Created By: LouieW on January 12, 2012 Last Edited By: wanderlustwarrior on January 16, 2012

Impossible Item Drop

Enemies dropping weapons that they could not plausibly have.

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Index: Video Game Items and Inventory

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Tags: Rolling Updates

This part of Money Spider is being split off as per this thread. I am not great at descriptions (or YKTT Ws), so I would definitely appreciate some feedback here.
Who knew?

Plenty of enemies in games drop items when they are defeated.

Sometimes, this can present a bit of Fridge Logic as to why the enemies have those items. What exactly are those slugs doing with a sword and tunic? And how do monsters have ammo to help you reload weapons (which they obviously never use), but not ammo for weapons you haven't found yet? Furthermore, monsters will tend to drop items associated with their specific abilities. For example, a monster with a petrifying gaze will commonly drop a de-petrification potion, implying that the monsters are actually made of the stuff, in convenient, easy-to-use form.

A potential way to explain this is that killing these monsters is obviously the popular thing to do and somehow they aren't all extinct. Maybe that's because some people aren't as good at it and got eaten along with their stuff. Perhaps they just didn't use that de-petrification potion in time. This doesn't explain how an enemy could have some items that should be readily visible, like in the page image.

Compare Vendor Trash for when enemies drop items that you can't use, but that can be sold for ones that you can. Compare Money Spider for enemies dropping money. Also see Randomly Drops.


[[folder:Action Adventure]]
  • In the The Legend of Zelda series, most enemies (and random objects like pots or bushes) drop rupees, arrows, bombs, magic potion vials, and hearts at random. Even better, whenever you get a new item (bow, bomb bag, slingshot, etc...) that consumes something, whatever it is suddenly starts appearing everywhere in spite of its not showing up before.
    • Certain enemies in Wind Waker drop a special quest items specific to that foe. Moblins can drop their Skull necklaces, Bokoblins their Joy pendants, Darknuts drop the Knight's Crests, and the various colors of ChuChus drop Chu jelly, an ingredient in potions used by the alchemist in town. Some of these special items can be snared before the target is killed, by hitting them with the grappling hook.
      • Also, this is somewhat justified with the bombs in Wind Waker, as before you get them, the only person with any is a greedy shopkeeper, and afterwards, the pirates have sold them inexpensively throughout the world.
    • As a Lampshade Hanging, The Minish Cap states that tiny little people called Picori hide useful items in random places in order to make life easier.
    • In A Link to the Past, there's no bomb bag, and bombs start dropping from pots or random monsters as soon as you leave the Sanctuary. Arrows, too, though they're useless until you get the bow.
    • Skyward Sword also uses this, sometimes merging with 20 Bear Asses.
  • If you can kill it in Cave Story, it will either drop experience crystals, hearts, or (if you have the missile launcher) rockets.

  • In the World of Warcraft MMORPG, most opponents drop items instead of, or in addition to, money. While there is some attempt to make the items dropped match the creatures in question, it is often forced, such as making the bodies of most types of carnivorous animals - including things such as harpies and giant spiders - edible delicacies and/or requisite components for items the players can make or trade for. These are often also Plot Coupons for one or more quests as well. Even so, it is not unusual for a deceased opponent to leave behind something that makes no sense at all for them to have had.
    • Raid boss class enemies, however, typically hoard both gold and 2 to 6 pieces of equipment (out of a total loot table of 8-12 specific items), regardless of who they are. Sometimes the equipment is mildly appropriate, such as a weapon the enemy was seen to use, a dragon's jawbone one may wear as a helmet, or something thematically linked to the enemy's lore. Most items, however, have no reason whatsoever to be upon this particular boss. One may wonder why exactly does Ragnaros, a massive fire elemental lord, have a vast collection of pants for every class in the game.
    • Items themselves also come up in improbable locations. A spear or a two handed sword found in the corpse of a bird? No problem. A glass of open milk or loaf of fresh bread on a Murloc found underwater? Sure!
    • The most notable example, though, are the crafting recipes. Not only why would this wolf have eaten a tunic pattern, but how is it still readable after sitting in stomach acid for a day or two?
  • Averted in the non-interactive "game" Progress Quest which has most monsters drop items specific to the monster. Some monsters and any (simulated) wandering adventurers you run across drop special items conforming to the template adjective concrete noun of noun, usually abstract. When your character's Encumbrance capacity is reached, he heads to the market to sell it all off and buy weapons and armor.
  • In the MMORPG Dream of Mirror Online no enemy will ever inexplicably drop gold, but will often drop items whose sole purpose is to be sold at a set price to NPCs. Some of those drops are even more inexplicable than the gold they replace however... Like pigs carrying carved wooden sculptures of bears, birds with perfume, and eventually male human wizards who drop ladies underwear. No, really.
    • Last one actually makes loads of sense. After all, games tend to cast the bookworm geek that got kicked one time too many as evil villain wizards. Hence, pervy accessories or property? Definitely!

