All stories have to start somewhere. For superheroes, what comes before they get their powers is prologue, a background that influences them, but does not define them. How they got these powers, the origin of their super powers, forms the core of the character. It defines how they interact with the world, what problems they can solve and even who their enemies might be. A good origin creates a dynamic character that has space to change, grow and allow for new stories.
Alien Invaders – they’ve experimented on you to see what kind of weapon they could turn you into. Know their weaknesses – you know best how to hurt your ex-masters. Alien biology – you’ve been rearranged inside, making you more resilient. Built in hardpoints – you don’t need hands to carry weapons, you are the weapon. Grisly visage – the aliens didn’t do a very good job of putting you back together
Escaped the Fey – you’ve left the fey realm to come explore ours. Tricksy spells – you excel at simple but cunning magics. Very Very Small – you can make yourself really really tiny. Fey Stepping – slip between realms as easily as waggling your nose. Fey Wings – you can manifest a set of ethereal butterfly wings giving you limited flight
Possessed – a malevolent spirit has taken possession of your body. Two Minds – there’s two sets of thought processes going on in your head. Ectoplasm – you wish it was just a head-cold. Hideous Joints – all your limbs and joints move freely in unnatural ways. Telekinetic – you can move small objects about. Not Your Doing – sometimes the spirit takes complete control.
Industrial Accident – A very bad day at work. Hideous – Your appearance is so terrible it stuns people when they see you. Scar Tissue – Scars so bad the extra tough skin acts as armour. Immunity To ### – Over-exposure to a dangerous substance has left you immune to its effects. Artificial Body Part – A lost body part is replaced by an artificial one which is better than the original. Deformed – A body which can bend and twist in unexpected ways.
Suburban Superspy – An elite operative living as an average person doing an average job in an average street. Normal – So unremarkable no one ever pays you attention. Everyday Ad-Hoc – Common domestic objects can be repurposed into whatever is needed. Don’t Wake The Kids – Violence without noise. Network – A seemingly infinite range of contacts who owe you a favour.
Failed Experiment – The discarded results of an abandoned research project. Dead – By all convention definitions, you are dead. Anger – An inner rage provides great power. Outcast – You’ve lived your life, figuratively and literally, in the shadows at the edge of civilisation. Regenerate – Super-fast healing. No Longer Human – Your body has been changed so much it is no-longer recognisably human (specifiy).
Anthromorph – An animal with human intelligence and characteristics. Wild Sense – The acute senses of a wild animal. Buzz, Tweet, Roar – The ability to converse with any type of animal. Attitude – You are a wild animal who takes no shit. Natural Armory – Nature has provide you with teeth, claws or similar natural weapons.
SCIENCE! – Either through self- experimentation or by accident your hero gains their powers.
Other – Your hero is not human, Alien, ancient superpowered race, born an experiment, or even half-god!
Family duty- you come from a line of magic users, and now what better use of your power than to fight crime
Speed freak – player can move up to supersonic speeds, would have different levels of speed ranging from as double normal speed beyond.
Man of the future! – Player is a time traveler or gains tec from another time so advanced its almost magic
Chemical Spill – Mutagenic Body – Ability to form claws, tentacles, armor plates, and jaws etc out of your body. Material Mimicry – Ability to change your body into any material imagineable.
Parasite – Body is taken over by a parasitic exoskeleton. Ability to shoot various chemicals/toxins out of your body
Awkward puberty – You’re an alien and you have hyper-regenerative powers. God Descendant – You are the descendant of the god of war, you are proficient with any weapon
Cosmic Accident – Existential merging – You are merged with a extraplanar being – you can now use magic. Cosmic Control – You are hit by a meteorite containing an alien fungi, you can now control plant life.
Device -Henshin – Using some high tech/magical/alien device, you can change into a hero form.* Give Me an Edge – Technology enhances your skills, such as a high tech power suit or trick ammunition.* Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys? – You have gadgets to help in any situation, always prepared with a grappling gun or a repellent spray.
Peak Physical Perfection – Paragon – You are Human+, the finest specimen around and can run faster & longer, can jump higher & further etc. Multi-Martial-Artist – you have trained in most forms of martial art, able to pick and choose the best moves of each one.
Lost Ancient People – Unaging – you don’t age naturally. Mysticism – the power of prophecy. Lost magic. Ancient martial art. Mythological animal pet – what it says on the tin. Catchphrase – Always having an appropriate “saying of my people” spoken only in the old language, that adds drama or gravitas to a moment
Ghost/Detached Soul/Demon – Possession, Telekinesis, Dream walking, Incorporeal, Ectoplasm throw, Distort host, Mental attack
Secret Society Member – one of the New World Order/Illuminati/Alien Lizards. Ritual Knowledge, Wealth, Social Status, Magic – this will depend on what the theme of the society, Un-natural feature (specify) – such as being lizardy, or demonic, or capable of levitation.
Not-RoboCop-Honest-Guv –Metal skin, Internet access, Heat vision, Targeting computer, Integrated weapon, Rocket feet, Internal power generation, Little drone companion.
Image Credit: Sunflower Seeds by Oatsy40 (CC BY 2.0)