1. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    Opinions on this characters power?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Pyraeus, May 13, 2012.

    So I've got a bit of a predicament on my hands (At least in my own mind)
    I can't quite decide whether or not one of my characters is what you could term a "god-mode sue" or "overpowered" or whatever you want to call them. He's meant to be (In some way) unique in that he didn't have control of one magic in particular (In other words, he was never born with any natural power over a certain school of magic, such as fire or earth etc.) Instead he had the ability to "steal" his enemies powers and use them against them. In order to do so he uses his own energy/lifeforce to fuel the ability (And the more he takes from them the more energy it takes)
    I'm mulling over whether he would be able to keep this long term (As in, take the abilities of say, an elementalist, and wield fire, lightning etc. as if he was born with the ability naturally.) or if it would only last for so long.
    Generally he prefers to stand back and let others live out their problems, and he only takes to the field when absolutely neccessary-earning him the nickname "the raven"
    (The reasoning behind that nickname is that Ravens are sort of birds of carrion, who are often found at the sites of great battles, feasting on the dead. They are effectively calling him a scavenger, come to take credit after everyone else has been fighting.)
     
  2. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    Whether or not a character is over-powered, is not based on what powers he possesses, but the world he lives in and the relative nature of his power compared to the enemies he faces.

    Think of Lord of the Rings. Sauron is super over-powered, which is why it's so poignant that a little hobbit is able to defeat him.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Whether he is overpowered depends on what he is up against, not on any aspect of him in isolation.
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that his power versus his opposition is important, but I, as a reader, also care about the character's power versus an ordinary person - I like "ordinary" protagonists. That's not a universal view, of course, but it is a second measure of power and overpowered characters that may be worth considering.
     
  5. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    "Whether he is overpowered depends on what he is up against, not on any aspect of him in isolation."
    Hmm...Ok, say there are, a dozen bandits, and he's with someone else. He could fuel the person with him with the strength from all those bandits, helping said companion defeat said bandits easily.
    If I took away his ability to keep stolen magic long term, it makes how he deals with his opponents (at least in my mind) that bit more interesting. Using their strength has it's limitations-you won't be able to keep going if you keep using your own lifeforce to fuel your magic, will you? He would have to find some other way of dealing with things.

    "I agree that his power versus his opposition is important, but I, as a reader, also care about the character's power versus an ordinary person - I like "ordinary" protagonists. That's not a universal view, of course, but it is a second measure of power and overpowered characters that may be worth considering. "

    He's tall (6-foot or so) but the use of his magic has caused some damage to his body overtime, and his skin is pale and his features gaunt. A large enough group of (ordinary) people could overcome, and kill him, relatively easily. Remember, this would be assuming he can't keep hold of the magical power he takes from his enemies long term. If he did keep that power, he would easily deal with the ordinary folk, and I think he would become uninteresting to the reader becuase of how easily he deals with them.
     
  6. raraavis
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    raraavis New Member

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    I think it also depends on what his personality is like. Sometimes, if the natural personality of a character is set against their powers, it makes a more interesting dilemma than if the character just had so-so powers. What I'd be asking is not only what you already answered about 'does he use his power often?' but also 'does he like to use his power?', 'does he have an opinion about the philosophical side of stealing others' talents?', and 'why doesn't he like to use his power--any certain incident?'. But on a general level, I don't think that there is anything in it that makes it wrong for him to be so over-powered, because he doesn't have a cavalier attitude about it.
     
  7. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    'does he like to use his power?' He prefers to avoid conflict, but has entered the fray when he feels it is required (usually when his brother or another family member needs help)
    'does he have an opinion about the philosophical side of stealing others' talents?' Usually the people he is up against have done something to make him be there, so he does not feel much sympathy towards them when he steals their strength, gives it to a nearby ally, and watches as they are crushed to a pulp. If it was an ordinary person, or someone he didn't hold a grudge against, he would definetely feel guilty about it, but he'd get over it.
    'why doesn't he like to use his power--any certain incident?' Like I've stated a few times, he doesn't have much interest in conflict, and when he doesn't have any particular reason to, he refrains from using his abilities. He does not enjoy using his powers on other individuals (who are friendly with him) to make himself stronger.

    Saying that made an idea crop up in my head. Something akin to an Inquisitor's "warband" from Warhammer 40k. A group of people he surrounds himself with, and who he draws strength from. Not many, I'd imagine. 3-4 perhaps.

