Since there will be a bonus fishbowl featuring Polychrome Heroics on Tuesday, March 18, I though it would be helpful to post the vocabulary for Terramagne. Much of this is slang relating to superpowers and associated concepts, although some of it deals with other aspects of culture or technology. Some has already appeared in the series and some hasn't yet. Feel free to use this as inspiration for prompts.
au naturel -- without superpowers. People whose superpowers have a circumstantial requirement (only works in daylight, stronger near water, requires a device, etc.) often train without their powers so they will not panic if attacked while unpowered. A majority of such training programs have supernary teachers, since they already know how to fight on a super level without powers of their own.
BASH -- Ballistic Assault Security Handlers. BASH is this setting's equivalent of SWAT, a team with heavier firepower for intense conflicts. They are allowed to use conventional guns, not just zatzers.
Beam rifle -- a long gun that fires beams. The long barrel is required to generate the beam, and a large heavy stock is necessary to house the power source. The effects last longer than those of bolt pistols. Freeze, heat (vermilion), lightning, pain, sleep, force, gravity, and sound are some examples. Notably the death (green), disintegration, gamma, and shrink rays work only in this form, not bolts. Plasma does not work in beams, only in bolts.
Black cape -- a supervillain. Also phrased as "on the black side of the cape."
Blew a fuse -- injured in a way that disables the person's superpower. Derived from "out of the fuse box."
Blue chamomile -- an essential oil derived from the chamomile plant, often shortened to "blue" among soups. It soothes a variety of metaphysical complaints and is their go-to first aid supply. As an herbal simple, it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, antispasmodic, nerve sedative, and other qualities. The most common side effects are nightmares or skin irritation. In our world blue chamomile costs $31 for 1/8 ounce, and in Terramagne the price is two to three times that due to higher demand. Although legal in most places, it can be difficult to get due to the high price and the fact that few stores carry it. Some soup-hostile countries have controlled or banned it, and some governments or hate groups may watch for people buying it. SPOON sells it through their website.
Blue plate (special) -- a blue plate or blue plate special is a person with superpowers who is neither a superhero nor a supervillain, but instead uses those powers in a more ordinary profession. In some countries, blue plates are quite popular for entertainment or hazardous jobs where even minor powers can make a big improvement in quality or safety. The line between superheroes and blue plates blurs in the range of first responders such as police, firefighters, paramedics, park rangers, etc. who have a regular job and a relevant superpower. Usually people integrated with an ordinary organization are considered blue plates, while free-range soloists or soup teams are considered superheroes.
Blurfubble -- so filled with love and feels that all you can produce is gibberish. Somewhat akin to Disney's "twitterpated."
(Contributed by DW user Lynnoconnacht.)
Bolt pistol -- a handgun that fires bolts. Handguns don't have enough power or length to fire beams. The effects fade sooner than those of beam rifles. Freeze, heat (vermilion), lightning, pain, sleep, force, gravity, and sound are some examples. Notably plasma is available only in this form, not beams. Death (green), disintegration, gamma, and shrink do not work in bolts, only in beams.
Bring home the minestrone -- Marionette phrase for finding someone with superpowers, especially one in need of new friends.
Burner phone -- a cheap, prepaid, disposable, untraceable, cellular phone. They say "burner" ... because the first truly disposable cell phone was made out of cardboard. Where the price tag in our world's example is $200, in Terramagne it would be around $20 thanks to advances from gizmology. Granted, it's a dumb ugly little beast; it only makes and receives calls, no texting or voice messages or anything.
Fancier prepaid phones may also be found (or made) for people who need more features in a disposable, untraceable phone. These are sometimes called blackphones (especially if they have illegal components, like hijacked military hardware), grayphones, or crookphones. As here, people are sometimes a little suspicious of these, because they're so popular with criminals and adulterers; but lots of people buy them because they lost or forgot their regular phone, or they can't get or don't want a contract phone's obligations.
Button (wo)man -- an assistant in organized crime. The boss usually has at least one button man or woman to do whatever needs done: running errands, gathering information, hitting people, etc. It's a useful filler position that works alongside more specialized roles.
Canary -- something or someone that reveals a hidden problem, generally considered a desirable trait. Often soups are more sensitive to things that ordinary people don't notice, the way a canary in a coal mine warned miners of bad air.
