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How does a superhero conquer the modern world?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Electric Bone Flute, Nov 14, 2020.

  1. Imagine some invincible (no need to breathe, sleep, eat, regenerates from a speck of dust and requires a nuke or two to get to that state), super fast (meaningful fractions of lightspeed), flying super being, previously a normal human. Strength unnecessary of course: f=ma after all. Unfortunately that’s it. You can’t surveil the world with that powerset. You can’t control the minds of local leaders. You can’t even navigate the world, really. So, what would it take? Some well-educated normal person with an eye for world domination takes it upon himself to take over the world. Where does he start?

    Go to Washington D.C., Jerusalem, Beijing, Geneva, Tokyo or the like with a lot of cameras trained and interested parties watching by flying to make announcement of the new world leader? Maybe some other demonstrations of power? Then what?

    One thing that I could imagine is that this being might threaten publicly to fly at high velocity into something important if a certain trivial (and later nontrivial) demand isn’t met in a week, carry out the threat if not met, and escalate to larger targets, one government of one country at a time.

    An assumption to be made is that this is the only superhero in the world, with no one to fight them.
     
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  2. They could start with Washington, D.C., since America is the lead in the world. It would be the best strategic choice. But, they really should have SOME weakness. Otherwise, it turns into a big power trip, which not every reader likes. There should be conflict and danger, otherwise it probably won't be interesting.
     
  3. Not every protagonist in a super story must be the super.
    And not every story has a happy ending. Note that from anyone’s perspective that doesn’t benefit from the rule of this guy, this is a horror story.
     
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  4. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I recently saw a YouTube video by Tom Scott on this:

    Basically, think bigger about what your power can do. Kinetic energy goes with the square of speed. Which means that any meaningful sized object at 10÷ of lightspeed is basically a nuclear bomb.

    Basically, take a large rock 25, kg or so, fly above the white House, drop it at high speed, watch the mushroom cloud, send a message to the UN telling them you'll do it again unless everyone surrenders.
    You probably have to do it again once or twice to prove its you and that you can. But after that people will choose to live under you rather than be vaporised.

    Actually pretty easy. And less messy than real nukes, since there's none of that nasty nuclear fallout stuff.
     
  5. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    They might start by doing good deeds for those they wish to follow them. At the same time put out lies and misleading information for their greatest rivals. Cast doubt on the ability of others to lead. Point out every error of the opposition and take claim for anything that goes well. Claim those currently in power are the reason for all people's problems and offer little proof when pressed on the issues. Place the emphasis on the opposition to offer proof. Get into the minds of those doing poorly in life and uneducated, as well as those who see themselves in a similar light as the character. You could even have the character take a religious angle and claim their new powers are a gift from god and proof of them being chosen to rule.
     
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  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The character arc seems a bit limited.
     
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  7. I am not concerned with the characterization of what is essentially a natural disaster with a human face. I'm concerned with how that disaster plays out, and how the world reacts to watching itself get unstoppably subjugated or destroyed.
    Think "monster," not "villain," even if the monster is capable of reason and even ethics. By way of metaphor, I'm interested in watching someone fall into water in the tundra and getting out, and I'm asking about how the stages of their inevitable death by hypothermia play out for the sake of realism.
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2020
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  8. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    Hang on. You've said nothing about their mental powers. If they're the same as they were when the monster was human then there's no way the monster could control everything. Humans have a limited control span, its why we build organisations. It simply isn't possible to absorb all the information and keep an eye on all those you'd need to keep an eye on. So unless your monster had underlings they could trust, the opposition would outmanouvre the monster.
     
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  9. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

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    I've thought of a similar idea. Basically, I figure the solution is simple: he walks into Congress and declares himself the leader. Anyone who dissents in any way dies immediately. If all dissent, he just kills his way down the chain of command until someone bows. He can easily destroy any military force that tries to stop him. He'd be the unquestioned leader of the world in a matter of weeks.
     
