Sunday, July 1, 2018

Lore : Power Functions

Plain and simple, the powers of superhumans defy all known laws of physics. These abilities can create matter and energy from nothing, destroy matter and energy completely, ignore laws of inertia, gravity, and thermodynamics, overcome death, create life, etc. Those who have been empowered by the Doorways wield abilities akin to mythological gods, anime adventurers, and comic book superheroes.

By all accounts, these abilities seem to function based on alternative mechanics or energies that simply cannot be detected, measured, or replicated by human science. However, even here, such mechanisms are not easily identified. This is not merely a type of fantasy magic, which operates under its own consistent rules. That, at least, we could accept as a separate model of physics superimposed onto our reality. Instead, in many cases, each power seems to operate under its own logic, independently of most other powers.

For example, two superhumans might have the ability to generate and project flames, but they don’t necessarily do it the same way. One may have telekinetic control of oxygen and be able to excite air molecules to create spontaneous bursts of flame. The other supposedly draws upon flames directly from the “Elemental Plane of Fire”, a dimension apparently made entirely of flames, that apparently only the superhuman in question can see and access. Two different mechanisms, same basic result.

The range of different exotic abilities demonstrated by superhumans is too wide and varied to go into full details for every one. However, aside from their specific exotic powers, there are several abilities that are quite common among many superhumans. These, at least, can give you some idea of what we’re dealing with.

One of the most common abilities among superhumans and also one of the more confounding. Going by superhero comics, strength is often tied to durability; one cannot use such high levels of strength, unless their body is equally enhanced to withstand the punishing strain.

However, in our observations, while superhuman strength can sometimes be a byproduct of a physical transformation that directly alters a person’s musculature, there is only so much force that can be output by a mere flesh and blood entity, or even a machine. Some superhumans can shapeshift, and such an individual might be able to transform into an elephant and use an elephant’s strength, however they are still bound by the same physical limits as a real elephant.

Truly Super Strong individuals are able to lift and strike with a force greater than physically possible. Moreover, this power does not appear to be connected to their musculature, but to an invisible force that extends only as far as their own skin, a sort of touch-range telekinesis.

This is further supported by the observation that higher forms of Super Strength tend to bend the rules of physical structure as well. Super Strong individuals of higher levels have routinely been seen lifting and swinging objects that should snap apart in their hands due to structural strain, and yet somehow remain intact at least while the superhuman is lifting or throwing it. If Super Strength is essentially a form of telekinesis, then it stands to reason that the superhuman is in these cases subconsciously extending their telekinetic will over the object they are carrying to keep it intact, up to a point, at least.

When exerting this force, a superhuman is able to smash through stone pillars or crush coal into diamonds with their bare hands, without suffering either physical strain or backlash from the object. However, this does not protect them from force directed back at them that is not merely a natural resistance to their own actions. For example, a superhuman could punch an on-coming train. The force of the punch could be sufficient to derail the whole thing and create a massive dent in the lead car or even crush it like an empty can. However if the force is not sufficient to actually fully stop the train, and the superhuman does not possess superhuman durability, the train could very well keep going and crush them.

Many superhumans do, in fact, have a combination of strength and durability, but they are not necessarily always equal to one another. One may be more durable than they are strong, or vice versa.

The ability for a superhuman to resist harm brought upon them by the world and by other superhumans. The mechanisms of enhanced durability can often be varied. Some might be able to alter their physical composition in order to deflect attacks. A superhuman might not be bullet proof until they shift their form into living metal. However, in this case, they are usually still bound by physical laws when it comes to taking damage. The living metal person can be bent, cracked, or melted by the normal means through which metal may be damaged.

Others may instead have a more malleable form, becoming a living liquid that can simply flow around attacks. Still others can become intangible, like a ghost, unaffected by physical objects, and requiring very specific superhuman powers to harm. Some may not have special durability per say, but instead can recover from damage through high-speed regeneration.

