One of the great things about Neopia is that so much of it is left up to our imaginations—and
different players can imagine Neopia in vastly different ways. Nowhere is this
more apparent than in the pages of the Neopian Times. In the same issue of the
NT, you can find one story in which Neopets are dependent upon their owners like
real-world pets, another in which they are more like children and their owners
like parents, and another in which they run their own lives and have no owners
at all. You can find numerous stories about characters like the Court Dancer and
the Ghost Lupe, each one offering a completely different version of these characters’
pasts. You can read all sorts of different theories about how Neopia works and
why things are the way they are. This is one of the great things about the NT—that
so many different visions of this unique world can be expressed side by side,
and that as contradictory as they may be, they are all valid.
But every now and then, one author or artist’s vision comes to be shared by
others—written about by other authors until it’s almost canon, the accepted
way that Neopia is. Some ideas answer a question or solve a problem that everyone
shares, some owe their success to the skill and popularity of their authors,
and some are just too fun not to spread. All of them seem to have something
special that makes them stand out from the crowd, and a few of these influential
ideas, and the history behind them, are outlined below.
For us humans, getting around the world of Neopia is a cinch. A new world is
always just a click or two away. But things aren’t so easy for our pets. How
do they get from place to place? Many parts of Neopia can be walked to, of course,
and boats can cover the transportation to others. But what about Faerieland,
the top of Terror Mountain, or the Darigan Citadel?
Muas solved this problem with her invention of the Uni Taxi. Its first appearance
was in her short story “Going
Home” when a Shoyru summoned a Uni Taxi in order to make his way to the
Shop Wizard through the rain. This mode of transportation became a staple in
her stories after that, and she even mentioned it in her article, “Your
#1 Travel Guide: Faerieland”.
Scriptfox borrowed the concept for a short story of his own, “I’ve
Got Wings”, and soon more and more authors were making use of it.
The idea has changed a bit over time, though. Muas’ original Uni Taxi simply
involved riding a Uni to wherever you needed to go-- for a fee, of course. (It’s
interesting to note that this method of transportation has since become “official,”
as we saw Uni used for travel across both earth and sky during the Meridell
plots.) But for some writers, Uni Taxi refers instead to a sort of wheel-less
chariot or carriage that is pulled through the air by a Uni. Eyrie Taxi has
become another popular alternative nowadays—again with pets either riding directly
on the Eyrie or being pulled along by one. But however the idea has evolved,
it’s clear that Muas made her mark on the Neopian Times and how we see Neopia—all
because she just wanted a way for her characters to be able to get around.
What’s in a Name?
Everybody knows Dr_Death, the grizzled yellow Techo who scowls at you when
you go to the Pound to abandon a pet. But what about his counterpart, the lovely
pink Uni who smiles at you when you come to adopt a new family member? Unlike
Dr_Death, she was given no official name or history, so it was left up to Neopets
players to fill in the gaps with their imaginations. And, with the help of the
NT, one player’s vision came out on top.
Karma_leafbarer’s comic “Poor Dr_Death” showed the more human side of the infamous
Techo, while also getting quite a few laughs at his expense. But while the comic
may have been named after him, his co-worker played an important role in it
as well, and so, it was necessary that she too have a name. And that name was
Rose. We first saw Dr_Death call her by this name in the second
comic, and we later learned that this was short for “Rosemadder”
when the faerie queen used her full name to scold her.
But Karma didn’t just give Rose a name—she gave her a personality. And that’s
a big part of why the name has stuck. Rosemadder was the perfect foil for Dr_Death—sweet
and perky and always willing to tease the “poor” doctor. Her personality was
expanded on even further in two series that Karma wrote about the mismatched
duo. The Neopets Team still insists that the pink pound Uni has no official
name, and she probably never will, but most anyone who remembers “Poor Dr_Death”
will always think of her as Rosemadder. After all, a Rose by any other name
might smell as sweet, but she probably wouldn’t be half as funny.
The Silly Side of Sloth
Dr. Sloth was Neopia’s first villain, a frightening figure who made several
attempts to conquer the fledgling world of Neopia. In early Neopian Times stories
and articles, he’s represented as a cruel and menacing fellow—a real threat
and someone you wouldn’t want to cross. But somewhere along the way, Sloth started
to become… funny. Perhaps it’s only natural that we cope with our fears by learning
to laugh at them, or perhaps people started to realize that with all those failed
invasions of his, there must be something humorous happening behind the scenes.
Or maybe it’s just the hairdo. Either way, while you can still find stories
that show Sloth’s serious side, over time it’s his silly side that has taken
center stage in the NT.
It’s difficult to say when this trend started, or if it even started with the
NT at all. But even if it originated elsewhere, the NT has definitely played
a major role in advancing the now-popular view of Sloth as laughing stock instead
of fearsome villain. For my NP, the first instance of Sloth-based humor in the
NT would have to be Littlelysshu’s “Evil
Overlording for Dummies”, a hilarious guide in which Dr. Sloth offers advice
on such things as proper villain attire and choosing an evil alias. This series
got most of its laughs from Dr. Sloth’s guide rather than from Dr. Sloth himself,
but it showed that there was humor to be found in the great green one, and got
the ball rolling toward later works.
It would take forever to name every work that’s ever taken a humorous look
at Dr. Sloth—a testament to just how influential this idea has been—but a few
early examples bear mentioning. Battlesunn had a story published in Issue 46
Vacation” in which Sloth tries, unsuccessfully, to get a bit of rest and
relaxation on the beach. Just two issues later, Pseudo’s “Excerpts
from Dr. Sloth’s Webjournal” gave readers a revealing (perhaps a bit too
revealing) peek into his innermost thoughts. And, of course, the comic section
was the most natural place for jokes at Sloth’s expense to take root and grow.
Two prominent Sloth-based comics series were “Meet
the Sloths” by Smudgeoffudge and “A
Little Place Called Neopia” by Tracypaper12.
These are just a few of the influential ideas that have impacted the Neopian
Times, and the way that we see Neopia, over the years. Who knows what the next
influential idea will be? Perhaps it will come from you...