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  1. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    Intentionally overpowered characters?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Silver. Fox, Oct 14, 2011.

    How do you all feel about them?

    In a supernatural/fantasy story/book/novel I'm writing there's a character named Aaron who is...overpowered, and that's an understatement.

    Among the 3 major races, you have demons (which are led by their 3 Archdemons), angels (which are led by their Archangels), and humans...most of them don't have powers or even know of the existence of the world of angels and demons.

    Silver was the ex-strongest character in the story. He was a human with not only magical powers, but he had a dragonic creature who always stood by his side. The two of them together are barely able to fight toe-to-toe with the strongest Archdemon.

    Aaron on the other hand, is known to be the strongest character EVAR. One of the Archdemons states that the Archangels don't even know that with his own power, he can take on all 3 Archangels and all 3 Archdemons at once, before that, an Archangels states that Aaron can't be allowed to roam freely between worlds as he's able to effortlessly throw all three worlds into utter chaos.

    All that being said
    1.) How do you feel about how strong Aaron is?
    His powers, strength, and appearance isn't just thrown together, there's a reason for how strong he is, why he lives the way he does, etc etc. He's not the protagonist or the antagonist (main characters who don't lose are boring, unbeatable antagonists are...)

    2.) How do you feel about OP characters in general when you're reading a book (novel/manga) or watching a T.V. show?
     
  2. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    It really depends on how he's written - there should be a very, very good reason to have a character who's so much more powerful than everybody, ever.

    Also, how does he use his powers? If he's capable of taking on the whole world, why doesn't he?


    Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen comes to mind - he's basically a god, but because of that, he becomes so detached from humanity that he just watches the world go by, totally neutral. I'd recommend reading the comic if you haven't. (Not watching the movie, though, because it was kind of crap and didn't get to touch on a lot of things in the comic.) He's the best example of an all-powerful character I've ever encountered.

    (I was just gonna make a thread about omnipotent characters, but I'll just stalk this one~)
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Is Aaron a protagonist or an antagonist? As an antagonist, I think it's awesome to have an OP character. For the protagonist... mmmm.... not so much. My logic is the person the reader roots for should not look as if he or she will come out on top in the end. That's part of the suspense: when the odds are stacked against him or her. There is no suspense when the protag can just walk through a skirmish without a scratch.

    If Aaron is the protag, give him a weakness, at least eventually, so that he's not so OP. This will create suspense. Nail-biting comes out of wondering how the protag is gonna get out of this one.

    Edit: Whoops. Just reread your post and noticed you said Aaron is neither the protag or antag. Tough call on this. If he's not really the guy the reader will root for, then I'd say it's probably fine. He's of lesser consequence to the reader than the good guys, so his OP won't matter as much.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, a character that cannot succesfully be challenged in any way is not really a character, they're a force, like a boulder. And they're about as interesting as a boulder.

    Now, I said "...challenged in any way...". If this character is powerful enough to swat the planet aside like a tennis ball, but what he _really_ wants is to teach his Siamese cat to fetch his slippers, and he's failing, and the Siamese cat is the part that's important to his appearance in the story, then he's been challenged. And then he's a character again, to me. (Though I still very, very strongly disapprove of that much power anyway.)

    ChickenFreak
     
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  5. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Omnipotent and omniscient characters are rarely interesting unless they have an interesting morality or philosophy, Ex Dr. Manhattan or Death Note's Shinigami. Otherwise, they are Deus Ex Machinaes.

    What we need more of are Eldritch Abominations. H.P. Lovecraft needs some love too.
     
  6. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    These are all better answers than mine. I'd say go with these. The only time a character should be OP, I guess, is when he's minor. Maybe something like the Architect from The Matrix or Thanos from Marvel Comics. I wouldn't base a story around him or her, or make him or her even a supporting character... unless he's got his inner demons. In that case, though, he wouldn't be all-powerful.
     
  7. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Go watch the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs. Alucard is, like, invincible, and kills his enemies with sadistic pleasure. And he's totally badass because of that. It really depends on how you write your character, though obviously an OP protagonist is IMO risky and likely to turn into a deathtrap.

    However, worse than an OP character IMO is a protagonist who is unrealistically beaten down to death, DOES NOT DIE, and still comes out on top because of some miracle. Blows that would destroy any other character don't kill the protagonist. This kind of "plot armour" I'm not too fond of. There has to be some difficulty for the protagonist to overcome, but not an insurmountable one. You can make your protagonist get beaten down and survive in a way that it doesn't come out as totally unrealistic.
     
  8. walshy12238
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    walshy12238 Senior Member

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    Everyone here has probably already said it better than me, but having an overpowered character will most likely be either of two things: Boring as hell, or forced into being a secondary character.
    Nobody likes to read about a character that can solve any problem with a flick of the wrist, they want to see the character face a challenge, and overcome it (or not, whatever takes your fancy). BUT, if you DO want a character like that, then what you could do, is make them kind of like a God type figure (They could in theory do whatever the wanted, but choose not to because they don't care or something).
    Hope it helps!
     
