Homestuck, the massively popular webcomic that turns 10 this year, often contains hidden messages, references, and more. One of the more interesting things that you will come across if you start to keep track of them all is when the in-game character, Scratch, asks the player not to bet on him. Why would Scratch ask to not be bet on him? Let’s dive into the text to find out more.
Why Would Scratch Ask to Not Be Bet On Him?
The answer to this question can be found in Homestuck’s story, The Beartman Conspiracy. In this comic, the player character, John, is trying to win a bet with Scratch, the game’s main villain. They are wagering whether John will be able to seduce a stripper named Amber, or whether Scratch will seduce her instead. The strip starts off with a standard ‘wagering’ joke, where Scratch tells John that he shouldn’t bet on him, because “Im not that sort of guy.” Then, at the end of the comic, Scratch reveals that he lied about being ‘that sort of guy’, and that, in fact, he is in fact a betting man. So, it seems that this is where the character got the idea that it’s not a good idea to bet on him. Just like that, the mystery is solved.
But what if you want to know more about the history of Scratch’s request and why it is important to the plot of Homestuck? Let’s go back to when John first meets Scratch in the game’s prologue. In this part of the comic, Scratch is playing the role of the ‘villain’ who has just kidnapped Amber and bound her to his lair. This is pretty typical for Scratch, who usually does this as a prank or to teach the players a lesson. In this case, Scratch kidnaps Amber because he thinks that she will make an excellent bait to win the bet that he and John are wagering over who will seduce her first.
Roughly 7 Years Before The Events of Homestuck
It was just over 7 years ago that Homestuck began as a short story on tumblr, where the in-game character, Scratch, began as a character that Drew Ford, Homestuck’s creator, would draw in comics as a hobby. In one of those comics, which took place during these early development stages of Homestuck, Scratch kidnaps the player character, John, and forces him to play a game of rock, paper, scissors against a friend, who was acting as a stripper. Although not the actual game, the idea for the strip came from Scratch’s desire to play rock, paper, scissors against a friend who was also his friend. This early version of the game, which Ford named “Scribble”, played a vital role in the development of Homestuck, as it was one of the very first places that Drew Ford went to when he became stuck on a particular plot point in the story. According to Ford, “It was really one of the first times that I had ever thought about trying to make a webcomic. I just started doodling on a napkin and was like, ‘Okay, maybe I’ll try and do something about this.’”
5 Years Before The Events Of Homestuck
In the years that followed, Ford would continue to develop the character of Scratch and eventually turn him into a full-fledged antagonist in the story. During this time, the character would show up in various places in the story, sometimes providing input or influencing the direction that the story would take. For example, in The Beartman Conspiracy, mentioned above, Scratch is the main antagonist of the piece, but he also has a small role in the development of the plot and characters in the story.
In some cases, Scratch would show up in a place where he was supposed to be, but for some reason or another, he would say or do the wrong thing, and then some event or another would happen as a result. For instance, in one of the comics that Ford drew when Scratch was first created, the player character, John, decides to trick Scratch into thinking that he is going to run away with his friend’s ex-girlfriend. Scratch then forces the players to play a game of hide and seek, which ends in disaster when the two friends end up fighting and John loses track of time. As a result, at the start of the next chapter, the two friends are in the middle of a battle and the player character, John, accidentally sets off a bomb, which severely damages the house and kills three of its occupants, including himself and his friends. In this example, Scratch’s seemingly random behavior serves as a trigger for all sorts of horrible things to happen to the players in the story. In other cases, however, Scratch would show up at the right time and place, but some event or another would happen anyway and he wouldn’t be responsible for it. For example, in the first chapter of The Beartman Conspiracy, Scratch shows up at just the right time and place to help John win the bet that they are playing, but he then proceeds to push John down a flight of stairs, which causes John to break his arm in two places and enter a coma. In this case, Scratch did get the player involved in an accident, but not because he was being purposefully malicious; Scratch just happened to be there when it happened, but the player would have broken his arm regardless.
2 Years Before The Events Of Homestuck
Between the ages of 19 and 21, Ford would draw several more comics that would eventually become parts of Homestuck. Two years before the events of Homestuck, in one of these comics, Scratch interrupts a fight that the player characters, John and Max, are having and asks if he can play a game of five questions, instead. Max agrees and the two of them play a game of Hangman, where Scratch gets all the letters right, but the two friends do not. As a result, they are both expelled from their high school. This is significant because, throughout the story, the two would go on to have different high schools and eventually become best friends again, which is why this game was significant for the development of the plot of Homestuck.
In a later version of this same comic, Max, who is played by the artist, Tuan Nguyen, leaves a note for the players that indicates that he is in love with a girl named Anna. The note then says, “I know what you’re thinking. It’s been two years since we’ve been together. I want to tell you that I love you.” So, it seems that this is where Max got the idea to write the note and tell the players that he loved them. Although, in this case, Scratch says that he knows what the players are thinking, in other comics where he does not, the players never find this out. So, it seems that it was not always clear what Scratch was thinking and what he was saying. Sometimes, he would say one thing, and sometimes, he would say another. The problem was that the players never seemed to know where he was coming from and what he was truly thinking or intending on doing. It’s as if he had two separate minds and sometimes, they would even disagree with each other. In one of the later versions of this same comic, Scratch writes that he plays the game with Anna every day and that it is the only thing that keeps him alive, which may hint that he has an unhealthy obsession with the game. But, in the earlier versions, Scratch seems perfectly normal and there is no indication that he has an obsession with the game or any other kind of hobby or pastime.