A trigger event, also known as a point-zero or simply a trigger,[1] is the moment a parahuman gains their superhuman abilities.

Triggers in Society Edit

The trigger event is usually a very traumatic experience. The way in which people gain powers might hint at why the villains outnumber the heroes two to one, why more women than men have powers, and why third world countries have the highest densities of people with powers (if not 'capes', exactly).[2][3] Not everyone who triggers is given an immediate solution to their problems, further some are killed as they trigger.[4]

Although experts understood many of the nuances of trigger events, they aren't known to the general public.[5][6] It was commonly believed that powers were genetic, even hough this had been thoroughly disproven.[7] Governments would downplay the details of trigger events to prevent people from self-harming in attempt to gain powers. It was widely believed that the strongest powers resulted from athletes, great minds, etc, who broke past some fundamental limit.[8] There was a popular myth that younger triggers were more powerful.[9]

Types Edit

Natural Trigger Edit

A natural trigger event is accomplished through a traumatic experience. Researchers theorize that for every person with powers, there’s one to five people with the potential for powers, who haven’t met the conditions necessary for a trigger event. An individual needs to be pushed to the edge, their fight or flight responses pushed to their limits, before the powers start to emerge.[10] Parahumans with a normal brain and neurological makeup develop a Corona Pollentia within their hind brain.[citation needed]

The circumstances leading up to the trigger event influence the power granted. Psychological stress often leads to mentally driven powers - tinkers, thinkers, masters, shakers.  The more physical violence that is involved, the higher the bias towards physically driven powers.[5][6][11]

Second Generation Edit

If one individual in a family has powers, it is far more likely that others will as well. Powers can be "inherited" from siblings or adopted parents, but it's very rare for them to pass "upward" from child to parent.[5] People who have parents with powers don’t need nearly as intense an event to make their powers manifest.[10]

No third or later generation capes are shown triggering in the story, although they do exist; Theo is a third-generation parahuman, as is an unnamed child in Toronto,[6][12] along with Fleece III.[13]

Second-generation capes gain powers influenced by both the powers of those related to them and their trigger event.[5] Similar to grab-bag capes, the children of parahumans tend to manifest multiple lesser powers related to those around them.[14]

Multiple Trigger Edit

Main Article: Grab-Bag Cape

If multiple hosts undergo a Trigger Event at the same time, then a multiple trigger will occur. In such an event, several people will get powers at once. Most often, this will result in multiple parahumans who have an array of minor powers that share a concurrent theme. The powers most often complement one another, or at least work in similar ways. These are known by the colloquialism of "grab bag capes".[15]

Multiple triggers are meant for the end-game of the Cycle, serving to stress-test powers as well as compare and contrast the smaller powers.[14]

Second TriggerEdit

It's possible for a parahuman to experience a second trigger event, offering a radical change or improvement in their powers.[16] To experience a second trigger, a parahuman has to experience a situation highly similar to their original trigger.

Second triggers are exceedingly rare, and generally do more harm than good due to the level of trauma involved.[17]

The Shard draws from context and explores and/or conceptualizes new uses for its powers. The Shard begins splitting off to find a new, but similar host - piggybacking off the original Shard's context and experience - but then a major event prompts to catalyze and consolidate in the current host instead.

Cauldron capes cannot experience a second trigger, because the Shards harvested from Eden's corpse are 'dead'. Completely cut off and unable to interact with other shards, baring exceptional circumstances. Similarly it is unknown if the such shards are able to bud.[citation needed]

Third and further Trigger events are impossible, according to Doctor Mother, but the explanation isn't provided.

