[GAME-RELATED] Overpowered superhuman abilities and how to nerf them.

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Reserved for lock.

 
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In fantasy, science fiction, and possibly some other genres as well, we like having characters that are able to do things normal humans can’t do. Occasionally, or perhaps often, the players of a game may think of abilities that are too powerful to be allowed. That is all fine and well. But some times, you get really clever players, who can fool you into thinking that their proposed abilities aren’t overpowered at all, or use an otherwise perfectly normal ability in an extremely overpowered way. If you let players like these slip in, they can be very annoying to deal with. Hence, this thread is here to help you identify overpowered abilities, and nerf them accordingly.

At the moment, I can think of a few abilities off the top of my head that are much more overpowered than they look. I’ll put them in a list, explain why they’re overpowered, and give advice on how to nerf them. When I think of new abilities like these, I’ll add them to the list. If you guys can think of any such abilities, please post them; I’ll add them to the list too.



Before I begin on the list, here are several good indicators of overpowered abilities. If an ability has one or more of these, chances are it is much more powerful and broken than it looks.

1. The ability works absolutely all the time in all situations, with no possible countermeasures against it. An ability giving the player absolute immunity against a certain type of abilities also counts.

2. The ability ignores distance and aiming altogether, and automatically hits its target all the time. In other words, the target has no ways of dodging, blocking, or otherwise avoiding or nullifying the ability.

3. The ability can ignore certain things that usually defend against similar abilities. An example is an attack that phases through solid armor to hit the person inside.

4. The ability is very ambiguously phrased. The limitations of what it can and cannot do may be glossed over or not mentioned at all. Or the ability can be based entirely on semantics, doing whatever its user can twist its wording into doing.

5. The ability affects space or time directly. Note that not all such abilities are overpowered; abilities like these are just more frequently overpowered than not if you know how to use them.



The first ability I will talk about is telekinesis, or the ability to move objects with one’s mind. It is a simple, extremely common ability, and an incredibly overpowered one if used right.

For starters, the ability is completely unavoidable. You can move an object just by thinking about it; the only way I can prevent you from moving that object is to go after you directly.

You may think that this isn’t too bad, as most of the time telekinetics just throw rocks or cars or other objects at enemies. But what stops a telekinetic from using his ability on an enemy? Just by thinking about it, the ability user can completely immobilize an enemy, by holding the enemy in place via telekinesis. There is absolutely nothing the enemy can do to prevent himself from being immobilized.

In addition to immobilizing enemies, telekinesis can also be used as a nearly perfect defense, by using it to move all incoming attacks away from the target. If the enemy you just immobilized with telekinesis is throwing ranged attacks at you, you can just push away the ranged attacks with telekinesis too. If you do this right, no attack will be able to touch you.

One possible nerf to the problems above is to make it so that telekinesis is somehow unable to affect living beings. But this nerf has a number of problems as well. First, a telekinetic can still immobilize a living enemy by holding onto the enemy’s non-living clothes and equipment. Second, this nerf is entirely useless concerning robots, golems, or some other kinds of non-living enemies, which can be very common in fantasy and sci-fi. Third, this nerf is also not able to prevent the telekinetic from stopping an enemy’s attacks, as the attacks themselves are usually non-living.

Let’s take things a step further. With telekinesis, you can use it to restrain an enemy. There is nothing stopping you from instead using the power to rip the enemy apart. It’s simple; just move your enemy’s arm or head or whatever away from his body, keep applying force until you tear your enemy in half. Again, there is absolutely nothing your opponent can do to stop you from ripping him apart. Even if the nerf above is in effect, you can still telekinetically move your enemy’s clothes and equipment, and use that to rip him apart.

Suppose you nerf the above by stating that the telekinetic is not powerful enough to rip an enemy apart. But the human body is a very fragile thing; a crushed brain or a severed artery can mean certain death. The telekinetic can simply use telekinesis to rearrange his enemy’s innards, killing the enemy far more easily than he would have if he merely used brute force to rip the enemy apart. Even if the telekinetic cannot affect living matter, he can still affect, for example, the air inside his enemy’s lungs, or the water inside his enemy’s blood. This applies to any enemy with a weak point, not just humans; the enemy can do nothing as his weak point is unavoidably struck by telekinesis for massive damage.

We can go even higher. If there is no clear, explicit limitation, there is nothing stopping the telekinetic from extending his power to the molecular, atomic, or even sub-atomic level. Rearranging matter, disintegrating objects, splitting atoms… unlimited telekinesis is essentially control over all matter and energy. If that isn’t overpowered, I don’t know what is.