[[folder:Real Time Strategy]]
  • The enemies in Warhammer 40K Dawn of War 2 randomly drop various articles of Space Marine weaponry, armor, attribute-enhancing Purity Seals and other stuff. While it could be justified for the Orks, who are notable plunderers and looters, and even for the Eldar who might just happen to be carrying these things back to their base to study, but it is entirely confusing for the Tyranids, who have no need for such things and no means to carry them. And there is still a question of why and, most importantly, how would they lug around armor plates from a Mini-Mecha Dreadnought?
    • Tyranids eat literally everything, and have no internal digestive system -- they instead leap into digestion pools created by Tyrannoforming so the Hive Fleet can reclaim the raw materials. Presumably, the items they drop are whatever made it through being eaten intact enough to salvage.
    • Mostly averted in the earlier Warhammer: Dark Omen. Your enemies are humanoids or, occasionally, huge monster spiders/scorpions, so if they drop a treasure chest or a potion now and then, it doesn't look too conspicuous. Moreover, if an enemy group carries an artifact (like a banner that invokes lighting bolts), they will actually have sense to use this artifact against you! And every enemy keeps their eyes open for some unattended goodies and will not hesitate to pocket them.

  • This trope is used by several different enemies in Diablo, but the most egregious example is the Swarms: swarms of insects able to drop items like pieces of armor.

[[folder:Role Playing Games]]
  • The monsters in Dungeon Siege drop money and items at random.
  • The Playstation 2 only Everquest spin-off Champions of Norrath take this to the extreme, where small monsters can drop equipment much bigger than they themselves are. Early in the game you encounter lots of Fire Bugs (about as big as a helmet or potion) dropping longbows, swords and leather armor. Of course they also drop gold.
  • The RPG Mass Effect has a somewhat specific variation of this effect- since the game is completely devoid of standard Vendor Trash, all recovered items must take the form of weapons, armor, tools/implants, and upgrade modules for the aforementioned weapons and armor. This can lead to a seemingly odd proliferation of military-grade equipment in the world. While it is perfectly reasonable to recover a Scram Rail or High Explosive Rounds from a Krogan mercenary, it is odd to recover assault rifles from apparently naked and weaponless cyber-zombies, and advanced ultra-tech materials from lost, 60's era Soviet lunar probes.
  • Averted tn Gothic where the drops make almost total sense. If a humanoid NPC has a weapon in his hand at the moment of his death, he'll drop it - the player can pick it up and then go through the body's inventory, picking and choosing the best loot. Non-human monsters don't initially have a visible inventory; the player has to learn specific hunting skills in order to, for example, skin wolves for their pelts (which can then be sold to traders).
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, it's not uncommon for mud crabs to be carrying cutlery around with them or for wolves to be carrying lockpicks.
  • Similarly averted in Spiderweb Software's Geneforge games; with one justified straight example. Monsters do not drop anything. Searching a monster's nest can turn up random items; ranging from useful equipment, to Vendor Trash, to worthless trash. (Monsters pretty much collect anything shiny -- from shiny coins, to shiny swords, to shiny rocks -- as well as useful things like clothing to pad their nests with.) Corpses of people can be looted for useful items and vendor trash. The only other locations to find stuff are storage chests and jars located in and around buildings and settlements; which randomly contain some combination of useful items, quest items, vendor trash, and actual trash. (The random chest popping up in the middle of nowhere is also avoided.)
    • The one straight example is the "thorn baton" short-range ranged weapon. Ammo for this weapon, thorns, literally grow on bushes scattered around settlements. Justified in that both the weapon and the ammo-growing-bushes have been bioengineered by the Shapers, a game faction whose hat is biotechnology.
      • "Turrets", bioengineered sentinel gun-creatures, also use thorn ammo, and drop it when killed.
  • In Titan Quest, everything dropped by monsters (except certain quest items and the enhancer items) is something that the monster that dropped it was using, this includes extremely powerful weapons and armor. Non humanoid monsters rarely, if ever, drop anything other than monster specific charm items.

