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Randomly Generated Loot
The equipment-based cousin of Randomly Generated Levels
Needs Examples

(permanent link) added: 2013-06-17 10:48:51 sponsor: Bisected8 (last reply: 2013-06-21 10:21:33)

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Indexes: Video Game Items and Inventory, Probability Tropes, Weapons and Wielding Tropes
This trope covers equipment which is generated using random numbers by the game engine rather than being hard-coded into the game. Obviously the algorithms used for this vary, but usually involve some combination of;

  • A list of "basic" templates from which the unique weapons are derived.
  • Ranges for calculating the stats (this might entail a maximum and/or minimum number[[note]]e.g. No matter what number the RNG produces, attack will be rounded up to X or capped at Y if it falls outside that range.[[/note]] or using a specific modifier[[note]]e.g. After the RNG returns a base value, the attack modifier for this weapon is +X[[/note]]).
  • Various traits or special effects which have a random chance of being added (Elemental damage is a popular one).
  • Some sort of system for generating a name for each unique variant (e.g. a Plothook might be called the Plothook of Troping if it has a bonus to Troping, a Plothook of Flaming if it deals fire damage, or a Swift Plothook if the "attack speed" stat rolls higher than average).
  • "Rare" variants, which are weighted to have higher stats and more special effects than other Random Loot of the same level (often with multiple tiers and Colour-Coded for Your Convenience).

Some games make this one of (if not the) central mechanics (particularly the Roguelike subgenre, the earliest of which are the Ur Example of this trope), with the main draw for playing the game being to find better and better loot (often with an Excuse Plot). In other games, it's less important, but prevents the player being bored when all they can get from Random Drops is the same piece of loot (once you've got the +5 Plothook of Troping there's no need to keep fighting those Goddamn Bats or Demonic Spiders unless you're forced to and there's no real thrill from finding it again). Essentially, "find new loot" gives the player a short term objective to be rewarded with while they pursue the game's longer term goals.

When this is done with levels, see Randomly Generated Levels. Compare and contrast Design It Yourself Equipment (when the player can control the stats themselves), Socketed Equipment (where the player can determine bonuses themselves and the Sword of Plot Advancement (which is usually fixed). Sub-Trope of Random Drops.

Examples:

First Person Shooter
  • The Borderlands franchise uses a system where its equipment (guns, class mods, shields, grenade mods and, in the sequel, artifacts) is built up from randomly chosen parts which have different traits (although the player can only see this in the stats and the unique model this produces). It also has several manufacturers, who all have their own unique gun parts and special effects (even more so in the sequel).

MMORPG

Role Playing Game
  • The Diablo series is the Trope Codifier. It featured individual pieces of equipment with random variations in stats, but special effects were mostly fixed to specific item types.
  • The Torchlight series uses a similar system to Diablo, with individual stat variations and Socketed Equipment.
  • While not standard, this is possible when creating a module in Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 through using its scripting language. It is actually done in the "Diablo - The Dark Wanderer" multiplayer module (running on the Viking Northeast server) to imitate the way the Diablo game generates its loot.
  • Path of Exile follows the Diablo model of basic templates with numerous prefixes and suffixes denoting special enchantments, plus multiple tiers of rarity/power.
  • Dragon Age II features this, resulting in regular random weapon drops routinely out-performing unique named weaponry that you have to gain through arduous side quests. This is stark contrast to Dragon Age: Origins, where only the most basic loot was randomized and all the high-level equipment was predefined and obtained under specific circumstances.
  • Subverted by The Elder Scrolls series. Equipment appears to follow the "X weapon of Y" naming format [[note]][craftsmanship] weapon of [adjective corresponding to a power level]ous [enchantment effect]]ing, to be exact.[[/note]], however it only Randomly Drops and has its enchantment scaled to the player's level.

Roguelike
  • Angband and its variants have ego items and random artifacts. One starts with a basic item, like a Hard Studded Leather [7,+0]. With a numeric bonus, that might be a Hard Studded Leather [7,+3]. If it gets an ego, it might be an Elven Hard Studded Leather (increases stealth, detects orcs), a Hard Studded Leather of Resist Fire (reduces fire damage), or with two egos, an Elven Hard Studded Leather of Resist Fire! If it becomes a random artifact (or randart), it receives a unique name, like the Elven Hard Studded Leather of Felorith, and some random powers. Because this is Angband, most ego items and randarts look like average junk until the player identifies or psuedo-identifies the items.
  • Moria, the ancestor of Angband, has ego items but no artifacts.
  • Dungeon Crawl has ego items and random artifacts, like Angband.
  • NetHack makes only a few random tweaks. Some items get blessed or cursed, a few items get fireproof or rustproof, and a few items get a numeric bonus, like a stack of +1 darts.

Strategy
  • Nippon Ichi games usually make use of this trope;
    • Disgaea: All the items you get have different stats, Even if they're the same items. (Example: One Yoshitsuna has 3 more INT ponies then another Yoshitsuna, but 5 less STR points) You can make the items stronger with specialists and Level Grinding in the Item World.
    • Phantom Brave does the same thing as Disgaea, but has a different system for leveling (You have to go into randomly generated dungeons to level up the titles [adjectives you can equip to an item or character] and fuse two items to increase the level cap).

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