Breaker is one of the twelve power classifications created by the PRT still in modern day use. Breakers have the ability to alter themselves to a different state in which they maintain different abilities, although Breakers with permanently altered states also exist.
Nearly all powers have some small element of Breaker to them: the innate defenses of parahumans that keep their own powers from harming them are generally Breaker powers. This does lead to some confusion however.
Powers that earn a true Breaker rating are those that cause the user to alter their physical (and sometimes mental) state to something alien and power-generated. This altered state can have a singular benefit that breaks the defined laws of reality (as any power does, but centered around the parahuman’s capabilities) or a state that contains a suite of powers.
The altered state may have costs when adopting it, costs to maintain it, or costs and complications in other forms. Breakers have a strong connection to their Shard but this leads to a high degree of flux in power expression.
Breaker triggers are perhaps the hardest to define. On one hand, Breakers emerge from triggers that blur the line between physical and mental. It's not enough for trigger event to have a physical and mental element: The two must be indivisibly linked.
On the other hand, Breaker powers emerge from abstract stressors, or from threats that are hard to define or explain. They often involve self-contradictory feelings. For a Mover, this might include things like wanting to escape on a physical level while mentally feeling that the situation is safe, the inverse, or something more abstract, like wanting to escape reality on a spiritual level and finding oneself unable, or wanting to escape a concept or wanting to escape something that cannot be avoided on a fundamental level.
Drugs, poisons, medical conditions and mental illnesses very frequently involved in the unusual scenarios that make Breaker triggers possible.
As previously stated all powers have some small element of Breaker to them, Breakers generally express other ratings through their alternate state. A Shaker classification is common, as is a Stranger classification. The Trump classification, particularly through edge cases, is also frequently combined with Breaker.
PRT-teams generally try to target Breakers outside of their enhanced state where possible. Because of the nature of Breaker powers, all other specific countermeasure depend on the parahuman's sub-classifications.
↑ 2.02.1Has the ability to alter themselves to a different state in which they maintain different abilities. Appends other powers, but only in this state. Can also include general altered states.
Target the individual outside of any enhanced state where possible. All other effects depend on the sub-classification. - PRT Master Reference - Classifications - Breaker
↑ 4.04.14.24.34.4Breakers are those who alter their physical (and sometimes mental) state to something alien and power-generated. While all powers have some small element of breaker to them, the breaker-centric powers are the ones where the individual switches over to a completely different state. The state can have a singular benefit that breaks the defined rules of reality (as any power does, but centered around the parahuman’s capabilities) or a state they enter that contains a suite of powers, but that state may have costs when adopting it, costs to maintain it, or costs and complications in other forms. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑There was a theory that was gaining traction, suggesting that the breaker classification was one of the most common powersets, if not always the most pronounced. Innumerable people with powers had also adapted innate defenses that kept their own powers from harming themselves. Pyrokinetics tended to be resistant to flame. - Excerpt from Interlude 14.y
↑“I don’t really keep track of the terms,” she said. “I looked online once and it seemed like everyone was a breaker.”
“Almost everyone is, if you want to be super technical,” I said. “But that’s power geek talk. If I’m thinking of the same sites you are, it’s because the template that was copied for individual cape bios had ‘breaker’ included in it by accident.” - Excerpt from Beacon 8.8
↑Breakers enjoy or endure a stronger connection to their power and their shard than most capes, and where many capes will experience an ebb and flow to their power as they find more or less connection to their passengers, breakers will frequently feel this to a greater degree. - BREAKERS, document by Wildbow.
↑“Yeah,” he said. “In flux. Sometimes it’s more stable. Lately? It’s very back and forth.”
