Jan 20 2008

Common Superpower Problems

If you’re writing a superhero story, don’t let your superpowers fall into these traps.

1. The hero’s powers can’t be used creatively. Readers really want to be surprised, so it’s very important that the powers be versatile. If your character is only superstrong, you can only surprise them by using different things as weapons.  That gets tedious fast. (Watch a Superman or Dragon Ball Z fight scene). Test your superhero against some of these situations. Can he get through them in an unexpected way?

  • Distracting a guard.  (Cliche:  mental control, illusions and possibly telekinesis).
  • Nonviolently subduing a guard or cop (cliche:  mental control and/or hypnosis).
  • Preventing a building from falling (cliche:  superstrength, telekinesis).
  • Getting past a locked door (cliche:  teleportation, phasing, lockpicks, blowing open the wall).
  • Finding a password (cliche: anything electronic or electrical, beating it out of a bad guy).

2. The character’s limits are hard to grasp. In Heroes, a head wound will permanently kill the regenerating heroes, but a nuclear explosion won’t.  Huh?

3. The character’s strength fluctuates arbitrarily. Most Superman cartoons feature two battles. Superman will lose the first bout (to raise the stakes) but he’ll win the second.  He hasn’t gotten any stronger, so why does he wins the second time? That usually feels unsatisfying.

4. The superpowers are hard to understand. Ideally, you can explain each hero’s powers in a brief sentence.  “He has spider-powers, like slinging webs and climbing and sensing danger” is OK.  “She can control the weather” is even better.  Please stay away from heroes that have many unrelated superpowers.  What’s the connection between eye-beams, cold breath, flight, superstrength and x-ray vision?  It sort of works for Superman because readers are exposed to him, but it is likely to ruin a superhero story that is completely new to its readers.

5. He’s overpowered. Superman is the best example of this. He can only have interesting fights with supervillains. (Theoretically, he could fight thugs armed with kryptonite, but Superman limping around isn’t much of a fight). If your character is completely immune to bullets and other common weapons, it will be hard for you to challenge him.  Also, humans are vulnerable and we relate more to (somewhat) vulnerable heroes.

6. The hero’s superpowers ruin the drama. In particular, time travel, reading minds, erasing memories, and resurrection are particularly bad here.

  • Time travel:  if your hero can undo anything bad that happens, nothing will ever be dramatic.  “Why doesn’t he just go back in time?”
  • Reading minds: surprise, suspicion and uncertainty are all dramatic.  A story about a psychic is all-but-unable to use any of them.  (To some extent, lie-detection suffers from a similar problem).
  • Erasing memories:  this is probably the lamest way to protect a secret identity.  It will also confuse readers because we can’t keep track of who actually remembers what.
  • Resurrection:  if someone can bring people back from the dead, death will become banal and the action will suffer.  “He died, big deal.  Why don’t they just bring him back?”  This is almost as serious as time-travel.

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146 responses so far

146 Responses to “Common Superpower Problems”

  1. MysticGuston 29 May 2008 at 9:34 am


  2. Bretton 24 Sep 2008 at 5:13 pm

    Suppose a character can control space-time, but he tries to avoid doing it too often because if he makes a mistake he could accidentally destroy the universe?

  3. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 29 Oct 2008 at 12:56 am

    I guess the hero could slip something into their coffee or flood the room with a sleeping gas for 1b.

  4. B. Macon 29 Oct 2008 at 3:59 am

    I like the coffee idea better than sleeping gas. Also, do you remember the scene in one of the X-Men movies where Mystique helps Magneto break out of jail by smuggling extra iron in the guard’s blood? That was kickass.

  5. mesadeadon 01 Feb 2009 at 7:02 pm

    What if a time-traveling hero kills a younger version of himself, thus making an unending cycle?

  6. B. Macon 01 Feb 2009 at 7:06 pm

    I think time-travel is usually an awkward superpower because it leads to confusing situations like that.

  7. Dforceon 20 Feb 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I have a question,

    Concerning #3: How do you keep your hero’s strength static without making the hero look helpless or pathetic?

    If he/she’s the main character and fighting the final boss for the first time, he/she’ll lose that time. How do you keep them from getting on a bus and going to train atop Mt. Everest just to come back and stop the final villain? Do you give them some intellectual advantage, like figuring out the villain’s kryptonite or creating a trap (not possible because villain will not come to the trap this time)? What if time is of the essence, and the fate of an entire species rests on the hero (say the doomsday machine is ticking for 30 seconds)? Does he/she bring friends (I think it leads the hero to seem helpless without company)? Or would it be more dramatic (and for closure, too) if the hero sacrificed them both (hero and villain) to destroy/avert the doomsday machine? But what of other villains to come?? Who will stop them???

    This all concerns an Alien Warrior Race on a different planet, by the way.

    Any thoughts?

  8. B. Macon 20 Feb 2009 at 8:45 pm

    Midway through the story, the hero usually loses his first fight with the villain. But he usually wins in the climax. In the interim, the hero probably practices more, prepares better, plans better, etc. It isn’t necessarily a problem that the hero becomes more powerful. There just has to be some reason that he’s become more powerful. For example, maybe he trains really hard before the final fight.

  9. Davidon 21 Feb 2009 at 8:28 am

    I think most writers go for superstrength and invulnerability.

  10. Ragged Boyon 21 Feb 2009 at 11:00 am

    Superstrength and invunerability are a bit bland and WAY over used. I think the training is a better route..

  11. Chi.Rhoon 22 Feb 2009 at 5:56 pm

    What do you think about superspeed and invisibility? Do you think that they enhance each other or are they pointless to give to one hero?

    What kind of abilities are good substitutes for superstrength and invulnerability?

  12. Ragged Boyon 22 Feb 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I don’t think superspeed and invisibility would blend so well. They seem like they would overlap. Why would you need to be invisible if you could move so fast that people wouldn’t be noticed.

    I think enhanced agility (gymnastic skills, kung fu skills, flexibility) would be a good substitute. Speed is also good. Maybe speed and agility would be a good substitution combo. Instead of being able to take blows, your character could dodge and counter them.

  13. Chi.Rhoon 22 Feb 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Yeah, that’s what I figured, but I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just a creative hiccup. Lol.

  14. B. Macon 13 Mar 2009 at 9:54 am

    I think I’ve addressed this before. To recap, the powers don’t seem to complement each other and it’d be hard to fit them into a theme.

  15. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 11:00 am

    Is it a bad idea to have superhuman strength and invunerability?Personally those are some of my favorite abilties considering one of my favorite comic book characters Superman has them.

    Also I heard somone mention Superman’s powers don’t go well together. Also when people speak of Superman which version do you mean Red and blue, Sword of Superman Supe’s? Each version has faults and others are better than others.
    (X ray vision, Telescpic vision, Micrsocpis, Infa red, heat vision ect. Super strength.

  16. Tomon 31 Mar 2009 at 11:23 am

    The problem with Superman is, and always will be, he’s just too powerful. This can’t be stressed enough. Think of any situation and he’ll be able to use his powers in some way to win. That’s why they had to give him so many weaknesses. It’s not just Kryptonite, there’s also magic (which his powers don’t work on), the light of a red sun (which neutralises his powers) and lead (which he can’t see through). And his most powerful enemy is Lex Luthor, who relies on Kryptonite to win. His second most powerful enemy (I think) is Bizarro, and he’s a mirror image of Superman. That’s right, it takes a Superman to beat Superman. Nothing else can challenge him.

    If Batman and Superman went to stop the same bank robbery, I assure you it would be much less interesting to watch Superman whoosh in and save the day in the blink of an eye than it would be to watch Batman sneak in, fight the baddies, disarm them, free the hostages and fight for his life as he stops the crime.

  17. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:20 pm

    Not to be rude but I honestly don’t think Superman is too powerful. Their are beings WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY more powerful than him. He can get through most situations but it’s not just pure problem he is very intelligent he is able to battle enemies without powers all the time. He dosen’t always use his abilties to overcome a situation he does use his head a lot too.

    Also Superman dosen’t have tons of weaknesses anymore he’s powerful but not unstoppable. Also not all forms of kryptonite are weakness Red k has hundreds of effects some helpful some harmful like making him powerless. If he dosen’t have powers that dosen’t mean he’ll quit being a hero, he will still attempt to save people. Also Kryptonite weakneans him but takes a while to actually kill him. As for Magic his powers work on magic it’s just he can be affected it by it just as easy as another person.

    Also he stores solar energy in his body so it would take a long time for the red sun to weaken him now. As for lead he can use his super hearing or just bust it down. As for enemies your way off. His strongest enemy is Doomsday aka the first villian ever to kill him. His second strongest is Zod and Brainiac. Than Myxy is technically the most deadly sense he can do almost anything but he’s playful.

    Lex has no superhuman abilties so he’s nowhere near Superman’s level although he’s very intelligent and is rich. He can manipulate others and is a genius. He does not always rely on Kryptonite he uses a robot suit, steals Superman’s powers,Sends him to the Phantom Zone, uses mind control devices,cloning, trapping him in an illusions with technology, Taking his powers via magic, discovering his secerete and manipulating him, and their are tons of other ways he fights him. His intellect makes him Superman’s arch enemy. Bizzaro is an imperfect clone of Superman who has opposite powers ice vision, vacumm breath. heat breath ect and Superman can take care of him quite easily.

    Also while it’s true Superman would move at light speed and wipe out the robbers easily,save the hostages, ect. It would be just as easy for Batman. Batman is a very powerful character in the comics, his movies are more down to earth. Stopping a robbery for Batman is just as easy as eating dinner. Batman knows 127 style’s of martial arts and is a master of stealth. Did I mention his godly utility belt which solves all his problems it has nuke’s,flash gernades, devices that can contain the enemy in ice, A robot suit which he used to fight Superman. Did I mention a drug that gives him kryptontion abilties, plus a bullet proof suit.

    Batman walks in uses knock out gas walks in and brings the unconscious hostages out and tie’s up the criminals. Slower but still very easy.

  18. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Generally, think superstrength and invulnerability don’t work well together. For one, Superstrength kind of overlaps invulnerablity, if your strong enough to lift heavy objects you should be strong enough to take heavy blow. Secondly, this combination makes the character into a tank, and you’ll have to add some ridiculous weakness in order to hurt them.

    I’m pretty sure were talking about generic Superman.

