Jul 22 2009

Problematic Superpowers and How to Make Them Work

B. Mac touched on this with a couple of powers, such as super strength, telepathy/mind reading, and to a lesser degree, power suits, plus he mentioned a few others at the bottom of his article on common superhero problems. However, this is going to be a more all-around list, touching on a number of different powers.

All superpowers could be potentially problematic. However, these powers make it unusually difficult to write an interesting story.

1. SUPERSTRENGTH. Superstrength is generic and cliched. It’s very difficult to intrigue a reader with a character whose main power is superstrength. Fight scenes will either be no challenge (since he busts through absolutely everything) or no fun to read (since all he does is bust through everything).  Probably both. Hardly anything will challenge him. Locked in a cell? Bust out. Locked out of a building? Bust in. Girlfriend’s in trouble? Bust up the villain.

Mix it up: Limit his powers. Maybe he only has super strength when his adrenaline hits a certain level, so he has to stay hyped if he wants his powers. Or maybe his super strength only works against certain materials. (Though that would be difficult to logically explain, it would at least be a handy limit.)

2. SUPERSPEED. Speedsters are nearly as problematic as heroes with superstrength.  If your speedster is faster than a speeding bullet, nothing that can challenge him can catch him, and nothing that can catch him can challenge him. Got a villain? Your speedster can just take the villain’s sword and stab him with it. Plus, there’s no way to add a ‘ticking clock’ sense of urgency.  If he can run around the world in hours, he can meet any time limit or deadline easily.

Try this: Bring their speed down a ton. I’d recommend somewhere between 60 mph (a cheetah) and 400 mph (a fast car). Then, even if they can’t be caught on foot, cars and helicopters might still pose an interesting challenge. I’d make sure to add in some sort of restrictions for the usage of their speed. Do they tire easily, like the aforementioned cheetah? Do they start off slow and get faster with momentum? There are many possible restrictions, and I’m sure there’s one that would work with you and your hero.

3. INVULNERABILITY: Ahh, invulnerability. This appeals to many new writers, because it makes their character so ‘amazing’ and ‘impressive’ that they can’t be killed. However, invulnerability does not a good superhero make. Superman was clearly a victim of this, even with his vulnerability to Kryptonite. However, Smallville addressed this somewhat. Nearly every Smallville villain had a chunk of Kryptonite available, which forced Clark to fight like a normal human a good percentage of the time. To a lesser degree, Thing (Fantastic Four), Iron Man, Martian Manhunter, Claire and Sylar from Heroes, and various others are invulnerable as well. If your hero cannot be hurt, let alone killed, there’s nothing on the line. Sure, his friends might be in danger, or his kids, or his love interest, but there’s always that extra ‘oomph’ of tension when the hero might die that just can’t be duplicated otherwise.

Limitations: This is probably the toughest to limit well. At the very least, give him his own brand of Kryptonite. However, I’d very much advise toning his invincibility down a ton. B. Mac defines ‘invulnerability’ as ‘the point at which a typical human criminal could not conceivably endanger the character’. Will you be able to write interesting fight scenes with competent thieves, if not regular people? It’s hard to make up supervillains on the fly.

4. TIME TRAVEL: This one’s pretty simple to explain. If they can go back in time, they can cancel out anything negative that may have happened, which basically retcons a good chunk of your story. This is a problem because the reader just spent the last 30, 50, 100 pages reading about exactly what happened, and going back in time to redo it just wasted their time. The reader hates it when you waste their time.

Limit it a ton: Have it take them back a maximum of five minutes, or maybe even less. Thirty seconds would be interesting to work with. Or perhaps they can go back in time as far as they’d like, but they can’t interact with anything, since having two versions of the same person at once would mess with time-space. If they could only watch, that would dissuade them from using their powers.  (I’d advise that you skip over the extra time, if you take this route).

5. SHAPESHIFTING: If you can turn into anyone or anything, that doesn’t leave much that you can’t do. Even if it’s limited to people, you could (theoretically) turn into a weight-lifter and fight someone brawn-for-brawn, but then turn into small child and crawl to your safety through a narrow space. The same goes for animal shifters (like Beast Boy from Teen Titans), but translate ‘weight-lifter’ to ‘tyrannosaurus rex’ and ‘small child’ to ‘mouse’.

Fixes: Limit them to a certain number of forms. Keep them stuck in a chosen form for a set length of time. Or perhaps give them a limit like ‘the person can’t be in the room, but must be within 30 miles’. Be careful, though, not to let it get too complex, or the readers might have trouble remembering the specifics.

6. TELEPATHY: Mind-reading is the focus here. Mental communication is much less of a problem than being able to read someone’s mind. If your hero can read minds, that takes a number of plot twists off the table. Betrayal, for example. The telepathic character could see it coming a mile away, unless it’s sudden. Plus, if your telepath is anywhere near the villain at any point in the story, they’ll know 100% of what’s going on right off the bat, which takes away the need for an entire novel to figure things out.  If your character is telepathic, nothing anyone could ever do would surprise them.

It is redeemable though: Being telepathic is an entirely mental power. Perhaps it’s a highly uncomfortable feeling, to read someone’s mind, like being out in public, in the cold, without any clothing. Or even worse, like that borderline-painful, overly-sensitive feeling you get when you have the flu, but mentally rather than physically.  Or perhaps they can only read certain minds, or under certain conditions. Or maybe they can just skim the surface. Character X could be angry about an argument they had with a side character, but all the telepath would get is the feeling of anger and the side character’s name/face from Character X’s mind.

What do you guys think? Are there any problems you feel should have made this list? Do you disagree with any of my six? Thanks.

http://www.superheronation.com/2008/01/20/common-superpower-problems/

140 responses so far

140 Responses to “Problematic Superpowers and How to Make Them Work”

  1. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 2:03 am

    On a side note, telekinesis is problematic too. What can’t you move with it?

    I’d recommend limiting it with a size restriction (a car at the very most), or a certain material.

    Also, to make sure there’s no rearranging of the organs, perhaps it only works on non-organic substances.

  2. Mr. Briton 22 Jul 2009 at 2:22 am

    I think this is a really good article. Only one, very small, problem I can see. You put Chloe from Heroes. I think you meant Claire. Other than that, it was really good :)

  3. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 2:28 am

    Good catch, you’re right.

    I fixed it.

  4. scribblaron 22 Jul 2009 at 4:07 am

    A good article, but I disagree with 4. Time travel can work if you plan for it from the beginning. For instance in my novel a character gets knocked out and is wakened by his gf, who can’t possibly be there. He is in a delicate mental state (he has been self harming) and she lets him think shes in his head, like Fight Club. Later, he sends her back in time to save himself.

    They find notes, not realizing that they left them, and so on.

    As long as you don’t decide in episode 22 to change everything from episode 10, as long as you were planning this from episode 1, it can work, and be great. I think.

  5. Lighting Manon 22 Jul 2009 at 10:14 am

    You can’t really disagree with something based off your own unpublished writings. Nobody can vouch for the quality, let alone the existence of those things you just detailed. You can strive for something better without following the advice laid down, but you can’t use your own writings as examples. Time Travel is a very flawed power without being severely restricted, because an individual capable of it is not only invincible, but omniscient, in fact, you could take every problem with Telepathy and Invulnerablity and apply it to Time Travel. If the past and the future are able to be changed in your lore then all the character ever has to do is go back in time with a gun and a bullet and his problems are solved, that’s it. His story doesn’t need to be told because he can fix it all from minute one.

    Plus, the story you’re talking about sounds very derivative of popular science fiction, especially the time-travel related works of Philip K. Dick, seems to contain no superhero elements from what you’ve described and actually seems to fall into the exact same plot hole that makes time travel such a hated element. I do apologize if I sound harsh, but I’m trying to keep the puffery to a minimum.

    If, within your timeline, a Captain Emo (for lack of a better name.) exists that possesses knowledge of the final outcome or at least, the ultimate confrontation, as implied by your comment about the notes. There is absolutely no reason for that original Captain Emo not to simply throw whatever villain or foe you’ve concocted in front of a trolley, as it stands, from what little you’ve said, it sounds those notes exist for no reason other then to give you a story to tell, and that’s really not how a story should work.

    It doesn’t matter if there is a flimsy excuse offered or hand waved like “He’s trying not to screw with the time-space continuum!” It is still a flawed way to tell a story precisely because he would probably actually change the time stream more by leaving the notes then tossing Teddy McMeaney off a building.

    The start of first World War can be blamed entirely on a man named Gavrilo Princip deciding to have a sandwich, that’s how life and time works, the smallest thing causes the largest changes and the things we think will change the future and our lives, don’t really do anything at all.

    Again, I apologize if I come off as harsh, but honesty is beneficial at times, I think. I also think that maybe you have a story to tell, but it needs to be reworked so you have a story to tell without forcing your story to tell itself.

  6. Wingson 22 Jul 2009 at 10:17 am

    I came up with a few weaknesses for my powers -

    Jazz – As an animal shapeshifter, Jazz has to have seen the animal she’s turned into – and remember what it looks like easily. That is, she can’t look at a picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex – she would have to see one in real life to become one.

    Darren – As a telekinetic, Darren can only lift objects that he can lift physically.

    Connor – Connor’s aura manipulation is tricky – his shield only works if he doesn’t move, and it takes some time to put up. As for his aura blasts, picture Connor running headlong into a wall. The amount of power expressed is as much as he can use.

    - Wings

  7. Tomon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:03 pm

    Wings: My telekinetic has a similar restriction. And you just made me realise that I JUST wrote a scene where he lifts a TREE. I’ll go change that…

  8. Tomon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:13 pm

    But if you saw into the future to save yourself time examining things, then that means you didn’t need to examine them and didn’t examine them, which means you never saw yourself examining them, which means you did go and examine them and *brain explodes*

    This is the first time I’ve ever applied the Grandfather Paradox to the future. It’s just as weird tomorrow as it is yesterday.

  9. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:21 pm

    SCRIBBLAR:
    As Lightning Man said, the fact that you use the power in your unpublished work doesn’t mean it necessarily works.

    However, the impression I’m getting from your story is that the time travel isn’t exactly a power he has. Rather, it seems more like something he’s able to do once (to send her back in time) on purpose. The rest, and correct me if I’m wrong, seems accidental. This would make the power workable. The sort of time travel I incorporated into my list is like… If they’re able to at any given moment travel to some other point in time, voluntarily, and with a pretty wide range of selection as to their destination time.

    For example, I think it worked in Harry Potter. When they went back in time, it didn’t undo anything that had already happened, it just added a layer of sense to it. Plus, it wasn’t a power any of them really had, just an object that Hermione had used to go back in time to do her classes. That, as opposed to, “Watch me go back in time and warn Harry’s parents so NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.” See the difference?

    LIGHTNING MAN:
    You raise some very good points. There would have to be a very good reason that the man left the notes rather than killed the villain, for example, plus a stronger reason than ‘but we don’t wanna mess up the future!’ For them not to time travel.

    Also, is that World War I fact true? That’s pretty interesting, if it is.

    WINGS:
    That’s awesome, Wings. As for the weaknesses…
    Jazz – That’s awesome. I’d also restrict her access to things like zoos, at least at first. Or if you want to make things interesting, you could say she has to have touched the animal. Then she’d have to go on wild adventures just to gain a wider variety of powers. It would make things much more interesting than, say, Beast Boy, who can turn into anything. People will think, “Oh yeah, she’s the one that had to sneak into the wolf cage at the zoo!” Just a thought, of course, yours is good too.
    Darren – Good, I like this. It’s solid and it’s easy to remember.
    Connor – That is a tricky one. I like what you’ve done with his shield power. It has a lot of potential for conflict (what if something huge and scary comes at him? If he so much as flinches, doesn’t that mess up the shield?). I’m not sure I’m clear on the aura blast limitation, though. Do you think you could re-explain?

  10. Tomon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:24 pm

    @Marissa: Well… about the World War I thing, tension had been brewing between the powers of Europe for some time. I assume the sandwich somehow led to the assasination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which is considered the event that started World War I. But the general consensus is that even if he wasn’t killed something else would’ve triggered the war, since all of the powers were on edge, just waiting for an excuse.

    @David: I’m sorry, I’m still too confused by my invocation of the Grandfather Paradox to reply.

  11. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:25 pm

    DAVID and TOM:

    You’re right, seeing the future would be a big one too. It’s mostly for the same reasons as telepathy: If your character knows what people will do, what will happen, there are no surprises for your character or your reader. Neither your character nor your book can be predictable and still succeed. The reader will feel no sense of urgency, and will put it down.

  12. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:26 pm

    That wasn’t Wings, Tom, that was me. :)

    Gahh, sorry Marissa. I just read ‘Wings’ in big bold and… I wasn’t thinking and… you get the idea. Fixed now. Sorry!