True Super Durability is when the person in question simply can not be harmed. Similar to how a mysterious “force” acts as the power behind true Super Strength, this same power can apparently “harden” to form an invisible, skin-tight barrier around a person. A bullet fired at a Super Durable individual does not just bounce off their skin, rather the impact is neutralized the moment it touches their personal barrier. This “field” theory is supported by the fact that very often, tight clothing worn by the superhuman is often also undamaged, while bulkier clothing and accessories can be easily destroyed by the same attacks.

(This latter affect, incidentally, is the excuse for why many so-called superheroes insist on wearing skin-tight costumes to “protect their dignity”, though one wonders just how much dignity could be protected when ones’ outfit clings as tightly as body-paint!)

This, too, can come in several forms. Often, a superhuman will be able to travel at inhuman speeds through specific stipulations. They may not be able to run fast, but they can fly through the air through energy propulsion like a rocket or they can skate across water like a jet ski. Some can actually run at high speed via super strong legs, but are limited by inertia, and the faster they go, the harder it is for them to turn or react to things in their way. For the shapeshifter, they may be able to become a cheetah and run as fast as one, but are still limited by inertia and friction as a cheetah would be.

True Super Speed is defined as those who not only move fast, but think fast, perceive the world around them at higher speeds, and are unrestricted by physical limitations such as inertia. A superhuman with this ability moves through a world that has slowed to a crawl, if not appearing outright frozen still. To us, they may seem merely a blur, if they can be seen at all. To them, they are moving at normal pace, while the rest of the world has becomes a lonely landscape of living statues.

In this latter case, there is an interesting play of forces. If a Super Fast person who lacks any Super Strength attacks an opponent, they can punch said opponent multiple times before they can even blink, but the blows will strike with only the force of a normal punch. The prevailing theory is that this is some kind of inherent self-defense mechanism of the power to prevent a non-durable superhuman from destroying themselves at such speeds. Consider that if a normal person were to punch another person in the face at a thousand miles per hour, they would indeed break open that person’s skull, but would also shatter their own arm or have it torn off at the shoulder.

Many superhumans claim to be able to detect certain phenomena or objects which are beyond human senses, and can go beyond anything detectable by mundane or technological means. Someone might be able to sense heat or electrical fields, the way a pit viper or a catfish can. Some may have a form of echolocation.

Others can detect things on a psychic level, obtaining knowledge of something just by looking at it. The telepath is the best example, a person who can read your very thoughts. Others can know something about the history or physical make-up of an object by touching it. Some can absorb the skills of other people just by watching them at their craft.

Stranger still, however, are those who can detect phenomenon in ways that don’t really make sense, connected neither to scientific observation or even explainable by psychic means of detection. Examples given include: A woman who can detect a person’s levels of physical hunger, thirst, and need for air via different types of “humming” sensations in her mind. A man who just always knows what time it is, to the nano-second, despite having no clues to inform him. A woman who can see into a “shadow world” and claims the creatures she summons into our world come from there. The Earth Mage once claimed that his power enables him to see the flow of “elemental mana” throughout the world, and that controlling the flow of it is how he can manipulate the environment around him.

The power to fly is a very common trait among superhumans. In some cases this can be done with wings or projecting energy from themselves like rockets, but true Super Flight allows a person to simply propel their body through the air at will. This power will also let them “fly” through water, or if they are durable enough, through even the ground, as they push themselves through the world.

Many superhumans have some ability to project different types of energy from their body. Some can shoot fire from their hands or mouths, some can shoot lightning, some can create an aura of pure kinetic force around their person, some can fire beams of hard radiation from their eyes.

With few exceptions, all of these abilities are consider Superhuman in the same sense as Strength or Flight. Aside from, perhaps the ability of the shapeshifter to form an electric organ or someone with a modified throat being able to perform a deafening scream, energy project just isn’t some a living body can generally do.

For some this, energy is effectively “normal”. A fire blast may just be normal fire, despite its unusual source. In many cases, however, these energies do not behave as they should. Light that can be shaped into solid constructs. Fire that burns without oxygen and never goes out until its intended target is destroyed. Sonic screams where the noise is contained in a specific beam that can cut through steel like a knife. “Cold energy” beams that freeze things in blocks of ice that cannot be melted save through equally supernatural heat.

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