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In my story a group of people (around 18-20 years old) get superpowers but only slight ones and invulnerability is not one (e.g. perceiving time slower and breathing underwater) and only a couple so far have ways to avoid being shot.

Their enemies will be professional SWAT style "operators" with small arms only (MP7s, MP5s, Five-Sevens) so not immensely powerful but accurate and high fire rate.

So what I'm wondering is are there realistic ways to keep the characters alive other than giving these professionals terrible aim or making the characters really lucky?

E.g. what sort of walls would make the shots/enemies non lethal.

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closed as too broad by user535733, We are Monica., Mołot, Renan, Alex2006 Mar 1 at 21:58

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ What are the powers that two of them have to avoid being shot? What do you mean by 'slight superpowers'? Please give examples or you are asking us to invent our own and you may not agree with our suggestions. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Mar 1 at 13:32
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    $\begingroup$ What are your characters doing that's leading to them getting shot at? What sort of context are they in - a law enforcement raid, a siege or standoff, some kind of heist? $\endgroup$ – Cadence Mar 1 at 13:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Cadence A company is trying to capture/kill them. So the location and exact scenarios change $\endgroup$ – P.Lord Mar 1 at 13:39
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like the goal is merely to kill, since this question seems to focus on firepower instead of how to safely trap and capture. Any professional who sets up a kill zone where the walls could provide useful protection seems like a fraud instead of the promised skilled professional. The fraudulent goons (and the executive who cannot discern between 'kill' and 'capture') should be replaced with competent personnel. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Mar 1 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ Wear plot armour, many were shot but still live to tell the tale $\endgroup$ – user6760 Mar 1 at 15:52

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I'll presume since you didn't list the superpowers, and you specifically describe them as "only slight," they're not going to decide this outcome, but perhaps give them an edge in certain situations. So by-and-large we're mostly dealing with "normal civilians vs a SWAT team."

Even being optimistic this is a stacked, uphill battle.

There's a reason small arms are universally accepted as the most effective way to stop individual combatants, and have been for over a century. Further, the SWAT team will be composed of men and women presumably trained and practiced in the use of small arms, as well as trained and practiced in tactics and teamwork relevant to taking on people.

...with small arms only (MP7s, MP5s, Five-Sevens) so not immensely powerful but accurate and high fire rate.

There's a common misconception (thanks, TV, movies, and video games!) that smaller calibers, such as 9mms, are somehow not that dangerous. This is completely false. You can kill with a 9mm round farther than even trained shooters with a resting firing position can accurately shoot a 9mm. In the linked video he's able to shoot through a sheet of plywood, through a 2x4, and make a clean exit out of it, meaning it has plenty of force. Move to hollow points, and the round will expand, ensuring that the force of the round will be used far more effectively to neutralize the intended target.

So you have trained, coordinated teams with infrastructure and logistics support, with fully automatic weapons that can easily kill a human.

Unless your heroes drastically outnumber the SWAT team, or there is a legal or political reason holding back the SWAT team, an engagement with the SWAT team will not be a win for our heroes.

The only way to win is to not play the SWAT team's game. Never engage with the SWAT team. Run. Hide. Cover their tracks. And if the aforementioned political/legal strategy is an option, use that.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the great answer. My point about power was more that maybe body armour and obstacles would work because if .308s and 50 cals were involved then both those can be safely ignored. $\endgroup$ – P.Lord Mar 1 at 17:08
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Don't get caught.

The SWAT team can't shoot them when they don't know where they are or when they manage to flee before the SWAT arrives.

Besides generally being smart and careful about how to travel and how to conceal communication, it might be useful to have some superpowers which allow them to spy on their opponents to find out what they know and what they are up to.

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  • $\begingroup$ Mr Miyagi's best defense: "no be there". $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 1 at 20:23
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Kevlar vests? Those can stop small caliber bullets relatively easily, leaving bruises beneath them, but nothing lethal. You can buy those over ebay for as little as $50, and they can be concealable, requiring a simple hoodie to cover any bumps. Of course, they can only take so many bullets before they get knackered, so you'd have to get new ones every now and then (the best would be to get a new one even if you were shot just once, as there's always a chance another shot might land in the same spot and might pierce the vest.) But being relatively cheap, I don't think that would be a problem for a group with superpowers.

