Created By: DesmodusApril 2, 2012 Last Edited By: StarSwordMarch 14, 2013
Troped

Phlebotinum Handling Requirements

An item, vehicle, Mac Guffin or other such that can only be used if someone meets the criteria to use it.

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An item, Mac Guffin, or other such that can only be used by someone who is, for example, pure of heart, a certain age, part of a certain family/bloodline, or has some rare property that only certain people have. This does not include needing a password, key, or other such item.

In other words, the requirement to use it has to have more to do with the actual plot, although the actual importance of said requirement does not matter. Sometimes the requirement is a background detail, other times it has a major effect on the story.

Supertrope to Level Locked Loot, Only The Pure Of Heart, and Only The Chosen May Wield. Sister Trope to Operator Incompatibility. Contrast Self Guarding Phlebotinum, which is when the item protects itself against people with a certain quality.

Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
  • Gundam:
    • Various types of mobile suits are made specifically for Newtypes.
    • The RX-0 Unicorn Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn can only be piloted by someone who has a noble heart, and has a noble reason to pilot it. The pilot also has to be a Newtype.
  • In Naruto, the sword Samehada can only be wielded if it likes the taste of the wielder's chakra.
  • Barrage: Astro's weapon is described as working only for those who have the qualifications. Initially, it's assumed to be his bravery and pure-heartedness, but it turns out that it's actually royal blood, which Astro secretly possesses.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]] [[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
  • Lightsabers in Star Wars can be effectively wielded only by Force-users, with very few exceptions. This is explained by the weapon's very counter-intuitive balance and preternatural quickness needed to wield it. Only one such exception is in the film canon, General Grievous, and he's a cyborg, with his mechanical precision of movements preventing him from julienning himself with the energy blades. The other film canon non-Force user who tries to handle a lightsaber, Han Solo, is wise enough to only use it to cut open a dead tauntaun.
  • In District 9 only prawns can use the prawn superweapons. Thus human Wikus becomes of interest to the authorities when he is infected with alien prawn DNA.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe novel The Crystal Star features a Jedi and Dark Jedi who have lightsabers that lack a traditional on/off switch. Instead, igniting them requires using the Force to close an internal electrical connection. In the New Jedi Order series the Skywalkers have a similar security feature on the bridge airlock of the Jade Shadow: opening the hatch from outside requires use of the Force to manipulate the internal mechanisms.
  • Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles Of Prydain: Only a member of the House of Llyr, such as Princess Eilonwy, can command the power of her "bauble" (a.k.a. the Golden Pelydryn) and use the House's magical spells.
  • The Spear of Telesto in the Blood Angels novels can only be wielded by carriers of their Primarch Sanguinius' genes (i.e. just the Blood Angels and their successor chapters).
  • Harry Potter:
    • Downplayed with wands, which have a certain loyalty to their owners and will not generally operate at full capacity for anyone else. Lore around the Elder Wand, a legendarily powerful item in Deathly Hallows, suggested that it may only work at full capacity for the person who has defeated (not necessarily killed, which is a plot point) its last owner. Despite taking the wand from Dumbledore, it is no more powerful for Voldemort than his usual wand (which isn't saying much given the scale of Voldemort's powers), because he misread the chain of succession.[[labelnote:Explanation (SPOILER WARNING!)]]It was actually Draco Malfoy who defeated Dumbledore in Half-Blood Prince, and Harry defeated Draco in Deathly Hallows which caused the Elder Wand to pass to him.[[/labelnote]]
