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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default Superhero Power Classification scheme

    If you were coming up with a comprehensive system for classifying and rating powers, suitable for use by researchers, how would you do it? Personally I'm quite fond of the Whateley Academy system, but I'm sure it's not perfect. I thought it might be fun to brainstorm what you'd need in a system, and try to shake out the best one we possibly can. I'll throw up a brief version of the WA classifications to use as a starting point:

    Avatar: You are host to some sort of spirit or force that grants you power. Comic-verse Thor is an Avatar, and so (I think?) is Captain Britain.
    ESP: You have some sort of psychic ability. Covers telepathy, danger sense, precog, emotion reading and projection, psychometry, super senses...
    Energiser: You can manifest and/or manipulate some sort of energy. Cyclops is an Energiser, as is the Human Torch. The Flash also qualifies by using the Speed Force.
    Exemplar: You are harder, better, faster, stronger, smarter, prettier, and all around just better than normal humans. Captain America is an Exemplar.
    Manifestor: You can create matter in some form, whether temporarily or permanently. This includes both inanimate matter generation and and creating some sort of pet or servitor. I can't actually think of any mainstream examples, annoyingly.
    Regen: Pretty self explanatory. Wolverine.
    Shifter: You can change shape or bodily composition somehow. Martian Manhunter and the Hulk both count as Shifters, as does Colossus.
    Tech hero: Comes in two classifications. Gadgeteers have an instinctive understanding of technology and can build things decades or centuries ahead of current tech, but their creations work by the rules of standard physics and can be replicated by anyone with the blueprints and the right skills. Tony Stark is a Gadgeteer. Devisors create things that are flatly impossible by the laws of physics - they break Conservation of Energy over their knee, they produce truly reactionless thrust, they are powered by a perpetual motion device... the possibilities are endless. Devisors' creations, known as devises, cannot be replicated by other people, and frequently (but not universally) only actually work for the Devisor themselves. Geniuses from Genius: The Transgression are all Devisors.
    Telekinetic: Again, self explanatory. Jean Grey is the most famous example. Also covers forcefields, whether projected (Sue Storm) or skintight (Superboy).
    Warper: You can bend or break some of the laws of physics. Covers gravity manipulation, density changing, probability manipulation, teleportation, time distortion, size changing, and other such powers.
    Wizard: Covers all powers that are explicitly magic. Dr Strange, Dr Fate and Zatanna are all Wizards.

    How's that for a start? What's missing? What overlaps?
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  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I think you may be too tied up in top-level descriptors. I feel like ESP and TELEKINETIC should both be subsets of PSYCHIC. The same goes for REGEN. It should be a subset of BIOENHANCEMENT. Captain America would be BIOENHANCED as his abilities come from the super-soldier serum. Until it wore off... and then was active again... I think.

    Or he could be a TECH HERO since his physical enhancements came from SCIENCE. His skills come from EXPERIENCE, but I think Batman would have the same trouble being classified.

    WARPER seems strangely specific, especially when it most likely fits into several other fields. A WIZARD can WARP. A TECH HERO can WARP. Why is it getting it's own top-level? Is that because of Night Crawler?

    Oh -- and my favorite version of Cyclops is when his eyes were defined as constant portals to the Crimson Dimension of Cytorak. That would make him a WARPER as well, but I prefer to think of him as BIOENHANCED.
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I think I would split it into two groups: The How and the What.

    The How List:
    Natural: This is just a part of the supers genetic code, such as mutants, aliens, and the occasional badass normal
    Technological: Powers granted through some form of technology, your super serums, and mech suits
    Magical: Powers granted through magic, your wizards, gods, monsters, and so on
    Symbiote: Power actually comes from some other life form

    The What List:
    Body Enhancement: Your body is altered in some way, though this would usually also have sub-categories. Ex. Captain America, Mr Immortal
    Shifter: Body changes shape. Ex. Mystique, Hulk.
    Energy Manipulator: Manipulates energy in some way. Ex. Superman, Mr Freeze
    Reality Manipulator: Can control or create a fundamental part of reality like matter, time, and so on. There is some overlap with Energy Manipulator, but I think there are enough differences to make it distinct. Ex. Scarlet Witch, Doc Brown
    Controller: Can control creatures or people in some way. Ex. Skitter, Shadow King
    Reader: Can gain supernatural insight into somethings. Ex. Professor X, Cassandra
    Mental Distorter: Those that can directly affect the mind or the senses in some way. Ex. Mirage, Jean Grey

    And of course this list would need to be edited, a lot, to make up for all the types of powers and abilities.