Double TriggerEdit

Due to second triggers requiring a situation that mirrors the first trigger event, a common type of second trigger is the "double trigger". Due to the triggers occurring back-to-back, the need to experience a new event that mirrors the original one is removed, and they're largely indistinguishable from a single trigger. This frustrates some Capes when thinking they could have a second trigger event when they have already had one.[12] Though they would likely have certain limits to there power stretched or removed. [6][citation needed]

Cauldron Trigger Edit

Cauldron capes gain their powers after drinking a Cauldron vial. They are much more likely to gain physical mutations than natural triggers.[citation needed] Their powers are primarily based on what vial they took, although their personality also influences it.[18] Cauldron capes are much less likely to be villains, and are generally more mentally stable.[19][18]

Trigger VisionEdit

Anyone experiencing a trigger event sees a vision of a vast multidimensional entity, but most quickly forget it.[20] Any parahuman nearby experiences a similar vision and is briefly incapacitated.[21]

After the Gold Morning content of visions has changed to more recent recollections of The Warrior's memories. Also visions became more fragmented and remained in the memory.[22]

Known TriggersEdit

  • Skitter was shut in a locker with piles of used tampons and pads. This alone might not have been enough, but time passed and she realized that of everyone who had seen the event happen, nobody was helping her. She had a panic attack, and her powers emerged.[2] She likely had a double-trigger, based on the tests performed by Number Man.
  • Grue came face to face with the man who had been abusing his sister, and had previously abused him.[2]
  • Tattletale triggered after her brother committed suicide.
  • Miss Militia was in Eastern Turkey/Kurdistan, which was in the middle of an ongoing conflict, when Turkish soldiers gathered up the kids of a small village and used them as living subjects to clear the path of traps laid by the guerrilla fighters. She grew convinced she was about to die, either by walking into a trap or being shot, and her powers activated.[20]
  • Bitch's pet Rollo was being killed by her foster mother when she triggered.
  • Scrub gains his powers during a free-for-all brawl that Skidmark instigates among his own followers, after being beaten and/or in a moment of panic.[23]
  • Jack Slash was kept in a basement by his parents and told the world had ended.
  • Bonesaw's family were tortured by the Slaughterhouse Nine.
  • Clockblocker triggered while donating bone marrow
  • Browbeat jumped into a freezing cold lake
  • Dragon triggered from the harassment of the Dragonslayers[24]
  • Crusader was neglected, tried to kill his sister and was caught.[6]
  • Purity was in a car crash and starved trapped by the side of the road.[6]

Second Generation CapesEdit

  • Glory Girl gained her powers after being fouled in gym class.[10]
  • Panacea triggered when Glory Girl was injured in a fight.[25]

Second Triggers Edit

Cauldron Capes Edit

  • Battery purchased powers to defeat her nemesis Madcap.
  • The Travelers drank vials they found to help them in a crisis situation.
  • Alexandria was approached by Cauldron while dying of cancer
  • Eidolon was approached by Cauldron after he attempted suicide
  • Newter was rescued by Alexandria
  • Garotte was kidnapped by monsters from her seaside village
  • Shamrock was kidnapped from her temple-school
  • Triumph's father bought powers for him to help him cheat at sports.[26]
  • William Manton drank a vial and fled Cauldron after his daughter was mutated.

Underlying Mechanics Edit

After an Entity has finished preparing a Shard, it will let the Shard loose, plot for the Shard's arrival, as well as plotting the location it will arrive in and its future host. The Shard will lock on to the host, get a grasp on the host's personality and summarily allow that portion of itself to die and burn out to form the Corona Pollentia. It will then sit dormant for a time, unless the time of the Shard's arrival coincided with the host's trigger event.

When a trigger event happens, the Shard recognizes the event from the state of the host, from context and from the flood of stress responses. It then reads the host to find out who they are and how they respond to situations before reading the situation for itself and assessing what form the danger takes.

The Shard then discards everything it doesn't need, distilling itself down to one efficient, case-specific task, suited to the host. Where the Shard isn't already programmed with inherent safeties and limitations it will use the host's stored knowledge to generate a grasp of what it needs to do.

If there are additional hosts present during the host's Trigger Event, and they are actively using their powers, then the Shard can "ping" off the others and exchange information. This generally allows the host to gain some kind of additional ability that they would not have had otherwise.

