This is topic Super Powers list. in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
I've got an idea brewing for a story (novel? Bunch of short stories? Some sort of hybrid of the two? Who knows?) involving lots and lots of people with different superpowers. It occurred to me that I might not be the only one around here doing stuff with superpowers, or maybe you're not writing anything with powers but you think you might some day, or maybe you just think powers are cool. Anyway, I thought it it might be useful for many of us to generate a master list of powers, so if anyone else is interested in the exercise, let's just make a big list of powers. Cool ones, lame ones, overused ones, completely new idea ones, everything is fair game. I don't have time to start the list right now, but I'll be back in a bit to start it off. In the meantime, if anyone else wants to start listing, go for it.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Okay, I'll start it off by getting 10 of the most common ones out of the way:

-Shape shifting
-Super strength
-Super speed
-Reading minds
-Shooting lasers/force beams/etc. from eyes
-Shooting fire from hands

What else can people think of? Bonus points for anyone who can think of a cool new power that has never been done before.
Posted by MartinV (Member # 5512) on :
I would be truly surprised if you couldn't find a list already written somewhere on internet.

You can always go through X files movies; there are plenty of characters there, each with their own superpower.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Oh, I know. It wasn't so much a matter of generating a list of powers for me to use for my story; my idea is still very much in the early germination stages in my mind, and I've got another novel that needs to be finished first. Anyway, I'm a bit of a comic book geek, so coming up with different powers isn't really a problem. I just thought it might be a fun exercise. If nobody else is interested, that's fine.
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
I'm totally up for a brainstorm. I'm working on a super power system too. Although with mine the goal is subtlety, keeping the possibility open that there isn't any superpowers at all.

Walking through walls.
Phase shifting. (Solid, liquid, gas, plasma)
Force fields.
Reality Warping.
Probability nudging.
Talking to animals.
Manipulating plants.
Weather control.
Breathing in space. (
Superpower nullification.
Feral. (This one's a whole category.)
Power copying.
Time Travel.
Super Taste.
Summoning things from other dimensions.
Zombie Master.
Posted by LDWriter2 (Member # 9148) on :
Hmmm, not sure if anything is completely new.

Like one I haven't seen listed here. The ability to exchange objects and/or people. But that has been called castling as in chess.

Or the ability to duplicate one self or objects. But that has been done too.

Combination of powers maybe. Many years ago I came up with a guy who was half ice and half fire.

I came up with an idea for a super powered person. I read a story in the first Jim Baem's Universe anthology about Mega humans. They all had one ability. I thought of a similar universe and my good guy would have super speed. Not very original but neither were most of the powers in that story.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Pyre Dynasty: Intelligence and attractiveness are super powers? Maybe I am a superhero after all.

Super Taste: that is one weak super power, which is cool, because I'm trying to come up with a really lame power for my MC.

LDWriter2: Definitely interesting contributions. I could have a lot of fun as a writer with the ability to exchange objects.

Now I'll try to get creative and list some more interesting ones than my first list, now that we got a lot of the common ones out of the way:

The ability to travel through shadows (didn't someone have that in Dr. Strange and Mr. Norrel?)

The ability to control shadows and manipulate the physical world with them.

Stop action kung fu (I know it was more a special effect in the matrix than a power, but I still think it's cool)

Draining/Absorbing life force (not at all original, but I didn't see it listed yet)

Create black holes (probably a one-time use power)

Possessing other people's bodies

Invading and/or controlling dreams

Reconfigure DNA strands psychically (yours or someone else's)

Absorb and then shoot out energy (kinetic, nuclear, solar, etc.)

Bestow life upon inanimate (or dead) objects.

Control/cause chemical release in self or others (adrenaline, endorphins, dopamine, testosterone, estrogen, a variety of other chemicals in the body)

[ September 24, 2012, 07:32 PM: Message edited by: wetwilly ]
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
My first novel featured a character who had superhuman tact. No matter what the situation, he knew exactly the right thing to say and how to say it -- until he meets the girl who will become his personal Kryptonite. Then he finds himself saying and doing exactly the wrong things...

I deliberately chose superhuman tact as something that doesn't sound like it has to be magical, so I could stretch the reader's credulity until it broke. The story has the basic feature of the superhero fantasy: a hero dealing with the surprising limitations of his super powers.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
How do you feel about changing water into wine?
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Robert: it's great, but not much help in a fight [Smile]
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Or there's always swimming really fast and talking to dolphins. Wait, that's too crappy (sorry, Aquaman).
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
"John Lee Supertaster" is a They Might Be Giants song.
Posted by MattLeo (Member # 9331) on :
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
How do you feel about changing water into wine?

I once was discussing the X-men with some friends of mine and I pointed out that the chances of getting such useful powers as invulnerability, agility, flight, and weather control must be pretty small. It follows that for every mutant who has a useful combat power there must be hundreds, if not thousands who have powers you can't use in a fight except in some very unusual circumstances. That's how I came up with Lacto, a mutant whose superpower was turning cultured dairy products back into milk.
Posted by BoldWriter (Member # 9899) on :
I love superpowers.

The thing I love most about them is that really, a superpower is anything that sets someone apart from the rest of us 'normal people'. Even that, though, depends on perspective. Something is really on 'super' if it's better than the 'normal' somehow.

