A guide to how to make characters with powers

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A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby LawOfTheLand on Thu May 07, 2009 5:26 pm

I was asked the other day for help on how to make a character with mild to moderate powers from a guy who was growing tired of realistic fights and wanted to branch out into something a bit more out of the ordinary. But today I thought, "Heck, why just help one person when I can help a whole bunch at once?"

So was born this guide to making a character who uses elements of the fantastic:

The first thing you want to do when you think of a character with powers is to set the balance point between using his powers and reverting to alternate strategies. For most, this is a balance between melee skill and power usage. You can try to balance them evenly, supplement regular fighting ability with a dash of power usage, or go full mage with very strong powers but a lack of physical prowess.

The next thing you do is set the average power level of the character. In particular, how skilled is he with the use of his powers, and how strong are the powers he can use? This also ties into the potency of his mundane techniques as well. Oftentimes you'll see a character who channels his powers through his weapon to make it deal extra damage, make it move supernaturally quickly, make vacuum slashes, or something else. If you're blending martial power with magic potential, it helps to come up with ways to make sure that the two aspects of your character can dovetail. One example for a character with ice powers would be to make the ground around him slippery so his opponent's footing is unsure but your character is just fine, thus making them more vulnerable to bull rushes and the like.

While you're doing that, a good philosophy is to write a character history, taking particular emphasis on how your character obtained his powers, and the kind of toll they take on him when used. In a fight, make sure that you don't sling spells non-stop; like arrows in a quiver, they must be used wisely. I used to use a point system to keep track of what my character was still capable of, but nowadays I just use my best judgment.

Finally, if he has an elemental alignment, or favors powers that center around a certain element or concept, you may want to think about giving him an appropriate weakness. Fire users being vulnerable to water-based moves is but one obvious example; a less obvious one might be a "love mage" that specialized in charm spells having a soft spot for people who she believes to be in hardship, making the right kind of bluff especially effective against this character. Make sure the weakness is exploitable by normal means and is independent of the circumstances of a fight (no "I can only be killed by being stabbed in the heart with a wooden stake during the night of the full moon" bullshit).

I hope this little guide has set you on the path to making the fantasy character of your dreams.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Alias on Mon May 18, 2009 3:01 pm

Very nice set of guidelines qbsuperstar03! Certainly covers the basics that just about everyone can make use of.

So, I propose a discussion about weaknesses, as that often makes or breaks the "fun" factor of roleplaying. I personally like to have several weaknesses (and several strengths) with certain emphasis on some of them. However, other roleplayers aren't perfect, so if you obviate your weaknesses, you wont get the 50-50 exploitation-to-ignorance ratio from your opponents, but instead will have a heavy shift towards exploitation [and by that I mean they will choose the path of least resistance knowingly]. While every opponent is different, and your reactions to their exploits of your weakness will of course vary, having your flames doused time and time again gets rather mundane - and we as players would be more likely, in subsequent fights, to dream up a counter to such exploits (which makes your character more "experienced" but also more godly, so keeping your balance in check over the course of several encounters is very important).

So perhaps we personally determine what your characters' weaknesses are, but don't explicitly write them? One would guess that an absence of air, or a rainstorm would solve the problem of a hurled fireball, so why should we tell our opponents what they can figure out themselves? The caveat here is that if the power isn't something simply categorized with one word (ie, not: ice, fire, wind, etc) then the weakness might not be obvious, and can even be difficult to discern.

I would hope there was a happy medium - some weaknesses we reveal, while others we keep to ourselves until someone stumbles onto them or figures them out.

How do you (qb, or anyone reading this) handle weakness? Publicly, privately, or a mix?
How do you escape the drab repetition of having your weaknesses exploited?
What are your thoughts on weaknesses regarding power, or powers in general?

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby LawOfTheLand on Mon May 18, 2009 10:36 pm

Very thought-provoking indeed.

