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Superpower ideas?

Discussion in 'World Building' started by snabjorn, Jul 10, 2016.

  1. snabjorn

    snabjorn Dreamer

    Good evening ;)

    I am working on something atm, and I need all the superpowers I can get, and I was hoping you guys could maybe help me :)

    Are there some superpowers/magical powers/whatever you find especially awesome? Or maybe some superpowers that you would love to see, that hasn't been "created" yet, or something along those lines? Last mentioned would have to be something that would be o.k. for me to (possibly) use ofc. :)
  2. There's a wiki called Superpowers Wiki--just google it--that has pretty much every super power that's ever been thought of. Go there. You'll get a ton of ideas.
  3. Boiled Water

    Boiled Water Dreamer

    I think the most interesting powers are ones that come at a cost. Your strength is increased but you lose control of your anger. You can control people's minds but you feel all their pain. You have laser vision but temporarily lose eyesight. Uninteresting powers combined with consequences can make for creative and interesting ideas.
    Nomadica likes this.
  4. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Dang, Dragon already suggested what I was going to do, though I was going to add suggesting hitting the random button. Here's the link to the wiki in question; Superpower Wiki - Wikia

    For more specific ideas..... Are you looking for teams or individuals?
  5. I'm writing a fantasy story in which the magic system is based around the concept of superpowers, but I can't exactly share my ideas, since I'm using them myself.
  6. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    Sanderson's second law of magic (which applies to superpowers too, I would say): Limitations > Powers.

    With things like Heroes and the X-Men, there isn't much of a chance that you'll get an interesting power that hasn't been used yet. But by limiting it, you're making it unique and interesting.

    As an example, from Sanderson's own work: Steel pushing and Iron pulling from the Mistborn novels.
    The basic power here is telekinesis, but is limited like this:
    - Works on metals only
    - Only pushes and pulls directly from or to the user's centre mass
    - The user's mass is pitted against the object being moved; so if the user is lighter than the object being pushed, the user moves, not the object.

    Now, with those limitations in place, you have a whole new ability.
  7. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Personally I can't agree with this. You shouldn't rely on limitations to make your power interesting but should rely on the character, their personality and how they use the power to make things interesting. Even the basic flying brick power set can be interesting if used in an unusual way.
    valiant12 likes this.
  8. La Volpe

    La Volpe Sage

    Agreed, but I'm not saying that having an interesting power precludes all other kinds of writing. I'm merely saying that limiting your power is more interesting that giving it more reign. I.e. Allomancy is more interesting than telekinesis.

    And so, isn't an interesting character using an interesting power in an interesting way more interesting than an interesting character using an UNinteresting power in an interesting way? (Sorry for the interesting-ception.)
  9. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

    The ability to take away a person's special abilities... Not steal them, they simply stop working for a while.

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  10. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    Here's a few "silly" ideas to get the creativity going:

    The ability to control earthworms to create suitable soil conditions wherever you are.

    The ability to change one color into another by touch.

    The ability to mimic another person's eye patterns.

    The ability to pass through floors and sink to the center of the earth.

    The ability to induce shivering, sneezing, or itching in yourself and others.

    The ability to force anyone holding a gun to pull the trigger or holding a mouse to click a button.

    The ability to telekinetically move anything as light as string or wire.

    Really, it's not always about the superpower but about the way it matches with the character who wields it. In Heroes, Nathan Petrelli could fly, but as a politician with his own jet, it didn't mean much. It did mean he could get away from people who were after him, that he was "one of them" and keeping it secret, that he had an excuse not to get involved "What am I supposed to do with flight?", that he was a hypocrite when he used his authority to go after others with powers. The ability to fly made him compelling as a character, and he still had the opportunity to use that power often enough, but it was mostly important for the way it shaped his personality as a character.

    So to me, you have a power that needs a character, or a character who needs a power. But there's two parts to it.
  11. "Silly?" Don't be so sure. A couple of those are legitimate powers in my WIP.

    Many times I've thought of a "silly" power, then later realized how useful it could be. For example...controlling saliva. Sounds like a humorous power, but it could be pretty useful. You could make your enemy choke on their own saliva or make them drool uncontrollably so they can't talk.
  12. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

    Here are some random powers that popped into my head: Power hear the truth in a lie, power to reverse time, power to see through the eyes of another, ability to bend light (make things invisible, see around corners, etc.), ability to transform gases. Hope this sparks a few ideas.
  13. Holoman

    Holoman Troubadour

    I had this idea the other day when someone asked something similar, and I thought rather than a unique superpower, it would be interesting for a character to have a superpower that didn't fit well at all with their personality.

    For example you have someone that is gentle and their power is only destructive. Or you have someone that wants to be an emperor and rule everyone yet he can only heal wounds. The creativity would be in coming up with ways they could use their powers to get what they want.
  14. I've found that its not about what your powers are--it's about what you do with them. You'll have a hard time finding a power that hasn't been thought of; in fact it's probably impossible. However, what you CAN do is use those powers in unique ways. I've said before that the magic system in my WIP is based around the concept of superpowers, so I've done a lot of meditation on this subject. Here's some ideas for what you can do.

