Created By: shiro11 on July 30, 2011 Last Edited By: Arivne on September 17, 2016

Improbable Ailment Susceptibility

Enemies in a video game are susceptible to status ailments they logically shouldn\'t be

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A Video Game trope that is a subset of Fridge Logic and Gameplay and Story Segregation.

Almost any video game that has a significant combat element contains the use of Standard Status Effects as a valid strategical option. Unfortunately, many game programmers do not have the time to go extensively through the game's bestiary and individually adjust resistances and immunities for each character and enemy, to the point that there are some instances where the use of such ailments becomes extremely nonsensical.

In particular, robotic and ghost enemies tend to face the brunt of this. Logically, it should be impossible to inflict the status ailment "Poison" on any robotic enemy, assuming that the robot does not have any biological systems. Similarly, it would be rather difficult to Confuse a robot unless your character was a supreme computer genius that could tinker with the enemy's AI. And, obviously, what ailments a ghost or immaterial enemy would be susceptible to wholly depends on that universe's rules of physics governing said ghosts. Also, what biological basis allows plants to fall asleep? (Though, if the plant is sentient and blatantly attacking you, that should be the least of your worries)

While these enemies are the most Fridge Logic inducing, this trope applies to any instance where enemies are susceptible to a condition that should not logically affect them. This does not cover instances where the Contractual Boss Immunity is suspiciously absent for some reason.


Examples:

Card Games
  • Magic: The Gathering
    • Occasionally averted. Common kill cards, Terror and Go For the Throat, and a form of evasion known as Fear/Intimidate don't work on Artifact creatures (Robots and constructs), as they don't have a jugular, and lack the emotional capacity for fear.
    • That's not to say, however, that this never happens in MTG; the scope of the game and the sheer number of cards guarantee that legal plays that invoke Fridge Logic vulnerabilities happen every so often. For example, Lightning Elemental can be killed by Lightning Bolt, Bloated Toad can be Turned to Frog, and Spirits can be Incinerated. Among countless others.

MMORPGs
  • In Ragnarok Online, wearing cloth over your eyes reduces your susceptibility to blind-effects.
  • World of Warcraft has a handful of these, mostly due to the impact of stun-effects in PVP that are constantly being re-balanced. One example, the rogue's sap ability (knock unconscious with an unseen blow-to-the-head), now works on the headless. On that note, the neckless can be Garroted (strangled with piano wire or analog) just as easily.

Real-Time Strategy
  • Mechanical units in Rise of Legends, such as Clockwork Men, are somehow just as vulnerable to Poison and Plague as any man.

Role-Playing Game
  • Robo from Chrono Trigger. - ZCE
  • Due to a programming oversight, the final boss of EarthBound is vulnerable to the poison status despite being immune to most other forms of damage. This can cause a Game Breaking Bug if applied creatively.
  • Mass Effect 2 also had some pretty good aversion going for it. Four different kinds of health bar exist, Biologic, Synthetic, Shield (electronic) and Barrier (psychic). Each type of health bar has its own vulnerabilities and resistances, for example, an unshielded Synthetic could be Hacked, but Biologics would shrug the attack off.
  • Pokémon is all over the place with this trope.
    • In general, it is pretty good about making sure that immunities to ailments make sense (this has increased with the introduction of abilities in Gen III), but some exceptions stick out.
    • Ghost-types are immune from physical damage caused by Normal and Fighting-type moves but can be poisoned, put to sleep, pelted with rocks, and somehow are weak to Bites.
    • In Generation I, Fire-types were not immune to the Burn status ailment.
    • Ice-types can be frozen via Secret Power or Tri Attack.
    • In an attempt to account for this, Steel-types, which cover machines and various animals covered with metallic coatings, are immune to Poison-type moves. Unfortunately, this causes a problem for anyone familiar with chemistry since the move Acid is considered a poison-type move.
  • Xenosaga Episode I notably averts this by having completely separate status ailments for biological/gnosis and mechanical enemies. Most of the mechanical status ailments only reduce statistics, and ailments such as Pilot-Sleep and Pilot-KO explicitly target the pilots.

Tabletop Games
  • 1st Edition Dungeons & Dragons. Monster descriptions sometimes listed things that monsters were immune to, but did not list every possible thing. For example, the skeleton wasn't immune to attacks that should only affect living creatures (like bleeding, disease and poison) because they weren't mentioned in its description.

