Created By: tryourbreast on July 12, 2012 Last Edited By: tryourbreast on October 21, 2012
Troped

Unique Items

There is only one of these things.

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Trope
Have you ever wondered why there are so many things that you can hold as long as they don't exceed the Cap, but for those things from event items and items Too Awesome to Use, to all your weapons, armor and accessories, there's only one in the entire setting? It's simple - there can be only one of them.

When you want to show that something is really that rare or precious, they'll not be just limited in number, but goes Up to Eleven that there's only one of them present in a universe setting. MacGuffin and quest items, in particular, always has one only, and nobody would even consider finding a replacement when it's lost, destroyed or stolen, at any circumstances. They will, and must get the that one back, in one piece.

While this trope is omnipresent, the most time you would recognise this would be in video games, especially RPG games. Since you can't have everyone sharing one precious item or Public Domain Artifact, you'll have to consider how they should be distributed among your party. For some game, even if an item's a monster Random Drop, the game will tell you that it'll not drop for a second time, and the shops will tell you that they only have one of them in stock, and it'll never replenish at all.

It's worth noted that some modern games averted this trope already, by generating random gear instead of giving unique items. Also, if you use cheats to duplicate items, in most times you can have more than one of them, hence averted and invoked it. And it can be justified if they're obtained from methods which can't possibly give you more of them.

Subtrope include Single Specimen Species. Compare One Steve Limit, Uniqueness Value, Unique Enemy, Power Equals Rarity and It Only Works Once. See also Infinity–1 Sword and Infinity+1 Sword. Public Domain Artifact are almost certain to be unique items. Lots of Lost Forever is caused by this.

Note: This trope is not about items that are informed to be "unique", even inside a work. This trope is about making items and objects one-of-a-kind in-universe to show its importance, even if that's unreasonable.

[[noreallife]]

Video Games
  • Inverted by some new drop systems, which can drop recurring items but instead have Word Salad Title following the base item name, and have random bonuses on them.
  • In the Pokémon franchise of handheld videogames, certain Pokemon (the most well known of them being Mew, Mewtwo and the fossils) don't appear in the wild and you only have one shot at obtaining them during a scripted event. Some items like the Masterball are only given to you once.
  • Frequent in Castlevania. The most powerful weapons are often in secret rooms or obtainable after boss fights. In Aria of Sorrow, the souls of the bosses and a number of other creatures are only obtainable once.
  • Lots of unique items in the Dragon Age series: usually when something has a proper name, you won't find a second copy of it (except by exploiting bugs or the save import). DA actually combines randomly generated and pre-determined loot for ordinary and unique items, respectively.
  • The Elder Scrolls does this a lot. Daedric artefacts are the most obvious, but there are multiple examples of quest rewards and unique NPC equipment, many of which have their own textures. The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages maintains a list of unique items for each game.
  • Any items dropped by bosses in Marvel Ultimate Alliance count as this. There are also slightly more common character-exclusive items, which boost a stat and a certain attack for them. The sequel replaces all this with equipped medals that boost stats for the whole party.
  • In Dragon Quest VIII, a few items can only be made once or twice. The Liquid Metal Sword is one, the Sage Stone, and Timbrel of Tension is another.
  • Atelier Iris has a few ultimate items. Each of them can only be made once, even through different playthroughs of the game.
  • The Bethesda developed Fallout games all have at least one unique varient of each weapon which have better stats or a unique ability.

Tabletop RPG
  • In early editions of Dungeons & Dragons, most magic items were generic and you could find any number of them.
    • Artifacts and relics were unique: only one of each of them existed in a game universe. Thus there could be only one Eye of Vecna, Codex of the Infinite Planes or Ring of Gaxx.
    • Some magic items of less power than artifacts and relics were also one of a kind. For example, in the Forgotten Realms there was only one Albruin (sword), Reptar's Wall (shield) and Mierest's Starlit Sphere.
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • July 12, 2012
    Blubble
    Video Games
    • In the Pokemon franchise of handheld videogames, certain Pokemon (the most well known of them being Mew, Mewtwo and the fossils) don't appear in the wild and you only have one shot at obtaining them during a scripted event. Some items like the Masterball are only given to you once.
    • Frequent in Castlevania. The most powerful weapons are often in secret rooms or obtainable after boss fights. In Aria of Sorrow, the souls of the bosses and a number of other creatures are only obtainable once.
  • July 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    Unique Item, Omnipresent Trope or almost omnipresent.
  • July 13, 2012
    tryourbreast
    ^That's a good title, I'm using it.
  • July 13, 2012
    desdendelle
    Yeah, this is basically an Omnipresent Trope provided you have items in a game.
  • July 13, 2012
    abk0100
    Does this only apply to games with RPG elements, where you'd normally be collecting loads of vendortrash? In some games, every item is unique, I assume that doesn't count?
  • July 13, 2012
    moriwen
    "Artifacts" in Angband (roguelike).
  • July 13, 2012
    Rotpar
    Would randomly generated gear fall under this? I imagine something like Diablo III wouldn't, the gear is random but it's more then possible to get something with the same properties, if not the identical values. But Dwarf Fortress has wildly random artifacts, due to the absurd amount of materials available, possible components and features, and events to be depicted. You can have a granite bed with cedar spikes, copper bands, and an horse-leather image of the founding of capital on it. One player has a statue with ~70 images of itself and the entire history of the world on it.
  • July 13, 2012
    tryourbreast
    Random generated gear is obviously an highly notable inversion of this trope. So I really suggest putting it here
  • July 13, 2012
    Sparklesqueak
    In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess there are many one-stock items in stores, including the Hawkeye, the Hylian Shield, and the Magic Armor.
  • July 21, 2012
    Koveras
    • Lots of unique items in the Dragon Age series: usually when something has a proper name, you won't find a second copy of it (except by exploiting bugs or the save import). DA actually combines randomly generated and pre-determined loot for ordinary and unique items, respectively.
  • July 29, 2012
    TBeholder
    i love oxymorons too, but it's more convenient to have the title in singular. =)
  • July 29, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Occasionally in Dungeons And Dragons there are magic items that are stated to be unique. Although they tend to have the crafting criteria like other magic items meaning that your character could make one himself (if he met the qualifications), there by rendering the item no longer one of a kind. Except maybe unless they are artifacts, IIRC you can't craft those and they don't have the criteria put down.
  • July 29, 2012
    Ghilz
    Reverted Vandalism
  • August 1, 2012
    Doxiedame
    If this gets launched, you definitely want to add this isn't about items that are listed as "unique" in various games.

