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I'm having several of my superpowered characters do a simulated scrimmage, with paintballs. These characters have various powers: telekinesis, electric manipulation, water manipulation, energy manipulation (force fields, energy balls, etc.) , light manipulation (which includes being able to manifest lasers and illusions), air manipulation (which includes sonic manipulation), and heat manipulation.

This last one is the most troublesome. According to the rules, there are several targets on the person's body which must be hit by a paintball for them to be out. It's not allowed for a person to guard only their targets, but they can guard their body. It's obviously difficult to hit any of these characters (duh), but the thermokinetic gives me some problems.

The thermokinetic just radiates an aura of heat (which he can obviously control) which is warm enough to make bullets melt before hitting him, let alone a paintball. How would it be possible to hit the thermokinetic with a paintball? You can use the abilities of other people (listed above), or you can just get creative and use some sort of strategy/superpower combo.

Note: Assume he doesn't have a weakness, and there isn't an excessive amount of water available (though you'd probably need somewhere around a lakeful).

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    $\begingroup$ Melting things doesn't take away their kinetic energy. Instead of getting hit by a bullet, your thermokinetic would get hit by a slug of molten lead, which is probably way worse. $\endgroup$ – Valley Jul 30 '18 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Valley Good point and I realize this should be true, but this is pseudo-science. In most sci-fi books, any thermokinetic can stop bullets with aura. Doesn't make a lot of sense, I know, but whatever. If it helps any, maybe the aura is strong enough to vaporize the bullet? Which probably makes it overpoweredly strong, but whatever. $\endgroup$ – Ian Ng Jul 30 '18 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ Relevant question regarding pyrokinetics and regular bullets: worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/87229/46957 $\endgroup$ – Giter Jul 30 '18 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ Someone's been watching too much Boku no Hero. More importantly, this question is POB & Too Broad as you've basically said "use whatever magic you want (because you can use the abilities of other people which don't have clear limitations) to solve my problem" and you haven't stated what sort of criteria you'd use to judge the best answer. I can already think of several ways to beat your character, and they're all equally valid. Therefore, instead of posting any answers, I'm voting to close this question. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jul 30 '18 at 16:49
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Just addressing the assembled powers:

  • The guy who can manipulate light has the thermokinetic, and everyone else, over a very nasty barrel Laser Cooling can cancel out his heat aura and/or freeze him solid if the guy miscalculates.

  • The energy manipulator can simply drain the heat energy from his aura to fuel his own effects rendering him vulnerable.

  • The telekinetic if they have enough control can also control local temperature by stopping things from moving, if he stops the air around the thermokinetic from moving not only does he trap him he also cools the area very markedly.

  • The air manipulator can knock him out by rarefying the local oxygen supply not sure if that will get his heat aura down but it can't hurt the process of hitting him with a round or three. Vacuum is a poor transmitter of heat as well so evacuating the area between the shooter and the thermokinetic would extend the time to melt and/or vapourise any round fired.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer, esp. the air one. He's probably going to need an external source of oxygen too, so we won't have to worry about knocking him out. Telekinetic doesn't have enough control at this point. I'm curious about the light manipulator. Would a laser cooling effect work on a large scale? I though it only worked on small particles, and running laser cooling effects on many particles is beyond that scope. $\endgroup$ – Ian Ng Jul 30 '18 at 15:46
  • $\begingroup$ @IanNg It's used on a very small scale to study small effects but it could be used to chill at least the surface of a large body of material and since heat will propagate to a zone of low energy enough surface cooling will eventually freeze something solid. $\endgroup$ – Ash Jul 30 '18 at 15:50
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The thermokinetic just radiates an aura of heat (which he can obviously control) which is warm enough to make bullets melt before hitting him, let alone a paintball.

Well, if your hero just radiate heat, just coat the paintball with an high reflective layer. This will reflect away most of the hear, reducing warming up of the bullet.

This is more or less what geologists (according to international standards they seem to be pretty sensitive to heat) do when getting close to molten lava flow.

geologist near lava

A thin layer of aluminum can already do the trick.

