Power Classification

The Encyclopedia Superium

Power Classification: A subsection of Superhuman Demographics which attempts to group superhumans based on the type of powers that they portray, rather than by the origin of those powers. Often used in conjuction with traditional superhuman demographics for ease of organization, it is a field prone to reorganization and dispute.

Currently, the United Nations Superhuman Research Society (UNSRS) follows the Geist-Reynolds model of superhuman power classification, and most major nations, including the United States, follow suit. The Geist-Reynolds model follows a classification path of Sphere-Domain-Concept-Power, wherein powers are grouped in increasingly specific manners as they descend a ranking structure, as follows:

  • Sphere: The Sphere of a power denotes who and what it affects. Geist and Reynolds identified three major spheres of influence, which depended on whether a power’s focus was within the body and mind of its user, whether it was entirely focused on outside influences to function, or whether the user controlled or manipulated outside influences using internal capabilities.

Generally speaking, the sphere of a power is loosely considered to be among the least useful tiers of classification, and other tiers have been frequently suggested. The most common alternate sphere organization is to divide powers into Energy, Physical, and Metaphysical sources, although others dislike this approach because it requires the near-total dismantling of Pseudotech and Mysticism as categories.

  • Domain: Within each sphere, Geist and Reynolds identify between three and six separate subcategories, based around the purpose of a power’s use. These domains are the most commonly used categorizing method in many countries, who do not require spheres for organizational purposes and who find concept categorization to be so specific as to be nearly useless as a bureaucratic tool. In total, the Geist-Reynolds model posits thirteen separate domains for powers to fall into, some of which produce far more supers than others.
  • Concept: There are dozens, if not hundreds, of concepts that Geist and Reynolds documented, some of which (such as the rather infamous ‘Enhanced Strength and Toughness’ concept) possess thousands of examples, whereas others (such as Weltgeist’s ‘Global Understanding’ capability, categorized within the Narrative Control domain) have only a single practitioner. There are even certain concepts that observers argue back and forth over. If someone can jump four stories, are they Enhanced or Mutated? If flames pour from a man’s hands and create tiny creatures, are they Conjured or Generated? The UNSRS has an entire department devoted to nothing but continuing to update concept placement from available data, in order to keep global records as streamlined and accurate as possible, but every country has its own quibbles and disagreements.
  • Power: The final tier of the Geist-Reynolds system ranks a power from Level 1 (within human potential, but without the normal human drawbacks) to Level 10 (cosmic tier capabilities). Most superhumans either have a small array of powers in the Level 1 to Level 3 range, or one or two powers in the Level 4 to Level 8 range. Very few have powers above that. Of course, because power levels are approximated, and because supers often do not reveal or gradually improve to their full potential, these ratings are extremely vague. One hero with a Strength of only Level 2 might be able to outwrestle another of Level 3 one day, only to lose to a Level 1 the next.

Powers and Demographics

Because the vast majority of heroes have multiple powers, often spread across several spheres, and because many powers are of Artificial or Derived origin and thus can pass on from one super to another, or change demographics dramatically from generation to generation, power classification is not an excellent source of demographic studies. Despite this, the UNSRS keeps approximate records of what percentage of supers have which powers, using only currently active (or suspected active) supers as their demographic studies. Because of the previously mentioned array of powers that most supers possess, these percentages do not even begin to add up to 100. Percentages instead reflect what percentage of supers possesses a power in a given category, and multiple domains within a given sphere or concepts within a given domain do not stack their percentages.

List of Spheres and Domains

The following list includes all three spheres, as well as the thirteen recognized domains of superhuman power classification. Each domain is listed with a short explanation of its general purpose. For full information, please follow domain links.

The Internal Sphere (80%)

This sphere governs powers that come from and affect the character herself.

  • Enhancement – This domain governs any capabilites that are equivalent to those of unpowered humans, but enhanced. Examples include super-strength or super-speed. (40%)
  • Mutation – This domain governs any capabilities that are derived from directly altered body type, such as producing venom, wings, or sticking to walls. (30%)
  • Perception – This domain governs supers with the ability to sense things, people, or times that normal people cannot. It does not govern standard super-senses, which fall under enhancement. (15%)
  • Transformation – This domain governs supers with the ability to alter their body composition, makeup, or shape. (20%)

The External Sphere (25%)

  • Conjuration – This domain governs supers who have the ability to summon other beings to perform tasks for them. (5%)
  • Mysticism – This domain governs supers who are able to use rituals and channel power through mystic artifacts to mimic other powers, which they do not actually possess. (5%)
  • Pseudotech – This domain governs supers who are able to construct devices and free-functioning automatons to mimic powers they do not actually possess. (15%)

The Linking Sphere (75%)

  • Biotic Control – This domain governs supers who are able to alter, damage, or restore the bodies of others directly. (Those who do so to themselves fall under the Transformative domain). 10%
  • Dimensional Control – This domain governs supers who are able to alter the properties of time, space, and dimensional science. 10%
  • Elemental Control – This domain governs supers who have control over a given type of matter or energy. 20%
  • Energy Generation – This domain governs supers who are able to create energy, and sometimes direct it at others. 25%
  • Narrative Control – This domain governs supers whose powers alter narrative law. 5%
  • Psychic Control – This domain governs supers whose powers work directly on the minds of others. 15%

See also:

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