For most concepts, a weakness should be obvious, and the ratio of strengths to weaknesses is generally one point to consider when determining the average "power level" of a character. That ratio doesn't necessarily have to be 1:1. The strengths and weaknesses should be equally original in theory, but I suppose it is possible to have plain strengths but take pains to hide your weaknesses. (I'm reminded of the episode of Pokemon where one Trainer has his Ground-type monster go swimming every day so it will be less vulnerable to Water-type attacks.)

Whether you want to disclose or hide your weaknesses generally depends on what kind of RPs you want your character to be in. If you intend him to be a character in a normal RP, then it's good to spell out the weaknesses. This way, your companions will know what you're weak to and will hopefully take pains to make sure you don't fall victim to it. However, part of a fight is that you're trying to hide what weaknesses you may or may not have. Even in a case where the weakness of a foe is known, a good opponent will always make you work to take advantage of it, but will not totally deny you the chance if you do manage to figure it out.

In summary: If you're using him/her/it for a storyline, then it's perfectly normal to have them spell out their weaknesses in a description. But if you're using them for a fight, then you are fully within your rights to have your opponent do some research (and hopefully a bit of experimentation as well) to find out what hurts you the most.

Now for avoiding exploitation: Finding and taking advantage of a foe's weakness is a key part of any fight. What gets boring, however, is facing people who spam attacks you're weak to. One way to handle this is that if you manage to survive the first critical strike, you can figure out their pattern and stay one step ahead by foiling his ability to hurt you like that again. For example, a lycanthrope who is weak to silvered weapons might focus his efforts on disarming an opponent of such a weapon and paying careful attention to where that weapon is going if he fails. A fire elemental might concentrate its attacks on an adventuring party's sorcerer that keeps pelting him with cold spells, and so on and so forth.

Another way is to have your character be conscious of his weaknesses and play him accordingly. This works best for more experienced characters, but not too well for a "discovering your abilities" game. He might slant his tactics towards covering a weak spot on his body by wearing extra armor or padding, be practiced at unweaving spells that do a type of damage he's weak to, or something else.

Basically, it comes down to either developing a counter-tactic (if you didn't reveal a weakness that your foe figured out) or playing to minimize weakness (if you declare one).

As for the last question, I don't really understand it the way you phrased it, but I'll take it to mean that with every power there should come a drawback that makes it avoidable or exhaustible. This makes people less likely to make claims of god-moding on you. This can be anything from limited uses, to a gap in an area effect, to a long preparation time during which your defenses are lowered. All power comes at a cost to the user, and RPing is no exception.

I hope I've cleared up a few things for everyone.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Skallagrim on Wed May 20, 2009 6:18 pm

Well written Qbsuperstar03. I think you have offered a good basis for learning how to fight/write in a competitive role-play, which is what dueling is. I hope that those new to dueling and those who fancy themselves good duelist, but lack some skill, read this over and take to heart the advice you offer here.
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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lamentations on Sat Jun 06, 2009 5:55 pm

That's my fellow Kensei! Good job!~

I think this guide that you have created has alot to offer when it comes to helping make a character, and even to roleplay as them. I am asking that this is please stickied at the top, so that when one needs help, they can refer to this guide for help. If you don't mind, Moderaters ^__^

I also want to point out in particular, not sure if it was mentioned, that when using powerful attacks, they need to be charged to a appropriate amount before they are used. Such as if I were to use a strong variation of a Kahemehameha, a normal one would atleast require a 1-2 turn charge, and a Super one would require a 3 turn charge, considering its desctructive power. This is highly recommended when it comes to battling, that you have a weakness, an appropriate weakness to your character, a downside to your attacks or what you do, and a charge time to the powerful attacks, otherwise we have a bunch of god like characters floating around, who can excecute insane skills in one turn, and that's never any fun.

I hope this guide enocourages those who make characters with powers, or battling characters at all, to do things the right way, and make the competitive sport that we all like to do fun for everyone, and not a sour treat!

