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I've been writing a short anime-like story, in which a villain has time-controlling powers. His abilities enable him to:

  • Freeze someone physically, even though they're able to think and perceive their surroundings;
  • Reverse time, affecting that person and a small area around them (such as 1 metre wide);
  • Fast them forward again.

The idea is that his time control usually goes as far as a couple of minutes, since it also takes time for these things to happen (it's not an immediate effect), and ageing a person would take too many days. He often uses it to pause people or torture them.

But I need the good guys to win. It's two versus one (one of them can produce and dissolve into smoke, and the other does so with ionised gas). What can they do to stop the bad man in his tracks, since his power seems way more powerful than theirs? What could his blind or weak spots be?

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    $\begingroup$ Anything. A human can't think as fast as basically anything that defeats a person. A bullet, a punch, a car, a knife, a laser beam.. the only thing that might not work is a slow poison. the superpower you have described is great for a lot, but it's certainly useless in any fight. Do you need your guys to win in a way that doesn't involve violence? $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Aug 27 '19 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ It's anime-like, so violence is no problem for solving things. Although I am aware that a bullet would kill him, but not if he pauses you first. That's why I am looking for a solution $\endgroup$ – Elsie Aug 27 '19 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ Change the locks of his apartment while he's out doing villainy... every time he's out doing villainy. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Aug 27 '19 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ Can you clarify what you mean by 'ionised gas'? $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Aug 27 '19 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ I mean plasma, as in, casting something similar to fire, but way warmer. The character isn't in full control of their powers, though $\endgroup$ – Elsie Aug 27 '19 at 19:48
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I doubt if your time-manipulating villain (Mr TMV) is bullet-proof. The two good guys can carry guns. Provided Mr TMV cannot time zap two persons in different places, with a reasonable amount of separation, that is to say, they could all be in the same room (for example).

Any cold-hearted person capable of logic and reason will realize that many of Marvel Comics' superheroes and superheroines can be taken out by a sniper. Mr TMV appears to suffer from a similar weakness.

Therefore, a concealed sniper, armed with high-powered rifle and a telescopic sight, could put paid to the villainy of Mr TMV. Yes I know this isn't sporting, but it is a logical solution and exploits an obvious weakness in the villain.

The simplest way to defeat Mr TMV, without being cold-heartedly unsporting, will be to outmanuevre the time-manipulating dastard. This will be especially the case if Mr TMV can only focus his time-control in one direction, most appropriately, at a time. If the two good guys are armed too, this will help heaps.

Time for me to go and warm my cold-heart with a nice hot meal.

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Lure the bad guy into a large room with only one door then silently slip out, locking that door as you go. Now assuming that he can only push time back a few minutes, he will be trapped inside as long as he doesn't try to open the door within that span of minutes.
So leave something that he really wants in the center of the room, with an apparent booby trap which will take some time to defuse. By the time, he realizes that he is trapped, it will be too late.

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Tag Team Assault

It might sound obvious, but it is a two on one fight and the hero side should exploit that. Ruthlessly if they have to. If your timey-wimey guy can only effectively affect one area at a time, then the solution is the two people not being in the same area so that they can't be hit at the same time.

One person might be frozen, but that leaves him vulnerable to the other guy coming up behind him, possibly from a blind side. When the antagonist lapses on concentration to deal with the second person, that frees the first.

It feels like this battle will be more than just a straight out super-powered slugfest, but something where deeper bits of strategy and tactics will be involved. The villain would have the goal of getting both into a single spot that they can time stop, which should end the fight there. The heroes need to maintain positions to prevent that from happening, and potentially save their comrade should something bad happen to them.

Smoke creation could be used to blind and/or suffocate the villain, depending on the control over said smoke and any ability to dispel it once it has done its work.

Timey Wimey Powers

The main drawback of this power in my example is that only one area and effect can be active at a time. So while the flow of time can be altered in an area, it is constrained to one area and one temporal rate at a time.

The obvious weakness is perception -- they need to perceive something in order to time-whammy it. Whether that is an area of space, or a person, or themselves, they will need to be able to perceive it. As we are a visually oriented species, this is likely based on sight.

