A book that I'm currently writing called Surge, my protagonist, Joseph Norton is an "Ascended", a human that is able to draw upon an energy source called the Nexus (à la the Force) to enhance his physical abilities as a byproduct by having his soul bound to an incredibly powerful and ancient weapon referred to as a Divine Tool. As an Ascended, Joseph can tap into the Nexus to perform superhuman and physics-defying feats such as moving faster than the human eye can track, throwing multi-ton cars with some degree of difficulty and being able to take a rocket-propelled grenade to the chest at point blank (which nearly kills him). Each Ascended has 3 - 4 primary abilities that embody their most dominant personality traits.

Joesph's powers include:

  • Precognition (representing his cautiousness and pragmatism) that only works if he's aware of what's going on around him and his senses are unimpaired.

  • A healing factor (representing his willpower) that automatically repairs broken bones, internal bleeding, and damaged organs and allows his immune system to resist toxins. But, Joesph can't regenerate limbs, survive decapitation or reform his body from a single cell.

  • Replicating weapons from his memories (representing his analytic nature) such as swords, maces, lances, halberds and axes but due to a bad case of Anterograde amnesia and the fact that they have hundreds of components, he can't recreate guns or grenades (think Tracing from Fate/stay night). Joseph later learns how to take on the powers of other Ascended using this ability, although his amnesia only allows him to create flawed imitations limited by his fragmented memories and shut off his original powers when using a duplicated power.

  • Electrokinesis (representing his inner emotional turmoil) that allows him to shoot bolts of energy from his fingers, fire beams of electricity from his palms, hurl lightning bolts like spears and call down lightning strikes. This ability has its limits as Joesph can't absorb electricity from other sources and can still be harmed by electric attacks.

Joseph's Electrokinesis also allows him to channel the Nexus through his hands and feet to transform his fingers and toes into electrified claws, which complement his kickboxing and parkour skills by allowing him to rapidly scale vertical surfaces such as brick, concrete or glass walls. I've been trying to figure out what sort of claws would be practical for such purposes. I originally settled on hook-like talons similar to those of eagles (which would've tied into the eagle motif) attached to his character), but when I did research on eagles, I learnt that their claws evolved primarily to restrain large struggling prey, and were poorly suited for combat or climbing.

Are there such claws that allow for both close quarters combat (CQC) and fast climbing?

NOTE: Keep in mind that Surge's setting is modern day

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Claws are a terrible choice for that kind of climbing (i.e. like Spiderman). Some form of adhesion is a better idea. And it's apparently been done already by Elliot Hawkes, a mechanical engineer at Stanford. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ and you could use smart-glued hands as a weapon. You could rip someone's face off. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 8:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You're not going to be climbing glass with any sort of claws. $\endgroup$
    – Kilisi
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 11:42

3 Answers 3


Your hero's claws manipulate electricity. Give him electroadhesive claws.

electroadhesive robots


By now, most roboticists are familiar with the myriad gecko-type robots that employ Van der Waals forces (created by microscopic synthetic setae) to cling to walls. Less well-known is the work on an electrically-controllable alternative developed by researchers at SRI International (formerly called Stanford Research Institute) called "electroadhesion". Impressively, the electroadhesive can support 0.2 to 1.4 N per square centimeter, requiring a mere 20 micro-Watts per Newton. This means that a square meter of electroadhesive could hold at least 200kg (440 lbs) while only consuming 40 milli-Watts, and could turn on and off at the flick of a switch! Read on for pictures, videos, and discussion.

Your hero maintains a strong charge on his claws opposite to the surface that he is climbing, and so is supported by electroadhesion. Surface area is king here and so the claws should be many and small. Sharp points might help concentrate charge, in a manner akin to a lightning rod.

As regards combat: instead of clawing with nails and pulling hair, use the electroadhesion property - in reverse. Electrorepulsion would pack a wallop and send an opponent flying. Of course your hero would receive the opposite energy but this is true for a blow with a fist also.


If you want to have CQC and fast climbing you have to heavily sacrifice (or compromise) on the latter.

Think if squirrels or geckoes: excellent climbers but with no CQC skills.

Now think of cats or bears: still decent climbers, deadly claws but surely more limited in their climbing than the first two.

Lucky for you, your character is human, so he can have climb appendices and then wear suitable gloves in case of CQC is needed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good insight. It's the same reason squirrels can escape into trees from natural predators like cats and wolves. Their claws are built for climbing trees while cats and wolves paws are built for grip (and therefore land running speed). It would imply to have a hybrid, you'd have to sacrifice a little on both sides of the coin. $\endgroup$
    – Neil
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 8:38
  • $\begingroup$ not sure geckoes are really a relevant example here, while they are excellent climbers they don't rely on claws at all for this. $\endgroup$
    – BKlassen
    Commented Jul 30, 2018 at 19:33

You would need claws capable of moving up on a separate joint with suction pads underneath them. That way if they hit a surface they cannot penetrate like glass, the suction pad gets a grip instead while the claw is pushed up. Lock the joint while fighting or climbing using the claws, unlock it when you need to.

Composition of your claws should be a substance that can impact on concrete or metal without damage. Obviously it has to conduct electricity as well so probably a metal is best.

If you can throw a car I'm not really sure you need claws for melee fighting, that sort of strength would enable you to tear people's limbs off I would think and then hit them over the head with their own arm/leg etc,.


You must log in to answer this question.