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 Superpowers!!

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Samus
Nate Erdmann
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PostSubject: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:28 am

ye ole fun superpowers thread.

I saw this on the wow forums and figured might be fun to share here but better yet there is a huge explanation detailing some of the secondary powers one must have in order to use said powers.

Quote :
Okay, so you've one of those people who's got a "Special Power". But via Fridge Logic, this means there has to be a myriad of other passive powers in order to make it work the way it usually does. This is sometimes directly referred to and explained, and sometimes not.

Related to Fan Wank, this encompasses all of the powers that aren't explicitly stated that would make a power function like it does in the work in question. Often, these powers would be useless outside of allowing the main power to work, but some could have use beyond that.

This only covers if the power in question is not explicitly defined. While Cyclops from the X-Men doesn't hurt his own eyelids with his optic blasts every time he shuts his eyes, this is defined as an explicit ability of his (and his brother).

Types of powers commonly covered by this:

Super Strength - Many characters with super-strength also have super anchoring abilities. This keeps them from being shoved into the ground when they lift up something remarkably heavy, like buildings or land masses. A common subversion is a hero that lacks this anchoring ability, thereby heavily restricting what they can lift without sending themselves up to their waist in the ground.

Also, characters that are super-strong but not explicitly Nigh Invulnerable have some level of enhanced resistance in their bones. If their super-powerful muscles were anchored by normal bones, the bones would repeatedly be broken apart by the muscles' exertion (or just constantly pulled off the anchor points, resulting in rather horrific sprains). Someone with superstrength but lacking invulnerability or a Healing Factor would also be at greater risk of bleeding to death from large wounds, as their heart would presumably be more powerful & thus pumping blood more forcefully.

To use super strength effectively also requires the ability to strengthen objects by touching them. Otherwise, holding up (for example) an airplane with one hand would simply result in a hand-shaped hole in the still-plummeting airplane. This was addressed in the second episode of The Big Bang Theory, as the characters discuss a scene from the original Christopher Reeve Superman movie:

Sheldon: Lois Lane is falling, accelerating at an initial rate of 32 feet per second per second... Superman swoops down to save her by reaching out two arms of steel... Miss Lane who is now traveling at approximately 120 miles an hour hits them and is immediately sliced into three equal pieces...Frankly, if he really loved her he'd let her hit the pavement - it'd be a more merciful death.

But if he matched her velocity, grabbed her, then started decreasing his rate of descent, she would be OK. Or if his strength was tied to some kind of tactile-telekinesis that holds things together when he touches them.

Nigh Invulnerable - Other than folks who fall under the Made Of Air version of this trope, these characters also frequently exhibit the ability to anchor themselves. Even if they don't take damage from a heavy blow, it should still send them flying if they can't diffuse that much force. This one is more frequently subverted, with characters who resist damage but get knocked around quite easily, which makes for good No One Could Survive That moments. If they have superstrength, they could conceivably be bracing themselves for the blow, but those invulnerable characters without super-strength have no such excuse; this only works up to a point, however, as no amount of strength can defy the laws of motion. Strike someone with enough force, and they will move. (Superman (and others of his ilk) gets a pass because he can hold himself in place with his flying powers.) Also, see the page opener quote for more downsides.

While this tends to go to Power Perversion Potential, females would need to have at least one part that can be hurt, otherwise they would be a virgin forever, as nobody could break through the hymen. Or get the powers after they've already had sex. Either works fine.

* Or get it on with a man with super-strength. This troper needs new hobbies.
* Or, if they had super strength they could theoretically break their hymen with their fingers or similar object.
* Or they could have relatively flexible hymens, that just stretch out of the way (which is not as outlandish at it seems; this happens occasionally in Real Life - though this can be problematic during pregnancy).
* Or maybe the presence or absence of a hymen has piss-all to do with "virginity" to begin with.
* Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the troper exhibit. Please don't rattle the bars, and if they start getting excited try not to encourage them.

Healing Factor - Any character with a healing factor presumably also requires superhuman pain tolerance, to avoid falling unconcious from the crippling pain and then waking up ten minutes later good as new...
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Samus
Nate Erdmann
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:29 am

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Super Speed - These characters are somehow immune to the effects of friction - specifically, the chafing that would naturally occur from using extremely rapid speed for extended periods of time, especially while wearing spandex. Again, this is only for characters that aren't explicitly described as Nigh Invulnerable; presumably, that would also cover friction damage. The same applies to the materials in contact with speedster, especially clothes (that should be bent to move): either invulnerability is extended to them or they going to be damaged and possibly disintegrated or incinerated. For instance, the various speedsters of the The DCU related to the Flash each have a thin invisible aura that protects their bodies from air friction (and, presumably, the impact of their feet hitting the ground at several hundred miles per hour several hundred times per second).

