Poor Superman gets dragged over the literary coals all the time with the argument that stories are impossible to write about him because he’s so powerful that nothing can hurt him.

Back in the 90’s, TSR’s Second Edition D&D tried to tap the Vampire: The Masquerade market by trying to turn stat-driven D&D into a story-based game. One of the worst supplements for this line was the infamous Handbook of Elves because it gave out amazing rules-based advantages supposedly balanced by role-playing-based disadvantages. It failed because most players gladly took all the advantages and then never bothered dealing with the disadvantages.

This was terrible for a game but it’s the focus of many fictional works, because ‘role-playing-based disadvantages’ == ‘character flaws, both internal and external.

Superman has tons of rules-based advantages, but also tons of role-playing-based disadvantages: the concerns of most people (such as love life, job performance, the regard of his friends, family, and co-workers), in tandem with his own self-imposed codes (restraint, code against killing, etc).

We also see sof31035fb5f36c75685a12a4a74eaeb45--the-kingkiller-chronicles-fantasy-maleme people try to make this comparison with Kvothe in The Name of The Wind. Kvothe has a ton of hard-and-fast advantages: he’s smart, clever, brave, and has a ‘ Alar as ‘strong as a bar or Ramson steel”. But he also has some severe character flaws that ‘balance’ all his advantages. His temper destroys his accomplishments more than once. He’s vengeful. He has to have the last word.


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