If they should be, why?

This is one of the questions I have about my own world, where the premise is that 5% of mankind possess a power. Those that deal catastrophic damage are rare, where as the common super powered individual is only limited to a small radius.

For example:

  • Alpha has the ability to expel shock waves. The largest area of damage A can cause is a 2333.5 meter radius, or 1.45 miles.
  • Beta however, has the same ability. The largest area of damage B can cause is a 575 meter radius.

However, A is more likely to die than B. This is due to the amount of power required and can be life threatening to the user. This means that B is able to repeat this sort of attack at a maximum of three times before he'll die.

Both have to limit themselves if they want to cause city wide chaos and still be able to fight off vigilantes or a super powered law enforcer.

Now that this is established, how does someone activate their superpower?

  • The user has to experience a very negative experience that could be considered life threatening or incredibly harmful either physically or mentally. The threshold is relative to the user, but common trends have been detected through out the years.

  • Pre pubescent children and teenagers cannot wield a super power that easily. The older someone is, the more likely their 'unlock' manifests. The young adult age group is the most common, while the adolescent age group is the most uncommon, second to children and toddlers.

Which are the most common?

  • Physical manipulation, mutation and enhancement proves to be the most common superpower to exist.

  • Manipulating other properties of the world is rare. You cannot manipulate reality or past events.

  • Shape shifting and transforming is an incredibly rare Aberration as well.

Can they be trained?

  • Some powers cannot be trained to improve. Because this is the first generation of Aberrants [the word used to describe a super powered individual,] there has not been a point in which the sky is limit. There is a 75% chance that your power output is permanently capped and a 25% chance that it can be improved upon, with the ceiling being slightly higher than some.

  • Forgot to mention this, but it is possible to have two superpowers, but this group takes up 3% of the super powered population.

So how does jail work?

  • Methods to contain aberrant criminals has been to place them in a sedated state, using depressants in the duration of their sentence. This inhibits their mental capacity and motor skills in an attempt to lower the chance of re-activating their powers. The ethics and legality of this punishment has been continuously questioned, but remains one of the most popular methods of preventing prison breaks from aberrant criminals.

  • Aberrant criminals will be transported into super max prisons in the not so far future to ensure that escape is next to impossible. It has only been around 20 years since aberrations have started appearing, so methods of apprehending and stopping super powers are still in the works.

With all of these facts in mind, how would you approach this world as a law enforcement officer, who happens to have a high ranking?

What would be your thoughts as a civilian or an aberrant who is constantly denied a job because they happen to be born with something they didn't choose to have?

I would also like to add that coming up with ways to detained aberrants has been a difficult thing. I've thought about implementing maximum security prisons like Ryker's [Marvel Comics] while making sure that these people cannot use their powers [hence the depressants.]

  • 1
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    – JBH
    Oct 21, 2018 at 14:11

5 Answers 5


People are different, but equal before the law.

In the real world, people have differing abilities. Some are trained in hand-to-hand combat. Some are martial artists, who may or may not have a good idea how to fight without pulling their punches. Some are strong but untrained. Some are neither strong nor trained. Yet they all mingle on the street.

  • Punish actions, not abilities.
    If John Doe aka The Shock can fire shockwaves from his hands, that alone is no reason to believe that he would do so in an illegal manner. And there could be plenty of legal ones. He could get into the demolition business and save himself the expense of a wrecking ball, turning a tidy and entire legitimate profit to the benefit of society.

  • Abilities affect the judgement of actions.
    If James Doe aka Mr. Granite has a body of rock, the law might not allow self-defense as justification for a killing someone who kicks him unless Mr. Granite had reason to believe that green rockonite was in play to weaken his defenses. A clearly ineffective attack does not justify excessive defenses.

  • There may be a responsibility to act to the best of one's ability.
    Where I live, people who witness an accident or crime have the duty to help as far as they consider it safe and possible. The legal minimum is to inform the authorities at the next safe opportunity. But if a healthy adult fails to pull a drowning child from a knee-deep pond because he was afraid of getting his socks wet, there would be an outrage.
    If Jane Doe aka Ms. Rocket witnesses some punk stealing the purse of a nice old granny, she would be expected to use her super-speed to trip that thief. Maybe there is no legal obligation to actually do so, but the moral obligation is to use her powers for the benefit of society.

Of course super separation laws appear in many stories, sometimes to make a point about equality, sometimes without thinking about it. Don't do the latter.