My usual method of nerfing telekinesis is changing the ability so that rather than moving things directly, the user conjures force fields made of solid energy, like the ones conjured by the Invisible Woman in Marvel Comics. The force fields can be controlled by the user’s mind, allowing the user to pick up objects or attack people with these force fields. The user can only conjure force fields from the surface of his body, as to prevent him from conjuring them right around or even inside an enemy; otherwise the ability is just as unavoidable as the unnerfed version. The force field has to travel from the user’s body to its target, making it very much possible to dodge and block. The user only has a finite amount of fine control, making the usage of telekinesis on a molecular level a difficult task. This nerf solves all the problems with telekinesis I can think of, so I use it in all the games I make.



Another simple, yet extremely overpowered, ability is the creation of portals. Like the game Portal, this ability creates two portals; objects going into one portal come out of the other one, and vice versa. The portals can be of any size and shape, with some upper limit not relevant to this discussion, but the two portals must be of the same shape. The portals can just float in empty space, unlike the game Portal, and the user can move them around with his mind, though the two portals can’t cross; weird stuff happens if they cross so don’t ask.

The problem with this ability is with not the portals themselves, but what happens around the portals. For starters, what happens when an object is trapped halfway between the two portals, and the portals suddenly shut off? It gets sliced cleanly in half, regardless of how strong the object is, even if it’s made of nigh-indestructible god-steel or something. When exploiting this properly, you can effortlessly cut any enemy in half, no matter how powerful the enemy’s defense is. This is very bad.

One way to nerf “portal-cutting” is to make it so that if the portals shut off when an object is trapped halfway between them, the whole object is shunted to one side or the other depending on which is closer. I don’t know about you, but to me this feels very awkward, and it doesn’t say what happens if the object is trapped exactly in the middle. My way to nerf this is to make sure that portals can only shut off gradually by shrinking until they disappear. They cannot just disappear suddenly and cut objects in half; if an object is trapped in the middle then the portals will be held open until the object is removed.

What happens at around the edges of the portals is even more problematic. Say, you have a thick bar of the aforementioned nigh-indestructible god-steel. You push the rod forward so that its top half goes into the portal, but its bottom half gets pushed into a normal section of space. What happens at the portal’s edge? As the ability is right now, the god-steel bar will be sliced cleanly in half, as the atoms of its top section get transported but the atoms of its bottom section don’t. What if you press the bar perpendicular to the portal’s face? As the portal is presumably a 2D object in 3D space, does it have zero thickness and can therefore exert infinite pressure? Can it be used to cut anything in half regardless of strength? Again, this is very bad.

You can attempt to nerf this by giving the portals solid edges, made of pure energy or whatever. Now nothing will be absolutely cut as it touches the portal edges. But wait. What happens if you attack the portal edges with an uber god-beam? Does the portal edge get destroyed? If it does, what happens to the portal afterwards? If the portal shuts off instantly, we again have the problem of slicing in half whatever object trapped halfway between the portals when their edges get destroyed. We don’t exactly have any choice as to what else should happen; our gradually shrinking portal nerf doesn’t work here because the portal is no longer defined by an edge that can shrink. As far as I can see, the only choice is to make portal edges absolutely indestructible, so portal-cutting won’t occur.

Absolute indestructibility is bad. Very bad. It means that no matter how powerful I am, even if I’m the god-emperor of the whole multiverse, I cannot destroy it. You may think this isn’t so bad, but remember that the user can make the portals into whatever shapes he wants. He can then create chain mail by intertwining his indestructible portal edges together, and have absolute protection against all attacks. What kind of demented person will ever think of making chain mail out of portal edges? Apparently I’m that kind of person.

So what do we do to fix this? Honestly, I don’t know. Back during my first forum game, I nearly blew a fuse trying to nerf this ability. In the end, I decided to never allow any portal-like abilities ever again. Currently, my best solution is to make the portals three-dimensional wormholes instead; see the “warpholes” section of this thread for more details.

 
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I’m afraid textile might break down in the post above, so…



Another ability, more overpowered than it looks, is slowing down or speeding up time within a certain zone of space, generally around the user himself. The shape and size of this zone can be manipulated, with some upper limit not relevant to this discussion.

The biggest problem is time stop. If time is stopped completely, it is rather absolute; nothing inside the time-stopped zone can move at all. What if you time-stop a thin layer of air in front of yourself? You’ll get an absolutely indestructible shield, capable of blocking any attack regardless of power, because the air molecules in the shield are absolutely fixed in place and will not budge no matter how much force is applied to them. The easy fix is to disallow complete time stop, and only allow slowing down time.

