Monday, September 01, 2014

Reigning In Your Wizards

Wizards suck from a story-telling point of view. The same point applies to any character that can reach into his pocket and grab what he needs, use a ring to create whatever they need, or go into a lab and come out with the perfect gizmo for the job. They just have so many options that a challenge either needs to be tailor made to deal with them, and the challenge would easily overwhelm the rest of the group. There are three tried-and-true ways of dealing with the character.

The Weakness: This is the lamest option, so really debate using it. In essence, the character has some sort of item/common situation/color against which he is weak. He has to overcome the challenge by dealing with the weakness first, and the only real challenge he has is when the limitation is in effect. Unless it is a reasonably common weakness, the character will breeze through most challenges. However, there will also be the question of why the weakness hasn't been dealt with before, or why it continues to plague characters. Of course, therein lies the potential for a great story, so you may want to think about it. need to always apply it. The time you introduce someone who is not affected by it like everyone else is you will lose a lot of credibility, no matter how good the reason is. So if you are going to use The Weakness, remember that you will be dealing with it for a while.

[On the other hand, if overcoming that weakness is a rite of passage, such as overcoming fear allows green lanterns to ignore the color yellow, that can make for an interesting story as well. You'll just need to come up with some other limiter...]

Yin and Yang: The character and his group are not the only ones to enjoy immense power. The obvious examples are the Jedi and the Sith or the emotional spectrum of power rings; in essence, the good guys are not the only ones with power. The bad news is that this means that any fight will cause a lot of collateral damage and needs to be allowed for; the good news is that it means you will be telling stories where even the minor events have far-reaching consequences.

As long as you can keep the civilian population reasonably safe during the battles you should be fine, but as soon as the battles start causing casualties, a new force will enter the fight: Those that can deal with the super-powered types while still being human. It's worth noting that a sniper bullet can take out most supers, so the balance between the two forces needs to be maintained with minimum casualties. Or else.

[On the other hand, wouldn't it be sort of fun to have a post-apocalyptic world based on the idea that not nukes but a few major fights between supers or wizards ruined the world?]

The Regular Foe: A good hero should not only have a rogues gallery that can challenge him, but also a few singular foes that give him a problem. In a way this is why Lex Luthor is such a scary guy: He has no power, but Superman can't deal with him directly. Rather, he needs to build a case against him and then pursue it. He also can't be proactive against Lex as Lex would sic an army of lawyers on him in a heartbeat but Lex has so many projects going on that Superman can't prediect what will hit next. This is a great villain if done right, so figure it out.

[Here's a weird thought for you: Ever consider that the Fantastic Four are Doom's rogue gallery?]

So there you are. They can be dealt with, but you need to lay down some serious infrastructure to keep them busy. But, do it right and there are so many rewards....

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