Avoiding the Worf Effect:

Total posts: [10]
1 SandJosieph15th Feb 2011 06:57:00 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday , Relationship Status: Brony
Bigonkers! is Magic
How does one show that a threat is dangerous without it taking out the strongest member on the good guys' side? I ask because one of my characters can definitely be considered a Bad Ass but due to the nature of the story (and his attacks), he only gets a few scenes worth of actual fighting lest he levels several houses. Big guns have a tendency to do that, you know. I'd rather not have his prowess come off a Red Herring or an Informed Ability.
2 animemetalhead15th Feb 2011 07:02:28 PM from Ashwood Landing, ME
Runs on Awesomeness
Perhaps have them fight to a standstill, then have the guy reveal that I Am Not Left-Handed?

I dunno, my only experience with badass characters tends to be villains wiping the floor with my heroes (who then turn around and kick some ass two chapters later).
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Have him either fight a strong NPC, or launch an attack that misses but does MASSIVE DAMAGE
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4 Luthen15th Feb 2011 09:41:39 PM from Down Under Burgess , Relationship Status: Playing Cupid
Remember the Worf Effect is more about repeatedly having the strongest character taken out of action, and pretending that Badass Decay doesn't happen. Or at least that's my understanding of it.

I think a greater problem is having one character be orders of magnitude "stronger" than the others. Too much a gap and the audience is going think that the Worf character was removed not to show the bad guy as strong but to weaken the heroes enough for the battle to be interesting.

But answering your actual question. The bad guy could effortlessly take out the third strongest character, proves they're a danger without the heroes loosing on of their more interesting (presumeably) fighters. The bad guy could ream through some NP Cs, though the audience probably won't care all that much.

You could always use the character in some kind of precision strike. Have him completely destroy some enemy before they even realise there's going to be an attack. A walking talking Kill Sat kind of thing.
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5 MoeDantes16th Feb 2011 12:01:27 AM from the Land of Classics
cuter, cuddlier Edmond
The villain is a threat—a threat to what, pray tell? Your hero's personal security? Does he actually have some sort of thing going on?

Understand first that there are more types of danger than just the physical. Even if an earthquake erupts in an unpopulated area, it could still have repercussions elsewhere. And a villain doesn't necessarily have to be able to beat the hero in a straight-ahead fight to be a threat to him.
6 66Scorpio16th Feb 2011 02:26:54 PM from Toronto, Canada
Banned, selectively
Part of the Worf Effect arises out of an imbalance of firepower to defense. There is a mathematical algorithm for fighting a multicombatant battle and it involves taking out the easiest targets who possess the greatest firepower. Characters with higher defenses and lower attacks tend to get ignored unless they puposefully draw fire to protect the artillery. This revalation came out of playing superhero RP Gs and designing my own sci fi comba game. With a group of characters who are otherwise balanced, it doesn't matter who you take out first because the firepower you neutralize is proportionate to the damage you have to inflict.

The other way to elicit awe is for the baddie to shrug off the most powerful attack the character or party can dish out.

You could also hit a different target than one of your main characters like a Redshirt or an abandoned apartment building, or a nearby mountaintop.

A measure of weirdness is to have some menace show up that the heroes are having trouble dealing with, and then have the new menace show up, one punch the baddie, and while the heroes are awe struck, depart to begin his nefarious scheme.

edited 17th Feb '11 2:56:35 PM by 66Scorpio

Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you are probably right.
Another thing to remember is that while general bad assery has a lot to do with the multitude of asses you kick, there's more to fighting than just being able to flatten a roomfull of angry mooks.

After all, you can be big, strong, and an expert martial artist, but if someone gets the drop on you with a gun, it's completely understandable that you're not going to have an opportunity to manhandle them. In fact, most people would probably call you stupid when you lunged at the mugger who is probably on an adrenaline rush outside of arm's reach.

While straight-up strongarm competitions are often good to establish some kind of pecking order, showing that one character was better prepared, or had a skill that just barely managed to counter our surprised hero, or that brought just the right abilities to a certain situation could show that a villain is definitely a force to be reckoned with, without making the hero's primary strength less impressive.

The idea is that just because someone might be an Olympic kick boxer, a practiced trickshooter from the age of four, or the greatest traceur in France doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of completely mundane situations where they can be put at a serious disadvantage. Just remember that it is very important to do it right: throwing in too many traces of, say, a Genius Ditz ("Oops, I forgot my guns back at home before I went on patrol at midnight!") can get tiresome if they are supposed to be a powerful and independent character; on the other hand, the coincidences that take them by surprise must be well spaced, original, and believable, lest you become so contrived that it begins looking like Kryptonite is everywhere.

It's a careful balance, and I'm sure that every once in a while your character should lose in a contest of raw strength or ability if you really want to show that a villain or rival has chops. But this should be the best way to keep your audience from catching on to all the times when you specifically need to take somebody down a notch to tell the story in the way you really want to. Remember, in some cases, tropes are not bad.

edited 17th Feb '11 3:40:30 AM by Toodle

8 MoeDantes17th Feb 2011 07:26:34 PM from the Land of Classics
cuter, cuddlier Edmond
The other way to elicit awe is for the baddie to shrug off the most powerful attack the character or party can dish out.

Eh, I would say no to this. The minute you do that, the villain loses credibility. I talked about this in my last blog entry, where I compared Freeza to Cooler and showed why Cooler sucked as a villain while Freeza didn't. Basically, anything that takes your villain closer to Cooler... is to be avoided.
I usually use massive enviromental damage(Wipe out a village,set a building on fire,ect.) to show the villain is a threat. Don't know if that works or not.
10 SandJosieph17th Feb 2011 07:51:07 PM from Grand Galloping Galaday , Relationship Status: Brony
Bigonkers! is Magic
Hehe, funny. Massive environmental and property damage is what my protagonists are good at. Grocery stores have been leveled in the pursuit of apples! >:D
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Total posts: 10