In this case, I began the day with finding Gary's last name. (Because, yep. Red Hood Rider was my focus.) His name, in this case, is Gary Cross. (Still need middle names for basically the entire cast, though.)
Then I went onto a setting detail I didn't have before. Basically, I went into details about the city they live in. A small city, but a city nonetheless, better called a city than a simple town. What did I end up calling the fictional city? Earth Ridge, loosely based off of Monroe, with bits of Snohomish and my old original home thrown in for good measure. I even went to a further detail; there are two high schools in the setting (again, stealing from Monroe), being Earth Ridge High (Monroe High), and Spirit Eagle Education Center. (Sky Valley Education Center.)
The parallels to my life are obvious, since I was initially raised in the Bellevue suburb of Spirit Ridge, attending Spirit Ridge Elementary. (I'm not sure if they had a high-school, but I know they had more than an elementary, meaning at least a middle-school or above. But I digress.)
When I moved out to my current home between Snohomish and Monroe, I as has been said attended Sky Valley Education Center, and they have the emblem of an eagle. (In fact, part of Ruby's design is based off of the second-ever hoodie I owned, a black one with the school's eagle printed on it.)
Now, I *believe* that Highway 2 in that area is going through a valley (well, I'm pretty sure it can be called one), and I *believe* it's called "Sky Valley" (though not absolutely sure about that), and from that I think I extrapolated that my school was named after the valley, but for the sake of the story, let's assume that instead of the school being named after the valley, the city is, sort-of like Snohomish also being the name of the county I'm in.
Anyway, I obviously combined the two. Ruby attends (as her civilian identity, mind you) Spirit Eagle Education Center, and Gary attends Earth Ridge High; the two schools (just like in Monroe) work in tandem with one another because they're not so much rivals as partners, with the Education Center being a broader, more personalized learning experience.
I also had always intended there to be a sister/rival-city (where, among other things, Whitney was doing her heroics before she got called into the Ruby Gang), which now that I've named the city of the main setting, I'm thinking would take on an early president's last name. I don't know what my town of Monroe was named after, but if it was the president James Monroe, then I figure that the sister city for the setting would be something like Madison. (Basically, Earth Ridge-->Monroe with bits of Snohomish and Spirit Ridge, Madison-->Snohomish with bits of Monroe.)
The only thing I have to do, though, is make sure the fictional city is actually fictional. Earth Ridge as a city name in Washington is a pretty safe bet to be fictional. Not so sure about naming a sister-city to it Madison, though. (And, yes. This is set in Washington, explicitly.)
After THAT, I then went on to figure out which characters would be able to dual-wield in melee combat. Why? 'Cause it's cool, naturally. (Why else?) The results were actually fairly enlightening, giving me some additional character depth.
In this case, I already knew that she could do this, but I further expanded that Ruby can officially break her staff in half, and use the two bits independently. (Originally, it's so that she can fly, with them acting as glider wings powered by magic both dark and light.) I decided that in this form, her ability to separate the heads of the staff (the actual bladed portion) is increased, thus allowing her to use the whip form with a much greater ease.
For Gary, I figured out that his swastika shield could have three of the four sides collapse into the fourth, compacting its power into a single blade. Now, obviously, it'd be a flexible secondary weapon, used near-exclusively for cutting because the only point on it would be curved sideways like an Uruk-hai's weapon only moreso (and having it be more filleted a curve too), making stabbing a bit impractical. But it'd still be sharp for pushing forward, with the wedge it makes being able to cut. (Just not pierce.) The blade's main usage would be in the support of his main sword, using its ability to spin from the handle and unusual shape to create an unpredictable attack pattern, distracting from the main blade. I also figured out how he could later (after gaining this ability) compact his main blade into a water-blade (THE water blade, the lightsaber-like cutter I've mentioned before), and have that act as the secondary to his left now serving as his primary, via the collapsed water blade being faster and deadlier, but shorter and easier to see coming.
I decided that while in theory Sally could dual-wield her bazooka, in reality it would be too cumbersome for her her to handle, because the blade that'd be produced would be too large to control with any finesse at all. (Think like the gigantic saber sword in Gundam00--yes, it can be done; no, it isn't often done, because there's simply never an occasion where THAT would be the best thing to do.) Instead, though, she has an ability that is actually far more powerful and is comparable to Ruby when Ruby's using her dark arts to their full power, and it's so pathetically simple and fundamental that Sally hasn't even named the technique. (She just had to think about using it in the first place in order to use it, and once she got inspired, BAM.)
In this case? She uses the threads she specializes in, controlled by her hands and mind puppeteer style...with each of those threads having on it a mini-rocket. Each mini-rocket serves the function of, essentially, an explosive dagger: it's sharp, able to both cut and pierce, and thus, is a viable weapon...before you factor in that at will, she can make them explode and at will, she can make more of them. And she can control dozens of them at a single time, each with a full range of motion exceeding that of a mere whip and having a range far exceeding most melee techniques while still distinctly being one. (~50 feet.)
In short, once she learns how to do it, this pretty much becomes her thing. Mini-rockets can also, incidentally, be thrown, and set to have delayed explosions, and also can be made to have many properties of some of Ruby's techniques such as bouncing off of objects and curveball trajectories. As she, and Ruby, both say many times, there's a REASON she's Ruby's rival. But it's not a technique she initially has; it's more of a lategame technique that she discovers through observation and replication. (Incidentally, most characters do this.)
Herald I decided would dual-wield more often than not, but his weaponry is of course situational-dependent. I also figured that Dion would be capable of it, be it a shadow weapon or just a wakizashi, but he prefers using the katana I decided. Similarly, Vili can dual wield with incredible ease, but prefers having one hand free just in case.