  13. Davidon 22 Jul 2009 at 12:27 pm

    i predited that lol

  14. Holliequon 22 Jul 2009 at 3:14 pm

    On the WWI thing… the cause of the war as we know it did indeed start because Gravrilo Princip decided to have a sandwhich. There had already been an assassination attempt on Franz Ferdinand earlier, but it failed. Princip was one of the plotters, and he happened to see the Archduke in a taxi. The driver took a wrong turn and had to reverse and – well, you know the rest.

    So really, you could blame it on the driver! :P

    But yeah, there was enough tension in Europe that war was virtually inevitable. However, if it hadn’t started then, the outcome might have been different, some countries may have chosen different sides or sat out altogether…

    To stay on topic, this is very helpful advice. Time travel especially is tricky. I had the idea for a detecive who can time-travel but, he can only go 24 hours back in time – no more and no less. Also, while he’s back in the past, his present self is in a coma.

  15. Wingson 22 Jul 2009 at 8:37 pm

    To re-explain Connor (and this sound hilarious) -

    Picture someone taking Connor by his feet and whipping him at a wall. Without the splatting sound and the mess. The amount of force exerted on that wall is the amount of power he can use to attack with his aura.

    Also, it’s a bit like Pierce’s power (Read FMA book 7, stat!) – it requires concentration, and he can’t attack while using the shield. If he gets scared (which he does), the shield reacts, normally opening to protect him subconsciously. For instance, in the scene where Ian gets captured, Connor, originaly trying to be helpful but now terrified, is curled up on the floor, his shield working like a bubble around him.

    Another scene, during training, Connor is testing his shield while Darren throws things at him with his mind (sidenote: Darren gets overexcited and starts throwing everything he can see – including a chair, a globe, and several hardcover books. Owch).

    - Wings, who is still listening to “Iris”

  16. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 8:56 pm

    …How does someone know that’s how much force Connor hitting the wall would exert? Without having tested it…

  17. Wingson 22 Jul 2009 at 9:05 pm

    Okay, first test.

    *grabs eleven year old brother*

    Here goes nothing!

    *large smacking sound*

    Ow. That’s gonna stain – ooh, cookies!

    - Wings, the cruel and unusual (Emphasis on unusual).

  18. Marissaon 22 Jul 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Wings, you never cease to amuse me.

  19. Wingson 22 Jul 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Test Two!

    *leaps through time rift and emerges, carrying P by the leg*

    Sayonara, sucker!

    *whips him at the wall*

    *crunching sound*

    Dangit. Now I have to get that wall fixed. Curse his hard head…

    - Wings, who is SO unusual that the United States Government has designed a security term for when she gets mad: Code Wings.

  20. JZon 23 Jul 2009 at 2:51 pm

    For what it’s worth (and back on the original topic), Runaways has a good use of invulnerability and super strength together in the character of Molly.

    Molly is an eleven year old mutant with both abilities, but who doesn’t have anything resembling a comparable level of endurance.

    Thus, after doing something like throwing Wolverine out the door of the building and across the street, she has to take a nap.

    It works for the character and the story.

  21. Marissaon 23 Jul 2009 at 2:56 pm

    That’s a good example of using the powers without making them problematic. If, after using the powers, the character has to go sleep it off, that’d be just as much a liability as an asset.

  22. trekfanon 23 Jul 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Actually, I’ve been struggling with the “weaknesses” aspect as well. One of my characters has Superstrength and healing ability, but neither are the crazy stuff like Wolverine and Superman.

    Basically, his superstrength is dependent on a number if factors. It’s kinda designed like the immune system of the human body-no response is exactly alike in a given situation. So, for instance, he can be facing and average thug who has a crowbar. Hero gets bashed in by the crowbar, his body responds by increasing his strength so he can basically crush the crowbar.

    However, the sideeffect of this is that his healing ability is basically weakened severely, so if he doesn’t end the fight fast enough where his body can “renormalize” (so not a word:) ) he could potentially die from brain damage.

    This is also very applicable to the major supervillain, where the two get into a fight and he gets severely burned. Well, that means that his healing ability takes priority for his body and his strength is basically “normal”, which means he can get tossed around like a sack. His healing ability, like the human immune system, can only do so much before it becomes overwhelmed and has to shut down. I that happens, he’s basically “normal” for a while, which means his ass can get killed in a fight with a major baddie.

    What this means in totality is that he has to think strategically before barging into a battle, otherwise he could get killed.

    My question is, does this make sense, and is it understandable?

    If not, I would appreciate other suggestions for weaknesses for the hero.

  23. ShardReaperon 23 Jul 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Yeah, it does. Is it meant to be “if I think I’m dead, I’m dead?”

  24. Wingson 23 Jul 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Strange coincidence – I just read the Runaways series today. If you can cope with the many plot twists and the fact that *spoiler* they seem to like killing off characters, it’s pretty decent.

    - Wings

  25. trekfanon 23 Jul 2009 at 7:36 pm

    @ Shard

    Well…it’s kind of meant to be “If there’s 65 guys with guns in one building and the I (the hero) must take them on, I WILL die if I go head first in” Basically, he can’t be a super healing guy and a superstrength guy at the same time in battle-his body decides which one operates when and how much. He has very little control over it.

    He can take a beating and live, but can’t dish it back out Super Strength style.

    He can dish it out and live, but can’t heal many of the wounds in battle, which means he has to either A) Win the battle so his body goes back to “Super Normal” which causes Super strength and healing to be there in equal proportion or he can B) Beat the mess out of the baddies but die from the wounds suffered.

    If that helps any…which I’m not sure it does.

  26. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 24 Jul 2009 at 7:56 am

    Klemente is a shapeshifter, and these are his weaknesses:

    He must shift into a biological form, and it must be cat-sized or larger. If it is smaller than that, his atomic structure will go crazy. If he shifts into something non-living, he will die (when did you last see a vase with a consciousness? Though they might have one, but they can’t say so without a mouth…) because he no longer functions.

    If he shifts into a person, he will adapt their personality depending on how long he is in that form. If he were to take the form of a local priest, he’d be all “peace and love” for a day if he was in that form for an hour.

    When transforming back, he gets a little conflicted because he forgets who he is for a minute. “Did I just shift into the shape of a teenager or was I a teenager to start with and shifted into a priest?” If he’s shifting back from dog form, he’d think “I wanna chase my tail!” and run around in circles to find it, when of course, he doesn’t have one. Then again, he’s the least sane of the group. He’d probably say that for the lulz.

    I still need an origin story for him. Hmm. What could cause a normal teen to develop shapeshifting powers? I don’t need another alien in the cast, I have two of them, another affected by alien genes, a girl with a radioactive ring… Er, he can consciously manipulate his atoms? Haha. I really need to figure out his origin.

  27. Tomon 24 Jul 2009 at 8:02 am

    “when did you last see a vase with a consciousness?”

    Six words: The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

    “Oh no, not again…”

  28. Lighting Manon 24 Jul 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Just a thought, but you may want to reconsider the one to one rule, since I assume you’re planning it as an on-going story or with planned sequels, and that it is a hard and fast rule. Disregard this if it isn’t, but it seems to me like with a rule like that, you’re inevitably going to be forced to hide or not use the character because when he shifts back, he won’t be useful for a period or his demeanor won’t match the mood of the piece. You could have it depend on the strength of personality as opposed or in addition to duration.

    For example, an elderly priest that’s been serving his religion for the past thirty years and extremely set in his ways, could be a dominant force in his personality for the aforementioned day or longer, but a shallow and empty personality like a stereotypical Valley girl could last a few hours to a few minutes, just long enough for him to make a quick comedic statement before moving on.

    As it stands, there may come a time the aforementioned gene-altering aliens are back and threatening to make Jeb Bush president or some other apocalyptic scenario, and Klemente needs to pretend to be a high-ranking military man’s young son so he or another team member can hack his laptop, but you’re hesitant to use him because thumb sucking does not suspense make. Of course, you may have already planned for this or there may never be such a situation, but I thought it was worth suggesting.

  29. Garyon 29 Jul 2009 at 3:25 pm

    What are the least used Super powers in comics?

  30. A. N. Onymouson 29 Jul 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Okay, here’s my brief approach to it;
    - Limits to Super-Strength are basically ‘how strong are you?’ There’s a whole dozen leagues of difference between Spider-Man (lifts a few tonnes) and Superman (can extinguish whole solar systems by sneezing), and quite frankly; the ability to lift a car doesn’t necessarily mean you can punch through a wall – and vice-versa. Speed, accuracy and precision are all far more important than actual strength when it comes to dealing damage with one’s fists; it’s how martial arts works. By the way? ‘Can only lift certain materials’ is really, really silly. It’s Silver Age silly.

    -Limits to Super-Speed are basically ‘how fast are you?’ There’s a whole dozen leagues of difference between Quicksilver (about the speed of sound) and the Flash (about the speed of light). This is one of the only truly broken powers due to its applications, but if you were to put a significant obstacle in the path of a speedster, you’d likely do a lot of damage as speed does a lot more of the damage than mass when it comes down to it. A pea-sized object hurled at relativistic speeds could severely wreck the earth, but a mile-wide rock would probably just drift into orbit harmlessly if it moved at 1 mph.

    -Limits to Invulnerability are basically ‘how durable are you?’ Even Superman will get hurt if you hit him hard enough; Icon proved that one in a recent issue of Justice League. You just need someone strong enough to hit and hurt your character; shooting the hero won’t hurt, but what about ramming the hero with a car going at full speed? Or a plane? How about a tank cannon? Or a grenade launcher? If your hero is immune to bullets, just give your villains bigger bullets.

    -Time Travel is what we like to call a plot device, and each usage of time travel should be given its own story. Whether it’s going on a journey into history, going on a journey into the future, or changing the past mistakes, it ought to be given a whole lot of focus and treated as its own sub-plot at the very least. There’s a whole lot that you can explore just by invoking paradox alone.

    -Shapeshifting as you’ve described it violates conservation of mass; you could use that as its own restriction, with a note that the hero needs to convert a significant amount of matter (typically oxygen, or maybe stored food) to transform into a larger form, and if he or she uses too much of it – he or she is in danger of suffering brief moments of suffocation or even the effects of starvation. Similarly, shrinking oneself ought to generate significant amounts of waste energy represented as heat. If in doubt, just consult science! It doesn’t need to be perfect – this is superhero stuff after all – but it does provide a ready and useful weakness.

    -The one and only limitation for Telepathy that you really need is that it is the mental strength of the wielder versus the mental strength of the person who he or she is trying to read. You also have to be sure that the person is thinking about what you want them to think about; like all psychic powers, limitations are very, very easy to think up.

    -As for Telekinesis, which you mentioned afterwards, just add a weight limit, and think about how much finesse your telekinetic has. If he or she can lift a car, but doesn’t have enough finesse to pick a lock, that’s a limitation. Making superpowers work is very, very easy. It just takes a little bit of thought about it.

  31. A. N. Onymouson 29 Jul 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Also, here’s another area, let’s try consequences;
    -Super-Strength; can you do things gently, or are you basically living in a world made of rice paper and porcelain? Does a soft caress on your lover’s cheek implode their whole face under the force of it? Can you safely touch anyone or anything at all without breaking it?

    -Super-Speed; what are the side-effects upon your metabolism? Can you eat ordinary portions of food, and how much do you need to eat? Are you resilient enough to actually survive travelling at supersonic speeds, or do you impose a limit upon yourself exactly because travelling at full speed would kill you?

    -Invulnerability; your skin is so hard that you can’t even feel the bullets deflect off of it, but can you feel anything at all? Are you completely lacking in tactile senses as a result of nothing being able to penetrate your nerves of steel?

    -Time Travel; one of the most uncomfortable things to deal with is a paradox, wherein history cannot have been changed because you wouldn’t know to have gone back and changed it. Also; what happens when you try and change something, but ultimately make everything worse?

    -Shapeshifting; how painful *are* the transformation sequences anyway? Do you go through endless torment and agony like your nerves are on fire whenever you change, making you highly resentful or even scared of actually using your powers? Does this pain herald any dangerous side-effects?

    -Telepathy; instead of being able to listen in on one person’s thoughts with effort, you hear everyone effortlessly all the time without any ability to drown it out? Useful in a non-crowded room, but immensely painful in a crowded area where you’re given constant and chronic headaches that make you unable to live an ordinary life.

    -Telekinesis; is there any level of feedback. Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction; would, say, lifting a tank via telekinesis flatten you as if you were hit by the invisible cartoon anvil? Maybe it just takes a lot of basic mental effort to manage, and one of the long term effects could be permanent brain damage…

  32. Marissaon 30 Jul 2009 at 10:50 am

    A. N. Onymous:

    Not exactly. The limits aren’t ‘how ___ are you?’, they’re ‘how _____ can you be before it ruins the story, you become boring, it’s difficult to challenge you, or the readers won’t be able to relate enough to enjoy the story?’ Just had to clarify that.

    ‘There’s a whole dozen leagues of difference between Spider-Man (lifts a few tonnes) and Superman (can extinguish whole solar systems by sneezing), and quite frankly; the ability to lift a car doesn’t necessarily mean you can punch through a wall – and vice-versa.’

