The nature of superpowers, quite often, is that of a modification to an individual character. You know, when a character is: bitten by a radioactive spider; travels to a world with a yellow sun; bombarded by Gama radiation; takes a dip into the Lazarus pit. In fact it’s pretty much a staple of superheroes: each character gets a unique set of abilities and an origin story to match (at least one). That’s how it’s usually done.
What if we changed it up a bit? What if the modification done wasn’t done to any particular person but of that of the entire planet instead? What if it happened so long ago that we view it the same way we view the other renewable natural resources on this planet such as water or air.
If that were the case than any being on this planet, advanced enough genetically, could access our new natural resource: Superpowers.
Anyone of us could grow up learning to: read minds; move objects with a thought; access a more intense portion of the spectrum of light and or sound; change our density; etc. etc. etc….
We’d be able to do it all by accessing our new natural resource and applying it to how our body functions: how it thinks, sees; hears; touches; feels and so much more. Each character would apply the same exact resource differently. Different characters would find new ways to access the resource and new characters would find different aspects of the resource to focus on while applying it.
In the span of a human life time a character would likely start out being able to see far more potential for utilizing the resource in the beginning of their life but find that they are lacking the skills to be able to get the resource to apply to their own genetics in exactly ways. As a character ages they would gain control but lose the ability to see the entire scope of the natural resource it self and all it can accomplish. At a certain age the ability to access it at all may be impeded and that character would likely live out the rest of their days without the use of it.
Of course, there is a lot of room for things to go wrong here, as they often do in life. Imagine a fetus, still forming in its mother’s womb, with the ability to access our new natural resource? Imagine a senior citizen who no longer has the capacity to understand how to control the new natural resource but hasn’t lost the ability to access it? Throw mind altering substances into the mix and well you can see how this could get out of hand fast, similarly to that of our other natural resources.
Like water you’d be able to remove it from the flora on this planet. What would happen if you drank that or cooked with it? Like fire it could feed off of the flora on this planet and run amok. Like wind you could redirect and capture it. Like minerals you could refine it and transform it. The existence of the new natural resource, and all it can do, would sometimes feel like nightmares and deja vu even to those citizens who have yet to learn to fully see or utilize our new natural resource.
Who knows what the residual effect of long-term exposure might be (much like that of the sun or water).
Thinking about superpowers this way allows for greater story potential.
With the “Natural Method” characters don’t have to come from other planets, have been mutated, dosed with radioactivity, or suffer some other form of trauma just so they can possess superpowers. A character can also “turn them off” at will, simply by disassociating themselves with our new natural resources. Like water, you could simply step out of it. Like fire you could simply step back away from it. Like wind you would find cover and get out of its way. Like the sun, you cover up to protect your self from it.
You can learn more about the “Natural Method” by reading or listening to the stories over at the Adventure Frequency