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I'm designing a world a of supernatural beings loosely based on Christianity/Judaism as described in Naming the forces of the Purgatory? who visit Earth without humans being aware of them.

They consists of angels & souls with three different affiliations (good, bad & neutral). When these supernatural beings come to Earth they are embodied as humans.

The problem is that today everyone has a smartphone, and any fight that involves shape-shifting, flying, teleportation or fireballs caught on camera will quickly end up as most shared video on the social media thus destroying the masquerade.

What kind of powers should I give them, that allow for plausible deniability of the supernatural?

Dead bodies are not a problem for me, when they're killed the angel/soul returns to their realm only thing that remains is the human body.

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    $\begingroup$ Mind control, mind hive, mind reading, astral projection, future prediction/clairvoyance, psychometri/clairsentience, claircognizance, Mediumship, empath, etc. Even if all of the power is just mind/soul power, you can use these to even greatly enhance physical fight. $\endgroup$ – Hariz Rizki Dec 4 '16 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ Well... it's not like people who share videos in social media can distinguish between real phenomena and hoaxes. Why plausible deniability if it would be much more interesting to simply ridicule whoever thinks it's real? $\endgroup$ – Pedro Werneck Dec 4 '16 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ they are angels and souls so it would mean that they possessed a normal human? If yes,then it would also diminish a possibilities of fireball ,and flying human $\endgroup$ – Hariz Rizki Dec 4 '16 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ @PedroWerneck I don't want to use that kind of plot device, consistent universe doesn't rely on deus ex machina. $\endgroup$ – Dante Dec 4 '16 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Dante make them able to cause a heart attack with sight; way more deadly and subtle than a fireball $\endgroup$ – enkryptor Dec 5 '16 at 19:21

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Making them proficient with weapons and tactics like the best of Delta/SAS/Spetznaz/SEAL while having supernatural senses IR/UV/Smell/Hearing/[Aura reading] that will allow them to have heightened situational awareness. This will make them way too dangerous for 99.99999% of the human population.

If you want more, just add supernatural aim, faster reflexes, extra strength and stamina. This will give you real monsters that could handle several normal humans without much difficulty.

The scariest part of any supernatural is the ability to possess living beings. Having a SWAT officer freak out and kill his buddies is a huge force multiplier, and could always be explained by somebody snapping out due to stress, divorce, drinking, drugs whatever. A cat or dog could spy on a crime scene without any suspicion.

None of this things would mean anything even if they are caught on camera.

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    $\begingroup$ Depends. Do they have any kind of organization and/or active effort to maintain a masquerade? A couple dozen throwaway youtube accounts to comment on videos explaining that they're just hoaxes can go a long way. $\endgroup$ – Shadur Dec 5 '16 at 10:30
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    $\begingroup$ This is definitely the way to go - no weapons, just ways to use what a regular human has to much greater effect. Just a little faster, a little smarter, a little stronger, and crucially, senses and supernatural means of communication that lets them know their situation earlier and in more detail than whoever they're up against. Accurate up-to-date intel is a massive force multiplier, as is smooth co-ordination of separated units. In your average YouTube video, they'll just look like an expert combatant with honed instincts and lightning reflexes who can take a bit of a beating and keep going. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Dec 5 '16 at 16:59
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    $\begingroup$ So... basically, like the Matrix? $\endgroup$ – Jeutnarg Dec 5 '16 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ I personally would still want to see a video of someone snapping like that. If something like that was caught on camera, I know I'd think something was fishy, especially when it makes the news and they do an expose with the family saying "He had never had any episodes like this before!" $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Dec 6 '16 at 15:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Anoplexian I personally would still want to see a video of someone snapping like that. ...you sure about that? I wouldn't say is something I'd want to see... $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Dec 28 '16 at 16:23
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Supernatural senses:

Supernatural communication:

Mind games:

Physical: (keep this toned down to a deniable level)

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    $\begingroup$ By giving examples occuring in nature, you show that your abilities in "Supernatural senses" are not supernatural at all ;-) $\endgroup$ – M.Herzkamp Dec 5 '16 at 11:11
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    $\begingroup$ Someone has been playing VtM a lot :) $\endgroup$ – Deo Dec 5 '16 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Deo bloodlines used to be my favorite game, and the haunted motel was a real masterpiece $\endgroup$ – slobodan.blazeski Dec 5 '16 at 15:07
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    $\begingroup$ Nice, and my first thought on powers was to go to mind tricks. Instead of physical fighting, have them fight through mental/political methods in order to resolve disputes. If you've ever head of the Joker Game (anime), they go into a bit of an interesting method in the first episode. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Dec 6 '16 at 15:44
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    $\begingroup$ @M.Herzkamp just because the ability appears somewhere in the natural world doesn't mean it's natural for a human to posses the ability. ;) I'm pretty sure I can find you a natural occurrence of flight and just as sure that a human that could do the same thing would be rather...*un*natural. $\endgroup$ – Draco18s Dec 6 '16 at 16:43
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No magic required. People just don't believe. And the amount of fake evidence is overwhelming. Look on YouTube. You search for walking on water, and you will see a lot of fake videos of people walking on water. If you video yourself walking on water and then post it to YouTube, then people would assume that it was a fake like all the others, and if you insisted that it was real, then they would either think that you're lying or crazy.