    While that may be true in real life, if your character varies like this, it will confuse your reader. The reader wants to know exactly what the character can do, and if the reader doesn’t, he/she will not feel anxious when you lay on the suspense because the reader doesn’t know that this is beyond your character’s level of strength. It’s much more efficient to keep it uniform (even if that’s not quite realistic) than to have it vary all over the place, because the latter would take a good paragraph of straight infodump to explain all the various different surfaces he can or can’t punch through. It also allows more room for contradiction: ‘What? He can’t punch through a wall? But he lifted a semi truck that had to take much more strength than punching through a wall.’ Or even worse, ‘But he punched through a wall in Chapter 2!’

    ‘Speed, accuracy and precision are all far more important than actual strength when it comes to dealing damage with one’s fists; it’s how martial arts works. By the way?

    That’s true, but the strong man has the distinct advantage. And I’m quite clear on how martial arts work, thank you.

    ‘‘Can only lift certain materials’ is really, really silly. It’s Silver Age silly.’

    I was aware of that, but it was to give a feel for the fact that the powers absolutely need to be limited somehow. Powers with a silly limit like that have a better chance of selling than unbridled powers.

    ‘… but if you were to put a significant obstacle in the path of a speedster, you’d likely do a lot of damage as speed does a lot more of the damage than mass when it comes down to it.’

    That’s the only part of your ‘speedster’ section that didn’t just reiterate exactly what I said. However, I was focusing on the powers themselves and how to limit them, not what they’re able to do, so I doubt it’d work in the article anyway.

    ‘You just need someone strong enough to hit and hurt your character; shooting the hero won’t hurt, but what about ramming the hero with a car going at full speed? Or a plane? How about a tank cannon? Or a grenade launcher? If your hero is immune to bullets, just give your villains bigger bullets.’

    Or you could just take your hero down a notch? The higher they go on the invincibility scale, the less suspense and ‘need to read the next chapter’ drive there is. Why? The reader just plain isn’t worried about the character.

    There’s a very small slice of villains that could obtain a grenade launcher, or worse, a tank. If one were to use the logic you presented, all villains would start looking the same once the options (quickly) ran out, and the fight scenes would most definitely look the same. Tank controlled by Villain A .VS. character. Tank controlled by Villain B .VS. character. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    ‘Time Travel is what we like to call a plot device, and each usage of time travel should be given its own story.’

    However, that’s not how it’s often done. That’s why I included it in this article.

    ‘There’s a whole lot that you can explore just by invoking paradox alone.’

    There are far too many time-paradox stories, including but not limited to Back to the Future and a section of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Both examples off the top of my head are very very popular, and there are far more that are at least well-known. It’s to the point where when time travel is mentioned, there’s an assumed paradox. It’s spoofed in an episode of Futurama, where Fry goes back in time and sleeps with someone he later realizes is his grandma, and it turns out that he’s his own grandpa. A bit of a crude example, but shows such as Futurama tend to make fun of only the most popular tropes.

    ‘Shapeshifting as you’ve described it violates conservation of mass; …’

    Perhaps, but both Mystique and Beast Boy, the two best-known shapeshifters, can shift as I described. While Beast Boy is from Teen Titans and is subjected to much more nonsensical occurrences than this, he turns from a tweety-bird to a tyrannosaurus rex in two seconds flat. Mystique’s is less dramatic, but she as well can turn into people of somewhat varying shapes and sizes. That’s why I didn’t account for ‘conservation of mass’.

    ‘The one and only limitation for Telepathy that you really need is that it is the mental strength of the wielder versus the mental strength of the person who he or she is trying to read.’

    That is assuming the author is using the brawn .vs. brawn approach, such as in Eragon. In my opinion, most humans aren’t used to being mentally probed, so they’d have no way to resist yet. In terms of the B.v.B theory, they haven’t developed those muscles yet, that strength. Unless they’re used to it, they’d be subject to the intruder’s whim. That means that 99.99999% of the population at minimum would be completely and totally open to telepathy. The fact that ‘mental strength’ could keep the telepath out is only a weakness as far as a few people are concerned, and he or she is free to glean plot-ruining information out of just about anyone else.



    Your points on consequences, which I left out on purpose in my article for space purposes, were very good. You’ve done your research, on this part at least. :D

  33. A. N. Onymouson 30 Jul 2009 at 11:31 am

    While that may be true in real life, if your character varies like this, it will confuse your reader. The reader wants to know exactly what the character can do, and if the reader doesn’t, he/she will not feel anxious when you lay on the suspense because the reader doesn’t know that this is beyond your character’s level of strength. It’s much more efficient to keep it uniform (even if that’s not quite realistic) than to have it vary all over the place, because the latter would take a good paragraph of straight infodump to explain all the various different surfaces he can or can’t punch through.

    Just point out why a superhero who can lift a semi truck has trouble punching the other superhero across the street with a rather clever science-based hero starting off on some rant about Newtonian physics before being cut off as part of a joke. Just have it be pointed out that lifting super-strength is a different style of strength to punching super-strength. Or have a hero point out after a lengthy battle against a bigger, bulkier foe that the greater mass is working against him when it comes to actually dealing physical damage. And then, y’know, win the fight via what TV Tropes would call a Crowning Moment of Awesome.

    Or even worse, ‘But he punched through a wall in Chapter 2!’

    That’s just bad writing, or failing to point out that a plaster wall breaks far easier than reinforced steel.

    I was aware of that, but it was to give a feel for the fact that the powers absolutely need to be limited somehow. Powers with a silly limit like that have a better chance of selling than unbridled powers.

    I find that the silly limit will just lead the audience to think ‘wait, that’s stupid’ and ask for a refund on their ticket on their way out of the cinema. Also, I find that even the most unbridled and unlimited levels of power work with decent writing. Just from experience as a reader.

    Or you could just take your hero down a notch? The higher they go on the invincibility scale, the less suspense and ‘need to read the next chapter’ drive there is. Why? The reader just plain isn’t worried about the character.

    There’s a very small slice of villains that could obtain a grenade launcher, or worse, a tank. If one were to use the logic you presented, all villains would start looking the same once the options (quickly) ran out, and the fight scenes would most definitely look the same. Tank controlled by Villain A .VS. character. Tank controlled by Villain B .VS. character. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Alternatively, there’s always the fact that being practically immune to physical impact doesn’t necessarily equate to being immune to everything. You can always attack an invulnerable hero indirectly; putting them in an airtight container to suffocate them, using gas to poison them, hurling them into the water in an attempt to drown them, using mental effects (I love mentalist villains, it must be said), or even the sorts of direct attacks that their ‘invulnerability’ doesn’t extend to. Someone wearing a full bulletproof jacket will still burn (or suffocate due to lack of oxygen) if you set them on fire.

    I really should have pointed out that approach earlier, come to think of it. And there is always the fact that an invulnerable, bulletproof character has friends, family and other such that aren’t necessarily bulletproof themselves. What does a bulletproof heroine do when the villain has a gun held to her boyfriend’s head? (Role reversal is fun!)

    Related to that, however, a superhero story has most amount of suspense when it’s not a question of whether the hero’s going to survive, but whether the hero’s going to succeed in saving the bus full of innocent people. Having the hero fail to save a person or fail to defeat a hero on occasion would be quite effective, I think, to give your hero a struggle without putting their life in direct danger. This is actually a bit of a variant on the above ‘indirect attack’. To quote the Green Goblin; ‘Attack his heart!’

    Perhaps, but both Mystique and Beast Boy, the two best-known shapeshifters, can shift as I described. While Beast Boy is from Teen Titans and is subjected to much more nonsensical occurrences than this, he turns from a tweety-bird to a tyrannosaurus rex in two seconds flat. Mystique’s is less dramatic, but she as well can turn into people of somewhat varying shapes and sizes. That’s why I didn’t account for ‘conservation of mass’.

    You could, however, have pointed it out as a possible limitation. I’m just trying to offer alternatives as much as anything else; even two conflicting pieces of advice can be equally valid depending on context. To be honest, almost anything can work in the right context.

    That is assuming the author is using the brawn .vs. brawn approach, such as in Eragon. In my opinion, most humans aren’t used to being mentally probed, so they’d have no way to resist yet. In terms of the B.v.B theory, they haven’t developed those muscles yet, that strength. Unless they’re used to it, they’d be subject to the intruder’s whim. That means that 99.99999% of the population at minimum would be completely and totally open to telepathy. The fact that ‘mental strength’ could keep the telepath out is only a weakness as far as a few people are concerned, and he or she is free to glean plot-ruining information out of just about anyone else.

    It depends entirely on how the telepathy works. I haven’t read Eragon (well, I tried to; it was terrible), but I can say that telepathy can work via numerous different methods. Perhaps information is something that has to be coaxed out of someone’s mind rather than directly read? And resistance to telepathy is an automatic human reaction to that sudden feeling of mental intrusion?

    Your points on consequences, which I left out on purpose in my article for space purposes, were very good. You’ve done your research, on this part at least. :D

    Thank you. :D

    Ultimately, however, I find that ‘what suits the story’ is a far better goal to aim for than absolute balance. It should always be about the story and characterisation first and foremost; we don’t read Lord of the Rings while wondering if the wizardly powers of Gandalf are overpowering, after all.

  34. Marissaon 30 Jul 2009 at 12:04 pm

    ‘Alternatively, there’s always the fact that being practically immune to physical impact doesn’t necessarily equate to being immune to everything. You can always attack an invulnerable hero indirectly; putting them in an airtight container to suffocate them, using gas to poison them, hurling them into the water in an attempt to drown them, using mental effects (I love mentalist villains, it must be said), or even the sorts of direct attacks that their ‘invulnerability’ doesn’t extend to. Someone wearing a full bulletproof jacket will still burn (or suffocate due to lack of oxygen) if you set them on fire.’

    But how many villains have access to airtight containers strong enough to contain them, poison gas, mental effects, etc.? Admittedly a lot more than could physically damage said hero, but still, that takes a large chunk of potential interesting villains out of the running.

    ‘Related to that, however, a superhero story has most amount of suspense when it’s not a question of whether the hero’s going to survive, but whether the hero’s going to succeed in saving the bus full of innocent people. Having the hero fail to save a person or fail to defeat a hero on occasion would be quite effective, I think, to give your hero a struggle without putting their life in direct danger. This is actually a bit of a variant on the above ‘indirect attack’. To quote the Green Goblin; ‘Attack his heart!’’ ‘

    I’m going to have to disagree. While success in saving innocents and/or loved ones is very high on the suspense scale, ‘will the hero live?’ is always the highest on the suspense scale. No matter what the story or even what format (movie, novel, etc.), it is a near unanimous agreement among published authors and successful screenwriters. Which I wholeheartedly doubt you are, in my subjective opinion.

  35. CarsonArtiston 30 Jul 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I am not going to attempt to get into the specifics of this convo but I think that even cliche’ powers CAN be done well if its reinvented into a unique situation. The creativity of the writer will denote how the powers cause the reader to react.

    As an avid roleplayer in my youth, I became very aware of how to balance characters. The key to making a hero work is balancing his strengths and weaknesses. As I read above… The heroes can become tiresome if there isnt any real way to defeat them. Characters can become boring if they are using their powers in a stereotypical manner.

    In my story, I have a cybernetic genius,a sorceress,and a brutish warrior type under the direction of a recluse anti-hero. Even when my characters do something outstandingly powerful, the repercussions always balance it out adding to the depth of the action. The most powerful characters have the most powerful disadvantages also.

    I think , done properly, any power set can be fun and interesting.

  36. CarsonArtiston 30 Jul 2009 at 4:53 pm

    @The ReTARDISed Whovian

    Your shapeshifter could have been given his power from a dying shaman in the depths of an endless rainforest. The hero goes on a senior trip the rainforest with his biology class. After walking off to find a spot to relieve himself , he could fall into an ancient underground temple where a Shaman shapeshifter is desperately trying to hang on until he can pass his powers onto another.

    Your shapeshifter could invoke the essence of whatever biological he needed from the spiritworld and draw it into himself to initiate the change. The reason his mannerisms are effected are because he has the spirit of the form inside of him which affects his psychology. The longer he stays in one form the more chance of the spiritual essence overwhelming him therefore making it difficult to hold on to his true identity…..

    I believe the exact term would be “Spiritual Gestalt” which means that upon blending with the spiritual essence a new unique entity is formed from the two parts,namely the hero + the spirit.

    Gestalt-: a structure, configuration, or pattern of physical, biological, or psychological phenomena so integrated as to constitute a functional unit with properties not derivable by summation of its parts.

    Since shamantic spirit work is worldwide and culturally universal, you can really pick any part of the wold to encounter the shaman.

  37. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 26 Aug 2009 at 1:07 am

    Thanks CarsonArtist! I’m sorry it took me so long to reply, my homework has been stacked up in front of me at a height that rivals the Empire State Building.