    Sorry, I'm starting to go off topic a bit :redface:
     
  8. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Nothing wrong with him.

    Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat was even more powerful in that he was able to assume the other character's appearance and likeness as well... Guess what, in the games' canon Liu Kang kicks his ass anyway.

    The way it would make it interesting is that if your character has a drawback for using the ability of the opponents against them. Archer from Fate/Stay Night can trace enemy weapons and use them against others, but his copies aren't as strong and he's not powerful enough to use some of them.

    Generally, though, in fantasy stories it's not a very powerful ability because the opponent usually has resistance against his own magic. A fire mage would surely be unaffected by fire magic, because as a bearer of the element he knows how to defend himself against it. To become truly powerful, your character would have to "record" the absorbed abilities to use them in various situations. But then, he'd probably become broken.

    Or! You could make him a "stealer", as in someone who removes the other's skill competely and incorporates it to his own arsenal. This would be a really terrifying character.
     
  9. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    "Or! You could make him a "stealer", as in someone who removes the other's skill competely and incorporates it to his own arsenal. This would be a really terrifying character. "

    See, I originally planned for something similar, but I wasn't sure if it would seem too overpowered. I became less and less sure over time until I pretty much dropped it, becuase I couldn't think of a good enough draw back for such an ability-If he can take the full power of any opponent just like that, what would be the point in any other character being there? The only way it could become viable is if it could only happen if he killed the person, and then perhaps a certain amount of the persons power would be lost-as in, he only absorbs so much of it, while the rest spreads away into the nearby area.
    Another thing I've long mulled over is whether he gains some kind of ability from some sort of magical item. I keep dissuading myself becuase I'd have to take into account that he would have the item taken away, and then would somehow have to get it back, which would be a bit of a hassle, and it would be easier just having something put on him to stop him using his powers (magical shackles or some such)

    Gah, more blabbing!
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What it boils down to is whether the conflicts the character will face are well balanced. If the character is not opposed by a matching, or better yet, superior force, the conflicts, and therefore the plots, will be uninteresting.

    That is the only consideration as to whether the character is overpowered.

    How powerful he is relative to normal humans will affect how they react to him on a personal level. That too is of interest, but doesn't have much bearing on whether he is overpowered. In fact, a greater imbalance is a greater social challenge, making him more isolated and lonely.
     
  11. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Look for Kuroro Lucifer from the anime Hunter x Hunter. He has the ability to permanently steal others' powers. It would be a good template to start with. He's a villain in the series, though.
     
  12. Pyraeus
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    "Look for Kuroro Lucifer from the anime Hunter x Hunter."

    I just looked him up, and I like the idea of their being requirements for stealing other's abilities. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas/thoughts on what kind of requirements I might use. Seeing their ability in action semed good, and I thought perhaps that they would need to be defeated (not killed) for him to steal their ability (the way it is in my head, their power is deeply a part of themselves, and one wrong move on his part could cause some serious harm to the person he is stealing from)
     
  13. MissRis
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    MissRis Contributing Member

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    This reminds me of Rogue from X-Men (I'm talking comics, not the film). She not only stole people's abilities, but their strength and potentially their memories. This made for a very tortured character because she couldn't touch anyone, but she was also a huge weapon and was originally written as a villain in the series. Oddly enough, Rogue was also originally named Raven after her foster mother Mystique.

    Perhaps your character needs to make physical contact to absorb their abilities? Or maybe the other person needs to be in a weakened state that makes them vulnerable?
     
  14. Pyraeus
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    Pyraeus Member

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    "Perhaps your character needs to make physical contact to absorb their abilities? Or maybe the other person needs to be in a weakened state that makes them vulnerable?"
    Oddly enough I actually had both in mind.

    "Oddly enough, Rogue was also originally named Raven after her foster mother Mystique."
    Woah, that is odd :eek:
     
  15. CrimsonReaper
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    Make the power temporary and limited to the base ability. If he has a power long-term, then he has time to TRAIN with said power. Imagine stealing a fire mage's ability to control flame, but not the SKILL and actual physical conditioning (resistant skin for example) he perfected over countless years of training. Maybe a fire mage is not born fireproof. They just practice until flame can't hurt them because or thickened skin or consciously willing the heat away. Not so with your character. If your characters takes ONLY the base ability and not the secondary skillsets developed to harness said ability, he is not overpowered at all. He in fact is a liability. A much more interesting and no doubt troubled character. Maybe he tried to help once, but not used to superstrength snapped a kid's arm off while trying to pull him to safety.
     
