What *limited* Superpower would you like to have? aka Superabilities for Fun and Profit

And not “The Soviet Union” before some comedian gets that in first.

Inspired by a re-viewing of Watchmen last night (which I liked a lot better the second time round for some reason) and a fun online story-universe I read a long time ago I thought this would be an interesting thread.

Basic premise is that by Power of Plot at some point in the near future the entire adult population of the world simultaneously discovers that they have access to classic comic-book superpowers (as well as any other abilities you fancy the sound of, referred to as Powers from now on, suitably portentous).

Ground rules are that although the new abilities are outside our current understanding of physics they also have certain limitations. A top level telekinetic can lift a car with their mind for example but no crushing it into a singularity, or a teleporter can only travel ‘line of sight’, or someone with superspeed can run at several hundred miles per hour but only for a short time, someone with shapeshifting is limited to roughly their starting mass…you get the idea, powerful but limited and with no stand-out individuals, the upper limits of abilities are something several hundred people worldwide have for example.

One of the most useful Powers depicted in the story-universe mentioned above was Nullification, where an individual had the ability to cancel any Powers in their vicinity, or Nullify an object so that for a certain period of time other Powers couldn’t affect it. I imagine that would be a lucrative ability to have but not very entertaining (unless you turn off other peoples Powers at an inopportune moment of course).

Powers come online at puberty (yeah, as if that wasn’t difficult enough!) so its an ongoing part of the new world situation. Which is an interesting question in itself, what would such a world look like, would it cause a fundemental change in society or would the world shrug its collective shoulders and after a few months of difficulties simply accept the new situation and get on with it? How difficult would it be to deal with criminals or terrorists with such abilities? What new career opportunities would arise or cause a reassessment of old ones. Again, one of the Powers mentioned was the ability to determine another persons Powers simply by being near them, I imagine that would be another highly sought ability in certain areas.

Assuming that you have any choice in the matter what Power would you want to have and why? You can only have one Power, no building up a set of them.

How do you envisage your Power functioning, what are its strengths and limitations and what would you do with it.

While I’d be sorely tempted to go for shape-shifting as it would be a lot of fun I think I’d have to chose telepathy (as often as telekinesis is often depicted as a twofer with that superpower I’m going to have to stick to my own ground rules)

While it wouldn’t be as much fun as some of the other Powers I think telepathy would be one of the most versatile and useful to have. It would be limited to the ability to ‘read’ another persons mind (one person at a time) and extract information from it or ‘write’ information to it, pretty much the classic depiction of telepathy.

Despite its obvious potential for misuse, being the boringly moral person that I try to be I think I’d mostly use it for legitimate purposes, I can see many organisations (private or governmental) being interested in someone who could read the minds of others, for example in law-enforcement interviewing people or determining the mental state of a defendant, or for a psychologist to directly determine the issues their clients may have.

Being an anti-telepath telepath fighting the good fight against other telepaths using their abilities for nefarious purposes would be interesting (if dangerous) as well.

What can I say, I am a Hero after all… :smiley:

I imagine some of the more exotic and useful Powers would be something most governments would be interested in having control over.

So that’s what I’d go for, anyone else? Colourful spandex costumes very much not mandatory.

btw I realise that only one character in Watchmen had actual superpowers before someone mentions that!

Going back to my old RPG days whenever I mulled over this type of question I usually settled on a healing type of power, both because I personally dislike my own injuries and I would enjoy helping others.

Super-hearing. I’d lend myself to the intelligence community in exchange for fabulous sums of money. Being able to listen in from a (nearby, but separate) location to “secret” conversations held by enemies of the State would be immensely valuable (to the intelligence community *and *my pocketbook). Riskier job than average, but hey… I could always hear someone coming for me, so that’s not so bad.

My alternate choice would be hyper-reflexes (to the point of anticipating pretty much all of my adversary’s moves the instant before they’re made), and I’d make a living playing computer games professionally.

Supreme willpower. It gateways into a lot of incredible human achievement.

Or, y’know… Super-weaving.

The ability to roll back time a short distance; only usable in cases where one thinks of a hilarious retort just a little too late.

Have you looked into the X-Men? It pretty closely examines what would happen to society in just those circumstances.

My power would be superior invention skills.

Being able to turn myself and my clothes into smoke or fog and move about. Or intangible like Kitty Pride.

Or mind control. MINDTAKER! Oooooo Woooo Oooooo. Mind reading is for chumps if you can just stupefy someone, you can make them answer anything. You could go all Manchurian Candidate on people. Even if I limit myself to one at a time, I’m set. You could have a bank manager leave work with a briefcase full of cash, and all he’d remember was he gave the money to his goldfish. You could turn sweet old people into assassins. You could get your way in every one on one to one interaction. Yeah, mindtaker.