Superman, on Krypton, wouldn't really have had any 'powers' because from thier perspective, he was normal. Fly him across the galaxy to Earth and an instant super hero is born.

There are literally an infinite number of 'abilities' that could be described as powers. The aforementioned Lacto is a great example. Perhaps instead of choosing from a list (although I love the brainstorming session of the thread), it might be better to think of what power you would most like to have. Think about the ways it would impact your personal life if you did have that power.

Who knows, maybe you do have a super power. Maybe that power is writing about super-heroes.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Actually, my superpower is the ability to know exactly what time it is without looking at a clock. If someone asks me what time it is, I know the time to the minute (or at least I can get it within 2 minutes) pretty much every time. When I prayed every night for a super power, I guess I should have specified a sweet crime-fighting superpower.

[ September 25, 2012, 06:11 PM: Message edited by: wetwilly ]
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
The cause of superpowers in some of these stories sometimes cheeses me off. As has been said in lists of regretted things, "Years of exposure to radiation and no cool superpowers."
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
I've always thought the Green Lantern's power (and weakness) were kind of dumb. The ability to make anything you want with a magic ring (I know it's not magic, but whatever the explanation, it's basically a magic ring), and a weakness against anything yellow.

As one of my students said as we were discussing this in English class (I'm a high school English teacher, and I swear it had a direct connection to the story we were reading), "Wait...his weakness is yellow? So my book bag could beat the Green Lantern?"
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
I had a character I called Shiv. He could absorb metal and push it back out in whatever shape he needed (like armor for his skin).

I also had a fun story called "Zhero" where the protagonist was the only one on the planet who wasn't a telepathic Superman or Superwoman. He was the only one who could have a secret. A very dark secret.

wetwilly, what were you reading in class that GL came up?
Posted by Bldc (Member # 9923) on :
The power of recall...always remembering and never forgetting. It is a blessing and a curse.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
@ babooher: A short story called "Superassassin." It's about a little kid with a screwed-up home life who identifies himself with comic book superheros as a way to cope with his crazy life. He fixates particularly on the Green Lantern, so we read an issue of it in class to prep for reading the story.

@ Bldc: all the cool powers are.
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
You know, one of my favorite superheroes has the lames superpower ever. He can talk to ants. He's just a cool guy. Of course it didn't take long before all the hate mail Marvel got about it so he could shrink to ant size. Can't wait for that movie.

The trouble with Green Lantern is that the writers rarely make him a creative enough person to do anything interesting with the power to create anything. DC people have some of the funniest weaknesses though. Superman nearly dies if he ever gets near rocks that made up his home planet. Martian Manhunter shoots pure energy out of his eyes, but a little flame makes him cry. Batman can't seem to get past the anger stage of the grieving process.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
"Batman can't seem to get past the anger stage of the grieving process."

I prefer my superheroes to be emotionally unstable. Batman, Wolverine, the Punisher, Ghost Rider: all my favorites are just bundles of emotional issues with awesome powers (or, in the case of the Punisher, awesome guns).

Super power ideas:

How about nuclear fusion or fission? The ability to join or split atoms. I don't know enough about it (can't remember what I learned about it in college), so it would take some research, but it seems like there could be some cool possibilities there.

The ability to manipulate others' emotions. Just make them feel whatever you choose.

The ability to make others around you feel exactly the same emotion you are feeling. I think this one has interesting dramatic possibilities, especially if it's not very controlled.

The ability to feel exactly what someone else is feeling.

The ability to control air vibrations and create/manipulate sound at will.

[ September 26, 2012, 06:39 PM: Message edited by: wetwilly ]
Posted by InarticulateBabbler (Member # 4849) on :
I prefer my superheroes to be emotionally unstable. Batman, Wolverine, the Punisher, Ghost Rider: all my favorites are just bundles of emotional issues with awesome powers (or, in the case of the Punisher, awesome guns).
Yeah, I'm kind of partial to those AND Moon Knight, Daredevil, Faust (not for kids) and Judge Dredd. Troubled characters.
Posted by Unwritten (Member # 7960) on :
Making other people forget things.
The ability to grant wishes.
Earthbending. [Smile]
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Emotionally unstable people with superpowers...great...just what we all really need running around loose...
Posted by Rhaythe (Member # 7857) on :
*) The non-optional capacity to destroy the world upon one's death

Would provide for good character development if the character is aware of this power.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Oh my gosh; Facebook has brainwashed me. I just tried to "like" RObert Nowall's above comment.

The ability to resist the terrible pull of online social media would be a good one.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Wouldn't have done any good---I do have the power to resist the terrible pull of online social media. I'm not on Facebook---unless those rumors that they've put together something for every person on Earth whether they want it or not is true.
Posted by Pyre Dynasty (Member # 1947) on :
Man, now I want to make a Robert Nowall fan page just to mess with you.

The destroy the world with your death thing was used in the Spawn movie. All Spawn had to do to save the world was not kill the man he crawled out of Hell to kill.

I challenge you to find an emotionally stable person with super powers.
Posted by wetwilly (Member # 1818) on :
Professor X.
Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
The destroy the world with your death thing...
I'm reminded of a Theodore Sturgeon story, "The Ultimate Egoist," I think, along these lines...

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