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How does a character get his powers.

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Endymion, Jun 15, 2012.

  1. Endymion

    Endymion Troubadour

    What is the best way to give a character his skills or powers.
    Do you like the "you got it from your father", you know, the character was the son of the great magician so naturally he has the same skills as his father had (I can't describe how much I hate that explanation)?
    Do you like the storyline where the main character trains hard and doesn't give up and thus becomes best at what he does?
  2. Chilari

    Chilari Staff Moderator

    It seems to me that in real life people are predisposed towards a certain skillset if their parents have those skillsets (for example, my Mum writes fiction and so do it), but it may well be partly nurture as well as nature; so while I'm fairly sure the writing part of our similarlies is genetic, I'm similarly certain my love of history comes from my parents having taken me to see castles when I was younger rather than genetics. Simiarly, my mum is also an amateur artist. She does some very nice watercolours. I did art at school, but haven't done much since and as a result my artistic skills are severely lacking. In that case there's an element of nature, probably a larger element of nurture (ie growing up surrounding by paintings mum has done and occasionally being the subject of them) but largely effort.

    Thus in fiction I'd rather see a elements of nature, nurture and effort in a character's powers, with a focus towards effort. This is partly because I feel it is closest to the truth, and partly because we're writing messages in our fiction, even if not intended, and I would not like to write a message that said "your future success is biologically predetermined thus if your parents were failures you will be one too." It's hardly encouraging to people, and in fact lets people from disadvantaged backgrounds believe they'll never make anything worthwhile of themselves. That's not a message I like the sound of. I think a far better, more positive message would be "you are your own person; don't let what your parents did or didn't do, or what they are or are not, hold you back."

    Besides, the storyline where effort and drive is makes characters special is more popular - it appeals both to that wonderful concept, the American Dream, and to the similar sentiment currently all the rage in India (according to a half-remembered article I read recently), that anyone of any background can make of themselves what they are prepared to make.
  3. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    Used to be an article somewhere in which a scientist claimed that creating a 'Batman' type 'superhero' was feasible, although it would take most of twenty years.

    As far as magical abilities go...I see it as sort of a three tier deal.

    At the bottom tier - or about 99.99% of the populace - nope. No magic for your other than weird premonitions or some such (with one exception)

    The next tier up, you have the potential to be a 'wizard', but it is usually potential unrealized. You can go through your entire life and merely be regarded as being lucky, or good at finding things, or possessed of some other quirk. I think of these sorts as 'latents'.

    The top step is those who are brimming with enough talent they either start learning spells on their own, or find somebody to teach them spellcasting.

    As to ordinary people becoming magicians - that involves a personal apocalyptic experience - something that changes their view of themselves and the world they live in right down to its core. A Near Death Experience or something similiar.
  4. Alex97

    Alex97 Troubadour

    Quite a few ways a character can gain his/her abilities.

    Firstly there's getting it from their parents. Personally I don't like this unless its done well. A bad example would be someone who comes form a line of wizards finds out he is really good at magic. A good example would be someone who comes from a line of wizards has top train really hard to uncover the gift of magic passed on from his parents. In other words the protagaonist still innherits his/her power but has to train to actualy be capable of using it.

    Alternatively you could go for a character who just works really hard to gain their skill and power which is probably a better idea than them simply being born with it.

    Lastly a character could gain their power from an object they've found like a sword which makes them super fast or an event which happens to them. I don't think there's a best way but I think some ways suit the story better than others.
  5. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    I think this article might help; How To Give A Character Superpowers - Television Tropes & Idioms

    My personal prefrence is characters just getting their powers randomly and having to live with it ala X-men though not neccesarily with the genetic component, with a risky and dangerous way for normals to get powers thrown in because WHY NOT!
  6. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    One of my favourite RPing characters is the music professor at a boarding school for supernatural beings (mages, vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and normal humans with magical potential), who turns from a normal human to a mage literally overnight during his fifth year of teaching. He finds the school healer sleepwalking out of the school under a Fae enchantment, and when he tries to stop her she starts fighting tooth and nail. He sends a student for help from one of the mage professors, and in the meantime tries to calm the healer down by singing to her. This awakens his magical talent, which combats the Fae enchantment and breaks it. Since then he's had the ability to work his will magically through singing.
  7. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    My personal favorite method of bestowing powers is the Divine Gift, either in the form of an inborn talent or a mystical weapon forged by heaven itself. I think this resonates with the idea that everyone has special gifts and talents and that they were given them for a reason. Having a divine force behind your character's powers gives him a sense of purpose and responsibility. On the other hand, rooting your villain's powers in an evil entity shows that he's so intent on getting his way that he'll deal with the devil to do it.
  8. Reaver

    Reaver Kwisatz Haderach Moderator

    I demand to know who told you about my origin!
  9. Mindfire

    Mindfire Istar

    I know things.

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