What are super powers?
Probably a huge reason you are playing a superheroes games, which is to say, they are a lot of fun!
From the point of view of the story, powers are extraordinary abilities that set a character apart from normal people.
In the terms of game mechanics, however, powers are essentially three things: Aspects, trappings, and various options for constructing an effect from the shifts achieved when rolling the power.
Like characters, powers have aspects which define what that power IS rather then what it can DO. Each power should have at least one aspect which can be the same as a character aspect. Typically a character’s high concept is also an aspect for all his powers, but even if this is not the case all of a character’s powers should relate to his high concept in some manner to ensure that powers follow a central theme.
Aspects define what the power is, how it works, and why. For example, both Connor and Moun ki Gen Dife (Man-of-Flame) have ranged attack powers based on their ability to control their respective elements. Connor can create bolts of pure force and Man-of-Flame can project gouts of flame. Their powers are mechanically identical, but narratively different because of their aspects. In Connor’s case, it’s his high concept “Force Elementalist” and for Moun ki Gen Dife his high concept is “Mercenary Fire Projector.”
When these two faced off in a secret microchip factory in Indonesia, Connor defeated Man-of-Flame by making a manuever to break a pipe and so “doused the battlefield in water” which he could then invoke against his foe because his powers are governed by his “Mercenary Fire Projector” aspect. Moun ki Gen Dife wasn’t able to use the “doused the battlefield in water” aspect against Connor in the same way because Connor’s powers are based on his “Force Elementalist” aspect and don’t suffer deterioration under water.
Trappings define what a character can do with a power in the same way they define what he can do with a skill. Each trapping means the character can use one of the abstract mechanics by rolling an appropriate skill.
Some trappings provide simple bonuses such as extra stress marks or skill bonuses in the same way that a stunt would. See the passive trappings post.
The effect of a power is basically “how you apply the shifts you score” which is normally determined by the mechanic being used, but there are a number of Effect Options available before and after you roll. You can think of effect options as ways to spend your shifts to make a power do what you want. Connor can, for example, burn some of his shifts to extend the range of his powers. This reduces the stress he inflicts, but allows him to affect targets he normally wouldn’t be able to reach.