The same can be said for anything supernatural, even people who claim to believe in the supernatural tend to be skeptical of any evidence that indicates that the supernatural actually exists.

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    $\begingroup$ This also adds the possibility that they aren't actually trying to maintain the masquerade - maybe they are even actively trying to go mainstream, but keep running up against the fact that Humans Are Morans. $\endgroup$ – Trevortni Dec 4 '16 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ That works only to a certain degree, videos are not easy to fake even with today's technology. So I want to avoid breaches to few and far in between $\endgroup$ – Dante Dec 4 '16 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ I would think a fireball match in the middle of times square is hard to cover up or think is faked. Disbelief abounds, but eventually people will start to realize it was a legit event. It's no different than when major events occur irl such as earthquakes in areas thought to have no fault lines. People think "oh it's just a video someone made" until CNN pops on with an emergency broadcast about dragons ripping through the statue of liberty and demolishing new york city. It's easy to cover up isolated incidents. It's hard to cover up a blatant act of supernatural terrorism on a mass scale. $\endgroup$ – The Great Duck Dec 5 '16 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ That was also my first reaction, but even with people thinking it is an elaborate fake, it may still be shared on the social media too much for the liking of those angels/demons/souls. $\endgroup$ – Ángel Dec 5 '16 at 3:37
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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like the way to go. Not only do you have skeptics, but the OP would hopefully not have his supernaturals be so mindless as to fight in Madison Square Garden during the New Years celebration. As long as they fight in more discreet locations, the skepticism will rise. "Where did they fight? Northeast California? Sounds fishy to me, so it couldn't be real". $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Dec 6 '16 at 15:43
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They embody humans but are not part of our realm. So their realm exists outside of our realm, but can inhabit the same place. So when they fight they fight in their realm while the human realm seems like nothing is happening. Like their human embodiments could be sitting in a coffee shop discussing something while their angelic bodies are fighting in their dimension realm. So you have the dichotomy of a calm conversation vs a fierce battle going on at the same time.

Or when they do fight in the human realm the magic only is visible in the other realm so it just looks like play fighting to humans. Human damage is human and magic damage only affects the angel or soul.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've seen that in the manga quite often but that doesn't work well for me. Supernaturals needs to be able to deal with the humans quite often. $\endgroup$ – Dante Dec 4 '16 at 18:09
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Use the classic vampire/ghost tactic; they don't resolve on film. You can extend this to also not being recordable on any media. Maybe their presence in the human host causes their atoms to vibrate at a different frequency or reflected light to be polarized in a way which causes aliasing effects on the recording media. The resulting recording is too indistinct for forensic analysis.

This allows them to have any superpower you want, without producing evidence.

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  • $\begingroup$ Any activation of superpowers results in strange bursts of EM Radiation, making most electronic devices malfunction, shut down and photo-sensitive materials (like polaroid or film tape) blind ;-) $\endgroup$ – Falco Dec 5 '16 at 15:58
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    $\begingroup$ My main problem with the "superpowers interfere with electronics" approach is that it doesn't help deal with eyewitnesses. Sure, the odd bystander is easy to write off as a nutjob, or on drugs at the time, but a fight involving people flying and throwing fireballs is kinda hard to do inconspicuously, and if it happens somewhere busy, it'll be hard to shut down all the word-of-mouth rumours. If two people flew round Times Square at rush hour, throwing cars with telekinesis and conjuring fireballs, it doesn't matter if the cameras failed, it'd still be world news within hours. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Dec 5 '16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ @anaximander I think anyone not at the scene would be very skeptical. The news might dismiss it as mass hysteria, shared hallucinations, or simply a prank. But I understand if this strikes you as a cop out. $\endgroup$ – Cecilia Dec 5 '16 at 18:24
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Even a very limited clairvoyance/precognition would be a huge advantage. I suspect this could likely be masked at much lower cost/peril than the advance warnings/info were worth. Some people just have good 'intuition.' Who could fault that? I suspect that such a power would have to be very, very constrained, lest it be a total drama remover.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 I was going to add this. If they use mind-reading and mind-influencing subtly who could argue that they weren't just natural con men or trained (ala Lie To Me) observers who could read people like a book? They'd be doing it supernaturally via directly accessing people's minds, rather than watching for tells, etc, but who could prove it unless they went overboard. In other words, they'd really be able to do what only movie characters supposedly do, but it's plausible enough -- as long as there were no "shoot yourself", creepy-looking mind-control moments that someone might witness/record. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Dec 5 '16 at 18:05
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Magic is a “hack” going against the normal orderly rules of the universe. The universe will resist being altered in a strength that grows esponentially with the effects of the anomaly.

If you levitate an apple in a closed room, it has no effect on the rest of the world, so it takes little effort. The effects are local in space and die out in time. After the event, it will be impossible to determine whether it happened at all, so it doesn’t “keep charging” for it.

