MathEpic

Speculation on how epics get powers and weaknesses (spoilers)

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I will be writing this post under the assumption that everyone reading it has either read both Steelheart and Mitosis or doesn't care about spoilers.

 

Someone in the thread for Mitosis pointed out how there seems to be a pattern of Epics wanting something very badly and their power being something related to that want. (link)

 

I thought the idea deserved its own thread and I wanted to add my own thoughts and analysis.

 

My theory is that Epics receive their powers when they are in a situation where they want something desperately and the power is something that can help them obtain it.  Their weakness on the other hand is something that reminds them of one of their personal weaknesses.  Something that will remind them that they are not actually gods.

 

How well does this theory fit the facts? Lets see:

 

Prof was a science teacher when an epic destroyed the school.  If he was a normal teacher that wanted to save his students then he would have needed to be physically protected (the jackets), able to dig out students that were trapped (the tensors), and he would have needed to heal students that were injured (the harmsway).  As something of an authority figure among the 5th graders he could also delegate some of the rescuing task to them giving him a need to gift his powers as well.  We don't know what his weakness is, but he acted a little cagey when David asked him about weaknesses.  It seems likely that Prof did not want to think about what his own weakness was.  Almost like it had some bad memories associated with it.

 

Megan was a girl living in Oregon when war between epics destroyed everything around her home.  She was scared and probably wanted nothing more than to hide and survive.  She now is an illusionist with the ability to get better after dying.

 

Mitosis was the only talented member of an awful alternative metal band.  He likely would have loved to replace the other members of the band with copies of himself so that they would not be terrible anymore.  He gained the ability to spit himself into as many copies as he wanted, but literally falls apart when he hears the music that reminds him of his younger days when he produced music that rhymed "rain" with "rain".

 

Others have commented that there is no "useless" epic power.  (Think along the same lines as being an aluminum gnat in the Mistborn series.)  If this theory is correct then every power is something that would give you something that you desperately wanted at some point in your life.  Therefore there can be no useless super power.

 

I would speculate that Steelheart was a bad egg even from before Calamity.  He probably was a sociopath that wanted to dominate everyone he met.  He therefore obtained the ability to physically dominate anyone in a fight. (invulnerability, energy blasts, the ability to fortify his position with whatever materials he had at hand, etc.)  However, there are some people that for whatever reason will not be afraid of him.  He could not handle that and so he could be hurt by a homeless geek wearing a faded comic book T-shirt.

 

A lot of other weaknesses can be explained in this way as well.

 

Fortuity may have had a bad history with women before he became an epic.  Every woman he is attracted to reminds him of his own failures in his pre-epic life.

 

Refractory may have a sensitivity to smoke.  Some people can handle dirty air better than others, and she knows that one breath of the stuff will make her cough endlessly.  It therefore reminds her of her weakness in body.

 

That epic that could only be killed if exactly five people are killing her at any time was probably a gamer.  She did poorly in a six person free-for-all FPS game, and now getting into a five on one fight turns off her powers.

 

Symbols have meanings to the people that recognize them, and some of those meanings can remind you that you are not immortal.

 

 

 

Thoughts and comments?

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I like it. It's simple and coincise, and yet it's coherent with everything we know.

 

I just thought something though, what if the weakness is born together with the power?

For exemple Fortuity: he was anxious about asking out a woman he was attracted to, he got his power seeing that he would be rejected or something, and that became his weak spot.

Or Mitosis, he says that he was a good musician while his band was holding him back, but maybe it was the other way around. So when he got the power to have a band made of himself he actually saw that his music was bad and his clones died.

 

It would fit the theme of Epics powers making people flawed, and also the good old "be careful what you wish for, it may become true".

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Well done, sounds pretty good to me.

 

So, would that mean that in the prologue, David gain the power to kill Epics, but since Epics are associate with his "failure", they are thus his weakness so he can never actually use his power? The only problem with this is how he got past the epic-detector thing (unless the presence of Prof and Megan triggered his weakness, making effectively non-Epic. Hmm...).

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Prof was a science teacher when an epic destroyed the school.  If he was a normal teacher that wanted to save his students then he would have needed to be physically protected (the jackets), able to dig out students that were trapped (the tensors), and he would have needed to heal students that were injured (the harmsway).  As something of an authority figure among the 5th graders he could also delegate some of the rescuing task to them giving him a need to gift his powers as well.  We don't know what his weakness is, but he acted a little cagey when David asked him about weaknesses.  It seems likely that Prof did not want to think about what his own weakness was.  Almost like it had some bad memories associated with it.

 

Thoughts and comments?

Interesting.  I assumed that Prof was the epic that destroyed Prof's school.  I thought that was part of why he was so reluctant to use his powers and upset at the thought of using his powers.  Is there any evidence to support the idea that a different epic destroyed the school?

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Still waiting to hear your theories on Death Point.

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Still waiting to hear your theories on Death Point.

