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Finding flaws in characters that are truly more powerful

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Miskatonic, Sep 24, 2015.

  1. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    In my story (I really need to find a name for the stupid thing), there's one of two MC's that, as far as physical ability is concerned, is at a higher level than other humans. Technically he could fall into the category of supernatural but not via birth. Essentially one of what I refer to as "King Trees" (basically the oldest form of plant life, from which the rest was spawned from) augmented his body through infusing its essence with the character's blood when the character was at the brink of death. One event in particular occurred that left him extremely weak against magic users (so that he has to avoid any kind of direct confrontation with them), but other than that he doesn't have an equal as far as combat is concerned.

    So that being said; do you guys think potentially overpowered characters should be reined in or should they be embraced as the bad-asses they are?

    One upside to the character is that at some point in the story he goes to another continent which is teeming with supernatural creatures that really put his skills to the test, some of which he has no chance of defeating alone.
  2. Scribe Lord

    Scribe Lord Minstrel

    So as long as you actually give him a distinct personality then I see no problem in making him as powerful as you want. You can test that out easily. Hypothetically remove all of his powers. Is he still interesting? Or is there nothing even left?

    If he's still interesting and there's worthwhile conflict in his life then by all means embrace that badass.
  3. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Miskatonic, which version do you find more interesting?
  4. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    I prefer showing a character's power in small bursts. Ideally when it's most necessary. I think it really has a lot to do with the character type that this one falls under.

    I guess it would kind of be like Gandalf in a way, though the characters aren't really that similar. It's just the character that we know is very powerful but isn't always intervening on behalf of everyone else when things get rough. Though Gandalf is certainly driven by the purpose of not letting Sauron prevail. If in a similar situation the MC in my story may not prefer that outcome either but to achieve that result would more likely come of him influencing events that would ultimately rely on the success of other characters. He doesn't want power, doesn't want a kingdom, doesn't want to be in any type of permanent alliance. He's been around for centuries and has seen the mistakes mankind continues to make over and over.

    I like characters that are not interested in being the one that saves the day, or driven by a strong sense of right and wrong. They choose to take part in the affairs of others when it benefits them or if they see it necessary. Such as if there are two possible outcomes for the future and one may be preferable to the other where the character is concerned.

    I like to refer to them as the "wild card", or the element that when introduced can create a drastic change in a situation.

    This puts them at odds with characters who have a strong sense of justice or duty, so there is conflict not only between the character and the "bad guys", but also with the "good guys", even if it means outright betrayal or deception.

    When it comes to powerful characters, I'd prefer they not be the hero that ultimately saves the day.
  5. FatCat

    FatCat Maester

    Comic writers found a way to make superman vulnerable, you can to.
  6. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    To me, there are a couple of things to consider here.

    First, don't think about what he can do. Think about what he can't do and try to exploit that in the story. Sure he's peerless in combat, but how is he in a political argument?

    Second, just because he's physically dominant won't automatically mean he's unbeatable. Did this infusion also give him peerless combat skills? Technique and skill wise, could he still out duel a master swordsman? OR would the master strike him a thousand times, realize the fight was futile, and then run off before he could hit the master once?

    When staring down an unstoppable force about to run you down, the simplest solution is probably to step aside. Preferably with a cliff behind you.
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2015
    TheCrystallineEntity likes this.
  7. Miskatonic

    Miskatonic Auror

    He's been around for 1,000 plus years and has traveled over most of the known world, experienced different cultures, been involved in wars and political conflicts, etc.. That being said, I don't want him to come across as perfect, which I don't think I will have a difficult time accomplishing.

    I could compare him in some ways to Clint Eastwood's character in the "man with no name" trilogy. Or the character in High Plains Drifter. He's not overly concerned with the fate of nations, the lives of common people, obtaining wealth and power, etc. He's out for himself but isn't completely without empathy. He's just been around long enough to see the ways of mankind and understand the ebb and flow of human conflict.

    As I mentioned, he went through a certain ordeal that nearly left him dead and extremely vulnerable to magic. So if he were to take a magic user head on he would be in big trouble. His goal early on is to reverse this, and this gives him the motivation he needs to involve himself in the current issues happening between certain kingdoms on the brink of war. The nemesis that inflicted this wound is back again and the main antagonist for the first half of the story. He can't take this guy head on so he's going to have to manipulate things to achieve the goal of defeating his nemesis, all while a war spread across an entire continent is unfolding.
  8. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

    Does his powers and abilities add to the excitement and experience of reading it, or take away. That's the only question you need concern yourself with.
  9. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Inkling

    Let him be a bad ass but give him and his abilities limitations. Give it rules. An example could be with a character that could teleport from one place to another in seconds. Maybe they need to be able to visual the place they wont to go to, so if they've never been there or seen it they can't. Maybe a something drains their magic like sunlight, so they have to avoid that. Just give the magic boundaries.

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