History Main / InverseLawOfUtilityAndLethality

17th Apr '18 3:59:26 AM Smeagol17
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Okay, how about [[HeroesPreferSwords swords]]? Being a super cool swordsman is better than a wimpy WhiteMage. Except, if you hit anyone, you're likely to cause massive bleeding, and so unarmed opponents can pull NeverBringAKnifeToAFistfight.

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Okay, how about [[HeroesPreferSwords swords]]? Being a super cool swordsman is better than a wimpy WhiteMage. Except, if you [[InverseLawOfSharpnessAndAccuracy hit anyone, anyone]], you're likely to cause massive bleeding, and so unarmed opponents can pull NeverBringAKnifeToAFistfight.
14th Apr '18 1:10:46 PM crazysamaritan
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* Like Wheeler below, the ''Comicbook/FantasticFour's'' Human Torch has a power whose most obvious offensive use is too gruesome. He's only allowed to burn objects, never people (though he's been known to bluff {{Mook}}s with that threat). Fortunately, Johnny is very creative with his flame powers; he can always find a way to use them indirectly against foes who aren't scared off altogether.
** Interestingly, impressionable kids are a problem for Johnny ''in-story'' too. He's been driven to TenMinuteRetirement twice by hearing that some poor, misguided fan has burned himself to death. (This was a genuine fear at Creator/{{Marvel|Comics}}; there's an urban legend that the Torch was left out of ''WesternAnimation/TheFantasticFour1978'' cartoon for this reason. Actually, the character couldn't be used because the rights were tied up.)
** Villains with flame powers are a little less constrained, especially in recent years. The classic ''ComicBook/TheFlash'' villain Heat Wave is burning people alive these days. And the Super-Skrull, who has copies of all of the Fantastic Four's powers, has no problem using his flames to kill since he's a soldier in an alien army.
* Inverted in the original ''Comicbook/{{Wanted}}'' comic: the protagonist is The Killer; his ''only'' superpower is being unnaturally good at dealing death. While this would be unworkable in an ongoing comic (''{{Punisher}}'' aside), it's mighty good in a miniseries.
* Lifeline as presented in the ''GIJoe'' comic books. He's derided and insulted by his comrades because he will not shoot people. However, he wins his allies over by proving he can toss mooks around with the best of them. Toss, not kill. Plus, the guy who can stitch up your holes while under fire deserves some respect (except for his bright red uniform. At least Devil's Due tossed ''that'').

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* Like Wheeler below, the ''Comicbook/FantasticFour's'' From ''Comicbook/FantasticFour'':
** Johnny Storm, aka
Human Torch has a power whose most obvious offensive use Torch, is too gruesome. He's able to turn into a flame with high-intensity heat. However, he's only allowed shown to burn objects, never people (though he's been known to bluff {{Mook}}s with that threat). Fortunately, Johnny is very creative with his flame powers; he can always find a way to use them indirectly against foes who aren't scared off altogether.
** Interestingly, impressionable kids are a problem for Johnny ''in-story'' too.InUniverse, this trope comes into play. He's been driven to TenMinuteRetirement twice by hearing that some poor, misguided fan has burned himself to death. (This was a genuine fear at Creator/{{Marvel|Comics}}; there's an urban legend that the Torch was left out of ''WesternAnimation/TheFantasticFour1978'' cartoon for this reason. Actually, the character couldn't be used because the rights were tied up.)
** Villains with flame powers are a little less constrained, especially in recent years. The classic ''ComicBook/TheFlash'' villain Heat Wave is burning people alive these days. And the Super-Skrull, who has copies of all of the Fantastic Four's powers, has no problem using his flames to kill since he's a soldier in an alien army.
* ''ComicBook/TheFlash'' has the villain Heat Wave who burns people alive these days.
* Inverted in the original ''Comicbook/{{Wanted}}'' comic: the protagonist is The Killer; his ''only'' superpower is being unnaturally good at dealing death. While this would be unworkable in an ongoing comic (''{{Punisher}}'' aside), comic, it's mighty good in a miniseries.
* Lifeline as presented in the ''GIJoe'' ''Comicbook/GIJoe'' comic books. He's derided and insulted by his comrades because he will not shoot people. However, he wins his allies over by proving he can toss mooks around with the best of them. Toss, not kill. Plus, the guy who can stitch up your holes while under fire deserves some respect (except for his bright red uniform. At least Devil's Due tossed ''that'').