 

I thought about him, but in the end I could not come up with much.  The problem is that we don't know much about Deathpoint.

 

We simply do not know what his weakness is, so we gain no information that way.  Additionally, his only demonstrated power is the ability to kill humans.  He probably had another power, but given the context even then it seems likely that his secondary power was also just another murder weapon.  All in all he is just not that interesting of an epic in terms of powers and weaknesses.

 

However, I aim to please.  So here it is folks.  The vague, highly speculative, and probably incorrect origin story of Deathpoint:

 

Deathpoint was a loser.  He was a bum and he had no ambition or marketable skills.  Over the years his lack of motivation lead to many arguments with the family he lived with, and when the arguments grew hot he had a habit of pointing his finger at the person he was arguing with.  One day, shortly after Epics started appearing in the world he got into another fight with a member of his family, this time about his persistent unemployment. Then in his anger he manifested his power.  He killed his mother just by pointing at her.  Her flesh and blood just disintegrated leaving behind a pile of bones.  As his father started to panic he was overwhelmed by the feeling of arrogance and superiority that accompanies the use of Epic powers.  Finally he would have the last word, and he grabbed his father and screamed at him "I am not a bum!"  As his father's brain imploded the younger man realized that he could have the respect that he had always deserved.  Deathpoint then decided that he was going to take a shower, put on some nice clothes, and rob a bank.  Finally things were going his way.

END

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I like some of these. But Crossfire's just seems silly. Though, come to think of it, naming yourself after your weakness (getting caught in a crossfire)

Though Steel heart - courage - lack of fear occurs to me as well

I can think of some silly ones as well -

Refractory - reefer - smoke

Fortuity - get lucky - attractive women

Nightwielder - darkness - sunlight

Mitosis - splitting up - music from when he was part of a group (belonging, not split up)

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I like some of these. But Crossfire's just seems silly. Though, come to think of it, naming yourself after your weakness (getting caught in a crossfire)

 

 

I am sorry, but you are going to have to remind me who Crossfire is.  I don't recall an epic with that name.

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Just one mentioned in passing, originating from New Mexico, who was only killable by five people shooting at her simultaneously

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I think that even if his powers weren't manifested, then David would still have registered as an Epic if his weakness was Epics. I think it is more likely that in one of the future books he will want to save Megan, and he will turn into an Epic and have to deal with the problems of it. Really great idea though, when I read Mitosis I noticed how it the weakness always seems to be something from the past. How about this: Crossfire used to be in the US army, but after being pinned down from all sides by whoever the US was fighting at the time, she just wanted to be able to ____(Insert power here, they never mentioned it, presumably it was just the prime invincibility of not getting hurt unless attacked 5 diff ways), and they wrecked the other people, came home while the US was still working b4 it passed the Capitulation Law, and they went to Mexico to set themselves up as an Epic ruler.

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I don't think that David will ever become an Epic.  I think he is just too humble for that.

 

If I were to condense my theory of Epic weaknesses into a single concept it would be this:

 

Humility is antithetical to Epic Powers.

 

This would explain the so called "Epic Effect" that occurs when an epic uses their powers.  They become arrogant, and they treat the normal people around them with contempt.  I think that this is because when an Epic uses their powers they have every trace of humility removed from them.  (As Granny Weatherwax said, All evil comes from thinking of people as things.)

 

I think that in order to be granted Epic powers you already need to be a fairly prideful person.  When I think about the personalities of the epics we have gotten to know I see a pattern:

 

Prof - He may be protective and fairly altruistic, but he is still a prideful person.  He allowed his students (and the Reckoners) to give him a title of 'professor' even though he knew that he did not qualify for that title.  He allowed his name to become known publicly when every other aspect of the Reckoners was shrouded in secrecy.  He likes his plans so much that when David came up and offered to join the Reckoners Prof stuck to his 'no recrutes' policy until David managed to play on another aspect of his pride.  Specifically Prof's desire to have the Reckoners be the group for killing epics.  Prof's refusal to take power after the fall of Steelheart is arguably the result of Prof's desire to be different then (and therefore better then) the other Epics in the Fractured States.  Additionally, he always came across as a little arrogant in conversation to me.  He is smart enough to back it up, and I think his priorities are sorted well enough that he does not come across as uncivil, but it is still there.

 

Now, I don't want to be misunderstood here.  I still like Prof, I just think that he may have a character flaw in this department.  I am just trying to establish some evidence of a theory.

 

Megan - She liked to belittle David whenever the opportunity arose.  She took a fair amount of pleasure in taking down epics.  This can be explained by her wanting to establish dominance in the fight of the world.  Also, during David's pitch where he was explaining how to kill Stealheart David says that Firefight will be easy to take down and Megan is so offended that she nearly blew her cover right there and then.

 

Edmund - Even after years of captivity, he is still sure enough of himself to make demands of his new captors.  They are sensible demands, but the fact remains that he acts like someone who expects respect and not someone that has had their sense of self worth worn down by years of abuse.

