Brainstorming for shared world
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Cam S

Okay, there are three primary sources for powers in this setting: Biological Augmentation (either through chemistry, surgery, or genetic engineering,) Cybernetics (which, I personally feel would develop after biological augmentation, but might allow for more drastic expressions of power) and Genius-devised Training (which would be more in line for pulpy hero sorts and badass normals--Doc Savage, Batman, Nick Fury, etc.)

Not every power exists by design, but all are the logical result of things that produced them. Freak lab accidents are known to occur (perhaps one of the symptoms for Eccentric Hyper-Cognition Disorder is a seething hatred for OSHA?) but a large number are intended.

Any thoughts on the sorts of powers that you might be using in your stories?

8/17/2010 #1
JonnyTV

Here's a copy of part of the document I've been working on for this - I've got takes on all three sources, although very little in the way of story to go with them yet.

Inspirational Stuff:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darpa http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_enhancement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_mad_scientists

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Real_Superhumans

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myostatin-related_muscle_hypertrophy#The_double-muscle_mutation_in_humans

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muscle_fiber

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spider_silk

http://science.howstuffworks.com/framed.htm?parent=body-armor.htm&url=http://www.moaa.org/magazine/January2003/f_superwarriors.asp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fight_Science

http://www.darpa.mil/sto/updates.html

http://www.nhne.org/news/NewsArticlesArchive/tabid/400/articleType/CategoryView/categoryId/179/Far-Out-Extraordinary-Human-Capabilities.aspx

DARPA-tech

Muscle-enhancing armored exoskeleton (lift up to 400 lbs.), battery powered for up to 48 consecutive hours of operation; internal air supply/external air scrubbing system.

EEG Electronic Telepathy - direct brain communication and computer control. Lab grown and augmented soldiers, specially trained from youth to master the use of their EEGET implants.

Anti-projectile countermeasures (auto-shootdown, spider-silk/ceramic composite armor), Short Range Boomerang (Gunshot Location Detection System),

Specialty vision enhancement (infrared, starlight, optional radar, sonar, and motion detection modules)

Hypothalamic "Fight or Flight" conditioning to enhance adrenal response.

EATRs - Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robots - robots powered by consuming organic material; used as "mules" on the battlefield to support soldiers by producing safe water/food, battery recharges (photo-synthetic solar cells), ammo reloads, and coordinating communications/tactics to provide a TRUE (R) view of the battlefield (from imaging cameras contained in every soldier's suit). Of course, I swear they're programmed not to eat people. I swear!

Heroes?

The Charlatan: A normal with highly developed talents for stage magic trickery and a well-developed sense of the theatric - relies on sleight of hand, an adept mind, and constant preparation to defeat enemies. Boo originality. Yay same old story.

The Monk: A middle-aged monk from the far East who has mastered many fighting styles and meditative techniques to perform seemingly superhuman feats. - a second very stereotypical idea, eh?

The Real Spider Man: Soldier/experiment genetically altered from birth to replace various natural protein substances with spider-silk-like fibers throughout his body (reinforcing skin to stop small-arms fire and turn blades, as well as facilitating healing (certain kinds of ss have antiseptic/antibacterial properties). The fibrous protein strands reinforce ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels, so that even when wounded, bleeding is minimal, as internal musculature and organs are more resistant to tearing. In addition, collagen-like silk strands grow within his muscles, binding the contracting fibers together and increasing the tensile strength of his muscles (and hence, his effective strength), by a factor of six. One side effect of all this is an oddly pale complexion and striated, fibrous looking skin - a casual observer might think he was suffering from some bizarre skin disease.

Tentative Backstory Thoughts: Genetically altered from conception, "purchased" from mother who was artificially inseminated for this very purpose and raised by military personnel for first several years - very "Truman Show." Released/escaped to live in real world, although his augmentation is still classified, after congressional investigation prosecuted several program heads and got too close to his existence. Grew up in orphanages and on the streets, using his abilities and skills to aid those weaker than himself (mostly - kind of - reluctantly at times?). Eventually, black ops finds him and wants him back or dead to protect their secrets (like Bourne Identity, except that they've got DARPA-tech). Occasionally, he works for them to help clean up their messes when they threaten the public, but always has to flee when they inevitably turn on him and try to bring him in.

And yes, I may have been premeditating on that for some time now.

I'm also getting excited about the alternate history, because it clears the way for some creative reinterpretation (and portrayal) of various historical events.

8/18/2010 #2
Cam S

For the "Real Spider-Man," does he have any enhancements to his bones? It seems that it might be necessary for the strength increase to be possible (remember, human bone is roughly equivalent in strength to cast iron. He might need to have some kind of augmentation to make everything work.