    That’s a really good origin, thanks for the help! I’ll have him go to the Amazon or something with Tristram (his other friend, also a superhero) and Atalya (Tristram’s girlfriend, another superhero) as part of their annual school trip. Then a bunch of weird things happen around Tristram on the same day that Klemente gets his powers (the strange things around Tristram signal his own powers waking up).

    I could write a really funny scene where Klemente runs screaming through the forest at night after seeing the shaman and runs into Tristram, who also starts screaming because he is tackled to the ground and can’t see what it is in the dark.

    Then Atalya shines a light on them both and sighs, seeing that they’re both screaming like little girls and trying to fight the other off with bitch-slaps. That’d put a hole in Tristram’s pride if it was brought up later. Haha.

    Then maybe Klemente accidentally shifts into a jaguar and scares the crap out of Atalya and Tristram while he keeps screaming, leading to one of the teachers investigating, who finds all three running around in a panic, swearing and waving their torches around like crazy. Talk about embarrassing. Haha.

  38. Hopefulon 06 Jul 2010 at 11:43 am

    I have a superstrong character who is 350 times stronger, sounds incredably strong but if a butilding were to fall he would be in trouble becouse when translated down a skyscraper, I’m using the empire state building in this equation, it would weigh 2,245,384 pounds to him. Even a normal house would be enough to give more than a herniea. 124,000 pounds to 343 pounds

  39. Neilon 15 Feb 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Hello there, first off I want to commend the author for this article. It was quite informative and in many ways has shed light onto how to treat superhuman abilities.

    With that in mind, I was wondering If I could get some help, in regards to balancing powers.

    Primarily, the story that I’m writing has the protagonist have the powers of solar manipulation. This power off course gives him the power to create both fire and light.

    But he also has power of flight, thermal resistance, self- subsistence( such as breathing in outer space), along augmented agility and strength.

    My question is that is my hero overpowered? I mean in terms of strength, while he’s strong enough to punch through wood, he cannot lift heavy objects, like cars, or punch through steel.

    Also, being that his powers are connected to the sun, his powers are very dangerous and can do harm. Finally, being that my character absorbs sunlight, he can become weakened when in total darkness.

    Are these good weaknesses to balance out his strengths? Or is he too overpowered?

  40. Nicholas Caseon 15 Feb 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Some brief suggestions,

    -Make the antagonist crazily strong and the hero weaker (For the hero, my antagonists blows up continents like nothing so…ya know…)

    -Make him weak to cold weather and place the time in the winter. That ought to be interesting.

    -Make him only able to use his powers when sun strikes him directly, but cancels out/weakens when it’s cold. Ex: it’s 18 degrees but the sun is out.

    -Give him flaws. Don’t make him a supreme goody goody. The only pure person in my story is a girl (protagonist) names Arre. She can only heal people…although she’s inertly stronger than my other protagonists but she never learns to use it and she doesn’t want to.

  41. Neilon 15 Feb 2011 at 2:53 pm

    @Nicholas Case

    Thank you so much for the suggestions. Making the antagonist stronger was something I was planing on, so as to push my character to the limits

    In terms of cold weather, I surprisingly had thought of that. Most likely, how I’ll approach this is that, while my protagonist can resist cold weather that is stagnant, like temperatures that are still above zero.

    However, he won’t be able to survive in temperatures significant near or below zero (like 12 degrees) or dangerous weather (like blizzards), unless he encompasses himself in his flame aura.

    In regards to darkness, the one issue regarding that is that my character can also generate solar energy.

    With that said, most likely I’ll give him the vulnerability to darkness in the sense that if he uses up all of his power, he’ll be weakened, unless he can fly (That is if he can) towards the sun in order to recharge.

    Finally, in terms of flaws I have a couple already planned. For one thing, he has commitment issues, being that his father left him several years ago.

    This also translates into his discontent, for while he has a great social life, he still wishes he was ridden of his abilities and have a whole family.

    All in all, thank you once more for the advice.

  42. Castilleon 15 Feb 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I’ve thought up a good limitation for a hero with telepathic abilities. Say he can possess a person, but not over an hour (combined total time). If he exceeds that limit, he’s trapped in the ‘host’ body and unable to return to his original one.

  43. Nicholas Caseon 15 Feb 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Castille

    -An hour, I can bomb a house in under an hour. (Not saying I will) Maybe more like 15 minuets, unless your tasks in the story are very tedious then maybe 30 minutes but I would steer away from an hour. A person could find another person in an hour. I could do a lot of things in an hour. And why would he even need an hour anyway?

    -Plus, what’s so bad about getting a new body? Unless the host’s soul will be trapped forever, why would they care? Unless the hero feels bad about the host-maybe. Maybe a protagonist gets body snatched, THEN they might care.

    -A suggestion, what I did for my telepath, Nora, was made it so when she uses a major psychic power (Like teleportation) she has to wait an entire year before she can use it again. (And that’s only once!)

    Neil

    -”However, he won’t be able to survive in temperatures significant near or below zero (like 12 degrees) or dangerous weather (like blizzards), unless he encompasses himself in his flame aura.”

    Um, doesn’t the flame aura defeat the purpose of the weakness?

    -My character, Dunimas, is the complete opposite of yours, except his weaknesses are more prominent. For one thing, if the temp gets over 90 degrees he has 10 minutes to get cooled down to below 75 or he’ll die. (Well, I should say if his body get’s 90 degrees he has to get cool to 75 in 10 mins or he dies. His avaerage body temp is about 30-50 degrees.) I reccommend making his weaknesses a bit more natural. (Why would he be in 0 degrees anyways?! I think 40 and below is more believable and versatile, a lot of places in the world can reach to 40 degrees. I don’t mean he has to die at 40 degrees, but get much weaker.)

  44. B. Macon 15 Feb 2011 at 9:48 pm

    “An hour, I can bomb a house in under an hour. (Not saying I will)” Umm… That makes me a bit uncomfortable.

  45. Castilleon 15 Feb 2011 at 10:08 pm

    Ok, maybe forty or thirty minutes combined time he can spend inside a person before it becomes permanent. Hypothetically, this wouldn’t be advantageous to him because he is (1) Married (2) unlikely to stay married if his wife learns of his new psychic abilities.

    Plus if he is killed in a host body he returns to his original body. (Leading to scenes where he can threaten the host by causing them to commit suicide.)

    Plus if said hero gets trapped in an opposite gender body he might be very uncomfortable with that to say the least.

  46. B. Macon 16 Feb 2011 at 1:59 am

    Hmm… I think it would raise the stakes for him more if getting killed in a host body would either kill him or cause some other seriously bad problem.

    The 30 or 40 minute restriction sounds okay, but I get the impression that you won’t let him get trapped in somebody else’s body*, so the dramatic potential of the limitation will probably be pretty low. (If trapping him in somebody else’s body isn’t on the table, one way to make the limitation more threatening/interesting would be to force him into situations where he has to abort a mission–i.e. temporarily fail–because he’s running out of time).

    *If it WERE going to happen, it’d almost assuredly happen rather early in the story because it’d probably be part of the premise, as in Existence 2.0. I don’t think the threat would be viable after, say, the first third of a standalone novel.

  47. Ghoston 16 Feb 2011 at 4:39 pm

    @ Neil,
    I think your best beat to developing weaknesses for your character is the first law of thermodynamics – Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. If you think of your character’s power from that perspective, then the character itself would be analoguos to a rechargable battery. In other words, they don’t create the energy they need to manifest their powers. Instead, they have to get from somewhere else. If that is the case, then they would be limited by how availible the fuel source is and how quickly they can convert the fuel source into their superpowers.

    For example, if your character gathers the fuel he or she needs to create light or heat from ambient thermal energy (heat) they slowly absorbs from the environment they are in, then cool climates would slowly weaken them since they have less of the fuel they needs around (kind of like when you dont let the battery on a laptop charge all the way). So in a place like the south pole your character would still have some powers ( since there is still thermal energy there, just not a lot).Conversely, in areas where there is higher amounts of fuel they use, then your character runs the risk of overloading their body (kind of like to much current through a fuse). That way, yor character could still run into a burning building to save people, but staying in there to long might cause them to blow up.

    Also, if you limit the amount of energy, whether thermal or photonic, that your character can absorb at once, they will also be limited on what they can do and for how long they can do it. Just like the battery on a laptop, your character would need a recharge time. If they do not have enough time between heroic tasks, then they would slowly lose their powers or their powers would be diminished. Of course, if you use the overload theory from above, your character would not be able to attempt a rapid recharge because it might kill them.

    Hope this gave you some ideas.

  48. Nicholas Caseon 16 Feb 2011 at 5:13 pm

    “I think your best beat to developing weaknesses for your character is the first law of thermodynamics – Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. If you think of your character’s power from that perspective, then the character itself would be analoguos to a rechargable battery. In other words, they don’t create the energy they need to manifest their powers. Instead, they have to get from somewhere else. If that is the case, then they would be limited by how availible the fuel source is and how quickly they can convert the fuel source into their superpowers.
    For example, if your character gathers the fuel he or she needs to create light or heat from ambient thermal energy (heat) they slowly absorbs from the environment they are in, then cool climates would slowly weaken them since they have less of the fuel they needs around (kind of like when you dont let the battery on a laptop charge all the way). So in a place like the south pole your character would still have some powers ( since there is still thermal energy there, just not a lot).Conversely, in areas where there is higher amounts of fuel they use, then your character runs the risk of overloading their body (kind of like to much current through a fuse). That way, yor character could still run into a burning building to save people, but staying in there to long might cause them to blow up.
    Also, if you limit the amount of energy, whether thermal or photonic, that your character can absorb at once, they will also be limited on what they can do and for how long they can do it. Just like the battery on a laptop, your character would need a recharge time. If they do not have enough time between heroic tasks, then they would slowly lose their powers or their powers would be diminished. Of course, if you use the overload theory from above, your character would not be able be able to attempt a rapid recharge because it might kill them.
    Hope this gave you some ideas.”

    That could have been shortened down to a 3 line sentence. No offense but it’s just long winded. Also the superpower doesn’t have to be scientifically correct-my character’s body temp is around 30 and below on average, but it still makes sense because it’s an ice type.

  49. B. Macon 16 Feb 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Nick, please e-mail me at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  50. Danion 16 Feb 2011 at 8:56 pm

    “That way, your character could still run into a burning building to save people, but staying in there to long might cause them to blow up.”

    LOL That would suck. Hilarious though.
    “I’m here to rescue you.”
    “But I need my kitty Fluffy.”
    “We can’t really look for him.”
    “I love my Fluffy.”
    “You don’t understand. If we don’t get out of here in five minutes, bam, I blow up. Do you want that? Hm? Do you want me to blow up in here?”

  51. Neilon 17 Feb 2011 at 9:03 am

    @Ghost

    Thank you so much for the insight. Your idea on thermodynamics was something I was surprisingly considering.

    Since his powers are based on solar energy, the amount of ambient heat and light energy my character absorbs was a cool idea. However, aside from that weakness( which I really like), there are some that I want to add.

    For one thing, being that my character has the powers of the sun, he emits loads of ultraviolet radiation.

    This is crucial for seeing as normal humans are vulnerable to it, my character has to be especially careful, lest he wishes to cause mass casualties

    The idea of emitting loads of energy also transitions into his next weakness. This shortcoming being that he emits loads of heat.

    Enemies who have sufficient tracking gear can locate him.

    This is another important concept for it’s through this weakness that Derek rarely demonstrates his powers, due to not wanting to attract attention.

    Finally, the next weakness that might suffice is as you said the notion of thermodynamics. However, being that my character has the powers of the sun, it’s best to say he’s immune to strong sources of heat and radiation, like fire.

    But conversely- as you stated- being superheated areas, like deserts, can augment his powers to the point at which he can no longer exercise complete control over his powers.

    All in all, my goal is not make him too strong, but at the same time, not too weak.

    Also for added thought, my idea of having my hero, based in solar like abilities, was somewhat inspired by Sunfire’s abilities in X men.

  52. Ghoston 17 Feb 2011 at 12:53 pm

    @ Neil,

    I was wondering if you could explain a little more indepth the exact nature of you character’s powers. I know who Sunfire is and have a pretty general idea of what his powers include. To the best of my understanding, he aborbs solar radiaton, which is just a combination of all forms of known electromagnetic radiation, and uses that energy to ionize matter in to plasma. Or put simply, he make fireballs. Is that what you are trying to go for with your character? Or will your character be able to emit all the same forms of radiation that the sun does? Either way, I believe alot of what I wrote earlier would still apply.

    I know that a lot of what I posted earlier my seem overly complicated, but a good understanding of how your fictionla world works is a good thing. Even though your readers may not need to know all the ins and outs of your fictional world to enjoy it, having a good understanding of it as the author of that world will help you keep things consistent.

  53. Nicholas Caseon 17 Feb 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I agree. Neil, PLEASE don’t make the same mistake I did.

    When I made my story, I thought I had everything planned out. My protags (protagonists) would go and be nomadic and kill Haden. Simple right? Ha! It took me all the way to the point of him venturing off until something dawned on me.

