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Monday Mysteries – Paper Mario and The Dark Prognosticus
The Dark Prognosticus, with the terrible power to bring its owner despair, is key to the plot of Super Paper Mario, easily the strangest and most serious entry in the Paper Mario series.
The magical prophecy book is responsible for giving Count Bleck the knowledge necessary to destroy worlds, but we never come to know its original writer, or where they gained such destructive knowledge in the first place.
As such, this puts the Dark Prognosticus into a prime spot for examination in our weekly feature here at Leviathyn – the Monday Mystery. Last week, our own Coty Sugg looked at one dark part of the Mario universe, and here’s another. Could we possibly learn the identity of the prophet responsible for the book?
In order to understand the dark, we must first understand the light. It is only natural that when a book such as the Dark Prognosticus exists, it will not be alone.
Its counterpart, the Light Prognosticus, was written to counter the dark book, and doesn’t actually tell a prophecy so much as it details how the destruction of all worlds can be prevented, and by whom. It speaks of a “hero in red” who we know as Mario. The origins and purpose of the Light Prognosticus are clear, yet we know so little about the Dark Prognosticus.
Through the twin bartenders Garson and Carson, some possibilities for the Dark Prognosticus and its origins emerge, although impossible to confirm. Before we go into those, let’s try to understand the origins of prophecy in general.
It is thought that prophecies are messages influenced by the divine, and play deeply into the functions of many real world religions. The Dark Prognosticus may be the product of an incredibly nihilistic religion, or the work of some sort of dark god: the kind you’d expect to find wandering the confines of an H.P. Lovecraft story, not a Nintendo game.
It’s incredibly difficult to know the exact nature of the book, as even in references to thousands of years in the past through Garson and Carson’s stories, the book already exists.
What we do come to grasp from their stories is that countries have battled and fallen over it, it became the property of the Tribe of the Ancients, and may have been used to create the Pixl Queen, the first of the Pixl race. The book’s influence in the development of the world is clear, but to what purpose?
As the book contains the knowledge to create the Chaos Heart and open the Void, leading to the destruction of all worlds, why would it also find itself involved in building the history of a world it was forecast to help destroy?
Perhaps one of Carson’s stories can help us to unravel the mystery. For those who haven’t played Super Paper Mario, I should warn you that there are spoilers ahead. It is possible that Dimentio, one of Count Bleck’s minions, and eventual usurper of the dark power of the Chaos Heart, wrote the Dark Prognosticus.
But why? Apparently, the Dark Prognosticus makes reference to a being much like Dimentio, and that convinces Count Bleck to enlist him as a minion – Carson calls it fishy, and leaves us to speculate on whether Dimentio wrote the prophecy himself.
Dimentio, given his capacity towards manipulating dimensions, is also quite capable of doing so to others, like he demonstrates with Count Bleck – it’s very possible that he simply derived pleasure from creating an elaborate construction regarding the end of the world.
Since the prophecy detailed a “man in green” (who we know, of course, as Luigi), perhaps Dimentio wrote in much of the other pieces of the prophecy to simply entertain himself until the time came? He certainly has the type of sadistic personality that would enjoy causing devastation.
If Dimentio did indeed write the Dark Prognosticus, there’s an important thing to consider – he is thousands of years old (provided the history of the book that we learn is accurate). If that’s true, I think it makes Dimentio an incredibly interesting character – one whose only satisfaction before the total annihilation of the world is to slowly ruin it.
If Dimentio didn’t write the Dark Prognosticus, then its writer was likely someone never mentioned in Super Paper Mario, leaving the intention of the book much more ambiguous. With Dimentio, the book served partially as a means to an end, and a means of entertainment for the thousands of years he had to wait for his prophecies to come true.
If it was simply the work of an unknown writer, it’s impossible to guess their motives – but it’s very possible they communed with some sort of dark god: again, something I never thought I’d be talking about in regards to a Paper Mario game.
This is the kind of in-game mystery that has always stuck with me, as the Dark Prognosticus is an integral piece of the plot of Super Paper Mario, but we’re never given the truth about it. It’s the kind of thing that causes speculation, and while we’ll never know the truth about it, I’ll always wonder about it.