Capery -- a lightweight fabric responsive to super-powers, similar to silk. This is retro-engineered tech. Capery is a rare median between ordinary material and super-gizmos, in that it can be produced by ordinary people but then function on a super scale. Capery is considerably lighter and more billowy than dexflan, but inelastic.
Chiacchierone -- a person prejudiced against people who have superpowers; it literally means "chatterbox." This is the Sicilian equivalent of "fork," based on the Mob's dislike of people who blab about things that should remain discreet. They take a very dim view of outing people as soups, which is a preferred tactic of bigots in many parts of the world.
Chipper -- a helicopter with gizmotronic enhancements for extra speed and agility, comparable to a zoom wagon. They are fast, light, and extremely maneuverable; primarily designed for search-and-rescue work. They also pack a lot of lifting power for their size: standard crew of two, with room for one casualty inside plus options for two more in pods attached to the landing gear. Usually they carry a paramedic plus a pilot who is cross-trained as EMT. A drawback is that chippers sacrifice durability to shed weight and boost speed. They are considerably more fragile than average helicopters, let alone armored military models; chippers rely on the pilot's skill to avoid dangers. The name derives from "chopper." Their styling actually makes them sound different in the air: a swift thwip-thwip-thwip rather than the heavier whop-whop-whop. siliconshaman found a picture of a helicopter ancestral to chippers.
Chork -- what happens when a soup eats so much food that their body goes torpid to digest it all. Some superpowers have a high metabolic load that can cause ravenous hunger after a large expenditure of energy. Some soups can front-load before a major activity. Any of this can lead to chorking.
Coccolono/a -- Marionette term for a rescuee, literally meaning "cuddly one," who is likely to cling to the rescuer.
Coon -- a soft, warm fabric made from vicuña wool. Like capery and dexflan, it is responsive to superpowers, but natural rather than synthetic. It is not made from raccoon fur as some people think. Extremely expensive, it ranges from $1000 to $3000 per yard, as for a scarf. A suit made from the tan to orange variety averages $50,000. In the white, a jacket suit goes for $75,500 and a coat for $115,000. In Terramagne it is somewhat easier to get the wool off the vicuñas, because they are attracted to people with Animal Powers and will allow themselves to be brushed rather than shorn. However, the higher demand from soups means that the price stays about the same as here.
Cricket -- a person with superpowers who rarely if ever uses them, instead preferring to live a commonplace life. They are almost always "in the fuse box" or hiding their power from most or all people. The term comes from "you can hear the crickets chirping," a reference to safe and usual situations, or to a group of people who don't speak up. A Kauai is a person who does not recognize their own superpowers, named for the silent crickets of Kauai.
Crockpot -- a person with the rare gift of Power Bestowal. This is a very rude term, cruder than the more sophisticated "tureen." Both are containers for making and serving soup.
Croutons -- soup cooties.
The Curie Paradox -- It's not always possible to know what the safe containment methods are for gizmology or super-gizmology. Bleeding-edge or higher tech means that sometimes you discover things before you learn how to handle them safely, and you only learn the necessary safety precautions by studying what has gone horribly wrong. In Terramagne, that's called the Curie Paradox, named after Marie Curie, whose study of radiology killed her with leukemia and whose notebooks have to be stored in lead cases.
Cyclone gun -- similar to a tommy gun, but retro-engineered tech. It fires a spray of small projectiles at very high velocity.
Dexflan -- a mediumweight stretchy, clingy fabric responsive to super-powers, similar to spandex. This is retro-engineered tech. Dexflan is a rare median between ordinary material and super-gizmos, in that it can be produced by ordinary people but then function on a super scale. Dexflan is form-fitting in a way that capery cannot be, but it's heavier.
Dirgecraft -- a large, powerful lighter-than-air craft. This is retro-engineered tech similar to a zeppelin, favored by some supervillains and evil organizations. Although related to the ziplins, dirgecraft sacrifice some safety features in exchange for greater weaponry and the ability to self-destruct violently.
Donner -- an unsupportive parent of a child with superpowers. It comes from a reference in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Duck -- a healer or medic of any kind with poor skills. Because a duck goes quack, quack, quack.
