Superpowers: A Rough Passages Q&A #1

An intrepid reader sent me some excellent  questions about the alternate history setting for my Rough Passages stories.  Being me, I’ll be answering them right out here in public so everyone can see. I don’t consider the background information spoilerish, but I will also grant I’m the world’s worst person to judge that. Nothing here applies to any existing story, for what that’s worth.

There were a lot of questions. Here’s the first set.

For teleporters: how are power levels defined, as say in distance and weight taken along for the ride limits?  Do known (e.g. J) variants differ?

Teleportation does not lend itself to measurement metrics. This is the main reason it falls into the W series designation. “W for weird” began as a kitchen sink category for powers that couldn’t easily be defined or explained. Many powers originally considered W were moved into other designations as time went on — mostly assorted perception or telekinetic groupings. Of all the eclectic talents that remain on the Group W bench, teleportation is the least easily quantified.

A complex matrix of range/weight/precision is used to assign the main power rating, with the higher ranks restricted to those who do not require touch and can either teleport a lot a long way, or small masses very precisely. Variants focus on type of teleport mechanism (as best the teleporter can describe it) and any crossover or secondary rollover changes. (Like having wings, f’rex)

So a W1A teleporter could be one who can teleport your shirt off your back into the next room and have it arrive intact, or one who could teleport your house into the next city…but not to a precision location. Secondary and tertiary variant letters the author hasn’t bothered to hammer down would give interested characters in-world a pretty good at-a-glance idea of exactly what a given teleporter can do.

What about telekinetics? Are telekinetics & teleporters governed by Newton’s Laws of Motion?  Example:  Can Pullers stop inertia and or momentum?  Say pulling a person from a car going 50, or passenger jet going 450mph?

Telekinetics, pyrokinetics, teleporters, and most other people with physically-related rollover powers laugh in the face of principles like inertia and energy/mass conservation.

Well, some of them do. Some of the time. Such is the unpredictable nature of rollover. There are no hard certainties.  Most power designations are made based on observable similarities.  The devil is in the details.  One woman’s telekinesis might defy inertia up to a certain momentum or for a certain time,  while another’s might be totally without inertial limits. Most of the rollover orientation period is spent learning one’s new limits under experienced supervision in a controllable environment–often an internment camp far, far away from defenseless nulls.

Mistakes such as “Oops, I can run fast enough that air friction will burn off my skin” “Gosh my muscles are strong but my bones aren’t!” or “Wow, I can call fire out of thin air but my body isn’t fireproof,” are ones most people don’t want to make even once.

One big reason acceptance of oppressive practices like internment & monitoring remains so high is that everyone knows someone who knows someone who died at the unforgiving intersection between their new powers and Newtonian physics.

Do all, most, or few teleporters have innate spatial awareness?

Some. Not a majority, but it isn’t a rarity either. It’s more common in those who have to touch & carry their payloads than in those who can send/receive things using sensory input or pre-determined coordinates. If you want numbers…I do not crunch numbers.

How rare are double powered individuals?  Say person with both a W and a B series?

Rare. Very rare. Now, that said…

Many powers do commonly appear as sets, but one talent is almost always subordinated/linked to the more powerful one.  F’rex, a portal-caster who can sense magnetic forces wouldn’t be considered a double power.  They would be a W with a B variant. It boils down to perspective: the more powerful/obvious aspect generally gets designated as the series, with the secondary one considered a variant on that series.  Does that make sense?  It did to the frazzled, overworked people who came up with this system under battle conditions.

And unless physical changes could be called a “third” power (which people don’t unless there’s no second one)  no one manifests more than two talents.   Except Gaias. And Gaia rollovers are like unicorns. No one believes they really exist.

Can Doctors repair damage suffered from an injury years after the fact?

Nope. Some can regenerate flesh, but they would require a fresh injury at or larger than the original site…and whether the resulting healing restores the body to its original template or the new “healed” one depends on both the particular talent of the D-series healer and the individual being healed.

As one might imagine, the pain & trauma involved discourages experimentation. Most people would rather not find out the hard way that being re-injured will only get them a fresher scar. (Or worse…)

That’s all for this batch. More later!

I hope someone enjoys reading all the picky details as much as I enjoy sharing them.

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