 

Mitosis - He was a classically trained musician, and he certainly thought well of the music that he wrote.  While he was using his epic powers he clearly thought himself above mortal men.  He was married to this concept that he could just not convince himself that Steelheart was defeated by a mere mortal.

 

All in all, the Epics we have seen so far seem to think very highly of themselves even when they are not using their powers.

 

David, on the other hand, may be confident, reckless, and ambitious, but he never takes himself too seriously.  When his plans break down he just sort of laughs at himself and tries to come up with something new.  When they were putting the final touches on the Steelheart battle he never envied anyone else the opportunity to kill Steelheart.  He would have been just as happy in the end if Cody had killed Steelheart.  In Mitosis he actively downplays the role he played in the death of Steelheart.  He is just happy that everyone else seems to be happy.  Overall, I don't think David has the temperament to become an epic.

 

I realize this is another theory with a few holes and without much supporting evidence.  However, I think that it has a very good chance of being true.

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Well, that does make sense. I don't think David would ever get enough confidence to be an Epic if the above theory is right UNLESS he finally gets metaphors that everybody appreciates more xD.

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I like some of these. But Crossfire's just seems silly. Though, come to think of it, naming yourself after your weakness (getting caught in a crossfire)

Though Steel heart - courage - lack of fear occurs to me as well

I can think of some silly ones as well -

Refractory - reefer - smoke

Fortuity - get lucky - attractive women

Nightwielder - darkness - sunlight

Mitosis - splitting up - music from when he was part of a group (belonging, not split up)

So… Firefight's weakness is being burned by fire? I don't buy it, but it could be cool. Maybe the melting of her DNA (+74 degrees Celsius) prevents her from being reincarnated or something.

 

and… I wonder if Calamity has a weakness?

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So… Firefight's weakness is being burned by fire? I don't buy it, but it could be cool. Maybe the melting of her DNA (+74 degrees Celsius) prevents her from being reincarnated or something.

and… I wonder if Calamity has a weakness?

The apocalypse?
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So… Firefight's weakness is being burned by fire? I don't buy it, but it could be cool. Maybe the melting of her DNA (+74 degrees Celsius) prevents her from being reincarnated or something.

 

and… I wonder if Calamity has a weakness?

 

The Reckoners cremated Firefight after she died, and she still reincarnated.  Fire is definitely not her weakness.

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The Reckoners cremated Firefight after she died, and she still reincarnated.  Fire is definitely not her weakness.

 

Actually, fire could still be her weakness.  The Reckoners cremated her dead body.  Since she had already died at that point, burning the body may have had no effect.  Perhaps burning her while she lives would be her weakness.  Maybe a remnant of her human past when she was nearly killed in a burning building?

 

On second thought, she does seem paranoid of dust, which doesn't quite jive with a fire weakness.

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Dust scatters light. It's annoyingly infuriating to any illusionist, because if it's a mental projection you need to make sure to account for the dust to keep objects from looking fake because it passes through them, and if you're a photonic manipulator like Firefight dust passing through a construct can scatter it unless you're actively paying attention to get it to react properly.

 

It should be noted that she did use her powers once in a passage where tensors had been in use,

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I love this theory, think it could really work

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So… Firefight's weakness is being burned by fire? I don't buy it, but it could be cool. Maybe the melting of her DNA (+74 degrees Celsius) prevents her from being reincarnated or something.

 

and… I wonder if Calamity has a weakness?

 

Bahahah! We danced right around it! We were so close! Kudos to IceBaka, who picked up on the cremation post mortem.

Just had to bring this back, I read Firefight yesterday :)

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if that is true than why does david not have powers to kill steelheart if he wants to so bad?

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maybe prof's weekness is if he let's someone die that he cares about?

and what is mitosis about? havent had a chance to read it yet.

 

 

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Oh, the necro!

image.jpeg

Also, maybe you should introduce yourself before necroing threads. 

Edited by I think I am here.
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@skater384 it's considered bad form to 'necro' a thread (post in a thread that has been inactive for a long time). This is because threads like these were written to speculate about things that were, at the time, unkown. This was written before Calamity, so they didn't know for example Prof's weakness. Reviving this thread is pointless because how weaknesses work and Epics get their powers has since been explained. If you are interested in learning about this stuff, I suggest visiting the coppermind wiki (there you can find pages on characters and a summary of Mitosis among other things), or the Arcanum to find quotes of what Brandon has said on the topic.

https://coppermind.net/wiki/Jonathan_Phaedrus#Weakness

https://wob.coppermind.net

I should also mention that posting twice in a row is discouraged as well. You can edit your posts instead. 

Edited by Archer
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I always believed that Epics got their weaknesses from a trauma and the go their powers from a feeling of elation in a past moment. Essentially they got their weaknesses from something that scared them and their powers from something that made them happy. Though that wouldn't explain how Meghan got her powers. Perhaps she was lonely and then she got a friend out of nowhere? That requires further inquiry.

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