Struggling with Character Powerset.

3 years ago | Moonfeather (Member)

Hey guys. So I'm having an issue with one of my main characters. I wanted to create a Skitter/Kerrigan analogue but I don't really feel good about it. I'm not sure if it's because of lack of originality or what. The character basically could create an modify insects into Xenomorph-Reptile hybrid looking things.

I don't know.

I was thinking of adding conceptual like powers to distance them from other bug controller characters- such as body-swaping and destiny manipulation, and singing control, but it feels like adding that to a bug powerset comes out of left field.

Should I distance my character from Skitter/Kerrigan by removing insect base or try to combine both powersets?

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Page: 12

Responses

  1. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    My advice: distance yourself from Worm and come up with a powerset that's different from both Skitter's and Kerrigan's.

    Just my two cents!

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  2. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    To me, powers are basically the least interesting part of a character. I usually start with their personality. Then envision interactions between them and circumstances and other characters to get a feel for how they handle it; this helps me fill in their background. It's the background that provides a jumping-off point for what powers they developed, and how, and in what way those impact their lives.

    In general, though, weaknesses do more to define a character than strengths, and do a lot more to make them interesting. Not to mention relatable.

    Also, yes, I would generally steer away from making deliberate analogues of other characters, unless you're specifically making a spoof or deconstruction.

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  3. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    D.D. said it better than I could. Character first, powers second.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  4. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    If you want some real fun... roll dice for powers... it's what I do.

    Every character in my setting had powers created by dice (and then adjusted to fit the personality of the recipient). Ask Chrysalis, she watched me do it like two years ago. Though, honestly, I've been doing it ever since my aunt handed down all her old Marvel Heroes RPG stuff to me way back in the day.

    I find the random nature of things is more interesting, since it forces me to adapt the story to fit, and creates emergent events that I couldn't predict or anticipate. And an author who surprises himself is an author who surprises his audience.

    Author of Price.
  5. melonmonkey (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Moonfeather didn't ask about character development... they asked about powersets.

    Chiming in to agree with Chrys. It's a huge turnoff to open a serial and immediately think "this person read Worm".

  6. Moonfeather (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    I'll rework it then. I'd like to avoid my novel getting Eragon Syndrome.

  7. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Powers are easy to come up with, but hard to settle on with some characters, unless a character just pops into your head a certain way.

    What sort of action scenes do you envision the character getting into? Do you see them as a front liner, artillery, a support unit (heal/shield), a commander (sounds like this, but doesn't sound like you're happy with that role), a spy, etc. Figure out the role, and that should help narrow down the power options. If you're stuck on the bug theme, that's fine, that would also help narrow down options.

    Alternatively, just pick the set that stands out the most and force yourself to use it as is. This may force you to be creative to compensate for perceived flaws. Even if you don't like a set to begin with, you may find it growing on you as you're forced to work with it, and find new and interesting ways to make it work. Or, alternatively, have fun seeing how the character makes use of the ability.

    If you want your character to have a similar power set to an existing one, I would say there's nothing really wrong with that. How many characters out there have the standard Superman powerset? Ultimately, the powers shouldn't deter from interest in the character themselves. And, really, you're not going to be able to help if people look at your character and think, "Hey, this character makes me think of this other character! Ugh, the author's totally just ripped this off from [insert popular story here]!" They might do that anyway, no matter how much you try to hide your influences.

    But if you really aren't happy with the set you had planned, best to change it now, than not like it and be stuck with it later.

  8. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Readers appreciate unique powersets - Tana's dice roll method sounds like a good option if 'quirky' is something you'd like to go for. :)

    Tana, I'll never forget that invisible body snatcher and how it terminated the worst villain group ever. That was the stuff of nightmares. XD

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  9. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    That said, don't make them so unique, they're basically unusable without the plot specifically forcing a circumstance where they can be used. :P

  10. FrustratedEgo (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    If you feel the need to have a similar power set to other heroes (And let's be honest, Marvel and DC have nearly done it all) - then personality is a huge method to make the character unique. End game matters too - Worms power set came down from ....plot stuff.... (Have we all read it here? What's the rule on spoilers?...) - anyway - you can give powers for different reasons, have them take on different aspects, or be applied differently because of personality.

    If your "main" character does have any sort of mass control of bug powers - you're going to get Worm comparisons up in the forever always. At least in this crowd.

  11. Sharkerbob (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Something about Worm that I haven't seen discussed is the meta aspect of Skitter's powers. (I usually don't care about meta, but this kinda struck me as I was reading it as a really goddamn clever experiment of writing technique.)

    Skitter's powers allow her an omni-directional view/interpretation of the environment. She's able to see and hear or otherwise sense things going on that she normally wouldn't be able to. Because of this, Wildbow was able to write a First Person Perspective story that could at times use a Third Person Unlimited perspective, without ever actually breaking from the First Person. I'd say that more than anything, this was the most effective and practical use of Skitter's power; her skill as a scout allowed the author to tell more story than would normally be available in a First Person narrative. And this more than anything defined Skitter's use of her power, even if just on the narrative mechanic level.

    Even if you made a Skitter clone, you could still write the character in such a way that it definitely doesn't sound like Skitter, or use the same "mechanic" of her power to tell the story. Granted, as FE said, it's very likely just the fact a character has bug control powers is likely to draw parallels to Worm if someone has read that story. But you'll get that from anything you do in reference to other stuff anyway.

  12. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Think about what your character is going to do in your story, if it's the sort of thing where you've laid out ahead of time that certain things have to happen and they require certain powers. Also, take a close look at superpowers. I know there's a wiki out there (wikia, unfortunately) that is all about listing different sorts of superpowers. Even if you have to use a more common power, you might try to figure out if there's a novel way it applies to your character, or if it expresses itself a little differently.

    And, yeah, there's a lot of "follow the leader" after Worm, and that can detract from the work. You just have to try and steal certain things without making it completely similar. That is damn hard with as elegant a concept as a Trigger, which explains an awful lot of those lab accidents and once-in-a-lifetime empowering events that have happened in superhero media. But even if you steal certain events or characters, arrange things so that reading one work will not automatically tell you what is going to happen in the other.

  13. GeneralRincewind (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    Why insects? Why not reptiles or birds? It would distance yourself from comparisons to both and be more original.

  14. TanaNari (Member)

    Posted 3 years ago

    "That is damn hard with as elegant a concept as a Trigger"

    Actually... wouldn't give Worm credit for that.

    http://www.egscomics.com/index.php?id=1113

    And the next page. Almost a year earlier than the first chapter of Worm. And, in my opinion, still the *best* use of the concept that I've ever seen. (I remember first reading Worm- I was a late arriver- and wondering if one of them stole from the other, so I made sure to check the dates).

    Although Mage: The Ascension did it like a decade earlier than either of them, and wasn't even original then.

    Personally, I went with the "Faustian Bargain" approach to the gaining of superpowers. It's a concept as old as Shamanism itself... with elements seen throughout the ancient epics and not-so-ancient folk tales, and in modern film and literature. And remains as beautiful and elegant as ever. Why tamper with it?

    Author of Price.

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