Threat Classifications are a tricky thing – they are difficult to assign, and prone to change over time. Not to mention that they don’t necessarily have anything to do with combat ability or raw destructive power – in fact, of the four known metahumans to hold the highest possible rating, only half have outright destructive, combat-focused powers. There are even a few baseline humans, typically those who associate heavily with other metahumans and thus gain influence over them, who are given these classifications.
Official Classifications in America are assigned by the Department for Supernatural Affairs (DSA), though the United Heroes and the Police usually give a lot of input, and may assign temporary classifications.
Internationally, the United Supernatural Committee, a part of the PATO, handles these classifications.
Generally, these descriptors are only given to villains and vigilantes, but many heroes, as well as powerful metahuman political figures also carry one.
Note: A classification may be given a “+” or “-” descriptor, identify the individual as especially dangerous within that threat class, or less dangerous than most of said class.
Also known as the Kitchen Sink Class, this classification is the minimal class assigned to all metahumans, simply due to the volatile nature of powers, the impossibility of perfectly analyzing and predicting them. It is of no real importance, in the great scheme of things, and few bother ever mentioning it, as calling a person an E-Class threat is the same as saying “not dangerous enough in any way to qualify for the real classifications”.
This is the second-most often applied classification, describing mostly metahumans (as well as a few very successful baseline operatives). It describes individuals who can threaten any baseline human, physically or mentally, by virtue of their power alone, without factoring in training, as well as the opposite, highly-trained individuals that can threaten any baseline human by virtue of training alone (as such, it can apply to a lot of baseline criminals, soldiers and policement, though it is very, very rarely applied to exceptional cases).
This is the most common classification applied to metahumans whose power alone or power and training combined can challenge entire groups of professional baseline fighters – be they military, criminal or any other professional unit. Usually, all superheroes and villains rate at least a C- rating.
Now we get into the meat of things – those metahumans who really give the powers that be a headache. Of the three high classes, B-Class is by far the most common, comprising more than seventy percent of all classified metahumans above C-Class. Metahumans in this class are beyond the ability of anything less than a small army of baseline humans to take him or her down, or has some manner of connection or influence that allows them to defy baseline attempts of being taken down, as well as the willingness to use said abilities to cause damage to society in some way. It can also be applied to metahumans whose powers are, in and of themselves, going to cause low- to mid-level trouble (like most gadgeteers, limited mind controllers or power enhancers). Metahumans from this level and up are generally kept under close scrutiny by the government, though generally not to the point of antagonizing them – and, in fact, are treated very favourably when it comes to using their powers for the “good guys”. For example, a B-Class combat-focused metahuman who joins the army will generally make five to seven times the wage of any other personnel of the same rank.
This is where things get really problematic. For the longest time, A-Class was the highest class assigned to metahumans, applying to all those individuals judged impossible or extremely unlikely to take down without using metahumans of comparable power, or several metahumans with fitting powers. Lady Light and the Dark were both among the first to be given this classification, when they were first introduced in the mid-thirties. An A-Class metahuman in government employ generally makes ten to twelve times the wage of baselines of the same or similar function, and that doesn’t even factor in what some can do in the private market (such as as part of Private Security Companies – metahuman bodyguards are sought after to incredible degrees).
Here comes the big one. Well, second-biggest, but that’s a recent development. S-Class metahumans are the nightmare of every democrat or socialist – individuals who, by dint of power alone, power and training or connections are capable of threatening entire cities or even countries, threats on a global scale. They are generally capable of shrugging off anything but concentrated metahuman attempts at taking them down, either through sheer toughness, mobility or obfuscation, capable of causing massive damage to or subvert either material, mental, economic or social structures of society. Universal telepaths, for example, are usually rated as such due to the many, many ways in which they can cause said subversion, but it also applies to nearly all so-called ‘broken’ metahumans – monstrosities such as Hastur, Weisswald and Queen Bee.
It also applies to such persons as Lady Light, whose cultural weight and influence on the hero community (not to mention connections to the Dark and leading politicians) would allow her to cause incredible damage to the world, rivaling even her daughter Desolation-in-Light, should she go bad – or die (one shudders to think how the Dark or Gloom Glimmer, not to mention the Shining Guardians – two of whom are S-Class threats in and of themselves, and all of whom consider her a kind of mother to themselves – would react to her death).
Another special member of this classification was Lara Appleton, Ember’s mother. Even though the mere thought of her threatening so much as a cripple in a wheelchair was laughable, the simple fact that she was the mother – and the closest confidante – of Ember bumped her up to this level.
This classification was originally created for Desolation-in-Light alone, but soon thereafter, Emyr Blackhill (also known as The Godking of Mars) was raised to this level, and they were soon joined by Ember.
S+ metahumans – and this classification applies solely to metahumans – are those few individuals whose mere existence is a threat to global security, and whose every action is unlikely to do anything other than make things worse.
They are also, one and all, considered effectively immortal, or at least so close that it makes no difference – the only member of the group that was killed, Emyr Blackhill, could only be killed by a power that is pretty much unique in its unrestrained lethality, and which was lost during that last, barely known battle on Mars. And yet, to this day, the repercussions of his none too brief rule are still being felt all across the globe.
And one can make a pretty convincing argument that the man who single-handedly conquered the entire planet Earth in five days was, overall, the least dangerous of the three S+ threats known to the world.