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    $\begingroup$ Kevlar vests are, well, vests. Even without headshots a spray of a SMG will likely also hit you in the groin or shoulder, and grenades will incapacitate you anyway. IIRC policemen death statistics show that more than half of officers who died from gunshots were wearing body armor at the time, so it's not nearly immunity. Also, a burst of shots in your vest that doesn't penetrate will still punch you hard enough to take the wind out of you - an untrained person isn't going to just sprint away after such hits, they'll go down; due to the armor they'll live... in custody. $\endgroup$ – Peteris Mar 1 at 19:25
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You can make it so that one of them has an ability to slightly distort the perception of the SWAT causing them to have a high chance of missing even though they are highly trained.

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Call the police.

My own powers are less than godlike, and if I am being threatened by armed men, my inclination would be to call the police. If these SWAT-style operators attack the police events will proceed from there. Police have helicopters. If the SWAT operators are some sort of sanctioned government operatives they will have to explain their operation to the police and that will take some time that your characters can use to escape.

If you worry the police have been coopted, call the fire department and say there is a fire. Maybe set a fire or use powers to simulate one. I like the idea of calling the cops the first time and next time they get caught calling the firemen. The SWAT dudes will be so pissed off.

Dilution is the solution to pollution. With a bunch of cops and / or firemen around it will be hard for some paramilitary types to just gun down a bunch of young people.

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    $\begingroup$ Ha! Turn actual SWAT against SWAT-wannabes. Fair point. I feel silly that I didn't think of this. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Mar 1 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ There was a story, don't recall the name, a dangerous character was asked how to extract a hostage as part of a skill test. His answer, like yours, was to call the cops - his skills were blowing things up, not hostage negotiation, and hey, there's people actually trained for that, so why not get them involved when its actually their job (they were really not expecting that, but it worked). The OP's characters clearly have their own strengths, superpowers and all, but if fighting SWAT-like teams isn't really in their skill set, it makes more sense to call those who can deal with them better. $\endgroup$ – Megha Aug 6 at 5:30
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With superpowers listed in the question (and conversation), the team does not stand a chance against a professional "SWAT" team. Use plot devices to save your characters.

With the exception of the immortal one, your young superheroes appear to have nothing that can save them in a gun battle. Of course they can wear bulletproof vests, and that can make a big difference if taking one or two shots, but it won't change the eventual outcome of the altercation. So your team needs a way out.

I suggest that your immortal draws fire to himself, so no other team members are being hit. Then something happens (flash and smoke, maybe some brave ally appearing just in time, etc.), so the "SWAT" team is confused, whereas your team has a way to escape.

This is a well worn plot trope, and you may not like to use it, but unless you somehow upgrade the superpowers, characters would be very likely to get shot and killed.

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You'll need to go for skills that'll prevent them getting into a traditional fight, rather than they typical slugging-it-out stuff you see in films.

Make one of the minor powers something that has a minor impact on perception, so that they consistently miss. This could be something like an illusion skill, or just a 'mirage' type skill (e.g. the ability to change air pressure / refractive index of air slightly).

Because of their skill, the SWAT team aren't going to be spraying bullets all over the place, but will be absolutely accurate. So they'll miss very slightly every shot. Your superpower people can then play dead or run away.

Or make a skill a 'dazzle' type skill, which would prevent the SWAT team seeing temporarily; because they're trained not to shoot indiscriminately, they should not fire.

Any other variations on this theme that would make the SWAT team feel they can't shoot and confidently hit their targets and not hit innocents could work.

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Perhaps make one of the super-powers a form of intuition. A 'spidey sense', if you will. Such that they can avoid most confrontations, or intuitively know the best route of escape.