  9. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    I think it can work so long as there is a balancing weakness, such as emotional instability, reluctance to use their power or the inability to control it fully. I'm planning an incredibly powerful character in my WIP, however she's not invincible (just tough, incredibly skilled and magically modified.) and she has severe emotional issues.
     
  10. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel obligated to second this. Dr. Manhattan is great for this, and his weakness is brilliantly played. Look it up. Read the comic. It's very well done.
     
  11. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    -Thinks-
    I'll mess around with Dr. Manhattan and Hellsing's OVAs (though I'm not too into comics heh)

    For more explanation, Aaron isn't the protagonist, but he's a relatively important character.
    Perhaps I've hyped him up a bit lol, but he's MUCH stronger than all of the other characters, but there is a story behind his strength and his reasons for being where he is and acting how he acts are fairly stable (to my knowledge). He's hella smart and thinks days and even weeks ahead of other characters which is why most of the story happens how it does. The only other issue I can think of with Aaron is a problem I assume most stories have with their plots "Wait wait wait...if X char(s) knew that Y chars were bad...why didn't X char(s) just do lolvariable to Y char(s) to stop them?"

    ...
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The problem with overpowered characters is not that they're not explained well, it's that they're usually boring.

    And, yep, that makes him sound _really_ boring to me. For me to not be highly annoyed by this, I'd need for him to be wrong in his thinking at some significant point with some significant consequences.

    ShinyPebbles
     
  13. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I think overpowered characters are okay sometimes. IMO, it's their limits and/or weaknesses (or as ChickenFreak put it, their challenges) that are important though. Sure, he can destroy planets and whatnot, but what can he not do and how can you make that matter? Like an immortal character who only wants to die, or kryptonite to superman, or a normal life for the masked superhero, or enslavement to the genie. You can have another bigger, badder character come up to challenge him too, but when/if you do that, you face the problem of taking the human element out of the story, which is a lot of what connects readers/viewers to characters in the first place. And if he is all powerful and can get his way with a snap of his fingers, then what drives him? There's nothing he wants because he can have it at a snap of his fingers, which, as others have said, makes a bit of a boring character. Basically, imo, you might search for a way to humanize the character in a way.
     
  14. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    hmmm...
    Alright, I might have an idea.
    Thanks everyone =D
     
  15. Excise
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    Excise Member

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    For me it depends on what Aaron is. If he's the main character, then it's going to be pretty dull. If he's the villain and our heroes eventually stop him, then rock on. If he's a plot device, then you're also fine. You say he isn't the villain or the protagonist, which is great, but you still gotta tell us what he is in this story :)

    As for OP characters in general, it really depends.

    Take Q from Star Trek. It's fine that he's OP, since the fact that he can beat up Picard is irrelevent. He's just a plot device to either throw the Enterprise crew into zany adventures, or teach them some valuable lesson. His ability to win against others is unimportant.

    suddenly BANSHEES's Dr. Manhattan example is another good one. That the Doc can beat up others isn't too important. Him being controlled and manipulated by others is what's important, and so he's a great character.

    Second, it depends on how powerful is he? Ok he can beat up the 3 demons. I have no idea if that's significant. Is he still defeatable? Could the demons, say, gank him with a hundred mooks? Or is he invulnerable to anything they could possibly do to him? If he can still be realistically beaten, then I don't think you have a problem. If it's just him steamrolling over all opposition, then it's going to get dull.
     
  16. Dithnir
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    Dithnir Member

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    Alan Moore of course didn't just create the OP Dr.Manhattan, he put a typically 'mature' spin on Miracleman, really a critique of the superhero, with a very very poignant finale. You must read it.
     
  17. Androxine Vortex
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    Androxine Vortex Member

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    It all depends on if you can make it entertaining. If I wanted to read a story I will be less inclined to read one where the hero can defeat anything with one hit. It ruins the sense of danger and excitment. That's like in Warhammer 40K, the Warp is the psychic realm made from every thought and emotion. It is ruled by Daemons of Chaos and it is a swirling vortex of thought. it is without form and has NO laws of physics. Time and space do not apply here it is literaly described as "unfathomable and infinite". But basically this guy got sucked into a warp portal and walked around in the warp slaying daemons and took a Bloodthirster's axe (very powerfull daemon) melted it and reforged his own sword there.

    That made every WH40K fan hate Matt Ward, the one who made this happen. It's just soooo unprobable and in this case impossible. How can you walk into a place that has no space? There is no "physical" anything there? It says countless times in the lore that if one where to look upon teh naked warp, they would be driven insane beyond imagination so you can understand why we the fans were outraged at this.

    Ok I might have gone on a rant here but basically I am saying, just make it interesting but not out of proportion. Good Luck!
     
  18. Goldstein
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    A villain almost needs to be OP, look at the Reapers in Mass Effect. They're a bunch of ancient machines that systematically wipe out all organic life in the universe every 50,000 years. Why? Because that's how they eat. They're just a little OP, I'd say.

    A main character that's OP is kind of boring. Unless it's a tragedy, like a fall from grace, like the emperor that somehow is usurped. It'd be satisfying to see the protagonist, so sure of their power, come tumbling down.