When it comes to weaknesses for me, I tend not to state them due to the fact that there is a overwhelmingly large amount of metagamers now adays that have begun to adapt and throw powers in there profiles, and when they see you have a weakness, they make it to where their character immediately finds the weakness, and goes to exploit that weakness. Now if we are talking between to fair characters that don't break their rules, I will hint my weakness, and perhaps put emphasis on it, but I won't come out and say he is weak to something or he has a certain weakness. Why? Well first off it depends on the weakness we are talking. You will know when you need to add a weakness, or when you need to hint it. As well as when you don't even need to put it in there at all, but my opinion on weaknesses is, that in most situations, weaknesses should be contained within the profile of the character in some situations, and in some not. Truly it all depends. Because if there is no seen weakness in your attacks, and you didn't state a weakness when roleplay battling, then you are most likely godmoding.

If you have a character with absolutely no weaknesses, he is godmoding. If he has the ability to know where someone is before they even get there, or to know where they are going, its godmoding. If they have the ability to teleport, they are godmoding. If they can destroy a galaxy with a punch, they are godmodding. If they can let off a discharge of attacks, without properly charging before hand each attack, they are godmodding. If they have a, they can only be killed or K.Oed one way thing going on, they are godmoding. If they are proficient in almost every area, they are godmodding. If they have the ability to control time to a certain extent, they are godmodding, but this can depend in roleplay battling, because it depends on the extent its used, but I tend to believe it is indeed godmodding. If your character, has any of the above, he is breaking one rule, or another. Also if you evade, and dodge every single attack done towards you, and it dosen't fit your character whatsoever. Guess what? Yea, your godmodding. Its easily seen if your character is godmodding, or breaking a rule or not, and its easy to understand what is considered that or not. Its logical, and you should think through your character, and his powers and sort out if he is godmodding or not.

If you don't do that, then you will end up with a character that godmod's, but the above normally peratins to roleplay battling only. if you have a character do the above, but its detrimental to the roleplay, then by all means, please do. Normally, when you make a character for a roleplay, he/she is approved by the GM anyways, so it really dosen't matter.


Nice guide you have here Qb!
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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Kronos on Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:50 pm

Grammatical nitpick;

It should be "A guide on how", rather than a "guide to how."

Apart from that, it's very direct and to the point, without being overly minimalistic and missing finer details of the issue.

Laement, it's just... funny to see you writing in support of balanced characters. Sorry, it just is.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Lamentations on Sun Jun 07, 2009 2:42 pm

It should be, considering in my past alot of my characters have been extremely overpowered, but at the same time most of those characters were originally created for rping, and were made powerfull through active rping of a plot of some sort, though I know that isn't much of an excuse >_>......Leave me Alone >_>

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Kestrel on Sat Jun 13, 2009 7:25 am

I must say, this is rather interesting. And considering my extremely lacking battle prowess I can pull quite a few lessons out of it. But the thing is, it is mostly your second post that intrigues me. What I wonder is what your view is on when not to use a certain power. To say a weakness being that it can backfire in a fight. A logical example being bringing a knife to a fight, get disarmed and the weapon used against you. But also if you hurl this aforementioned fireball in a rainstorm, if the opponent dodges, it dissolves into steam and creates a hinder troubling your character's eyesight. While if it'd have hit it would have done massive damage. The risk vs. reward theory. I'm interested on what your take on that is and perhaps, some theory.
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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby LawOfTheLand on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:12 am

I personally am a fan of a small set of accurate and generally applicable powers over a myriad of "toolbox" abilities with limited usefulness but high power in the right situation, as circumstances are almost never ideal in a fight for such abilities. As a rule, the more powers you have, the more powered your character is considered regardless of the strength of the powers, hence the emphasis on centering your powers around one concept. In other words, I favor low-risk strategies and the ability to do something every turn to wear down the foe instead of high-risk techniques that can potentially flush a multiple-turn charge down the drain. That's just me, though.

