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The Watership Down Code

version 1.1

Through forests of symbols
(Charles Baudelaire, Les fleurs du mal)

On the home page of this site, and perhaps also on a couple of other WD-related places around the net, you might well have seen a collection of cryptic symbols starting with those magic letters WD. This is the Watership Down Code, devised by me and refined a little by Entei-rah (he of Thank U Stars fame). It operates in a very similar manner to the Furry Code, the Geek Code and so on, being a quick shorthand to tell other fans of your opinion on various matters. If you're familiar with such codes, then you'll know pretty much what to do, but even if you're not it should be fairly straightforward.

To use this code, what you need to do is to work your way through the sections we'll be getting to in a minute, choosing the answer from each that best fits your own opinions. Note that the code letters are case sensitive - G and g are not the same thing! Having done that, you stick them together in order in a long line, preceded by WD1.1 to show what sort of Code it is, and leaving a space between each code section, and you're all set! There are a few extra things to note, however, which I'll mention at the end, so make sure you read all of this page, despite its rather frightening length.=:P

Now then, here are the relevant sections:

1. WD section

W - Watership Down (the book) itself:
This is the touchstone, if you like; the point from which everything else follows.

W---  Vastly overrated drivel, terribly written.
W--   Never read it; don't much want to actually.
W-    Read it once; didn't like it much - what's the fuss about?
W     I've read it, but can take it or leave it.
W+    It was quite a good diversion.
W++   Read it several times; enjoyed it a lot.
W+++  I keep rereading it; my favourite book.
W++++ It's changed my life.

T - Tales From Watership Down:
The "semi-sequel" to WD itself, the recipient of wildly mixed reviews ever since it appeared.

T---  Never read it; don't want even to see its cover.
T--   Read it; wished I hadn't. A travesty.
T-    A big let-down, well below Mr Adams' best.
T     A bit of a mixed bag.
T+    A pleasant read, if nothing special.
T++   Worthy of the name "Watership Down".
T+++  Better than the original.

N - The 1978 Nepenthe film:
Starring John Hurt, Richard Briers etc.

N---  Burn it! Burn it now!
N--   A feeble mish-mash, almost unrecognisable from the book.
N-    A few decent bits, but not anything like enough.
N     Just another movie.
N+    One of the better animations around.
N++   Captures the spirit of WD, despite the changes.
N+++  Fantastic; a work of genius.

S - The 1999 TV series:
The one with Stephen Gately... and Primrose! =:P

S---  Please, someone, take it away and shoot it.
S--   Well, the music was okay. I suppose.
S-    Below par, though one or two good bits.
S     Average in every way.
S+    A pleasant surprise.
S++   Lived up to its billing; good stuff.
S+++  Can we have another series here, please?
S++++ I devote my life to the series. You mean there's something else out there?

R - Favourite WD rabbit (from the original book):
El-ahrairah and Rabscuttle are considered special cases, so are not included here. Rabbits mentioned in their stories, however (eg Hufsa) are allowed.

RAc   Acorn
RAv   Avens
RBi   Bigwig
RBv   Blackavar
RBy   Blackberry
RBl   Bluebell
RBu   Buckthorn
RCa   Campion
RCh   Chervil
RCl   Clover
RCo   Cowslip
RDa   Dandelion
RFi   Fiver
RHw   Hawkbit
RHa   Hazel
RHo   Holly
RHu   Hufsa
RHy   Hyzenthlay
RNe   Nelthilta
RPi   Pipkin
RSi   Silver
RSw   Silverweed
RSp   Speedwell
RSt   Strawberry
RTg   Thethuthinnang
RTh   The Threarah
RWo   Woundwort
R*    All of them!

(If any other rabbit is your favourite, spell their name out in full, eg RToadflax.)

G - General Woundwort
Many readers find themselves feeling in some way sympathetic towards Woundwort after his defeat - what do you think?

G---  He was an unmitigated tyrant, who deserved everything he got.
G--   A nasty, vicious bully with the tiniest spark of animality.
G-    He could have been great, but threw it away.
G     Although a dictator, he had some good ideas.
G+    I admire his devotion to Efrafa, even if I don't like his methods.
G++   What he did was necessary for his warren's survival.
G+++  A great leader, unfairly maligned; a great loss to Rabbitry.