    If it's a side-character, he almost has to be neutral. Although, it would be cool to see each side try and win him over, maybe.

    I don't know, tl;dr, just be really careful and make sure that the OP character doesn't make the story boring or predictable.
     
  19. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    I'm sorry for playing necromancer here and bumping the thread but I just remembered it existed and...

    If the thread author is still here: look up Gilgamesh from Fate/stay night (a Japanese visual novel from Nasu Kinoko). The character is based on the Sumerian demi-god of the same name. In the VN, he's so overpowered he could defeat any opponent with ease, but he has a horrible personality fault: he's irritatingly overconfident. He'll only use full power when he's about to lose a fight, and he ends up losing anyway (obviously also because he has an antagonistic role). So there you have it, a perfect example of a character who could reign as god in his world, but is defeatable because of lack of humility.
     
  20. FoxPaw
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    FoxPaw Senior Member

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    Over-powered characters aren't bad if they have a reason to be over-powered. (Maybe it's a plot-point later in the story, it explains the character's backstory, etc.) In Aaron's case, you said he has a reason, so it's perfectly fine.
     
  21. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    Depends really. I have at least two characters who are extremely powerful. I got idea of their powers from Warhammer's Psykers. They are able to wield extremely powerful magic, but doing so poses the risk of either terrible mutations-to others or themselves-or a gruesome death.
    If I were to use the same rating system used for Psykers in Warhammer, I'd say Alistair (Guy who is effectively THE main character) is a higher Beta, or lower to mid Alpha, while Aldric (Alistair's dad) would be an Alpha Plus.

    (The rating system goes through the Greek alphabet, Alpha Plus being the highest level, and Gamma being the lowest-Humans are supposedly only able to reach Beta level before being considered not entirely sane anymore. Levels below Gamma are considered to have Anti-Psyker sensitivity.)

    Rating system:

    Alpha Plus
    Alpha
    Beta
    Omega
    Gamma

    ^ Might be wrong with one or two there.
     
  22. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    I loved Rem and Ryuk in Death Note, they had the power to do whatever you wanted, but were motivated by boredom, love, obsession and apples. So it was entirely believable that they'd use their powers when they did.

    If you're using an all-powerful character, I think you need to (1) Strip him of said powers at some point, or (2) Have him effectively neutral, or (3) Make him extremely weak in certain aspects.

    I think it's the reason that not many people make God a part of their books.

    --------------------

    The rain lashed against the bricks of the driveway as the famed detective approached the foreboding residence. Lights blazed from every window and small groups of people congregated around the front-door beneath two large hanging lanterns. The detective nodded and exchanged pleasantries as he entered the house.

    "Ah, Detective Moiret, we have quite the case for you. One which will tax your powers of deduction to their very limits," said the Chief Inspector. "The victim - Mrs. Saxon - was found at ten-past-midnight in her study, locked from the inside. She had retired there from the party downstairs where she had invited every single one of her romantic, business, and familial rivals in a bid to make peace with them all. No one saw anyone ascend the stairs throughout the entire evening and all the windows were locked. None were tampered with. If you can solve this one, I will gladly consume my headgear."

    Moiret nodded, humming gently to himself. He left the room to find a solitary spot. He then clasped his hands together.

    "Hey God, got a bit of a problem here, if you could help me out, that'd be great. This whole locked-room thing, it's like, really difficult to solve. It could take 350 pages and lead me into several thrilling scrapes wherein my life itself is threatened. Times which would fill anyone observing these events to be moved with suspense, fear, anticipation and curiosity."

    "No problem Moiret," said God. "It was her brother Randall who killed her, he did it with the dagger hidden in his suitcase. You'll also find he secretly built a hidden entrance into the study over the years."

    "Thanks God," said Moiret.
     
  23. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I disagree that an overpowered main character has to be boring. The reason they so often are is because usually the plot tension comes from 'is he going to win?' 'how will he win?' sort of thing, and if the main character is much more powerful than his antagonists, obviously this isn't an issue.

    But you can get plot tension other ways than by making the main character the underdog. For example, you could put the focus on his character development - maybe the power is getting to his head, maybe he's worried it will, maybe he's getting bored with no real challenges, maybe he wants true love. Or you could have him deliberately handicap himself for some reason (challenge, morals, etc), and the question becomes 'will he stick to his conditions or will he give in and cheat?' Or you could go the route of Hellsing and have the excitement come from 'how creepy and bizarre and awesome will his victory be this time?'

    But anyway, this is irrelevant since this character isn't the protagonist. So, if this guy is neither protagonist nor antagonist, what role does he play? Why doesn't he take sides and cause an insta-win for either good guys or bad guys? Does he not really care who wins? Is he much busier with something else? (In the sixth season of Supernatural, many of the monsters they fight could have been easily defeated by their angel friend Castiel, but Castiel was busy with a civil war in heaven and had only brief appearances.) Is he fetterred by some kind of rules that he choses to follow?
     
  24. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    Everyone has a weakness... And, of course, your writing and the character's background -- such as reasons for being over powered -- matter as well. I'm afraid I can't say much more than that.
     

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