Metahuman Motivations


Experts in metahuman psychology have profiled hundred of super-powered individuals over the years. What follows is an overview of the most common metahuman motivations these experts have discovered.

Motivation Descriptors

Upholding the Good

Superman: A textbook example

Individuals motivated by upholding the good are governed by the need to ‘do the right thing’. They are deeply concerned about their fellow man and will do everything in their power to promote the common good, preserve order, and make the world a better place.

They almost always work within the law because they feel lawlessness breeds its own problems. Even without superpowers, this individual will ‘fight the good fight’.

Responsibility of Power

The Flash: A textbook example

Individuals guided by a responsibility of power believe in the precept that ‘with great power comes great responsibility’.

Although similar in some ways to individuals that uphold the good, those motivated by a responsibility of power are less idealistic and more flawed but more likely to seek a balance between the obligations of their civilian lives and their self-imposed commitment to aid others.

Seeking Justice

The Batman: A textbook example

Individuals that seek justice maintain that ‘the system’ is flawed and that it is up to them to ensure that justice is served regardless of who stands in their way.

Frequently, such individuals are vigilantes because their single-minded pursuit of wrongdoers often forces them to cross the lines of legality. Their motivation is typically shaped by some early childhood trauma, usually involving the loss of one or more family members. Although some of these driven, often grim, individuals draw the line at taking the lives of criminals, others do not.

Unwanted Power

Cyborg: A textbook example

Individuals governed by this motivation found themselves in a position where power was thrust upon them, often painfully on both physical and psychological levels. They believe that normal life is no longer possible and, consequently, they try to make the best of their situations until such time as their abilities can be removed or neutralized.

They are usually moody and feel an underlying hatred of themselves and their special circumstances. Although they avoid human contact as they consider themselves to be ‘freaks’, they in fact strongly desire the acceptance of those around them.

The Thrill of Adventure

green arrow
The Green Arrow: A textbook example

Individuals governed by the thrill of adventure are motivated by the adrenaline rush of being a part of the metahuman community. The will actively seek out circumstances that are dangerous to themselves or others and will not hesitate to put themselves in harm’s way even if they have no superhuman abilities.

They often rush into battle with little forethought, which often makes them liabilities for whatever team on which they serve. They are also unresponsive to authority figures, often to the point of open hostility. Their greatest character flaw is that, because their emotions are close to the surface at most times, they can easily be emotionally manipulated.

Personal Agenda

Raven: A textbook example

Individuals with a personal agenda are usually involved in metahuman affairs almost incidentally. Their primary concern is to achieve a specific, very personal, goal.

These goals often differ greatly from person to person. Such goals range from trying to prevent a particular event from coming to pass, attempting to achieve a particular result or reaching a particular destination. These individuals are often secretive and will not hesitate to manipulate others if it serves their ends.

Seeking Vengeance

The Scarecrow: A textbook example

Simply put, individuals seeking vengeance are dedicated to avenging a wrong done to themselves, their friends or their family. In most cases, such wrongs are traumatic, often involving the death of a loved one. However, there have been reported cases where these ‘wrongs” are in fact trivial slights and may even be imaginary. Hence, the propensity for those governed by this motivation to suffer from deep-seated psychoses.

The targets of these vendettas may be a single individual, an organization or even an entire community. Regardless, individuals motivated by the need for revenge will dedicate themselves to the destruction of the person or people they hold responsible for their pain. In the case where an amorphous group such as a government body is held responsible, such individuals will continue their crusade even if the organization is too large and powerful to destroy.

Personal Gain

booster gold
Booster Gold: A textbook example

Individuals motivated by personal gain don costumes for personal reward. Most often, such rewards are monetary but fame within a specific community is also a strong component of this motivation. However, these individuals could also be attempting to gain respect or attract companionship.

For villainous metahumans, this motivation commonly expresses itself as pure greed or even a lust for power. Heroic metahumans desiring personal gain see what they do as simply a business, often performing heroic deeds for a price or even selling their skills and powers to the highest bidder.


Thanos of Titan: A textbook example

These individuals have adopted the philosophical position which argues that the world (or universe) and, especially sentient existence, is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value. Such individuals generally assert some or all of the following: there is no reasonable proof of the existence of a higher power, morality is a fiction, and secular ethics are impossible: hence, life has no truth and no action is preferable to any other.

Such individuals may seek to terminate the existence of those around them, often brutally as the pain they inflict on others does not affect them emotionally. Their own lives mean nothing to them and, consequently, will take no action to preserve them unless they are attempting to extinguish life on a grander scale.


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