---

A character I'm toying with:

-Das Hangtenmensch: An elderly German gentleman living in Argentina, Das Hangtenmensch was a German soldier in WWI who was exposed to strange chemical weapons and had an abnormal reaction. The primary changes were abnormal developments in his brain and spinal column, resulting in improved spatial awareness, and in his spinal column becoming capable of functioning as a secondary brain-stem. He was associated with the national socialist party, and eventually joined the SS Ubermenschen division. All records of his activities were destroyed late in 1942, when he was "executed" for treason after killing a superior, being hanged and left to dessicate in the desert heat. He survived, and after the war, fled to South America. Since then, he has developed contacts in a variety of criminal and neo-nazi groups, but has suffered health problems due to his exposure to chemical weapons.

Now, he is an elderly man confined to a wheelchair. His right leg and left hand have become paralyzed due to the development of black plaques beneath his skin--his leg is forever locked in the position of resting on his right knee, and his hand is curled into a vicious claw. He has a vicious scar around his throat, and holds his head at an odd angle, due to what must have been a debilitating spinal injury. Though he puts on the face of a grandfatherly old man, it is worth noting that Das Hangtenmensch is not penitent: the only thing preventing him from being a murderer and rapist is a physical inability to perform the physical feats necessary to be a murderer and rapist.

8/19/2010 #3
JonnyTV

Well, I hadn't considered it, but I did a little bit of internet research, and I think I'm in the clear. Generally speaking, high levels of fitness and muscular strength are associated with stronger bones (though merely mild exercise has little to no effect), so he'll need to exercise a lot to keep his bones strong, which shouldn't be a problem. The main components of bones that determine their strength are collagen fibers (affected by the same mutations as the rest of his body) for tensile strength, and crystalline salts made up of calcium and phosphate. So, I suppose he just really likes foods high in those minerals, with ice cream and beans (eaten separately) being high on the list of favorites, as they contain high levels of both.

EDIT: On a side note, I'm also looking at TRSM as more of a one-off experimental subject than a finished product. By which I mean that the brains behind the project were running a variety of experiments side by side, with different methodologies and goals, and he just happens to have been one of the more successful runs. Which gives me the potential for a nice little "Weapon XI" storyline (not that I'd want to borrow anything from X-Men).

I like the Hangman, though I wasn't entirely clear what all benefits he derives from his mutation - it sounds like generally increased intelligence on a variety of fronts though, unless I'm mistaken. Sounds like an excellent villain - possibly the kind you love to hate.

8/19/2010 . Edited 8/19/2010 #4
Cam S

Well, improved spatial awareness would've made him an excellent marksmen in the day (and he would probably still be a crack shot with a Luger,) while the spinal mutation allowed him to live with his neck broken (less of a power and more of a justification for surviving a hanging.) I might use him as a villain in flashbacks, but his role is mostly as an information dealer, and as a foil or morally reprehensible mentor for another character.

8/19/2010 #5
dreamshell

Some superpower/-human ideas, in keeping with Jonny's idea of reinterpreting the classics;

The Psychic: A character whose hyperawareness, a result of equally engineered parts photographic memory and low latent inhibition, acts effectively as precognition. They are able to take in such a wealth of sensory information that they can "predict" the consequential actions of any given scenario (this works best, if not only, through firsthand observation). Prediction might derive from rapid-fire readings and assessment of things like body language, expressions and gestures, tone of voice, inferring trajectories of persons or objects, etc.

Additionally or alternatively, hyperawareness as a means for perfect mimicry, including voice, body language, mannerisms, personality or mindset, and adoptive muscle memory (see innate capability).

The Shrew: A woman capable of producing a toxic enzyme through salivary glands not unlike those of venomous reptiles or, more uncommonly, mammals. As well, she might exude pheromone-rich chemicals via sweat that aids in the manipulation of others. She'd of course be expected to act as your typical seductress (and perhaps assassin) type; the only problem being she's not at all that sort of person. Over the course of her personal arc, however, she may Become The Mask.

Background Idea: Raised in a conservative, God-fearing home, this character is severely repressed, shy and insecure of herself. After becoming aware of her abilities—maybe as a defensive response to attempted rape?—she has to adapt and put them to use to survive, growing hostile and disgusted by sexuality (and men?) as she does. Adopting the alias of 'The Shrew' in allusion to the Shakespeare comedy, she eventually learns to take pleasure in using her powers to control and kill those she finds morally repugnant.