L - The Lapine language:
This applies to both the original language as created by Richard Adams and to the extended language as seen in Frithaes!. How much of it do you know, and do you ever use it in place of English?

L--   Boring; it just gets in the way of the story.
L-    I have enough trouble saying "hrair".
L     I know Mr Adams' vocabulary, but don't use it myself.
L+    I've used "hraka!" as a swearword in the "outside world".
L++   I can manage the odd connected conversation in Lapine.
L+++  I'm pretty much bilingual; as fluent in Lapine as is possible.
L++++ Bleth lay "English"?

g - Roleplaying Games:
Roleplaying is popular within the WD community, and there are several virtual warrens around the place. How do you react to it?

g---  Waiting hours for someone to write "Gorse runs out of the burrow" - why?
g--   I don't see what the attraction is in it, but I suppose others do.
g-    I had a look, but it wasn't really for me.
g     I've dabbled once or twice.
g+    I do the odd bit of RP gaming, but not much.
g++   I am an active roleplayer.
g+++  I run an active WD-related RPG.
g++++ What's this "Real Life" I've heard some people talk about?

F - Fanfic:
Fan fiction (or "fanfic") refers to stories set within the WD world (this can be interpreted quite broadly) written by fans. What do you think of them?

F---  It's stealing Mr Adams' ideas, and ought to be stamped out.
F--   They do nothing for me; I'll stick with the original, thanks.
F-    I've looked at a couple; they don't interest me much.
F     I look at one or two very occasionally.
F+    I read WD fanfic from time to time.
F++   Good WD fanfic is great; shame there's not more.
F+++  I've read every WD fanfic I can find.
F++++ I've written my own WD-related fanfic.

A - WD art:
Same as above, but for fan art.

A---  I hate drawing.
A--   I don't hate it, but I'm useless at it so don't try.
A-    I've done the odd scrawl, but it didn't satisfy me.
A     Once or twice I've shown a picture to friends.
A+    I've contributed to a website or group.
A++   I'm fairly well-known as a WD artist.
A+++  My work is widely recognised as excellent.

w - WD websites (includes the Yahoo Group):
Of course, if you have no interest in WD websites whatever, then what are you doing here? =:P

w--   I have no interest in them whatever.
w-    I don't bother unless they're spectacularly good.
w     They help to fill in the time.
w+    I have several in my Favourites.
w++   I refer to them frequently.
w+++  I can't get enough of the things.
w++++ I own an active WD-related website.

C - Collecting WD memorabilia etc:

C---  I don't even have the book in the house.
C--   I own the book. That's it.
C-    I have a book or two, and maybe the film.
C     I pick up the occasional item, but only if it's cheap.
C+    I own the soundtrack album and film picture book.
C++   I keep an eye out for any WD stuff that turns up.
C+++  I buy even tangentially related things, eg other people's versions of Bright Eyes.
C++++ I spend 23 hours a day on eBay, have a complete Owsla of plush rabbits and once spent £50 on a table Richard Adams might conceivably have sat at.

D - The real Watership Down:
Have you been to the real Down in Hampshire, and how often?

D---  Never been; never will.
D--   I once looked at the map.
D-    I've seen photos.
D     I've seen it from the car/bus/whatever.
D+    I've been to at least one Watership location (eg Efrafa), but not the Down itself.
D++   I've been up the Down once.
D+++  I've been there several times.
D++++ I live in the beech hanger.

t - Transformation:
If you had the chance to become a Watership rabbit for real, how would you react? Note that this applies to rabbits, and more specifically Watership under Hazel-rah, only - your opinion of joining Efrafa, or of becoming, say, a yona, is completely irrelevant here.

t---  Ugh - the whole idea repels me.
t--   I'd say no immediately, without a shadow of a doubt.
t-    It's not for me, but I suppose I can see the attraction.
t     I'd have to think about it.
t+    It might be fun for a short while, though I'd have reservations.
t++   Yeah, why not? Not for the rest of my life, though.
t+++  Absolutely - if it was reversible.
t++++ Even if it wasn't reversible, I'd jump at the chance.

P - The Private Life of the Rabbit (RM Lockley):
Ronald Lockley's classic work is well known as the book which Richard Adams used as a reference when ensuring that the WD rabbits behaved correctly.