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Give them a weakness

There are several points to address here...

Weakness

Assume he doesn't have a weakness...

Well there you are just getting hoist by your own petard. Give them a weakness, or just have them turn the aura down for training purposes.

Paintballs

I'm having several of my superpowered characters do a simulated scrimmage, with paintballs...

Why do they want to do that?

  • Are they playing paintball just for fun? If so: why even bother with superpowers? "House rule: no powers!"

  • Are they training for actual combat?

    • Do they expect to be attacked by people with paintball guns? If so, they should keep their powers on at full blast.

    • Are the paintball guns are supposed to be stand-ins for real guns that can punch through that aura? Then your hot hero should turn that aura off during training.

    • Are real guns something that cannot punch through that aura? Then just keep the aura on when playing with the paintballs.

How does the power work?

Depending how the power work, you are faced with some issues.

  1. The power automatically sets the temperature of everything that gets within in the aura.

    Issue: How is this person ever going to use that power in a normal environment? They will set fire to everything (same plot hole as in Iron Man 3).

    Also — as Valley pointed out — it does not take away any kinetic energy from the projectile... you are just adding energy to it. So instead of getting hit by a bullet at Mach 3, you are getting his by a lump of molten metal at Mach 3, essentially making it into the equivalent of a shaped charge... i.e. armour-defeating.

  2. The aura has a temperature and that radiates/convects into the projectile.

    This will simply not work because — at best — the projectile will have a hot surface while everything just beneath the surface will be just as normal. The time it spends in the aura is simply too short for heat to propagate. Also, some kinds of ammunition work best that way.

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A paintball travels on average (in the UK, which has power restrictions) at about 350 feet per second. and is propelled by CO2, which cools the paintball as it is fired. this is why you occasionally get "bouncers" which means the ball was too cold to split and it just bounces off. believe me this is more painful than one that splits. they also only have an effective range of about 50 metres this is on average, more powerful paintball (up to about 500-600 fps) guns are available but the range is only increased to 60-70 metres. this is because the barrel can't be rifled as it would split the ball inside the barrel

the temperature of this aura would need to be very hot and very large in order to impact any noticeable heat onto something that is traveling that fast, as this is a lot lot slower than a lead bullet.

Heat is quite slow to transfer in air, so unless the aura was hot enough to start causing material around him to catch fire spontaneously. then i don't see it even being an issue. and you could simply have the game marshals, state no setting any of the game area on fire. and if he was generating that levels of heat then he wouldn't be able to shoot anyone so he'd have to control it to a point.

Worst case for the game is that it might weaken the ball so it hurts him less.

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Unfortunately I don't know the speed of different bullet types, however I'd say that to physically melt something movong that fast youd need an extremely hot 'aura' since the bullet would pass through in far less time then a second. Especially high-powered rifles. If this is the case then there's no way a normal paintball could make it through.

The only way I can see this character being hit is if the paintballs are filled with a special chemical that is resistant to melting, or maybe they are 'super-frozen' beforehand so they reach a normal temperature by the time they hit the character.

Alternatively the character could just turn off the aura altogether. Since it appears to be about training, or maybe a contest of some sorts, the focus of it could be to rely on tactics and strategy instead of any type of powers, if that makes sense.

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The lowest-lying fruit would be that the force-field one is able to temporarily extend the force field to objects such that the paintball could get close enough to deposit its payload before burning up.

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Instead of vaporizing/melting bullets coming at him, what if your thermokinetic used his powers to heat the air and create strong winds around him to alter bullet trajectories? If the winds rapidly changed direction it would be nearly impossible to actually hit what you aim at unless you used a heavy, high caliber round. It can still mostly block enemy fire, but still has the chance for a stray bullet to sneak through, especially if your thermokinetic is up against something with a high rate of fire.

Based on some cursory research, this would likely only be effective if the enemies are more then a few hundred yards away, and with wind speeds around 10 mph.

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