META: A New Meta, A Grand Design - WISP(?)

deucexm deucexm at
Fri Jul 8 00:42:22 PDT 2016

On Thursday, July 7, 2016 at 9:19:18 PM UTC-5, Drew Perron wrote:
> That said, I still very much support the 
> "contest" aspect of the HCC, and there definitely needs to be a time limit on 
> such a thing...

I find it important to note here that I'm not advocating replacing the HCC by 
any means.  I do like it!  I just wish I could participate more often.

> What I'm most interested is a mix of thematic, aesthetic, and archetypal 
> elements. I think we probably want something relatively loose, but with enough 
> firmness to it that we have something to play off of - to emphasize similarities 
> and differences, to be able to subvert themes or make them stronger and grander.

And this is pretty much the core idea of what I was going for with the meta tag.
Things that serve as a common... point of departure, almost, like a baseline, 
but that baseline can be played with (subverted, inverted) by virtue of 
it /being/ the known baseline.

So - a few things I've come up with, for recurring elements.

1) Powers originate from an eldritch entity that is either benevolent or at 
least neutral in regards to human/sentient beings.

In the original story-bit that sparked this off, said eldritch being randomly 
brushed up against a human in passing, giving them reality-warping powers, and 
sort of... forgot about them.  Not in the 'humans are pathetic and beneath my 
notice' sense, but more like 'oh, er, haha... whoops.'  Depending on the story, 
the character might not even be aware of the entity, though...

2) Powers, when used, have second-order effects unrelated to the manifestation 
of the power itself, due to the entity's reality-warping effects.

Paris is a healer who sees herself as a guardian angel, and so gets literal 
angel wings and a halo.  When she uses her powers, clocks (and any other 
timekeeping devices) run backwards in a bubble around her.  Her powers have 
nothing to do with time manipulation; the second-order effects are due to the 
entity powering her.  Why clocks in particular?  For Paris, no reason (yet).  
For another character, maybe everything (and it's not necessarily clocks; maybe 
the land turns greenish blue in a hexagon around them.)

3) Staves.  All kinds of staves.

This was the primary visual/tactile element I settled on - there needs to be 
more than just this, but definitely this for sure.  A staff is a magical sort 
of thing (as I usually imagine it), but so long as it's /a staff/, it works.  
Staff used as a vehicle, like a broomstick?  Check.  Staff that opens up into a 
long-rifle?  Check.  Staff that drops anchors and becomes a Wave Motion 
Gunstaff?  Maybe a bit excessive, but I'll buy it.  Polearms?  You could make 
the case, sure.  Plain old quarterstaff for smacking things?  Absolutely.

4) Healing - on multiple but equally important levels.

This goes with a phrase: 'Heal the Wound, Bridge the Gap, Fill the Void'.  Not 
necessarily just healing as an occupation - doctor, cleric, etc. - but healing 
people, processes, worlds; and whatever that entails.  The idea is that WISP 
stories are about people who are about making a difference for the better - 
literally healing people (the wound), connecting people or working with groups 
or broken processes (the gap), or even planetary or cosmic problems (the void).  
But always, /always/ with the idea of 'making it better'.  Maybe without success, 
or maybe the intent and the results don't match up; but 'healing' is the idea.

5) Passing the torch/finishing the fight.

Something of an extension of the previous idea, but this is where people (and 
series, internally or externally) can connect.  Individual actions count for a 
great deal, but when someone falls short - whether by age or illness or lack of 
motivation or Face-Heel Turn or any of a thousand things - someone can carry on 
and keep going, and not allow a good cause to be lost for lack of a champion.

There should probably be a little more, especially for distinctive visuals, but 
I'd like to hear what people think of these.

- Colin

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