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Author Topic: I need an origin for a superhero...  (Read 741 times)

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Offline BeorningTopic starter

I need an origin for a superhero...
« on: May 27, 2013, 05:52:02 AM »
Okay, I decided to tried picking the collective minds of Elli once again :)

I'm trying to come up with a female superhero for a superhero game... I know the general type of a character I want to play, at least power-wise: she's supposed to have a degree of super-strength, as well as super-dexterity and super-constitution. The problem is, I can't come up with an origin for such a power set!

Initially, I came up with the idea that my character has been infused with energy during some scientific mishap... but then, I decided that doesn't really explain her dexterity. Energy "powers" muscles, so that would give her strength and endurance, but dexterity? I can't rationalize it being connected to energy. So, I need another origin...

Any help? I could use some ideas to get my creative juices flowing...

Online Oreo

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2013, 06:55:02 AM »
If she came from a heavy gravity environment, then to a lower Earth gravity, it would allow for the dexterity here.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2013, 08:33:41 AM »
Interesting. Why?

Online Oreo

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2013, 08:40:37 AM »
It would be like wearing a hundred pound lead suit your whole life, then suddenly taking it off. Your body would be well muscled, your endurance increased, plus what was naturally arduous to you before would allow for swift movements without the weight restriction. Though I am no scientist and this is pure conjecture on my part.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2013, 08:54:44 AM »
Hmmm :) All right, this is one idea to consider. Give me more, people, pretty please :)

Offline SinXAzgard21

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2013, 01:11:33 PM »
It would be like wearing a hundred pound lead suit your whole life, then suddenly taking it off. Your body would be well muscled, your endurance increased, plus what was naturally arduous to you before would allow for swift movements without the weight restriction. Though I am no scientist and this is pure conjecture on my part.

Dragon Ball Z.  They trained at 100x the normal gravity of earth for months.  Pretty much enhanced everything the could do. 

Offline Shjade

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2013, 01:14:39 PM »
It would be like wearing a hundred pound lead suit your whole life, then suddenly taking it off. Your body would be well muscled, your endurance increased, plus what was naturally arduous to you before would allow for swift movements without the weight restriction. Though I am no scientist and this is pure conjecture on my part.

Though after living on Earth for a while (how long would be hard to say) that source of speed would eventually wear off as you'd get used to the new environment, unless you re-trained in the heavier gravity regularly to keep up your condition.

"Energy" is ambiguous enough that you can have all sorts of effects with it. An energy infusion could maybe supercharge her nervous system, enhancing her reaction time, her reflexes, eye-hand coordination, etc., which could result in seemingly superhuman speed in terms of combat/athletic ability, though it wouldn't impact things like overall running speed. Think of it like having overcharged her body's natural nerve interactions, accelerating the rate of communication through her body. Of course, that could also have tactile downsides if it made pain sensations more intense, for example.

Online Oreo

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2013, 01:15:28 PM »
Dragon Ball Z.  They trained at 100x the normal gravity of earth for months.  Pretty much enhanced everything the could do. 

Very cool. I never saw the show. I was just going off of back packing training with sandbag anklets and a 50lb pack. Then take a walk uphill. After that, regular hiking was a breeze.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2013, 01:27:02 PM »
"Energy" is ambiguous enough that you can have all sorts of effects with it. An energy infusion could maybe supercharge her nervous system, enhancing her reaction time, her reflexes, eye-hand coordination, etc., which could result in seemingly superhuman speed in terms of combat/athletic ability, though it wouldn't impact things like overall running speed. Think of it like having overcharged her body's natural nerve interactions, accelerating the rate of communication through her body. Of course, that could also have tactile downsides if it made pain sensations more intense, for example.

Good points :) But how to explain her body getting more flexible etc.? That's part of high agility, too - being able to do jumps, tumbles, high kicks... I can't see a connection with energy here.

Very cool. I never saw the show.

... and be grateful to the Universe for that  ;D

Offline Shjade

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2013, 04:00:41 PM »
Good points :) But how to explain her body getting more flexible etc.? That's part of high agility, too - being able to do jumps, tumbles, high kicks... I can't see a connection with energy here.
You said dexterity, not agility. >.>

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2013, 12:57:41 AM »
What's the difference between dexterity and agility? In Mutants & Masterminds 2E (that's the system the game will use) they are the same stat...