    Superman isn’t interesting, becuase despite his grab-bag laundry list of abilities, he never uses his powers in interesting ways. He picks something up and throws it, seen it. Delivers super devastating punches, seen it. He flys into somone at full speed, seen it. Must I continue? One of the most interesting abilities he has in my opinion is ice-breathing, but he hardly ever uses that. With a little bit of creativity and common-sense, I think he could have totally beat Doomsday. Unfortunately, he persisted as plain old ridiculously strong Superman and got killed.

    What do you think?

  19. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Well I don’t think superstrength gives you invunerability. For example Nikki from heroes has super strength but not invunerabiliy. She can still be hurt but she can lift things no ordinary human can. Makes the character into tank. Also not all weaknesses for strong people are ridicolous and some can be easily obtained. Well that’s your opinion many people think Superman is very interesting.

    I personally think Superman is interesting and he often uses his powers in interesting way he does after all have superhuman intelligence. For example sometimes he dosen’t have to interact if criminals shoot bullets at somone he can move at super speed and blow the bullet back at the shooter. Or if an energy beam is coming at somone he can use heat vision to knock the beam of course. He can run around and create a tornado. He can move faster than light and go back in time to prevent somone from dieing ect.

    He can use objects as shields for example if somone shoots a blast at somone he can throw a vehicle infront of the blast to create a smokescreen or he can use small beams of heatvision to start fires around somone. He can also use heat vision on himself to superheat his body or his hand to melt something. If somone can run faster than him he can use ice breath to freeze their feet and cause them to fall.

    No, Superman could not have beaten Doomsday he is the ultimate warrior and was already immune to almost all his abilties except his super strength hence the reason Superman mainly used that. He could have flown them into the sun to fight because he can absorb large amoutns of solar energy and has infinite power but he didn’t have that skill when he first fought Doomsday. Doomsday constantly adapts and is invunerable to most forms of harm.Therefore he had to result to a combination of Strength and speed not to mention martial arts techniques. He is trained in several forms of martial arts about 1000.

  20. Tomon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:42 pm

    You see, when you said how Superman would fight all of those weaknesses, you just proved how overpowered he is. Even his weaknesses can’t hold him in.

    And no matter how powerful Batman is, he’s nowhere near as strong as Superman. He doesn’t even have superpowers!

    What you said about Lex Luthor is absolutely true, Lex is a great villain, but that doesn’t make Superman any better.

    I like Superman, but not that much…

    Batman and Spider-Man are waaaay better.

  21. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:48 pm

    What’s interesting about Batman is that despite all his gadgets, there is still a major chance that he can fail. Sure, he has gadgets, but if he can’t stop the robber from pulling the trigger to some ladie’s head, what’s the point. Superheroes need to be able to fail, and not always by some outrageous standard. If the robber tried to shoot a hostage, Superman would speed in, stop the bullet, and knock out the guy. I don’t know about you, but seems pretty boring. Likewise, if another robber snuck up on Superman (which isn’t possible because of super-hering) and hit him over the head, Superman laugh and punch the guy out. But if were Batman he’d get knocked out. I’m not saying I want the heroes to lose, but the chance of failure or death makes the scene interesting.

    Two scenes:

    Superman is surrounded by a group of killers with guns. The readers will say “Stupid bad guys, guns dont work on Superman. Wait, if I know he’ll win, why bother reading this” *throws away comic.

    Batman is surrounded by a group of killers with guns. The reader will say “Uh-oh, how’s he going to get out of this one.” *reader continues reading*.

  22. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:55 pm

    But I’m proving he uses his brain he has methods of facing them. He prepares before going into battle. He has a lead suit to protect him from kryptonite, can store solar energy, super mode to wipe out enemies. Also Superman isn’t really that powerful compared to others like Zartanna. Actually Superman’s strongest enemy is Superman prime he’s superman without limits and is immune to all forms of kryptoniet, magic, and pain in general. He’s the defination of overpowered. Compared to him Superman is a regular human.

    Dude, seriosuly Batman has beaten Superman in fights. Batman dosen’t need superpowers he fight Darkseid(Superman’s strongest enemy the only one stronger is Superman – prime and he was so godly his transformation was temporary). Not only did he live he managed to fight him with magical items only New gods should have enough willpower to use.

    You do realize Batman can carry up to 2 tons thanks to his increadible training. He can wipe out Criminals just as easily as Batman. He faced Joker with Mxy’s powers aka Emperor Joker. He can beat Superman and has done it. He has acess to a large arsenal of weaponry. He can use artificial superpowers though, if he needs too. A regular smart human is Superman’s arch enemy.Many have beaten Superman before.

  23. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Tom makes an amazing point. If his own weaknesses can’t stop him, that’s pretty unsatisfying.

  24. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Oh, Nevermind. 🙁

  25. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Yes Ragged boy Batman use to have a high chance of failing but now he dosen’t. He’s a master of 127 styles of martial arts and one of them is Stealth. He wouldn’t get surrounded by men. He also has his friends Robin and co. He has his gadgets he can call. Actually he does have gadgets that will prevent a criminal from pulling a trigger. He has knock out gas which works very quickly and he has objects that will instantly incase the shooters in ice.

    Therefore he can beat the average robbers in a few minutes. Batman is strong. Superman can fail just not to regular humans except Lex. Actually I don’t find that boring he likes to mess around sometimes for example moving the criminals around at light speed causing them to shoot/ hit each other or something silly. It’s very intertaining and sometimes funny.

    If someone hit Superman they would break their hand instantly. Superman can’t punch people his fist would tear through their skin. He just usually uses super breath or their bullets bounce of him and hit them. Dude if somone hit Batman he would not get knocked out he’s insn’t an average human he’s peak level. First of all he has excellent hearing and can hear their foot-steps. If somone hit him they would hurt their hand and he would turn around and kick them through a window.

    I would keep reading though Superman often faces challanges like the Intergang and Morgan Edge average people who challange Superman by things such as kidnapping family members, kryponite, hiring other super powerd criminals ect.

    Batman has a bullet proof suit but I won’t argue about that either and he is able to take multiple bullets without showing any sign of pain.

  26. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:08 pm

    Okay your saying his own weakness can’t stop him. Magic isn’t a weakness he’s just not immune to it. He dosen’t carry a lead suit with him so he can be suprised with kryptonite and their are different types so it’s not just the same thing every time. He often has to fight enemies without powers also did I mention all his enemies are capable of beating him and have done it multiple times.

    Metallo, Lex, Bizzaro(Well with additional power from blue sun), Superboy prime. Doomsday, Darkseid. He is able to wipe out Batman’s enemies and others but his own are challangeing to him.

  27. Ragged Boyon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Valid argument, but you’re still missing the point.

    Your original question was: “Is it a bad idea to have superhuman strength and invunerability?”

    Personally, I think so. I gave my opinion on the matter, I’m only trying to help. But if you don’t want to take my opinion for what it’s worth. So be it, I can respect that you disagree with me.

    I’ll just butt out of this one. Seeya.

  28. Chulanceon 31 Mar 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Oh right back on topic I’ve decided my character will only have super strength, will be able to take heavy hits, but can still be hurt by weaponry like bullets, gernades. I don’t want to have to make up a ridicolous weakness so I’ll limit it to super strength only.

    I was disagreeing with you about superman.

  29. Wingson 28 Apr 2009 at 9:37 am

    All right, if I explain my characters…

    Meg/Sparks can manipulate electricity.

    Ian/Gabriel can fly and can heal physical injuries.

    Connor/Nimbus can manipulate and read aura, as well as being able to cure mental injuries.

    Darren/Mindwave is a telekinetic who can also erase memories.

    Jazz/Nightshade is an animal shapeshifter.

    Pierce/Titan is a metal manipulator with a degree of invulnerability.

    Technically, Pierce can become partially invulnerable by coating himself with metal, but he requires adequate materials (lots of metal), time, and a lot on concentration (If he gets distracted the shell will recede). When he does this, he is bulletproof and cannot be injured with any sharp weapons, but becomes increasingly vulnerable to heat and electricity. Therefore, doing this is inadvisable when in a thunderstorm (unless he is next to Meg, whose powers work like a lightning rod).

    – Wings

  30. Chulanceon 09 May 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I persnoally think being invunerable and impossible to harm is fine you can still make a good story and challange the hero. Some of my characters being anime/manga can take serious amounts of pain and will eventually become invuenrable unlike novel and movie characters. Your metal guy can cover himself in metal become invunerable but still have issues and he can be cool. If somone fires a bullet he can cover a certain part of his skin in metal to fake his ndeath thanj ump up and rescue somone ect

  31. mrs marvelon 10 Jul 2009 at 5:39 pm

    what superpower can you give a zombie???

  32. A. N. Onymouson 26 Jul 2009 at 7:20 am

    Well, zombies eating brains is a common cliché. Perhaps said zombie could acquire most of the skills and memories of those whose brains he consumes; also possibly having the ability to regenerate by consuming flesh, the ability to ignore most pain and wounds due to being technically dead, and possibly superhuman strength due to the fact that the lack of pain would lead to being able to impart greater levels of effort. It’d have to be a supervillain more than a superhero, though, because eating brains is not what I’d call standing up for truth and justice as much as basic cannibalism.

  33. Athorna Olympiadaon 11 Aug 2009 at 6:03 pm

    Would it be trashy if a superhero’s human abilities were enhanced to maximum potential?

  34. Athorna Olympiadaon 11 Aug 2009 at 6:06 pm

    Where would it be a good place for the superheros to come from? Anywhere except New York– it’s so overused.

  35. B. Macon 11 Aug 2009 at 6:28 pm

    “Would it be trashy if a superhero’s human abilities were enhanced to maximum potential?” I’m not sure I understand that question. I think it’s okay if the character is essentially a really, really gifted human. For example, Batman and probably Captain America rely more on superior training than superpowers. I think it works for them.

  36. B. Macon 11 Aug 2009 at 6:43 pm

    If you pick a real-world city, I think there’s some marketing benefit to using a city in the nation you plan to publish in. I’d suggest using a city in the nation you plan to publish in unless the story demands otherwise. For example, if you wanted to publish for UK readers, I imagine they would relate more to London than New York City or Los Angeles or wherever. Aside from that, I don’t think it matters very much.

    Cities have a slightly different feel– for example, Salt Lake City, East St. Louis, and Washington have different kinds of people and scenes. If you’re looking for a gritty city to fit a super-seedy story, SLC would be a counterintuitive setting. But usually I don’t think it matters a lot. Would a story change all that much if it moved from Pittsburgh to Chicago or from San Diego to Houston? Probably not.

    If you’re doing a comic book in an actual setting, I’d recommend sticking with a city with a recognizable skyline and many memorable public domain buildings unless you have a very good reason to select another city. Within the US, I’d say that Chicago, New York, Washington, and maybe Seattle have very memorable skylines.