Though it may seem like trigger events generally involve the cape automatically manifesting their new power, this is not always the case.

Trivia Edit

  • Pregnancy does not usually lead to a trigger event as it is a normal part of the Human life cycle, events surrounding the pregnancy however, can lead to a trigger event.[27]
  • Dismissing clients of Cauldron, new triggers are generally teenagers, although elderly capes exist.[28][15]

References Edit

  1. We think that was his point-zero."

    "His trigger event," Lady answered.

    He nodded confirmation.


    He sighed.  "I thought I might trigger, perhaps.  Hoped.  I suppose I don't have the potential." - Interlude 16 (Donation Bonus)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Shell 4.3
  3. "Trigger events are a crucial element for study, because the timing, nature and spread of these emerging powers may provide a clue as to where these parahuman abilities come from.  More women than men have powers, for example, and there are more powers in undeveloped countries than there are in industrialized ones – Some of you may remember me mentioning this fact in the 101 class, when I was talking about the witch burnings in The People's Republic of Uganda." - Sentinel 9.3
  4. Of course. Stands to reason, given the situations that can arise. Some just don’t figure out their powers fast enough to act, others don’t get powers that serve to fix their immediate situation (Taylor doesn’t get out of the locker, for example – her situation gets worse) and yet others are just unlucky (getting shot seconds after manifesting – imagine the situation in Brandish’s interlude if Brandish had been targeted by the gunfire before Little Miss Photon erected a forcefield). - Excerpt from Monarch 16.4
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Throughout the course, we're going to be looking at correlations and patterns, both in relation to trigger events and other things.  For example, how does the nature of the trigger event shape the power?  A study by Garth and Rogers suggests that psychological stress leads to a higher prevalence of mentally driven powers.  Tinkers, thinkers, masters, shakers.  The more physical violence that is involved, the higher the bias towards physically driven powers.  Garth and Rogers suggest a sliding scale, but it may not be that cut and dry.

    "A followup study by Garth touches on what we know about cape ‘families'.  If one individual in a family has powers, it is far more likely that others will as well.  Almost always, this trend is either descending or lateral, it seems to transition from parent to child, or one sibling to another, but not from child to parent.  We'll talk about the theories on why.  For those of you wanting to read ahead, take a look at Garth's notes on the Dallon and Pelham families in chapter nine.  We can surmise that the different scenarios leading to trigger events may be directly related to the differences in powers, even among closely related members of a cape family.  Similar trigger events and related individuals, similar powers.  The more distant the relation and the more varied the trigger events, the more drastically different the powers they possess in the end." - Sentinel 9.3
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Interlude 18 (Donation Bonus 2)
  7. The genetics theory is popular, but has been thoroughly debunked.  We’re going to talk about how it was debunked… - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.3
  8. Wildbow on IRC
  9. My first thought was trigger event.  The second was, maybe that idea about people being stronger if they get their powers at a younger age is true after all. - Snare 13.5
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 "It's called the trigger event," Lisa answered me, "Researchers theorize that for every person with powers out there, there's one to five people with the potential for powers, who haven't met the conditions necessary for a trigger event.  You need to be pushed to the edge.  Fight or flight responses pushed to their limits, further than the limits, even.  Then your powers start to emerge."

    "Basically," Alec said, "For your powers to manifest, you're going to have to have something really shitty happen to you."

    "Which may help to explain why the villains outnumber the heroes two to one," Lisa pointed out, "Or why third world countries have the highest densities of people with powers.  Not capes, but a lot of people with powers."

    "But people who have parents with powers?"

    "They don't need nearly as intense an event to make their powers show up.  Glory Girl got her powers by getting fouled while playing basketball in gym class.  She mentioned it in a few interviews she gave." - Excerpt from Shell 4.3
  11. randomsoul2
    So….I was reading the Weaver Dice rules, and something occurred.