    Why would his grandparents let him go on an adventure?!

    This was were I thought I hit writers block. Even if I solved the first problem,

    WHERE would he be traveling?!?!

    I couldn’t see much of a reason he would have to go on this big nomadic adventure until it dawned on me when I asked the question in my head.

    To be blunt, the Gargan moon they used to get to Earth has been invisibly orbiting it all this time. The portal was when the moon was closest to Earth (Partially inside the atmosphere) and it was a short distance to travel and for haden’s henchmen to get Arre back. So Dunimas is sent to planet Coreous saved just in time by a girl names Nora, gets convinced to kill Haden, and gets trained. So Dunimas manages to get to the planet by running around the planet (he’s a speedy one) once and jumping there when the portal closes and he’s too late. There. His guardians won’t be there, just him and some friends along the way (Besides Arre and Exsusia…it’s a long story.)

    In other words, even when you think the story is planned out perfectly, run through the mental (Or even physical) blueprint and see if it makes sense. Trust me, this will save you much rewriting Neil.

  54. Castilleon 17 Feb 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I’ve got a question related to super strength now. Lets say I have my hero, David Reyes whose strength can bend iron. I need the Sasquatch of the story to be a big enough challenge that he’ll need help facing a fully grown adult. By how many orders of magnitude should the Bigfoot’s raw strength exceed his?

  55. Nicholas Caseon 17 Feb 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Lemme get this strait,

    Your asking if David should need Bigfoot’s help to defeat Sasquatch of the story and how much stronger should Bigfoot be than this evildoer.

    My answer?
    I don’t care how strong any of them are, as long as Sasquatch is stronger or at least has the advantage then any strength will do. However, my character for example can run almost at the speed of light but he can’t swim and loses his powers in water. So imagine fighting a water-type and it’s really muddy. I don’t care how fast you are, it’s a faceplant in mud. He also (technically) has super strength but he can only lift about two cars (Compared to everyone else [Besides a regular person of course] he’s a weakling. My antags (antagonists) are ripping up tectonic plates!). As long as the antag has a high advantage and his victory seems evident then it’s a win.

  56. Nicholas Caseon 17 Feb 2011 at 6:36 pm

    OH! I see! You used ‘Sasquatch’ as a different name for Bigfoot! Duh! (*Hits forehead*)

    Well same as the other, as long as Bigfoot’s stronger then there’s no problem. I gave my character the strength of the strongest man in my universe! Trust me, a hypergiant to him is like a gumball.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypergiant

    ^Now THAT’S saying something!

  57. Nicholas Caseon 17 Feb 2011 at 6:38 pm

    I meant the antagonist has the strength of the strongest man in the world, my hero’s strength couldn’t compare to my antag’s! He only manage’s to win by a thread of luck and a cheap shot!

    (Man…I sure wish you could edit your posts…)

  58. B. Macon 17 Feb 2011 at 7:07 pm

    I don’t have a number in mind, Castille. In fact, under some circumstances, a hero may have more raw strength than the villain (such as the Thing vs. Dr. Doom, Superman and the Hulk vs. most of their foes, etc). As long as the villain is threatening and ideally more dangerous than the heroes, I don’t think the number matters.

    Some other ways the sasquatch may be more dangerous than Reyes:
    –He probably knows the environment/terrain/wilderness better and how to use it to his advantage. (For example, he’s probably a better climber and/or digger, so he may be able to set ambushes that way).
    –He may be more tricky/wily*, like knowing how to split up the heroes or otherwise take advantage of their position.
    –His reflexes may be better. I don’t know what he’s hunting out there, but you have to be FAST to surprise a deer without giving it time to escape.
    –If things get REALLY cold, I’d imagine that it would affect Reyes more than the sasquatch. (Unless Reyes has something special going on… In general, the residents of Los Angeles are not renowned for their cold weather resilience).

    *The Canadian!

  59. Ghoston 17 Feb 2011 at 7:28 pm

    I agree with B. Mac, the exact number isn’t really that important when your main character is that strong. I mean if your main character can bend say a crow bar then he is stronger than a gorilla, which is the strongest primate I know of. I think for the level of strength you are working with a random number like twice as strong works. That way you can keep thing consistent. The way I think of it is if you main character can pick up a riding lawnmower and throw it, the your villain should be able to do the same thing with a mini cooper.
    I also have to agree with B. Mac’s advice on giving your villain and hero different powers. I mean yeah it’s cool to see wolverine and sabertooth, or the hulk and the abomination go at it for a little bit, but after a while it gets kind of old.

  60. Neilon 18 Feb 2011 at 9:04 am

    @ Ghost

    First off, you’re right in the sense that I need go more in depth with my powers. With that said, I apologize if I was being vague.

    In terms of my character’s abilities, yes, in regards to being like Sunfire, he does absorb solar radiation. However, my character produces a plasma that can emit both heat and light.

    So for example, he can create powerful flashes that can blind numerous people as well as, illuminated fireballs so intense they can melt through steel.

    He can also use his powers of solar radiation to switch his perspective from visual to infrared spectrum.

    Finally, my character has the power to briefly envelop himself in a bright aura. This field which I call Aurora field, is hot enough to melt incoming projectiles, like bullets, and briefly stave off attacks.

    However, being that the technique takes so much out of him, the character at first is only able activate it and sustain it for about 10 minutes.

  61. Nicholas Caseon 18 Feb 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Um, 10 minuets seems kind of long don’t you think. 911 happened in a few seconds, the earthquake in Haiti destroyed in about 15 seconds, and I wrote that in 20 seconds. In other words, I would recommended you shorten it. I believe somewhere around 30 seconds could work but the charge rate may have to be a little shorter (around an hour is what I would do). If you still want it to run for 10 minutes then maybe take the heat down so maybe it can only set things like wood on fire by contact, but melt metal (say steel) in about 30 seconds.

  62. Neilon 18 Feb 2011 at 3:31 pm

    @ Nicholas Case

    Okay, I see what you’re saying. In terms of small projectiles, like bullets, my character’s aura will be able to vaporize them.

    However, larger objects, like steel doors will require longer duration of exposure in order to melt.

    This actually ties in well, because the character has also developed a technique in which he can unleash all the energy in his body in the form of a burst.

    This spherical wave is strong enough to incinerate most objects caught. However, it severely drains him, so he uses it sparingly.

  63. Ghoston 18 Feb 2011 at 3:47 pm

    @ Neil,
    There was nothing really wrong with your description of your character’s powers. I just wanted to make sure that I had a thorough understanding of what you were going for. I like the idea of your character creating both light and heat since it is impossible to have one without the other. Remember that just because we as humans can not see the light coming off of a cup of coffee doesn’t mean that it doesn’t emit light. In fact, that is how thermal optics work, they gather the infrared light emitted buy objects.

    I also think you should make your characters bright flashes of light require a lot of effort on his power for two reasons. First because creating visible light requires alot of energy. The reason being, most of the energy going into the creation of light actually becomes heat. Secondly, it is such a useful tactic. Imagine if your character could blind his enemies every time he got into a fight, he would never really be challenged. Also, once your character uses that power the readers are going to want a good reason for why he hasn’t used it or doesn’t keep using it.

    Finally, I agree with what Nick posted earlier. When I was in the Army, we use to breach and clear enitre buildings in less than 10 minutes. I think you should go with the general rule of: If your character is fully rested then they should only be able to hold the aura for 5 minutes.

  64. Nicholas Caseon 18 Feb 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Okay…I know this is kinda weird (for me anyways) but I need someone’s opinions since SOMEONE won’t answer my comments. Ghost,

    My character, Dunimas, and his powers
    My character is a speedy 11 year old ice type who is EXTREMELY sensitive to heat (75-80 degrees will make him really mad and irritable, 81-85 will make him boiling mad and weak. 86-90 will make him pass out/throw up then pass out. 91 and up will kill him in 10 minutes [unless he get's cold shelter].) He loses all his powers in water (Except his default “super strength” which is the strength of 3 men without his powers.) and he can’t swim (he doesn’t need water to swim anyways…he swims through land…[LOL it's just a joke]) either. He can run nearly at the speed of light, but compared to everyone else he’s weak. He also has to sprint that, so he slows down drastically afterwards (Not to mention that the friction from the air is heating him, so he exerts more force trying to keep cool.)

    He can also fly, pretty much at the same speed he can run. Same problems here.

    AS FOR ICE…
    He can cause it to snow if it’s humid enough (like when it rains) and it strengthens him. He can turn lukewarm water/fluids (and some levels of warm water) into ice at temps 32- -100 degrees (He’s and alien/alien/human (Xian/Gargan/human or just Xargan) hybrid and his ancestors’ planet it had extremely cold climates.) He can also cool the ambient air temp down but all of his powers generally require energy. He can also withstand cold temps (minus the clothing factor) as low as -200 degrees!

    Some questions

    -How much would you like the idea of him living inside of a large hollow tree.

    -What time of year do you think his final (and most critical) fight should be during, winter spring, summer, or fall?

    -Do you think his weaknesses are interesting?

    -Did I use too many parenthesis?

  65. B. Macon 18 Feb 2011 at 6:16 pm

    “10 minutes seems kind of long [for a limit on superpowers,] don’t you think? 911 happened in a few seconds, the earthquake in Haiti destroyed in about 15 seconds, and I wrote that in 20 seconds.”

    I think most situations that call for a superhero would stretch out long enough that ten minutes would be a challenging limitation for a superpower, particularly if the antagonists are smart enough to draw out the fight. I think the ten minute restriction would be particularly challenging if the character were on the attack, like trying to infiltrate a secure facility or trying to chase someone down, because the hero will probably use up a lot of his superpowered time before the actual fighting starts. Alternately, if the villain has his henchmen do a crime as a diversion right before the villain stages a crime of his own, the hero may burn up a few more minutes rounding up the villain’s henchmen.

    PS: If I could delve a bit more into the timeline of the 9/11 attacks, I would say that it lasted considerably more than a few seconds. The Air National Guard was notified of Flight 11′s hijacking at 8:34 EST, Flight 11 hit 1 WTC at 8:46, Flight 175 hit 2 WTC at 9:06, Flight 93 received warning about a potential cockpit intrusion at 9:23 and was hijacked at 9:28, Flight 77 hit the Pentagon at 9:37, 2 WTC began to collapse at 9:58 (roughly 50 minutes after impact), and Flight 93 crashed at 10:03. So ten minutes would not be overly long (or short) relative to the chain of events, I think.

    I think it’d be almost as hard to work a superhero into an earthquake as an event like 9-11, but if you were going down that path, I imagine the hero’s main challenge would not be surviving the earthquake but rather dealing with the aftermath. For example, although the earthquake lasts less than a minute, perhaps starving mobs loot the city and generally pose a problem for relief efforts for a week or two.

  66. Nicholas Caseon 18 Feb 2011 at 6:53 pm

    I meant the planes crashed in a few seconds….

  67. B. Macon 18 Feb 2011 at 9:17 pm

    “My character is a speedy 11 year old ice type who is EXTREMELY sensitive to heat (75-80 degrees will make him really mad and irritable, 81-85 will make him boiling mad and weak. 86-90 will make him pass out/throw up then pass out. 91 and up will kill him in 10 minutes [unless he get's cold shelter].) He loses all his powers in water (Except his default “super strength” which is the strength of 3 men without his powers.) and he can’t swim (he doesn’t need water to swim anyways…he swims through land…[LOL it's just a joke]) either. He can run nearly at the speed of light, but compared to everyone else he’s weak. He also has to sprint that, so he slows down drastically afterwards (Not to mention that the friction from the air is heating him, so he exerts more force trying to keep cool.) ”

    Okay, first, I should probably preface this by saying that the powers are usually just means to an end (an interesting story) rather than the end itself. So my expectations for how interesting the powers should be are usually pretty low and I don’t think the powers matter all that much, particularly compared to the things that develop the main characters the most (personality, traits, flaws, voices, goals/motivations, etc).

    Having said that, I’m not sure how the temperature limitation will open up an interesting plot. Some limitations and side-effects that I think have played out interestingly:
    –The magic in Bitter Seeds is fueled by high-stakes negotiations/trades with malevolent spirits.
    –Various series use superpowers and supernatural abilities that morally/spiritually/mentally corrode the user over time (Spiderman’s Venom symbiote, Frodo’s ring, the magic in the Wheel of Time series, etc).
    –Maybe Rogue’s inability to touch people without putting them in a coma.

    These superpowers’ drawbacks and limitations develop the characters in interesting ways and led to several awesome scenes. I’m not feeling as optimistic about the temperature limitation being interesting.

    PS: I would recommend against calling him something like an “ice type” because I think it sounds sort of like Pokemon or a video game.

  68. Nicholas Caseon 19 Feb 2011 at 6:47 am

    Um, that was just used to explain his powers. It had nothing to do with sending to a publisher or anything else for that matter. It was just to use for here. I don’t call him ‘ice type’ it’s just what came to mind at the time. Also the thing is is that,

    1.Exsusia isn’t alien so he can withstand just about what any human can withstand.

