Enhanced Archaic Weapon
This trope covers archaic weapons that have been upgraded in some way to make them more effective. To qualify as this trope a weapon must have been invented before gunpowder weapons became dominantnote and enhanced in a way that they were not at the time (although they can still appear before that point) through magic or technology. Contemporary weapons being subjected to this in the distant future also count (as long as the enhancement isn't contemporary or older too). "Why bother with them?", you ask? Let's not mince words; older weapons are cool and can say a lot more about characters (especially since they tended to be unique to some degree). It's a lot more exciting to have characters fighting up close and personal than it is for them to fling metal and fire at one another from half a mile away. Similarly, traditional projectile weapons (bows, slings, etc) give the impression that the user needs skill to use them. Making these weapons more powerful (or just look that way to the audience) not only makes it even more exciting, but can give a plausible reason why they're using them (instead of the aforementioned metal and fire flinging devices).
- Automatic Crossbows - Solve your quarrel with more quarrels.
- Boom Stick - Turn a Simple Staff into a long ranged weapon.
- Chainsaw Good - Often combined with bladed weapons to create "Chainswords" and similar devices.
- Depleted Phlebotinum Shells - Combine the Kryptonite Factor of an enemy with your existing armaments to make killing them easier.
- Energy Bow - Energy arrows optional.
- Evolving Weapon - When they can enhance themselves as needed.
- Flaming Sword - When cold steel just won't do.
- Flying Weapon - Have it serve as a downplayed Attack Drone/Attack Animal
- Laser Blade - Why bother with a boring old metal blade when it can be made of Pure Energy?
- Precision-Guided Boomerang - If it's explicitly a special ability of said boomerang and not how all boomerangs are expected to work, anyway.
- Retractable Weapon - Take advantage of modern materials to make concealing and carrying them easier.
- Rocket-Powered Weapon - Make a heavy weapon a little easier to swing.
- Sharpened to a Single Atom - Make a bladed weapon into an Absurdly Sharp Blade
- Static Stun Gun - Weapons modified to shock.
- Talking Weapon - If they can give advice, etc.
- Telescoping Staff - Take advantage of modern materials to make a Simple Staff easier to carry.
- Trick Arrow - Upgrade bows by giving their ammunition special effects. See Abnormal Ammo for other weapons.
- Vibro Weapon - Bladed weapons which vibrate to enhance cutting power.
- Weapon Wields You - Why bother learning how to use a weapon when it can do all the work for you?
Examples (single examples which fit into an existing subtrope belong on that page):
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- "Shakedown Shenanigans": By the USS Bajor's launch in 2409 the Galaxy-class is fifty years old. The Bajor's construction series is mentioned to be a limited run of upgraded hulls to replace combat losses from the ongoing Federation-Klingon War, until the newer Odyssey-class can enter full production. Ablative armor has been added, the superstructure has been technobabble-reinforced, the firepower, range, and speed have been increased, and the ship carries quantum torpedoes instead of photons.
- In Serenity Inara wields a bow that has lights on it. The RPG explains that her weapon is more properly termed a "bolt-thrower", a bow upgraded with Alliance technology to where it fires arrows with nearly the force of a bullet.
- In Star Wars, Wookiee bowcasters are enhanced versions of crossbows that increase the force and accuracy with which they fire quarrels via magnetic fields and are capable of firing explosive rounds. Some are further modified in other ways. For example, Chewie's has an automatic re-cocking system. Some Wookiees prefer a bowcaster with a blaster rifle barrel underneath, allowing both projectile and energy weaponry depending on which is better for the situation at hand.
- In Elysium, Max wonders why he's being given an antique AK to use and is promptly shown the futuristic explosive rounds that allow it to remain viable.
Live Action Television
- CSI: NY featured the "Wasp Knife", which injects air into the target to cause them to burst, as a murder weapon.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit featured a similar weapon to the CSI example, which worked by injecting the victim with air.