Speedsters also must possess a very powerful and efficient metabolism, which keeps them from needing to drink several times their weight in pure nectar every day (In recent years, this element has been often used to justify faster healing). Sometimes, this is partly averted - more than one character like this has been shown to be a Big Eater to power their abilities— though not even spending 24/7 in front of an all-you-can-eat ice cream and candy buffet could provide enough calories to power more than a second or two of supersonic running speeds. Also, they have to have a very high stamina, as running from New York to Los Angeles all at once should be impossible no matter how fast they do it. They also have to have super friction powers, so that they can actually keep their footing when turning on surfaces that aren't specially constructed for high-speed travel. Cars turn easily at sixty miles per hour on (properly angled) asphalt, but they'd have a much harder time on tile.

And if their speed is too high for a given viscosity, there's no time for collisions to be resolved quietly, so normally soft substances (like water or plastics) are going to behave like hard ones; hard-frozen grass, glass puddles, buckshot raindrops, shrapnel snow, fragile clothes, that sort of thing. Speedsters who pick up or put down anything while speeding also have to have some power that cushions the impact. Otherwise, attempting to grab a person when you're running at a hundred miles an hour wouldn't pick them up, it would snap them in half.

For those characters that are moving close to or sometimes faster than the speed of light, it is never explained how they navigate when they technically should not be able to see. Nor is it explained how they can run around the planet in less than a second without flying off of its surface as they are clearly exceeding orbital escape velocity.

They would also need some type of super-concentration. Given that their sense of time must already be adjusted so they can react normally to things at super-speed, they should perceive normal speed to be horrifyingly slow. Imagine trying to hold a conversation with people who take several hours to speak a single word. Similarly, if a speedster does something like typing millions of password combinations into a computer, he must somehow avoid getting bored after the first few hundred. Or they may have nervous systems that can multitask at different speeds, allowing them to perform (for example) simple manual tasks at superspeed while only being consciously aware of a few seconds passing.

* Quicksilver, Marvel's best-known (if not the fastest) speedster, actually said this was part of his Anger Management issues- "It's like standing in the slowest line in the world ALL THE TIME." This impatience even carries over when he's powerless.

Characters with super speed must also able to withstand massive g-force caused by rapid acceleration/deceleration, since most of them are shown to be able to start/stop instantly (rarely applies to those who lack this talent, but they may end up going Too Fast To Stop as a result). This must make the character somehow able to anchor to the ground while stopping too, since friction with the ground can only go so far - but often they just instantly stop. More than likely this uses some form of Inertial Dampening rather than actual friction, as it normally fails to tear up the roadway or set it on fire.

Normal humans moving at very high speeds without a protective barrier would forcibly ram-scoop air into their lungs. It'd be like driving without a windshield...on a supersonic jet. So their "aura" must either slow the air, or redirect it safely around them (while still allowing in enough to breathe).
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Samus
Nate Erdmann
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:29 am

Quote :
Flight - Other than those with obvious mechanical assistance (either wings or rockets), flying characters possess the ability to propel themselves through no effort of their own. This might be due to some inherent telekinetic ability, or perhaps it might be due to the ability to manipulate their own personal gravity. Winged flyers don't have it much better; they need some way to offset the mass and awkward shape of the human body, whether it be super-powerful wing muscles (and more importantly very large wing surface area, about that of a hang glider would do), a bird-like hollow bone structure (which would only save a few pounds for something with the body mass of a human— some engineering doesn't scale up well), or perhaps even a method of non-powered flight or levitation that is merely augmented by the wings (or some combination of the three).

Also, for those that go high into the atmosphere, they also have a reduced requirement for oxygen. As there is less oxygen higher in the atmosphere, flying characters would either need to stay closer to the ground, be able to concentrate the oxygen from their surroundings (via air-related powers or molecular control) or possess less need to breathe (and thus could stay high up for long periods of time). Presumably, this would also lead them to hold their breath longer at sea level.

Thirdly, there is an issue of temperature. The adiabatic lapse rate is (in layman's terms) the rate at which the temperature decreases as you go higher above the earths surface. A flier must have some way of preserving body heat at altitude or they would freeze in short order.

Some of the same problems associated with speed also apply to fast fliers. Flight almost invariably involves a combination of Super Strength and the ability to ignore aerodynamics, as fliers often lift off while carrying someone or something.