    World of Warcraft uses this to designate how many you can equip, not how many exist in game.
  • August 1, 2012
    tryourbreast
    That's easy, I can add a note immediately here.

    EDIT: done.
  • August 6, 2012
    VindicareGlint
    The Elder Scrolls does this a lot. Daedric artefacts are the most obvious, but there are multiple examples of quest rewards and unique NPC equipment, many of which have their own textures. The Unofficial Elder Scrolls Pages maintains a list of unique items for each game.
  • August 6, 2012
    MrRuano
    Any items dropped by bosses in Marvel Ultimate Alliance count as this. There are also slightly more common character-exclusive items, which boost a stat and a certain attack for them. The sequel replaces all this with equipped medals that boost stats for the whole party.
  • August 6, 2012
    VindicareGlint
    Does anyone have any thoughts on what we could use as a page image?
  • August 10, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    Dragon Quest VIII, a few items can only be made once or twice. The Liquid Metal Sword is one, the Sage Stone, and Timbrel of Tension is another.

    Atelier Iris has a few ultimate items. Each of them can only be made once, even through different playthroughs of the game.

    As for a page image, I think I have one. Use the One Ring.
  • August 11, 2012
    Bisected8
    • The Bethesda developed Fallout games all have at least one unique varient of each weapon which have better stats or a unique ability.
  • August 12, 2012
    XFllo
    Tabletop RPG
    • In early editions of Dungeons And Dragons, most magic items were generic and you could find any number of them.
      • Artifacts and relics were unique: only one of each of them existed in a game universe. Thus there could be only one Eye of Vecna, Codex of the Infinite Planes or Ring of Gaxx.
      • Some magic items of less power than artifacts and relics were also one of a kind. For example, in the Forgotten Realms there was only one Albruin (sword), Reptar's Wall (shield) and Mierest's Starlit Sphere.
  • August 31, 2012
    randomsurfer
    Is this a videogame-only trope? I can think of a couple of Live Action TV unique items.

    Also, I'm not sure I get the note: "This trope is not about items that are informed to be "unique", even inside a work. This trope is about items and objects that has only one in-universe" what's the difference between "being informed to be unique" and "only one in-universe"?
  • August 31, 2012
    tryourbreast
    This is not a videogame-only trope, so feel free to put Live Action TV examples here.

    And the note here is to prevent confusion of the title. It could be changed into something better, though.
  • August 31, 2012
    XFllo
    Real Life
    • The Sun of the Solar System
    • Earth's Moon
  • September 28, 2012
    aurora369
    ^ Hell, ANY astronomical or geographical feature.
  • October 1, 2012
    tryourbreast
    That's more like One Steve Limit to me, so as to prevent confusion when scientists want to discuss them.
  • October 1, 2012
    azul120
    Guide Dang It can also be the result of this.
  • October 1, 2012
    tryourbreast
    Really? But... how?
  • October 2, 2012
    Stratadrake
    ^^^ Agree. This is a No Real Life Examples trope.
  • October 2, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Real Life Examples are way to common if you get picky enough. For there are alot of dollars, but their is only one non-counterfit dollar with a certain serial number.
  • October 2, 2012
    tryourbreast
    So a No Real Life Examples banner is added.
  • October 2, 2012
    Prfnoff
    This still borders on People Sit On Chairs, even in the context of video games. I'd suggest limiting it to things that have the same basic form as common items but are more powerful due to being unique, and perhaps calling the trope something like Uniqueness Power.
  • October 2, 2012
    tryourbreast
    No, that is what I want to prevent exactly by that note. And while a better title doesn't hurt, this can't be PSOC at all: this trope is about "making something one of a kind to show its importance". It's at least less PSOC-ish than "things that have the same basic form as common items but are more powerful due to being unique" you've said.
  • October 2, 2012
    Prfnoff
    ^Can you explain why you think that?
  • October 2, 2012
    tryourbreast
    Because the definition of PSOC is "stuff that normally happens in storytelling, and has nothing to do with conveying any meaning".

    By my definition it is why all Mc Guffin and Plot Coupon works, because there is only one of them. If you have more than one of the same Mc Guffin, there'll be no conflict at all; we can share them, so everyone have one. And it's also how we want to show that something is really important.

    And by your definition it's just saying "Oh yeah that thing is stronger than normal, because I'm going to say it's unique". First, if it's unique then it must be more powerful, or it won't be unique at all (okay, maybe weaker than normal). Then... does it help you tell stories?

    So let's use Pokemon as example. By my meaning that means Mew, Mewtwo and the fossils are shown to be very important, by making the player only able to obtain one in a game, as contrast to regular mons. And by your definition, any Magikarp with good base values are one, because they're more powerful than common Magikarps, and become unique. Or shiny Magikarps. See the difference?
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