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Reality-Changing Miniature

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A model or miniature of a real-world object which affects the real-life counterpart when it is changed. For example, a miniature New York where you can move buildings and they'll move in the real New York. Or a globe... careful with it... if you poke it carelessly, you'll crush the entirety of China.

Sometimes it's just some kind of a magical equivalent of the real-world object. Other times, it literally is the real-world object through some space-time shenanigans.

The term for this when used for magic is Sympathetic Magic, which operates on the principle that "like affects like." In many works featuring this magic, the magician often needs something that his or her victim once owned (such as fingernail clippings or a lock of his or her hair) in order for the Reality-Changing Miniature to actually work.

Voodoo Dolls tend to work this way. May be considered a variant of Synchronization. Related are Puppet Gun and Motion-Capture Mecha, both of which are about "manipulating something big by doing something small".


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  • In one of the Tab Clear adds, we're informed that World War I was caused by the Kaiser coughing after tasting a fizzy can of Tab Clear, re-arranging the army men on The Big Board so that divisions are instantly moved into battle.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach. The Eighth Espada, Szayelaporro Granz, has the ability to engulf opponents with parts of his body and create voodoo dolls of them filled with replicas of their internal organs. Doing things to a doll affects the original person, and if a replica organ is destroyed, so is the real organ in the victim's body.
  • A Certain Magical Index: When Index teaches Komoe Tsukuyomi how to perform a healing spell, first she instructs her to make a model of the room they are in out of household items. When Komoe accidentally nudges the model, the entire room shakes. The purpose is to include something in the model that resembles an angel. This summons a copy of an angel to perform the actual healing.
  • One of Sembei's inventions in Doctor Slump is a miniature version of his house that works like this. When Akane asks him why did he create something this dangerous, he replies "This is a gag manga. Things don't have to make sense".
  • Kain from the Seven Kin of Purgatory in Fairy Tail has a doll that can affect the person whose hair to touching the doll, and not only does he use it to hurt his enemies, he also uses it on himself to modify his physical abilities, such as turning the doll to steel to increase his durability.
  • During the events of Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel, True Assassin is able to kill his enemies by destroying their hearts using miniature voodoo-like copies, made from Ether Clumps. After making contact, he projects a copy and crushes it. Bonus points if he eats the heart, and gains their intellect.
  • Yoshihiro Kira, the malevolent father of the equally dangerous Big Bad of Part 4 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, became bound to a photograph through his Stand after death. Now, courtesy Atom Heart Father, he can manipulate the area depicted in whichever photo he's bound to. Whatever he does in the photo, happens in the actual place, and he can even trap anyone who's there. He came within centimeters of killing Josuke and Jotaro. All that stopped him was Jotaro taking another photograph of the photo - making sure to put only Yoshihiro in it, thus trapping Yoshihiro in an otherwise-empty picture. And then it turned out Yoshihiro can project his upper body out of the photo.
  • One of the Ranma ½ movies features a pair of Go players. As they play on the normal board giant stones appear and land on the giant board that surrounds them. They threaten to crush our hero, until he realizes that he can just run on top of the stones that have already fallen. Of course this means that he has now "disappeared" from the field of play, and his opponents can't find him.
  • Spirit of Wonder: Miss China's Ring does this with the moon (this is the version where it is the real object due to shenanigans).
  • In "Season 0" of Yu-Gi-Oh!, one of the games Yugi had to play was a game about summoning dragons and battling with them over a map. The problem was that it was a real-life map - the one of Japan to be precise - and the damage done by the dragons reflected in the real world. The villain of the week attempted to destroy his hometown with that power.