“Powers do that,” I said. “Some more than others. Breakers especially, some Trumps, and powers with a lot of random chance. They depend more on the alien intelligence to manage the power, or they’re closer to that intelligence, so those parahumans feel it more. Powers are more generous or leave you hanging.” - Excerpt from Gleaming 9.2
↑Breaker triggers are perhaps the hardest to define lay out in clear terms. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Other Breakers arise from cases where the lines are so blurred and/or intermingled between the physical and the mental that usual classifications don’t neatly fit. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Could the elements feeding into one aspect of the trigger be removed, with the trigger event still making some degree of sense? In the above hypothetical, could you remove the parts that make it a changer trigger and leave it as striker only, with a rewrite? If the combination of the two are so interlinked as to be irreconcilable, it could be a breaker trigger. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Breakers sometimes come from abstract stressors or those things that are the very odd fits for other classifications. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Does, for lack of a better way of putting it, the trigger sit on the outside bounds of the usual ‘box’ that the classification fits in? Strikers trigger from in-your-face hostile threats. Is the threat hard to define or explain, either in the character’s perceptions or in reality? Changers trigger from identity issues and cases where the outside world impugns the character’s set identity. Is that identity crisis hard to define or explain, even for the individual in question? Similar questions can be asked for other classifications. Is the damage a Brute takes hard to explain or frame? Is the long-term problem a tinker faces hard to outline in terms of being long-term or a problem? - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑ 14.014.1For a mover, this might include things like wanting to escape on a physical level while mentally feeling that the situation is safe, the inverse, or something more abstract, like wanting to escape reality on a spiritual level and finding oneself unable, or wanting to escape a concept or wanting to escape something that cannot be avoided on a fundamental level. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Drugs, poisons, medical conditions and mental illness very frequently create the unusual scenarios that make Breaker triggers possible. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑The breaker state in this case enables the Stranger effect. The options here are too varied to name, but tend to involve toggling the state, often with a cost, but is stronger than it would be without the breaker state. - STRANGERS, document by Wildbow.
↑ 17.017.1Fog is (like many breakers) a sub-class shaker, in that his breaker power has a shaker (and stranger) side effect (the broad cloud of semisolid fog he generates). Much like Shadow Stalker. You can see 9.1 for brief mention of these breaker sub-classes, I think. - Queen 18.5, comment by Wildbow.
↑Not uncommon, given that both types of trigger tend to touch on abstracts and unusual sorts of harm can include scenarios where the individual is facing unwanted attention. Such a trigger would either involve an audience or observer while the harm took place or the abstract harm is driven home by a concerted effort and fixation on the part of the other party. - STRANGERS, document by Wildbow.
↑Super common. Just take all of the Trump edge cases where people wonder "Is this really trump?" - Trumps are rare, so just dump overflow here. The individual attacked by a tinker-empowered drone. The man caught in the storm of shaker-created power energies, where the creator of those energies is either very far away or dead; the door is open, but not so open that the shard is about to work out a trump-esque result. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑Black Kaze alternated attacks with Acidbath, very proper, measured in her movements, compared to Acidbath’s flailing, reckless, hurried scramble to keep out of Scion’s line of sight. Acidbath moved with surprising quickness, faster than a typical car might. A peculiarity of his breaker power. - Excerpt from Speck 30.2
↑ 21.021.1Acidbath Could turn into, sling blasts of, & move as tidal wave of acid Independent Breaker/Changer (Blaster, Striker & Mover Sub powers) - parahumanList, bolded edit by Wildbow.
↑ 22.022.1“I’m a breaker and shaker,” Annex told me, “Merge into nonliving material, warp space.”
“Warp it how?” I asked.
“Reshape it,” he said. He was still half-walking, half-jogging, but he stretched a white-gloved hand out four feet, touching a sign. His hand smeared against it as though it were more liquid than solid, coloring it the same white as his glove. The sign oozed back into the wall, virtually disappearing, and Annex removed his hand, slowly reeling in the extended flesh. The sign remained where it was, compressed against the wall, the surface flat. - Excerpt from Crushed 24.1
↑ 23.023.1I identified a young man, at the center of it all, and I could now think of the Ash Beast as a ‘he’ instead of an ‘it’. He was surprisingly healthy, but he had a power that kept him in good physical condition, a natural breaker-class adaptation that came with his power. Energy to matter and matter to energy. - Excerpt from Speck 30.5
↑Striker 5, Shifter 1 (Wildbow note: should be Breaker 1 (Brute). If you had to put a number to the Brute, it would be 1. Classifications get murky out of context, though.) - Wildbow on Brandish
↑Ranked 1 powers mentioned thus far include Shadow Stalker and Brandish (Mover 1 and Shifter 1, respectively).
For Shadow Stalker, that’s the ability to float or jump a good distance (12-15 feet from a standing position). Somewhat more versatile than an olympic athlete might be able to maintain.
