Created By: chubbyboy on July 8, 2010 Last Edited By: chubbyboy on July 9, 2010
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Power Crutch

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A Power Crutch is some object which enables a character to use his or her superpowers, or at least assists in their use. It differs from a Magic Feather in that a Magic Feather is a placebo, while the Power Crutch is not. A Power Crutch has some in-story justification for why it works.

Without the Power Crutch, the character will find it difficult, if not impossible to use his or her powers. Characters who use Power Crutches can eventually learn to use their abilities without them. The power user, or sometimes others, may even mistake the Power Crutch for the source of his powers-- though it isn't.

Compare Transformation Trinket, a different sort of superpower enabler.

Examples: Comics
  • In the comic Mage, Kevin Matchstick's baseball bat Excalibur is one of these. If Excalibur gets more than a few yards away from Kevin, his powers conk out.
    • One of the other avatars tells Kevin that he used to have a Power Crutch, but eventually learned to do without it.
  • Hawkman's wings aren't necessary for him to fly (that power comes from his belt) but they are necessary for him to steer.
  • Lady Liberty from the Force of July in The Outsiders. The Outsiders thought her energy blasts came from her torch and disarmed her. It turned out her power was internal and the torch just helped her focus it.

Literature
  • In The Eye of The World, Egwene mistakes Moiraine's staff for an enchanted object. Moiraine corrects her, saying that using it just helps her concentrate.
  • Notably subverted in The Lord of the Rings, where Theoden's advisor Grima thinks Gandalf's staff is a Power Crutch, and orders the doorwarden Hama to have Gandalf surrender it. (The consensus among Tolkien fandom is that the staves of the Five Wizards are just lengths of ordinary wood.)

Television
  • Issac Mendez, the psychic painter from Heroes originally needed to get high on heroin in order to use his precognitive abilities. Even after he learned to do without, it was still easier for him to see the future while high.

Tabletop RPG
  • In Champions, this is a type of focus.
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • July 5, 2010
    Xzenu
  • July 5, 2010
    Earnest
    Would this be Magic Feather?
  • July 5, 2010
    Arutema
    Requiring a Power Crutch is a possible derangement in Vampire The Requiem. Your powers really come from your nature as a vampire, but you become psychologically unable to use them without your designated Power Crutch. Unlike the usual Magic Feather, you are likely to acquire this after you've already been using your powers properly, but lost some of your sanity from the Karma Meter dropping.
  • July 5, 2010
    Earnest
    So the difference between Power Crutch and Magic Feather is that this is acquired after the character discovers their powers, like "I can't control or focus my powers (which I do have) without my magic lampshade"? I suppose it can stand alone, but personally I'm for a merge. But lets hear others chime in on this.
  • July 5, 2010
    Cidolfas
    Too close to Magic Feather. Merge.
  • July 5, 2010
    chubbyboy
    The difference between a Magic Feather and a Power Crutch is that a Magic Feather is a placebo, while a Power Crutch is not. A Power Crutch has some in-story justification for why it works.

    • Kevin Matchstick's baseball bat actually IS a manifestation of Excalibur.
    • The heroin Issac Mendez used in Heroes put him in an altered state, which made accessing his precognitive powers easier.
    • Captain Britain's costume has some magical trinket in it.

  • July 5, 2010
    Earnest
    Ah, so it's a dependency causing enabler. It does help, but in the process removes self confidence. I think this is probably good enough to split.
  • July 5, 2010
    foxley
    Hawkman's wings aren't necessary for him to fly (that power comes from his belt) but they are necessary for him to steer.
  • July 7, 2010
    Dcoetzee
    Splittable, I think.
  • July 8, 2010
    BlackDragon
    In Anti Hero For Hire, the local Ice Person (he uses many names, but currently seems to go by Cold North) carries a staff that appears to be the source of his cold-based powers. It's eventually revealed, however, that it's just a heat-conducting metallic coil he uses to FOCUS his abilities - his ice-control is genetic.
    Shade: So, you mean to tell me that all this time from the shuttle on, you still had your ice-powers?
    Cold North: Buuuuut without a coil it's haaaaard!
  • July 8, 2010
    Arivne
    Compare Transformation Trinket, which a character uses to change into their super form.

    Tabletop RPG
  • July 8, 2010
    mack
    Not 100% if it counts, but in Chuck he can't use the intersect properly (ie without causing his brains to fry eventually) without using the power limiter watch his father built for him.
  • July 8, 2010
    foxley
    Lady Liberty from the Force of July in The Outsiders. The Outsiders thought her energy blasts came from her torch and disarmed her. It turned out her power was internal and the torch just helped her focus it.
  • July 8, 2010
    shimaspawn
    I think this is different from Magic Feather, but it needs to go on subtle trope distinctions. This is just basically a focus for power making it easier. It's not just a placebo.
  • July 8, 2010
    animeHrmIne
    Would the wands in Harry Potter count? Wizards can do magic without them, but it's very difficult. They aren't a placebo like a Magic Feather, as the only way to do wandless magic is to either use it instinctively and unfocusedly (like Harry regrowing his hair) or to be a really well-trained and powerful wizard. The spells themselves are this, to a lesser extent, as children can accidentally do magic without them, too.
  • July 9, 2010
    chubbyboy
    @animeHrmIne: I probably wouldn't consider wands as Power Crutches, since it applies to ALL wizards-- the necessity of wands is just part of the rules of how magic works in that fictional universe.
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