    • Invoked by Dumbledore in Philosopher's Stone. He sets up the Mirror of Erised so that only somebody who wanted to get the Stone but not use it would be able to retrieve it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer has a big hammer could only be wielded by someone of near-godlike (or Slayer) strength.
  • Stargate Verse:
    • Some Ancient technology (most famously the Puddle Jumpers) requires the ATA gene to activate. This renders it inaccessible to most humans in the galaxy since the gene is recessive and tends to get bred out of smaller populations. Earth's is big enough to maintain it, and the SGC eventually developed a procedure to add the gene to their personnel.
    • Much Goa'uld technology requires bloodborne naquadah to activate, including the hand device and healing device. The most common way to get this is by hosting a Goa'uld, hence why Samantha Carter, who briefly carried a Tok'ra in "In the Line of Duty," can use them.
  • Charmed:
    • The Charmed Ones' Book of Shadows would only let good beings or mortals touch it and it would shield itself from Demons and the like. Similarly, The Grimoire, being an ancient and demonic tome, would only let demons and the like touch it and wouldn't let anyone good touch it as it was the Evil Counterpart to the sisters' magic book.
    • In season 2 an evil witch is released from a magical sleep and goes out seeking her wand. If she were to obtain it she would be nigh impossible to vanquish. The only way to destroy her would be to use her wand against her, but the only person capable of wielding it would be someone who was the seventh son of a seventh son.
    • In Season 8 Hippolyta's Belt would only let a morally good woman wear it or else it exploded.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
  • In Fringeworthy, only a tiny percentage of the human race has the innate ability to use the Fringepaths without dying.
  • In Warhammer 40000, Tau vehicles apparently use a genescanning system to prevent Gundamjacking, as seen when a commando tried to steal a battlesuit and got fried for it.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
  • NEXTs in Armored Core, which can only be piloted by people with some special type of psyche. Ill-defined, but still an example.
  • The Divine Crusader equipment set in The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion -- Knights of the Nine. To use it, you need to go on a long, annoying pilgrimage, and if your Infamy is raised to anything above 1 after you have obtained it, then you must go on said pilgrimage again.
  • The Apple of Eden in Assassins Creed can only be used by descendants of the first civilization.
  • Various items in the Neverwinter Nights series are keyed to a particular race and/or class. For example, the sequel's Hammer of Ironfist can only be wielded by dwarves, and many prestige classes have unique armors. A high Use Magic Device skill will override these restrictions, however.
  • The Mac Guffin of Skullgirls, the Skull Heart, can only be used by those who are absolutely pure of heart, or else they will become the Skullgirl themselves. Parasoul's mother wanted to end a war, and the war ended, alright...by turning her into the Skullgirl and forcing everyone to unite against her. Similarly, Bloody Marie presumably wished for her freedom from enslavement by the mob, only to become as ruthless as the mobsters she kills.
  • In the Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door intro, the chest containing the magical map that the merchant gives Peach says that only someone pure of heart can open it. Peach was able to open it. Later, it is revealed that The merchant was actually Beldam in disguise; who did so because she was trying to unseal the Shadow Queen, and needed the Crystal Stars to do so since the Crystal Stars are needed to open the Thousand Year Door, which is where the Shadow Queen is sealed. The magical map is what allows you to find them.
  • In The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time, Link could only wield the Master Sword when he is an adult, so upon gaining it he was put into a sleep for seven years.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
  • Regular Show has the Sandwich of Death, which is deadly unless you eat it the right way: by wearing a mullet and cut-off shorts.
[[/folder]]