Offline Kazyth

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 01:09:54 AM »
Ok, I'll go with a personal favorite from my many, many, manymanymany years playing Abberant, M & M, the Heroes system, and even the Marvel rip-off of that... plus almost a decade on City of Heroes/City of Villains... gone but never forgotton.  /endgeekcred

Nanotechnology.  Millions of microscopic machines replicating in her body and enhancing their host.  Wired reflexes, stimulated muscle growth and density, metal or polymer laced bones.  *ponders*  Ok, maybe a little Cyberpunk/Shadowrun in there, as well.  But still.

Could be all sorts of ways the character came by them.  Unwitting human test subject for a government-supported black ops lab, willing test subject, possibly she developed it herself and had to try it out untested when a rival or corporation tried to gun her down or kidnap her and take it for themselves.  But the research wasn't complete, and she has no way to reverse the procedure.

If you need some weaknesses, could be a good number of them.  Huge electrical jolts could short them out.  She might need to constantly ingest or absorb certain minerals to keep the process going and keep the nanties from cannibalizing her to keep themselves going... or from taking her over entirely.

And if technology isn't your thing, you could also go with the biological symbiont angle.  Alien being, wrapped around her spine or heart maybe.  Something she found while all alone somewhere, or something she was... forced to accept by someone who wanted to see what it could do.  But same gist.  Makes her stronger, bones denser, able to react quickly to danger to keep itself safe.  And again, if you need weaknesses, it might need an odd fuel source to keep going, she might constantly be in a struggle for control of her own body with it when she is weak, maybe a specific chemical or mineral that can make it temporarily dormant.

And, of course, there's always magic.  Could go with a Juggernaut angle.  Mystic source of power, some gem or piece of armor or jewelry.  Covers all the bases, but she can lose the power if someone steals the item from her.  Or the whole 'servant of some god or godling or otherdimensional power' angle, where she would have to uphold some code or another, and would occasionally have to go do favors for whoever is granting the power.

*scratches chin*  Or she could be a mage who opts to use her magics to augment her own physical abilities.  Smacks of the PhysAd from Shadowrun, but still quite viable.

Just throwing a few things out there for you to try one, hope they help!

Online Oreo

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2013, 01:11:59 AM »
Agility = leap tall buildings, roundhouse kicking, skateboarding down a hand rail.

Dexterity = hand eye coordination. Throwing a stone through a knothole.

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 01:40:34 AM »
Hm. I see. Well, as I said: MnM 2E uses one stat (Dexterity) that covers both. For instance, Acrobatics is a Dexterity-derived skill...

Anyway, yes - it does look like I was speaking more of super-agility, as I want my character to be able to do superhuman acrobatics, cinematic fight moves etc.

Kazyth: thanks for all of the ideas!
« Last Edit: May 28, 2013, 01:42:45 AM by Beorning »

Offline Kazyth

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2013, 03:46:07 AM »
You're welcome!  Being an altoholic in a game that allowed 30+ character slots per server and was based around superheroes meant I had to come up with a whoooooole lot of them.  >_>

Offline Violence

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2013, 04:42:41 AM »
If she came from a heavy gravity environment, then to a lower Earth gravity, it would allow for the dexterity here.

This was also the Golden Age explanation for Superman's powers. :-)

On Topic:

Some of these suggestions will work better or worse depending on exactly how "super" you want the character to come off.

I will warn that I'm coming more from the perspective of somebody who writes in the setting, as opposed to somebody who's role played in the setting.  So, I don't know how these will work in a system game or anything like that... and I'm taking things like "weaknesses" and "tension" into account, more on instinct than anything else... I don't know how much those things will be desirable to your character creation.  But, I think they can also be overlooked in most cases, if you didn't want to worry about that stuff.

Sometimes you get perks for taking weaknesses in your character creation, though, right? >.>;; I don't know much about table-top gaming... sorry...

Genetic Engineering / Biological Weapon
The power set you're describing are essentially the same powers that Captain America has (my personal favorite super-hero), though I don't know if you mean them limited to the same degree.

Essentially somebody either with her knowledge or without her knowledge wanted to create a weapon to serve function X as part of agenda Y.  Through either selective breeding or genetic resequencing (depending on the tech-level appropriate for your story) a "perfect" living weapon is born/made.  Depending on the level of technology available in your setting you can get away with this being anywhere from just an "above human limits" level (like aforementioned Captain America) all the way up to "super" levels.

Also, you could combine this with Kazyth's nano-machines idea to come up with all sorts of combinations.  And depending on the origin of the character how they came upon these powers says a lot about who they are and what their role is as a superhero.  Were they like Captain America and elected to undergo this procedure?  Or where they like X-23 and literally a product of the experiment?