Fevil -- a supervillain or minion with "an F in evil," who can't seem to get the hang of being genuinely wicked. These are the punch-clock villains who occasionally save kittens and make sure nobody's in the building they're about to burn down.
Flash badge -- a small fabric patch made of dexflan and embroidered with capery, so that it responds to the presence of superpowers. The purpose is to reveal when powers are being used by, on, or near the wearer. Simpler retro-engineered models only have an on/off mode, and aren't very useful. Fancier gizmotronic ones may distinguish between the wearer's talent and someone else's, or not respond to the wearer but only to other soups. The most elaborate super-gizmotronic ones can identify what the power is within broad categories; i.e. a different part of the badge will light up for empathic, telekinetic, or illusionary powers. There are various models, all useful for distinguishing soups from naries.
Fleer -- a super-gizmological gravitoelectromagnetic suspension train with a top speed of 600 mph, a little faster than a Boeing-777 commercial airplane. On curves it is considerably slower, but still faster than a conventional maglev train's speed of around 300mph. The real power lies in the GEM engine, which boosts the speed and cohesion of the train riding a maglev track. The inventor, a Super-Gizmologist named Carolina Fleer, keeps trying to explain to engineers and physicists how the damn thing works, so far to no avail, but they sure are determined to keep at it. The High Line in New York was the first track converted for Fleer use, now connecting the five boroughs with each other and extending to some other nearby parts of Eastbord, although it does not connect to Onion City. A second Fleer line is active in Westbord and one is under construction in Onion City.
Flickering -- one form of superpower development, most often seen in young people, involving manifestations that appear and then disappear quickly. Different episodes may display the same ability consistently, related abilities within a field, or wildly diverse ones. None of this means that the person will "keep" any particular ability, although the more often one appears, the more likely it will become permanent. The intermittent pattern makes it difficult to identify and control any ability. Usually one or more abilities will stretch out for longer periods of time until the final manifestation becomes clear.
Fork -- a bigot prejudiced against people with superpowers, usually not distinguishing between superheroes, supervillains, blue plates who use their powers in more ordinary professions, or crickets who hide their powers. They often hate supernaries too, on the premise of guilt-by-association.
Gizmo -- a piece of bleeding-edge technology. It can push the boundaries of what is possible, putting ordinary abilities into object form, but cannot extend into the super range. Gizmos are often smaller, lighter, faster, more powerful, more fuel-efficient, etc. compared to mainstream devices that do the same things. They are also rare and much more expensive. Conversely, they may have disadvantages due to their innovative status, such as being less reliable or more risky than conventional equipment. For example, the first lightbulb and the first airplane were gizmos. They can be used by anyone, although the learning curve is more demanding than for commercial gear. With enough time and effort, gizmos can be reverse-engineered and eventually mass-produced. In this regard, gizmology provides a source of technological advances much the way NASA does. Gizmology is the science and skill of making gizmos. This typically includes ordinary engineering/mechanics as well, so a gizmologist can repair or tinker with standard tech in addition to creating bleeding-edge tech. Gizmotronic is the adjective.
Go Home Charlie -- when a supervillain kills someone for being too awful for even the other bad guys to tolerate. While often thought of as concerning abusive telepaths, those are actually quite rare, and there are plenty of other offenses that have caused supervillains to turn around and frag someone supposedly on their own side. A milder version entails turning the offender in to the authorities, such as SPOON or the police. Most lawkeeping organizations wish to encourage this kind of assistance and thus grant the delivering supervillain a stay of pursuit ranging from the rest of the day to 24 hours.
Greasy spoon -- a team of people, whether loosely or tightly organized, who deal with super-level incidents from the context of ordinary jobs. They are usually first responders such as police, firefighters, medics, etc. and may be a mix of low-powered soups and/or supernaries. Although they might get called while an incident is in progress, their primary role is to clean up the mess left by supervillain-superhero battles rather than to stop supervillain crimes. Such teams are more common than high-powered superhero teams who only get called out for major conflicts. Greasy spoons also work the leading edge of tolerance and integration of soups into everyday life.
Handicape-able -- what was meant to be a politically correct term for someone with both a disability and a superpower. Most of those people hate it.