For Brandish, it’s the ability to become an immobile, nigh-invulnerable sphere. - Scourge 19.5, comment by Wildbow.
↑“I switch modes,” Caryatid said. “My other form can only move with my power, and is indestructible with enhanced awareness while still.” - Excerpt from Beacon 8.8
Cinereal leads the Atlanta Protectorate, Wards, and maintains liaison with the Watchdog group. She’s a powerful breaker and shaker, and maintains a peculiar style of leadership. Her power altered her thought pattern and emotions, which would normally preclude being put in a leadership position, but she stepped into the position as a temporary measure after the prior Protectorate leader committed suicide (owing to PTSD from the local war) and nobody truly went out of their way or found cause to replace her.
Cinereal had a phoenix motif as a ward, but was forbidden from using her flames for an extended period, and eventually dropped the brand. Her costume makes liberal use of the color grey and very few highlights of color.
Her power involves creating patches of ash’. In waves, blasts, and on violent contact with a surface, she creates plumes of particulate matter that bleed into the surroundings, converting and effectively protecting it. The resulting matter is dense, heavy, and clings to itself enough that it doesn’t tend to form major clouds, instead collecting on surroundings in crude dunes, some gravity-defying. It is of a volume and weight to easily bury others, forcing those caught in a wave to use raw strength to fight their way free.
Cinreal can use the material as an extension of herself - it cannot be moved, but she can cover herself and reform/launch herself out of a collection of the particulate, spearing forward and creating more ‘ash’ on impact with a person or location. Doing so consumes a portion of the matter.
On being wounded enough that her life might be in danger, she will automatically ‘perish’ and reform nearby, again, consuming a portion of the matter, being partially restored in the process.
She has the ability to set her breaker state and the ‘ash’ on fire. These flames burn at an extremely high temperature (1100 degrees celsius), and consume the ash at a steady rate. She almost never uses this power. The flames can spread, but all flames can be simultaneously extinguished as she exits her breaker form. She is fireproof.
Cinereal is a very intense ‘lead by example’ leader. She’s aggressive in patrolling and in putting down threats. She expects those she leads to keep up, with little coddling. She doesn’t tend to ask more than someone can give, and most find their stride in short order.
Cinereal is powerful, and is very hard to put down. The only guaranteed way would likely be to sustain an assault and simultaneously constrain her ability to act to keep her from producing more of the ‘ash’.
Her reputation is well established. She’s been around for eight years and in charge for six. Villains tend to run or surrender when she shows up, and the public has a strange, almost masochistic liking for her. She doesn’t talk to cameras, doesn’t see the point, abuses bystanders who are gawking rather than running, and eschews merchandising issues, yet the public seems to champion her more for it.
Retreat really isn’t in her playbook. Even in situations where allies have fallen, she prefers to eliminate the threat and then collect the wounded, rather than change course and help them first. Those working for her know this.
She can’t leave her breaker state voluntarily. Remaining stationary, typically after climbing to a high perch where she won’t be bothered by civilian or news crews, she’ll draw the matter to herself, absorbing it and healing her wounds. Once entering into a confrontation, she is effectively tethered to the location. It is partially for this reason that she has avoided Endbringer encounters, and partially because her power is effectively countered by each of the three. -
Link made on the IRC archived on Spacebattles
↑ 28.028.1Menja was classified as a breaker, the spatial-warping effect that surrounded her made incoming attacks smaller even as she simultaneously made herself bigger. - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.6
↑ 29.029.1Kaiser came through the door with a girl on each arm, blondes with measurements like Playboy models. Kaiser wore armor head to toe, elaborately worked and topped with a crown of blades. The leader of Empire Eighty Eight. The twins went by the names Fenja and Menja, and were decked out in Valkyrie-style armor featuring countless little steel wings, along with closed-face helms. Had to admit, Kaiser liked his heavy hitters. These two could grow to be three stories tall, and they were a hundred times more durable when they were. - Excerpt from Hive 5.1
↑ 30.030.1“And this second group, The Pure, is the second offshoot of that Aryan group, I take it?”
“Small but powerful. Their leader, Purity, is a Blaster 8 and Mover 4.”