    Comic Books 
  • Some sci-fi anthologies would use techno babble to explain a scale model of planetary systems being used to reflected what is done to them onto the real thing. In one, it was a security measure to actively observe and eliminate threats to Earth, which was hijacked by someone to hold the planet hostage. In another, it was a ploy by alien invaders to trick Earthlings into destroying their own planet. In that case, the aliens in question were blackmailed into undoing the effect by bringing a scale model of their own planet under the field that was inducing the effect.
  • The city of Bete Noire from Fallen Angel is believed to be this for the entire planet.
  • Villain Puppet Master, oft-foe of the Fantastic Four, has the ability to control people through custom-built puppets.
  • A JLA story dealt with the villains seizing an artifact called the Worlogog that was the universe in miniature, and whoever held it could exert his will upon it. Needless to say, it was a very bad thing when The Joker got his hands on it, to the point that Martian Manhunter had to forcibly make him briefly sane so he would give it up (and undo the casualties of a murder spree the villains took part in earlier). The device was given to Hourman and taken away for safekeeping.
  • A 1950s horror comic story, "Map of Doom", has a newlywed couple find a strange atlas as part of the wife's inheritance. It has this power, and in short order, With Great Power Comes Great Insanity, death and mayhem. Read it here!
  • In Strangers at the Heart's Core, a criminal group known as The Visitors build the "Voodoo Machine", a device which creates a three-dimensional miniature image of a real person or object; said object or living being could be altered or destroyed by affecting the replica.
  • In Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #39, Lois discovers that Superman keeps portraits of his old girlfriends. The reason is that the portraits were enchanted so that anything happening to the portrait would curse the person depicted (i.e., a smear of red paint gave Lana Lang flame-breath).

    Fan Works 
  • In Say It Thrice, Betlegeuse implies this about the Maitland's model of their town.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the original Clash of the Titans, there was a small chamber in Olympus containing several clay figurines, each one representing a real person. The gods could resculpt the model to invoke a Painful Transformation, or just smash the thing to kill the person outright. At one point, it's even used for a kind of healing, when Perseus collapses in exhaustion, and Zeus sets his figure back upright.
  • Done in the Marty Feldman film The Last Remake of Beau Geste when a hand pointing at Africa on a globe becomes a gigantic finger poked into the desert.
  • The short films Room 8 and Doodlebug explore this idea.
  • Inverted in Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams. The model of the Island of Leeke Leeke shows where all the Mix-and-Match Critters currently are, by causing their miniature critters to roam where the big ones are. Holograms also show the presence of other humans on the island, hence how Romero can see Gary and Gerti.
  • In Stardust, Lamia is able to use a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and then puppet his corpse to fight Tristan.

