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The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...


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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

I also make small alterations, but I tend to slant it heavily twoards the genre I'm running. My game is set in the 1920's. Because of the basis of powers in the setting, and the presence of a few mega-geniuses surrounding their emergence, the fields of immunology, virology, genetics, pharmacology, neuroscience, and cryonics are all significantly advanced beyond the period norm (and outstip us in a few narrow comic-book ways that aren't always available to everyone). Quantum mechanics is also 20-30 years ahead of the period (with a few in-story stretches stemming from super-powers). On the other hand, most other technologies and sciences remain fairly consistent with the period because their is nothing driving their development beyond natural growth, and because they result in more obviosuly dramatic changes to society that I don't want to deal with beyond super-powered individuals, who don't really impact the world and average man on the street in the same way techology does. Most super-tech is secret, or highly restricted in terms of access. The paranormal is always handled in ways that could be interpreted as just a strange even (with a few notable, classified exceptions). Its not something anyone can just pick up a book and learn and it tends to be extremely subtle. As for supers, it has forced governments to respond, and there are media realities surrounding them, but overall society hasn't changed that much. Instead, its adapted to the present of 400-500 (in the US) people with strange, amazing powers. There are differences, but they aren't so big you wouldn't recognize the 1920's in America.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

You didn't list "Spandex"! :love:

 

And if you really think that the typical Superheroine (or Superhero for that matter) costume is either practical or comfortable, check out Jeri Ryan's comments on the subject. :winkgrin:

 

Arguably, though, 7of9 was not wearing spandex, but several layers of advanced costuming made to mimic what spandex looks like when drawn on unrealistic bodies.

 

As I recall, Superman's original costume was a circus strongman costume and Supergirl was an ice skater's dress. At that level, spandex isn't that weird. The costuming I usually choke on is the armored lingerie look -- that's the case where the wearer's superpowers don't include a significant amount of invulnerability, and may even be wearing armor-looking bits, but leave their vitals completely exposed. When Supergirl shows her navel, I barely notice. When we see Huntress armor her shoulders, and then leave her belly completely uncovered, I have suspension-of-disbelief problems. Similarly, Wonder Girl can fly, so she might as well wear preposterously high heels -- Ravager (Rose Wilson), on the other hand...

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Arguably' date=' though, 7of9 was not wearing spandex, but several layers of advanced costuming made to mimic what spandex looks like when drawn on unrealistic bodies. [/quote']

 

But that too has become a genre trope, hasn't it? :whistle:

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

A. That none of the above has much actual impact or effect on the life/lifestyle/day to day existence of the average human being, even those in paranormal-rich environments.

 

Questions:

For those who consider this trope necessary or useful, why is it so, and to what extent?

For those who have fully or partially discarded this trope, how has doing so altered society in your campaign setting?

 

This is one of the things I considered when working on my current setting. For the most part super powers only emerged in the last eighty years. Given that amount of time one is already looking at vast global changes. Just consider the proliferation of motorized vehicles and lets say air conditioning, although the later was really only in the last forty years. Even though both are relatively affordable and common place by US standards it is important to consider that we are talking about one of the largest economic powers on earth.

 

Let's agree that super powers brings super science, although the order could be reversed depending on the setting. What is often left out is the economics of bringing the Fire to the people. For instance, a large company develops an efficient renewable power source used to power a certain hero's armor. What were the design and development costs? Can this power source be mass produced? Is it compatible with current technology? Each of these questions factors into price and subsequently the spread of the super technology.

 

Whatever development costs were invested will need to be recouped. These costs will be factored into any price point for the device. This is complicated by the fact that only small numbers of the super battery will be needed, relatively speaking but lets leave that out of this to keep it general.

 

If the power source can be mass produced factories will need to be constructed or modified to facilitate this along with expanded staffing needs. If the device cannot be mass produced then likely additional development will be needed if it is going to be offered on a public market. This will of course increase market costs. Alternatively, the power source may stand as a specialty item with only a select number being produced each year or as only a concept item never placed into production.

 

The last question applies to more than just the super battery but lots of diffrent kinds of super tech but since the power source seemed like the best place to start that's what I went with. It would seem more than likely that the power source would be designed to work with standing technologies but barring that they may need to develop adapters to incorporate the new device. Although, this may abate as the power source takes prominence and newer devices are built with it in mind. As it being a battery there may be a kind of AC verses DC evolution as well. However, as we're talking about super-tech that seems unlikely unless it is price driven verses performance driven.

 

However, this does not mean super-technology would not seep into the populace only that how it moves would be the question. To use the power source the likely first buyers would be Governments, Military and Large Companies that can afforded and/or implement the new technology.

 

This is all to say that change takes time and even when it takes hold one place it may be years, decades or longer before it takes root in other places. Simply because the super technology exists does not mean everyone will have access to it. The police may have pulse rifles for their SWAT teams but not every officer. The army may send in a Mech to support a battery of tanks. Just as the super powered beings themselves are rare the same holds true for any advanced technology.