Another problem occurs when only half of an object is inside the time-slow zone. If it’s an inert object, it’s not too much of a problem. But what if it’s a human? For one thing, there will be a hell lot of blood clogging, as some of the blood in the poor human’s body now has no choice but to move slower. Often, that alone is enough to kill a person. This applies to any entity with a complex internal structure, involving the circulation of some fluid. Unfortunately, I cannot think of a good fix for this. The only thing I can think of is to make the edge of the time-slow zone “fuzzy”, so that time gradually becomes slower as you get closer to the center of the time-slow zone. This is not a perfect fix, however; chances are blood circulation will still get extremely screwed up. Another possible fix is for the time-slow to only apply to whole objects. But what exactly is a whole object? A human is just a collection of atoms. This solution is not only inelegant, but easy to get around.

A minor problem is that time slow can affect a creature entirely, no matter how powerful the creature is. Generally, it should take more effort to damage or affect a stronger enemy; for example a stronger attack is required to harm an enemy with stronger defense. But time slow seemingly ignores that. My fix is that the higher the “power level” of the enemy inside the time-slow zone is, the more energy it costs the user to maintain the zone. So if the enemy is overwhelmingly more powerful than the user, the user does not have enough energy to affect the enemy at all.



Have a semantics-based superpower this time, the ability to cause a target in touch range to gain properties of a door. I have seen this ability once before in another game, but no names will be mentioned.

Okay. So at first, this ability doesn’t look like much. What can a door do? But if you think about it for a minute…

First, a door has the property of being not alive. You touch an enemy, and the enemy gains the property of being not alive. Instant kill. You can pull off this trick with any property that a door does not have; then you can cause an enemy to lose that property too. For example, a door has the property of being not able to not unquestioningly obey your commands. You give this property to your enemy, and you’ve just gained a perfectly loyal servant.

Second, it is not clearly defined just exactly what this ability can and cannot target. It works through contact, right? The ability user is in contact with the universe. He can then select the universe as the target, and give the target the property of being not alive. Hence, instant kill on every living being in the entire universe.

Third, what is a door? Is there an objective definition of what a door is, as declared by some god figure? If there isn’t, that means the definition of a door is entirely contained in the ability user’s mind. Then, you can simply brainwash the ability user into believing that a “door” is just another name for a nuclear missile, or a black hole. Then he’ll be able to produce these objects at will. Why would anyone brainwash the ability user like that? As if that matters to the player controlling the ability user. All the player cares about is the fact that his character is now potentially capable of creating unlimited nuclear missiles or black holes at will.

There is no nerf for abilities like these. They work purely on semantics, so you’re out of luck as long as the player can outsmart you. I just disallow such abilities entirely, and try to make my supernatural abilities as real, concrete, and physical as possible. They have to be based on matter and energy, not some abstract concept.



This is all I can think of for now. I’ll add more if I can think of any.

 
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r

 
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[Well it is good to see you are still alive working on the nexus.]

I think your version of telekinesis is more geared towards Jene Gray syndrome (X-Men2/3). In my mind, Telekinesis is generally limited to small objects, both in mass and volume. It is also given an area effect diminishment, or, when you use it on a larger object/person/army, it gets weaker proportional to the size/mass of the object. You could say that it must be done under full concentration, as in, not when a giant robot is shooting at you and you are scarred for your life, or, not at gunpoint.

 
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In my mind, Telekinesis is generally limited to small objects, both in mass and volume. It is also given an area effect diminishment, or, when you use it on a larger object/person/army, it gets weaker proportional to the size/mass of the object.

Size limitation is irrelevant when you can strike enemy weaknesses. Like I said above, you can simply use telekinesis to unavoidably crush your opponent’s brain or heart; you don’t need to move a lot of mass or volume to do this.

The most egregious example I’ve seen is a guy called Grana in the manga Psyren. He has nigh-godlike levels of telekinesis, enough to move the individual photons from sunlight and focus them into a giant laser beam powerful enough to vaporize people. His only other attack is to throw cars at people. Seriously, he doesn’t even try to use telekinesis on his targets directly! That’s just downright stupidity to me.

I’ve also added another ability to the list. This one creates portals, and was an absolute nightmare to balance when I first encountered it. No names will be mentioned.

 
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I don’t know a thing about RP’s but this stuff is extremely addictive and pleasant to read.

 
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Originally posted by S_98:

I don’t know a thing about RP’s but this stuff is extremely addictive and pleasant to read.