The Monk: Another classic is the mystic character who can do things like holding their breath for an unusually long time, feigning death via tonic immobility and slowing their heartbeat, enduring long stretches of time without sleep (perhaps while in meditation), etc. etc. This character could result frome a mix of breeding, genetic engineering, and Genius-devised training. Likely a Hindu sadhu/baba or maybe a Buddhist bhikku/bonze. Inspiration comes from more Eastern yogic practices than I can be bothered to cite at the moment, Bene Gesserit prana-bindu and the like.

I'm also trying to come up with some explanation for a character's power of flight that involves an amped-up but controlled form of (electro-/)magnetic suspension via implants or perhaps some manipulation of their bioelectricity/individual cells' electric charge (collectively affecting the entire body). I also thought they might possess magnetoception, but it might not be necessary. So far, things aren't quite adding up yet, though, since I don't really know what the hell I'm doing. =\ Any ideas?

8/20/2010 . Edited 8/20/2010 #6
Jave Harron

As for powers related stuff:

-Rapid Stamina Recovery: Based on DARPA tech "Glove" using a magnetic, chilled glove to lower temperature of blood and recover stamina fast.

-Gecko Tape: More on real life Spiderman, loosely (taken from DARPA). A material able to suspect a lot of weight. Useful for gloves or footwear. Combine it with some parkour, and no need for much invasive augmentation (although they could be combined).

-Flight: A glider or long coat able to double as a parachute or unfurl into a glider of some sort (a sort of smart material) can work if you only want to go down. Combine it with wingsuit flying, and maybe a small jet or even a prop engine, and you have some crude methods of flying.

-Meditation and Biofeedback: Even basic meditation can allow better focus and control of senses. It can also work with EEG telepathy/brain computer interface to get even better performance from such a system.

-Carbon Nanotubes: Plenty of fun to be had here. A good use for this might be a grappling hook line. Get a small enough power source and motor able to go up or down, and you can have a nice way to get around. Just watch out for people trying to cut it. A bundle of 'em is probably a bit better.

Character Background Idea:

Bulwark: Originally a demolitions expert, he was recruited into an anti Genius task force (or even works for a Genius) for his expertise with strongholds. He knows how to build them and how to take them apart. Good abilities might include grappling line for descending into buildings. Maybe a high tech shield for all those forced entries. I envision him as sort of a super SWAT cop.

8/20/2010 #7
Cam S

Okay. All of these seem to be good (though we've got two "The Monks"...hmm...Actually, let's keep it that way. It seems like low-level supers might break the one steve limit.)

Shell, as for the flying thing...perhaps a modification of one of the suggestions I made in the first thread. The character has a faraday cage built into their skin, and modifications to hands and feet to discharge electricity, gathered inside their body (possibly capacitors hooked up to glucose-burning fuel cells? They have those, now) that can be discharged for attack, or possibly to provide a single giant burst. It would be more like the "super-jumping" that Superman had originally than true "flight."

One big burst to shoot him up, and then a second one to cushion the landing. These modifications would require the character to eat quite often, though.

8/21/2010 #8
dreamshell

Whoops. Honestly, I'd totally forgotten about Jonny's monk. I don't see any reason we can't lump both ideas into one character, but whatever the group prefers.

It may be worth noting that my titles, aside from "The Shrew" which I intend to actually use, were simply placeholders. So alternative name ideas are welcome.

And yeah, super-jumping/super-parkour was the sort of thing I was aiming for. So I guess I'll go with your suggestion, then. Thanks, Cam. ;)

8/21/2010 #9
Cam S

Some more supporting character ideas:

The Yankee: A jingoistic American super-human, enhanced with a variety of internal modifications (skeleton braced with lightweight, high-strength ceramic and servomotors to make him stronger, powered off of internal capacitors and batteries,) providing him with a fairly generic set of superhuman abilities (excluding flight.) Namely, enhanced speed, strength, durability, and senses. However, instead of behaving like a paragon of virtue (such as Captain America) or as an amoral villain (like The Comedian,) his personality is roughly like a super-powered Brian Blessed. He's a loudmouth, a showboat, and a bit of a xenophobe, but generally a well-meaning individual. He fights with his fists, but he also carries the gold-plated WWII-era .45 presented to President Richard Nixon by Elvis Presley in 1970.

Sun Wukong: The Yankee's Chinese counterpart, Sun Wukong--named after the Monkey-King from the "Journey to the West"--is a biologically-augmented superhuman, and (during the Viet Nam War in particular) is sometimes called "The Chinese Frankenstein." His augmentations are primarily to his brain and central nervous system, making him almost as fast as some of the cybernetic supers, but his vascular and respiratory systems are the main area of alteration: both were rebuilt from the ground up, and it is thought by some intelligence analysts that it might take decapitation, near-decapitation, or the removal of his heart to kill him. Adding to this his military training (which also includes extensive close-combat training, infiltration, and sniper training) and Sun Wukong was one of the most feared individuals in his heyday. The Chinese are currently developing a second- or third-generation superhuman dubbed Hun Dun to be his replacement.