“Yeah, there’s a Breaker 9, a Shifter 8 with Stranger 3 and a Master 6 in that group? I buy that they’re powerful.” - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.1
↑I have a slightly different take on Breakers than I did as I wrote that part & the comment. The story itself is unchanged because you can effectively flip the two characters around, but I'd call Night a breaker and Fog a Changer (or call them both breakers, depending). I've also left it as is with the idea that the PRT are always going to be a bit wobbly with classifications (and especially numbers) given the lack of complete information they have. - Excerpt from a comment on Reddit by Wildbow.
↑Fog, Geoff Schmidt – Has the ability to partially or wholly become a living mist, with solidity varying depending on his wishes and the ability to erode living matter. - Cast (In Depth)
↑Eric becomes a breaker, transitioning between two forms. Because of the nature of the problem and of Eric himself, he doesn't get a form that returns him entirely to normal. He has one form where he's essentially a living artillery platform, unable to move, but capable of devastating firepower, and one form where he flies at stunning speeds, capable of turning on a dime, durable. A living bullet. - Spacebattles post by Wildbow.
↑ 35.035.1◈ GRUMMAN; Eric Stodt Classification: Mover 6, Brute 8 or Mover -1, Blaster 9 Toggles between two breaker states, one granting exceedingly maneuverable flight abilities, the other turning him into an immobile artillery platform. - PRT Quest (Anchorage)
↑Gold Coin. Cape refugees turned criminal. Guns, more drugs. You can see why Walsh is your second in command, with experience in narcotics. He might have insights into operations or effective countermeasures. All master-class, or with some master ability. Tactically, your first impression is that it's less about controlling people, and more about controlling entire areas. Keep people out of one area, use people in another, leverage, control a situation, and so on. They're less likely to be as disciplined as the Bratva, but they were capes before they came over from Thailand. They had experience in fights. They may well be coordinated. - PRT: Department Sixty Four [Worm Quest] - Page 14
↑ 37.037.1Khun Sa/Prince Prosperous Breaker transformation into immovable onject with nervous control over animals, people and some electronics in the area - parahumanList, bolded edit by Wildbow.
↑Legend’s flight powers let him accelerate to a speed that exceeded sound and continue accelerating, to no hard limit. The soft limit was that he had breaker powers that kept the acceleration from tearing him to shreds, altering his body into something else entirely as he gained speed. The drawback to this was that his brain also shut down on a cognitive level as the transformation occurred. He had never let himself go so fast that he lost the ability to consciously control his movements. - Excerpt from Interlude 14.y
↑Legend A flying laser-blaster with a toolbox of possible types of laser and laser effects. - parahumanList, bolded edit by Wildbow.
↑If an opponent attacked and struck him, he instinctively transitioned into his energy form for a split second. In that state, he absorbed energy of a variety of kinds, including the kinetic energy that was transferred with a punch or with a bullet. His opponents were forced to whittle him down, each attack only a fraction as effective as it might otherwise be. Even then, a share of that small amount of damage was healed a second later as he used the absorbed energy to mend his body. Conversely, his enemies could try to hit him with enough speed and force that even a hundredth of a second of contact was sufficient to take him out of the fight. Leviathan and Behemoth had managed to land blows of that magnitude. - Excerpt from Interlude 14.y
↑ 41.041.1Lustrum Massive breaker form fueled by draining from the physical and mental facultires of those nearby - parahumanList, bolded edit by Wildbow.