But even drawbacks of attacks that don't go right can be used to one's advantage. In the "fireball in the rain" example you mentioned, the steam can not only cause a wicked burn to exposed flesh (ever stuck your hand over a pot of boiling water?), but also possibly obscure your foe's visibility as well. One thing you want to do when designing risky powers is to try to think through situations where your attack fails and come up with a Plan B. Depending on the charge time required for your powers, assuming you have other fire-related abilities, you could continue pelting him with attacks like that and extend the range of the steam, allowing you to make your getaway, or you could take advantage of the concealment to prepare something else. It depends on the environment and the opponent, and one strategy often bleeds into another.

Hope this helped.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Skallagrim on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:27 am

I would like to make a note here, I know that Skallagrim is considered over powered and I can understand why, however I also limit his power output to those whom I engage in a duel. Hard to believe I know but if you look at my duels with him they are proportionate to my opponent and more often I use mostly my melee skill more than the power aspect. At least I think I do that, if not just slap me.

Powers are fine if use judiciously, however many people new to dueling tend to over power their characters and rely on those powers to win a fight instead of actually using common sense and any real knowledge of fighting in their posts. Meh I am rambling.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Kestrel on Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:53 am

Hm, yes I agree that adaptability and creativity helps a lot to make a fight more interesting, however that was not my question. It was more in the theme of "When not to use powers at all?", simpler example being the knife. I think Skallagrim put something very similar forward: the power-based battle rather than the strategy-based battle. More than often you see this thing in metagaming situations, which has already been mentioned and elaborated upon in previous posts. Sometimes your tools are rendered useless, or even negatively influencing the flow of battle. If you have a Cloud Strife-esque sword, that's great for you, but its mass makes you slower as well as more visible, fatal in case you're facing a sniper you intend to sneak up on (risk). As soon as you are behind that sniper, the sword will allow you to kill him much more efficiently than having to use your bare hands (reward).

As for you, skallagrim, blame the popularity of shoujen. DBZ, mostly.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby LawOfTheLand on Sat Jun 13, 2009 12:56 pm

When NOT to use powers?

Well, this guide was originally intended as a way to create characters that weren't too overpowered, and yet this has turned into a dissertation on fighting strategies. Still, I'll try to help.

In most 1v1 situations, you want to avoid using powers that require a long charge time (2 turns or more). You might be able to get away with a power that requires one turn to charge, but unless you have some means of preventing your foe from attacking you in the meantime, be it through hiding or some sort of shield, you're going to be vulnerable for quite some time while you get ready for this one big attack.

As for the original question, when the foe has some sort of ability that makes your powers less effective than normal--you want the most bang for your buck, after all--it's but one example. Other occasions include such things as the circumstances or the way you want to RP your character (for example, setting off a destructive power with a wide area of effect in an inhabited town when your character is trying to protect the locals, or a weather manipulator trying to fight in an underground dungeon).

But I think Skallagrim said it best, albeit in a roundabout manner, that you should only use as much power at one time as your character would be comfortable with. This is where your backstory comes into play. It should give you a good idea as to what lines your character refuses to cross, and which ones for which he's willing to make compromises, if it's well-written. You might be required to hold back in some cases, but being true to the character is the most fundamental thing about role-playing, and fighting is no exception.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Kestrel on Sat Jun 13, 2009 4:26 pm

Aight, sorry 'bout that then. In any case thanks for the reply, I won't be dragging this off-topic any further.

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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby spacetime on Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:09 pm

qbsuperstar03 wrote:I personally am a fan of a small set of accurate and generally applicable powers over a myriad of "toolbox" abilities with limited usefulness but high power in the right situation, as circumstances are almost never ideal in a fight for such abilities.


QB is correct here. Be creative with what you got, and there's not much that can stand in your way.
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Re: A guide to how to make characters with powers

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Nisuki_Hikari on Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:36 pm

Thanks I've been having trouble coming up with pros and con for my powers!
◾I witness your death / You were so unsuspecting / How satisfying.

◾I am eternal / Death will never capture me / My skills exceed his.

◾That was your own fault / You should have paid attention / And looked through the lie.

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