May 05 2009
1. A hero’s gadgets are only interesting when he uses them in an exciting and/or unexpected way. No one will say “Wow, he had shark repellent!” But they will be impressed if your hero comes up with a clever way to apply a general tool. Versatile, general tools tend to be more interesting than gadgets that are only useful in a particular situation.
2. Narrow tools may force you to write an Eigen plot. Eigen plots are contrived set-ups where the superhero gets opportunities to use gadgets and/or superpowers that are typically useless. Eigen plots typically come off as cheesy. When the hero catches a golden opportunity to use his shark repellent, it won’t make him look good… it will probably just make you look bad.
3. Tools tend to be more creative and versatile when they draw on the scenery. For example, a grappling device lets the hero use the setting and scenery in ways he couldn’t before. He can set ambushes, try alternate entrances and exits, etc. A cutting tool can do many things depending on the situation. The hero may be able to cut through doors and other hard obstacles, or fashion bandages out of a shirt, or maybe even knock a streetlamp onto an enemy.
4. I recommend sticking with gadgets that are easy to understand. Gadgets that are really high-tech may require more explanation.