  • There's an old Russian sci-fi story which features an ancient Martian mirror, which apparently works this way for whatever is reflected in it. A woman pokes a distant reflection of an incoming plane, and it ends up crashing, covered with humongous scraps of human skin.
  • The Chronicles of the Kencyrath short story "Bones" features one of these.
  • Ciaphas Cain: "Old Soldiers Never Die": While traveling through the sewers with the vaccine, Cain and Jurgen come across a chamber with a model of the city "sculpted" from waste and the Chaos cult using the model to control the revenants that are attacking their battalion.
  • Discworld:
    • The Glooper in Making Money reflects the financial state of Ankh-Morpork, so it's naturally very distressing to discover that the bottle representing the gold in the Royal Bank's vaults is almost empty. Unusually, this was totally accidental and the thing was merely supposed to be a sort of Steampunk computer simulation... only it was more accurate than the creator intended; so accurate, in fact, that it started Rewriting Reality when he fiddled with it. This might be a metaphor for commodity trading algorithms.
    • in Equal Rites, Esk finds Simon (who's been possessed by the Things from the Dungeon Dimensions), shaking a glass container with a model of the Disc and giggling. The feeling creeps over her that this isn't exactly a model.
    • The Discworld gods also play games on a miniature model of the Disc with real heroes represented by playing pieces. The Disc can also be influenced by it, such as during Small Gods when Om decides to start a fight around the tabletop Disc, and below in the real world large (as in, small house sized) dice and large fruit bowls start crashing about as the fight above influences what happens below.
  • Doc Sidhe: In Sidhe Devil by Aaron Allston, miniature models of a city are used to cast spells that affect the real city.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Thaumaturgy is defined as "make something happen on a small scale and give it the power to work on a larger scale." It's how his Tracking Spell works and how he once defeated a werewolf, among other feats.
    • Harry's scale model of Chicago is an amazingly intricate feat of Sympathetic Magic that he can use to astrally project through the two-mile area it duplicates. He also foils a Tracking Spell on him by putting the item being tracked (a pin from the summer fey) in a bag of catnip, hanging it over the model, and setting his cat loose.
  • The third book of the Wiz Biz has the heroes attempt to forge a key to lock invaders out of their universe. As the key is a fractal representation of their universe (or at least an aspect of it), as the key takes shape, reality starts to warp around them. They stop and start again, before realizing that closer the key gets to being accurate, the more the flaws and incomplete portion will reflect on the world around them. They ultimately decide the universe (or at least they themselves) probably won't survive long enough for the key to become stable, so they try to find a different way to create it.
    • The world of magic has no maps, only landmark checklists, for much the same reason. In the second book the heroes do create one map, and use it to draw the border how far human settlers can advance. To create said map they need to adapt a complex spell (devised for a different purpose), the only copy of which was stolen, and the author of which is MIA through much of the book.
  • In The Hounds of the Morrigan, the Morrigan sisters have a magical tabletop they can use to manipulate the titular hounds and chase the two protagonists. Near the very end, one of the Morrigan's fingerprints even becomes an enormous labyrinth for them.
  • This is the principal system of magic that appears in The Kingkiller Chronicle, though actual representative models of people and objects aren't always necessary.
  • Robert Rankin's Raiders of the Lost Car Park features a microcosm which is a perfect model of the room in which it is placed. It behaves in much the same manner as this page's illustration.
  • In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Alice encounters a chessboard with living pieces that she moves around the board and react accordingly. When she leaves the Looking-Glass House, she finds herself on a chessboard corresponding to the small one she previously found.
  • Tortall Universe:
    • Major plot point in the second book of The Immortals; To make a rather long story short, Daine has to stop a rebellion by finding a model of Dunlath Valley, so that Numair and the Big Damn Heroes can come in and finish off the malcontents.
    • Also used in Song of the Lioness, where Duke Roger had a wax figure of the Queen washing away under a fountain to represent the washing away of her life. He also has wax figures of the king, Jonathan, the Provost, Alanna, and Sir Myles in a black sack to "keep them in the dark" about his plans.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Haven loves this trope, using it no fewer than three times over the course of two seasons. Miniatures include drawings, a puzzle, and a snow globe.
  • Locke & Key (2020): Josh Bennett owns a doll's house version of Key House, which he acquired during his studies into Matheson's history. Bode and Josh's daughter Jamie learn that, when unlocked with the "Small World" key, it becomes an interactive version of the real thing. The miniatures within it affect the ones in the real house, as Bode discovers when he accidentally breaks his bed in half, and objects placed inside it become giant versions within the real house, as demonstrated with a gummy candy — and unfortunately, later, a spider.
  • One of the short films created for the reality show On The Lot had a mixup at the post office causing a globe that alters the real world sent to a wealthy couple instead of a government facility. Once the couple realizes what the globe can do, the wife begins shaving her ring with a knife over their location, causing giant chunks of gold to rain down. Excitedly, she pries the diamond from the ring and drops it on the globe, only to realize her mistake as a shadow the size of a city looms over their neighborhood...
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • "Requiem For Methuselah". Flint reduces the Enterprise to a tiny model, which puts the crew into suspended animation.
    • A Hollywood Voodoo doll version in "Catspaw". Sylvia holds a tiny model of the Enterprise over a flame, causing the temperature of the real Enterprise to rise. Korob later encases the model in crystal, which puts a force field around the real ship.
  • A witch doctor uses the Hollywood Voodoo doll version to control the castaways in the Gilligan's Island episode "Voodoo".
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (2019) was about a church handyman who finds a miniature of his small town and discovers any changes to the model would be made to the town. He initially uses it to help out the town, but ultimately begins using it to get revenge on the town's corrupt mayor, who had been taking responsibility for the handyman's good deeds in spite of being responsible for these problems in the first place.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • There's a Pearls Before Swine strip where Pig pokes at Atlas' globe while finding himself on it, and pokes himself in the eye.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • A (rather exhaustive) block puzzle in The 11th Hour: Sequel to The 7th Guest implies this trope: Moving miniature pieces of furniture around eventually results in sliding a model of the music room's piano off the board. But when Carl Denning backs away from the puzzle, the real piano is now missing from the room.
  • The Interactive Fiction game For A Change has you come across a miniature version of the gameworld near the end. There's a flood, and you have to tip the model to spill out the water.
  • A brief segment of Kingdom of Loathing involves navigating a hedge maze by obtaining a "hedge maze puzzle" that works on this principle and manipulating it so that it presents a direct path to your goal.
  • The main mechanic in the horror game Kraven Manor. A model of the manor sits on a table in the entryway, and more models of rooms are uncovered as you explore. Putting down the rooms with the entryway model unlocks the room at that location, leading to some odd arrangements as a second-floor doorway leading downstairs into an underground cellar.
  • Maquette combines this with Recursive Reality. Each level contains a miniature version of itself, and is itself contained in a proportionally scaled-up version, apparently infinitely in both directions. Objects (and the player) can be transferred between layers, and any change affects every iteration. For example, the player can climb over the edge of their layer into the next larger one where they are now small enough to walk under a locked gate. Or, they can pick up a key in their current layer and place it across a gap in the miniature; its massively scaled-up version becomes a bridge over the corresponding ravine in the first layer.
  • Myst has a variation: there are two small objects with larger counterparts, but one is explicitly mechanical (the sunken gear) and the other could be either mechanical or magical in nature (the sunken ship).
  • One early version of the angelic plane of Elysium/Paradise in Nexus War had a tiny model of the mortal world that did this. The model was attached to a hand-cranked electric dynamo, and there was usually a line out the door to use it.
  • A central dynamic in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, where you acquire manikins of people that you use to summon their real selves into battle. A humorous scene involves Danette playing with Odie's manikin and accidentally breaking its neck, which causes Odie to suffer some serious physical distress. Gig points out that this sort of thing shouldn't be possible.
  • In the famous scene in Warcraft III, Archimonde shapes the dust near Dalaran into a replica of the city, then swipes his hand through the dust-model. The result is... spectacular, but sadly off-screen, other than a single tower he uses to test the miniature: He sweeps his hand into the dust, and the tower simply collapses, as if from structural failure rather than a powerful blow.