  • $\begingroup$ Not sure about the last part. Ms Rocket could end up getting sued because the punk twisted his ankle when he fell. $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Oct 21, 2018 at 11:59
  • $\begingroup$ @nzaman, depends on the legislation. I would put it that a society where a bystander does not dare to intervene in a crime for fear of being sued has problems ... $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Oct 21, 2018 at 12:46
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    $\begingroup$ @o.m. Many problems or just a flawed system. I've heard so many stories from china, about people helping elderly who fell over, only to be accused of pushing them over and getting sued. Its very easy to say someone hurt me and I need compensation when there is no clear evidence and the accuser appears visibly hurt. $\endgroup$
    – Shadowzee
    Oct 22, 2018 at 1:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee To add on to your anecdotes, the versions I heard have the judge ruling in favour of the elderly person, saying something like "Why would you help the old man/woman unless you had a guilty conscience" $\endgroup$ Oct 22, 2018 at 4:12
  • $\begingroup$ Even though everyone should be given the benefit of the doubt, as it should be, living in a constant world of uncertainty doesn't exactly sound nice for the rest of the world. Next thing you know, you want to take your family to a baseball game and some super powered individual destroys everything in his path. A few weeks later, another person simply takes their place. It would be living in a constant state of paranoia. While there are aberrants with good intentions, it is usually the fear mongering that is more effective than the right thing. $\endgroup$
    – Cobalt
    Oct 24, 2018 at 15:24

The Law Escalates Until It Wins, by lethal force if necessary.

It is a necessary principle of law enforcement that the police/government must escalate until they win, even over the slightest of laws.

In the USA, you may receive a parking ticket without being arrested, just sent on your way, free as a bird. But you cannot continue to just not pay it, or not appear in court, forever. Warrants for your arrest will be issued; failing to comply is a bigger crime, you may be jailed. Escaping jail is a bigger crime. Eventually the government will escalate to lethal force -- over your refusal to pay a parking ticket.

That is as it should be. Your society is the same. As @o.m. said (beat me to it), people with powers should be innocent until proven guilty, but once they have committed a crime: They go to regular prison. If they have become violent against law enforcement, a super-max prison. If they can escape that, and choose to do so, their lives are not sacrosanct, the government escalates to lethal force and will seek to kill them if they refuse to remain incarcerated for their term.

Of course, that escalation should itself be legal, decided by a judge in criminal court, that the aberrant is a danger to life and property in their society, or a terrorist and murderer and enemy of the state, and any and all forms of lethal force are authorized to "neutralize" the danger of this aberrant continuing to live.

That is what will happen. IRL, just because some Navy Seal is capable of taking out the two police sent to arrest him, doesn't make that a good idea for him, failure to comply may truly ruin his life. Or he could be killed by the squad of police in battle armor that come to take him next time.

Just don't make the mistake of creating aberrants that cannot be defeated or restrained by any means. Not only do they not make physical sense, they kill your story.

The upshot is: You don't have to come up with fancy ways of detaining aberrants. Our current super-max prisons are sufficient, or places difficult to escape like Riker's Island or Guantanamo are enough.

If the aberrants can escape, they stay in prison of their own free will or they are killed. Stop being so respectful of the lives of criminals that could not restrain themselves from doing harm to innocent lives (including law enforcement or prison guards). Have your society get biblical instead: A life for a life.

I'm an atheist, but on this point, I'll agree that fair is fair. Treat their life with the same disregard they have treated the lives of innocents, and kill them. The general principle should be that NOBODY gets to ruin the lives of others for their own personal gain, power or enjoyment.


My thoughts:

This situation you've created here reminds me a lot of the first third of Pixar's "The Incredibles". If you've never seen that movie, basically, some people are born with superpowers. Most people who use them become superheroes, but others become supervillains. Eventually, the battles between the superheroes and supervillains cause so much collateral damage to the normal population that laws are passed requiring everyone who has powers to refrain from using their abilities in public. I believe a similar thing would happen in your universe, where people get fed up with constantly being caught in the crossfire between heroes and villains, so using superpowers in public would probably just be outlawed altogether, with those who do not comply being thrown in jail as mentioned by you above.


Why shouldn't they be segregated?

Lots of reasons.

  1. Do you want a them and us divide with super humans?
  2. Segregation is the first step to inequality.
  3. Innocent until proven guilty. Why do they need to be segregated if they have done nothing wrong?
  4. People don't ask for super powers. It usually happens to them. You can't punish people for existing.

Same reason we dont segregate humans for their mutations currently: theres no real need.

A current human with the superpower of high intelligence isnt likely to be using it to build deathrays and the like for him/herself. And a Kenian who trained for olympic running wont be using this 'superpower' to start stealing stuff. And someone who trains and keeps his body strong and has a lot of fighting experience isnt automatically going to abuse it. Ofcourse there will be people that abuse it, but they wont do so simply because they can.

The segregation will happen on a socialogical and economical level rather than an enforced level of law or discriminatory level. Possibly some religious segregation will happen as well, such as most christians probably shunning them as any power not from prayer&God has to be Evil while cults and a few religions will elevate them as chosen by the God(s). Someone with a simple telikinesis power might be fixing bikes without the need for tools while a high powered one might be powering a city or do large-scale construction or excavation projects. Someone with wings could join search and rescue, become any kind of photographer or reporter etc. Many wont even make use of their power for work or day to day life.

As for why not sticking with only other super powered humans? Because social interaction is fun and you are a small minority, and you'll likely meet friends and have unpowered family that keep you grounded.


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