Hex cannon -- a massive gun with six barrels, each of which can fire a different type of beam. The usual mix is freeze, sleep, force, heat (vermilion), pain, shrink. The whole hex chamber rolls, like a revolver, allowing each barrel to fire in turn. This is necessary to allow the gun to bleed off excess energy and recharge before the same type of beam can fire again. So it's versatile, but not flexible. This super-gizmo is customarily mounted on a tank, although some people with super-strength have used it as a long gun.
"I'll be busy elsewhere" -- what a superhero says to invite a supervillain to deal with some issue, free of interference, even if the methods involve bending or breaking the law. It has also been used to warn soup-hostile individuals or towns: "If you keep hassling soups like this, then next time a supervillain makes trouble here -- well, I might be busy elsewhere."
"In the fuse box" -- someone not openly acknowledging their own superpower(s); i.e. where the power is hidden. Equivalent of "in the closet" for homosexuals. Crickets are almost always in the fuse box. Someone who reveals their superpowers is said to "come out of the fuse box."
Jump Up Johnny -- when someone does a good deed and gets criticized or attacked for it; this usually, though not always, refers to superpowers. It is frowned upon because it can shift people toward the supervillain side of the spectrum. Like this.
Kauai -- a person who does not recognize their own superpowers. Some abilities can be quite subtle, especially at low levels, such as Super-Intellect or Luck. The term comes from the silent crickets of Kauai.
Lathe -- someone with Power Manipulation as an umbrella gift, a reference to one of the few tools that can make a copy of itself. This is among the rarest categories of superpower, and most people who have any of it can only do temporary borrowing or dampening of superpowers, not multiple or permanent effects. It's a term of respect, unlike slurs such as "crockpot" and "tureen" for Power Bestowal.
Maxitack -- a super-gizmotronic adhesive that will attach anything and only comes loose by using a matched super-gizmo to release the bonding field. The other way to separate things it has glued together is by tearing off the surface, which is unpleasant if it is skin.
Meepfruit -- a type of fruit which is high in iron and protein, derived from horned melon and other tropical fruits, and squeaks when cut or bitten. It was genetically engineered by the Creatrix.
Mengele -- a rude term for a mad scientist who experiments on nonconsenting subjects, particularly people with superpowers. There is deep, ugly history of atrocities committed in the pursuit of science without compassion, which makes soups extremely sensitive to issues of medical ethics. More disturbingly, it can start with small things that seem innocuous and then slide down into atrocities; people are keenly aware of that slippery slope. Like telepathic violation, this kind of abuse tends to be a very short route to a Go Home Charlie. Naries are less inclined to use a word as foul as "mengele" but they are still alert to the dangers; soups, who are preferred targets for unwelcome experimentation, will go for the throat. It derives from Dr. Mengele of Nazi infamy.
Metagen -- anything that changes the ordinary to the super. Most often this applies to mysterious chemicals, and that's what people usually mean by the term. However, radiation is also a metagen in Terramagne, as are some other forces and materials.
One serious problem is that the results are erratic, sometimes hard to replicate, sometimes impossible. Take an Average (0) Metagen, and douse a hundred people with it. One of them will turn into a soup. Ten or so will drop dead. Most of the rest will just get sick, and recover. Some metagens have worse effects; for instance, the ones Judd had in the wagon killed everything they touched except for him. Nasty stuff. Metagens intended for human use -- makeup, tattoo ink, etc. -- are less likely to kill, so you'll see a pattern where most people have unpleasant reactions and one or a few will gain superpowers. Most metagens work by activating someone's latent potential.
Far less common are metagens with a higher rate of manifestation. These may work by creating a power where no latent potential existed, although some of them also bring latents into manifestation. It creates a different shape of transformational footprint in the population exposed.
Moka -- Italian term for a superkid, after an Italian stovetop espresso maker: something very small with a LOT of energy.
Nary -- an ordinary person without super-powers.
Red Hugh -- Irish slang for a someone with Fire Powers.
Reindeer games -- a vulgar term most often applied to a conspicuous soup in the company of an ordinary person, although the prevalence of inconspicuous superpowers means that the combination can just as easily be two soups.
