawns can also adventure with other players, picking up or spreading the disease as they go.

The brilliance of Dragonsplague lies in its opacity. While Dragon’s Dogma 2 does repeatedly inform you of the affliction’s existence, it only talks about symptoms in vague terms. As a result, many players hear what to really look out for – pawns with glowing red eyes and a sudden penchant for disobedience – from other players online, often in passing. That means there’s no central authority on the matter, no truly infallible source. This has caused Dragonsplague to take on a life of its own. Online, players frantically speculate about causes and symptoms, asking if even slightly aberrant behavior is a sign that it’s brine time for their little guys. Many have confessed to murderous paranoia

Within the game’s systems, which do not allow for direct communication, some players have taken to sending rotten food back with a pawn to signify that it’s infected. Others, however, force ill pawns of mass destruction to wear helmets that cover their eyes, so that players will be none the wiser when deciding whether or not to bring a pawn into their world.

“I watched my husband hire a 200+ [in-game currency] pawn with a helmet on,” wrote one player. “As soon as he did, he got the Dragonsplague pop up. This was our first [time] seeing it. I was laughing and felt so bad for him.”

There’s also an even more chaotic option: give your pawn red eyes in the character creator so that everybody – yourself included – will always have to wonder.   

“The worst thing about this plague is not the plague itself,” wrote a player. “It's the people who intentionally add red eyes to their pawns to fuck with other people.”

While helmets and red eyes are pretty common at this point, I also came across another approach that seems more… bespoke. In addition to other players’ pawns, Dragon’s Dogma 2 also allows you to hire Capcom-made “official” pawns. Apparently they, too, can catch Dragonsplague, if you work hard enough.

"Whoever purposely afflicted this lvl 1 official pawn with the plague, you are evil and I love you for it," wrote a player. "Afflicting Dragonsplague isn’t straightforward. A pawn gets it from fighting [high-level] drakes, or getting infected by another pawn, so someone’s been hiring lvl 1 official pawns just to pass the plague on."

Many players have pondered the point of Dragonsplague, to which I reply: interesting interactions like these! It’s also worth noting that despite all the shenanigans and associated paranoia, Dragonsplague is still pretty rare. Many players report not encountering it for the duration of entire 80+ hour playthroughs. I just hit the 50-hour mark, and I’ve yet to come face to face with an afflicted pawn. In that sense, Dragonsplague is akin to quicksand for those of us who grew up in the ‘90s: a grave threat that you now realize hasn’t occupied nearly as many of your waking hours as you were expecting. It’s a shame, then, that player complaints about the looming specter of Dragonsplague seem to have gotten to Capcom, which is patching the game to reduce the disease’s frequency and make it easier to spot. 

Other forms of Dragon’s Dogma 2 trolling aren’t quite so elaborate, making them more pervasive. Without getting too far into spoiler territory, one quest requires you to bring a Sphinx a certain pawn, and players have taken to creating countless pawns with the same name to muddy the waters. The game also contains a character who will forge a copy of almost any item for you, but only some forgeries retain the original item’s abilities. In addition, forgeries of rare items tend to have subtly misspelled names. I could be wrong, but this system sure seems like it was designed with trolling in mind. A handful of quests and key items aside, it’s not really useful for anything else. Mostly, it’s just very funny. 

“I was gifted an Unmaking Arrow, and I was like ‘Sweet, they loved my pawn!’” said one player of a time they believed they had just been handed the most powerful item in the game. “And then looking through my inventory [I] saw that instead of ‘Unmaking,’ it was an ‘Unmasking’ arrow.”

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