    2.He has an abnormally high body temp which makes it difficult for Dunimas to fight him.

    3.Dunimas has to keep Arre warm.

    4. When he fights Haden the last time it’s in the summer so…he’s screwed.

  69. Castilleon 19 Feb 2011 at 10:34 am

    What about above average reflexes? My latest chapter used the assumption that a man born with increased reflexes can best a werewolf single handedly with only six months of training.Oh,and using a tie to stop an airborne attacker…..

    I just need to make sure so that I don’t make the reflexes absurdly fast.

  70. B. Macon 19 Feb 2011 at 12:48 pm

    Castille, I think you’re probably fine on the reflexes front. For example, one non-superpowered character in the Watchmen grabs a bullet out of the air just by training up his reflexes and I don’t think it threatened the readers’ suspension of disbelief. (Also, he wasn’t 100% sure it would work, which made it feel a bit more believable). Other allegedly non-superpowered characters such as Batman, Robin and the Punisher have pulled some crazy stunts with their reflexes, so I think you have a lot of room to work with there.



    I like the idea of a character using anything at hand in an all-out fight, but I’m a bit perplexed about how a (regular?) tie could stop an airborne attacker. Are you familiar with any other fight scenes that have used a tie as a weapon? I’m having a bit of trouble visualizing it.

  71. Ghoston 19 Feb 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Nick,
    Yes, I do think you use too many parentheses, but then again so do I. Now onto the real questions you asked. First of all, I would like to know whether you are writting a sci-fi book or a magical fantasy book. The reason I ask is because the answer to that question should shape your origin story. Right now I get the feeling that your story is kind of a hybird between the two. If that is the case, then no worries. However, if that is not what you are going for, then you should tighten up your powers a little more. For example, if you are going for a sci-fi story, then you might want to consider making your character come from a desert or volcanic planet. Now I do know that that idea might seen counter intuitive, but from a sci-fi POV you could argue that your character developed his ability as an evolutionary response to his environment. How handy would it be for someone who lives on a desert planet to be able to cool the air and cause water to condense. Or be able to cool the air around them to keep their blood from boiling. Most people who read fantasy would be more will to go with the whole idea of people with ice powers must stay cold, but in a more sci-fi orientated story might find that a little cliche at this point.

    My second concern with your character’s powers is the seemingly random powers of fight and superspeed. I am in no way saying you should go all iceman and have your character travel around on ice bridges, but the speed and flight seem a little odd. Of course that is just my opinion, and given a reasonable explaination for their inclusion I might find them a little more believable. Secondly, even if you do decide to include them, I think you should only include one of them to prevent him from appearing over powered.

    Finally, I would like to mention that if you were a little less blunt, you might get some more responses. I am not suggesting you lie to people when you post a comment, but being diplomatic might not be a bad thing. After you respond to this post and I get a better handle on where you are going with your story, I will try to answer the rest of the questions from your last post.

  72. B. Macon 19 Feb 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Nick, I agree with Ghost that diplomacy would help.

    For example, if someone’s put 20+ hours into reviewing your stories, calling him out for not doing enough is probably not the most effective way to draw in new reviewers.

  73. Ghoston 19 Feb 2011 at 8:06 pm

    Castille,
    Just for reference, humans with proper training can have reflexes that exceed the striking speed of a rattlesnakes. So I think you could probably get away with stretching his reflexes without losing your readers. I also thought that i might mention that there are 4 step in physical response. For example, if someone throughs a punch at you, the first step in responsing is precieving the punch. The second step is for your mind has to recognize the punch for what it is. Third you have to select the correct response to the punch (hopefully some kind of block or parry). And finally, the fourth step is to physically implement the action you have choosen. That is why a slightly older, yet more experienced fighter can often win against a younger and less experienced fighter. So I think there is a lot of potential for you as a wirter to come up with challenging stituations for an inexperienced hero you has quick relfexes.

  74. Nicholas Caseon 19 Feb 2011 at 9:10 pm

    What? Calling someone out? I just wanted to capitalize ‘SOMEONE’ just for suspicion…>->

    ANYWAYS (God I’ve gotta stop using capitalization) it’s a mix between sci-fi and mystic. Also I don’t see why he would have ice powers in a desert. I could see him being to withstand heat, but he can’t. That makes no sense. Also he hates bodies of water and he’s a descendant of an alien race who was nearly extinguished and came to Earth for safety.

    The WHOLE story (From beginning to end in the shortest way possible.)

    Thousands of years there were 2 alien races at war, Xians and Gargans. The xians were capable of psychic powers (like flight and teleportation). Gargans could fly (with much more training than a Xian would need) as well and (God help us the readers won’t know I got this from DBZ) can shoot energy beams. So some time around 2025 Gargans blew up the planet and escaped on a moon which they used as a rocket. two Xians got to earth in pods while the Gargans got there on the space ship. The Xian children (Beihan who was 12 and Ceihan who was six) got to Earth about a year before the Gargans.

    A girl finds them blah blah blah they have adventurers blah learn how to transform into super-states blah blah blah blah blah have kids when they grow up mega blaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah Dunimas is born after generations of Xian hybrids
    (From Ceihan’s Side,

    Nicholas & Kristy
    ??? / Deceased (Gregory kills her and he’s Nicks best friend lol)
    Molly (Dunimas’s Grandma)
    Helen (Dunimas’s Mom who is epically pwned and dies from Haden)
    Dunimas (Bada**)
    Esmeralda (Genius with Hyperthymesia and a biosoftware named Alto who Dunimas made (Because he’s a smart bada**))

    From Behians side,

    Kyu
    Um…he doesn’t really have a family tree after that lol)

    Is that enough or do you need more?

  75. Ghoston 19 Feb 2011 at 9:38 pm

    Nick,
    From a scifi point of view, having cooling powers on a desert planet would be evolutionary benifit. Similar to humans “developing” the ability to sweat (scientists claim that we did always sweat). So instead of sweating, these aliens evovled the ability to cool the air around them. Then low and behold, when the show up on a planet with more water vapor in the air they can create ice. Remember, the theroy behind evolution is that the speices best fit or best adaptable to an environment are the ones who will survive. That is kinda where I was going with that line of thought. Of course, if you are not going strickly scifi, then that may not really work for you.

    Also, if your are already worried about copying someone else, then you probably are. Not to mention your story also sounds a little like “I am Number four”.

  76. Ghoston 19 Feb 2011 at 9:41 pm

    P.S. just read my last post and I want to clarify something. I dont mean that you are actually copying them. What I mean is that from a publisher point of view, to many similarities to another work might be bad.

  77. Nicholas Caseon 19 Feb 2011 at 9:57 pm

    Huh? I haven’t seen that movie but I heard of it. Besides I started this before I even saw the first commercial (Tsk! Ripping off MY ideas!) But wouldn’t it a lot simpler just for them to withstand higher temps of heat rather than cooling the air temperature?

    1. That’s biologically impossible if you want to be scientific,

    2. The planet was a lot like Earth. But I do see your point though since if they lived in polar regions they wouldn’t need to freeze things. But since their planet was orbiting a hypergiant it was MASSIVE.

    (Seriously, those hypergiants are freaggin ENORMOUS! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyper_giant )

  78. Ghoston 20 Feb 2011 at 5:06 am

    Umm actually it was a book first, and yes it may be biologically impossible but not scientifically impossible. If your ever have a few days with nothing to do take a look at string theory.

  79. Nicholas Caseon 20 Feb 2011 at 7:04 am

    I understand the logic behind that. When sweat cools you down there is a small field of cool around you as well. But anyways I doubt i’ll make him from a volcanic planet because it seems weird that an ice type that can’t even handle 90 degrees without dying. His temperature weakness is a huge basis of the story. I mean, creatures near the mantle of the earth have adapted to high temperatures rather than drastically cooling. Just like fish, why be able to hold your breath for a super long time when you could just breath under water? Besides, if he can withstand extreme cold, wouldn’t he be born in the polar regions rather than a volcanic region? Also Ghost, I can’t remember the exact post (to be honest I’m too lazy to go to my emails and get it.) but every superpower doesn’t have to have scientific sense if it isn’t sci-fi. Even with sci-fi it’s unnecessary to bog down your readers with scientific mumbo jumbo (like metaphysics for a psychic character) because it’s boring to a lot of people. Also, things like that often make authors think that it’s ‘OK’ to put info in the explanation and it turns into an info-dump.

    Oh yeah, I’ve never read I am Number 4 either but hey, maybe MY book will be turned into a movie someday!

  80. Neilon 20 Feb 2011 at 7:50 pm

    @Ghost

    I see your point. In terms of limitations, my character shouldn’t be using his aura for very long.

    Actually, now that I’ve thought of it, I think I have a solution for how he can still have that power. For one thing, despite being able to sheathe himself in flames, he can at first only maintain the effect for a few minutes.

    However, with more training and usage, he’ll be able to extend this usage. Now, I understand this maybe a problem, seeing as the aura’s strong to being with.

    But alas, even though he can maintain it for longer, in terms of effectiveness, it’s greatly reduced.

    So while he could fend off several projectiles, in terms of ballistics, a strong enough blow or blast of energy would be strong enough to effect him.

  81. Ghoston 20 Feb 2011 at 8:46 pm

    Neil,

    I just want to put your last post in my own words to see if i understand it. Your solution to the aura power is to make it short term if it is powerful enough to stop bullets and longer in duration as it gets weaker? Also with some training he can make it last longer? If that is what you meant then i think you have a good balance between your characters power and what you as an author could challenge him with. Also please excuse my post it is really late where i am at currently.

  82. Nicholas Caseon 20 Feb 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Um, I sorta came up with the idea to shorten it…

    Anyways, I would steer clear of lengthening it drastically. Here’s an idea if you want a little logic behind it,

    What if the aura always had the same strength, but how much of it he can exert it. For example, if I had the strength of the sun but in a human form, maybe I could only use a little at a time so my body wouldn’t explode from using too much at once. Maybe his body could automatically cut his power if it’s not capable to withstand it. In short, rather than his aura strength matching his spirit, how much his body can exert and heal from usage. Maybe if he uses too much at once he would blow up, yet if he used it in a more steady flow his body would sustain too much damage (I’m not saying your character is the sun in a human form though) and die rather than explode. I think this could work out well for a bad trait if he’s power hungry. He could be so bent on using his full potential before his body is actually trained to do it that he could hurt himself more than help himself. For example, there are athletes that can run 25 miles per hour. Now, just about anyone can do it, but without the body’s ability to exert it safely, you can’t do it. If one could unlock the body’s safeguards just to be able to exert it they would experience severe muscle damage because their body can’t withstand it-let alone heal.

  83. Castilleon 20 Feb 2011 at 11:28 pm

    In my recent chapter I’m not sure if I made this abundantly clear, so I’ll clarify here. My version of werewolves can only change fully into wolf form on full moon. Their strength and level of transformation increases or decreases depending on the phase of the moon. For example, in a first quarter moon, a lycanthrope will have increased speed and stamina but no visible change in bodily form.

    Of course, on the new moon, my werewolves are helpless as humans. …Not that it matters much because where my story is at…full moon is 2 days away. Plus, I have it so that they can control their transformations, and remain fully in control when in wolf form.(Another little thing that Reyes may be in denial about?)

    I think it’s still reasonable for my Super strength guy(David Reyes) to be able to take a werewolf down in full moon. *

    *At least he’d better be able to. That Khazu #11 flowing in his veins, it has silver isotype as one of its major components. Semi-Spoiler here, but he’s immune to the bite of a werewolf, due to said properties of the Khazu#11 (Guess who doesn’t know that).

    By the way….Nick Case, can you take a look at my review forum and give me some feedback on Chapter eight that went up a few days ago? Thanks.

  84. Crystalon 08 May 2011 at 3:15 pm

    This article really got me thinking about Rebecca’s limits. Healing is basically a form of invulnerability, so I have revised some of her limits.
    I said that healing makes her weak, but the size of the injury matters, too. For example, healing a paper cut will make her kind of dizzy. Broken bones will make her pass out. Healing someone who’s mortally wounded? Not a chance.
    Also, after she heals someone, Rebecca will basically have a version of their injury. If she heals someone with a broken arm, her own arm will hurt for a while.
    Do you think that these limitations work?

  85. Wingson 09 May 2011 at 1:28 pm

    They seem effective to me, Crystal. The aftereffects and the initial exhaustion would work well.

    - Wings

  86. Crystalon 09 May 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks, Wings!
    I forgot to say that she also can’t bring back dead people (or else she’ll die) or heal herself.
    Now I just have to come up with limits for the rest of her team…

  87. Crystalon 09 May 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Okay, do these work for the rest of her team?

    Daniel:
    Powers: Superspeed
    He’s one of the ‘Supers’ (super strong, super fast, etc.). This is really hard to explain, but most of the Supers’ brains are used on their powers (I read somewhere that normal people only use a small fraction of their brains, so the Supers are still able to think). Because their powers put enormous pressure on their brains, Supers kind of have a tendency to go crazy for extended periods of time. This makes it possible to hurt people during these periods, which, in turn, can lead to them getting arrested and/or killed.