    What sort of mood are you going for?

  37. XoXoPhyreon 21 Aug 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I found a different way to do the “hero fails the first fight, wins the climax”. Since I’m doing a story about a superhero team and the main plot of my first story is an alien invasion, this is what I came up with:

    Halfway through the book, the invasion starts. The team is still new and each member acts like they’re still a solo hero. They fail and the aliens succeed in conquering the world. The team regroups and finally starts working together, becoming more of a team. They defeat the aliens and establish themselves as a premier superhero team.

    I also had an idea about the team splitting up and going to different parts of the world to cripple the aliens’ defenses but I’m not sure if I want to do that. It was done at the end of both X-Men: Evolution (Apocalypse storyline) and Justice League: Unlimited (Darkseid storyline). Like I said, I have a different idea of executing it but I’m not sure if it’s been overdone already.

  38. Lighting Manon 22 Aug 2009 at 12:30 am

    Have you considered forcing them to recruit a militia in the different areas? Assuming you’re going with the more popular option of having relatively unpopular or publicly unknown prior to their success. as you mentioned, depending on the varied characters, it could offer numerous chances for character development or comic relief. For example, if one of your characters is a morally upright character with a restricted concept of morally gray, he could struggle with recruiting civilians to act primarily as cannon fodder for someone much more powerful then them, an inhuman or homosexual character could be sent to a southern region of the United States, a drug addict could be sent to poppy farm in Afganistan, an alcoholic to whiskey-producing region of Ireland so on and so forth.

    Each sector could represent a different and unique problem for whatever reason, but you’d need an in-story reason for it so it didn’t seem so coincidental, for instance, the aliens could set up a base on the poppy farm so they could easily create opioid drugs for extending the life-span of human slaves, the whiskey could be for bribing extremely powerful crime bosses or corrupt politicians if the aliens are trying to minimize human resistance.

    This would also offer a political commentary angle if you sought to use one, even though they are often held in poor regard, since the aliens would focus on occupying the structures that make the bourgeois what they are, while eradicating or abusing the powerless proletariat. The subsequent destruction of the new bourgeois by the uprising proletariat, but the newly empowered silently acquiescing the power they’ve attained to the same old forces that have always occupied them could be a powerful message if handled right. Of course, just a suggestion and something to think about.

  39. C.M.on 05 Oct 2009 at 12:40 am

    Regarding resurrection, would it be a bad idea to give that power to the super villain? Lately I’ve been trying to flesh out a story that I’d like to eventually write; in it the main villain has the ability to raise the dead to use as minions. I was going to put a limit on it though (no raising a whole graveyard).

  40. Ragged Boyon 05 Oct 2009 at 4:27 am

    I think resurrection is much more acceptable for a main villain than any other character. I could understand how the greatest evil would refuse to let himself die. I think if he come back more than three times then it would start to grate, though. Overall, I say “go for it!”

  41. Rileyon 10 Jul 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Would pyrokinesis and super speed be too unrelated?

  42. B. Macon 10 Jul 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I’ve never seen pyrokinesis and superspeed together, but I think it could work. Maybe the two powers are connected in some way, such as doing some fire-manipulation by moving really fast. (Maybe the friction is how he starts his fires). Also, I could imagine some situations in which he uses the two powers simultaneously. (For example, to trap someone in a ring of fire).

  43. Rileyon 10 Jul 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Okay, thanks! I was worried when I read about unrelated powers and I realized one of my characters had kind of un related powers.

  44. dillanon 18 Oct 2010 at 9:44 am

    “One problem with telekinetic heroes is that they can instantly win fights by telekinetically rearranging their villains’ organs. So why don’t they, readers will ask. The author would try to explain that they have moral objections. When the villain is mere minutes away from conquering (or destroying!) the world, those moral objections feel flimsy.”

    Hey my character is a very powerful psychic, how ever his powers start off basically telepathy and telekinesis like reading surface thoughts and moving objects with his mind.His powers become much broader through practice and study. He could theoretically rearrange someones organs, but do you really think he could do that in an actual fight.I mean normally using his tk to levitate objects could be challenging but using it on a much smaller scale(such as molecular manipulation, and transmutting elements )would take a lot of concentration and focus which is hard to imagine some one doing if they’re in a battle. At one point my character’s tk and telepathy becomes finely tuned and his mastery over his psionics allows him to do incredible things. But reallistically in combat i think you’d be a little limited thus meaning they’d have to be creative and versatile in they’re power use to win the day.This being said take a look at characters like magneto who probablly started out with just magnetic based powers and now can manipulate trace amounts of iron in someones blood flow,only through skill and practice did his powers and they’re uses become more diverse than say levitating a bus or whatever. Although I don’t think it’s something he can just do on a regular basis it takes fine tune control over your powers to achieve something like that something you chouldn’t do if your being attacked by who and what ever.

  45. Nicholas Caseon 10 Feb 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Well, Nora’s psychic powers have serious limitations. She can only see into the future for 30 seconds once a year. She can read minds unlimited, but the subject would know what she knows, including her location, who she is, what she feels, everything. Not only that but they would know what she is reading their minds. Are these good limitations?

  46. Comicbookguy117on 12 Feb 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I am having trouble on a project i’m working on and I believe this discussion thread is the proper place to talk it out. So here it goes…

    I am currently working on a comic book universe of my own creation and am running into a small, yet highly frustrating, problem. Sparring the details, I am attempting to create a world propulated entirely by characters who are supernatural in nature or that can manipulate magic in some way. The problem I’m having is trying to figure out how to execute magic/the occult in a fresh, yet grounded, way. I know magic is thought of as this superpowerful force that can do almost anything, but I did not want to do that with my magic manipulators. I want them to be grounded in some form of realism. Basically I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to portray magic in a realistic way.

    Here’s an example of what I mean, first something framiliar,

    -In the real world two men are sitting, watching the game. They are talking about the coming weekend, eagerly awaiting their big trip. They discuss the type of game they each have hunted before, and are soon playfully comparing their marks. This culminates when one of the men, the owner of the house in which the football game is being watched, stands up and points out his prized possession. A mounted lion’s head he acquired a year ago.-

    Now, same scene but when they start comparing their marks, they say things trolls, goblins and faries. And the the man stands to show his prized possession, he points out a dragon’s head. I want to get across that these creatures running around and the fact that people can perform real magic is normal to THEM. But aside from that challenge I really don’t know how I want to portray the magic in my story. I have several ideas, but can’t seem to decide. So after all that, can somebody help me out please?

  47. Nicholas Caseon 13 Feb 2011 at 6:12 am

    I don’t specify in magical fantasy. No offense but I’m gonna have to give this one up to B.Mac. The only thing I can think of is that there is a special object/ingredient for magic. I like to think a bit more scientifically and I do tend to over analyze (You should’ve seen how many things I said about a guy making a clone of a human to be a gladiator boy. It wasn’t bad but it didn’t have much sense of logic.) things. B.Mac…I wave the white flag.

  48. Comicbookguy117on 13 Feb 2011 at 8:50 am

    That’s fine Nicholas, everyone has a specialty. And while trying to develope a world of supernatural superheroes and supervillains, I’m stepping a little outside my confort zone. So I get it, and I appreciate the honesty.

  49. B. Macon 13 Feb 2011 at 10:55 pm

    Hello, Comic Book Guy. First, a caveat: I don’t work much with fantasy and there aren’t tons of comic books in the genre. I’m not 100% sure I hit the mark on this one, so please feel free to ask clarifying questions.

    If you’re trying to create a relatively realistic comic book with magic, one thing that might help is a relatively sober visual style. I think that’s one reason that Buffy the Vampire Slayer is easily the top-selling comic series with lots of magic and pretty much no one else regularly cracks the top 50. I think most magical comic book protagonists look some combination of gaudy and/or totally ridiculous (such as Dr. Strange, Zatanna, Raven, Jason Blood/Etrigan and maybe Hellboy).

    Counterargument: pretty much every comic book protagonist looks gaudy and/or ridiculous (such as pretty much every suit of Spandex ever). However, I think that it affects magical characters more because 1) the magic is just inherently less believable and may make magical characters feel less relatable and 2) the traditional audience for comic books (mostly guys 18-30 years old) is not terribly enthusiastic about fantasy. I think Buffy succeeded by branching off into a more diverse audience, and I think that women are less receptive to the traditionally gaudy comic book visual styles.

    Another aspect that may help is making the magical characters feel magical. This is one aspect of Teen Titans’ Raven I’m not terribly fond of: I think she’s generally hard to distinguish from a nonmagical telekinetic (besides that she uses weird phrases a lot). Among novels, I thought Bitter Seeds did a much better job making its magic extraordinary. Every spell—and there were only a few cast throughout the book—was a high-stakes negotiation with a decidedly malevolent spirit. Bitter Seeds’ magic isn’t just a superpower by another name. (Also, like the magic system you’re trying to design, it’s very open-ended… The main limitation is what the characters can convince the spirits to give them, and how much it will cost to do so).

    Another book I’m aware of, but sadly have not had time to read yet is The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. Like Bitter Seeds, it uses a confrontational style of magic between a magician and his source of magic, in this case a familiar that rather hates magicians. Another possibility would be something like The Dragon and the George, whose main protagonist is the passive recipient of magic (an English Literature Ph. D that gets turned into a dragon) but doesn’t know how to use magic himself (or undo the curse) himself. If I were into fantasy, I would definitely have read the Wheel of Time series and H.P. Lovecraft’s Mythos, where magic is fueled by one’s own sanity. (It’ll make you think twice before wantonly flinging magic missiles).

    Hmm. I hope that helped, but I’m getting the nagging suspicion that I may have missed the mark. In particular, I’m reading through the paragraph about the men watching the game and discussing the fantastical creatures they’ve bagged. I don’t think that it’ll be a huge difference that these two regular guys know about the supernatural creatures in their world and treat them like regular animals, versus the more cliché setup where supernatural elements are kept secret from Muggles/nonmagical people.

    “I want to get across that these creatures running around and the fact that people can perform real magic is normal to THEM.” I think the Harry Potter series is a pretty good example of that. Besides Hermione, pretty much everybody Harry hangs around with is a magic-user raised by magic-users. Part of the fun of the series, I think, is seeing how Harry grows into a magic-using world where pretty much everything is unusual/new to him (and us) but everybody else is just totally used to people doing sports on broomsticks and accustomed to doing most everything with magic.