Training/Mysticism
This works best if it's just a "beyond human limits" set of powers.  But, you could go the Iron Fist route and have had the character simply trained to a substantial degree in mysticism and martial arts.  Through years of training they've reached a level of battle meditation that has surpassed the limits of a human body.  This plays into your original idea of "energy manipulation", too.  They can focus chi through their body to amplify their strength, speed, stamina, whatever you need.  Putting their chi through their skin they could make it as hard as stone to resist damage.

You wouldn't really need to explain away the agility or dexterity in this sense, either, since it's unlikely somebody spends that much time learning some magic martial art and doesn't leave the practice fairly limber.

Arguably, you could go the Dragonball Z route and let your imagination run wild with this and say that they've surpassed human limitations so much they can punch through mountains or whatever.  But, it really has to fit within the setting.  If everybody around you is Iron Man or Wolverine, and you're Goku-level... it stretches verisimilitude.  Things should remain internally consistent within their own universe.

Natural Mutation/Accident that triggers hormone/biochemical overloads
I wrote a character in something of mine that had beyond olympic level strength and stamina and while he didn't really have a resistance to damage, he didn't feel pain like other characters.  In his case it was because his body produced adrenaline in insane levels all the time.  He reacted faster than other characters, and he never stopped coming.  But (and this is one of the reasons I really like this one) it came with its own weaknesses, as well.  He had to regulate his heart-rate through drug therapies; basically he was hooked up to the opposite of the thing Bane has in Batman comics.  And because his body was constantly in an "alarmed" state, he couldn't sleep which lead him to suffer from paranoia and hallucinations and extreme mood swings.

But, basically everything that a human body does is regulated and controlled by our biochemistry on some level.  But this one's not going to let you stretch it too far beyond reasonable disbelief.

Something like that thing Bane wears in Batman.
In the comics (at least during the 90's, they've gone back and forth on the matter since then) Bane's super-human level strength came from a drug called "Venom".  The nice thing about drugs in a comic book style setting is that you can generally get away with saying they do whatever you want them to do to your character.  In Bane's case they worked like a super-steroid that caused his muscles to balloon up like Broly from DBZ and made his skin super-tough.  You could say that your character takes something that gives her all the abilities you're looking for.

Like the previous one, this one is nice because it adds its own weakness.  If the substance she needs is addictive than you can have withdrawals for the character, and you get to play around with the ethical question of somebody destroying themselves in such a way in order to help mankind (since she's not using the powers for evil, right?).  You can probably push this one a little further than the normal range of disbelief... but if there's an injection that somebody can take that turns you into the Mighty Thor, you're left with the question of why everybody's not taking it.  So, there's things to consider before using this approach.

Alien Tech / Tech Suit
The character found, created, or was chosen to be the heir of some technology that allows her to do these things.  The suit would handle all the questions of things like agility, strength and durability.  But say you don't want a suit, there's no reason she can't have a ring that puts an amplification field around her body that works in all the same ways as a suit or whatever.  For example, Superman's modern explanation (well, pre-New 52, anyways) was that his powers came from the aura around his body.  It wasn't actually his muscles that were strong, it was the aura around the muscles, a microscopic thin layer of energy that his cells emitted because of yellow sunlight.  So, your character could have a ring or necklace or an implant that allows her to summon up the same kind of thing.  To the casual observer it would look like she's taking a shot-gun blast to the stomach and shrugging it off, but in reality it's the invisibly thin aura taking the shots for her.

You get lots of cool aesthetic options with this set-up... like the Mass Effect holo-armor and omni-tools.  And, if you need it, you have weaknesses programmed into this origin as well.  If it's a tech suit, then she's a normal person outside of the suit.  If it's something like a ring, you can add a limited charge... maybe it only works for an hour before it needs to recharge, for example.  Forcing the character to be selective about when to use their powers is often a good way to amplify tension if that's part of the goal.  The biggest positive here is that you can literally go as far as you want with the powers... it could be a minor boost she gets from the tech, or it could turn her into the Silver Surfer.  It could also come with its own costume like the way the Green Lantern's or Sailor Moon's powers work... never under-estimate the benefits of a quick-transformation ability.

Enchantments
Expanding on what Kazyth said.  She (or, if you want to add a limitation, somebody else) either puts a series of enchantments or runes on their person or artifacts that she can wear.  Again going back to something I wrote... I had a fantasy setting with a white mage character.  His companions made fun of him because he was a white mage that only knew extremely low-level healing spells.  He'd focused all his efforts into learning status boosting spells.  He wore a charm that allowed him to cast up to three spells at once, and when his opportunity came, he would cast status boosters on himself (the story-equivalent of haste, atk up, and def up) and basically run around the battlefield like a fantasy setting Juggernaut.