Thank you. You can imagine two clones of me sitting at a table. One of them is a munchkin of the worst kind, while the other is an extremely paranoid GM. This is the process that goes on in my head, every time I think of a supernatural ability myself or examine one made by another person.

I added two more abilities, in the second post.

 
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Telekenisis and basically time control aren’t very good examples as they’re usually the first abilities people come up with due to their OPness. Nobody hears “control shit with your mind” and thinks that’s not OP. The Portals one was interesting because of the scenarios you came up with. The door one however was a great example though your second point really only applies for suicidal super villains.

 
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Telekenisis and basically time control aren’t very good examples as they’re usually the first abilities people come up with due to their OPness. Nobody hears “control shit with your mind” and thinks that’s not OP.

How often do you see people using telekinesis to crush other people’s brains? I haven’t seen it once in movies or books or anything. As far as I know, most people have no idea how to exploit such abilities properly. The main idea of this thread is to talk about abilities that are more overpowered than they appear, not obviously overpowered abilities like invincibility. If you ask me to come up with some overpowered abilities, telekinesis is far from the first thing I come up with. As such, it is only your opinion that my examples are bad; you don’t get to objectively declare such.

 
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Actually, when you first mentioned the indestructible portal edges, I was thinking, “Why don’t you create a gigantic hole, with the edges of the hole being portal edges, and slowly shrink it until it compresses your target into mush?”

I remember I used to have a mutant character in some RP that could WEAVE PURPLE WEBS THAT TURN PEOPLE TO DUST. Seriously. He could just wave his hand and a gigantic purple web comes out of nowhere and embraces you. The moment you touch it, you disintegrate.

 
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That’s badass.

 
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I’ll admit I’ve never seen it used to crush other peoples brains but that’s not to say I haven’t seen them do other horrible things such as: Blowing them or parts of them up, literally melting them or their parts, ripping them apart, turning them inside out, swelling them up like balloons, throwing them around like rag dolls, making them do terrible things to themselves or just causing explosions.

American media doesn’t like using Telekinesis to its full extent because that’s boring to watch. I would even say they try to avoid it because fans will complain about how they didn’t just rip them apart at a molecular level with their ridiculous power. However, the Japanese love it for the plethora of torture situations they can create. They don’t limit the amount of horror they can create.

Now just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t out there in numbers. I reckon the majority of people would agree Telekinesis is one of the most OP just off face value.

 
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Why don’t you create a gigantic hole, with the edges of the hole being portal edges, and slowly shrink it until it compresses your target into mush?

That is, assuming you are powerful enough to compress your target into mush. It’ll be similar to trying to compress your target into mush with your hands, except the strength required is mental rather than physical.

I remember I used to have a mutant character in some RP that could WEAVE PURPLE WEBS THAT TURN PEOPLE TO DUST. Seriously. He could just wave his hand and a gigantic purple web comes out of nowhere and embraces you. The moment you touch it, you disintegrate.

That’s an obviously broken ability that anyone can spot. No need for me to tell people how to fix it.

Now just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it isn’t out there in numbers. I reckon the majority of people would agree Telekinesis is one of the most OP just off face value.

I can only post based on what I have seen. Hence, those examples. I haven’t seen roleplayers using telekinesis to its full extent, so I thought I might give them a hint of what the full extent is. Just because you have seen it doesn’t mean everyone has seen it; I’m posting for those who, like me, haven’t.

 
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Can I just ask why a door necessarily has ‘non-living’ a one of its properties?

 
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Originally posted by Knoob85687:

Can I just ask why a door necessarily has ‘non-living’ a one of its properties?

If theres a living door or we slef-brainwash ourselves that a door is living can we haz ressurection.

 
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These nerfs on telekinesis may make it ok. Telekinesis may only work under these circumstances:
Cannot work on humans. Come up with an excuse for this, but the most common is humans (and actually most living beings) have a protective Aura (large enough to protect clothes/weapons) from being alive.
Can only work under complete concentration. Face it, if you are being charged by an enemy, at gunpoint, being tortured, and maybe even restrained, you aren’t concentrating. this gets around doing it in a battle.
Can only work at a certain distance, like 100 ft or less.
Can only work with an LoS.
Cannot exceed a maximum speed, like nothing above 10 Mph/15 Kph.

As for the door thing, I think you are more harping on transfiguration. Yes, transfiguration is so abstractedly hard to nerf.

 
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Regarding portals, couldn’t you say that they shimmer and fade when they lose power, giving say 5-10 seconds where they work right up until the end, giving anything inside a chance to get out. Then you could say that the edges are the power source for the portals. (I dunno. Herp derp sciency stuff) and that when the portal edges break, just like when the portal loses power, the portals again shimmer and fade.

