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Needs Help: Baleful Polymorph get usage counts

 1 johnnye, Fri, 21st Sep '12 11:58:54 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
Seems like a case of missing supertrope - this trope is specifically "a character is forcibly transformed into a harmless animal", but as far as I can tell there's nothing for "a character is forcibly transformed into an animal" (eg, a very un-harmless bear in Brave).

I'd say Expand this trope's definition, as it doesn't seem like a sufficiently significant difference in meaning to bother creating a whole new supertrope or sister trope.

Alternatively, people are just being overly picky with this trope's existing definition, and the "harmless" part was never supposed to be a necessary condition. It's slightly ambiguous as it is.
Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
World's Toughest Milkman
The name would seem to fit all sorts of things: being turned into a table or a vegetable.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
[up]: I think getting turned into an inanimate object needs to be a different trope. Here is my YKTTW.

Dragon Writer
The key feature of a Baleful Polymorph is using transformation as a tactical weapon - e.g. to get rid of somebody.

Brother Bear is clearly the Karmic Transformation variety.
World's Toughest Milkman
Nothing in the description of Baleful Polymorph would seem to suggest anything that requires the target be made an animal, except the statement that it should be an animal. If someone were turned into a carrot or a rock to remove them from combat, it would be played exactly the same way in the work. The current definition is The Same but More Specific to a broader trope that includes vegetables and minerals.

Animals are probably the most common result of a Baleful Polymorph, but I can't see any meaningful way that the trope is different if the result is not an animal. And tropes are supposed to be about meaning.

On the other hand, I'm not so sure about turning people into non-harmless things like bears. That doesn't seem like the same trope. (Though I admit it fits the name, which may be too broad and/or misleading.)

Do we need a wick check here?

edited 22nd Sep '12 2:18:38 AM by Xtifr

"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
 6 johnnye, Sat, 22nd Sep '12 4:56:32 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
OK, so the basic meaning of the trope is "transformation used as a weapon to get someone out of the way", yes? In that case, I don't see why inanimate objects shouldn't count, but dangerous animals would be an unlikely choice (unless the spell backfires somehow).

However, we're still missing the supertrope of "someone is deliberately transformed against their will by somebody else".

edited 22nd Sep '12 4:57:55 AM by johnnye

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
Dragon Writer
There is currently the redirect "Involuntary Transformation" but, like most redirects, I doubt anybody really uses it. It would make for a fairly broad supertrope though.
The Animorphism page features a section for people being turned into animals against their will, regardless of how dangerous the animal is. My opinion is that this section should be made into a separate page and all animal transformations on the Baleful Polymorph page that aren't already on the Animorphism page be moved there.

Baleful Polymorph ought to cover any transformation that turns the target into something inoffensive, whether that's a bunny, sheep, or floorlamp. The Trope Namer is a spell in D&D that turns you into a small animal, but it could easily be expanded to include a potted plant or inanimate object. It can overlap with And I Must Scream.

Being turned into a bear is not that trope. We already have The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body for where remaining in a transformed state for too long has serious negative mental effects, as in Brave, and that covers the "baleful" part when you aren't becoming something that's just physically incapable.

edited 25th Sep '12 7:28:53 AM by Escher

World's Toughest Milkman
[up]Ah, that certainly explains where the animal requirement came from. It didn't seem to make sense to me, but if it was a feature of the trope namer, then I understand how it got thrown in. But limitations of the namer should not determine the boundaries of the trope.

If we do get rid of the animal requirement (which I strongly think we should), perhaps we should make a redirect from People Turning Into Chairs. [lol]
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
I have removed the "animal" rule from Baleful Polymorph.

The trope page already has some non-animal examples: "candy ball", "dolls", "vegetables", "plant things", "living sculpture", "pumpkin", "bell", "office supplies", "flower or animal or rock or something", "apples", "statue", "bed warmer", "mobile eggplant", "scarecrows", "mushrooms", "talking hat", "dolls" again, "skeleton", "shrubbery", "a vegetable or a pastry", "flowers", "furniture". I have just now added "a block of wood".
World's Toughest Milkman
Ok, that seems like it was the main problem. I'm not a fan of the current name, but unless someone wants to do a wick check to see if it's actually causing misuse (e.g. for being transformed into nonharmless things, like bears), we can't justify changing it.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
World's Toughest Milkman
Bump. Since no one stepped up to take my wick check challenge, I think we have to call this done.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
Dragon Writer
With 1200 wikilinks it is a steep challenge to begin with.

edited 30th Nov '12 6:28:03 PM by Stratadrake

World's Toughest Milkman
That's not even enough to require checking more than the default of 50. A wick check is supposed to either cover the square root of the number of wicks, or 50, whichever is larger. And the square root of 1200 is only 35

But yeah, I'm not trying to encourage a wick-check here. I'm totally neutral, and just as happy to see this declared done.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
 16 johnnye, Sat, 1st Dec '12 5:07:17 AM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
So the wick-check is for people being turned into non-inoffensive things? OK, I'm game.

EDIT: After checking forty, I've only found three clearly misused examples, plus a couple that are rather general examples of "people are turned into various things, including harmless animals".