    But it would work sort of like this.
    Captain America: Technological/Body Enhancement
    Hulk: Technological/Shifter+Body Enhancement
    Superman: Natural/Energy Manipulator+Body Enhancement
    Jean Grey: Natural/Energy Manipulator+Controller+Reader+Mental Distorter(+Reality Manipulator when Phoenix also gains the How: Symbiote)
    Doctor Fate: Magical/Body Enhancement+Shifter+Energy Manipulator+Controller+Reader+Mental Distorter

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragenstein View Post
    I think you may be too tied up in top-level descriptors. I feel like ESP and TELEKINETIC should both be subsets of PSYCHIC. The same goes for REGEN. It should be a subset of BIOENHANCEMENT. Captain America would be BIOENHANCED as his abilities come from the super-soldier serum. Until it wore off... and then was active again... I think.

    Or he could be a TECH HERO since his physical enhancements came from SCIENCE. His skills come from EXPERIENCE, but I think Batman would have the same trouble being classified.

    WARPER seems strangely specific, especially when it most likely fits into several other fields. A WIZARD can WARP. A TECH HERO can WARP. Why is it getting it's own top-level? Is that because of Night Crawler?

    Oh -- and my favorite version of Cyclops is when his eyes were defined as constant portals to the Crimson Dimension of Cytorak. That would make him a WARPER as well, but I prefer to think of him as BIOENHANCED.
    Regen and Exemplar could potentially both go under the heading of Bioenhanced, yes. The trouble with sticking TK under Psychic though, is then where do you classify the person who's invulnerable thanks to a constantly on skintight forcefield? That's clearly not a psychic effect.

    Captain America clearly isn't either a Gadgeteer or a Devisor - he has no ability to create technological wonders. He gained his power from them, yes, but he himself is clearly just an Exemplar.

    Warper is one of the wider categories, actually - it seems a bit of a catchall to me, just the opposite of being specific. Nightcrawler is a Warper, yes, but so are the Atom, Shadowcat, and Longshot. You could make a solid argument for Magneto being a Warper, too. It's a very wide power. A Tech Hero being able to warp is irrelevant, because that power is defined by being able to create their wonderful toys - they have no inherent ability to do it themselves.

    Wizards and Avatars have a certain amount of overlap with the others, because they only define the source of the power and say absolutely nothing about how it manifests. If your power source is magic, you're a Wizard, and may be able to emulate one or several of the other categories. If your power source is a hosted spirit, you're an Avatar, and the spirit may grant you abilities that emulate the other categories. But if you're a researcher, what you'd be interested in is likely the source and cause of powers, so you'd need to note Wizards and Avatars, because the cause of their power is different to those with inherent powers.
    Last edited by Heliomance; 2015-08-14 at 08:08 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
    Quote Originally Posted by golentan View Post
    I just don't want to have long romantic conversations or any sort of drama with my computer, okay? It knows what kind of porn I watch. I don't want to mess that up by allowing it to judge any of my choices in romance.

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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I like Diekenes' idea of a How/What list. It actually reminds me a lot of the way the original Marvel RPG handled things. A Wizard seems like a How, and Shifter is a What. That allows for more than a PS238 approach to limited definitions of power.
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragenstein View Post
    I like Diekenes' idea of a How/What list. It actually reminds me a lot of the way the original Marvel RPG handled things. A Wizard seems like a How, and Shifter is a What. That allows for more than a PS238 approach to limited definitions of power.
    I do too. Let's change it around and see what we've got so far.

    Power Source
    Artificial: You gained your powers through human artifice somehow.
    Avatar: You are host to some sort of spirit or force that grants you power.
    Inherent: Your powers are inherent to you, part of who you are.
    Magic: You have magic. Is it even worth classifying what you can use it for? Go nuts.

    Power Type
    Bioenhancement: Your powers improve your body, either temporarily or constantly.
    Exemplar:You are harder, better, faster, stronger, smarter, prettier, and all around just better than normal humans. Can come in physical, mental, or both.
    Regen: Your body heals itself at a vastly increased rate.
    Shifter: You can change the shape or composition of your body.
    Tech Hero: Needs a better name. You can make wonderful gadgets that do wonderful things.
    Gadgeteer: Your gizmos follow the laws of physics, they're just extremely advanced. Other people given your blueprints can replicate them.
    Devisor: Your gizmos do not necessarily follow the laws of physics. Someone else following your blueprints will end up with a pile of junk at best. Your creations may only function for you.