- The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Field of Fire" had an assassin modify a chemical-propelled firearm, a Starfleet prototype called the TR-116, with a short-range transporter that let it fire through walls. Meanwhile the basic model TR-116 fires rounds made of tritanium. It was originally developed for fighting Borg drones, whose personal forcefields rapidly adapt to make energy weapons useless but provide no protection against physical projectiles.
- Eclipse Phase has monofilament swords and garrottes, diamond-edged axes, vibroswords, swords made of memory polymer that becomes stiff or flexible with an electric charge and wasp knives among others.
- In addition to Chainsaw Good and Sharpened to a Single Atom examples being commonplace, Warhammer 40,000 also has much rarer "Power Weapons". These are enhanced by a hazy blue "power field" (produced by a generator on what would otherwise be a normal melee weapon) which weakens the molecular bonds of whatever they strike. Also the ubiquitous bolter is essentially an upgraded version of Gyrojet firearms, fitted with armor-piercing explosive heads, capable of firing full-auto, and far more effective at point-blank range.
- Exalted has artifact weapons, which, besides being overall better than their mundane versions, are often enchanted to have unique power. However, you need to be able to channel Essence to use most of them, restricting artifact weapons to the Exalted, supernatural beings like gods and demons, and the occasional enlightened mortal.
- The nemuranai of Legend of the Five Rings are items that have had the kami within them awakened, usually through prayer and supplication (though sometimes they awaken through use). Such items tend to bestow good luck on their users, and the more powerful ones also grant unique abilities, such as a sword that deals more damage each time it hits an opponent.
- On a more mundane level, the sacred weapons of the Great Clans also count. For example, the Scorpion's Shosuro blade is extremely effective at delivering poison to one's opponents, while the Inquisitor's Strike of the Phoenix deals increased damage to those with Shadowlands Taint. And, of course, there's the Kaiu blade of the Crab Clan, which cannot be broken by any known means, and which are said to be able to cut solid stones in half.
- 1001 Science Fiction Weapons for OGL, has whole sections of these, organised by subtrope and various versions thereof, with each covering various kinds of weapon which use the technological concept covered by that section, usually meaning various blades, from quatars to scythes, but sometimes including nunchaku, hammers etc. These include:
- merely simple weapons made with advanced materials
- monofilament weapons
- a combination of monofilament and vibro bladesnote
- powered saw-type weapons
- modern bows, crossbows and dart launchers which fire a variety of trick projectiles, including poisons, electronic disruption and less-lethal options
- bows which inexplicably fire energy bolts with no visible string
- blades made of hot energy or forcefields
- blunt objects made of hyperdense matter with little gravity motors inside to allow them to be lifted and swung, as they weigh as much as a van
- radioactive weapons (sometimes little more than a bar of spent fuel rod, though the better ones will at least do more damage to the target than the user)
- heated blades
- supercooled blades
- blades made of ice
- organic blades which can dose the target with a wide variety of toxins and pathogens.
- Add spear, harpoon and spike-throwing guns, and the rather ludicrous-sounding chapter on yo-yo-based weapons, and some oddities in the super-advanced weapons section, and you have one big, bloody mess of D20-based fun!
- Rifts includes some, mostly vibro-blades, and spells are available to enhance weapons and render them into magical or enchanted weapons, but the most impressive are the techno-wizard and rune weapons. The rune weapons are some form of alive, the highest-level weapons are sentient, and have magical abilities that made them the Palladium Fantasy worlds' equivalent of a tac-nuke. The techno-wizard weapons are equipped with mechanisms to allow them to cast spells, as well as being heavily enhanced; one techno-wizard sword introduced in Federation of Magic did so much mega-damage per strike as it was, while it had only 3 spells: one to multiply an attack, one to fire a particle beam, and one that made the wielder (but not their clothing) invulnerable, to a certain extent. Someone who knew how to use it could potentially take out whole sections of enemy powered armour.
- Mass Effect 3:
Veteran engineer: It's 2186. Who uses a whip?
- The omni-blade uses your omni-tool's micro-factory to flash-fabricate a short dagger blade that is then suspended above your fist in a mass effect field. Depending on your class, it may have other effects such as (in Infiltrators) an electric charge.
