Only Flesh Is Safe
Anti-Materiel Attack
Better Name Description Needs Help

(permanent link) added: 2013-12-15 17:38:34 sponsor: RazorSmile edited by: Arivne (last reply: 2014-04-15 11:42:59)

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This trope describes a weapon or superpower that explicitly damages/affects inanimate objects but has absolutely no effect on living organic matter. It of course does not stop the user from, say, dropping a building on their foe, taking out the floor beneath their feet or blowing up the power source of their powered armor. For instance.

Can be considered a Super Trope of The Nudifier but includes all the less prurient examples. Overlaps with As Lethal as It Needs to Be. Contrast with Neutron Bomb (which destroys organic matter only), Selectively Lethal Weapon and Could Have Been Messy (both of which are extradiegetically brought on by poor editing and age restrictions respectively.)

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Ranma : Ryouga's Breaking Point attack turns out to have this limitation (the real point of the training was to make him Made of Iron).
  • Mid-Childan combat magic in Lyrical Nanoha is like this: you'd think that an energy beam that can pierce through layers upon layers of heavy spaceship armor would vaporize bare flesh instantly, but no, it merely knocks the target unconscious with not so much as a burn. Most cuts and bruises the characters sustain in combat actually come from secondary sources, like being slammed into a wall or caught under falling debris.
  • Caitian weaponry in Cat Planet Cuties focuses specifically on destroying material matter. In the 2nd episode, anti-matter hammers are used to destroy a battalion of tanks, and the clothes of the pilots inside. Later on in the series, anti-matter bullets are used to defuse a hostage situation by shooting the gun pointed at someone's head.
  • The Fuwa Fuwa No Mi power from One Piece is a bit of a mixed-case: it is a levitation power that can only affect the user himself — and inanimate objects. All other organic matter and lifeforms are immune to direct use.

Comic Books
  • X-Men villain Avalanche originally had the power to create seismic effects that shattered buildings but did nothing to living organic matter. At some point, he lost that particular weakness.
    • In his first appearance, the Molecule Man from the Fantastic Four comics was incapable of affecting organic matter.

Literature
  • Tensors from Steelheart can pulverize most matter, but can't affect flesh (at one point a skilled user punches some Enforcement mooks while disintegrating holes in their body armor for his fist to go through). Steelheart's conversion power also can't affect living beings, and many other Epic powers are the same.

Tabletop Games
  • World-Weathering Incandescence from Exalted is a charm that lets the infernal burn and destroy inanimate non-magical objects (like walls and floors and ceilings) with a single fiery blow.
  • Matter powers from Mage: The Awakening, which only directly affect non-living matter.
  • Champions
    • It's possible to give attacks that normally affect living creatures (such as Energy Blast and Ranged Killing Attack) a disadvantage such as "Doesn't affect living creatures". This allows the character to use the attack freely without worrying about accidentally harming the innocent or violating a Code vs. Killing. It's particularly useful when applied to area effect attacks.
    • In The Great Super Villain Contest, the villain Annihilator has a 6d6 Ranged Killing Attack Explosion that only affects inorganic objects.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Any spell in that lists its target as "object" will not affect creatures. A few do make an exception for constructs.
    • Leprechauns from 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons had "polymorph non-living" as one of their most annoying talents.

Video Games
  • In SSI's Galactic Adventures one of the weapons was a Heat Ray Gun that could destroy solid objects (like walls) but had no effect on opponents.
  • The Repair/Destruct power from Memoria can only affect non-living objects.

Web Originals
  • Faultline from the web serial Worm can split apart any object she touches by tracing lines on it with her fingers, in effect creating her own Shatterpoints. It doesn't affect organic material, be it flesh, leaves or wood.

Western Animation
  • The "Argon Matrix Laser" from Spider-Man: The Animated Series was explicitly incapable of harming organic matter but it could damage clothing and even severed two of Doctor Octopus' cybernetic limbs.

Needs a Better Title, Needs More Examples and Rolling Updates of course apply.
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