* For elves in the ''Literature/TheHalfbloodChronicles'', males usually have ''far'' more magical power than females, but as it turns out, weak females have a lot more ''control'', allowing them to do a wide variety of useful things by using very little magic to alter their surroundings, like plants (food/shelter), animals (taming/control), minds (rewriting memories), themselves (minor shapeshifting), and enemies (stopping hearts). Not as flashy as giant illusions, fireballs, earthquakes, and so forth, but it gets the job done.
** At one point it's raining. Very inconvenient. The men all agree that it's too dangerous and draining to try to alter the weather patterns, and so they must get wet. The women alter the fabric of their hats into makeshift umbrellas and snicker to each other.
* Like Kouhei below, Bink from ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' was thought to have no magic "talent" ([[WhatMeasureIsANonSuper and was banished because of it]]). Turned out he's The Magician of Magical Invulnerability (Magician being the [[PowerLevels top caliber of talents]]). No magic may harm him, even his own (by revealing itself directly, and making him vulnerable to non-magic attack). This gives it a [[EmpathicWeapon near sapience]]. (However, he is not proof against looking like a fool, or anything that does not directly or indirectly threaten his life.)
* A version of the fire example is mentioned in ''Literature/TheToughGuideToFantasyland'' in reference to a frequent idea that the first thing your callow apprentice-magic user learns to do is light a candle through sheer concentration (and they are considered weak if this is the only thing they can do). The author sardonically notes that it's a good thing no one in the real world has this "minor" power. No character is ever shown honing the ability so that they can ignite buildings and other people at will.
** But in the very first book of the ''Literature/MythAdventures'' series by RobertAsprin, Skeeve only gets the hang of lighting the candle just before his master (casually) mentions how handy it would be during burglaries. Garkin also mentions that Skeeve could light a fire to cause a distraction; Skeeve responds he doesn't want to risk hurting anyone -just as he realizes the previous comments were a set-up. A subversion in that Skeeve recognizes the potential of 'just lighting a candle', both good and bad.
*** It is also worth noting that Skeeve ''does'' hone this power, and in the very second book uses this power to attack his enemies with [[ArrowsOnFire flaming arrows]] and to ''torch'' a military signal tower from a long distance. (In the [[ComicBook/MythAdventures comic book adaptation of the first book]] he actually [[spoiler: sets Isstvan on fire]].)
* Numair Salmalin from Creator/TamoraPierce's ''Literature/TortallUniverse'' books runs up against this. He's one of (if not THE) most powerful mages in the world, and he has to blow out his own candles, because his power is tuned so heavily to big spells that if he tries to magic it out, ''it explodes''. He can still perform incredible feats of great utility, such as calling boulders from ten miles away to form a new wall, rearranging terrain to make more room for a refugee camp, or ''turning a guy into a tree'', it's just mundane things that most mages take for granted that give him trouble.
** This is demonstrated when Thom, a similarly powerful mage, puts out his fireplace in ''Literature/SongOfTheLioness'' by [[TheresNoKillLikeOverkill summoning up a wave of seawater]], soaking his rooms.
** A similar problem also affects Tris, from ''Literature/CircleOfMagic''. She can control weather- ''all of it''. Only problem is that the only two commercial purposes for such power is a) improved weather for crops and b) warfare. Both would require her to destroy weather patterns world-wide, and the latter would require her to kill people, which she detests. Meanwhile, her foster siblings' [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower "less impressive"]] abilities come with a great deal of MundaneUtility. Is it any wonder she wants to go and learn traditional magic?

to:

* For elves in the ''Literature/TheHalfbloodChronicles'', males usually have ''far'' more magical power than females, but as it turns out, weak females have a lot more ''control'', allowing them to do a wide variety of useful things by using very little magic to alter their surroundings, like plants (food/shelter), animals (taming/control), minds (rewriting memories), themselves (minor shapeshifting), and enemies (stopping hearts). Not as flashy as giant illusions, fireballs, earthquakes, and so forth, but it gets the job done.
**
done. At one point it's raining. Very inconvenient. The men all agree that it's too dangerous and draining to try to alter the weather patterns, and so they must get wet. The women alter the fabric of their hats into makeshift umbrellas and snicker to each other.
* Like Kouhei below, Bink from ''Literature/{{Xanth}}'' was thought to have no magic "talent" ([[WhatMeasureIsANonSuper and was banished because of it]]). Turned out he's The Magician of Magical Invulnerability (Magician being the [[PowerLevels top caliber of talents]]). No magic may harm him, even his own (by revealing itself directly, and making him vulnerable to non-magic attack). This gives it a [[EmpathicWeapon near sapience]]. (However, he is This power does not proof against protect him from looking like a fool, or anything since that does not directly or indirectly threaten his life.)
isn't fatal.
* A version of the fire example is mentioned in ''Literature/TheToughGuideToFantasyland'' in reference to a frequent idea that In ''Literature/TheToughGuideToFantasyland'', the first thing your callow apprentice-magic user learns to do is light a candle through sheer concentration (and they are considered weak if this is the only thing they can do). The author sardonically notes that it's a good thing no one in the real world has this "minor" power. No character is ever shown honing the ability so that they can ignite buildings and other people at will.
** But in the very first book of * In the ''Literature/MythAdventures'' series by RobertAsprin, Creator/RobertAsprin, Skeeve only gets the hang of lighting the candle just before his master (casually) mentions how handy it would be during burglaries. Garkin also mentions that Skeeve could light a fire to cause a distraction; Skeeve responds he doesn't want to risk hurting anyone -just as he realizes the previous comments were a set-up. A subversion in that Skeeve recognizes consistently thinks about applications and hones his powers, mostly on the potential advice of 'just lighting a candle', both good and bad.
*** It is also worth noting that Skeeve ''does'' hone this power, and in
his mentor Aahz. In the very second book book, he uses this power to attack his enemies with [[ArrowsOnFire flaming arrows]] and to ''torch'' a military signal tower from a long distance. (In the [[ComicBook/MythAdventures comic book adaptation of the first book]] he actually [[spoiler: sets Isstvan on fire]].)
* From Creator/TamoraPierce:
** ''Literature/TortallUniverse'':
***
Numair Salmalin from Creator/TamoraPierce's ''Literature/TortallUniverse'' books runs up against this. He's is one of (if not THE) most powerful mages in the world, and he has to blow out his own candles, because his power is tuned so heavily to big spells that if he tries to magic it out, ''it explodes''. He can still perform incredible feats of great utility, such as calling boulders from ten miles away to form a new wall, rearranging terrain to make more room for a refugee camp, or ''turning a guy into a tree'', it's just mundane things that most mages take for granted that give him trouble.
** This is demonstrated when *** Thom, a similarly powerful mage, puts tries to put out his fireplace in ''Literature/SongOfTheLioness'' by ''Literature/SongOfTheLioness''. He summons [[TheresNoKillLikeOverkill summoning up a wave of seawater]], soaking his rooms.
** A similar problem also affects Tris, from ''Literature/CircleOfMagic''. She ''Literature/CircleOfMagic'': Tris can control weather- ''all of it''. Only problem is that the only two commercial purposes for such power is a) improved weather for crops and b) warfare. Both would require her to destroy weather patterns world-wide, and the latter would require her to kill people, which she detests. Meanwhile, her foster siblings' [[HeartIsAnAwesomePower "less impressive"]] abilities come with a great deal of MundaneUtility. Is it any wonder she wants to go and learn traditional magic?
7th Apr '18 6:09:29 PM nombretomado
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* The ''ComicBook/XMen'' had a rather {{egregious}} mix of this and WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer when they made Psylocke, one of their [[PsychicPowers team telepaths]], over into an Asian ActionGirl. She gained kung-fu, LeParkour, and the ability to focus her telepathy into a 'psi-blade,' which would instantly short-circuit the nervous system of anyone she stabbed with it, resulting in incapacitation or, [[{{Mooks}} in rare cases]], death. Unfortunately, the blade became the entirety of her heroic repertoire shortly thereafter. Combined with the Inverse Law, it made the poor girl look like the weak link in the X-Chain, and it took [[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands new powers]] to give her any sort of versatility or credibility afterwards.

