Oct 04 2011
1. Maybe the superpowers have some cost to the user.
- Fatigue. The superhero’s powers exhaust him.
- Equal and opposite reaction. Perhaps your supergenius’s brain will overheat unless he lets his mind cool down after a mental stunt.
- Energy. Your hero has a drainable and finite source of power.
- Risk to self (or others). Your hero’s powers, once activated, are hard to control and dangerous.
- Personality shift. Activating your hero’s powers transforms his personality or mindset, like the Hulk or Catastrophe.
- Loss of sanity. Your hero’s transformation makes him considerably less stable, like The Hulk or Niki.
2. Your story’s superpowers have a limited duration or accessibility.
- His superpowers only last a certain duration and have to be recharged.
- His superpowers can only be accessed after a certain condition is met or at a certain time of day. For example, Captain Marvel has to say Shazaam first.
- His superpowers are only accessible after he transforms. May be voluntary (Captain Marvel), involuntary (a werewolf) or both (the Hulk).
- Superpowers are accessible only through a particular item, usually a magical or technological item (Sailor Moon, power armor).
- Achieving a particular power or effect requires the cooperation of unsavory characters. For example, maybe the superhero needs to convince a brilliant supervillain to help him build a particular feature into his powersuit. Alternately, in Bitter Seeds, every spell is fueled by negotiations with nefarious spirits, and each spell requires various unsavory deeds.
- Because the hero’s alien or otherwise unhuman (Superman, TMNT)
- Because he’s a modified human (Spiderman, cyborgs)
- Because he has some artifact (power armor or something magical)
4. Your superpowers have unusual limits.
- Physical. Maybe his electricity shorts out in water or he gets really weak when exposed to Kryptonite.
- Time. Hourman’s powers only last (you guessed it) an hour.