Charmwarp is one of the six Warps of the Puzzlebox, a realm of riotous color and joyful exuberance, where chaos is kept in check by ritual competition.
Charmwarp has changed dramatically since the last ontological shift in the Puzzlebox, and a relatively new form has emerged from the chrysalis. Compared to prior incarnations, the 'new' Charm is remarkably more orderly than before... at least on the surface. If anything, it is as dangerous as ever, in the way that only a realm of the truly innocent can be.
Physically, Charm is a riot of color and gloss, much as it has always been, though now its tones are more those of candyfloss and ink than of rubber and metal. At some unidentified point in time, a surge of what has been consistently been described as 'elemental color' swept over the Warp, hardening and crystallizing to form its present strata. This selfsame incident also brought with it the Warp's new ruler, an enigmatic figure known only as the Tearose Dowager, who undertook massive efforts to sculpt the roiling protomatter into functional structures. Depending upon location, Charm seems to be either constructed of finely-polished, carefully-sculpted candy, or living ink that appears to have been drawn-in by an unseen animator; deep beneath the 'modern' strata, one can even find remnants of its previous structure, which local myth holds to house many of the residents who refused to change, including the Bubbledolls.
Its aesthetic mixes freely from both the Italian Rennaissance and the Heian Era, though all grounded in the strange physical properties of the Warp, with glossy materials that seem to be forged from hard candy, and lighting sources that seems to have been hand-shaded. Flower and plant motifs are common, etched into gleaming, partially-translucent candied marble, which come in all colors of the rainbow. Charm's aesthetic is moderately infectious, as well, with those who spend extensive time there typically taking on a glossy sheen or cel-shaded pastels.
In present form, Charm is unusual in that while it shares the same theoretical infinitude of all the Warps, this property is notably vertically-oriented; everything in Charm is tall, buildings towering over its inhabitants except at the furthest reaches. Without a high enough prestige ranking or explicit invitation, the upper regions of Charm are always at one set height: too far to reach. Standing at 'ground-level,' Charm seems to have an absolutely infinite amount of 'up' inside it. Once one has attained the proper prestige, one can ascend or descend via elevators that seem to materialize whenever it is convenient for them to do so, traveling through streams of liquid color that often reflects whatever thoughts the occupants are having. More intellectually-inclined residents theorize that these are actually telelocation, and that the sensation of motion is simulated; why someone would simulate elevators that seem to move at right angles or in spirals is a different matter, as-yet unaddressed.
Charm has a well-known and well-deserved reputation for being a madhouse. The physical rules of reality are intensely mutable here, and residents are particularly tapped-into it. Anyone who visits Charm has, traditionally, been at rather extreme risk for 'deciding' to stay, and Charm residents who leave tend to cause substantial chaos in their wake. The only rule Charm has natively is 'be colorful and have fun,' and it twists the interpretations of that credo as far as it can get away with.
The Tearose Dowager, confronted with the inherent chaos of Charm, instituted a system to keep the more dangerous inhabitants relatively pacified and 'safe' towards outsiders, while still permitting them leave to do whatever they wish to each other: that of the Royal Duels. For most residents of Charm, the Royal Duels are not something that affects them; like anywhere else, it is simple enough to live a happy life without any concern for safety or scarcity. These are not who the Duels are for.
Those who the Tearose Dowager identifies as 'troublemakers,' however, are made Duelists, and branded with her mark: that of a stylized flower, each one particular to the given individual, upon the back of their hand or hand-equivalent, typically invisible but which glows in the presence of fellow Duelists. Duelists may freely challenge each other, but are prohibited from 'playing' with anyone who does not bear the Dowager's mark, unless they give their express permission for a Duelist to do so. Duelists who attempt to break this prohibition are visited by the Dowager's discipline, which is typically public, deeply embarrassing, and often explosive.
The primary prize for which Duelists duel is prestige. Those of higher prestige are permitted to access higher levels of Charm, with the top-ranked permitted to attend the Dowager's court. Duels take many forms, combative and otherwise, but all are inherently competitive and emotionally-charged, with the 'test' typically being maintaining courtly composure in the face of debilitating bliss. Prestige is an invisibly-tracked but tracked-nevertheless rating which assesses Duelists on a number of factors, skill, composure, and valor chiefly, but also how entertaining they are when facing a loss: many well-ranked Duelists are perennial 'losers' who are simply so adorable in a state of ecstatic meltdown that they are awarded bonuses.
Duels are incredibly varied, and can range from painting exhibitions where the canvas corresponds to the opponent's body, elegant dances where Duelists must struggle to follow each other's moves, or out-and-out combats where being struck results in pleasure rather than pain. It is customary that the challenger picks the locale, while the defender picks the terms of the duel. Refusing a duel results in an automatic deduction of prestige, but losing does not necessarily mean a 'loss,' which keeps the system functional.
The chief effect this has upon local metaphysics, however, is that issuing or accepting a duel counts as explicit, non-revokable consent to whatever may happen as a result. No one knows how the Tearose Dowager managed to subvert Puzzlebox's Consent Maintenance System to make this system work, and those who have investigated it, if they have discovered anything, are not sharing. Most likely because the ranks of the Royal Guard seem to increase in number anytime somebody goes looking, always looking suspiciously like someone you used to know.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena – The most obvious inspiration for neo-Charm, of course, with its bizarre architecture, emotional duels, and fascinating exploration of the interplay between gender and power dynamics. Come for the lesbians, stay for the Gnosticism!
- Kaiba – A surreal, colorful exploration of identity, set in a futuristic sci-fi universe where memories can be manipulated, moved from body to body, and stored to make you immortal. Hauntingly beautiful and often very tropey.
- Aim for the Ace! – The original shoujo anime, and the one that set the mold for all to come. Beautiful despite limited animation, staggeringly emotive, and wonderfully-written with every event being driven by emotion.
- Kill La Kill – Madcap, fetishy as they come, and completely awesome. Fashion gives you superpowers because of aliens! School uniforms are bloodsucking symbiotes! Everything is adorable, violent, and gay as hell!