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* The ''ComicBook/XMen'' had a rather {{egregious}} JustForFun/{{egregious}} mix of this and WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer when they made Psylocke, one of their [[PsychicPowers team telepaths]], over into an Asian ActionGirl. She gained kung-fu, LeParkour, and the ability to focus her telepathy into a 'psi-blade,' which would instantly short-circuit the nervous system of anyone she stabbed with it, resulting in incapacitation or, [[{{Mooks}} in rare cases]], death. Unfortunately, the blade became the entirety of her heroic repertoire shortly thereafter. Combined with the Inverse Law, it made the poor girl look like the weak link in the X-Chain, and it took [[NewPowersAsThePlotDemands new powers]] to give her any sort of versatility or credibility afterwards.
12th Mar '18 12:45:24 PM Malady
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* Inverted in the ''Magical Mina'' sub-series of ''TsunamiChannel''. Mina's sword magic and wind magic were designed for combat, [[ActionGirl and she enjoys using them that way]], but she'll also cheerfully use her sword magic to instantly slice an apple into many neat pieces, and her wind magic to dry her hair.

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* Inverted in the ''Magical Mina'' sub-series of ''TsunamiChannel''.''Webcomic/TsunamiChannel''. Mina's sword magic and wind magic were designed for combat, [[ActionGirl and she enjoys using them that way]], but she'll also cheerfully use her sword magic to instantly slice an apple into many neat pieces, and her wind magic to dry her hair.
17th Jan '18 2:34:09 PM DVB
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29th Dec '17 1:12:33 PM nombretomado
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** Sasuke Samurai. He's from [[GanbareGoemon a Konami game]], and he's arguably the worst thing a guy on the defensive can run into short of [[ThisIsADrill Neo-Spacian Grand Mole]] -- mainly because his 300 ATK is offset by being able to instantly kill face-down defense position monsters -- face-down being the default position for a defense position monster, this presents a problem.

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** Sasuke Samurai. He's from [[GanbareGoemon [[VideoGame/GanbareGoemon a Konami game]], and he's arguably the worst thing a guy on the defensive can run into short of [[ThisIsADrill Neo-Spacian Grand Mole]] -- mainly because his 300 ATK is offset by being able to instantly kill face-down defense position monsters -- face-down being the default position for a defense position monster, this presents a problem.
23rd Nov '17 12:10:32 AM Mooncalf
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Added DiffLines:

** Similarly, Dr. Heller's weapons are all non-lethal, relying more on humorous effects to incapacitate opponents. While initially rejected by the heroes (until they realize they're just as good as anything deadly), they get a lot of mileage.
24th Oct '17 1:59:59 PM Capsarc
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21st Oct '17 10:57:53 PM JapaneseTeeth
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* In ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' this is a common explanation for why Princess Celestia gets struck with TheWorfEffect so often despite ostensibly being one of the most powerful characters in the setting: her primary job is to [[ThePowerOfTheSun control the Sun]], and naturally applying ''that'' to combat would cause more damage than whoever she's trying to fight.
8th Oct '17 4:54:04 PM nombretomado
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* In BrandonSanderson's ''Literature/AlcatrazSeries'', a major plot point of the story is learning to put seemingly useless Talents to use (for example, the Talent of being late all the time can be used to arrive late for your own death). Also, swords and dragon-pulled carriages are MUCH more advanced than guns and cars!

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* In BrandonSanderson's Creator/BrandonSanderson's ''Literature/AlcatrazSeries'', a major plot point of the story is learning to put seemingly useless Talents to use (for example, the Talent of being late all the time can be used to arrive late for your own death). Also, swords and dragon-pulled carriages are MUCH more advanced than guns and cars!
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