Enhanced health/regeneration, concentrating on lifespan extension. Immortality would probably break the “limited” rule, but a lifespan of a few hundred years would be nice.

I’d like to be able to turn lead into gold, as a conscious decision (rather than uncontrollably, which is the usual problem).

The ability in Jumper - to be able to teleport yourself and one other, or the equivalent to something the size of whatever the largest 32 cubic foot freezer in size and weight to a site known to you already, or seen in an excellent photograph.

As larcenous as it sounds, if I turned similarly to a life in crime like the kid in Jumper did, it would let me hop to the Real in Boblingen to grocery shop 1 cartfull at a time :smiley: and Jump to my Secret Lair [not entirely certain where] where I live in I would guess luxury.

If nothing else, the savings in air fare would kick ass :smiley:

Oh, wow, totally missed that we were supposed to justify our choice and explain its weaknesses. Okay, then.

I guess the weakness would be that I couldn’t turn anything but lead into anything but gold, so it would pretty much suck for active superheroing… I could turn bullets into golden bullets as they struck me, but really, that wouldn’t do much but prevent lead poisoning, and I don’t think I much care what kind of bullets they dig out of me at the autopsy. If I wanted to turn to villainy and I was attacked by Superman, I guess I could turn all those lead-encased chunks of Kryptonite into gold-encased chunks of Kryptonite and cackle maniacally as he falls over.

Upon re-reading the OP, I see that several hundred people world-wide are going to have this power, so the value of gold is actually going to drop drastically… Maybe I can turn lead into any metal I choose, so I can turn it into things rarer than gold (Vibranium, for example).

Thanks, I’ve seen the X-Men movies, but the difference is that the underlying theme of that story-world seems to be that mutants are a persecuted and discriminated against minority, if everyone had abilities of some sort then that wouldn’t be a factor…although I’m sure that people still being people they’d find some reasons for discriminating against and being prejudiced towards others…

Thanks for the answers everyone, some interesting choices!

Reminds me of the Xanth novels, where everybody has some kind of magical power but most of them are rather limited. In the very first book, the main character is an outcast because he has no power whatsoever.

Make people tell the truth when they speak within a 100 foot radius of me. Much fun ensues as The Second Stone sits in courtrooms and legislative galleries silently exuding his super power. Then he gets close enough during a Presidential debate to use his power on all candidates and the moderators/question askers.

The ability to stop time. The beneficial possibilities are endless in that I could set up every situation to go exactly the way I want it to, and stop or change events before of even as they happen. But I know me, those infinite possibilities would not only be my power - it would also be my weakness. I am just too juvenile. The moments after I say “stop” and am the only one moving (a phenomenon known as “Hammer time”) would less likely be used in saving orphans from a burning building and more likely used to draw penises on Mitt Romney’s face during a speech.


While those are both great ideas (and I’ve fantasised about the second one myself) I think they’d be too powerful as stated to fall under the ‘limited’ part of the OP. If the former could only be used on one person at a time in a limited range (which would still leave plenty of opportunity for hijinks) and the latter could only be used to freeze time for about twenty seconds subjectively (which would still leave time to get stuff done but not set up intricate scenarios) they may be more ‘realistic’ in terms of the scenario.

The ‘freeze time’ and ‘roll back time’ Powers would be functionally fairly similar would they not?

What a boringly mundane world we actually live in… :stuck_out_tongue:

I’d have to go with shape shifting. There’s just so much utility in that, even obeying the law of conservation of mass. Get hurt? As long as it’s not immediately lethal, I can just shift my wounds closed or rearrange the tissue into it’s normal form. I could avoid harm by shifting my skin into something bulletproof or knifeproof or fireproof, etc. I could spy on people by shifting into a rock or a bush or whatever blends into the scenery. I could change my fingers into claws to do damage, grow extra arms (at the expense of some other body mass [like my fat butt]) when that would be useful, shape shift into a more attractive man, shape shift into a sexy woman and then back again (to mess with people). There are so many possibilities! I could even shift into a two hundred pound flying thing then shift into a two hundred pound rock and drop onto people!

I’ll settle for only one person at a time compelled to tell the truth, provided if I am sitting in a normal courtroom that I am close enough to use it on any person in the room I choose, anonymously. Now technically, only one person in a courtroom should be speaking at a time, so let’s also give it 10 seconds or so to start working on a new person. You can bet every time the judge speaks, I’ll have it on him/her. Openings and closings, on the lawyer speaking. Usually on the witness.

Sounds a lot like Xanth. I would think a super communication, the ability to understand and speak any language to anyone.

I would argue for absolute control over inertia in myself and anything I touch, but ultimately, that is the power to destroy the entire world.

Given my age and all that, I’d probably settle for some kind of healing and/or regeneration ability.