Comedy

Of course, if this isn't super-serious … or you have that kind of character, just lay on them a giant tirade of spoilers for their favourite shows. Their desperation not to know might lead them into making a mistake in their drive to not be spoiled. If you can go on for long enough, they can't timeslip back out of it.

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    $\begingroup$ That was such a good answer! I am glad that you pointed out the possibility of being able to affect a single area at once, so his tactic should involve pushing them together in a clever usage of the terrain. And the observation on his need for perceiving a target is smart too. As soon as the main characters figure out his limitations, they can work on that. That last bit got me laughing though! $\endgroup$ – Elsie Aug 27 '19 at 23:00
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Trick him into reverting time back for himself.

He is on his guard. He sees someone and quickly reverts them back in time 1 minute. He does not realize that the person he saw was himself, in a small nearby 1 m wide area one minute in the future. But he knows something weird is going on. He is on his guard. He sees someone and quickly reverts them back in time 1 minute...

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    $\begingroup$ The trick to a self-repeating loop is that you need some way to start it, though. If he's reverting his future self back, he needs to also revert himself into the past without realizing it. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Aug 27 '19 at 18:49
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Very Quick

Covered time and again: kill him before he can deploy his powers. Bullet to the brain etc.

Very Slow

Since they cannot reverse time an indefinite amount, just use a method of death where a couple minutes more or less don't make a difference. Only negative point: these kinds of premediated slow deaths are really not a hero's work. Maybe make them an anti-hero?

Poison

Use something that accumulates in the body over time (hours / days) that will kill them. Arsenic, heavy metals, radioactive isotopes etc.

If they can only reverse minutes, you could also give them a drug that works slowly enough that they cannot turn back time far enough to prevent them from taking the drug. The drug should impair brain functions so that at a certain point of time they won't be able anymore to trigger their timey-whimey powers. At that point, you can kill them in whatever way you want.

Biological Warfare

Turning back time won't help them if they are infected with a deadly disease and realize it only days later...

Or give them food poisoning. Have you ever tried to do anything mentally exhausting (assuming that turning back time does take a lot of brain power) while having severe nausea and stomach cramps? Hit them while they're down!

While they are asleep

Equally not-hero-friendly, but if it works? Flood the room they are in with carbon monoxide or a sedative gas - I bet they won't wake up before they slip into unconsciousness.

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"Look out - behind you!"

Time manipulator shoots and steps back in time to avoid the attack -- only to find he has just shot himself by timeshifting into the path of his own bullets.

Used well, it would be a neat way of wiping him out with his own talent.

Version two:

"A room full of smoke - must be smoke man, I'll just reverse time and put him back in his vulnerable human form"

But when reversed it's not smoke man, it's a bomb about to go off and fill the room with lethal shrapnel and smoke. Bwahaha!

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Traps

The bad guy chases them into an area with only one exit. The heroes dissolve into gas and escape that way and lock the door. Now the bad guy is faced with starvation. His only option is to freeze himself but then he's faced by eternal madness of being aware and frozen.

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Take the Long Route

Since your villain can remember the previous time lines after rewinding, it is not unreasonable to assume that he has still experienced that time, and is thus a minute or so older than he was the last time he was at this point in time.

Thus a fight of ten minutes for your heroes may involve many hundreds of rewinds for your villain, which will age them by hours as he groundhogs his way through every problem your heroes put in his way.

If your heroes are resourceful enough, and are able to put enough barriers that cover each other in enough ways, your villain will eventually die of old age from rewinding so many times.

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  • $\begingroup$ Weelll... I'd think it more likely they'd die of, say, starvation or the like before old age. Or even, yanno, just pass out from low blood sugar, or surrender once they get to the point of really, really needing a bathroom break. Both the power use and the fight will take energy, and the body only has so much available at any one time (even if for some reason only the brain was unaffected by time-turning-back [to keep the memories, it'd have to be] the brain is quite an energy hog) $\endgroup$ – Megha Aug 29 '19 at 0:30

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