    Something more based on his powers is that he has trouble turning when he’s running really fast. He can only run in a straight line or make really wide turns.

    Eva:
    Powers: I don’t know if these count as a power, but she has wings.
    Basically, wings are really hard to conceal. Also, she can only fly as fast as she can run, and tires out just as fast. So Eva can’t really fly across the country or anything.

  88. Crystalon 09 May 2011 at 5:13 pm

    Oh – there’s one more superhero on the team. I haven’t decided on the powers yet.

  89. Wingson 10 May 2011 at 3:48 pm

    They seem fairly workable, if a little mundane. So what’s the fourth member’s personality like? At present, no one has a purely offensive power (I normally put speedsters under the recon heading, like invisibles or phasers), so I’d suggest something geared toiwards that.

    – Wings

  90. Crystalon 12 May 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Oh – I hadn’t decided at the time, but the fourth person is now Adam. I’ve been changing things around in my story, so he’s no longer dead. He won’t join the team for a long time. Their first mission is to rescue him.

    So, Adam is a telekinetic, a childhood friend of Rebecca’s. He’s one of the Supers, but he already went crazy. He snapped while walking to school one day and started hurting people, demolishing buildings, that kind of stuff. A police officer supposedly shot and killed him.
    After his ‘death’, Adam keeps appearing in Rebecca’s dreams, telling her that he’s not really dead. He was brought to a government lab where he’s currently in a coma.
    That’s pretty much all I have written right now. I just fixed Chapter 3, and am getting a head start on Chapter 4, where Adam is officially introduced.

    As for his personality, I would say that Adam is a jokester. He’s always cracking jokes, even if the situation is bad.
    To limit his powers, after he comes out of the coma and is rescued, Adam basically has to learn to use his powers all over again.
    Really, there’s no size or weight limit to the things that he can pick up, but he’s pretty clumsy. So, if he picks up a truck, it could swing out of control or drop.

    Thanks for all the help!

  91. The ReTARDISed Whovianon 13 May 2011 at 1:28 am

    I was thinking earlier and I came up with a power concept for a character, I probably won’t use him for a while, but if this sounds okay to you I might lock him into my idea vault for later. :)

    Anyway, basically this guy can read minds, not through any particular training, he was essentially born with it. The catches are: He has to be able to see enough of someone’s face to do it, and he can’t control it. When his power is used, he also ends up with a headache after a while.

    You know how when you look at a sign, you can’t help but read the word your eyes fall on, unless you concentrate really hard to see it as just a shape? Same deal here – he sees a face on a human being who is physically present, and he can’t control it.

    So, in order to remedy this, I thought “Oh he can just wear a blindfold”, then realised he’d probably end up walking into traffic or something stupid by accident, plus it would be very obvious that he was different if he walked around blindfolded. So, instead I thought of a way to temporarily impair his vision – glasses. I wear glasses and they improve my vision, but my brother has 20/20 vision and can’t make out faces if he wears mine. So I thought the character could wear glasses that are not prescribed to him so that he can see outlines of stuff and make out what it is from the shapes, but not see faces correctly, thus controlling his power. If he needs to read a mind, he can just remove his glasses to “clean” them, and glance over.

    What do you think?

  92. ekimmakon 13 May 2011 at 4:54 am

    I like the idea. There’s just one thing I’m not sure about it.
    If he’s wearing glasses that mess up his vision, then it’ll mean that people will notice that he has poorer vision despite his glasses. He may end up misreading something, or crashing his car into the back of a stopping police car, or something like that. Of course, I’m no expert when it comes to stuff like this, it might actually be more stuff you can write about.

  93. B. Macon 13 May 2011 at 1:08 pm

    “So I thought the character could wear glasses that are not prescribed to him so that he can see outlines of stuff and make out what it is from the shapes, but not see faces correctly, thus controlling his power. If he needs to read a mind, he can just remove his glasses to ‘clean’ them, and glance over.” I think it sounds interesting.

    Someone really astute might notice that he isn’t at 20/20 vision even with his glasses, but I don’t think it’d be easy to make the leap from “his glasses aren’t good enough” to “he’s hiding something,” let alone “he’s hiding a superpower.”

    One glasses-related situation that would be much more noticeable is Matt Murdock (Daredevil), who wears the black glasses that signify blindness but sometimes walks without a cane or a seeing eye dog.

  94. Rogon 09 Aug 2011 at 4:03 pm

    what if the character’s invurability is as limited as per say a bullet jacket, but not to something like a sniper rifle or a machine gun? Also would you know anyway to limit something like pyrokinesis

  95. Wingson 09 Aug 2011 at 5:40 pm

    For pyrokinesis, a simple limitation is that the character can’t generate fire on his own, meaning that he’s dependent on outside forces like matches and lighters. Alternately, fire generation could cost a lot of energy, or if he creates too much flame he runs the risk of suffocating from a lack of oxygen. Alternately alternately, maybe he isn’t immune to his own flames and has to be careful about not injuring himself in the process.

    - Wings

  96. Rogon 09 Aug 2011 at 6:27 pm

    thanks

  97. Wingson 09 Aug 2011 at 6:59 pm

    No problem!

    - Wings

  98. Aj of Earthon 10 Aug 2011 at 6:17 pm

    Nice. I enjoyed this article, Marissa; these are definitely common and problematic issues and you made a lot of interesting points in how to go about resolving them.

    It really is about being creative and also original, mixing up and making fresh, something that can be difficult to achieve given the “stock” nature of most superhero memes. To that, I generally find there’s a delicate balance between using base, pre-fabricated powers-sets and (on the other hand) overcomplicating them with so many particulars, side-effects and circumstantial limitations that it’s hard to remember them, make sense of them, or even make it worth the use of them. I feel the suggestions you offered on how to temper the Super in simplistic and yet original ways (especially your examples of Superspeed and Shapeshifting) can go a long way to help folks get a stronger handle on what their characters can and can’t do. It certainly gave me food for thought for my own work of fiction.

    This is one of those instances in which less really is more, and I think you illustrated that keenly.

    Also (shameless plug), for more on how to resolve issues with telepathy/psionics, I humbly offer the article I came up with on Writing Psychic Superheroes. Heh. ;)

    …And now that I consider it, I think a similar article specifically addressing each of the more common superpowers (Writing Speedsters, Writing Superstrong Characters, Writing Shapeshifters, etc.) would be a really helpful resource….

    Hmmm…

  99. Mynaon 10 Aug 2011 at 6:21 pm

    “…And now that I consider it, I think a similar article specifically addressing each of the more common superpowers (Writing Speedsters, Writing Superstrong Characters, Writing Shapeshifters, etc.) would be a really helpful resource….”
    Huh, you’re right. I kinda wanna try at writing one of these articles now but I’m not sure what good I’ll do. xD

  100. Anonymouson 10 Aug 2011 at 6:45 pm

    For Time Travel, there’s this show that does a good job (at least in my opinion) with it.

    The girl has the ability to stop time, but only for a brief moment. On top of that she can revert time back to the day when she met her friend, but only after a month has passed from that day on. So she can basically repeat that same month only.

  101. Aj of Earthon 10 Aug 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I think you should go for it, Myna. Is there a particular power that you feel you know pretty well, are the most familiar with? Or rather one that you just really want to dissect and understand literally from the ground up?

    I’d love to read what you come up with.

  102. Grenacon 10 Aug 2011 at 7:24 pm

    MYNA I AM SURE YOU WILL DO AWESOME ON AN ARTICLE BECAUSE YOUR WRITING IS MADE OF AWESOME.

    Caps Lock ftw

  103. Mynaon 10 Aug 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Hahaha. xD I love capslock too, but my capslock key has threatened to sue me several times for abuse. xP

    I’ll think up what powers to write an article for, maybe anyway, I’ll see what I can find. Actually, I’ve been wanting to do a How To Write Female Characters for awhile. There’s a Males one here, but I think Female Chars would be helpful too, as most comic book writers and superhero/action fic people are guys and from what I can tell from the comic book industry, female characters can sometimes be… well… horribly cliched. xD What do you think, would that be good grounds for an article?

  104. Grenacon 10 Aug 2011 at 7:54 pm

    I think so, because there are many pitfalls that authors can fall into when writing female characters. Like making them overly dependent ‘damsels-in-distess’ types, Mary Sues, boring, etc.

    So, yeah. Totes good material for an article. Go Myna! I will look forward to it 8D

  105. Mynaon 10 Aug 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Thanks, Grenac! Okies, I will get to drafting up an article and talk to B. Mac about it in a bit. :)

  106. Aj of Earthon 10 Aug 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Agreed: Totes.

  107. scarletton 22 Aug 2012 at 9:49 am

    I have a shapeshifting hero, but he has limits. He can olny shift into twenty forms, human or animal. He can take on new forms, but only if he deletes another form. For example, if he wants to shift into character Y but already has twenty forms, he would have to erase Character B and no longer be able to shift into character B. Also, he can only remain in a form for twenty hours before he has to recharge. He reverts back to his original form when knocked out. Do these sound like workable weaknesses? Just so you know, he is also extremely resistant to fire and heat, like it barley harms him. However, he is extremley vaunerable to ice and cold, like it could kill him.

  108. scarletton 23 Aug 2012 at 6:22 am

    I think I am going to make the shifter a theranthrope.

  109. B. McKenzieon 23 Aug 2012 at 7:56 am

    “I think I am going to make the shifter a theranthrope.” What does that mean? When you’re communicating with publishers (e.g. submitting a novel query), I’d recommend sticking with words which they would readily understand. It might help to rephrase that in simpler English (e.g. “John is a somnikinetic” –> “John can control dreams” or “B. Mac is a kaffekinetic –> “B. Mac can control coffee”).

  110. scarletton 23 Aug 2012 at 8:38 am

    Theranthrope means he can turn into only animals, never people. I have decided to limit this to felines.

  111. Yuuki12on 23 Aug 2012 at 8:52 am

    My character Derek, through his powers of Sound manipulation, has developed a form of Super speed. This is accomplished through sound waves. By generating vibrations towards his feet, he can ride atop them to which enable propulsion. Having said that, I understood the risks of putting the power, given its complexities. However, in response, I placed a couple good weaknesses to which should reign in the ability.

    One of the first shortcomings he has is duration. Despite being able to travel several blocks, prolonged usage of the power will tire Derek. The reason for this is due to intense lactic acid build up, specifically around his legs.

    Given the amount of strain those muscles undergo, the consequences for misusing the ability. It’s this reason why he can’t zip around the world, and travel. Instead, he’d utilizes this power in the form of bursts, which enable him to get out of tight spots.

    The second flaw in this power deals with velocity. Although able to accelerate, he’s unable to control himself when in the face of sudden changes in direction. This is common in sharp turns or corners.

    That said, Derek needs to actively SLOW himself down so as to clear those obstacles. The consequences for not doing so are immense, because they tie into his second flaw: impacts.

    While protected from the air pressure during his movement (this is from the sound which encases his body), this can’t be said about other objects. Obstacles, like cars and buildings, are dangerous to Derek, if he were to hit him.

    An example of this is shown in my story, when during the course of training. When learning to use his powers, Derek , while using super speed, crashed into a tree. The result gave him numerous fractured bones and bruises.

    Had Zyla(another individual who has powers) not been there to treat him, Derek would have been hospitalized for weeks. Additionally, she also states that had Derek gone much faster and hit the tree, he would have died.

    Thus, he’s always mindful of his surroundings, knowing that even as simple as hitting a failing coin could be devastating. All in all, how’s that description? Hopefully, it works and if not, I am open for suggestions.

  112. C_C_Son 23 Aug 2012 at 5:05 pm

    This is a serious/joke suggestion to limit super strength or speed: Like Popeye they have to consume a certain substance to access their powers or have to experience a particular, well, experience to access their powers

    Too silly to be plausible?

  113. Scarecrowon 24 Aug 2012 at 10:38 am

    Well, that’s pretty much like Bane in the comics. He had to use a serum called Venom which basically worked as super-steroids. So yeah, you could make it work. :)

  114. Anonymouson 12 Jan 2013 at 6:45 am

    Wings, are your books published? If so, what are they called?

  115. Yuuki12on 19 Jan 2013 at 10:52 pm

    For my character, Derek, I do have super speed, but it being a byproduct of sound manipulation. By riding atop sound waves, he can propel himself. Some of the drawbacks I have considered are the following.

    1) While able to move down a few blocks, prolonged usage of the power will exhaust him. This is due to intense lactic acid build up around his legs. Also, upon stopping, depending on the speed he’s traveling, he needs to reorient his senses, most notably his sight.

    2)Despite being able to move fast, sudden changes in velocity, like abrupt turns prove disastrous for him. Thus, he needs to physically slow himself down or stop, less he’d wishes to loose balance.