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  16. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Dr. Manhattan :)
     
  17. ArnaudB
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    On a personal level I don't recommend using "stealing powers" as a main character ability. The main problem with it is not that the character may be overpowered... but rather it's just insanely HARD to keep track of all the skills of the hero. That's generally why most authors make those kind of powers temporal, although in my opinion that makes it rather pointless...

    I'd go with permanent stealing, but with restrictions:
    -Has to kill the other in order to steal. (Because THAT is troublesome, and create enemies.)
    -Borrow powers from others who accepted to serve/follow him (for leader personality), possibly can also lend them.
    -Can only use "Insert one of stolen power" a certain times/duration every day.
    -Can only wield a limited amount of powers at the same time, with a heavy time requirement for switching a power with power. (Kinda like how you can only change your Pokemons/Party at a PC)

    Must also consider the mastery of using XYZ powers, granted you can have a genius but otherwise he shouldn't use "KAMEHAMEHA SPELL OF DOOM!"-like uber technique from someone he stole minutes ago.

    Finally, you not only need an opposition against which that stealing ability is useful, but also think about why he does/doesn't steal from other people around him.

    Hope that was helpful
     
  18. Pyraeus
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    "Imagine stealing a fire mage's ability to control flame, but not the SKILL and actual physical conditioning (resistant skin for example) he perfected over countless years of training. Maybe a fire mage is not born fireproof. They just practice until flame can't hurt them because or thickened skin or consciously willing the heat away."
    I really love that idea. It would make having the new power extremely difficult to learn, since he has never used it before.

    "If your characters takes ONLY the base ability and not the secondary skillsets developed to harness said ability, he is not overpowered at all. He in fact is a liability. A much more interesting and no doubt troubled character."
    Like I said above, that is a brilliant idea =)

    "On a personal level I don't recommend using "stealing powers" as a main character ability. The main problem with it is not that the character may be overpowered... but rather it's just insanely HARD to keep track of all the skills of the hero. That's generally why most authors make those kind of powers temporal, although in my opinion that makes it rather pointless..."
    It's not exactly something he would use in every fight. It's not all: *zap* "I have your powers now b***h" *casts super powerful and difficult to learn spell*
    It would be very difficult to do-in fact, how about it requiring he use, say, his lifeforce to power the ability. Serious stuff right there. Also, he:
    1. Seperates himself from others. He's very solitary. He avoids conflict like the plague.
    2. When he does get involved, it's not always on a physical level-sometimes it is just information etc.
    3. He uses the powers he has stolen to fight. Stealing the powers from his opponent only happens after he defeats them-and he's rarely up against people with magic. (Refer to points 1 and 2)

    "I'd go with permanent stealing, but with restrictions:
    -Has to kill the other in order to steal. (Because THAT is troublesome, and create enemies.)
    -Borrow powers from others who accepted to serve/follow him (for leader personality), possibly can also lend them.
    -Can only use "Insert one of stolen power" a certain times/duration every day.
    -Can only wield a limited amount of powers at the same time, with a heavy time requirement for switching a power with power. (Kinda like how you can only change your Pokemons/Party at a PC)"

    The first point certainly would go a long way to prevent it from seeming trivial.
    I've actually had that idea in my head for a while. Mostly: *take lightning power from ally 1, give to ally 2* and so on and so forth. It would act in the same way as stealing powers from other people in that it requires some sort of hefty toll for doing it (again, as an example, lifeforce)

    "Must also consider the mastery of using XYZ powers, granted you can have a genius but otherwise he shouldn't use "KAMEHAMEHA SPELL OF DOOM!"-like uber technique from someone he stole minutes ago."
    Thank you so much for pointing that out for me. It would have been really awkward if I'd put that in without realizing.

