I’ve gotten a lot of questions in the Discord chat about the powers in the Stars & Shadows universe, so today I thought I’d go over some of the baseline assumptions that I used when building the universe.
First off, I should point out that one of the things I was adamant about avoiding was what I call the ‘Dragon Ball Z effect’. There’s a threat, the character powers up to defeat it, followed by another even more powerful threat, followed by powering up to meet it… this escalates until you have dozens of characters who can casually punch the planet and cause it to explode. I didn’t want that to happen.
For me, I decided to put a ‘power cap’ on the setting, a maximum amount of power that I would allow a character to have with one exception. That exception is potentially plot-important, so I’m not talking about it here. Lilith does NOT qualify for that exception. For my setting, the heroine Destiny is my power cap. She’s apparently immortal (not quite, she reincarnates in a way that has a severe weakness), she can fly, she’s strong enough to hold up a passenger jet, if only just, and she’s really, really tough. For me, all characters must be weaker than her in her arena. Now, there are heroes and villains who have different power sets that might overshadow her in some circumstances, but that’s the problem with these sorts of things. It’s hard to ensure that your power limits are easily understood. That’s why the story separates superhumans into different classes.
The classes of superhumans listed below are from weakest to strongest. They are broad classifications used to refer to those who have superpowers, regardless of their source. It should be noted that an individual’s classification does not mean that they cannot beat someone of a higher classification, it simply references their overall power level. A notable exception is for those with Inventor powers. Such individuals are generally classified on the basis of what power their equipment has. It often appears that the strength of physical enhancements a superhuman has is inversely proportional to their potential with magic, but this isn’t always true. Class E and D superhumans have never been known to have more than a single specific power.
- Class E superhumans have powers that are marginal at best. These powers are often either too specific to be useful out of rare occasions, or simply have no real use. For instance, there is a hero named Stained Glass who can turn his body into stained glass, with all the strengths and weaknesses of glass. Another example would be the ability to breath water of a specific temperature. Those who receive physical boosts often have such minor benefits that they’re only apparent if they train to the level necessary to compete in the Olympics.
- Class D superhumans have powers that grant them the ability to approximately equal a trained soldier or martial artist. A number of highly trained mundanes have achieved this classification through sheer effort. Generally the powers these individuals have are useful but limited, and many Inventors are considered to be no more than this rank without time and preparation. A heroine known as Fireworks is an example of this class, as she can create and throw minor fireballs, but she has no resistance to fire or control over other flames.
- Class C superhumans are usually capable of dealing with several soldiers with their powers, and thus are considered a significant threat. As these individuals can also have multiple types of powers, it makes judging them difficult at best. An example is Officer K9 of Paragon City, a man who can communicate with any canine and can easily train them, he also has significant physical boosts that allow him to move with the speed and agility of his canine allies.
- Class B superhumans are considered major threats. The usual opponents of them are squads of trained soldiers with highly advanced weaponry, but most prefer to wait for more powerful backup to face these heroes. Capable of breaking open bank vaults via brute strength or energy blasts, this is the class where truly notable villains begin to appear. An example is Frankie the Troll, a man who can turn into a twelve-foot tall, gray-skinned monster with immense strength, resilience, and extremely quick healing abilities.
- Class A superhumans are those who give even trained military commanders pause. Thes individuals are immensely strong and tough, with those who are physically adept being able to take a missile to the chest with barely a bruise, or topple a building with their attacks. One example is Metallia, a villain who can turn her body into metal as well as freely manipulate and transmute metals she touches, and who once turned into an eighty-foot tall statue of steel to assault Fort Knox.
- Class S superhumans often seem nearly unstoppable to mundane people. Even special forces and heavy weapons rarely give these individuals pause, as it’s quite obvious that many of them could destroy a city if they were to truly try. The greatest example of these is Destiny, but others are King Arthur and Major Disaster, along with some of those empowered by ancient gods such as Zeus, Odin, Ra, or Amaterasu.
These are just some of the things I keep in mind, but it’s the general basis I use for choosing the power of characters. I hope people found it interesting!