P--   It's a vicious, unnecesary book reminiscent of Nazi experimentation.
P-    Lockley's good research is spoilt by his unpleasant methods.
P     I have mixed feelings.
P+    There were a few bits that left a bad taste, but more that was good.
P++   It was a very interesting read, though one or two of the myxomatosis sections weren't fun.
P+++  Absolutely fascinating; I was utterly engrossed throughout.

r - Real rabbits:
This section refers to wild rabbits - obviously answers will depend to some extent on your nationality (eg I can't imagine many Australians going for r+++), but I've written the section with Britain and Oryctolagus cuniculus in mind.

r---  I hate them; it's a shame myxomatosis didn't finish the job.
r--   They should be exterminated, though humanely.
r-    They're an expensive pest, about which people are far too sentimental.
r     They need controlling, but are important to the food chain.
r+    Farmers ought to complain a little less, though some control is probably necessary.
r++   They shouldn't be controlled at all; let the natural predators do their job.
r+++  We should actively encourage more wild rabbits.

One special code here:

r101  I breed rabbits ("one rabbit means 'undred an' one").

2. Non-WD section

I've made this very short and simple, but there were a few things I couldn't really leave out:

a - Age:

a37   I am 37 years old.
a2*   I am a twenty-something.
a#    That information is for my ears only.

s - Sex:

sm    Buck (male)
sf    Doe (female)
s#    Wouldn't you like to know? =;)

n - Nationality:
Use the international three-letter code for your nation, in CAPS; for example:

nGBR  Great Britain
nCDN  Canada
nESP  Spain

c - Computers:

Yeah, I know this isn't Watership-related as such, but every Code has this section in some way, shape or form! I've simplified it from usual, though, by removing all the guff about what operating system people use:

c+++  I spend hours and hours in front of the screen; I write everything in Assembly.
c++   Computers are important to me; I've dabbled with programming.
c+    They're fun; handy things to have around the place.
c     If I want to use one, I can, but it doesn't bother me much.
c-    I'm not that confident with computers.
c--   I need serious hand-holding.
c---  Hey, I'm still trying to find the on switch!


For each of these codes, you can use the following symbols as modifiers:

?     Uncertain of my opinion, or don't have enough information to answer - eg put T? if you haven't read TFWD.
#     I'd prefer not to say - eg a# means "how old I am is my business".
>     Hope to move from one code to another - put this between two suffixes, eg D++>+++ means that you've been up the real Down, but hope to make it there more times.
/     Put this between multiple answers - eg RDa/Sp/Ac means that Dandelion, Speedwell and Acorn are your joint favourite WD rabbits. You can also use it if you're borderline between two categories.

An example

Okay, having worked out all your various answers, you need to put them all together to create your personal WD Code. All you have to do is to string them together, in the order they were given above, with a space between each. You should also prefix the string with WD1.1, otherwise someone might try decoding it as (eg) a Star Trek code, and get some very strange ideas about you! As an illustration of how it works, here's my own (Loganberry's) WD Code:

WD1.1 W++++ T- N++ S-- RPi G-- L+++ g- F++++ A w++++ C+++ D++>++++ t++ P++ r++ a29 sm nGBR c++

You can see from this that, for example, I've been up the Down once but hope to return many times (D++>++++); and that I'm not the world's greatest artist (A). You get the idea, I hope.

At the moment, there's no automatic encoder, so you'll have to work your code out for yourself from the spec given here. However, Entei-rah has written a script that will accept a code string like the one I gave above, and turn it into a nice-looking HTML box that you can place on your homepage, LiveJournal profile or whatever. The box is a rather pleasant light blue by default, but you can easily edit the HTML to change that if you feel like it. Find the script here:


When you click on a code generated by that script, it will be automatically decoded for you here (you can also enter codes manually into the box at the bottom of the page):


Note that the specs of this version of the WD Code are very slightly different to the original v1.0 version (though not enough to cause major problems), so please remember always to include WD1.1 in front of your code string. And there we have it - you can now insert your code string into your signature wherever you go, to show that not only are you a fan of Watership Down (well, unless you chose W---, I suppose!), but you're a fan who's committed enough to enjoy appearing completely mad to the outside world! =:D