Shape Shifters - The ability to ignore the Law of Conservation of Mass is more fully covered under Shape Shifter Baggage.

Beyond that, characters that shift into other objects also have the ability to ignore how said objects would ordinarily hurt people. For example, someone who could become living flame is also immune to being burned (either by their own flame or that of others). Someone who can turn into water often gains the ability to breathe in water (or has no need to breathe at all).

Most shape shifters would need an eidetic memory to convincingly imitate every detail of a person they've seen once.

There's also the issues of surviving while transforming and in the transformed state (altering one's body structure even a little is usually fatal in the real world, let alone having your flesh turned into another substance or turning into something with no internal organs) and keeping the ability to shape shift rather than transforming into something cursed with permanent Mode Lock... This one could fill a page on its own.
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Samus
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:30 am

Quote :
Rubber Man. Flexing yourself into cartoonish shapes would be great fun, provided you were strong enough to support yourself enough to stand up. There's also the issue of organs and blood. Aside from the obvious reprecussions of flattening yourself against a wall, the human heart isn't designed to pump blood into an arm that just grew one hundred feet.

This power would also have to extend to their clothes, otherwise it'd be very uncomfortable (or publicly embarrassing).

Time Freezing - Those that stop time should be blinded. If time were stopped, everything else stops too, including light. And air, which mould hold them in place because they air they displace when they move can't get out of the way. In fact, those that stop time should be frozen along with everything else by the mere nature of the ability.

One explanation for this is a Time Bubble, where the character stays in bubble of sped up time, thus avoiding many of the problems that speedsters would face (and the bubble must move with you or you're stuck in one spot).

Another scenario is that rather than truly stopping time, the character simply moves really fast so everything else appears to be slower or stopped, like in the movie Clockstoppers, or one Choose Your Own Adventure story where you acquire a device to speed yourself up. Since this still leaves the problem of not being in sync with one's surroundings, for the purposes of this trope it can either be treated the same way as time "stopping", or as super-speed with all its attendant problems. Of course, there are problems with this too: The friction would probably so great that you, and everything you touch, would either get a large hole in it or catch fire.

Over-application of this power should logically lead the user to be significantly older than they should be. This may or may not be addressed, although it really should if several in-story years go by with the character continuing to use it.

Time Travel - Most time-traveling heroes have the benefit of being immune to Temporal Paradox and the physical effects of The Time Travellers Dilemma. Even if they do accidentally erase their own parents from history or create an even worse Crapsack World/World Half Empty by killing Hitler only to have someone worse take over, the hero will remain unchanged and still be capable of trying to Set Right What Once Went Wrong.

There's also the problem of traveling only through time and ending up floating in space because surprise, surprise, planets, star systems, and even galaxies happen to move around. Most time travel stories will completely ignore this problem, so the auto-compensation is a Required Secondary Power. Some time machines even teleport to a different place on Earth relative to their starting point, which just happens to be the perfect spot to set the plot rolling, with no specific input from the travelers to go there.

There is also the issue of traveling too long. If you're gone for six years, you can't come home on the day you left and expect that nobody notices that you're six years older (you can always tell them you went to California to have your face lowered).

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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:30 am

Quote :
Force Fields - Force fields are often air-permeable, which allows oxygen to filter in through the force field and thus allow breathing. However when a force field is used to keep water out while underwater, the force field often appears to have the power to actually extract breathable oxygen from the water around it and remove carbon dioxide from within it. This is sometimes subverted, and a non-permeable force field can actually be used as a weapon to choke foes.

Invisibility - Applies not just to you, but to things you are carrying, or wearing. Any dirt on you becomes invisible, and either you get clothes made of some suitable material, or provide some Fan Service. Also, your Light distortion fits that of your surroundings, and food remains invisible through the digestive process.

Also also, to use an eye normally one must at least have a lens bending the light (thus being visible at least as glass-like objects), pigments in sensitive cells absorbing the light (as opposed to passing right through just like, say, x-rays) and something preventing the retina from blanket exposure by light not focused with the lens, that is, blocking all the rays not coming in via the pupil, including those from behind the retina. Oh, wait, doesn't that add up to almost a complete eyeball?

All of which really raises the question, what counts as an invisible person's body? Just his own cells with his own DNA? Then what about the bacterial colonies in the intestinal tract? What about the mitochondria in each cell, which have their own DNA? What about the lifeless liquids such as stomach acid and fluid in the eyes? What about dead cells, like hair and fingernails? Or the entire outer layers of skin, for that matter?