OK, here goes:

First 40 wicks

Harmless animal:
Abnormal Ammo: turns enemies into farmyard animals
Characters.Adventure Time: Cats.
Characters.Adventure Time Minor: Ditto
Characters.Age Of Mythology: Pigs
VideoGame.Age Of Mythology: Ditto
All Take and No Give: A "tiny animal"
Ambiguous Gender: Small lizard
American Dad!: Goldfish
And Call Him George: Cat
And I Must Scream
Androcles Lion
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master: Cockroach
Anime: Cow
Anime: Pig
Anime & Manga: Piglet
Anime & Manga: Panda

Harmless non-animal
Action Adventure Games: Eggplant
Adventures of Lolo: Eggs
Anime & Manga: candy

Non-harmless animal (misuse)
Alas, Poor Villain: Dragons
Anansi Boys: Tiger
Aquarion Evol: Big, Badass Wolf

Akatsuki Kitten Phoenix Corporation Overhaul: Kittens and unspecified other animals
Akatsuki Kitten Phoenix Corporation Overhaul: Unspecified animals
Aladdin: Inanimate, animals both harmless and non-.

Unclear and/or Zero Content Examples
Good Bad Bugs
A Game Of Gods Taskforce Sifuri Team Science
Literature.Age Of Steam
Alice, Girl from the Future
Video Game/Alundra2: "Mephisto's wind-up keys can turn people into soulless workers or into weird monstrosities."
A Magical Roommate
Ambiguously Human
Videogame.Ancient Domains Of Mystery
Anima Ex Machina: "human/alien hybrid"
Anime & Manga
Anime & Manga

A Midsummer Night's Dream: Only Bottom's head turned into an ass's — does this count?

edited 1st Dec '12 5:55:58 AM by johnnye

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
Dragon Writer
Shakespeare's play is misuse. While I'm not familiar with the details, it doesn't strike my as so much of a punishment/weapon as it was a prank by some gods with a little too much time (and possibly drink) on their hands.

edited 1st Dec '12 7:05:51 AM by Stratadrake

World's Toughest Milkman
Still doesn't seem like enough misuse to justify a rename, even if the Shakespeare example is misuse. (I'd call it more borderline—not strictly an enemy, but Titania was pissed/offended, so it's more than just a prank. Although the harmless element is also borderline.)

edited 1st Dec '12 5:30:19 PM by Xtifr

"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
 19 johnnye, Sat, 1st Dec '12 5:55:44 PM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
I don't think there's enough misuse to justify changing the trope on that basis. My gripe is basically with Missing Supertrope Syndrome and/or arbitrary trope boundaries.

We have a trope for turning people forcibly into harmless things, fine. But we don't have a trope for turning people forcibly into anything else. We could create a supertrope, which would overlap massively with this one with the sole exception of "people are forcibly turned into something that isn't harmless". We could create a Sister Trope covering just those examples, which would (a) be a pretty arbitrary distinction, to my mind, and (b) probably wouldn't have many examples. Or we could slightly expand this trope into "people are transformed into something else against their will".

There's also the fact that all "Baleful Polymorph" actually means is "Harmful/Spiteful Transformation", which is a perfectly accurate and concise description of the trope I just described, but is non-indicative of the trope it's supposed to be (what part of it gets across the apparently-essential "harmless" part of the trope?).
Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
World's Toughest Milkman
The way to handle Missing Supertrope Syndrome is YKTTW. I agree that the name doesn't seem very good, and I'd be happy to see it change, but it seems to be working, and we don't change names that are working. It's too disruptive.

I've never been able to figure out why people seem to read some trope descriptions but not others, but the fact remains that they do, and this seems to be one where they do mostly read it.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
 21 johnnye, Sat, 1st Dec '12 8:30:31 PM from Brighton, UK Relationship Status: If it's you, it's okay
[up]Well, that's why I suggested expanding the description to fit the name (and the more intuitive definition). I know that's usually not a popular option, but it'd be a pretty minor change in this case.

edited 1st Dec '12 8:30:59 PM by johnnye

Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor, so Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus.
World's Toughest Milkman
[up]Hmm. After thinking about it for a while, I'm leaning towards agreeing with you. It's not a huge change (not like renaming the trope or something), and would magically fix almost all of the remaining misuse—misuse that suggests that some people are taking the name fairly literally. And, of course, it would fit the name better.

Splitters will probably object, but I'm nearly convinced.
"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
 23 Septimus Heap, Tue, 11th Dec '12 12:46:46 AM from Zurich, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
A Wizard boy
Change this to fit the name and move on. I think this is a viable solution to many Missing Supertrope issues.

Dragon Writer
Agree with @19. It's the use of transformation as a weapon; the fact that the victim is often turned into something largely considered harmless is a side effect of the "spiteful" part.

I also don't think Taken for Granite is a proper Sub-Trope here....
World's Toughest Milkman
A couple of people have objected to further broadening (we've already broadened the trope once in this discussion). I've moved to a more neutral position, but it might be worth a crowner just to make sure we really have consensus.

eta: [up] Agree that Taken for Granite is not a proper subtrope. May overlap.

edited 11th Dec '12 6:45:29 PM by Xtifr

"Existential Despair" is an oxymoron.
Total posts: 43

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