    1. Think of interesting ways to use your powers. Typically, we think of magic in terms of its application in combat. Fire? You can burn your enemy! Ice? You can freeze your enemy! However, there's a lot more to a story than just fighting...or I would hope so. Think about how your characters would use their powers in everyday life. Or, think of less obvious ways to use powers. For example, if you could control liquids, you could control people's blood.

    2. Think of limitations and weaknesses for your powers. In my opinion, magic without costs is just as boring as protagonists without flaws. I don't just mean limits to what the powers can do. I mean, perhaps a character can only use their power when underwater, at night, while naked...

    3. Think of ways that your powers cause problems in the story. This is pretty much all of my WIP. Powers causing problems. If you have the power to read minds, you have the ability to invade others' privacy in the most intimate concievable way. This probably would make you somewhat of an outcast, as people would want to avoid you.

    4. Pranks, mishaps, etc...Powers are much more fun when things go wrong. What if you can't control your power? How could you use your power to play pranks on others?

    5. Finally, this has been said already, but I'm saying it again. Evil people with "light" powers, or good people with "dark" powers. You'd expect the bad guy to have a scary, dark power, and the good guy to have a helpful, good power...but what if that's not the case? What if it's the other way around? In general, characters that clash with their powers aren't done much.

    Hope this helps.
    Firefly likes this.
  15. Smajdalf

    Smajdalf Scribe

    Magic powers are cool, when you think of things like using your own soul energy to create an armblade or heal others. But the weakness is that it actually absorbs your life power, so USE WITH CAUTION!
  16. superpower

    superpower New Member

  17. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

  18. Firefly

    Firefly Troubadour

    Hey! My WIP also has a superpower style magic system. :)
    (I use them a lot, actually, now that I think about it... I think I may like them a little too much...)

    Something that was helpful for me to accept early on is that basically everything has been done before, most of it many times over. You might be able to find something new if you really turn your brain inside out, but it's not necessary to come up with a completely original power set for every single character, even major ones, unless it's the main conceptual hook of the story.

    You can actually get pretty far though by simply taking an archetype and drilling down to make it more specific.

    A lot of people find limitations really useful. For me, specifically trying to brainstorm limitations never seems to come up with much, so instead what I try to do is think about how I can narrow the scope of an ability or make it apply to a more specific area (I am going to use the word 'specific' way to many times in this post, I can already tell). This may seem like the same thing to anyone who isn't me, I don't know, but I find it really helpful, so I thought I'd mention it.

    Example: Let's say you take the starting idea of "telepathy", but narrow it's range so that the telepath can only pick up on other's thoughts when they're thinking about the same thing she is.

    I also try and think about how they use their power. The most common seem to be by touching things, waving their hands around, or just... like, thinking, basically, but if you choose something more interesting than that it can make scenes where the characters use their powers really come alive. For me, thinking about where the ability actually comes from or trying to link in some sort of theme or previously-unrelated prop helps here. This is where you can really dig in and find the finer nuances between two characters who have basically the same power: someone who who "flies" could do it by nullifying gravity's effect on their body, having wings, walking on invisible staircases they conjure with their mind, or with an army of tiny nanobot-drones, and all of those will probably work in a slightly different way.

    Extending the example from before, maybe this telepath reads minds by temporarily connecting her consciousnes with the other persons, and in order for her to do it, she has to maintain eye contact, or snap on some magical handcuff-bracelets.

    The last thing I wanted to bring up is the senses. What does it feel like to be using this power? How can I make it distinct visually? This one is really rather simple but it blew my mind when I first learned about it. Magic-heavy stories sometime suffer from being way to abstract and think-y, but they can become some of the most vivid in the story of you do a good job with this.

    Wow, ahg, apparently I had a lot more to say on this than I thought I did. Now that I'm done with this my brain has actually come up with a few more, but it is way too late at night and I am tired now so I'll have to add them tomorrow, if I can still remember what they are.
    C. R. Rowenson likes this.
  19. C. R. Rowenson

    C. R. Rowenson Scribe

    You said you struggle with building limitations, but it sounds to me like you do a great job at it. Narrowing the scope of the power itself and dictating exactly how the powers are activated are excellent sources of limitations for any magic system.
    And snabjornsnabjorn, another area you can explore is setting character-specific limitations. Sure, there's not really a limit on the damage the forcefield can absorb, but if the character can only generate it when they are calm or can only make a field the size of a basketball, those greatly decrease the functionality of the power without changing the power itself. I find this kind of character limitation works exceptionally well with superpower-like magic systems.
  20. Gotis

    Gotis Scribe

    I can't think of a superpower that hasn't been done, but one I haven't seen used very much is sound wave manipulation.

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