  50. Comicbookguy117on 14 Feb 2011 at 6:55 am

    Wow. Thanks a lot B. Mac. You’ve given me a lot to consider. I got hit with some inspiration last night and am currently developing a world where we as humans grew up and matured with magic instead of science. Meaning that scientific breakthroughs in our world happened differently on this world. They’re the same but different. Lik this…

    -Benjamin Franklin discovered lighting by tying a key to a kite string and flying it during a thunderstorm. But in the world I’m creating, he discovered lightning by accident when he mixed the wrong spells.-

    Science for us is the process of discovery, so to will it be for the magic manipulators of my world. I’m not the best with words so maybe I’m not explaining well, but I hope this paints a picture that’s good enough. Again, thank you very much for your help and input B. Mac. It really helped.

  51. B. Macon 14 Feb 2011 at 2:08 pm

    “Science for us is the process of discovery, so too will it be for the magic manipulators of my world.” I like that. It sounds adventurous. I’m much less of a fan of magical systems that rely on just memorizing incantations. (One thing I liked about Harry Potter was that learning some of the spells went far beyond just learning the words–for example, the spell to summon a patronus was practically a quest in itself).

    I’m glad to hear that my advice was helpful. Good luck!

  52. MacAttackon 25 Feb 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Just a random question I haven’t noticed asked yet. How do you feel about characters who have trouble trying to control their powers? This would tap into the problem of fluctuating powers as at times by dumb luck they tap into the right power but usually they just rely on their simpler powers.

  53. B. Macon 25 Feb 2011 at 11:51 pm

    It could be an interesting obstacle for the character to overcome. For example, how does a character with blockbusting powers deal with a situation that calls for a much more precise set of powers? How does he deal with other superheroes (or police officers, if he’s the only hero in town) who may think of him as a disaster waiting to happen? What does he do when a villain tries to take advantage of his lack of control? If he gets too close to causing significant damage or accidentally hurting bystanders, what sort of steps will other heroes take to rein him in? (How might he/she respond if the team leaves him home on some missions because they don’t think they can trust him?)

    However, one aspect of uncontrollable powers that annoys me is when they’re used to give the character a guilty past without actually making him/her responsible for anything. I’d much rather read about a character that actually made mistakes rather than a character whose main mistake is being born with uncontrollable superpowers.

    PS: I like your name. If I went on an assault, would it be a B. MacAttack? 😉

  54. MacAttackon 26 Feb 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks, I’ve used that nickname on the web for years now 😛

    It’s actually kind of the main plot of my superhero story. How Canada’s been peaceful without superhero activity since WWII suddenly one kid accidentally gains super powers and tries to be a super hero after an event and you watch as the entire country shows their fear of the metahumans and the danger they are… so I guess it does work well Thankee

  55. B. Macon 26 Feb 2011 at 12:11 pm

    Sounds promising. Let me know if you have any other questions or need a beta reviewer. Good luck!

  56. Contra Gloveon 26 Feb 2011 at 6:20 pm

    Hmm, let me run Norma Teague through this…

    1) The hero’s powers can’t be used creatively.

    * Distracting a guard. (Norma would pretend to see something scary.)
    * Nonviolently subduing a guard or cop (Can’t do it with her powers.)
    * Preventing a building from falling (Can’t do it at all.)
    * Getting past a locked door (Find the damn key.)
    * Finding a password (Same as locked door, except with a password.)

    2) The character’s limits are hard to grasp. Her outfit’s protection wears down (increased pain signifies weakening protection), and her magical ammo is limited. It takes several hours to recharge.

    3) The character’s strength fluctuates arbitrarily. Apart from the suit’s protection and its magical ammo, Norma doesn’t have enhanced physical abilities. She’s a good marksman (hunting for food since childhood), but a terrible hand-to-hand fighter.

    4) The superpowers are hard to understand. Norma gets a dress that acts as armor and lets her shoot particle beams with any gun. I’d say this is pretty easy to understand.

    5) He’s overpowered. Limited ammo, no enhanced physical abilities beyond taking damage, middling physical strength, poor hand-to-hand combat skills — Norma isn’t overpowered at all.

    6) The hero’s superpowers ruin the drama. Norma’s powers do not allow her to time travel, read minds, erase memories, or resurrect the dead.

    I’d say Norma comes out fine. 🙂

  57. Sylaron 07 Jun 2011 at 8:00 pm

    Two things: First, does anyone have any idea about how to use psychometry creatively in a story. I’m an imaginative person, and I’ve drawn a complete blank at applying psychometry.

    Second, B. Mac, I think you need to come up with an article on comic book deaths and how we could apply them creatively (Remember the old addige “No one stays dead except Uncle Ben”).

  58. B. Macon 07 Jun 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Psychometry–the power to supernaturally find out information about something by touching it? I think its memorability hinges on what you’re using it for. For example, I don’t think it’d be very extraordinary to have a character touch a gun and be able to immediately identify it as the murder weapon. (A lab intern could have told us that, so it’s more mundane).

    I think it’d also help if the skill gave somewhat limited information, maybe cryptic pieces that the character had to piece together. If the skill gives away too much information, I think it would probably ruin the element of mystery/discovery. (Your story doesn’t need to be a mystery, of course, but please do something besides rolling fight scenes). It’s not as impressive for a character to just solve the case just by flicking his superpower(s) on.

    I generally would not recommend a “comic book death” (a temporary death) for anyone besides possibly Marvel or DC writers. It may make sense for them because their companies can’t afford to actually kill off characters worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However, a novelist or comic book writer NOT writing a series designed to last 50+ years doesn’t have much reason to jerk readers around with fake deaths, I feel. (What was the point of the hand-wringing and/or the inevitably rainy funeral scene if the character was never actually dead? If the character’s death has no long-term effect on the story, why would any of that material be worth the readers’ time?)

    The main exception, I feel, is if the character’s fake death generates a lot more character development and/or excitement than wasted time. I think it helps if the reader knows pretty quickly that the character is not actually dead. For example, in the episodes Hereafter on Justice League, most of the characters thought Superman was dead, but the viewers knew that he had instead been sent forward in time. I think this is a more effective setup because it doesn’t rely on jerking the readers around.

  59. Sylaron 08 Jun 2011 at 9:17 am

    That’s some interesting information, B. Mac. Thanks!

  60. B. Macon 08 Jun 2011 at 10:37 am

    It’s the least I could do for one of my favorite supervillains. Also, I’m sort of fond of my scalp and would hate to have anything happen to it.

  61. Sylaron 08 Jun 2011 at 7:30 pm

    B. Mac, I need some help. I’m doing a story with a character who (like Claire Bennet, Adam Monroe, and Wolverine) has an advanced healing factor. But I need some help with limitations and other things so that the powers don’t get too confusing?

  62. Marquison 08 Jun 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Sylar I think maybe you could make where healing simple woundsa is quite easy but large scale wounds take a large amount of stamina, or maybe the character cannot heal certain wounds ex: getting an arm ripped off. Just some ideas.

  63. Sylaron 08 Jun 2011 at 7:55 pm


  64. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 9:40 am


    There are a lot of ways you can limit a healer. Claire remains unhealed until the bones are set properly; she’s had a rib sticking out of her side and just shoved it back in with no real problems. She can also regrow body parts, as evidenced by cutting her toe off with scissors. She doesn’t appear to feel pain; she did, after all, stick her hand into a pot of boiling water without flinching.

    Wolverine is pretty much unparalleled with his healing factor; he heals almost instantaneously and without any real fatigue, plus he can come back from almost anything.

    Some ways to cut back on your healer’s power:

    broken bones heal too quickly, so they have to be broken again to be reset

    they have a low tolerance for pain, or they experience it at all

    they heal very slowly, such that a cut might take a minute to heal and a broken bone two or three days

    healing leaves them very tired, or they need to be asleep to heal

    they can only heal others, and not themselves

    regrowing a finger or a toe might be possible, but not an arm or a leg

    they can’t regenerate at all

    anything fatal (say, getting shot) would be fatal to them, but non-lethal injuries they can heal (they can’t come back from the dead, but can recover)

    every time they heal themselves, they’re actually bringing themselves closer to death (accelerated healing is also accelerated cell degeneration)

    That’s all I can think of at the moment, but I’m sure there are other things as well.

  65. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 10:34 am

    Well I would tend to steer clear of healers all together. They tend to take the seriousness away. For example, if a healer who’s day job was say an accountant working in a cubicle, missing a finger could be a serious problem, but if they can regenerate it-their day job isn’t at stake. However I do like your limitations (particularly the last one). However, the weaknesses can be more effective if your healer is a main character. For example, My charater (who is a healer) can’t heal people without fainting and cant heal herself. Now say she was healing a friend but knew vital information that they needed right then, they would be in some serious trouble.But if she was just some side superhero who just happened to be flying by, nothing much would be at stake and would just seem illogical.

  66. Mynaon 13 Aug 2011 at 10:37 am

    I don’t mind healers in stories, but if they can heal OTHER people and not just themselves, it’s very hard to challenge the characters. Even if the healer has limits, like getting closer to death or passing out like Snow said, if they can heal other people it means that whenever someone gets injured there’s no drama, only the reader going “Yo, where’s the healerpants person when you need them?”

    That said there are probably ways to get around that, I just haven’t thought of any. xD

  67. Mynaon 13 Aug 2011 at 10:37 am

    Blah did it turn me into italics?

  68. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 10:47 am

    Thats what I was saying-but if your healer COULD heal others but not themselves I gave Snow reasons why I wouldn’t do it and what to do if he/she (lol I’m not sure if Snow is a boy or a girl) did choose to make his/her characters like that.

    PS:Btw-yes Myna-it is in italics lol.

  69. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 11:40 am


    I definitely see where you’re coming from with avoiding healers altogether, especially as side characters. There’s not much drama when you can beat your character to a pulp and just have them skip (well, limp) on over to the local healer where it will get kissed better.

    My current healer can only heal herself and is slowly losing all physical feeling (heat, cold, pain, etc.) She’s also one of the “live forever” types, and has outlived all of her family and friends several generations over. She’s not the main character in the story, but she is on the important side. Also, she works at Arby’s, because the job can transfer from city to city and she moves around a lot. I’m glad it’s only a short story, because I’m not sure her character would hold up for a very long one.

    Your healer sounds like a pretty well-balanced character.


    The only way I’ve found to get around that is to make the healer dangerous to get to. Another of the healers I’ve created is wheelchair-bound and much better at healing others than himself. He’s also blind, and lives in an apartment in close to the center of a very hostile and fairly crowded city. My characters can’t exactly go waltzing out to see him for every skinned knee and paper cut, and where they are isn’t wheelchair accessible. He can’t bring people back to life, so if it’s serious enough that they need to risk getting to him, there’s a likelihood time is not on their side.