[[folder:Stealth-Based Game]]
  • Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood does this. Oh, sometimes it is reasonable, like guards holding crossbow bolts or bullets - Real Life soldiers do help hold onto ammo - or Borgia messengers holding onto rare Vendor Trash that might well be what they are supposed to be transporting. However, when guards pack poison vials or the random pickpockets are also holding onto rare Vendor Trash, it gets less plausible.

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
  • Parodied in GURPS: Creatures of the Night which includes a completely immobile plant monster that comes complete with a treasure trove full of things that are useful when trying to kill plant monsters. Why? Because it enjoys murdering adventurers and taking their stuff (which it then buries somehow).

  • Spoofed by Penny Arcade in this comic.
  • Dragon Mango: Parodied; Mango receives a suit of fashion plate mail for swatting a mosquito, then wonders how killing a bug made armor appear. (Answer: it was a drop bug.) She later has to assure her mother that she didn't hack anyone for it.
  • Undertow came up with an interesting explanation on this page. The author's idea was the loot came out of the stomach of the monsters from unlucky adventurers they had eaten. Ew.*Made fun of in *this Virtual Shackles. "What the fuck Darksiders. Why does everything I smash have a soul in it?"

Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • January 12, 2012
    Good work. Again thanks for doing this even when you didn't propose it or took part in the thread.

    You should make clear that this handwave only works when monster killing is something normal to do. Castlevania Series, for example, wouldn't make use of that handwave.

    Subtrope of Random Drop. Compare Money Spider for enemies dropping money.
  • January 12, 2012
    • MMORPGs needs to be escape bracketed.
    • You have two (differently worded) instances of the Oblivion example.
  • January 12, 2012
    I don't quite like that this mashes together "monster drops something it shouldn't logically have and might not be capable of carrying" with "monster drops means of curing a status effect that it also causes"; these seem like different tropes. What happened to the proposal for Generous Enemy Drop (or something) for the latter?

    If it is going to combine both of these, the title Impossible Item Drop isn't very good, since it implies only the former.
  • January 12, 2012
    @/Nocturna, thanks for the input, I fixed the MMORPG heading and took out one of the Oblivion examples.

    @/lebrel, I would be fine with a different name, but I think that taking out that status effect part of the description would be an even better idea.
  • January 12, 2012
    I was writing up a YKTTW for "monster drops antidote" when I discovered that, actually, we have that: Carrying The Antidote. So I think we can just put in a line like "When an enemy helpfully death-drops curative items associated with their specific attacks, that's Carrying The Antidote" and get rid of all of that part of the description.

    I would also have the first sentence mention "items" rather than "money" and change the pothole to Random Drop rather than Money Spider.
  • January 12, 2012
  • January 12, 2012
    Good work!
  • January 13, 2012
    This trope en used by several different enemies in Diablo, but the mist egregious example is the Swarms: swarms of insects able to drop items like pieces of armor.
  • January 13, 2012
    I think this also has some relation to Video Game Stealing, since it's more about the item being inappropriate and the item can be inappropriate even when it was found by stealing rather than by killing the monster. Video Game Stealing does have inappropriate items listed as one of the oddities of video game stealing.

    Also, Carrying The Antidote is *not* related. Carrying The Antidote is a plot device which happens where the villain poisoned you and he just happens to be carrying the antidote for plot convenience. The few video game examples in that trope are all plot examples, not Randomly Drops examples.
  • January 14, 2012
    Skyward Sword also uses this, sometimes merging with Twenty Bear Asses.
  • January 15, 2012
    Needs indexes, but you could use the same ones as Random Drop and such, and then it'll be good to go.
  • January 15, 2012
  • January 16, 2012
    Alright, deemed ready to launch. Go for it, Louie!