    Is there only one possible power/powerset linked to any one trigger event? If someone came up to you [Wildbow] and suggested a trigger event, would the power you responded with be the correct one and all other interpretations be off? Or is it more flexible?

    It’s more flexible. Just as cauldron capes can get variance from any dose, a regular trigger event is affected by the nature of the individual. The passenger watches, in the time between the individual becoming able to trigger and their actual trigger event. - Comment by Wildbow on Speck 30.5
  12. 12.0 12.1 Queen 18.y
  13. Weaverdice Character Sheet
  14. 14.0 14.1 Relatively rare - one in twenty or less are multiple-triggers. To be used when the case calls for a multiple trigger, or it’s suitably large-scale and otherwise boring, you could justify a trigger event as a multi-trigger.
    In such cases, multiple people trigger at the same time. This tends to produce a spread of lesser powers - often three or four powers, possibly with one major one, and often deviations. The powers are related between individuals, but the idea/power that gets emphasized or takes the lead in one individual will often be a minor power for others. Minor powers might not be emphasized at all. Powers tend to form a complementary theme.


    Multiple-triggers are prone to animosity regarding the other triggerees in their ‘unit’, for lack of a better word.
    Though distinct and not simultaneous, siblings born to the same cape parents show the same trends, with biases in what powers manifest and more small powers.

    Worm Spoilers:
    Multiple triggers are actually the endgame of the cycle, prior to the reabsorption and collapse. When virtually all individuals in the setting are parahumans, connected to shards, the introduction of multiple-triggers serves to stress-test powers and compare and contrast the smaller powers. - Dice Rulebook
  15. 15.0 15.1 *Powers from multitriggers are from a mix of shards. The shards, instead of going all-in, give up a small to moderate portion of themselves, and then leave the rest of themselves to develop normally while taking in info from multiple sources, just like a shard would naturally gather info and eventually reach the point where it could bud. Except in this case, the shard will usually just go find another host, maybe with relation to one of the multi's, maybe not, and empower them.


    *Not age restriction. The shards prefer younger people because they're generally going to last a little longer if they wind up finding some degree of success (by virtue of being younger), because they have faster reflexes, there's more room for breadth and depth to develop (see Bonesaw, Jack, Number Man), and because they're more emotionally volatile or face more dramatic situations in the day to day than your typical adult does (Taylor vs. Danny). - Comment on Reddit
  16. "Months ago, we were talking about this subject, the Manton effect.  You mentioned how it might be possible for someone like us to have a second trigger event.  A radical change or improvement in their powers as a result of a life or death moment.  Such might explain how one broke the Manton rule." - Interlude 5
  17. I did some reading, and there's a pretty scary number of people who have their second trigger events and then have a bad ending shortly after.  I think it has to do with the toll it takes on you, the event. - Excerpt from Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus 2)
  18. 18.0 18.1 Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus 3)
  19. With the rise of the Endbringers and threats like the Slaughterhouse Nine, the world was in need of heroes. Cauldron produced more heroes than villains, because there was none of the trauma of a trigger event to throw them off. Even for those individuals who turned to crime, Cauldron was able to leverage the favors that were part of the contract in order to guide their path. More superheroes meant better chances for everyone when it came to fighting the Endbringers and dealing with the big threats. - Excerpt from Interlude 14.5 (Bonus Interlude)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Interlude 7
  21. Infestation 11.6
  22. Teneral e.4
  23. Infestation 11.6
  24. Interlude 16 (Donation Bonus 2)
  25. Wildbow on Spacebattles
  26. Interlude 15
  27. Comment by Wildbow on Reddit
  28. The elderly are hard to fit in, here. Trigger events tend to hit in the teens, so even the oldest parahuman’s liable to be only middle aged (a la Kaiser, Number Man). There’s some Cauldron users, but even they aren’t -old-.

    I have one character in mind that’s elderly, but not 100% decided. Have to see how the next bit flows. - Comment by Wildbow on Interlude 21

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