    Also, I am a girl. XD

  70. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 12:42 pm

    Lol I figured so,but I didn’t want some dude getting mad sayin-“You callin me a sissy?!”. XD Anyway thanks for the compliment. My character’s name is Arre by the way. I have a review form here too. Here’s a link.


    However-its been a LONG time since I’ve posted and I’ve made MANY changers since my last post (I even took out entire chapters). I’ve just been so busy animating I havent been writting that much. But I am writting more often now. 😀

  71. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 4:07 pm

    Hang on a second, let me try something… [/i]


    Understood. Better safe than sorry. I like the name of the character, and I’ll be sure to look at the link soon. (I have a beta project that I’ve been putting off unfairly, and I’m hoping to get it finished tonight.)

    I’ll keep the hiatus in mind, so thanks for the warning.


  72. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Yes I said it. Animating. Stick figure animation. I use flash. if you click my name’s link you’ll see what I mean-or check out my youtube.


  73. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 4:45 pm

    hope that fixes the italics thing…

  74. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 4:46 pm


    I dunno what’s wrong with it. :/

  75. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Back in the code, where the italics started, instead of “&lt/i&gt” for some reason it says “&lti /&gt” and I don’t know why. o.0 It’s very odd. Essentially, it’s telling the website that the italics are supposed to be open. That’s what I was trying back up in my comment; I put a closing tag in HTML and in BBCode for italics, but it didn’t fix it like I hoped it would.

    I will check out the YouTube as soon as I finish this chapter in my beta project. 🙂

  76. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Oh, good gravy.

    “” and “” without quotes. Maye that will work to show you what I mean. :/

  77. Snowon 13 Aug 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Never mind. -///-

  78. Nicholas Caseon 13 Aug 2011 at 5:40 pm

    I figured such. I think my post caused it. 🙁

  79. Anne Visibleon 12 Sep 2011 at 7:04 pm

    I wanna write a story about a girl who has some sort of psychic or telepathic powers because her dad was an alien but she never knew him. She’s very careless with her powers and that will get her into trouble with the alien race she’s from. Eventually she’ll have to make the choice to either help the aliens or the humans… Does that make sense? How can I develop this? (And should I stick with the powers I have? Because from the looks of it mind-reading and the likes aren’t the best choices.)

  80. B. McKenzieon 14 Sep 2011 at 8:57 pm

    “a girl who has some sort of psychic or telepathic powers…” For a female character, it might be more original to try something besides psychic or telepathic powers.

    “Eventually she’ll have to make the choice to either help the aliens or the humans.” Is there something in place that would make that decision hard? (The harder the choice is, the more interesting I think it will probably be).

  81. Comicbookguy117on 15 Sep 2011 at 9:33 am

    Hey B/Mac I don’t mean to pester and you’re probably busy. But I sent you an e-mail. Don’t rush, just keep it in mind ok?

    Also Anne Visible, something to consider when crafting psychic powers is scope. For example I’m developing a story in which my hero gains psychic abilities. He can move onjects with his mind, that’s it. It’s a very basic form of telekinesis. So the scope of the powers can help you determine the scale of the story and even the types of enemies the hero faces.

  82. B. McKenzieon 16 Sep 2011 at 8:00 am

    “But I sent you an e-mail. Don’t rush, just keep it in mind ok?” Yeah, I got it, but it’s the school year and I spend a lot of time with students. Please give me a week.

  83. Comicbookguy117on 16 Sep 2011 at 8:50 am

    Ok, sorry. I’m just excited. I apologize.

  84. Natalie Sandyuson 04 Oct 2011 at 7:20 pm

    What would you consider a good superpower. My superhero team fights bullies at their school, they do it with fire. But it only works if they’re very angry or feeling emotional. But if they use there powers a lot it will make their powers out of control even more. And only bring harm to themselves. (Not done with plot yet)

  85. B. McKenzieon 05 Oct 2011 at 10:09 am

    “What would you consider a good superpower?” It really depends on the story and the medium (novel vs. comic book vs. movie). In novels, I feel like pretty much any superpower could work IF it doesn’t create plot problems (like leaving the characters underchallenged–immortality, unlimited time travel, and unlimited mind-reading can raise some issues there). In contrast, in a movie, the superpowers don’t just have to contribute to a smooth and dramatic plotline, but also create epic visuals. So, in a movie, agility or something else that can contribute to acrobatic stunts is really handy.

    They’re fighting bullies with fire? Uhh, I’m not familiar with what exactly the bullies did, but that could seem a bit disproportionate. The leap from bullying to superpowered flamethrowers is quite a big one. I’d recommend being careful about having a protagonist respond TOO disproportionately–unless you deliberately want this to come off as a mistake that the protagonists will get called out for by other characters–because it could compromise the protagonists’ likability. In this particular case, responding to bullies with horrific force (and lighting a regular human on fire is pretty horrific) could make the heroes seem like they’re doing a lot more damage than they’re preventing. Have you read Stephen King’s Carrie?

    Finally, I find bullies a bit underwhelming as an antagonist for superpowered heroes. Will these bullies be able to challenge the heroes? Will they be even slightly sympathetic? (I find antagonists more interesting if they are slightly sympathetic–it makes the conflict more complex and harder to predict). One possibility is that the antagonist is a victim of the bullies that somehow gets superpowers and intends to escalate the situation in a notably violent way (i.e. killing the bullies). On the one hand, I think most heroes would want to prevent the bullies from getting killed, even though they have been behaving badly. On the other hand, the heroes would probably want to do something so that the bullies stop misbehaving.

  86. CCOlsonon 05 Oct 2011 at 10:50 am

    I think one of the most interesting things about real human beings is that just because we can TECHNICALLY do something doesn’t mean that we WILL do it or that we can ACTUALLY do it.

    Consider for a moment a person who is terrified of heights who gets superpowers, one of which can easily be used to fly. There is a distinct possibility that the character won’t even THINK of flying until the underlying character problem is dealt with, and that psychological action right there can be absolutely fascinating done well.

    Schlock Mercenary had an interesting incident like this, where the tiny little roboticist used her martial arts in the middle of a riot WHILE wearing a suit of powered armor. She ended up surrounded by a pile of very dead bodies. The effect that this had on her personality rendered her effectively useless in combat afterward, despite the fact that she had demonstrated the CAPABILITY to tear through enemies without any weapons but her armored fists.

    It’s like the fact that guns would make Batman’s job much easier in some cases, but he always refuses to use them. This choice is deeply anchored in his personal psychology, as his parents were killed by a man with a gun and he has fixated part of his hatred onto guns.

    Perhaps you have a character who has superstrength and invulnerability, but he was raised in an abusive family where his father beat his mother to death and he is terrified of becoming his father. Therefore, he constantly holds his powers in check and is terrified of letting go of his emotions in a fight because of what he may do. What if he does beat an opponent to a pulp? Is he now becoming his father? Should he flee from any use of violence to avoid this? What if his opponent is a woman? What if his opponent is a shapeshifter who has researched the hero and changes to look like his mother in the middle of the fight, screaming “Stop hurting me Dan!”

    The mind has limitless potential to cripple even the most powerful individual in what are seemingly the simplest situations.

  87. Natalie Sandyuson 06 Oct 2011 at 6:09 pm

    B.McKenzie , I forgot to mention the Infernos aren’t superheroes yet. They also don’t light people on fire, they burn them (a bit). My main character has an anger issues and in the beggining believes preventing bullies would be good that way because she doesn’t know what else to do. (It scares her) the other character’s fire power doesn’t burn the bullies, they use it for other things. Like one uses his fire to grab anything he wants that’s near him, like his pain pills he uses to calm himself down for a school day. They don’t prevent anything yet. They are just kids with a fire ability. They learn to use their fire for better things later. And no, I haven’t read Carrie, I hardly read books unless I have to.

  88. B. Macon 06 Oct 2011 at 8:17 pm

    “And no, I haven’t read Carrie, I hardly read books unless I have to.” Hmm. If at all possible, I’d recommend working on that (if you’re interested, please see Why Is It So Important That Writers Read Widely?) My rule of thumb is that it’d probably help to read at least 25-50 novels in your genre(s), if at all possible*. The editors best-suited to your manuscript will probably have read hundreds of books in the genre(s), so it really helps to be very familiar with the conventions of the genre and how to build upon and/or subvert them.

  89. Natalieon 07 Oct 2011 at 5:54 am

    -_- well thanks for the tip, but I actually wanted to write for myself. 😮 I don’t think I want to publish anything in my lifetime. :/

  90. B. Macon 07 Oct 2011 at 7:16 am

    Ah, okay. Never mind, then.

  91. Bad-Peopleon 09 Mar 2012 at 9:54 pm

    This one’s kind of specific but I never liked how Superman just plucks falling people out of the air, especially when he’s coming up at them. Instead of hitting the pavement at 200 miles per hour, they’re hit by the man of steel at an addition 200 miles per hour. So we can save falling people by shooting a statue out of a cannon at them? In real life the first time he tried that he wouldn’t be a hero, he’d bee hosing off his uniform.

  92. B. McKenzieon 10 Mar 2012 at 5:27 am

    Flying superheroes would probably do better to grab falling people at roughly the same velocity the victims were falling. Otherwise, jerking them from 170 mph downwards (terminal velocity) to, say, 0 mph or 100+ mph upwards would be tragically similar to a 170+ mph car-crash without a seat belt. If Superman handles the grab safely, then he can deaccelerate normally* for a safe landing.

    *Well, he’d probably want to deaccelerate a bit more gently than normal, just to make sure he didn’t wreck his “passenger,” but the principal danger is in the grab. Relatedly, Spider-Man’s webs killed Gwen Stacy by causing her to suddenly stop.

  93. YoungAuthoron 10 Mar 2012 at 8:01 pm

    ^^ “Relatedly, Spider-Man’s webs killed Gwen Stacy by causing her to suddenly stop.”

    apparently thats not true, i heard that she’d already died from a heart attack, but Spider-Man still feels guilty and feels like it was his fault.

  94. M. Happenstanceon 10 Mar 2012 at 8:06 pm

    From what I’ve read, it’s pretty unclear just what killed Gwen Stacy exactly.

    But on the same note, yeah, it’s not just the ground that kills you. If reality was always in play, there’d be a lot of dead damsels lying about.