Indexes: Speculative Fiction Tropes, Weapons And Wielding Tropes

Community Feedback Replies: 37
  • April 2, 2012
    ozzy63
    The Apple of Eden in the Assassin's Creed series can only be wielded properly by someone with a high amount of First Civilization genes like Desmond.
  • April 2, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    O'Neall (and others) in Stargate SG-1 can control Ancient devices due to his Ancient gene.

    Humans in the Halo universe can control Forerunner devices (eg the Halos themselves) due to their ancestry.
  • April 2, 2012
    Vidor
    In District 9 only prawns can use the prawn superweapons. Thus human Wikus becomes of interest to the authorities when he is infected with alien prawn DNA.
  • April 2, 2012
    Koveras
    Does this cover attribute requirements to weapons in video games? Like "Need 39 Strength and 17 Dexterity to wield this sword".
  • April 3, 2012
    Arivne
    The "pure of heart" part of this is covered by Only The Pure Of Heart, which includes "The ability to wield certain weapons or other magical items."

    Compare Only The Worthy May Pass, which is about needing a special quality to get through a barrier.

    Literature
    • Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles. Only a member of the House of Llyr, such as Princess Eilonwy, can command the power of her "bauble" (AKA the Golden Pelydryn) and use the House's magical spells.

    Tabletop RPG
    • Fringeworthy. Only a tiny percentage of the human race has the innate ability to use the Fringepaths without dying.
  • April 3, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
    In The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina Of Time, Link could only wield the Master Sword when he is an adult, so upon gaining it he was put into a sleep for seven years.
  • April 3, 2012
    reub2000
    In Inu Yasha, demons are unable to touch the tessaiga. If they do, they'll feel an electrical shock.
  • April 17, 2012
    Hhsavich
    This is in almost every mmorpg
  • April 17, 2012
    Stratadrake
    We do have Level Locked Loot which is specific to videogames.
  • April 21, 2012
    aurora369
    Lightsabers in Star Wars can be effectively wielded only by Force-users, with very few exceptions. This is explained by the weapon's very counter-intuitive balance and preternatural quickness needed to wield it. Only one such exception is in the film canon, General Grievous, and he's a cyborg, with his mechanical precision of movements preventing him from juliening himself with the energy blades. The other film canon non-Force user who tries to handle a lightsaber, Han Solo, is wise enough to only use it to cut open a dead tauntaun.
  • October 25, 2012
    Koveras
    Bump.
  • October 25, 2012
    SKJAM
    • Barrage: Astro's weapon is described as working only for those who have the qualifications. Initially, it's assumed to be his bravery and pure-heartedness, but it turns out that it's actually royal blood, which Astro secretly possesses.
  • October 25, 2012
    PsiPaula4
    • In the Paper Mario The Thousand Year Door intro, the chest containing the magical map that the merchant gives Peach says that only someone pure of heart can open it. Peach was able to open it. Later, it is revealed that The merchant was actually Beldam in disguise; who did so because she was trying to unseal the Shadow Queen, and needed the Crystal Stars to do so since the Crystal Stars are needed to open the Thousand Year Door, which is where the Shadow Queen is sealed. The magical map is what allows you to find them.

  • October 25, 2012
    MrRuano
    The Mac Guffin of Skullgirls, the Skull Heart, can only be used by those who are absolutely pure of heart, or else they will become the Skullgirl themselves. Parasoul's mother wanted to end a war, and the war ended, alright...by turning her into the Skullgirl and forcing everyone to unite against her. Similarly, Bloody Marie presumably wished for her freedom from enslavement by the mob, only to become as ruthless as the mobsters she kills.
  • October 25, 2012
    StarSword
    Compare Only The Chosen May Wield.

    Video Games
    • Various items in the Neverwinter Nights series are keyed to a particular race and/or class. For example, the sequel's Hammer of Ironfist can only be wielded by dwarves, and many prestige classes have unique armors. A high Use Magic Device skill will override these restrictions, however.
  • October 30, 2012
    StarSword
    Compare Operator Incompatibility. Which actually might already have this covered, on second thought.