The Cape-Killer: While this individual wins no prizes for naming (and in fact had nothing to do with the name,) they are quite feared. In fact, no one knows the exact identity of the individual dubbed The Cape-Killer, and it could, in fact, be several people. What is known is that The Cape Killer is a sniper that prefers to target augmented individuals, sniping them with a custom weapon that fires tungsten flechettes. Commonly believed to be a terrorist or terrorist organization, manifestos are often delivered to news organizations within 72 hours of a killing, and tend to be fiercely anti-trans-human/post-human.

Haven't yet come up with any suitable main characters. Feel free to name your characters whatever you wish--I simply thought it was amusing that there were two supers (badass normals, to use a TVTropes-ism) with the same name. It could lead to an interesting story.

8/21/2010 #10
JonnyTV

Some interesting character/power ideas (mostly for villains, or villainous characters, anyway):

The Reverse Self-Improving Frankenstein's Cybernetic Monster: Half machine, half human, and just whose side is this thing on? The real dark side: A genius builds a learning machine, which slowly improves itself over time; it eventually begins incorporating human parts into its structure - donors are likely not willing, whether enemies or innocents. Plausible, assuming the concession of reasonably strong AI, and with inspiration from DARPA's EATR robot. A seeking-humanity-in-all-the-wrong-places kind of story.

The Family That Preys Together: A family of surgical super geniuses who steal body parts and perform horrific augmentations to keep themselves alive. Pretty much your typical For Science! / Because I Can! kind of villains.

Space Nazis: The remnants of the Nazi Eugenics program go into hiding and continue their experiments with attempts to create a new master race, giving rise to UFO hysteria, little green men, little gray men, etc. Cocktails of hallucinogens serve to blur victim's memories. Disc-winged VTOL aircraft are their transports of choice through the mid-20th century. Plays on certain common conspiracy theories, but could easily take the funny available there across a Moral Event Horizon into comic horror.

The Manchurian Candidates: A play on the ever-present fear of not being in control of one's own body; key business and political leaders come out of surgery with a few unrequested "upgrades." Essentially wireless electrical implants allow another person to seize control of their musculature from afar - I'm also thinking a voice in the head via BMI. Fun for the whole family here.

8/23/2010 #11
Cam S

The first one there has a cumbersome name...perhaps "The Bootstrap Beast" or somesuch?

And I keep wanting to put "Slays together" at the end of the second one. That would be a little much, though.

8/24/2010 #12
JonnyTV

Hah, Slays Together indeed.

As for the first one, it's just a concept name that I wrote out as a kind of joke to myself, and then fleshed out into a usable idea later. I'm thinking that, not unlike Dr. F's Monster, it will have no official or commonly recognized name other than The Monster. Likely the creator dies before being able to impart/program any sense of morality, thus leaving it to fend for itself in an unfriendly world. Or maybe that's how it's supposed to work...

8/24/2010 #13
dreamshell

I'm just amused by the fact that it sounds sort of like an amoral Bicentennial Man. XD

8/24/2010 #14
Lord Monbodo

I do like the Faraday Man idea, (Hmm, Faraday Man...) so here's another power. Excuse my nonexistent catchy name.

Hero can heighten his metabolism to gain a significant increase to speed and strength. However, this results in a great deal of energy drain.

And for clarification, it's not bullet-dodging speed. It's more like, "Huh? How'd he get across the room so- *snaps his neck*"

8/25/2010 #15
JonnyTV

Hi there Lord Mon,

I feel bad for naysaying on your first post here. (I should mention that I like Faraday Man as a catchy name, actually.)

However I don't think, purely from a scientific viewpoint, that increased metabolism alone would produce any significant bonus to speed or strength - you'd certainly get a brief burst of energy, but you're still be working with the same physical limitations. And you've already recognized the energy drain (and thus potential weight loss, which includes a loss in muscle mass). Were you maybe thinking of a simultaneous adrenal response? That would allow Hero to make use of that energy rather better - perhaps we're looking at a strange mutation of the thyroid and hypothalamus which gives Hero conscious control over these responses - that could be quite useful.

Or maybe you've got another explanation - just trying to be constructive.

