The Manton Effect is a common tendency among powers to fail to affect living targets, first discovered by William Manton.
All powers come with certain limitations - they might only target certain materials, have a limited range, limited precision, and so on. For most (but not all) powers, their range of effect stops at the outside of a person or animal’s body. Many of the exceptions are powers that only work on living creatures, such as certain Masters, or Panacea's biokinesis.
This effect severely reduces the potential lethality of most powers; most telekinetics can't reach into your chest and crush your heart, most people who can create forcefields can’t create one through the middle of your body and cut you in two, most pyrokinetics can't generate fire inside your brain to instantly boil you, and so on.
For most of the story, the reasons for the Manton Effect are unknown.
- Vista has the ability to stretch and compress space, but this becomes a great deal slower and requires more effort when the space she is working with is occupied by people, and she is unable to stretch, distort or compress a living individual.
- The author notes in the comments of Interlude 5 that this is due to Vista's ability involving a great many small, interconnected events through the space she's affecting, and the Manton Effect prevents said effects from occurring inside people, forcing her to work around them.
- Bakuda, by contrast, researched Vista's powers and found a way to create a controlled distortion of flesh, and specifically references the Manton Effect when explaining this.
- Faultline can cut through objects with a touch, but can't cut through living things - even plants.
Bypassing the Manton Effect:Edit
The most common way for a parahuman to bypass the Manton Effect is to undergo a second Trigger Event.
Faultline surmises that the Manton Effect might be a mental block set in place when an individual gets their powers, protecting them from hurting themselves with their abilities, which is overgeneralized to include all living things rather than just the user. Her attempts to retrain and circumvent this mental block, however, prove futile.
Bakuda was able to partially bypass the Manton Effect when she created a bomb based on Vista's abilities, which are normally Manton-limited.
The Manton Effect is a result of a person's shard imposing limitations to ensure they don't accidentally hurt themself. During a second Trigger Event, the shard can refine it's technique to only protect the host.
This desire to protect the host is also the origin of the common tendency for parahumans to have a minor Breaker ability protecting them, and it's misfiring in a miscalibrated shard is responsible for Case 53 mutations.