    Under Star Wars:
    • The EU novel The Crystal Star features a Jedi and Dark Jedi who have lightsabers that lack a traditional on/off switch. Instead, igniting them requires using the Force to close an internal electrical connection.
  • October 30, 2012
    nitrokitty
  • October 30, 2012
    JohnDiFool
    Buffy The Vampire Slayer: that big hammer could only be wielded by someone of near-godlike (or Slayer) strength.
  • March 12, 2013
    StarSword
    I'm gonna take this over. Working on cleaning up and applying Rolling Updates.
  • March 12, 2013
    Ravaelt
    In "Naruto'' there is Samehada, which can only be wielded if it likes the taste of the wielders chakra.
  • March 12, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • "The Slaver Weapon" from Star Trek The Animated Series by Filmation has several settings on its grip, one of which lets it consult with its operator. Some K'zinti pirates that had captured it from Enterprise officers Spock, Sulu and Uhura begin to interrogate the weapon, but the weapon insists upon a password first. The K'zinti then ask the weapon for its most powerful setting, and it answers that question. When they go outside their starship to test fire it, the weapon obliterates all the K'zinti.
  • March 12, 2013
    thewriter
    For titles, how about Mac Guffin Compatibility Requirements for simplicity
  • March 12, 2013
    thewriter
    Or Phlebotinum Handling Requirement to go with Phlebotinum Handling Equipment. Contrast to Self Guarding Phlebotinum in which the item in question protects itself from people with a certain quality.
  • March 12, 2013
    StarSword
    ^I like that one: more inclusive than something saying "weapon".
  • March 12, 2013
    Chabal2
    Tau vehicles apparently use a genescanning system to prevent Gundam Jacking, as seen when a commando tried to steal a battlesuit and got fried for it.
  • March 13, 2013
    thewriter
    Bump.
  • March 13, 2013
    StarSword
    Added the new examples and removed the Inu Yasha one since it falls under Self Guarding Phlebotinum.
  • March 13, 2013
    thewriter
    Would this count as an example:

    • Downplayed in Harry Potter with regards to wands, especially The Elder Wand. A wand has a certain loyalty to its owner. When a young wizard goes to get their first wand, they have to be "choosen" by the wand or else magic can be difficult if not impossible for them to properly use. However, the wand may switch loyalties from its owner to another if it is rightfully taken, or their owner is beaten in a duel. Lore around the Elder Wand, a legendarily powerful item, suggested that it may only work at full capacity for the person who has killed its last owner. This proves to be not entirely correct though in that Voldemort is capable of great magical feats with use of the wand although it holds no true loyalty to him because he hadn't defeated its last owner. In despite of that, he is still capable of performing great magic with it, but only because he is such a great wizard.

    Yeah, that's a little confusing....
  • March 13, 2013
    StarSword
    ^I think I can compress that. EDIT: Done.

    Hats? Examples? Name input?
  • March 13, 2013
    thewriter
    Also
    • The ''Charmed Ones' Book of Shadows would only let good beings or mortals touch it and it would shield itself from Demons and the like. Similarly, The Grimoire, being an ancient and demonic tome, would only let demons and the like touch it and wouldn't let anyone good touch it as it was the Evil Counterpart to the sisters' magic book.
      • And in Season 8 Hippolyta's Belt would only let a morally good woman wear it or else it exploded.
  • March 13, 2013
    StarSword
    That goes on Self Guarding Phlebotinum since it's a case of preventing folks with a certain quality from using it.

    EDIT: Strike that, they're overlapping in this case.
  • March 13, 2013
    thewriter
    Yeah but on the other side of the coin it is about allowing those of a certain quality to use it.

    Edit: Agreed, because of Charmed's Black and White Morality.
  • March 13, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Also from Harry Potter the magic mirror which would only show the location of the Philosopher's stone to a person who only wanted it, not who wanted it for some nefarious purpose.
  • March 14, 2013
    TonyG
    Regular Show has the Sandwich of Death, which is deadly unless you eat it the right way: by wearing a mullet and cut-off shorts.
  • March 14, 2013
    thewriter
    Another Charmed example: In season 2 an evil witch is released from a magical sleep and goes out seeking her wand. If she were to obtain it she would be nigh impossible to vanquish. The only way to destroy her would be to use her wand against her, but the only person capable of wielding it would be someone who was the seventh son of a seventh son.
  • March 14, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Mighty Thor's hammer: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor." Only a very few people have been able to lift it: Thor, Beta Ray Bill, Thunderstrike, Wonder Woman (in JLA-Avengers), and some random dude on the street. Superman, in the same crossover as Wonder Woman above, wasn't deemed worthy but Odin temporarily removed the enchantment so he could use it.
  • March 14, 2013
    StarSword
    All right, thanks guys. Five hats; trope deployed.

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