Depending on how you set it up, you can use this one almost interchangeably with everything I said about the alien tech idea.  Maybe there's a limitation on how long the enchantments can last... maybe she does't personally know how to replicate the enchantments... if the enchantments are on artifacts she wears instead of on her personally, then they can be taken away and used against her.  Also, you can still get the quick-transformation costume with this... Shazam/Captain Marvel is the most prominent example that I can think of of a magic-based hero with a quick change.

So those are what I came up with...

Also, it's worth noting that with something like agility/dexterity... depending on your character's origin, you don't really need to "explain" where that comes from.  Nightwing from the Batman comics is pretty much the most agile guy in the entire DC Universe and it's not from a super-power, it's just from growing up as an acrobat.  In most super-hero settings, a character being able to do flips and high jumps and stuff is pretty much expected of them.

I'm not saying you can't or shouldn't have it part of their power set... but, I mean, if you want them to be really agile but can't think of how to work it into a particular power set... just say she does Yoga a lot, or something. :-)

Offline BeorningTopic starter

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2013, 02:05:09 PM »
Violence: that's... an amazing selection of origins. Thanks! :)

Offline Violence

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #17 on: May 29, 2013, 08:45:47 PM »
Violence: that's... an amazing selection of origins. Thanks! :)

You're welcome. ^.^

Learning all the common tropes for the medium was one of the first steps in writing my own work.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2013, 12:33:29 PM »
I'm curious. Does "writing for the medium" mean Violence works in the industry? That's very interesting if so...

I'm trying to come up with a female superhero for a superhero game... I know the general type of a character I want to play, at least power-wise: she's supposed to have a degree of super-strength, as well as super-dexterity and super-constitution. The problem is, I can't come up with an origin for such a power set!

Initially, I came up with the idea that my character has been infused with energy during some scientific mishap... but then, I decided that doesn't really explain her dexterity. Energy "powers" muscles, so that would give her strength and endurance, but dexterity? I can't rationalize it being connected to energy.

With due respect to all the awesome suggestions everyone has come up with, I would point out that it's actually fairly easy to make the "cosmic energy" explanation work for this set of powers. "Cosmic energy," much like drugs in a comic-book setting (as Violence points out), can do pretty much anything you decide it can do... including speeding up brain function. More efficient neurochemistry could lead to faster reflexes. (It could be a reflection of a "super-efficient" body more generally, meaning also faster healing and such.) This should also improve her processing ability and recall, so I'm not sure if you want that, but it's a thought.

Offline Violence

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Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #19 on: May 30, 2013, 12:46:30 PM »
I'm curious. Does "writing for the medium" mean Violence works in the industry? That's very interesting if so...

Ha... I wish.  I think I might have chosen my words poorly (or with uncharacteristic optimism).  No, strictly amateur thus far.  But lots of research and essays written about it... I almost lost some friends over an extensive essay I wrote on why Spider-man is better than Batman. >.>;

I'm putting together some thumbnails in the hopes that I can find an artist for my own project, though.

Agreed on cosmic energy, by the way.  You can pretty much use that to explain away any change to a character you want. *nods*  "Radiation" used to have the same multipurpose function, but that one doesn't fly so well anymore.

Offline WildCat

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #20 on: June 30, 2013, 03:33:32 PM »
Bitten by a radioactive letter "T"!

Oh wait, I'm a month late. *crawls under a rock and hides*


Offline Sabby

Re: I need an origin for a superhero...
« Reply #21 on: July 03, 2013, 02:11:58 PM »
Initially, I came up with the idea that my character has been infused with energy during some scientific mishap... but then, I decided that doesn't really explain her dexterity. Energy "powers" muscles, so that would give her strength and endurance, but dexterity? I can't rationalize it being connected to energy. So, I need another origin...

Hmmm, I had a character once like this. Her 'hero' name was Frail. She was born with a condition that made her bones extremely weak, to the point where falling can severely injure or even kill her. Naturally, she's spent her life in a wheelchair and can't do anything more strenuous then read or draw, with a very gentle and withdrawn personality. I never quite figure out what would make her powers erupt, but she was able to become nigh on Hulk like without any visible changes to her body, her mind replaced with a very violent and overly protective 'big sister'.

I never got her origins finished either, but the general idea was she was exposed to a sentient energy while in her mothers womb. The bled off traces of energy attached itself to the weakest sentient life there in order to survive and literally grew up alongside it, becoming her Sister personality.