    Look good so far? Need to work out how to classify the rest, if this seems a sensible route to go down.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalirren View Post
    The only person in the past two pages who has known what (s)he has been talking about is Heliomance.
    Quote Originally Posted by golentan View Post
    I just don't want to have long romantic conversations or any sort of drama with my computer, okay? It knows what kind of porn I watch. I don't want to mess that up by allowing it to judge any of my choices in romance.

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  7. - Top - End - #7
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I like it, yes!

    If you're looking for a better name for Tech Hero -- what about Scientist? Or if you follow the XKCD route: Super Engineer
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    BlackDragon

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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    Quote Originally Posted by Fragenstein View Post
    I think you may be too tied up in top-level descriptors. I feel like ESP and TELEKINETIC should both be subsets of PSYCHIC.
    That just adds another element (e.g. what is the source of the hero's power?) which may not be relevant--for instance, in the "Wild Cards" anthology it's made pretty clear that all superpowers in the setting ultimately come from a psychic source, but does that actually matter when you have one person who shoots fire from their hands and another who is superstrong and nearly invulnerable? Them both being psychic powers doesn't make them similar in operation or usage.

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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I think ESP could be classified as a sensory power, like X-ray vision and super hearing, and telekinesis could be an object movement power, like Magneto's 'magnetism'.
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    Mover, Shaker,
    Brute and Breaker.

    Master, Tinker,
    Blaster and Thinker,

    Striker, Changer,
    Trump and Stranger.


    A telekenetic who picks up small objects would be a blaster, as would someone who can shoot energy rays from fingers.

    A telekenetic who picks themselves up and uses it as a mode of transportation would be a mover, as would someone with really fast legs.

    A person who builds a robot to run fast would be a tinker, a person who creates parts for the robot out of thin air would be a shaker.

    BIG SPOILER WARNING:
    If you read character bios, or anything much beyond the powers definitions, you may be spoiling part of the best 1.6 million words you'll ever read if you so happen to choose to read Worm.

    http://worm.wikia.com/wiki/Power_Classifications
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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    Quote Originally Posted by RandomNPC View Post
    Mover, Shaker,
    Brute and Breaker.

    Master, Tinker,
    Blaster and Thinker,

    Striker, Changer,
    Trump and Stranger.


    A telekenetic who picks up small objects would be a blaster, as would someone who can shoot energy rays from fingers.

    A telekenetic who picks themselves up and uses it as a mode of transportation would be a mover, as would someone with really fast legs.

    A person who builds a robot to run fast would be a tinker, a person who creates parts for the robot out of thin air would be a shaker.

    BIG SPOILER WARNING:
    If you read character bios, or anything much beyond the powers definitions, you may be spoiling part of the best 1.6 million words you'll ever read if you so happen to choose to read Worm.

    http://worm.wikia.com/wiki/Power_Classifications
    I've read Worm. A large part of why I started this thread is that their power classification system is godawful. It's a threat response system, and only just adequate for that purpose.It's worse than useless for actually studying powers.
    Last edited by Heliomance; 2015-08-15 at 05:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Superhero Power Classification scheme

    I'd check out palladium's heroes unlimited. The classes spread out between the core book and powers 2 cover almost the entire spectrum of heroes and does classify pretty well based on the 'what's changed and how' kind of theme you seem to be going for.

    Experiment, symbiote, robot, empowered, bionic, eugenic, training, inventions, mutants, imbued, psionic, magic, alien, gestalt.

    Once you get into each category it refines the definition...
    Magic... Is that studied magic like wizards, natural like sorcerers, imbued by dieties like clerics, bestowed by a magical weapon or item? Bestowed by demons/devils?
    Mutant... Because you were born on an alien world? will all aliens from that world share your mutations or are you a unique anomaly? did you gain your mutations as inherent to your race? an aberration, eugenic experimentation, tampering, x factor accident, eatin' me spinach... etc etc...

    its less about categorizing powers by their function and more about categorizing characters by origin.
    Last edited by VincentTakeda; 2015-08-15 at 04:03 AM.

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