  95. B. McKenzieon 11 Mar 2012 at 6:03 am

    They may have retconned it since, but originally it was the web. There’s even a sound effect noting that her neck snaps to the whiplash.

    Also, she’s somewhere between 20-25, right? Even when put into a stressful situation such as a kidnapping, a heart attack would probably be implausible. (Marvel may have had second thoughts about whether Spidey was involved in the death, but this alternate explanation is really grasping at straws).

  96. YoungAuthoron 11 Mar 2012 at 3:04 pm

    Yeah i agree, marvel probably changed it.

  97. Carl Shinyamaon 20 Mar 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I know the debate on pairing superstrength and invulnerability was three years ago, but I’d like to chime in:

    While I agree that it is an overused combo, and that pretty much the most interesting fights that character can have are when it’s against a supervillain (or against multiple supervillains simultaneously) whose physical strength level and invulnerability levels is near, at, and/or greater than the hero’s level.

    That said, I think it’s just a matter of being creative when it comes to making the stories and the hero interesting in his or her fights, and that it’s not as limited as it’s been made out to be.

    For example, even without your hero fighting superstrong characters who also have invulnerability, you can easily counteract or render superstrength useless with a character who has no superstrength or invulnerability.

    Perfect example: Imagine pairing Invincible against Sandman in a fight in the desert; Invincible can be as strong as he likes, but no matter how hard he punches Sandman, his punches would pretty much just go right through Sandman.

    Invincible would have to use his brain on this one, particularly since there is likely no water supply readily available. I would find that scenario and fight very interesting.

    Or how about an antagonist who can freeze your every movement with his mind while robbing a bank? Superstrength and invulnerability are useless against that.

    Or how about someone with the ability to take control of you via pheromones? (Poison Ivy vs. Superman). Granted it’s been done before, but it certainly counteracts superstrength and invulnerability, and there’s plenty of room for doing interesting twists with this; imagine that the pheromones become more potent the longer that the antagonist has your hero under his or her control, and runs the danger of becoming a permanent bond between the hero and the antagonist.

    Or how about placing other limits on the character? For example, let’s make it so that your hero cannot breathe in space. What does he do when there is a superpowered space-born threat who can breathe in space that your hero must meet and fight before that threat can reach the earth? Logically speaking, the most believable place of battle is either a space station or a space ship, each of which are not usually indestructible, so what happens when the hull of the ship is breached or compromised? That’s an advantage you have given the opponent.

    Using that same weakness, how about if an antagonist puts a force field bubble over and around your hero’s head, cutting off his air supply?

    Or how about using that superstrength and invulnerability against your hero? Instead of catching all the bullets that are fired at him, he just lets it ricochet off of him, killing innocent bystanders who were unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire, or perhaps your hero knocks on his girlfriend’s house, to whom he did not reveal that he is a superhero, and blows the door off its hinges without meaning to?

    My character Megapower has superstrength and invulnerability when he is in his superhero form, but I already have half of a dozen low-level and high-level villains who are able to counteract his superstrength and invulnerability without matching his superstrength and invulnerability levels. And I even have one who does, with other distinct advantages (which I’d rather reveal when I get Megapower published). I’ve even given Megapower some limits.

    So all in all, I guess what I’m saying, if I’m saying anything at all, is that pairing superstrength and invulnerability is not as constrictive in telling good stories, conflicts, and great fights as one might think; it just takes using your imagination and your creativity.

  98. Carl Shinyamaon 20 Mar 2012 at 11:30 pm

    And on the subject of Superman, I don’t think he’s too powerful as much as it is that writers more often than not have failed to humanize his conflicts and stories along neglected to build interesting plots through his Clark Kent side.

  99. B. McKenzieon 21 Mar 2012 at 8:49 am

    “For example, even without your hero fighting superstrong characters who also have invulnerability, you can easily counteract or render superstrength useless with a character who has no superstrength or invulnerability.” I agree the situations you’ve named could be dramatic for someone with only strength and toughness. I’d be really careful about any additional superpowers, since Superman’s secondary superpowers ruin pretty much any of these potential scenes.

    –Heat rays against Sandman (to turn him into glass)

    –“how about an antagonist who can freeze your every movement with his mind while robbing a bank?” Superman is sometimes highly resistant to mind control. For example, he was pretty much the only person on Earth not affected by the electoral shenanigans of Tempus/John Doe in Lois & Clark.

    –“how about if an antagonist puts a force field bubble over and around your hero’s head, cutting off his air supply?” I believe he can hold his breath for several hours. Plus, the forcefields would have to be extremely tough to keep Superman from holding his way through. (Also, he’d sort of have to be an idiot to have superspeed and 1) get hit by the forcefields to begin with or 2) not neutralize the enemy in the first second of the fight. I think superspeed makes most of Superman’s fights into idiot plots, where he HAS to idiotically not use his powers because otherwise he’d resolve most of his fights without any chance of drama).

    –“perhaps your hero knocks on his girlfriend’s house, to whom he did not reveal that he is a superhero, and blows the door off its hinges without meaning to?” Superman’s control over his superpowers is disappointingly precise. For example, he doesn’t JUST fly, but he has the maneuverability of a hummingbird and the speed of a spaceship. I think his flight will (almost?) always be less dramatic than similar scenes for a gliding Batman or a webslinging Spider-Man because their powers are so much more limited/constrained.

  100. Carl Shinyamaon 21 Mar 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I apologize, I should have made myself much clearer in my first post. I wasn’t talking specifically about Superman, only about characters in general who possess the combination of superstrength and invulnerability.

    If I were talking about Superman specifically, I would have conjured up other scenarios.

  101. B. McKenzieon 21 Mar 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Ah, my apologies for misunderstanding.

  102. Zangetsuon 16 Jun 2012 at 8:44 am

    Hello everyone, excuse the interruption but I have a questions: does Sound manipulation make for a good power?

    The reason why I ask is because I wanted to give my character, Derek, an elemental power, but NOT of the usual type, like fire, water etc.

    Specifically, in regards to this power, the generic Sonic cry and enhanced hearing are there. Though, the latter ability I limited to about 10 Km(which is six miles) range. However, in regards to creativity, I did give him a few sound-based ones.

    The first one is called inaudibility. Basically, being that sound is the vibration of particles, he can disrupt them so as he can cancel sound around him. So his breathing, footsteps etc. can be nullified. But there are a couple of drawbacks:

    The first one is concentration. This power requires active concentration and such puts strain on his body. So in essence, he can only maintain it, for a few minutes, before the effect dissipates. And finally, the effect is only centered around his body, SO he can’t silence an entire room, but only himself and maybe one other.

    The second sound-based power I came up with is something called audio recall. In essence, Derek has the power to store and recall any sound with the exact pitch, tone and style of the original.

    His friend describes the effect like an audio recorder, where Derek can record and store sounds. So he can use this, when gathering incriminating evidence or spying on individuals and needs to remember key information. That said, the power DOES have several drawbacks:

    Like his inaudibility, Derek needs to actively concentrate. I describe it as him “flipping” the on switch of a recorder.

    The next drawback is how MUCH sound he can store. While able to catch a couple of key statements or lines, he CANNOT record entire conversations, as it places great strain on his mind and such he’ll black out.

    The final usage of the ability is that he can utilize his sound powers as a form of Super Speed, called “Sound Dash”. Before I continue on, I understand Super Speed is one of those risky powers.

    Like Super Strength or durability, it tends to be generic and such it leads to fights becoming stall and hardly offers any challenge to a character. It was this aspect that made want to give him a form of flight. However, I relented, because I thought it would be rather bogus, considering the propulsion would be based solely on sound.

    Not that speed is so far fetched, but alas I’m going off topic. How it’s explained is that Derek’s powers are NOT constrained strictly to his mouth, but rather his entire body. His best friend, Liam, compares this to a tuning fork, where Derek’s body acts as a medium to which sound can be transmitted.

    That in mind, he’s able to focus sound-waves at his feet and ride them, propelling him forward at speeds close to the speed of sound.

    That said, there are several drawbacks. The first one is duration. While able to traverse several city blocks in an instant, he cannot maintain the power for long. This is due to immense lactic acid build up in his legs, specifically his calves. So in essence, he can’t pull a flash and run around the world.

    The second drawback deals with velocity.Although able to accelerate, he has a hard time controlling the direction to which he travels. This occurs during sudden movements, such as sharp turns or banking.

    With his lack of control, Derek needs to physically slow himself down, less he goes flying. And it’s the prospect of injuries the final weaknesses with inertia.

    Although protected by the initial forces due to his sound powers, obstacles, like cars and trunks, aren’t the case. Depending on the speed at which he’s traveling, if he were to hit any of them, significant trauma or worse case, death might await him. The idea for this was inspired by a character I watched in an anime series, called “Darker than black”.

    While able to move quickly, he was killed, because he hit a series of hail drops, which cut him in half. Being he was unable to change direction, it makes perfect sense.

    So how’s that. I apologize for how lengthy this post was, but I just wanted to convey what I was thinking. All in all, I am open to all suggestions and thoughts.

  103. hoaxeron 19 Oct 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Hello so I’m the newbie here but i justt couldn’t helpp commenting on yours zangetsu,

    You have an great idea going on with the sound manipulation stuff. I personally love the ‘recorder’ idea it’s a great choice to replay the sounds, I was thinking that a possible fallout could be that he gets the sound stuck in his head. So I think that could work, in cool way. I also like your sound cross out idea were you could her his foot steps, or heart beat. But that couldn’t just block out the one guy, it world probably also be the area around him. So imagine this.

    Your hero is in the HQ or some terrorist organization, let’s say he’s above them, and he has his power of sound on, and no one can hear him, he’s about ready to strike until some one attacks him.

    You might be wondering how was he caught, that simple there was someone there with super hearing there but wait before you protest about no sound and such. The guy could have been listening to some of his evil buddy heart beat because he’s always got to be concentrating or he was being creepy what ever. Then his all of a sudden no one has a heart beat, and unless everyone just drop dead, something was up. Then he take advantage of your hero’s powers and walked around tell Derek is in graping distinct. See the problem in that, sure can make that not happen but it world be interesting if you did.

    And the moral of that’s heros day was that sometime your powers work againsh you. Do you like it it’s just supposed to show how we’ll humen a hero really is, unless he’s not humen. Anyway thanks for putting up with the newbie no disrespect, of curse

  104. Manchester Blackon 20 Oct 2012 at 1:29 pm

    Can Matter or Elemental transmutation work as an offensive power?