    "Finally, you not only need an opposition against which that stealing ability is useful, but also think about why he does/doesn't steal from other people around him."
    He has a brother who is in some sort of way magical, but it's more of a physical form per say (as in, augmenting strength and speed, rather than conjuring up fireballs) He treats his ability to steal powers as a serious tool, and usually the main reason he uses it is so the person he is stealing it from can't use it (crappy logic right there-and he's the smart one!) I think I said so a little further up in this post, but I've had an idea brewing in my head where he can use the powers of (friendly) people nearby him, although in a much more limited capacity than they can (there's no serious spell casting using their magic, it's more like utilizing blasts of, say, earth to knock opponents back. He's pretty good at the lesser spells of a certain type of magic which a companion uses-Sadly enough, all I know about said companion is her name is Elena, and she is either his wife or some sort of close friend.)
    Any ideas on what magic she can use? Alistair (dude we've been talking about) uses wind and electricity (maybe telekinesis and not wind, I still can't decide =/)
    I keep thinking ice, or cold, or something similar. Maybe she could get the wind powers, perhaps? Wind and ice, maybe, and Alistair uses some small amount of them, but only when she is nearby (yes, no cross-continent spell casting)
    Best give me your thoughts on that before my head explodes

    "Hope that was helpful"
    Haha, dude, read my post, it's got my brain on maximum output :rolleyes:
     
  19. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    You could also have temporary stealing, but not limited by time but by amount of power you can use. Basically, maybe you get 15 arcanowatts of pyrokinesis from the guy. Shooting fireballs takes 3 arcanowatts, so if you shoot off five fireballs, the power is gone (until you steal it again). But if you save it, you might shoot your last fireball twenty years after the pyrokinetic guy is dead.

    This could help to explain why he tends to avoid jumping into fights. He doesn't want to waste his stolen power - especially if the person he stole it from has since died or gone away and he has no way to renew it.
     
  20. Monosmith
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    I think Dr. Manhattan is a good example of a character who's extremely overpowered while still providing for an interesting story that pulls the reader in. Even though he can defeat any enemy he walks up upon, he can't solve all the world's problems, because they've grown too complex to be solved with simple power.

    Likewise, I find Smallville to be an interesting show because even though Clark Kent is far and away more powerful than anyone he meets (at least in the beginning), he can't solve the turmoil caused by the scheming Luthors, and ultimately there are too many problems going on at once for him to solve every one of them. There's also the issue of when Clark doesn't know exactly what's wrong.

    I guess my point is, even when he's still more powerful than everyone else in the story by a sizeable margin, there are still ways to compensate for this to create a forward moving story.

    Sincerely,
    Monosmith
     
  21. Ettina
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    I love that show! I think another part of why him being so much stronger isn't that bad is because the story puts a lot of focus on character development, with the interactions between Clark, Lana, Chloe, Lex, Pete, etc. In this area, Clark's powers don't help him one bit.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not to mention his own doubts and suspicions. Quite often, the biggest problem he encountered was leaping to rarified conclusions in a single bound. He certainly played a significant role in turning Lex into the villain of the story.

    The best interpretation of the Superman legend to date.

    Note that Dr. Manhattan's greatest battle was also with himself.
     
  23. Pyraeus
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    I'm really greatful for all the advice guys =)
     
  24. Islander
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    You can write about an ordinary, non-superpowered human in a world of super heroes, and still make him overpowered, if he always finds a way to outsmart the super heroes without much effort. Conversely, you can write about Superman in a world with no other super heroes, and make his powers seem virtually useless, by always making him miscalculate and fail in various subtle ways. You decide the logic of your fictional world, so you decide how useful powers really are in it.

    If you think about it, different genres use different logic all the time:

    • In an action film, the hero can dodge bullets, shrug off blows, and jump onto fast-moving vehicles without taking damage, even though he has no super powers at all.
    • In a super hero comic, the heroes can not only do that, they can also knock crooks unconscious and leave them tied up with a note to the police, without worrying about details like witnessing against them at the trial, accidentally tying up innocents, or knocking someone's head a little too hard and do jail time for abuse.
    • In a classic heroic epic (like the Iliad and the Odyssey), no matter how powerful you are, it can't protect you against fate, such as being hit in your weakest spot at the worst moment (Achilles), unwittingly killing your father and marrying your mother, which causes you to become mad and poke out your own eyes (Oidipus), or not being able to resist temptation (Orpheus).
    You only need to decide on the logic of your fictional world and keep it consistent.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Thus red Kryptonite, which invariably makes his powers all screwy (in the comics. Smallville's red K was far more predictable in its effects).
     

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