Turn-Based Strategy
  • Any character or creature whose Bravery stat falls below a certain threshold turns into a chicken in Final Fantasy Tactics. The closest this comes to making sense is a Chocobo turning into a chicken. Oracles and Mediators have a small arsenal of similarly head-tilting status effects.

Community Feedback Replies: 29
  • July 30, 2011
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    I'd say this might be covered by A Wizard Did It. Technological constructs are still susceptible to magic, after all. And while poison to a biological system is one thing, if you put sugar in a gas tank, you've just poisoned your car.
  • July 30, 2011
    wanderlustwarrior
    I definitely think that this is a possible, distinct trope.

    In Final Fantasy X, Auron, Tidus and all of the unsent are regularly affected by spells and damage, despite either already being dead or not actually existing in the traditional sense, in Tidus' case. It could be that the magical spell find a way to work, or that being an Unsent isn't really being dead.
  • July 31, 2011
    MasterHand
    Do you think that how, in Mortal Kombat 9, Kenshi, who is blind, is vulnerable to attacks that stun the opponent by going for the eyes would count?
  • August 5, 2011
    Loyal2NES
    • Mechanical units in Rise Of Legends, such as Clockwork Men, are somehow just as vulnerable to Poison and Plague as any man.
  • August 5, 2011
    deuxhero
    Robo from Chrono Trigger
  • August 11, 2011
    KamenZero
    Master Hand: I would think blind or not, jabs to the eyes would still -hurt-

    Edit: Unless its a Solar-Flare type attack or something, then yeah
  • August 12, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    If I had a nickle for every addled, poisoned, charmed, dazed, stunned, and sleeping Robot.

    Any character or creature whose Bravery stat falls below a certain threshold turns into a chicken in Final Fantasy Tactics. The closest this comes to making sense is a Chocobo turning into a chicken. Oracles and Mediators have a small arsenal of similarly head-tilting status effects. For example, Charm, when used on a human only works on a human of the opposite gender, but will work on all beasts. Kinda like Everyone Is Bi.

    Final Fantasy IX had Mustard as a status effect.

    World of Warcraft has a handful of these, mostly due to the impact of stun-effects in PVP, they're constantly being re-balanced. One example, the rogue's sap ability (knock unconscious with an unseen blow-to-the-head) now works on the headless. On that note, the neckless can be Garroted (strangled with piano wire or analog) just as easily.

    Averted in Magic The Gathering, common kill cards, Terror and Go For the Throat, and a form of evasion known as Fear/Intimidate don't work on Artifact creatures (Robots and constructs), as they don't have a jugular, and lack the emotional capacity for fear. With the card base what it is though, I'm positive there are countless examples of this trope in action. How about a Lightning Elemental killed by a Lightning Bolt?

    Averted-except-not, in Ragnarok Online, wearing cloth over your eyes reduces your vulnerability to blind-effects. I also recall poisoned Ghosts, blinding eye-less enemies with card effects, and freezing fire elementals; all this, despite how every enemy has a complex list of personalised vulnerabilities and resistances.

    Seen It A Million Times. I'm sure this can amass several examples.
  • August 12, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Mass Effect 2 also had some pretty good aversion going for it. Four different kinds of health bar exist, Biologic, Synthetic, Shield (electronic) and Barrier (psychic). Each type of health bar has its own vulnerabilities and resistances, for example, an unshielded Synthetic could be Hacked, but Biologics would shrug the attack off.
  • August 13, 2011
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • 1st Edition Dungeons And Dragons. Monster descriptions sometimes listed things that monsters were immune to, but did not list every possible thing. This led to monsters being vulnerable to effects that logically shouldn't affect them. For example, the skeleton wasn't immune to attacks that should only affect living creatures (like bleeding, disease and poison) because they weren't mentioned in its description.
  • August 13, 2011
    terrafox
    • Some Final Fantasy games feature undead monsters such as zombies, skeletons or ghosts being susceptible to poison. How can you poison something that has no flesh affected by poison/venom interaction? Might be more believable if poison were some type of powerful acid that dissolves everything it touches, but it is always described as poison.
  • August 13, 2011
    TheChainMan
    In the first Generation of Pokemon games, Fire Pokemon can be burnt. Later generations made them immune.
  • August 22, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    Deciding to update my MTG example with links,

  • August 22, 2011
    jaytee
    This doesn't seem like a trope. It's just the aversion to The Dev Team Thinks Of Everything.
  • August 22, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^ Fair point. But on the other hand, this concept is the elephant in the room, the egregious moment of Fridge Logic, and the ridiculous case scenario that initially prompts game developers to think more methodically about what fits and what doesn't.