  105. B. McKenzieon 20 Oct 2012 at 1:41 pm

    “Can matter or elemental transmutation work as an offensive power?” I don’t think it’d make anybody’s list of the 10 most interesting superpowers, but I think matter transmutation could work as an offensive superpower (depending on how the author lets the character use it). For example, it seems pretty useful for Captain Atom and Dr. Manhattan and the protagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist.

    Elemental transmutation strikes me as less promising–too gimmicky. For example, besides causing somebody’s armor to evaporate by turning it into nitrogen or changing the carbon dioxide in their lungs into something poisonous like carbon monoxide, how would it work except as a corny joke?

  106. T'Challaon 18 Jan 2013 at 12:18 am

    My character Frost God (name given to him by the media) has the ability of cold & ice manipulation but he also possesses enhanced strength-able to lift up to 40 tons, invulnerability-can only withstand physical harm & unlimited stamina. Is he overpowered?

  107. B. McKenzieon 18 Jan 2013 at 6:41 pm

    “Is he overpowered?” The invulnerability makes me wonder about whether you’d be able to challenge him easily–that’s one thing I’d definitely check for if I were evaluating your script(s). I like the combination of strength-and-ice powers, though.

    When you get a chance, I’d recommend taking another look at the name. If you’re going for a mythological and/or religious angle, maybe Ragnarok (an apocalyptic battle initiated by an unending winter) or a name based on any of the Norse frost giants.

  108. T'Challaon 18 Jan 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I think i’ll get rid of the invulnerability, because comics had me think that since a character has super strength, then that character is likely to be invulnerable as well. (luke cage, superman, hulk, etc) But that isn’t entirely true right?

  109. B. McKenzieon 18 Jan 2013 at 10:25 pm

    I think there’s a difference between toughness (e.g. Wolverine) and invulnerability (e.g. Superman). I think it’d be much easier to come up with dramatic challenges for Wolverine without bringing in gimmicks like Kryptonite.

    As long as you can effectively challenge the character, it wouldn’t be a problem.

  110. NJHeroFanon 05 Feb 2013 at 9:13 am

    First time poster… have enjoyed reading through this site!

    As for the invulnerability debate, you can always provide limits to this power as well. Just because a super has impenetrable skin doesn’t necessarily mean that this also applies to psychic attacks (mind blasts, possession, emotional manipulation), sensory attacks (sound waves, blinding flashes of light, sensory deprivation, aerosol-based toxins), neurological manipulation (seizures, paralysis), and so forth.

  111. B. McKenzieon 05 Feb 2013 at 4:12 pm

    NJ HF, that sounds like an interesting solution. Do you think it would be workable over the course of a novel for a main character?

  112. NJHeroFanon 05 Feb 2013 at 6:42 pm

    “Do you think it would be workable over the course of a novel for a main character?”

    I think invulnerability still has a lot of potential for the right story. The development of “invulnerability” may have an unintended psychological side-effect of a belief in one’s “invincibility;” the person simply begins to become more arrogant, cocky, and complacent to the dangers of the world around him over time, especially if they keep surviving and shrugging off bullets, explosions, fire, electricity, and so forth.

    Try dunking that invulnerable hero deep underwater and keeping him there; chances are he still needs oxygen to survive even if bullets bounce of his chest. The movie Unbreakable (Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson) is a great example of how a seemingly invulnerable hero who possesses some low-level superhuman strength and survives car crashes and train wrecks without a scratch begins to understand what he is – but during his first real encounter with a non-super criminal he gets thrown out a window and nearly drowns in a swimming pool. In my opinion that scene was better than anything in the Spider Man, X-Men, or Avengers films.

    Having an otherwise invulnerable super learn to overcome that arrogance and to learn maybe the hard way not to become overreliant on their invulnerability can absolutely make for a good story. Part of that story can be the villain’s search to find and exploit the hero’s weakness. All the villain needs to level the playing field is to not waste time attacking the hero where he is strong (i.e. don’t target the impenetrable skin, just go for the weak point). We all know Achilles from Greek myth was vulnerable at his heel… so what happens if our invulnerable hero gets shot in the eyeball or straight into his ear canal by a villainous marksman named Bullseye? Are the hero’s corneas and tympanic membranes also invulnerable?

  113. Jacob Strainon 06 Feb 2013 at 1:39 pm

    My MC needs to concentrate to be indestrucible, and is vaunerable to drowning, loud noises, and mental attacks. He has other limits as well.

  114. Jacob Strainon 06 Feb 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Crud. I meant indestructible.

  115. YoungAuthoron 07 Feb 2013 at 11:15 pm

    @Jacob Strain- Invulnerability is a hard power to use b/c is makes it hard to challenge the user. Try super strength maybe? What are is other limits?

  116. Jacob Strainon 08 Feb 2013 at 12:59 pm

    Yeah. I ended up changing the power to something totally different, so it is no longer a problem. Thank you for your input, though.

  117. The Maxxon 14 Mar 2013 at 4:50 pm

    My hero goes by the name of Griffin, he gained the ability of ectoplasm manipulation through scientific means & with the ectoplasm in his body it boosts his strength, his reflexes and durability but he isn’t invulnerable. I noticed that while i was creating my character, it started to sound a little Danny Phantom-ish because i wanted Griffin to have the abilities of a ghost as well.

  118. Dr. Vo Spaderon 14 Mar 2013 at 5:47 pm

    I’m not sure many people would catch the resemblance, maybe even if we’re a direct knock-off. But I’d wait for the expert advice, just in case.

  119. B. McKenzieon 14 Mar 2013 at 9:35 pm

    If the character has a distinct personality, I don’t think the similarities to another ghost-themed character’s superpowers would matter much. For example, Wolverine and Deadpool have mostly similar powers (e.g. regeneration, strength/toughness, agility, melee skills, etc) but the characters are distinct enough in character development that it doesn’t matter. If your character is developed well enough (e.g. personality, unusual choices, motivation/goals, etc) from other ghost-themed characters (e.g. Deadman), you’ll be fine.

    DVS: “I’m not sure many people would catch the resemblance, maybe even if it were a direct knock-off.” I agree. Most editors are 30-60 years old, so I think it’s unlikely they would have been watching Nickelodeon 5-10 years ago. Unless they had a kid sick from school or something. 🙂

  120. Bradon 10 Apr 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Just a comment on Superman vs. Doomsday. Superman could have tossed DD off the planet then dealt with him easily while he floated in space. Of course, there wouldn’t have been a story line about the death of Superman.

  121. Cageon 26 Apr 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I have a character who goes by the name of Spade. He has been the protector of Metro City for six years. Spade has the ability to control, manipulate & absorb radiation. I think I may have overpowered him because his physical abilities are enhanced as well (exp: strength, speed, healing factor, reflexes & senses) So I’m having a hard time challenging my hero. You have some advice?

  122. Cageon 28 Apr 2013 at 2:43 pm

    And I also wanted to know how could I use radiation manipulation creatively?

  123. WinslowMudDon 28 Apr 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Just have a quick question.

    Is it horrible to have a character that could be “god-like” if their full potential was realized. But the character either has major problems with controlling the ability, or other restraints keep them from using them in that way.

    For example, Iceman (X-Men) has the latent ability of controlling not just ice, but all forms of water, but does not know how to, (And considering the earth is 70% water, well, thats up to the imagination…)

  124. Yuuki12on 10 Jul 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Greetings. Given the fact that I shall be finishing my story, White Noise, sometime fall of this year, I have been in the process of planning my next tale. That said, my protagonist, Pera, I envision him having wood manipulation.

    Given the origin story is nature-based, I believe this is the most suitable choice. One aspect to the ability I see in a creative sense is being able to transform parts of his body(notably his limbs) into wood. Such functions include him extending his limbs, stretching them( their shape similar to tree branches) for offensive purposes, or restraint.

    He can also shape the wood he mimics into gauntlets or a shield. Finally, he can cover his entire body in wood, creating a form of armor (which he calls oak cloak). The drawback is that one, it is highly vulnerable to fire or anything heat based(given it is wood), and two he can spend only a few minutes in this state.

    The reason being that this state utilizes a lot of energy from him(given that trees are plants), and such Pera will need to recharge. The other noteworthy power is his ability to merge himself into trees.

    This ability which he calls root shifting is typically done with a large enough tree, and such he can take shelter in the roots, and use them as a form of travel. That said, this power, like the armor uses a lot of energy.

    To touch on weaknesses, the first notable weakness his fire, and intense sources of heat. Given wood is very combustible, it makes sense. Also, this would be cool to tie into his fear of fire. In his backstory he lost someone very important to him in a fire, and such even the smallest bit of fire can make him uneasy.

    The second weakness, as elaborated above is the use of energy. Pera’s abilities consume a lot of energy, and such upon reaching a certain limit he can feel exhausted. If he doesn’t rest and recharge(which is him being around a tree or shrub of some sort), he can push himself to death.

    So how’s that? Is this power creative enough, and such sufficient for the protagonist to be challenged?

  125. kyanthiaon 25 Feb 2015 at 9:09 pm

    What would be issues for intangible heroes?

  126. Dr. Slavicon 05 May 2015 at 5:46 pm

    Intangible heroes could only be fully intangible or not at all. This could make it difficult to, for instance, capture a villain if they’re under fire, since letting the bullets phase through them would also mean letting the villain escape. Other issues would be the ability to be blindsided from behind if taken unaware, and just being able to phase through attacks doesn’t make you better at combat. Compare Kitty Pryde to Logan or Hank, for instance.

  127. Johannon 07 May 2015 at 4:30 pm

    Yuuki I’d say that your idea is very creative and allows Pera to be challenged. One question, If he becomes a tree, couldn’t he draw energy from the tree, instead of himself? That might help him out and carry any action that gets drawn out.

  128. CGDon 21 Aug 2015 at 11:41 am

    Hey guys, I’m currently working on a book series that starts off in the world that we all currently know. Like ‘Watchmen’, there used to be costumed heroes who were just men and women who knew how to fight and or had ingenious gadgets. But the team fell apart and the heroes disappeared.
    Years later, a sixteen year old boy (who has a somewhat stereotypical orphan upbringing) becomes a vigilante. After being mentored by one of the old heroes, he kick starts the heroic age.
    The boy – Henry – gains a ‘warrior’ sense similar to the Eage Vision of the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ Series while also having been given a serum which increases his healing and metabolism while also having the potential to cause cancer. With an armoured suit he becomes a hero known as ‘The Necromancer’.

