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Old May 13 2009, 02:00 PM   #1
Anareth
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Join Date: Nov 2004
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Default Writing Discussion: Super-powered characters

From the other thread--maw mentioned a problem of having magic-using characters but giving them problems magic can't solve. I've had that issue, especially as my characters are SUPPOSED to be the most super-charged magic users on the "good" side.

For me, what's worked so far is--1. they are woefully behind learning how to use their abilities. Basically they just found out they have them. Using these powers to any effect requires understanding them and being able to control them, which they can't at this point. 2. Energy use requires energy expenditure. This is a pretty common solution in fiction--using magical energy requires physical energy. Move that mountain, you migth give yourself a heart attack. 3. They're limited in what kind of magic they can manipulate. One can sometimes do what the other can't. 4. Sometimes it's just easier NOT to use magic. You can swat a fly with a sledgehammer, but it's overkill. 5. They are, for the moment and the most part, still physically vulnerable. See Raiders of the Lost Ark and the "sword fight"--that guy was probably an awesome swordsman and could kick serious swordfight butt, but a tired schmuck ten feet away with a revolver still took him out. My characters can still be physically attacked, and are not impervious to all the normal ways of dying.

I've had a similar problem with my vampire. Val can become incorporeal and pass through solid objects, he's much stronger than a human, can move faster than a human, has teeth and claws, has more stamina, never gets sick, never ages, can't be killed by conventional means, etc, etc. As anyone who's read Twilight has learned painfully, totally invulnerable vampires are really dull. He can be killed by destroying the heart or severing the spine. He is more vulnerable than most humans to fire. Physical injuries hurt a ot and require recovery time and 'refueling'. While he's not incinerated by sunlight, he's not as strong and particularly at high-contrast times his eyesight is severely limited.

Basically, if you have a character who has the potential to be rules-lawyered into something unstoppable, find the disadvantages to whatever powers they have.
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