    3) It is the idea of not wanting to crash that translates into this final drawback. Despite being protected by the air pressure(due to sound waves around his body), this can’t be said about other objects. Being that he has quite the momentum, crashing into objects, like cars or buildings can prove disastrous, as serious injuries might occur or worse death. An example that demonstrates this is while he’s training, he taps into this power, only to crash into a large branch. This results in him breaking almost all of his ribs and several bones.

    His instructor claimed that had he gone faster, he might have died.

    So how are those ideas?

  116. Silverfishon 19 Jan 2013 at 11:25 pm

    That sounds like a well balanced out ability. You might have to tone down the durability a little bit, depending on what sort of opponents he is up against (it would be a pretty short fight if he super speeds into an invulnerable or superstrong character and immediately dies). This power will also have advantages and disadvantages based on Derek’s personality traits as well, so it sounds like a good choice of power.

  117. Elecon 20 Jan 2013 at 2:54 am

    My main character has very high levels of durability, enough to withstand ten kilometer falls, direct rocket impacts, ect. Now, while this seems like an excessive amount of power, it is severely limited by the fact that he has average strength (unless he wedges his arm in between a car and the ground or something, which would support it.). This means that literally everyone who is opposing him is more than capable of knocking him around super easily. As such, his main form of damage to others in the story is when they hit him, it feels like they are hitting a brick wall. For anyone with reasonable strength, though, this isn’t really an issue, and they could always wear boxing gloves or something. In the story, he describes himself as a “clumsy wrecking ball” after unsuccessfully using a parachute and falling on a group of heavily armed robbers from a bout one hundred meters.

    Do you feel that I have made his powers at an adequate level for my story?

  118. B. McKenzieon 20 Jan 2013 at 8:26 pm

    “My main character has very high levels of durability, enough to withstand ten kilometer falls, direct rocket impacts, ect. Now, while this seems like an excessive amount of power, it is severely limited by the fact that he has average strength… literally everyone who is opposing him is more than capable of knocking him around super easily.” It sounds like he may have trouble contributing to the plot? E.g. besides not getting himself killed, what will he actually be to do? It may help to increase his offensive capabilities a little bit and weaken his defensive capabilities.

  119. Elecon 21 Jan 2013 at 12:37 am

    “It sounds like he may have trouble contributing to the plot? E.g. besides not getting himself killed, what will he actually be to do? It may help to increase his offensive capabilities a little bit and weaken his defensive capabilities.”

    Thanks for the idea B. Mac, I did forget to include his offense capabilities as well. Firstly, due to having high durability and as such high endurance, he is capable of sprinting at full pace for over at least one hour. In addition to this, due to his high durability, his skin is harder than diamonds, so his punches, whilst not delivered with overwhelming force, would be akin to an average male using knuckle dusters. They would probably be, in all likelihood, more effective because he isn’t transmitting force to another object (e.g someone’s chin) through another third-party object. His diamond-hard skin, coupled with his unfaltering endurance, does make him more than a match against medium-powerful opponents. They would not be able to hit him hard enough to do any damage, (because they would probably break their knuckles or something) but he would be capable of attacking them. Even when he goes up against someone who is way more powerful than him, (also his love interest) who can lift over seventy tons, they still suffer from hitting him too hard.

    A particular funny (in my mind) excerpt from this scene;

    “Wayne took another tremendous hit … This time, he crashed to the ground only twenty meters away.” (as opposed to forty meters)

    Do you feel that he (now) has sufficient offensive capabilities? There is another section from this scene where he does succeed in hitting his opponent, which makes her stagger slightly. Also, within the context of my story, Wayne and his love interest are in the top 1% of super-powered people. For the majority, being able to lift half a ton is considered as being ‘amazing.’

  120. Elecon 21 Jan 2013 at 12:38 am

    Oh, and he also has above average close-combat fighting abilities, curtsey of his upbringing and, of course, training.

  121. T'Challaon 21 Jan 2013 at 2:04 am

    With my character, there has to be moisture in the air. If there isn’t any moisture then he won’t be able to use his ice/cold abilities. He’s also weak against the heat as well. As for his super strength, he can only lift up to 40 tons, limitation-anything heavier then that can injure him. As for his durability, he is able to withstand physical damage, limitation-stops working after a certain amount of time

  122. B. McKenzieon 22 Jan 2013 at 12:44 am

    “Do you feel that he (now) has sufficient offensive capabilities? There is another section from this scene where he does succeed in hitting his opponent, which makes her stagger slightly.” I’m not sure that the ability to make an opponent stagger slightly is quite the offensive capability I’m looking for–in terms of his ability to actually do things in combat, it sounds like he’s severely outmatched by pretty much every superhero on the market (including nonpowered superheroes like Batman). Additionally, I’m getting the impression that his fight scenes would probably be more interesting/dramatic if he were in more danger.

  123. Immieon 22 Jan 2013 at 5:27 am

    Hi,
    To start (this is my first post), I just want to say that I’ve been reading and learning from your site for a while now and I think it’s great!
    I’m writing a novel that uses mostly what I’d call realistic superheroes. The main character has similar physical abilities to Captain America (taking away the shield).
    I was wondering about a character whose powers change depending on the environment/atmosphere of their situation. This would be out of their control and not always helpful – eg in a delicate but hostile situation they would become violent even though that’s not what’s needed. However, if in an intellectual, verbal argument, words and insults would ‘just work’.
    Is that too confusing? I’m also worried that it won’t seem/be able to be consistent.

  124. Kirbyon 22 Jan 2013 at 8:42 am

    It does seem kind of confusing, but a power that changes with the social environment would be easy to get creative with, so I like the idea.

  125. Kinetic Guyon 22 Jan 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Hi, I am working on a post-apocalyptic novel & the main character/hero has control over Magnetism, so my question is How can I use this ability in different ways? Love the site by the way.

  126. Elecon 23 Jan 2013 at 11:51 pm

    “I’m not sure that the ability to make an opponent stagger slightly is quite the offensive capability”

    What I meant to say is that he hit her hard enough to make her step backwards and stagger – not an easy feat against someone who can lift over eighty tons. Sorry for the confusion.

  127. B. McKenzieon 24 Jan 2013 at 7:08 am

    “I was wondering about a character whose powers change depending on the environment/atmosphere of their situation. This would be out of their control and not always helpful – eg in a delicate but hostile situation they would become violent even though that’s not what’s needed. However, if in an intellectual, verbal argument, words and insults would ‘just work’.” First, as with most social abilities (e.g. lie detection), I’d recommend making it a skill rather than a superpower. For example, a character attempting a feat of persuasion and/or intimidation would probably be more interesting and impressive than another person short-circuiting the challenge with a superpower.

    Second–and I think this is less of a concern because it’s not the main character–I don’t know if this superpower would interest guys very much (and guys are usually a major part of the audience for superhero stories).
    –His/her powers are (as far as I know) exclusively social (rather than, say, mental or physical).
    –He/she sounds like he’s at the mercy of events/authorial choices beyond his control –e.g. how his/her powers function in a given situation. I think that’d probably make the character look weaker and less proactive than most readers want to see from a superhero. (Alternately, some characters like the Hulk have HUGE problems with their superpowers but can proactively attempt to deal with them).

  128. Immieon 24 Jan 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks. It would mostly be social, but physically she could have strength/endurance to the level of what people call ‘adrenaline superpowers’ – but she would get them quite often (most fights).
    Do you have a suggestion on how to make it look less weak/reactive? Alternatively I could just work it into a character rather than make her have it through a rewiring of the brain. I’ve also been looking for a way for her to try and control+harness her power but so far nothing that would be interesting to readers and helpful to the character has come up…

  129. 45CentConcerton 13 May 2013 at 9:58 am

    Description: It at first seems her powers are only to create an imaginary figure that can grow from 8 feet tall to upwards of 20 feet. It takes upon a male-humanoid shape. However, that is only her astral projection of her real ability. In reality, she has the ability to project a larger form of herself that acts as an armor. Unfortunately, it is a mentally based ability that is affected by devices that block psychic abilities. Her armor can expand in size, and the tallest it can grow is 10 stories or 100 feet tall. To use the armor portion of her ability, she must have complete concentration for one minute (which can take a lot for such a short amount of time) and she goes into a meditative state where she cannot see, hear, move, or eat and drink. There for if she’s paralyzed in that condition, she will die. I’m thinking of a mantra, but I don’t want her to be too much like Raven and her Azarath Metrion Zinthos.

    So that’s all I have at the moment. Is she too strong? Do you have any suggestions, comments, or changes?

  130. Talonon 17 May 2013 at 7:40 pm

    I have a hero with the power to manipulate and absorb kinetic energy. What limitations can I give her?

  131. Blackscaron 19 May 2013 at 10:10 am

    Hello! Before I say anything else, I would like to commend the author of this article; it really was helpful. :)

    However, I have a small question. Would a sort of ‘psychic backlash’ be a plausible weakness to a telepath, or to someone with mind control? If so, how would I go about applying it? (I can include more info about the character if necessary.)

  132. Proxie#0on 19 May 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I’m not sure exactly what it is you mean by “Backlash”, but I can provide a few “weaknesses” that could be a given with the ability.

    1.) Untrained – The Character cannot control the ability to the fullest, and thus are restricted to larger groups of people to read, and cant quite discern who is thinking what.

    2.) Cognitive Overload – A caveat of sorts from the first, but mos likely useful in any situation depending on ow you flesh out a character and their abilities. Basically, this can be surmised as hearing far too many peoples thoughts at once, causing a mental breakdown. (See X Men 2 for an example, in the beginning)

    3.) Brain Hemorrhage – The use of the ability physically draws on the user, causing noticeable bleeding from orifices on or around the head/face.

    4.) Like a Book – Use of the ability opens the persons mind up to any person even slightly aware of their own telepathic/empathetic abilities to be able to read that person. And, on top of that, you could have the regular people be able to sense a person “inside their head”

    5.) HEAD EXPLODERS – If you have ever seen the movie “Scanners,” and know the fan nickname for it, you will probably know this one outright. But, to explain… In scanners, attempting to read someoes mind for any long period causes very bad reprecussions for the Scanner and the Scanned, but effects are much more detrimental for the subject being scanned. It usually ends, within about 30-45 seconds, with the scanned persons head exploding…

  133. blackscaron 20 May 2013 at 6:47 am

    @proxie#0

    Hm, I have to say that I’m partial to numbers three and four. Would number three’s inclusion as a weakness mean that if my character used her powers it would be fatal? (I’m sorry if that’s a stupid question, but I’m not very familiar with the medical aspect of things, unfortunately.)

    I think I might use a mix of numbers three and four, if that’s all right.

  134. Proxie#0on 20 May 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Oh no, what I meant was more along the lines of the “Invisible Woman” from the “Fantastic Four.” Basically, extended use of abilities – for long periods of time or without much time in between uses – could be dangerous. However dangerous you want to make it is up to you. You could even show, in story, rapid use leads from things like headaches and migraines to things like nosebleeds. As for which ones you want to use…you can use all of them or none of them. Its your story, I’m just lucky enough to be able to help it along.

  135. Mister Greedon 20 May 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Got any advice on Power Mimics and users who have control over a certain element?

  136. Mister Greedon 22 May 2013 at 2:30 pm

    My other question is can power mimicry work without it being overpowered?

  137. B. McKenzieon 22 May 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Here are some potential limitations, Mr. Greed — Feel free to mix and match.

    1) Maybe the mimic doesn’t know how to use the powers as well as the people he’s grabbing from.

    2) Maybe there’s a limit to how many powers he can have at once, or use at once.

    3) Maybe there’s a limit to how long he can hold a power.

    4) Maybe the powers he grabs are diluted compared to the original holder of the superpower.

    5) Maybe it’s hard for him to acquire superpowers? (E.g. Sylar could only do it against someone that was dead and Rogue did it by touching people, both of which are harder to accomplish against an enemy than, say, Peter Petrelli passively grabbing powers from everyone).

    6) The superpower only works at certain times or under certain conditions.

    7) He can only mimick certain superpowers (e.g. only physical superpowers) or only superpowers from some origins (e.g. mutants but not aliens or magic only).

    8) It probably wouldn’t be super-useful against superheroes like Batman or Iron Man (who depend more on equipment and training than on traditional superpowers).

    9) His ability to maintain the mimicry requires concentration or some other mental state which can be disrupted.

  138. Mister Greedon 23 May 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Could I have my character mimic other peoples power telepathically?

  139. Mister Greedon 23 May 2013 at 4:30 pm

    And if so, how should I go about doing it?

  140. B. McKenzieon 23 May 2013 at 7:17 pm

    “How should I go about [having my character mimic other people's powers telepathically]?” I don’t understand… If you mean how you should go about explaining it to readers, I don’t think you need to (e.g. Heroes didn’t give a lengthy explanation of how Sylar’s powers work — if we see them in action a few times, they will make sense).

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