1. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    Maintaining threat for high powered characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Flashfire07, Jul 10, 2011.

    I am planning on writing a modern supernatural story about a character who develops extreme magical powers, he can transfer wounds from their victims to other targets and his innate magical energy pretty much ensures that life threatening injuries are healed instantly. His healing powers result in a magical backlash which punches him through a ceiling the first time he uses them. My issue is that I feel these powers make him pretty much impossible to harm. So, what I need advice on is maintaining a level of threat to him and his companions while still keeping his powers at a high level.
     
  2. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Kryptonite.

    Or just make sure that every use of a power comes at an equal cost.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Let's use both Goku and Superman for this.

    Both are super-powerful for their own obvious reasons, however, to me, Goku's more interesting because while he is insanely powerful, he's still very much mortal and can very much be hurt; though it'd take a whole lot of ki blasts to take him down. It helps that there's usually not a healer (person or food) around, so Goku has to rely on his own wits to stay alive. It also helps that every main enemy he fights (Vegeta, Freiza, the Androids, Cell, Buu), each one is much more stronger than the last. A third helper is that there's only so much energy Goku can use up before he has to get the hell out of there. Sometimes what killed the last big boss doesn't kill this one and Goku has to come up with a new strategy.

    TL;DR Version: Make it clear that even though your guy's likely the most powerful being on Earth, he can still bleed; he can still be killed if he lets his guard up. He has a limit to his powers (ie, he may not have enough healing powers to mend a broken arm). Make every new major "boss" he fights more powerful than the one he's defeated before.
     
  4. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might want to read Diablo: The Sin Wars by Richard Knaak. It's based on the Diablo-games (though takes place over a thousand years before them) and deals with this exact thing. A guy starts to get magicasl powers, and the powers keeps growing to insane levels. We're talking a guy who "killed" a demon by placing his hand on it and wishing it didn't exist. And pop, there goes the demon. He starts training others in the same magic, so you can imagine an army of superpowerful wizards against normal people? It would take a lot for it to be interesting, but it was. Mostly. ;)
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Super powerful characters run the risk of losing your readers because they find them difficujlt to relate to.

    We relate to Superman and Goku because of their human qualities. Their compassion for others, their self doubt, matters of conscience.

    In both those series, the epic battles are against others who are on the same par in terms of strength, so they can harm one another, and the tipping point is always those human qualities.

    Both of these series are good ones to study for titanic conflicts because they have endured. The TV series Heroes lost its appeal because it became difficult for the viewer to decide who really deserved to win with the constantly shifting alliances.
     
  6. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    If a character is too powerful that can't be harmed, all interest in the story would be lost. It is not the measure of power that creates suspense and interest in a story, but the conflict that brushes against those powers. Bruce Lee movies have nowhere near the magnitude of destruction as say, the latest Transformers, but can it be just as epic? Yes.

    In your scenario, what you could probably do is somehow involve "battle of the wits" here. If you haven't read the manga Death Note, I would highly recommend it, not just for reference in order to help further build your story, but it's a fantastic read in its own right. It starts off the same way your story does; a character happens to acquire a notebook that allows him to kill anyone just by writing their name in it, and he can do so in secrecy without anyone ever knowing who he killed. But, he has to know the exact name of the person or they won't die. He sounds too powerful right? Well, through a number of intense analysis, there is one that discovers where he lives, a detective of the highest caliber. He hasn't yet discovered his identity, but he does find out where he lives. The whole manga is a battle between the person with the death killing notebook trying to find out his name, versus the detective waiting for the killer to slip up and reveal himself.

    How you could apply that to this, you should add more consequences to using the magic act, and you could take it off from there.
     
