Finding an unusable piece of equipment means someone with the ability to use it will join the party at some point.
A videogame trope found mostly in RPGs. Whether it's something you buy in a shop, find in a dungeon or loot from an enemy's corpse, The Law of Conservation of Detail guarantees, that it'll be of some use for someone in your party. So what does it mean, when you find a giant axe that's too big for any of the characters to wield?
Naturally, that the Big Guy is well on his way to join the party. Alternatively, one of the existing characters will get a Plot Relevant Power Up and gain the ability to use such weapons. This trope usually appears in Eastern-style RPGs, in games where every character has a set type of weapon only they can use. When the game allows choosing player character's class, items usually will be placed in a way that ensures every class will find something useful for them ever so often. In such cases the trope can still occur, when an item is described as being useful for races or classes that are unavailable for the player. Often, this trope is a big clue to the existence of a Hidden Character. See also Interface Spoiler, where existence of a character, item or power-up is suggested by the interface itself. Note, that this trope only applies to items that are clearly treated as usable by the game's system. A mysterious Plot Coupon that may, or may not be crucial for defeating the Big Bad doesn't count.
- In Final Fantasy IV, you can find throwing stars for Edge in Eblan Cave before he joins the party at the end.
- In Final Fantasy VII, you may find a weapon for Vincent way before you can recruit him. And even then he and Yuffie are Hidden Characters, so you'll be encountering better and better weapons for them even if you miss them.
- In Final Fantasy VIII, a Weapons Monthly issue describing Rinoa and Irvine's weapons can be found before either of them is introduced (Rinoa does appear, but you don't learn who she is at that point).
- You could also buy ammo for Irvine's gun before you met him. Rather annoying, considering that Squall's weapon was a Gun Blade, which contrary to what one would assume, didn't use any ammo at all.
- In Planescape: Torment oculars "usable by Modrons" drop from enemies all around the maze where you can find a Hidden Character of that race if you look hard enough.
- Used in MARDEK in an interesting way:
- Some monsters in Chapter 2 drop weapons that are not usable by anyone. You can carry them over to the next chapter... only to discover that most of them are starting weapons for the new characters. There is however a weak but unique weapon you can only get in this way.
- In Chapter 3 you can buy a weapon usable only by a character that's considered missing-in-action as of second chapter's ending. It sprouted fan speculations about the character returning in a future installment.
- Referenced in Adventurers! when The Hero panics on discovering a shop that sells a weapon no one in the party uses in case they missed a secret character. They meet and recruit the user of said weapons later.
- Chrono Trigger has a merchant selling you scythes shortly before Magus joins up.
- In Baten Kaitos you can find knuckle attacks before Savyna shows up.
- In Warhammer 40,000 Dawn of War 2 you can find pieces of armour for the Dreadnought way before you get one. Not enough information to guess that Captain Davian Thule dies but once that happens, if you are familiar with the Warhammer 40k lore enough to know what exactly dreadnoughts are, you already know who will be piloting the one in your party.
- Subverted in Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem's Book 2: You can get a few axes but never get an axe user; you're supposed to sell them for cash. Averted in the remake, which features playable axe users and replaces those bonus axes with simply getting bonus money.
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