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The TVTropes Trope Finder is where you can come to ask questions like "Do we have this one?" and "What's the trope about...?" Trying to rediscover a long lost show or other medium but need a little help? Head to You Know That Show and try your luck there. Want to propose a new trope? You should be over at You Know, That Thing Where.

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13th Mar, 2019 09:28:52 AM

Note that Wainscot Society is not limited to magical examples.

13th Mar, 2019 08:45:32 PM

Thanks very much for these.

@eroock: I looked at those two tropes previously, but they felt off - the Baker Street Regular was an individual who sort of stands in for a type of a crowd, and Hero Secret Service was... adjacent, but not exactly right. What I'm thinking of would be more like Hero NSA, really - they don't do protection, generally, but gather intelligence or pass messages. It's close.

@4tell0life4 : That totally feels adjacent, if it's expanded to a group or division rather than a character. Friends in the Black Market maybe? One of the features of what I'm thinking of is a sense of facelessness - like, the Blue Blaze Irregulars could be anybody, because they're everywhere. The idea of being an insider with knowledge of "how things really get done" feels totally right, though.

@crazysamaritan : I do get the feeling the thing I'm thinking of might be a sub-trope of a Wainscot Society. The only real distinction is that a Wainscot Society as I understand it is, well, maybe not magical, but a kind of boundary-guardian group? Like one that's on the periphery of a "known world" because they're also connected to some other realm where things work differently - the example I kind of grokked there was of the Quiet People in the fourth Rivers of London book, living underground and (essentially) earth-bending but getting grocery deliveries from an ordinary supermarket.

I suppose the thing I'm thinking of is like that, but the secret or unseen world is one that we're seeing all the time, just not noticing - the source of the trope's power is that this guild is already all around us. It's not exactly related to a Masquerade, in other words. Do you think what I'm all wound up with right now is really a Wainscot Society for a non-magical universe? I'm not sure it is, but I'm not sure it isn't, either. Is it distinct enough to matter?

Edited by Grantimatter
14th Mar, 2019 07:26:42 PM

A good example of Wainscot Society that doesn't involve any (additional) fantastic elements is the Marvel Universe and their Morlocks; "ugly" mutants that lived in the the sewers, contrasting with the "normal" mutants/humans living above-ground. Both live within the same national borders and share the same infrastructure. A Masquerade is any society that must go to extreme measures to prevent the "muggles" from learning about their existence.


The Baker Street Regular can be a single recurring character, but they don't have to be. It could be a different person every time; the point is to show a network of informants that collect information for the detective/police-officer. They are often homelessmen and newspaper boys for Mr Holmes, but other works have drawn from upon other parts of society. This would typically be a rather informal relationship, however, you're approached and welcomed to the group because you're already Beneath Notice. The Blue Blaze Irregulars from Buckaroo Banzai fits this.
Perhaps Covert Group covers what you're looking for. It requires secrecy and can be engaged in information collection without needing to be illegal or controlled by the heroes.

16th Mar, 2019 06:46:05 PM

Beautiful - thanks very much.

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