Then there was D.D. I did decide on specifics, though they actually have some plot relevance so I'm not sure how much I want to disclose in here. Whitney for her part, obviously, dual wields, but for melee it's activated by holstering her pistols, at which point the holsters detach, the handles on her guns rotate, and energy exudes from them over a short distance to form shortswords.
And Amy of course has no weapon at all.
After all of that, I STILL wasn't done. On Friday, I thought up a light-opponent story arc; today I had a contemporary story arc idea involving time travel. I can't tell you the whole thing because I generally try to keep the major spoilers out of this blog for reading enjoyment. I'll tell you this much, though, because if I don't write this down (and the blog's as good a place as any to do so), I'm going to forget it.
Basically, when dealing with time travelers, there's protocol that professional superheroes will enact. (Okay, that's a bit of a minor spoiler in of itself; yes, this means Whitney is featured heavily in the arc, but she's not the focus.) There's more to each of these, of course, but they can be boiled down to be, effectively, as such, told from the perspective of the person sent back to the person they're seeking aid from:
Code G-1 means, "Hey. I'm a superhero from the future. I was sent back to stop a villain, but I don't know (or can't reveal) more than that. You're the first superhero that I can trust."
Code G-2 means, "In the future, we don't know each other. However, you contacted me to send me back in time. Thus, this is a Stable Time Loop."
Code G-3 means, "In the future, we know each other...but you have no memory of this happening; assume 'timeline mergance/Ripple Effect' theory." (I'll try to explain this in more detail below.)
Code G-4 means, "In the future, we know each other...but you didn't tell me we met this way until you sent me back. So it's a Stable Time Loop; keep a tight lip until you send me here."
Code G-5 means, "In the future, we know each other...and I've known I was going back to meet you for some time. So it's a Stable Time Loop; now let me tell you what we need to do."
Code G-6 means, "In the future, we know each other...but you don't have memory of this; assume parallel universe theory is in play."
There's probably more combinations I'm missing, which would continue in the numbering sequence. (Not covered above but which probably exists as well is a code involving a lack of villain involvement first in the time travel--that is, heroes going back to avert a future crisis, a-la X-men Last Stand style.) I can tell you the story's one of the above that deals with it, though.
To explain, the important factors here are,
*Their familiarity with one another in the future.
*Their memory of the past. (To establish if it's a stable time loop or one of the other two methods.)
*If not a stable loop, what is suspected to be the type of time travel in play.
Now, as for how to explain them...well, parallel universe is simple enough. When you're sent back, things change from how they were, timelines diverge and stay that way. Stable time loop is a closed circuit, everything that will happen, has happened already. The merge/ripple one, though...now that one's a bit more complex. In a way, it's a mixture of the two, at least ideally. (Assuming heroic triumph rather than villain triumph.) Since getting things back to exactly how they were is impossible, this is the "close enough" method, assuming things go according to the heroes' plans.
But to explain in more detail...basically, it begins when someone decides to change the past. The moment they get sent back is the moment things begin to change...however, it isn't until slightly after they're sent back that the changes take place to the timeline. Until then, it is effectively a parallel dimension.
To put this into perspective:
Stable time loop of a day: You go back a day, what you did in that past day is forever locked because it happened already. Nobody is aware of a change because there isn't any.
Parallel travel of a day: you go back a day, you've already changed the past, and thus, the timelines have split. Nobody is aware of a change because the split timeline means they haven't actually changed.
Merge/ripple of one day: you go back 24 hours. For a period of 24 hours (plus some interest spent 'merging'), there are two timelines in existence. The one you came from, and the one you are in. After the time has expired, they merge back together into one, with a balance between the two heavily favoring the one you are currently in over the one you came from.
And therein lies why the ripple effect exists: it happens because someone goes back in time, and the time period after that is why people can remember events that are beginning to cease to exist, and why people who should cease to exist can hold onto existence for a while and aren't instantly gone. A couple of factors can extend this period, namely, being important to the chronology of the universe (being "the chosen one" definitely helps) OR having a tie directly to someone who does (that's everyone in the cast because Ruby's interaction changes them and Ruby is said chosen one), but also things like, "you were there the first time", "you are going to be there", "the changes had minimal impact on you", "your very existence depends on this happening as it did", and of course, being a magical girl.
That's about as much detail as I'll give, other than that the type of time travel involved isn't one of the parallel ones.
Thus, when the person/people who is/are sent back have finished their task, they need a way home. The solution devised is a pocket dimension: inside, they will not physically age. Though suspended animation is an option, on the off chance of a parallel dimension, they can't take the risk of it, thus, they are conscious inside as well. Small drawback, though, is that the pocket dimension was developed for training purposes: at its maximum, a Year Inside being a Second Outside. (Its default is Year Inside, Hour Outside.)
It can be slowed down, of course, but the slowest it goes is three times normal: an hour becomes three hours inside, a day becomes three days inside, a year becomes three years inside, you get the idea. So for someone entering the pocket dimension, what it's doing is The Slow Path...the VERY slow path. It ages them quite a bit mentally, because in this state, they maintain perfect memory of everything they think of during the duration of their stay inside, with the only thing they're aware of outside being the time. (Inside, of course, they can also do things like move around and visualize things, allowing them to train their abilities, its original function.)
And that's how the character(s) going in, while not aging physically, end up becoming more mature once they emerge. (Not by much, though. They're not going back 20 years for a stay of 60; it's a shorter jump back than that; I'll say that much.)