↑ 42.042.1Night Hag transmuted her environment into a special material by 'infecting' it. The longer she stayed still, the more the infection spread. The affected area would slowly regenerate after the fact. If she was destroyed or killed, she could reform herself from any lingering infected ground. A breaker who decided never to go back to her usual form, she formed a strong rapport with her passenger. With her secondary benefits of not needing sleep or food, she could hunt prey for days or weeks as they tried to flee. More often, she would control the area, cut off retreat and then slowly break and maim her foe, starting from the extremities and moving towards the vital functions last. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑➥ KHUN SA (Prince Prosperous); Real name unknown Disposition: Villain (A) Last known location: Anchorage Leader of the Anchorage faction of Gold Coin. Has an established criminal history involving drug trafficking. Khun Sa can metamorphose himself into a solid fixture that grants nervous system control over humans and animals in the area, as well as limited control of electronics. In this state, he cannot move or be moved, and is assumed to be invulnerable. - PRT Quest (Anchorage)
↑ 44.044.1[21:59] <Lexicon> Is Purity's light a breaker state? I thought it was just a aesthetic effect, given the rest of her doesn't seem to change. [22:00] <~Wildbow> Breaker state. [22:00] <~Wildbow> She's basically the subtype of breaker that goes 'Turn breaker, gain access to a powerset while in breaker state', but with contingent costs/benefits with holding the form (personal battery, in her case) [22:02] <~Wildbow> Her trigger doesn't really work with her powerset, if she's not breaker. - IRC chat archived Spacebattles
↑Capes with the ‘breaker’ classification were generally those who had some ability to ‘break’ the natural laws of the universe as far as those laws applied to them. Shadow Stalker was one. Scion was apparently another. - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.2
↑An attack from two directions. She wasn’t immune, only resistant. I felt myself assert control. I understood her power, even if I didn’t understand a thing about her. A personal, point-blank trump power, allowing her to tune abilities and defenses much like Scion did. A powerful long-ranged telekinesis, a compulsion power like Canary’s, presence-based rather than voice based, and a personal power battery that let her be stronger, for limited times. - Excerpt from Speck 30.4
↑Scion had an adaptive nullifying defense that was just borg shield, basically, auto-tuning against whatever was used against him, and would work against anything to one hundred percent efficacy, after the initial hit. - reddit comment by Wildbow.
↑ “Clockblocker and Vista are your best assets. Clockblocker is a Striker 7 with touch-based time-stopping. Vista is a Shaker 9. Large scale spatial distortion.”
“Geez louise. The others?”
“Kid Win is a Tinker 4. Guns and antigravity devices, primarily. Shadow Stalker is more ambiguous. Breaker 3, sublabels are Stranger 2, Mover 1. Her particular nature as a ‘breaker’ makes her superlight, semi-gaseous, transparent and capable of passing through solid surfaces.” - Excerpt from Sentinel 9.1
↑Capable of shifting herself into a ‘shadow state’, she can pass through walls, is lightweight, and passes these benefits on to her equipment, including shots fired by her crossbow bolts. - Cast (In Depth)
↑ 50.050.1◈ VELLUM; Tanya Engalychev Classification: Breaker 4/Striker 4/Brute 2/Mover 1 (Tentative classification) Nonlethal, albeit painful absorption of skin from touched subjects. Gains permanent increase to strength and durability as a result. Limited ability to alter skin patterns. - PRT Quest (Anchorage)
↑Velocity is ex-military, was a callow youth who enlisted due to promises of ways to learn languages (Russian, Chinese) hoping to travel during/after the fact, and instead got stuck in the rank and file with no follow-through and longer terms than he expected.
Edit: As with many breakers, it was a confluence of factors that led to his trigger in the end - being caught in a bad situation in a bad place in a bad mental state. - Spacebattles post by Wildbow.
↑Velocity (Deceased) – Deceased. Had enhanced speed at the cost of a lowered ability to affect the world. Slain in the Leviathan arc. - Cast (In Depth)
↑ 53.053.1“Wanton,” Tecton said, stressing the pronounciation, “Is a breaker-stranger class cape. He can turn into a localized telekinetic storm. - Excerpt from Queen 18.5
↑The Wards, their powers, how to use them? I thought. If I went by the PRT classifications, Tecton was a tinker with shaker capabilities. Wanton was a breaker, someone who altered themselves or their relation to the world by some characteristic of his power, becoming a shaker effect, a telekinetic storm. Annex was the same, only he became a living spacial distortion effect, a living application of Vista’s power. Golem, no doubt a shaker. - Excerpt from Crushed 24.1
↑ 55.055.1Wendigo Player: SCG Allegiance: Independent Power: Shifter/Breaker. Body is a space-warping effect. Space-warping lingers throughout his general area. He leaves a trail of breaking/snapping/fracturing space-warp behind him. He can also channel this effect into things he touches. Maintains ability to further warp himself, to use as an attack. - PRT Quest (Villains), document by Wildbow.
↑The blaring noise stopped as a voice emanated from the speakers.
“Scion. Zion. Golden Man. It’s Lisette. Kevin Norton introduced us. What the man down there is saying… whatever he’s saying, don’t listen. Turn away. Please.“