Video game trope where certain attacks and other effects only work on weakened targets.
In Video Games sometimes being at near death or inflicted with a status effect will make a character more vulnerable to certain effects or abilities than normal. It's not just that being injured makes a character weaker, being in a critical condition makes it easier for other actions to affect them. More commonly this applies to the enemies you fight rather than player characters. Often you have to weaken an enemy before a certain skill will affect it. Either that or the chance for the effect to succeed is tied to how many Hit Points the target has left. Usually, this is to balance out how useful the effect is, or to make it harder to gain something from using it. You're often only able to use a powerful Finishing Move against weakened opponents, and some Sidequests involve mechanics like this, so that you have to put more thought and strategy into gaining the rewards for them. This can lead to a Do Well, but Not Perfect situation, as you'll sometimes need to balance the damage you deal out so that the opponent is weakened, but avoid killing it outright, since you won't be able to affect a dead enemy (even if that would make more sense.) It's at times like those when Enemy Scan abilities and HP to 1 attacks are much appreciated. Compare and contrast Critical Status Buff and Desperation Attack, where being injured adds benefits instead.
- Pokémon are much easier to catch when they're weakened. Lowering their health and inflicting them with status effects make the chances of successfully capturing them much higher.
- When it comes to attacks, there's the move Brine which deals extra damage when the opponent has less than half their HP left. The Poison-type move Venoshock does double damage if the target is currently poisoned, while the Ghost-type move Hex does double damage if the target has any status ailment.
- Many examples in the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy V has the Catch ability, which is used by Beastmasters to capture monsters. The monsters need to be at very low health for it to work, but an equippable item will allow you to capture at half health instead.
- In Final Fantasy VIII you can turn weakened enemies into Cards instead of killing them. There's also Devour ability, which also only works on enemies that are low on health, but can grant you various bonuses if you use it successfully, including permanent stat increases.
- Quina in Final Fantasy IX needs to eat enemies in order to learn that enemy's skills. The enemy must be under 12.5% of its maximum HP in order for it to work, but if Quina is in Trance mode the target only needs to be below 25% instead.
- You can gain rare items by using the Poach skill against weakened enemies in Final Fantasy XII
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning's Eidolon Odin has a Limit Break called Zantetsuken. It instantly kills any enemies with HP below a certain threshold. Nothing is immune to it. Not even the Final Boss or enemies with Instant death immunity.
- Final Fantasy Tactics Advance allows you to capture monsters, and works much like in Final Fantasy V.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl has items called Trophy Stands that, if thrown at an enemy, will turn them into their collectable trophy. Strong enemies and bosses will only become trophies when they're low on health.
- Similar to Smash Bros., Kid Icarus: Uprising has an equippable ability called "Idol Transformation" that will turn an enemy that's near death into a trophy.
- In BlazBlue, Astral Heats can only be used when the opponent has low HP (among other conditions).
- In World of Warcraft, the Execute skill only works against targets with less than 20% health left.
- Dawn of War II gives out several buffs (as well as certain weapons like Castor's DLC rifle) that are only able to instantly kill an enemy with less than 20% of their health.
- Gorgons in Desktop Dungeons instantly kill you if you have less than 50% health. The Gorgon boss insta-kills you if you have less than 100% health.
- The Massacre upgrade of the Warrior-Vanguard skill tree in Dragon Age II lets the character kill any normal enemy whose health is below 20% (and Elite Mooks with health under 10%) in a single blow.
- League of Legends: Warwick's "Blood Scent" grants him extra movement speed whenever he's within a certain distance of an opponent with under 50% life left. All the better to chase you with, my dear!
- In Disgaea 3 and Disgaea 4, the female Samurai has an Evility called Euthanasia, which allows her to instantly kill enemies below 25% Max HP with normal attacks. However, since the games allow you to deal absurdly high damage way above the characters' Max HP, nobody uses this Evility.
- Xenoblade Chronicles has a chain of these. Several attacks inflict Break on its target, which does nothing except opening them for a Topple attack, which causes its target to become defenseless and open to attack for a while. In turn, Daze can be inflicted on a toppled enemy, further weakening them. Finally, Sharla's Headshot art has a small chance of One Hit Killing a dazed target (which increases to 100% if triggered during a chain attack).
- Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine has Executions, where you kill an enemy in the bloodiest way possible to regain health. The catch is that the enemy must be stunned, and stunning is a slower, no damage move, and tougher enemies require a combo chain ending in a stun. Fortunately averted with gretchin and rebel militia, which you basically Offhand Backhand to death.
- In many games such as Agarest Senki only allow you to capture monsters if they are at low HP.
- Dune II. If you damage an enemy building enough so that its damage indicator turns red, you can capture it by sending one of your infantry units into it.
- A lot of the demons in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne are easier to "Devour" once their Health's low enough, and there are actual devour skills/stat boosts that work better that way.
- In Metal Gear Rising, using blade mode (and Jack the Ripper mode if you've unlocked "him") allows one hit kills, but only against enemies without any armour. You have to attack armoured enemies a bit to break up their armour and make them vulnerable (or hit them with a Sneak Attack).
- Certain Team Fortress 2 weapons do more damage if the player they hit has been "prepared". Example: the Flaregun does more damage to flaming targets, as does the Axetinguisher, and certain Soldier weapons do more damage when in-flight or attacking flying players.
- Dawn of War Soulstorm: Farseer Caerys can get a pistol that may automatically kill units whose health is below a certain percentage.
- The text for the Mad Dok's fighting juice ability implies this was the case in earlier versions, reading that using it on a friendly squad makes it invulnerable to death (they still take damage but don't die), but once it ends orks whose health is too low die.
Non-video game examples:Tabletop Games
- Dungeons & Dragons spells
- The Forgotten Realms spell Beltyn's Burning Blood. If an opponent had open bleeding wounds, this spell caused their blood to become corrosive and cause damage to their body.
- The various Power Word spells could only affect targets with less than a specific number of Hit Points. The only way to affect creatures with more Hit Points was to damage them first and reduce their Hit Points below the spell's maximum.
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