Retro-engineered tech -- Some types of innovative technology can be analyzed, broken down, put into mass production, and their component parts used to inspire whole new developments. Gizmos embody ordinary qualities (such as artificial intelligence) or bleeding-edge breakthroughs. They can be retro-engineered, although it's exhaustive and expensive. Super-gizmos manifest superpowers (such as shrink rays) or technology sufficiently advanced to be indistinguishable from magic. They cannot be retro-engineered. A few gizmologists are also entrepreneurs, releasing their own goods on the open market; some occasionally release an item through another party; and many hoard their secrets fanatically. Corporate espionage is a thriving method of obtaining gizmos for analysis. This process takes a quirky, one-of-a-kind item and turns it into a replicable, marketable product that anyone can buy and use. These pieces of retro-engineered tech can spark major changes in society.
Rudolph -- a vulgar term for anyone with a visible superpower, equivalent to n*gg*r. It derives from the classic poem "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
Slither -- a super-gizmo about the size of a highlighter pen with twice the diameter, meant to secure prisoners or protect innocent bystanders. When activated, it deploys a dozen flat, mylar-thin ribbons, encircling the target in a cocoon rated for several tons of concussive force and nearly half that of shearing force. The material resembles polymer elastic bandage, designed to leave air gaps rather than fully mummify people. A limited damping field, set for slow rather than stasis, further protects the package. Once deployed, the Slither will deliver a debilitating shock to anyone trying to tamper with the package who doesn't have a medbadge or police badge. (Introduced by Dialecticdreamer in "UPS.")
Soup -- anyone with super-powers, whether hero or villain.
Speedster -- someone with super-speed. The connotation is neutral to positive.
SPOON -- Super Power Organizational & Operational Nexus. A loose, informal network of superheroes and other people with powers; they help people find other soups, form working relationships, and share information. Some superhero teams are affiliated with SPOON, while others aren't. A few police departments around the nation have SPOON teams associated with them to handle major supervillain problems.
Spork -- a person with superpowers who hates soups; a case of internalized oppression. This derives from the superhero group SPOON and the use of 'fork' for anti-super bigots. It's a case of Boomerang Bigot.
STEMZ -- an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Zetetics.
Sterbenfeld device -- a super-gizmo dating from World War II, whose name literally means "death field." It generates a plane of energy fatal to everything. The Germans never had very many of these, and couldn't get the area of effect large enough to outstrip conventional weaponry, but it was still terrifying. The technology remains rare but has appeared in modern times.
Strongman or strongwoman -- someone with super-strength. The connotation is neutral to positive.
Super-gizmo -- a piece of super-powered technology. It can surpass the bounds of conventional technology to put superpowers into material form. While it doesn't violate the laws of nature, it may seem to bend or break the ones people already know about, by following undiscovered rules. Therefore super-gizmos attract the attention of scientists. These scientists usually go home frustrated, because super-gizmos cannot be reverse-engineered or mass-produced. That doesn't stop people from trying, and occasionally a theoretician manages to winkle out a new hypothesis of natural law. Super-gizmos are so challenging to use that they only work for a designated owner/operator, a gizmologist, a super-gizmologist, or a super-genius. They are restricted or banned in some places because the user-hostile equipment can cause serious damage in the wrong hands. Such laws have minimal effect, however, as supervillains don't follow laws and super-gizmologists of any alignment often ignore them because science. Super-gizmology typically includes gizmology and ordinary engineering/mechanics, so a super-gizmologist can repair or tinker with standard or bleeding-edge tech in addition to creating super-tech. Super-gizmotronic is the adjective.
Superhera -- a female with superpowers, working as a soloist or part of a super-powered team, doing traditional heroic work such as fighting crime or saving people. It derives from the masculine "superhero" using the feminine -a ending, and it also relates to the Greek goddess Hera. The neutral form "soup" refers to anyone with superpowers.
Supernary -- an ordinary person who performs on a super level through the use of intensive training. They often employ gizmos or super-gizmos to help bridge the gap. Another common example is people with an exceptional talent such as archery or charisma.
Tesoro/a -- Marionette term for a found child or teen, meaning "treasure," or tesorino/a for a very young one; literally implying that somebody dropped a precious thing which can be claimed by the happy finder.
Tureen -- a person with the rare gift of Power Bestowal. This is a very rude term, but more sophisticated than the cruder "crockpot." Both are containers for making and serving soup.
Tweak -- a telekinetic person, or telekinesis in general. Sometimes rendered as "teek" instead.
