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Meta Powers

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A super-trope of supernatural powers that control or impact others' powers.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
Lyner on Jan 13th 2015 at 5:58:30 PM
Last Edited By:
AHI-3000 on Jun 15th 2018 at 8:32:18 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Many superpowers exist within many classes. There are elementals, shapeshifters, time/space manipulators, and many more. One class of powers, however, is unique. This class is only of any value or even meaning in the presence of people with more concrete powers. This is the power over powers, a range of abilities that impact external forces without any ability to use them on one's own.

These powers separate from standard supernatural powers in the fact that they have absolutely no meaning on their own or in a world where people with power don't exist, but in the presence of a battle that calls upon powers, they can be a real game-changer. In fact, many of these are in danger of being Story Breaker Powers unless used with extreme care.

Compare Meta Power-Up, Magic Enhancement and Status Buff. See also Antagonist Abilities, which this usually is.


Types of meta-powers:

  • Power Catalyst: This power triggers changes in individuals' abilities, sometimes awakening latent powers in someone, or enhancing existing powers, or possibly controlling and/or suppressing them.
    • Super Empowering: Unlike the other powers, which depend on the existence of people with other powers or potential, this power allows an individual to create totally new powers in others.
  • Power Copying : This power allows a person to actually claim another's powers as their own by copying them.
  • Power Lure: This slightly more obscure ability creates an uncontrollable lure for those with powers. If a person possesses the right power, he/she becomes inexplicably drawn to people with this power. May sometimes be connected to powers that directly impact the people who succumb to the temptation.
  • Power Nullifier: This is, quite simply, the ability to temporarily or permanently cancel or erase powers. Frequently, this requires some degree of proximity, from a varied range to actual physical contact; but once conditions are met, all powers good and bad alike are rendered nonexistent, at least as long as the conditions remain.
    • Anti-Magic: If the power being nullified happens to be magical in nature.

Unique variations include:

Please only add specific examples if they don't fit into any of the common sub-tropes listed above.

Anime and Manga

  • For some time in Iris Zero, it's believed in universe that our protagonist's Iris power is to identify other people's Iris powers at a glance. Subverted in that he's actually the titular Iris Zero, i.e the 1% of the world who lacked Iris powers; he's just good at analyzing people.

Live-Action TV

  • In Misfits, Seth is a "power dealer", whose power is to permanently remove another person's power but to then be able to confer it on one other person. He can store them indefinitely (and not just one at a time) but not use them himself.

Video Games

  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Joule's ability, "The Muse", primarily is used to enhance other Adept's powers through Magic Music. If her special skill "Anthem" activates on Gunvolt (i.e you), he can use his lightning powers without limits.
  • Warcraft III: Brilliance Aura increases mana regeneration in nearby friendly units.
  • Golden Sun: Djinn are the basis for the game's Class System, switching them around gives new classes and abilities, while stacking them in the right proportions increases stats, class rank and spell power.
  • Dawn of War: Joining a Farseer to a Seer Council reduces the cooldown for her abilities the more Seers are present.
  • Blaz Blue Remix Heart: because Mai Natsume unwittingly absorbed the power of the Azure and it reacted with the power of the mysterious "grimoire" she absorbed, she herself has become a grimoire that can copy abilities from one person and then put it to another, but cannot use them herself.

Web Original

  • In Worm, one of the classifications the PRT uses for parahuman abilities is "Trump", referring to powers which either affect or are affected by the abilities of others.

Western Animation

  • Xiaolin Showdown: The Reversing Mirror shen gong wu has the power to cause another shen gong wu to do the opposite of its normal effect.

Indexes:

Feedback: 33 replies

Jan 13th 2015 at 7:12:28 PM

Also

We do have a specific trope for Power Catalyst, but I forget the name. Was it Living Power Regulator?

Jan 18th 2015 at 8:20:18 PM

See also Power Parasyte, when the Meta Power is outright stealing of other character's powers.

Jan 18th 2015 at 8:26:22 PM

^ Power Parasite

Where did you get the "y" spelling anyway

Jan 18th 2015 at 9:05:53 PM

I blame the Dark Age Of Supernames and/or the manga Parasyte.

...

Or something. I don't know. I'm watching Danish zombie Santa massacre people, my attention is drifting all over.

Jan 19th 2015 at 2:31:52 AM

Ran into old something called De Power. Not to insist that it's relevant, really. I'm not sure.

Aug 17th 2016 at 1:51:46 AM

Anti Magic is related too.

If we really don't have something like "Power Catalyst" yet, I will add this one here

  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Joule's ability, "The Muse", primarily is used to enhance other Adept's powers through Magic Music. If her special skill "Anthem" activates on Gunvolt (i.e you), he can use his lightning powers without limits.

Aug 17th 2016 at 2:37:04 AM

Western Animation:

  • Xiaolin Showdown: The Reversing Mirror shen gong wu has the power to cause another shen gong wu to do the opposite of its normal effect.

Aug 17th 2016 at 4:26:38 PM

  • Warcraft III: Brilliance Aura increases mana regeneration in nearby friendly units.
  • Golden Sun: Djinn are the basis for the game's Class System, switching them around gives new classes and abilities, while stacking them in the right proportions increases stats, class rank and spell power.
  • Dawn Of War: Joining a Farseer to a Seer Council reduces the cooldown for her abilities the more Seers are present.

Aug 17th 2016 at 3:48:46 PM

I definitely think this needs to be created as a supertrope, although there will be few examples that don't fit into any of the existing ones.