  7. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Back in the 70's and early 80's, when Superman was so powerful he could literally move the Earth, the writers had the same problem. Some of the methods they used were:

    * Kryptonite
    * Magic
    * Mind control - In an episode, Lex Luthor managed to instill Superman with an irrational hatred which caused him to make mistakes. In another episode, Luthor traps Superman in an illusion (using technological means).
    * Mental limitations - In an episode, Superman stops sleeping because he believes he doesn't have to. It turns out he starts sleepwalking and creates a whole new identity in his sleep.
    * Social engineering - In an episode, a super villain manages to turn the public against Superman and almost drives him away.

    Then there are situations where power doesn't help much, like: you need to save a life, not take it; the villain has two of your loved ones, and you don't have time to save both; your allies are fighting with each other, etc.

    So it's definitely possible to write interesting, even suspenseful, stories with an overpowered protagonist; it just requires some ingenuity.
     
  8. KingEnthusiasm
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    KingEnthusiasm New Member

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    Samson was able to kill off half and army with a jawbone but was brought down by a hot chick. When you can't pierce his armor, make him take it off.
     
  9. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    This is the point I was trying to make earlier, but you made it in just two sentences and probably conveys the point better.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's for this reason that I tend to really dislike high powered characters. I assume that the appeal of such characters is that they're supposed to be interesting and exciting, but to me they often end up being quite dull - duller than most ordinary guy-with-a-job characters. A story's excitement often comes from conflict and danger, and when a character can't be in danger, and he/she can resolve any conflict without breaking a sweat, there's no excitement.

    So I guess I'm trying to talk you into a weaker character. :) Much, much weaker.

    ChickenFreak
     
  11. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your MC may be invincible, but keep in mind that his friends/family/house/car/people standing within 5 feet of him are not. :D
     
  12. KingEnthusiasm
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    KingEnthusiasm New Member

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    A super powerful character has the same insecurities and doubts as us. Am I doing enough for my friends/family/spouse? Am I a good person? Should I trust those close to me? Should they trust me? Am I who I'm supposed to be?

    If the hero is a tank with megaton punches, the conflict won't be interesting if his enemy is just his mirror reflection. Joker can't fight Batman. Lex Luthor can't fight Superman. Luthor has access to kryptonite but Clark could easily hurl a Humvee at his head from a distance.

    What keeps the puny villains alive against mighty heroes?
    This is the right question.
     
  13. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    He has to steal energy from people who he knows well? Or himself? Or both?
     
  14. martial_wolf
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    martial_wolf Member

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    "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
    -Newton's Third Law of Motion


    Apply this to your character. Someone has to take the pain, and the injury. Who will it be? Can he really afford to have to take the injury when he's a major factor in the "fight?" Can he handle bringing a person from the brink of death only to kill another? If he can't keep a handle on these powers is there a chance that his loved ones can be hurt?

    Those are some of the things that I think could make it more interesting.
     
  15. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    1)Make the enemies even more high powered.
    2)Your character has a weak point
    3)Something can basically insta-kill your character
    4)There's a limit to his powers
    5)There's a cost to his powers
    6)Make it a battle of wits, and his powers are just tools. What good are healing powers when you're stuck in an endless labyrinth, with puzzles at every corner?
    7)Make it so his enemies aren't revealed until near the end. You can't fight what you can't hit. You may also link this to 6); the story revolves around finding the mysterious evil magician. Don't turn it into a mystery story however. Sorta like Harry Potter.
     
  16. andeee
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    andeee Member

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    I would just tune down the healing factor a bit - just enough to keep it interesting.

    Some other possibilities:

    • What if his powers aren't constant? Maybe, he channels power from a source that needs to recharge (or something).

    • He doesn't have all his powers yet. He becomes almighty at the end of the story.

    • Another option might be having an immortal character and showing how disconnected he becomes from the world around him. It might be kind of depressing, but it could be a neat concept. :p
     
  17. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    Make it where he can't use it 24\7, where he used it once aand ended bad for a loved one, where the abilty dose not work near or on a certin bad guy

    Have him have loads of regreats and make him have to have a fight in him self evrey time to use it or just let him self die like he thinks he deserves
     

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