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  10. Precisely. I was inspired by the trope of discussion of military power, "Drones are scary and ****, but they just can't keep ground. You can't do anything without boots." I want to know what a determined and unstoppable drone would do given the fact that they are personally unlimited yet globally limited.
     
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  11. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    How they go about depends on the person beneath this power set. If they're a bully, they'll try to intimidate. If they have a sizable intellect, they may go about it differently and use their brains backed up by their brawn. Also, what they do depends on what they want and why.

    As for how they maintain control over everything, they just need to gather followers and/or sycophants to do the grunt work. Honestly, just look at the dictator's handbook. Look at our world today. Fear is a great motivator, and is a tool if wielded reasonably well can be a means to an end. Take one of a-hole leaders in the world today and imagine if they had superpowers. What would our world look like then.
     
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  12. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I think drone is the wrong comparission here. A drone is too small and doesn't do enough damage. Image a world where only one country has access to nuclear weapons, they are not afraid to use them, there are no consequences for the person who uses them and that country is expansionist.

    You don't need to hold ground if you are willing to vaporize not just your opponent, but also your opponents family, neighbors and city and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Yes, of course people will attempt to assasinate the guy. But that only solidifies his power. If you see someone survive a headshot, a direct hit from a tank and so on, and then that person goes on to casually kill a small sized town you tend to give up at some point.

    But, it comes down to the guy can't hesitate to kill indiscriminately and he has to be the only one.

    Of course he will need to start setting up some form of government. But there will be enough people who will see an opportunity and be drawn to his power. Either out of greed or in the hopes of achieving something good. But that's more a long term issue and it becomes the difference between being a countries leader in name and simply getting sent tribute or actually having an impact on the running of the place. After all, he might not care about what happens in Liechtenstein and he just lets them be as long as they send him x-amounts of money or cheese or whatever per year.
     
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  13. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    No, I think you misunderstand why most terrorists, dictators like Stalin and Hitler and other similarly unpleasant regimes eventually fail. The use of force to scare people doesn't work, it simply strengthens resistance. You have to offer an alternative which most people can accept.

    Electric Bone Flute says that the monster doesn't have increased mental powers, which limits how much information they can absorb and also how much control they can exert over others. A willingness to use force doesn't mean a thing if you can't apply it in the right places. Given that the monster can't see or hear everything that goes on, and hence can't be certain that they aren't being lied to by supposedly loyal underlings their chances of being able to run the world by themselves are just about zero. Worse still, someone somewhere will eventually work out how to maim or kill the monster and then its all over.

    That means the monster can't just be violent, the monster has to have a thought out strategy for how they want the world to be, and that strategy has to be accepted by the majority of people. Only then can the monster get the support needed to maintain their rule. And even then the monster can never be certain that their aren't som disloyal underlings playing their own game behind the monsters back.

    An interesting question then arises, which is whether the monster can end up suffering from paranoia to the point where they can't function any more? And then what happens?
     
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  14. Very good idea, Mad SwedeMad Swede , but one incorrect part: Hitler only failed because of the Allies attacking the Axis Powers, and him committing suicide. Unfortunately, without outside involvement, the Nazis might still control Germany. So, if using such an example, they might need the help of extraterrestrials to do such a thing.
     
  15. Mad Swede

    Mad Swede Minstrel

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    No, the Nazi regime was never monolithic, as shown by William Shirer's book "The Rise and Fall of the Thrid Reich", and there was active opposition to the regime even before the war began. Their economic policy alone would have been enough to cause the regime to collapse in the medium term.
     
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  16. Oh. I didn't know that. Well, Hitler wasn't invincible and able to destroy the entire world almost at will. The character this person's talking about, is, in fact, invincible.
     
  17. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

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    I'm not sure I agree. For starters, economics is not an exact science. We have ideas about what will happen, but you can't say with any certainty that some economic choice will inevitably lead to collapse. There are plenty of economic policies today which are labelled as unsustainable, but they are still used and they still keep working. Also, it assumes that it is impossible to change before the collapse happens.