EDIT: Also, for time slow, (which I think is incredibly OP and should never be used) you could say that it doesn’t work on liquids, and anything surround by liquid. Therefor, the problem of being stuck half out and getting your blood all funked up isn’t a problem, and since your organs are surrounded by blood and have a constant shield of it, they’re not affected either. Hence, the person time-slowing can’t slow your heartrate down to a point where it can’t properly pump blood to your body.

 
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In order to avoid being yelled at for overpowered power, from now on I will go with the power to manipulate my own nose hair, using it in combat and other situations.

 
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But then you could make it grow to massive sizes and use it to swat people away like flies. OMGJIMBOWHYYOUALWAYSPICKSUCHOPPOWERS

 
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Better idea for time slow/stop, if one presumes that it’s a field as opposed to anything else: the instant something touches the field, the entirety of the thing touching the field is slowed/stopped to the same degree. And before anyone asks “but what is a whole object?” like an idiot, let’s assume that one object is, in fact, a collection of atoms with bonds connecting them all to other atoms in the collection, with the additional requirement that anything inside the object whose atoms aren’t technically bonded to those of the object itself are counted as part of the object if escape from the object is impossible without somehow breaching the boundaries of, or otherwise damaging the object itself.

…as a matter of fact, this definition could be used in any situation where one might feasibly need to ask what one object is when figuring out how it gets affected. Further elaboration will be added later, when I have the time.

 
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Originally posted by Knoob85687:

Can I just ask why a door necessarily has ‘non-living’ a one of its properties?

Is your door alive? And as Zzzip said, if a door is alive then we can resurrect anyone and turn anything into a living creature. It’s broken either way.

These nerfs on telekinesis may make it ok.

No, man. I think my nerfs are already good.

Cannot work on humans. Come up with an excuse for this, but the most common is humans (and actually most living beings) have a protective Aura (large enough to protect clothes/weapons) from being alive.

I don’t want to do this, because humans aren’t supposed to be that special. Many of the enemies in a game may not be humans. I don’t want to make exceptions all the time.

Regarding portals, couldn’t you say that they shimmer and fade when they lose power, giving say 5-10 seconds where they work right up until the end, giving anything inside a chance to get out.

But the portals will still be able to cut anything in half, even nigh-indestructible god-steel. You need to be more powerful than the god-steel to cut it in half, but portal-cutting blatantly ignores that. There is nothing it can’t cut, which is the problem.

Also, for time slow, (which I think is incredibly OP and should never be used) you could say that it doesn’t work on liquids, and anything surround by liquid.

This is highly awkward. The first question is exactly why it doesn’t work on fluids, since there’s no real difference between a liquid and a solid; both are collections of atoms. Second, it’s possible to blur the boundary between liquid and solid, if you have some sort of sludge or gel or something. As you say, time slow is incredibly overpowered, so maybe I just won’t allow it.

And before anyone asks “but what is a whole object?” like an idiot, let’s assume that one object is, in fact, a collection of atoms with bonds connecting them all to other atoms in the collection, with the additional requirement that anything inside the object whose atoms aren’t technically bonded to those of the object itself are counted as part of the object if escape from the object is impossible without somehow breaching the boundaries of, or otherwise damaging the object itself.

Here, have a diamond the size of the whole planet. Every single one of its carbon atoms is tightly bonded to four adjacent ones. If you can only affect whole objects, you aren’t powerful enough to affect the whole object.

Again, your definition is highly awkward. Can’t escape from the object without breaching or damaging the object itself? What if you take out the atoms floating inside, one at a time, out of the intermolecular space between the atoms of the outer shell? And again, it’s possible to blur the boundary between “bonded” and “not bonded”; I don’t want to draw any clear-cut lines. Really, I’d rather not use any definitions of a “whole object”, ever.

 
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Why exactly does a portal be that strong? What if portals are weak and cannot close when blocked by an object?

 
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My solution to portals is if it closes on a non-living object, that object is pushed out of whiver side has more of the object on it. If it is exactly centered, it is pushed out the one it entered from. Living objects will take damage and have the same method applied to them.

 
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Originally posted by Jimbo14:

Why exactly does a portal be that strong? What if portals are weak and cannot close when blocked by an object?

Originally posted by Blood_Shadow:

My way to nerf this is to make sure that portals can only shut off gradually by shrinking until they disappear. They cannot just disappear suddenly and cut objects in half; if an object is trapped in the middle then the portals will be held open until the object is removed.