If you knock over a building, it affects lots of things and has ripple effects in the lives of people affected, contractors who deal with it, etc. If there is a plausible natural explaination the “cost” can be brought down to a workable level of magic expenditure.

Meanwhile, like surface tension, the energy tries to minimise itself, once past the commanded action. Preventing a witness is a tiny bit of magic in itself — on a typical day an ordinary person may look left instead of right, or leave for lunch 5 minutes different, and that change has very litte lasting effect and dies out over time as things are just typical; and it does not seem “unnatural” at all, so it’s very cheap.

If a spectacular miracle got documented in a credible manner, it could be very costly, and it would not happen — his intent to perform magic would fail. But preventing witnesses and even damaging devices that might plausibly break anyway is the soap bubble pulling in to minimise its surface: if the solution can be found that is within the available magic energy, it will work.

The magical beings learn to maximize the effects of their power budget by being subtle, working indirectly, and avoiding witnesses and records.

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    $\begingroup$ a beautifully simple solution. $\endgroup$ – james turner Dec 5 '16 at 18:55
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Why not add an ability equivalent to a small, small EMP. They could control the size, maybe even the distance and direction to hit certain objects.

Another thing to consider...

The EMP doesn't have to be permanent, so surveillance equipment wouldn't be fried permanently afterwards. This would allow it to still function after your creature left the area.

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    $\begingroup$ Excellent idea, electric shock on touch as an electric eel doesn't show on camera and it could incapacitate an enemy. $\endgroup$ – Root Dec 5 '16 at 1:49
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Controlling luck/destiny is a simple power that could make accidents ( car accidents, falling brick, etc like in the Final Destination movie ) happen to enemies without any suspicion of supernatural power. It can also distract people or ensure that someone gets at the right place at the right moment or provide help ( shelter, food, even finding a weapon laying on the ground etc. ) or money ( just enter a casino and bet or pick the wallet someone 'forgot' ) to the creature at the right moment.

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    $\begingroup$ this seems like the standard explanation of why we don't see god at work in the world. $\endgroup$ – james turner Dec 5 '16 at 18:57
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Time Stop: any ability to move faster than the fastest high-speed cameras would avoid the video issue.

Invisibility

Replication : ability to duplicate self and run multiple bodies at once. As long as dupes stayed away from each other.

Possession of other's body. Including animals.

Card counting/high-speed math

Improved senses: long range sight / hearing / touch / smell.

Any power that can be used in a given setting, like touch healing for a physical therapist.

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The obvious one is: The power to look like a cartoon character! Sure people can post you on social media, but no one will believe them! Or perhaps they have an angelic glow, and appear bright even in dark surroundings, but without casting the light onto surrounding objects. Either way, anyone who looks at it will just think it's a hideous photoshop attempt.

Or if you are looking for something a little more serious, the obvious one is the power not to be photographed (like the way a vampire doesn't appear in a mirror)

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The gimmick from Carl Sagan’s Contact — cameras (and other recording devices) mysteriously stop working whenever anything paranormal happens.  Witnesses will appear all the less credible when they fail to produce tangible evidence.

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Many good points already given, I would give small but orthogonal super-power request.

  1. Active digital invisibility - you can throw fireballs or eat peoples alive still none can see that through flash screen (you can test that at home - start video-recording on your phone and put flashlight in front of it, voilà). The "supernatural" is to adjust light level (automatically?) that it is not visible for eye, but still counters all recording.

  2. Passive digital invisibility - make-up to hide from face recognition. If 1. counters consumer grade stuff and vigilant citizens, this make-up is against intelligence agencies that work on planet-scale sniffing internet traffic, operating cameras and satellites.

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Alternative to my last answer you say that sone Powers/abilities of the angles/demons are to powerful to be seen by the human eye, or conceived human mind. In supernatural for example humans can not presieve angels wings or there true form.

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There are several paths you can take, depending on your overal style. Apart from psychic power or enhanced biological body, there's always Rowling's handwavium tactic:

Something about them makes devices fail to record them when they are about to engage in combat or other mischief. Maybe they weren't even initially aware of that. Or maybe when one of these gets angry, something just makes you want to not use your phone and maybe run as fast as you can.

This is inspired by anti-muggle charms in Harry Potter. It is not the way of logic, but it enhances the mystery of the story.

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Misdirection

This is easy(ish)! Especially if you're willing to expend some effort setting the stage beforehand. Just create a few viral marketing campaigns where you do some crazy huge production. Think 'flash mob' but with whatever explosions, fireballs, etc. that you might think your battles are going to need.

Now, release the videos on YouTube, "pulling back the curtains" and showing the boring "truth" behind the cool effect.

Now when you do the same thing for real you can just claim that you were doing another marketing thing.

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  • $\begingroup$ All those masquerade protecting things work only for a short while. Even the socialist press that was 100% controlled couldn't brainwash people into believing something that wasn't true, alternative sources reached the masses and then opinion shifts. Same for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction bit.ly/1FInht4 . Or for poor women & children Syrian refugees bit.ly/2gSrCrO Truth tends to get on the surface. $\endgroup$ – Dante Dec 6 '16 at 22:58

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