    In the end, Hitler lost because an outside force was stronger and overthrew him. Dictators lose because either an outside force intervenes or because his internal support disappears and the military decides not to back him anymore. That might be caused by economic trouble, but it doesn't have to be. Just look at iraq under Sadam Hussein. It was far from a prosperous place. But he made sure that the military supported him, so he stayed in power. It was only when an external force intervened that he was toppled from power.

    In this instance, no outside force is stronger and he can't be killed and he is the military. Therefore, he will remain in power. Now, this does not mean that there will never be a rebellion or that people wont try to overthrow him. And it may very well be that the people underneath him are miserable. But they can't do much about it.

    As mentioned though, if he actualy wants to make a real impact on the world, other than to be named its leader and receive some tribute (in whatever form he wants), then he will need to set up a government. He can't do everything or pay attention to everything. He will need to delegate and he will need to provide a direction for where he wants things to go.

    But unlike real world dictators (like roman emperors for instance), he does not have to worry about keeping the military happy, since they can't actually do anything about him. He can reverse policy on the spot and piss off a lot of people and he doesn't have to worry about the consequences, since they can't do anything about it. It might cause famine in a region, but who cares if the people rise up. Those people can't kill him or take away his power. if they become too much of a nuisance, just kill them. They might make a nice example.

    Though again, this very much depends on being willing to kill as many people as it takes and not caring what happens to the other people.
     
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  18. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    It really does sound like the Invincible just starts killing people until it runs out of people.

    Biology and geography come into play. There would come a point where the remaining humans are so scattered that it takes Invincible long enough to hunt them down that some other humans in some other place have babies. Now it becomes a game of Whack-a-Human. So, you could adjust flying speed, but how does Invincible even know?

    Moreover, once most of the world is in shambles, what does conquest even mean? If there's a village in the Andes, do they have to swear allegiance? How does Invincible know? How does it verify the allegiance continues? Does conquest mean payment of annual tribute? All nation-states would dissolve, of course, for they depend too heavily on functions Invincible would be forced to disrupt (in order to break resistance).

    The way I see it, such an Invincible being doesn't so much conquer the world as merely wreck it. He might just as well decide it's going to conquer ants or goldfish.
     
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  19. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

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    I think something worth exploring for this concept would be the mechanics of dictatorships. The super could garner some loyal supporters as his reach grows, with more joining along the way. There would be a cult of personality surrounding the hero. Think a group like the Nazis, except with a leader who could handle the opposition personally (what a frightening thought that is). This could actually lead to some interesting story bits. There would likely be infighting among members of the inner circle, or at the very least, a sense of competition for status in the regime. You could also explore the idea of coup attempts from the inside, which would be interesting to see.
     
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  20. Don Coyote

    Don Coyote Dreamer

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    At the beginning, which is what kind of person were they before being cursed? Were they building a power base before The Event, or were they a simple school's janitor?

    Why do they want to take over the world? Are they a supercharged control freak? To reduce mankind's carbon footprint? End war, poverty and hunger? To reshape the world so they can never be harmed or bullied again? For the children? Revenge? Their vision of a brave, new world depends on motivation.

    What is their learning curve? Do they take their time and cautiously figure out how to use their new powers? Or throw themselves into the task and damn the consequences?

    How much empathy for others do they have? Do they gain empathy? Lose empathy?

    How long does it take the Cursed One to regenerate? Because you know some clever fellows are going to nuke Cursed One HQ and see if the Cursed One is gone for good and if not, how long it'll take for the return. Those same clever fellows will also be wracking their brains for a way to find that dust spec and load it on a rocket aimed at the heart of the sun.

    Don't make the Cursed One a monster. The monstrous acts of monsters are due to their nature, like predators killing prey. Humans are worse because we choose to act monstrously.
     
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