    In an almost Rousseau-esque fashion, doesn't the reaction to this concept by developers codify it rather than disqualify it?

    Of course, I could easily be wrong.
  • August 22, 2011
    Hadashi
    I think this is tropable
  • August 22, 2011
    jaytee
    ^^I see your point, and I know we have other, similar tropes, but I just have a problem with codifying tropes that are the result of inaction by the creator. To me, that's not a trope, that's an aversion, a lack of trope.

    Basically, there's no deliberate act on the part of the creator for this trope. The deliberate act is The Dev Team Thinks Of Everything and any related subtropes.

    Like I said, I know there are other tropes that are the result of inaction by the creator, so I won't be horribly offended if this launches. I just feel that pages like this degrade the value of the wiki in the long run--rather than a collection of tropes, it becomes a collection of convergent phenomena.

    Take all that for what you will, I'll leave it alone unless you have questions for me; there are other, far less tropey YKTT Ws that I can work on. :)
  • August 22, 2011
    ZombieAladdin
    The Mega Man Classic series, Mega Man X, Mega Man Zero, and Mega Man ZX series always have bosses weak to one of the other bosses' abilities. Some of them make sense, but most of them don't. This may be inevitable though, as not all of the bosses have themes with a clear weakness. For instance, what is mine-seeking military robot Commando Man not good at defending against?
  • August 22, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    ^^ You make an excellent point. Anyone else want to chime in on this?
  • August 22, 2011
    CommanderPanda
    One alternative, would be to limit the trope to revision, foresight, correction, or instances where the developers did have a hand in this.

    Essentially, that would limit the scope to sequels and patches (et al.) where Game 2 corrected a susceptibility present in game 1. Would that work?
  • August 23, 2011
    shiro11
    Original poster here.

    I mainly created this because I felt that these occurrences were rather common, despite the fact that it is not usually on purpose, and only a manifestation of a lack of effort on the part of the developers. As such, I felt that it didn't really fit under The Devs Think Of Everything or They Didn't Care, since it is quite common and specific enough to stand on its own. That's my opinion.
  • August 23, 2011
    Smo
    Plant enemies are like this too. How can you put a plant based foe to sleep?
  • August 24, 2011
    cocoy0
    I don't think Tabletop Games should be included as they are more of the DM failing to think sensibly.
  • August 29, 2011
    OmarKarindu
    • Due to a programming oversight, the final boss of Earth Bound is vulnerable to the poison status despite being immune to most other forms of damage. This can cause a Game Breaking Bug is applied creatively.
  • September 12, 2016
    DAN004
    • El Sword: Eve, despite being robotic, is susceptible to being poisoned just like other player characters. So would the Mecha Mooks and golems that the players fight later on.
  • September 12, 2016
    NubianSatyress
    First Person Shooters;

    In Overwatch, all health, nerfing and buffing abilities work on every character, even if they shouldn't. The most blatant example of this is Ana's Sleep Dart, which instantly knocks out anyone hit by it, even if they're a robot. One character, D.Va, even pilots a Mini Mecha with no sentience and when the dart hits it, the mech goes to sleep but D.Va doesn't as you can see her inside fidgeting desperately to get the mech to move. Of further not is that another character, Reaper, is explicitly shown to be immune to the dart in the Expanded Universe, but in the game he goes to sleep like everyone else.
  • September 13, 2016
    TrueShadow1
  • September 13, 2016
    Arivne

    Robo is a Zero Context Example and has been marked as such (ZCE). It needs more information to show how it fits the trope.
  • September 17, 2016
    Exxolon
    In Darkest Dungeon it's possible with right combination of skills and items to reduce their bleeding resistance to make enemies such as Skeletons (who have a 100% resistance to it normally) bleed.
  • September 17, 2016
    Astaroth
    For the Chrono Trigger ZCE:

    • Robo in Chrono Trigger is a robot, in contrast to the rest of the party who are nearly all human (with the exception of Frog). Despite this he's vulnerable to many of the same status effects as them, including poison and sleep.

    • Averted by the troglodytes in the Heroes Of Might And Magic series, who are completely immune to the 'Blind' status effect because they have no eyes.
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