One which may not fit into any of the others precisely:

In Misfits, Seth is a "power dealer", whose power is to permanently remove another person's power but to then be able to confer it on one other person. He can store them indefinitely (and not just one at a time) but not use them himself.

Aug 17th 2016 at 7:59:24 PM

  • Blazblue Remix Heart: because Mai Natsume unwittingly absorbed the power of the Azure and it reacted with the power of the mysterious "grimoire" she absorbed, she herself has become a grimoire that can copy abilities from one person and then put it to another, but cannot use them herself.

Aug 18th 2016 at 6:33:56 AM

In Worm, one of the classifications the PRT uses for parahuman abilities is "Trump", referring to powers which either affect or are affected by the abilities of others.

Aug 18th 2016 at 5:17:10 PM

  • For some time in Iris Zero, it's believed in universe that our protagonist's Iris power is to identify other people's Iris powers at a glance. Subverted in that he's actually the titular Iris Zero, i.e the 1% of the world who lacked Iris powers; he's just good at analyzing people.

Jan 31st 2017 at 1:28:48 AM

  • Also in Warcraft III, the Goblin Tinker has three active abilities, with the passive fourth one upgrading his other abilities (cooldown, damage...) rather than being a Critical Hit or unit-boosting aura.
  • Lanfeust: Every human has a randomly determined magic power, some more useful than others (heating metal by looking at it, teleporting, making people thirsty, farting from the ears...). These powers only work when in range of a sage, who ritually abandoned their own powers to become relays for magic. During Thanos' takeover of the world, the imprisoned sages attempted a mass reverse ritual to regain their individual powers and fight, but were interrupted.
  • The Legend Of Korra: The first season villain Amon is the leader of the Equalists, who feel that people with Elemental Powers have an unfair advantage, and that the world would be a better place if no one could bend at all. Amon himself can't bend, but has the power to remove other people's bending ability. Naturally, he's a hypocrite: he's actually a very good waterbender, and his Power Nullifier is actually bloodbending.

Feb 1st 2017 at 7:34:26 AM

I think this is misusing the word "meta." The name implies something more along the lines of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You or other powers that affect the meta of a game (affecting max-hp stat, affecting ability scores, etc.) rather than affecting other people's powers. Power Powers or Superpower Power could be more clear names.

Feb 3rd 2017 at 4:31:03 AM

Avatar The Last Airbender: The sun and moon affect firebending and waterbending respectively, with a solar eclipse preventing firebenders from using their powers at all, while bloodbenders are (at first) only able to use their variatiion of waterbending during a full moon).

Feb 3rd 2017 at 5:19:20 AM

X Men The Last Stand: Leech is a young teenaged mutant whose power is apparently just to nullify the powers of any mutant around him. He's also the source of the "cure" for mutants.

Feb 3rd 2017 at 9:25:17 AM

Also Mana Drain and Mana Burn when the Meta Power drain or damages a characters magic supply.

Mar 12th 2018 at 6:54:29 AM

Bump. I think this should definitely exist as a supertrope, and Variant Power Copying is just another subtrope of it.

Mar 12th 2018 at 8:00:24 AM

Generally requires some kind of Meta Origin in order to make sense.

Mar 12th 2018 at 5:52:49 PM

A character with this power is a living Amplifier Artifact.
Literature

  • In Mistborn, people with allomantic Functional Magic fueled by nicrosil can overcharge another allomancer with a touch, hugely boosting their powers for a few seconds. This can be used against their targets since it exhausts the metal reserves that fuel their magic just as quickly, and some allomancers' powers (like Tineyes' Super Senses) can be incapacitating when amplified.

Mar 15th 2018 at 2:41:40 PM

  • In Dungeons And Dragons 3E and Pathfinder, "metamagic feats" are special abilities for magic users that allow them to modify standard spell effects, e.g. shorten casting times, automatically maximize randomized effects, etc.

Mar 15th 2018 at 3:34:16 PM

Apparently the Power Copying page had a list of sub-tropes, so I copiednote  and pasted them into this page . If we launch Meta Power, should we remove the index from Power Copying?

Mar 15th 2018 at 4:41:38 PM

Item Caddy is also related. Spell Crafting (and occasionally Item Crafting) can fall under this, being the ability to design new powers for yourself.

In addition to Anti Magic, throw in Counterspell and Dispel Magic (with Status Buff Dispel as a sub-entry).

The Power Copying index should stay, since that information hasn't ceased being relevant to Power Copying.

Mar 16th 2018 at 4:07:14 AM

  • My Hero Academia:
    • One of the major villains have the quirk " All for One", which allows him to steal the quirks of other people, use them himself, or grant them to others.
    • Another person has the quirk whose ability is to give itself to another person. Since the quirk itself does nothing, it's widely believed the original holder was quirkless. This quirk then merged with a Super Strength quirk, turning into "One for All", super strength that can be passed around to next generations, and the main character is its ninth holder.
  • Alice Academy: Yuzu has the Alice "Steal", which removes another person's Alice and turning it into an Alice stone.

Jun 15th 2018 at 6:49:01 PM

Should the Power Inverter TLP be launched it would also fit here. Are Power Catalyst and Power Lure somewhere on site with new names? They're red links and I don't see them in the TLP.

Jun 15th 2018 at 8:32:18 PM

I wonder if this count cases of items having these kinds of abilities. Like Amplifier Artifact or Upgrade Artifact.

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