    Web Animation 
  • Battle for BFDI: In "Why Would You Do This on a Swingset", the immunity prizes for Cake at Stake are Earths. When Balloony is safe, he receives his Earth and pokes it. Cue a giant version of his finger falling from the sky and crushing Four, although this being Four, he's perfectly fine afterwards.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • ChalkZone: Altering the real world chalk drawing will cause the corresponding alteration to occur to its Chalk Zone counterpart. In one of the original shorts, Rudy connects a bunch of tiny bodies of water into a continuous river by connecting them on a map, which makes the full-size versions link up as well (into the "Amazin' River").
  • Doug: In the Imagine Spot of the episode "Doug meet the Rulemeister", the Rulemeister's Weekend Blaster is a machine that uses a globe of the Earth to accelerate the planet's rotation so there are only five days in a week, taking away Saturday and Sunday.
  • Futurama: "The Farnsworth Paradox" ends with the Planet Express crew in possession of a box which contains their own universe. When they shake the box, it causes an earthquake, and when Fry sits on the box, the picture becomes stretched out and flattened.
  • She-Ra: Princess of Power: The episode "The Crystal Castle" involved a plot to destroy Castle Bright Moon during the simultaneous lunar eclipse of the Etherian moons, when the power of Bright Moon was at its weakest. With the "Great Spell of Shrining", Shadow Weaver's magical attacks against a model of the castle were manifested as powerful bursts of energy striking the actual castle.