This troper thinks they heard of a story where the front of the invisible person's clothes and skin show an exact replica of what's behind them and vice versa, basically eliminating all of the above baggage. Of course, even if an effect like this was lossless and without aberrations, it might still take light a different amount of time to be transmitted through the person. This would give a different index of refraction, meaning that it might be highly visible, like bubbles in water. Even a perfect effect would have troubles figuring out what should be hidden, like dust inside the field, and what should be excluded, like the part of the floor the person is touching.

Then there's the problem that projection invisibility like that only works from one angle, and will probably have a shimmering distortion. Good for sneaking along walls in the dark, but definitely not for waltzing about in the girl's locker room undetected.

Some Invisible characters can extend the light-warping field over whatever they touch, eliminating some problems but adding others— Conscious selectivity is required, otherwise if they bump into something, that item might blink in and out of sight, making them fairly easy to track, especially crossing a crowded room. The issue of how large an object their field can cover also comes up in many continuities.

Invisible Streaker is usually the result of lacking these Required Secondary Powers. A standard aversion of these required secondary powers is psychic invisibility, which is a mental or hypnotic effect that causes everybody to ignore you. The upside is that this automatically also foils hearing and smell; the downside is that it tends not to work on cameras.

Intangibility - You are immune to gravity, hence not plummeting through the ground. You also gain control some self locomotion, so as not to worry about friction, (though many intangibles can float or explicitly fly). You can still interact with air normally allowing you to breathe, hear and speak.

Super Senses - Clearly, a lot of potential downsides to this one. The ability to selectively screen your input is an absolute necessity unless you want your hero to be called "Captain Migraine," "Curled-Up-In-The-Fetal-Position-On-The-Floor-Man," or "The Squinter". Likewise, being able to see through things is only good if you can also see the outsides of them when necessary.

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Samus
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 1:31 am

Quote :
Immortality/Agelessness in its various forms - This one is obvious. You're simply in some way exempt from being tied to the normal mortal coil. You're either fully immortal, reincarnated immortal, or ageless but vulnerable. The latter type requires a lot of intelligence and careful planning if you don't want to be discovered. You should ideally have a lot of resources financially, and certain contacts, like people who can change your identity. Also it helps to be VERY mentally resilient, because We Are As Mayflies and so forth. There's an eternal life that does not include eternal youth, leaving you in worse shape every year but knowing that your condition has nowhere to go but down. And then there's the whole "can be mutilated horribly or torn apart but not die from it" scenario, often the result of an uncareful wish from a Literal Genie, leading to A Fate Worse Than Death, often followed by And I Must Scream as you're reduced to a mangled pile of still-sentient ground chuck. And even if you're fortunate to avoid all of the above, you will get cancer at some point down the road. An entire page can be written on this, truthfully.

Teleportation - Teleportation-users would need to have some way of extending their teleportation to their clothes and items if they do not wish to reach their destination naked. Ignoring the ludicrousness of trying to extend quantum-scale barrier tunnelling to the classical scale (assuming that's how matter teleportation works in your particular 'Verse, or that the Real Life rules of quantum physics even apply at all), such motion usually needs large amounts of energy as well. Long-distance teleporters would also need to compensate for the curvature of the Earth and relative motion of different points on the Earth's surface; someone teleporting from Europe to China would otherwise arrive travelling very, very fast while upside-down. Furthermore they need to be really accurate to avoid falling hundreds of feet on arrival or appearing inside the Earth itself, or something else. Best variants so far boil down to cutting an area out of reality and pasting it in at the destination in a speed-synchronized way. Or a Wormhole, which is basically a spatial shortcut— the real-world physics term for such a hypothetical form of transport is "topological displacement".

Cryokinesis/Pryokinesis - Manipulators of heat energy would be kicking the laws of thermodynamics in the nads - assuming they apply to your universe - unless it is explicitly detailed that they are moving heat energy around as opposed to creating or destroying it. Being immune to their own powers is quite important to prevent self-inflicted frostbite or burns.

Sonic Powers (No, not that)- It's good not to be deafened by your own sonic scream. Not to mention what stronger vibrations can do to unprotected internal organs, especially the vocal chords and breathing passages that actually produce the sounds and are thus in the closest proximity to them.
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:19 am

that is far too many words for any man to read
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:22 am

and lets be honest, we all know you just posted all of that so you could climb to a higher rank
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 6:25 am

and so what if i am too
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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:06 am

What are you doing??? Don't stop posting Doug, you need stars!!!!

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PostSubject: Re: Superpowers!!   Sun Apr 26, 2009 2:47 pm

Fett's > Stars.

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