- Multiple weapons can be fitted with bayonets for close combat. Some are simple metal blades slung under the barrel, but others use the same technology as Shepard's omni-blade.
- The multiplayer features futuristic versions of shields, warhammers, and even crossbows deployed in a 22nd century Robot War. Lampshaded in the "Citadel" DLC:
- Several examples have arisen in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura following the continent's industrial revolution. Compound bows that can be ugraded to fire either poisoned or burning arrows, knives and hammers fitted with clockwork mechanisms, axes and swords that inflict electric shocks, pyrotechnic damage or are permanently envenomed, and tesla-staffs that shock the enemy with jolts of electricity are all available to technologically-savvy characters.
- Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch has clockwork axes and swords that shred enemies with spinning gears, and hammers fitted with steam-powered boosters.
- Snake's melee weapon of choice in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots is a shock-knife that can be used for both lethal stabs and non-lethal stuns.
- In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, due to the rising prevalence of nearly bulletproof cyborgs on the battlefield, High-Frequency Blades have become the weapon of choice for standard combat. That said, most of them are mass-produced pieces of crap, and guns still see use because cyborgs aren't completely bulletproof, you just need a lot of bullets to take one down (and anti-tank weapons are fairly respectable options for ranged cyborg to cyborg combat).
- Half-Life 2 features a crossbow designed to fire superheated pieces of rebar (bonus points for apparently being constructed by the rebels using what resources they have). It's a one hit kill against most weak enemies.
- Much of the high-end weaponry in Might and Magic VI to VIII is this. Either they date back to before the Silence (meaning a culture entirely capable of building energy weapons made them. At a minimum, they use futuristic materials beyond even the fantastical materials available in the 'modern day' of the setting, and it certainly isn't known how to make them anymore), or they are more modern (for the vaguely medieval-renaissance-y technological state of the setting) designs that used magic to sidestep limitations in construction (for instance, one description mentions the use of magic to make forges hotter).
- The Predator bow in Crysis 3 is a compound bow designed specifically for use with nanosuits like the one the main character wears. Its draw strength is something like 500 pounds, perfect for the nanosuit's Maximum Strength. The arrows all have beacons that only the nanosuit can see (and you can tag those arrows with your GPS binoculars if you so choose, implying recon possibilities beyond the scope of the actual missions), and the special explosive arrows can airburst in proximity to a binocular-tagged enemy.
- EYE Divine Cybermancy features a pair of augmented melee weapons - the Damocles and the Arrancadora De Tripas. The Damocles (a 15 kilogram nodachi) has a handle made of distortion capacitors, allowing it to create a shockwave of fire and explosions when the blade contacts flesh or armor. The Arrancadora Warp Hammer is a massive war hammer that even the augmented soldiers of the Secreta have trouble swinging; The distortion engine inside the hammer's head can create a localized warp in reality and a huge display of lightning when it strikes a target, allowing it to One-Hit Kill almost anything. Early models of the Arrancadora worked by creating a nuclear fusion reaction, though it was phased out by the distortion hammer.
- RWBY has plenty in amongst the many Impossibly Cool Weapons. These range from Ruby, Nora, Pyrrha, and Yang's weaponsnote (which have integrated firearms that can still be fired for extra damage when they strike), Weiss's rapier (which has a revolver-like mechanism for using Dust), and Jaune's shield (which folds into a scabbard for his sword).
- Compound Bows use a series of pulleys and cams to make them easier to draw and hold in place (as well as increase the overall power of the bow). They were developed for hunting (as well as for disabled archers to use in target shooting).
- The Wasp knife, as mentioned in the CSI example above. It was developed for divers to use to fight off sharks by injecting them with air, so they float to the surface (and don't bleed as much, which might drive other sharks into a frenzy).
- Swords were made in bronze long before they were made in carbonized iron.
- The Shocknife is a training knife that emits an electric shock when it contacts skin. The idea being that it gives a sense of danger and fear where rubber training knives don't.