    Soon after this, the world changes. He finds out his best friend is secretly from another dimension with telekentic powers and her parents go missing after creating an army of superhumans who they hope to use to protect the world from any threats.
    But these superhumans have been mind-warped and are under control of ‘the bad guys’ who are hiding in the background with sinsiter motives until the end of the series. Henry manages to reform the superhumans and make them into heroes creating a superhero team.

    We later discover that one of their powers is linked to partial alien DNA while another is linked to magic which was lost during the ‘Dark Ages’ after all the magic users were slaughtered after being called ‘witches’ and were burned.
    But they all have the same weakness. Electrical shocks which messes with the portions of their brains and neural relays which mess with their ability to control their powers.

    I was wondering if you think the premis would work? Would having people with genetic tampering – a secret from another dimension – make plausible heroes despite their difference in powers.

    Is this sounding like anything anyone would want to read, despite it being rather poorly explained: but don’t worry I could go into detail but that might take a while….

  129. B. McKenzieon 21 Aug 2015 at 4:38 pm

    “But the team fell apart and the heroes disappeared. Years later, a sixteen year old boy (who has a somewhat stereotypical orphan upbringing) becomes a vigilante. After being mentored by one of the old heroes, he kick starts the heroic age… Is this sounding like anything anyone would want to read?” The premise is alright, though I’d recommend making the protagonist more distinctive (e.g. unusual personality traits and hopefully avoiding stereotyping the protagonist). I’m also hoping the friend has a great rationale to hide being from another dimension. Also, do characters make major decisions/actions that most other protagonists would not have made in the same circumstances?

    The powers sound viable.

  130. CGDon 22 Aug 2015 at 1:10 am

    When I put that he had a sterotypical upbringing, I was adding it because I suspected you had heard the notion of an Orphaned hero one hundred times over.
    Henry’s family – his father, mother and brother – all fell to crime in their own way ranging from brutal rape/murder to alcohol fuelled suicide by means of depression. This has put him into an Orphanage where he lives with a social worker who seems to want to harm him all the time and will later discover his secret identity.

    Henry also has slight anxiety along with a deep-seeded anger problem which becomes more apparent when crime fighting as it is his outlet. Before he is a rather anti-social and angry character, he constantly walks out of lessons at school and becomes confrontational to pretty much anyone. However once he starts crime fighting, he becomes a happier person. But if a criminal gets one hit on him then his anger pours out until he has to force himself to step back otherwise he would kill his victim.

    The reason his friend – Taylor (female) – hides her powers and her true birth-place is because of her parents wishes.
    In their home place, her parents were the top scientists in almost every field and headed up the genetic modifications program among other things. It was originally intended to better the entire specieis but instead it was put at a high price and pushed into the public view. But after it becomes a commercial product, the class wars begin between the wealthy super humans and the non-powered lower class: and since the jobs on the planet prefer super-humans, this spurrs conflict between the people.
    While this is happening, Taylor’s parents have begun other projects including a vessel which could travel in between dimensions.
    Fearing for their daughter who was merely a few months old at the time, Markus and Claire – her parents – decide to test their dimensional craft and find a safer place to live.

    However this trip weakens the dimensional barriers, meaning that journey between the walls off reality is easier and less risky. (This comes into play more in the future as dimension hopping becomes so easy that it is literally like taking a long car journey)

    Fearing that their people would be able to construct a similar ship, after being driven mad by the years of war and bloodlust which were inevitably coming, her parents decided to create a group of superhumans to protect the planet as well as fight the people from the other dimension if they came to this world.
    (These defenders soon go on to be mind controlled but are reformed and go back to their original purpose.)

    So Taylor is in hiding because they don’t want to be attacked in their new home by it’s inhabitants out of fear or by their own people who would find them and kill them for their ‘betrayl’ of running away.

  131. Yuuki991on 22 Aug 2015 at 11:02 am

    My character is Derek Masters. He is a sixteen-year-old kid. His hero persona is Marshal Malachite; a western themed superhero who has the ability to project forcefields and see auras.

    As a side note, I always felt Force Field manipulation was an underrated superpower. It’s typically skewed towards female superheroes and is quite one note. And even though I know a characterization of a character matters more, I saw this as a unique opportunity.

    I digress.In addition to projecting shields, Derek can fire Force slugs. These are spherical shaped constructs from his fingertips(much like a gunslinger of the west). He eventually learns how to develop some unique slugs, like sabot rounds to penetrate harder targets.

    But one of the most unique ability Derek develops is called Jade Trench. Derek encases himself in a personal force field. This field is comprised of two parts. An inner field and an exterior field. The latter is capable of tanking most attacks and increases Derek’s physical strength. The inner field filters oxygen for Derek. Thus, in areas like underwater or in smoke, he’s sheltered from harmful effects.

    The drawback; it puts incredible mental and physical strain on Derek. So much he can only use it for no more than five mins. Other weaknesses include him needing to use his hands to create barriers(if injured he has a harder time, focusing) and mental strain.

    His aura vision is panoramic and lets him see individual’s auras.This can be used for tracking, but also gives him information on the physical condition. But prolonged usage of this power can cause Derek to get blurred vision and eventually go temporarily blind.

    Derek eventually learns how to isolate targets with his aura vision, but it leaves him neglectful of other targets. And finally, he unlocks a unique skill at the end called Bullseyes. Basically, they are critical points of a structure, whether physical or energy-based. Derek can visualize them with his aura vision.

    By hitting them, Derek can successfully penetrate most defenses. This comes from his innate understanding of force fields and barriers(given his powers). The drawback is that using this power can cause immense pain to Derek’s eyes as he needs to focus on an individual to see them.

    Overall, those are Derek’s powers. I’d like to think they are creative, but allow for some interesting problems/challenges, like requirement of hands, fatigue.

  132. Tomason 15 Apr 2016 at 7:51 pm

    I think that saying that mind reading ruins the drama is as obsolete as the term “mind reading” itself. I mean, minds are complicated, not a book that we read. We are not activley thinking about everything we know and have experienced all the time. Our mind is always changing, thought processes can be rather erratic, and there are concepts that we are not able to put in words. Old, plain “mind reading” limits to active thought, and that can be fairly complicated on its own. Going deeper into the mind (for example, to examinate memories) is part of a more advanced and complex branch of telepathy. And considering how difficult is to focus in one sense, in a single stimulus, i think that telepaths would be exposed to sensorial overload. Trying to focus in one entity of thousands around you, each of which is constantly receiving sensory input an thinks in a completely unique way about a whole world of things, all of which is being broadcasted to you; well, let’s just say it’d take a bit more than only concentration to accomplish that.

    And this is in no way an explanation I made for a character or a story (though I could use it now that I think about it) but simple reasoning.

  133. Caseyon 08 Nov 2016 at 4:51 pm

    To much to read

  134. James Dakotaon 10 Nov 2016 at 6:52 am


    I agree with you.

  135. B. McKenzieon 10 Nov 2016 at 8:06 am

    The article’s 500 words. Given the target audience of the site (authors and prospective authors), I feel like 500 words should be manageable? E.g. adult novel manuscripts are usually about 70-80k words and comics usually have ~1-3k words of dialogue/narration. If 500 words is uncomfortably long, a writing-heavy job probably wouldn’t be an ideal fit. (However, virtually any office setting will entail some critical emails or instructions longer than 500 words. Best of luck there).

  136. (o_n')on 11 Nov 2016 at 2:32 am

    Or any readingheavy job. Even a manual to my sewing machine is longer than the article.

  137. B. McKenzieon 11 Nov 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Or jobs involving firearms, vehicles, or combustible materials. OSHA is not known for conciseness.

  138. James Dakotaon 12 Nov 2016 at 8:32 am

    I meant the article and the comments.
    Comments are helpful to read too, but there’s an awful lot of them.

  139. B. McKenzieon 12 Nov 2016 at 11:20 am

    “Comments are helpful to read too, but there’s an awful lot of them.” Are you asking that many comments be removed?

  140. James Dakotaon 13 Nov 2016 at 3:09 pm

    No, I like reading through them, I just don’t read all of them. Don’t remove any, please. I need the advice. =P

  141. Cat-vacuumer Supremeon 18 Nov 2016 at 10:31 am

    I want to know if this sounds like a workable backstory/motivation for a villain: when he was in third grade Joel Tocio’s mother (a fairy) died of magic-related cancer, and his father (human) went insane, trying to learn necromancy to talk to his mother or bring her back. One day, his father thinks he’s found the answer: sacrificing Joel. His father is about to stab him, and Joel unthinkingly lashes out with his magic, killing his father. From this moment on, Joel is against magic and thinks that magic users are subhuman. He never uses magic again, cuts off his own wings, and justifies not committing suicide by thinking that someone has to keep the secret community of magic users in check, slowly laying a trap to a) kill them all or b) put them in their place. He passes his hatred down to his children, grandchildren, and some of his most trusted friends (he has no other family).

  142. Cat-vacuumer Supremeon 18 Nov 2016 at 10:32 am

    That sounds like a great idea . . .

  143. (o_n')on 18 Nov 2016 at 11:45 am

    How about he does not hate magic, but fear magic and magic use? It might give him a reason to a or b. Maybe he believes magic is causing all sorts of evil. He might hate himself for being magical. I easily imagine a patriark controlling his family by fear, anger, psychological control,maybe violence. Add some megalomania and a wish to bettering society. If he is a major villain, you can make him bit more disguisting with a religious maniac or a hardcore darwinist with OCD. But also depending on your readers age.

    As for his friends, they might agree on theoritical plan. But they might be not so keen on do it in real life.

  144. Cat-vacuumer Supremeon 18 Nov 2016 at 5:42 pm

    Whoops! Meant to post that first comment on the villain brainstorming forum.

  145. Sccaron 12 Nov 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Would a minor character or villain with time powers or mind reading be acceptable? I have two characters, Zenith and Oracle, who each can do one of those.

  146. B. McKenzieon 13 Nov 2019 at 4:25 pm

    “Would a minor character or villain with time powers or mind reading be acceptable?” Probably less of an writing challenge than it would be for a main character, but I’m having trouble coming up with a scenario where mind-reading makes for better scenes than, say, using skills to come up with the information. Minor exception: giving the villain an information-gathering switch to flip on might help save time/space and make it easier for the villain to find/interact with the protagonists. Aside from that, I’m quite fond of the scene in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 where the empath Mantis reveals Quill’s feelings for Gamora.

    As for the time powers, that’s completely up to your execution. I think it’s harder to work with than most powers but your mileage may vary. The most commonly used one is probably time travel, which lends itself well to convoluted plotting. The other one that comes to mind, speeding/slowing time, strikes me as very hard for a novelist to work with for action scenes.

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