 

These arguments help to hold up the norm of super technology is not a everyman item. However, when world building it may be an interesting experiment to place dates and places on when a given technology was developed. Then later reproduced, as most super tech seems to be one time things initially. Assuming the cost can be brought to roughly half a year to two years pay for the technology you may have something that will expand into every day society, given forty to eighty years to saturate the stronger markets. This is skipping ideas of governmental restrictions and assuming that components in the device are about as rare as most metals. Remember, there was a time when titanium was a national secret and even an ounce could make you a millionaire on the black market.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Let me make it clear that I don’t mean that creating a world where the presence of superhumans has massively changed society, technology and all aspects of life is a bad thing or “Badwrongfun.” I’m attempting to answer the questions posed in the original thread but I think some of posts (the frequency of them) might have off as confrontational.

 

The ripple effects from even relatively minor alterations can be fascinating to take into consideration. It doesn’t take introducing clean endless energy or cheap teleportation to put a really different spin on the world.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Hopefully my post did not come off as confrontational. My point being it doesn't seem that far off to say super technology is not something one would see as common place in the comic setting unless there was some form of explanation as to why. As a world building exercise there's nothing wrong with having these integrated elements however, I think there would need to be some explanation as to why.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Actually, it's not that hard a trope to accept.

 

I mean, we currently have the technology for ion starship engines and flying cars, but you don't see them in wide use. Why? Because of a number of factors; cost of mass-production, regulations, limited applicability.

 

If your super-scientist invented the cure for cancer, for instance, I could see him facing the challenge of getting it through FDA approval, securing the resources to produce it in enough quantities, etc.

 

Not saying that this would derail long-term effects in the world, but on the short-term (which usually covers most campaigns) it serves as enough of a deterrent on greatly-affecting changes.

 

You can apply a similar logic to other aspects. Some guy claiming he's a god? Big deal, get in line with all the other bozos claiming deityhood. "But he can call down the lightning!" "So what? My next-door neighbor shoots laser-beams out of his eyes."

 

There's a bunch of people around with all these magnificent powers? The trash still needs picking up, the buses still need to run on time, people still need to eat, work and play. Never underestimate the power of the mundane. :)

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

The spread of technology can be sporadic and uneven. My mother was born in Arkansas in 1923. No-one in her family owned a car until her grandparents bought her (crippled by polio) uncle Herman a Ford Model T in the mid-20s. My mom's folks took their kids to church in a mule-drawn buggy up until her dad died in 1934* (after that, they sold the mule). Their house didn't have an outhouse until 1946, when one of my Mom's brothers came home from the War and built one. Grandma didn't have electricity until the mid-1950s when the Tennessee Valley Authority finally got around to doing that part of the country.

 

Even if technology had developed faster, there may not be the incentive for faster or more widespread implementation unless there are huge, obvious advantages to scrapping the old tech in favor of the new. Even in that case, not everyone will adopt the new tech at once, and there may be some resistance to it in some quarters. Those uncertain or poorly informed about the new technology and those heavily invested in the old technology will be especially resistant to the new tech.

 

It may not necessarily be clear that a new technology is clearly better than one currently in use. Witness the resistance to nuclear powerplants. Even if they are completely safe, few are eager to have one in their own back yard. Photovoltaic roofing tiles make it possible for most homes to be retrofitted to be independant of the power industry. Even so, the initial expense of such an installation and the unknown expense of maintaining a roof made of solar cells ensure most new homes use more conventional solutions for roofing and power.

 

There's loads of reasons why the technology level of society at large may appear to be unaffected by the presence of supertechnology. I'd like to propose another possibility: perhaps the changes are there, but the citizenry takes it for granted. How many of you really noticed the evolution of outdoor lighting over the last few deckades. The technology is different and arguably better, but most folks don't notice unless the lights are out for some reason. Likewise, there may be many superior technologies in place in a superheroic world, but the people there don't see anything unusual about it and therefore do not comment on it.

 

* Grandpa would've had to take time off work to go get the shot that his wife & kids did. Rather than miss work, he decided to run the risk of not getting innoculated against typhus (or whatever it was that got him). As a result his youngest son was born 8 months after he died. Pity.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

The costuming I usually choke on is the armored lingerie look -- that's the case where the wearer's superpowers don't include a significant amount of invulnerability' date=' and may even be wearing armor-looking bits, but leave their vitals completely exposed. [/quote']

 

Hey, what better way to demonstrate the 14- activation limitation? ;)

 

When it comes to costume tropes, my problem is the failure of comic book worlds to keep up with our technology: despite the advancements in facial recognition software, a domino mask or a pair of glasses is still sufficient to conceal an identity.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

I now eagerly await "The Ultimate Trollop" :eg:

 

Hermit you forgot the "e" on Trollope. Here is your chance to play in the world of Anthony Trollope. Roleplay Louis Trevelyan and his paranoid belief in his wife's infidelity. Hang on to your seat as Henrietta Carbury wondering if Paul's railroad will get built. Love, Drama, and shady characters awaits you in the Ultimate Trollope!

 

PS. Someday I need to finish the last quarter of He Knew He Was Right. Thank the Gods for BBC!