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Cover and concealment. If you've got cover, you're hiding behind something that is thick enough to stop bullets. Not many things work well as cover in real life because bullets are good at penetrating. Look up some videos on Youtube such as the Paul Harrel channel that demonstrate how different calibers penetrate different materials. In one video, he showed that only the engine block of a car provides enough mass to block bullets, but hiding behind pretty much any other part of the car's body is unsafe because bullets can travel through all the other metal parts.

Concealment is hiding behind something that bullets can penetrate, but the shooter cannot see the target so chances of getting hit are lower. On TV they frequently show things being used as cover with bullets bouncing off when they are actually just concealment.

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site Winston, please take the tour and read up in our help centre about how we work: help center . If you read the question carefully, you'll find that your answer doesn't answer it, you can edit though, to change the situation. $\endgroup$ – We are Monica. Mar 1 at 20:51
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I think much depends on the super power:

E.g.

  • Being able to see 1 second in future would enable a lot of not being there when the bullet came by.
  • being able to exert 1 pound of force via telekinesis. This could really screw up the person shooting at you, either applied to the trigger or to the end of the barrel. Or on the right artery in the opponents brain, instant blindness until the pressure is released. TK could also flip light switches, break tungsten light filaments, move door bolts, fiddle locks...
  • being difficult to see: aka "The Shadow" with hte ability to cloud men's minds.
  • being able to fire someone else's synapse from a distance. At a gross level random firing could induce an epileptic fit. At a finer level (closer distance required, more skill required) cause a twitch. With someone whose nervous system you knew really well, take simple actions like drop keys.
  • faster nervous system. Typical speed of reaction from decision to movement is ~.5 to .7 second. Suppose that you could think, and get signals to muscles twice as fast. You wouldn't be any stronger, you don't become the flash able to move any faster, but you could react faster all the little delays aren't there. What other people have to practice for years to gain through muscle memory you have to do twice.
  • Ability to see by infra-red or ultra-violet. Allows you to control the illumination.
  • Really good hearing. The ability to focus hearing on a region (Probably at heart a telekinetic skill)
  • Being able to read the closest mind within 15 feet. E.g. If there is one head up to 15 feet away, you can read thoughts. Two people within that distance there is cross talk: You are hearing both person's stream of consciousness at once.
  • Being able to read emotions (telempath) from further away. Same cross talk effect.
  • Being able to create heat at a distance -- about one kitchen matches worth.

Anne McCaffrey has a series of short stories about Talents. Most of them are weak. The person who gets precognitions, but only about fires and no more than 24 hours ahead. The person who can telekinetically influence dice, but not a roulette wheel or card shuffle.

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One of the reasons armor fails in real life is because it only covers a portion of the body.

Police and others only only vests because more armor is really heavy and hard if you're wearing it for hours at a time. Soldiers might wear more but it's still difficult. Armor also causes you to overheat easily.

Anyone whose superpowers allow them to stay cooler with heavy gear on and/or allow them to wear that gear without fatigue will be able to wear more armor and therefore survive more encounters with bullets.

Mix that with powers to help them predict someone's movements (both during combat and before they arrive), see what is happening (are they a block away or a mile away?), or slip away in other ways, and you will have a much higher survival rate than you would for actual regular people.

Perceiving time slower means they have a chance to move before someone grabs or punches them, and maybe can move as someone's aiming and firing a gun, depending on the range of the power. Breathing underwater means being able to hide places people don't generally look. And all that heavy armor? It keeps them from floating up to the surface and being discovered. Walking across a lake or river or moving from one cove to another on the coast is a pretty useful skill.

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E.g. what sort of walls would make the shots/enemies non lethal.

Think concealment, not cover or armor.

If your characters are concealed, they don't need to worry about avoiding gunfire. Let's say one of your characters has a small power that allows them to flip all of the light switches in a building, or blow a circuit breaker. This would allow the characters to evade the SWAT team using darkness as concealment. You can do similar scenarios using a smoke screen, camouflage, fake props that look like the characters, etc.

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