1. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    Four Sci-Fi Elements

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by ToeKneeBlack, Jun 1, 2016.

    I've been working on my "Legends of the 23rd Century" series for quite some time now, but something my readers haven't given me feedback about is the "four elements" aspect of it.

    Taking a leaf out of the "Avatar: Last Air Bender" books, I've given key characters in my series power over four scientific "elements", namely Space, Time, Gravity and Energy.
    The characters have discovered these powers themselves, and as such there are no masters to learn from.

    The traditional fantasy elements are sometimes portrayed as being opposite to each other, such as Fire being described as hot and dry, while Water is cold and wet. By contrast, Earth is described as being cold and dry, while Air is hot and wet.
    With my four elements it isn't as easy to define them in this way, but I suppose the expansion of the universe counters the effects gravity over very long distances, while time causes differences in energy to even out.

    I know somebody will point out that real scientific elements have names like "Hydrogen", "Helium", etc, but I'm not sure how else else to call my set of four families of powers, other than to use the word "elements".

    So my question is, does having control over Space, Time, Gravity and Energy sound like interesting reading? It isn't the core focus of the first two books, though it is mentioned. It does become more important as the series progresses.
     
  2. misteralcala
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    misteralcala Member

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    Controlling space, time, gravity and other energies could potentially make a character unstoppable. To add an element of danger and risk, you could make the magic demand a price for it's use. The more they use, the weaker they get. Or some spells / uses would cost more than others.

    The payment could be in the form of pain, physical injury, life force, loss of energy or overall magic potential - the more you use the less you have. Or the magic could totally weaken you, but be replenished with rest. Or the blood of lunch ladies.
     
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  3. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @misteralcala What did lunch ladies do to be sacrificed for the sake of better space travel? o_O
     
  4. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    So far I've only demonstrated Space and Energy control. The characters' physical endurance is the cost of the use of their powers. The Space character can create portals of a limited size, but she can train to make them bigger. Equally, the Energy controller can only sense it at first and is effectively blinded by large amounts of it at close range, but she does eventually learn to capture plasma beams aimed at her and curl them into energy balls. Manipulating the plasma balls exhausts her to the point of putting her into a coma, but she wakes up during the final chapter.

    Does this sound like an effective means of limiting their power?
     
  5. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    Nothing is overpowered if you establish limitations.

    If you can go back in time and change anything you want that sounds overpowered. Add the stipulation that you can only use it once because you die 24hrs later... it becomes less powerful. You get one chance and that's it. Sprinkle some stress in and you may not make the best decisions.
     
  6. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Sounds very interesting to me.
     
  7. Auger
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    Auger Senior Member

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    Gravity is very interesting; it affects motion (energy), time, and space. I'm doing something similar about the derivative applications of gravity-powered interstellar engines. Nanomachines allow users to manipulate gravity with the energy stored in their bodies. Gravity manipulation is also used for non-lethal law enforcement, military, and general domestic applications. A neat trick to making science-fiction mechanics seem believable is to make the mechanics common in your established universe.

    One thing you should definitely keep in mind is the conservation of energy. That's one of the things that always bothers me in science fiction.
     
  8. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    The time control has some strange restrictions. People with control over time can speed it up (outsiders think the controller is slowing down) or slow it down (outsiders think the controller has super speed). With practice they can almost get time to stop.

    They can also localise the effect, for example they can slow time down on a timed bomb detonator.

    A person with control over both time and space can create time portals TO THE FUTURE ONLY. However, it is possible for their future self to come back to the present if they are waiting at the other side.
    With two of the same person, it is possible to make a portal to the past, but doing so takes a huge toll on both versions of the character and is inaccurate in terms of how far back it goes.

    In terms of energy, some of the characters learn how to convert matter into energy. This is extremely dangerous, due to the E=MC^2 equation. Some careful characters figure out how to convert matter into energy and back and a few of them successfully do this to themselves.
     
  9. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's really interesting and I think you can definitely make it work. My sci-fi story has some of the same attributes as yours but mine are based off of the 4 forces of the universe. Space-time(Gravity), Strong Force, Weak Force, and Electromagnetism. So I have one character who is able to control space, gravity, and sort of time. I find that there are plenty of ways to avoid making it over powered, like having an equally powerful foes, or coming up with a bunch of rules on what they can and can't do with their abilities. It sounds like you are already doing that so you just need to make it consistent and restricted enough to not leave you open for plot holes.
     
  10. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was thinking of going with a fully scientifically accurate set of fundamental forces such as these, but I was having difficulty translating it into something the general public could readily understand without an in-depth knowledge of physics. If you can make it work, I'd love to read it. What's it called?
     
  11. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ex-human is what it is called. It's a very big story so they group of characters that gain these powers, don't do it until 2/3 into the novel. Maybe even a little more, but it is going to be at least two books, maybe three. The first 3 story arcs are 4 superhero origin stories. And also I'm still in the process of writing the first novel. :wtf:

    The abilities range in difficulty so their is a progress to their power. A breakdown of their abilities would be:

    Space-time: Easy: Warping space Advanced: Creating black hole

    Electromagnetism: Easy: Magneto Advanced: Transmutation

    Weak Force: Easy: Become radioactive Advanced: Control fission reactors

    Strong Force: Easy: Take a good beating without much damage Advanced: Swim through lava

    They obviously all have a ton of potential abilities but some are harder to come up with. I think that is part of what makes it fun for me, pondering these things and figuring out how to make them work. If their is anything I've learned about writing it is that you can write about anything.
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016

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