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Supertechnology aside' date=' I don't really see how any of those things would affect day-to-day life. Supertech won't do it either if the tech in question for some reason can't be mass-produced.[/quote']

 

I'm pretty sure the existence of miracle-working "deities", "angels", "demons", etc. would have an impact on organized religion and theology, which in turn would have some effect on day-to-day life for congregants.

 

I'm also pretty sure the confirmed existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life would have an impact on government, religion and society as well.

 

If you had to go to work in a major city where there was a better than 1 percent chance every week of a supervillain rampage, terror agency attack, giant monster rampage, alien or demonic invasion, that would probably have some effect on one's peace of mind.;)

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

I've had a conception for a campaign (that I'll probably run someday) where superpowers/superscience are explained by convenient use of alternate dimensions. The laws of physics are the laws of physics, and everybody is subject to them; the difference is, people with superpowers have a link to a different dimension where there are different completely immutable laws of physics. So, when Stupendous Man throws a 15d6 punch and he doesn't go flying backwards from the equal and opposite reaction, all that pushed-back kinetic energy does exist, it's just shunted into a different dimension. Super-scientists, guys with power suits, whatever, those are explained by the fact that the creators have that same interdimensional link, but their ability (besides their intelligence), is that they're able to put a little bit of that link into their technology. So, Super Brain Man can build a ray gun and, due to his link, the gun can reach across the dimensional barrier to shoot Cosmic Energization Rays. Bob, down in R&D, can follow the exact same specs but, because he's not able to access the other universe, it just doesn't work.

 

Gives me a way to keep a reasonably normal world, yet while allowing many of the tropes of the superhero world.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

I've had a conception for a campaign (that I'll probably run someday) where superpowers/superscience are explained by convenient use of alternate dimensions. The laws of physics are the laws of physics' date=' and everybody is subject to them; the difference is, people with superpowers have a link to a different dimension where there are different completely immutable laws of physics. So, when Stupendous Man throws a 15d6 punch and he doesn't go flying backwards from the equal and opposite reaction, all that pushed-back kinetic energy does exist, it's just shunted into a different dimension. [/quote']

 

Now I wonder: what if beings in another alternate universe start to develop superpowers, and they start shunting their excess kinetic (and other) energy into the campaign universe?

 

For that matter what if the alternate universe being used as your "kinetic energy dump" happens to be inhabited? I can't imagine that locals being all that happy with the results.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

 

For that matter what if the alternate universe being used as your "kinetic energy dump" happens to be inhabited? I can't imagine that locals being all that happy with the results.

 

Easily handled - the nature of the dimensional shunt is such that the "shunt dimensions" are uninhabited. It is not possible, by the laws of interdimensional physics, to shunt to an inhabited dimension - the dimensions that can be shunted to cannot support native life in any form.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

I've had a conception for a campaign (that I'll probably run someday) where superpowers/superscience are explained by convenient use of alternate dimensions. The laws of physics are the laws of physics, and everybody is subject to them; the difference is, people with superpowers have a link to a different dimension where there are different completely immutable laws of physics. So, when Stupendous Man throws a 15d6 punch and he doesn't go flying backwards from the equal and opposite reaction, all that pushed-back kinetic energy does exist, it's just shunted into a different dimension. Super-scientists, guys with power suits, whatever, those are explained by the fact that the creators have that same interdimensional link, but their ability (besides their intelligence), is that they're able to put a little bit of that link into their technology. So, Super Brain Man can build a ray gun and, due to his link, the gun can reach across the dimensional barrier to shoot Cosmic Energization Rays. Bob, down in R&D, can follow the exact same specs but, because he's not able to access the other universe, it just doesn't work.

 

Gives me a way to keep a reasonably normal world, yet while allowing many of the tropes of the superhero world.

 

A bit like Torg and how its Storm Knights can carry the laws of their own Reality along with them?

 

I think Godlike is a little like this too but don't quote me.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Easily handled - the nature of the dimensional shunt is such that the "shunt dimensions" are uninhabited. It is not possible' date=' by the laws of interdimensional physics, to shunt to an inhabited dimension - the dimensions that can be shunted to cannot support native life in any form.[/quote']

 

Or it you really want to get trippy the shunt dimensions are so different that the super power link is actually part of their natural function. Our universe is a shunt dimension too but its a natural process so we never notice.

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Or it you really want to get trippy the shunt dimensions are so different that the super power link is actually part of their natural function. Our universe is a shunt dimension too but its a natural process so we never notice.

 

That works, too. :D

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Re: The most unbelievable trope in the superhero genre...

 

Or it you really want to get trippy the shunt dimensions are so different that the super power link is actually part of their natural function. Our universe is a shunt dimension too but its a natural process so we never notice.

 

Wow, that could get weird. Using your superpowers to divert a lava flow from a volcano that suddenly became active causes a hurricane in another universe. That universe's supers evacuate people in its path, and haul a few ships out of harm's way for good measure, causing a tidal wave in another universe. The supers there disperse the energy of the wave into the ocean, causing a volcano in our world to suddenly erupt....

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