Venture team -- a group of people sent on a mission together, usually soups but not necessarily so.
Vidwatch -- a wristband that keeps time, exchanges video calls, and handles many other functions. This setting's ubiquitous smart-device developed from a watch instead of a telephone. However, its tiny screen size is a limitation, so some people still prefer smartphones, which evolved more recently and are akin to palmtop computers. Smartwatches have now hit the market in our world too.
Vrip -- a fastener similar to velcro but much lighter, barely thicker than the fabric itself. Also referred to as a vrip strip, the name comes from "virtual rip." Although velcro is still used for fastening heavy-duty materials such as canvas or leather, vrip is preferred for flexible closures in clothing or other light-weight purposes. Dexflan and capery are usually secured with vrip. This is retro-engineered tech.
White cape -- a superhero. Also phrased as "on the white side of the cape."
Wrong side of the cape -- being a supervillain, akin to "wrong side of the tracks." There are various other phrasings that refer to which "side of the cape" someone is on. If people say they're "on the wrong side of the cape" from each other, they usually mean on opposite sides. A little different, "Did you get up on the wrong side of the cape today?" is something said to a superhero who's being too rough.
Zabernism -- originally the misuse of military authority for bullying or oppression, this has extended to cover police brutality and similar official malfeasance. It can be presented as a charge in a court martial, internal affairs investigation, or other contexts. Zabernism is discouraged because it has been identified as an inspiration for people becoming supervillains.
Zap gun -- any weapon designed to fire bolts or beams. The effects of beam rifles last longer than those of bolt pistols. This is super-gizmology and not widely available, although some organizations hire a super-gizmologist to equip their troops in significant numbers. They typically have no recoil. Most models with recoil are inferior; this is a sign of some flaw in the weapon mechanism. Force guns do have recoil but it can (and should) be compensated. Note that the visible emission is typically not a beam or bolt of pure light (which would travel at light speed) but instead a beam or bolt of glowing material (which moves at less than light speed). Compare this to a flamethrower rather than a laser gun: the flame consists of burning particles or fluid. Sometimes the bolt or beam is quite straight and not subject to outside interference (i.e. by wind, magnetic fields, etc.) while others are more malleable.
Zatzer -- a heavy, rather clunky pistol that fires electromagnetic bolts. This is retro-engineered tech. It lacks the power and finesse of a true zap gun. At low settings it can disorient humans; at medium settings it can stun, like a taser; and at high settings it can singe or start fires. The higher the setting, the more risk of killing a person. This is often the only kind of gun police are allowed to carry in urban areas, except for BASH teams.
Zetetic -- as an adjective, it means "proceeding by inquiry and investigation." As a noun, zetetist means "inquirer" and zetetics means "an inquiry" or the field itself. In Terramagne, this is the field of study which analyzes (or attempts to analyze) gizmos and super-gizmos. It is distinct from gizmology and super-gizmology in that it does not aim to create new devices, but rather to understand and perhaps duplicate existing ones. Zetetic consultants are essential for police, who sometimes gather evidence from labs active in gizmology or super-gizmology.
Zipcycle -- a subtype of zoom wagon, this is a motorcycle equipped with NOS, a jet, or other high-speed enhancement. Some are optimized for pure speed and agility, while others are designed to carry cargo. These are like hotblood and coldblood horses. Recently a warmblood style has emerged to move a small amount of equipment swiftly and safely through crowded streets for purposes of crisis response, and this is what most people mean by "zipcycle" now. Imagine something like this, but at high speed.
Ziplin -- a lighter-than-air craft that is slim and quick compared to dirgecraft. This is retro-engineered tech similar to a zeppelin, but with capery fabric and alloyed struts that prevent the hydrogen from being so dangerously explosive.
Zoom wagon -- a vehicle equipped with NOS, a jet, or other high-speed enhancement. This is actually street-legal in Urbanburg. However, it requires a Class Z license, the qualifications of which are difficult to pass. Almost everyone who succeeds has super-speed (which includes faster reflexes), a result not intended by lawmakers and not pleasing to the nary population. Zoom wagons are popular with superheroes (usually licensed) and supervillians (almost always unlicensed). The latter greatly raise the damage quotient of high-speed chases, but so far nobody has figured out how to keep the darn things off the streets, because criminals don't follow laws.