On a separate tack, I thought everyone might find this interesting: http://tinyurl.com/2e782zp

8/26/2010 . Edited 8/26/2010 #16
Jave Harron

As far as organic technologies go, there's actually an organic substance that would be an awesome superconductor or really decent semiconductor: Graphene. It's basically a carbon nanotube sliced and laid flat. Strong stuff as well. It can be made in a low tech way, as well. Get a pencil "lead" and press it against scotch tape. If you then looked at the tape under a microscope, you'd find small bits of it.

Now, say some Genius figured out a more economical way to make it (some sort of high pressure carbon chamber, more precise than just making diamonds, perhaps). This allows an organic material that can be implanted into the body and bones, as well as even radiation blocking walls and armor, at low cost.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphene#Potential_applications

And cellulose wall paper can make houses damn strong:

http://lifeboat.com/ex/life.shield.bunkers

Okay, here's one thing I'd add on the whole "accelerated" mode. How about someone uses deep brain stimulation to trigger it, and as a result of some faulty extra wiring, their hair stands on end when they do it (IE anime hair)?

8/26/2010 . Edited 8/26/2010 #17
JonnyTV

Heheh, I just re-read that post. Anime hair indeed! I like it!

Anyway, just thought I'd throw up a brief summary of where I think I'm probably going with the stories I'm working on right now (in a very general sense).

Perhaps my most ubiquitous, and least directly storied characters will be the Sybylls. They are a pair of twin girls suffering from Eccentric Hyper-Cognitive Disorder, who pretend to be a single girl who makes her fortune by being a surprisingly accurate fortune teller/information broker. Since they keep the fact that there are two of them hidden (a wonderful little ploy stolen wholesale from The Prestige), they are able to get away with all kinds of things, convincing many people that Sybylla has some kind of divine power, vis-a-wis the Oracle of Greek Legend back from the dead.

I am using them primarily as a story-telling tool to introduce different characters, foreshadow conflicts, and manipulate events in the favor of heroes who might otherwise be ground to bits in the machinery of empires.

I expect to blur the lines between heroes and villains considerably, with characters taking different archetypal roles depending on the story and situation. Sybylla will also provide me a medium for foreshadowing these shifts and character expanding situations.

Folklore, specifically stories of Trickster deities drawn from around the world, will be the lens through which Sybylla views and tells stories, with she/they occasionally participating in the stories as the Trickster themselves.

12/21/2010 #18
Cam S

Jon: Go for it.

Also, I'm stealing the spidersilk connective tissue for use in daikaiju (see timeline.)

12/31/2010 #19
JonnyTV

I saw what you did there and I am totally cool with it. Every good setting needs giant monsters, and giant monsters need strong muscles and bones. Which is why they should drink milk, presumably.

1/4/2011 #20
JonnyTV

Spider-dude:

Codename: Canopus, Real Name: Edward Jacob Ericson, a.k.a. EJ, a.k.a. Eddie, a.k.a. Jake

six times the strength of normal men;

cuts and wounds heal somewhat more quickly (very minor healing factor, not even 2x) and without infection;

skin will stop mid to low caliber bullets and turn dull edged weapons; internal organs have the same ability; this is equivalent to Type IIIA body armor - internal damage can still occur, such as broken ribs, but his bones are unusually strong as well;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat

Codename: Bast, Real Name: Lucy Meredith Ericson, a.k.a. Lucy Meredith Argall

highly carnivorous - doesn't do well with lots of veggies, and is less sensitive to sweet flavors;

needs very little water, and has extremely efficient kidneys, but gets sick really quickly when drinking due to a weak liver;

extremely sensitive hearing, smell, and vision (especially night vision, and yes, has slitted pupils), but can only perceive black, white, blue, and green;

possesses an excellent sense of balance and is extremely agile;

is somewhat abnormally hairy for a girl.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snakehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viperidae

Codename: Apophis/Cobra, Real Name: Daniel Alden Ericson, a.k.a. Daniel Alden Triggs, a.k.a. Danny-boy, a.k.a. Triggs

articulated jaw - can "unhinge" it to take big bites;

sharp, though partially hollow canines, containing proteolytic venom which can be released in varying quantities at will - produces symptoms such as pain, strong local swelling and necrosis, blood loss from cardiovascular damage complicated bycoagulopathy, and disruption of the blood clotting system. Death is usually caused by collapse in blood pressure;

infrared receptors along both sides of his nose, looking like tiny tear-shaped scars;

extremely sharp sense of smell and taste;

clusters of nerves in feet and hands permit extreme sensitivity to vibrations - can effectively "hear" by feeling vibrations on solid surfaces, allowing him to detect moving organisms even from out of sight;

3/22/2011 . Edited 3/22/2011 #21
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