Imagine being a slave to convention and never living up to your full potential. That is the worthless fate of the majority of mankind. Not Dhoulmagus, though. This man is the most powerful jester in the world, stunning towns with high-level magic and traveling the world doing whatever he pleases. This isn’t an article for taking pity on Dhoulmagus, it’s about how amazing he is and how pitiful everyone else is. His expressive personality and quick wit make him the most brilliant villain the Dragon Quest series has ever seen.
One of the defining aspects of Dhoulmagus is his voice. It never leaves your head. He is very well-spoken and grasps each syllable with eloquence, wringing the life out of every word. He has an evil tone but escapes the cliche with the high-pitched certainty of a master student. With Dragon Quest VIII being the first game in the series to include voices, you can tell they really wanted to get the most out of it. All the cast do a great job, but Dhoulmagus is the epitome of their vision to make the series more expressive. Such.. a.. pity.. words dripping with condescending sympathy. He knows he’s better than anyone else, but wishes the world was more appreciative of his genius. Here’s a cutscene with some good speech, it contains spoilers from when you fight him but there’s sadly not much I can find on Dragon Quest in English on Youtube. There’s also this 3DS exclusive cutscene that added some interesting backstory to him. I’m going to write about this more later, so leave now to avoid spoilers and a case of the willies.
This magical man is made even bigger by his aura. All-in-all, he’s just one person with a lot of power. An evil force that can be stopped. However, his presence casts an almighty shadow on the world and makes him feel unstoppable. His identity is largely communicated through the world of DQVIII as an insane jester who can walk on water. A few people saw him walk from one continent to another, and word spread like wildfire. What a feat.
The second-hand accounts of his actions create terrifying imagery, the kind you’d hear about in stories and myths from the old days. In this game he is a living legend. People talk about castles being ruined, mysterious fires being lit, items being stolen, and murders happening out of the blue. The extravagant attire worn by Dhoulmagus gives him a connection to every deed. When a jester walks through town in that outfit, everybody remembers it. His image gets bigger with his travels, along with his ego and power.
Dhoulmagus leaves an evil footprint that makes his presence a central part of your progression in the game. It’s not just felt through the stories in the towns, but your own actions. At one point you are close to Dhoulmagus in proximity, and all the treasure chests you find in that area have already been opened. Chilling.
With all these evil deeds and intent, the scariest part about Dhoulmagus is not within any of these things. No, there’s something much worse. The part that hit home to me is just how… relatable he is.
Before becoming an evil force, Dhoulmagus was just a regular apprentice that nobody appreciated. His master Rylus always gave him menial chores to do, and never took interest in Dhoulmagus as a person. Dhoulmagus wanted to improve his magic to make people happy, but never got the chance to. He was trying his best to fit in, but became more bitter with each day. Eventually he became fed up with being an average magician and snuck a peek at some of Rylus’s work. He read about a sceptre that contained enormous power and disappeared to pursue it. When he came back… heh he he he ehe… hahahah ha ha ha hah ah! He confronted Rylus, killed him, then waged war on the world with the liberation of wielding the power he always dreamed about.
Before learning all this backstory in the 3DS version, it seems like he’s just an evil clown possessed by an evil force. Still really cool and interesting, but there’s a much stronger feeling driving his actions if you piece everything together. With a mastery of magic, he’s having fun for the first time in his life. He starts treating humans like toys and the way he talks about people is terrifying. He loves himself and grows stronger and more creative with the enjoyment of each deed.
There is only one possible outcome from all this madness.
I hope everyone has a case of the willies now. I’ll end this with a fantastic cosplay of Dhoulmagus from the official Dragon Quest VIII commercials that aired in Japan, it captures his sinister intentions perfectly. Imagine this guy rolling into town.
The last StreetPass you will ever get.