"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else
-Margaret Mead (attributed)
In multi-player video games, particularly MMORPGs
, it's common for there to be as many copies of a "quest item
" as there are people taking the quest. This trope describes when these quest items
should logically be unique within the world. The most extreme case is probably when this is a specific named individual's head
(heart, liver, pancreas, whatever); it's also common with bits of a unique magical beast or just items that should be impossible to reproduce, such as a specific lost piece of jewelry or an Artifact of Doom
that canonically can't be made anymore.
This can get downright ridiculous when everyone in your party needs a MacGuffin
to complete the quest, so in one instance, there turn out to be enough copies for each and every one of you. If Sir Bob and his four
cohorts are on a mission to retrieve the head of Baron Evilpants
, well, you're in luck! Turns out that while he looks like a normal human being during battle, Evilpants has five
heads! There's Enough to Go Around
! (Actually, most of the time looting someone's head won't actually change their model. One can only assume that Evilpants had five severed heads in his pockets, each of them identical to his own. So, six in total.)
And of course there are also enough Baron Evilpants's to go around so all the following groups can also each kill one.
However, as logically absurd as this is, it's definitely an Acceptable Break From Reality
. If you have hundreds of thousands or even millions of players, allowing only one person in the entire game world to complete a quest vital for advancement would be seen grossly unfair. Just check out this trope's opposite, Loot Drama
, for proof that Tropes Are Not Bad
This can be partially justified
by portraying each player as functioning with his or her "own" timeline in the larger world (don't even expect a Hand Wave
regarding how these people interact when they're outside
of their quests), but it still doesn't explain how a single instance can yield as many copies of a necessary unique item as there are players going in together. Probably best not to ask
See also: Acceptable Breaks from Reality
, Rule of Fun
open/close all folders
- In Uru: Ages Beyond Myst each age has a different instance for each player due to the difficulty of turning a Myst-type puzzle game into an MMORPG. An attempt was made to justify this with the Bahro. You can, however, invite other players into your own instance of the age, if you need some help or just to have some company while wandering around.
Hack and Slash
- In online Diablo play, quests will yield as many MacGuffins as there are players completing them, even when said MacGuffins are one-of-a-kind items.
- Exceptions: The scroll with the solution to the Cairn Stones, the Horadric Malus and the Hellforge Hammer only drop once.
- Very common in World of Warcraft, where one can imagine some unique enemies are not only "really" thousands of people, but that each of those people has lots of heads.
- Possibly subverted in the same. For the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj event, only one player could actually complete the quest to open the gates. This player was thusly awarded a unique mount, the only one on the server.
- Yet some raid bosses whose bodyparts can be turned in at the correct NPC only ever have one such bodypart. Kael'thas can carry up to 25 vial remnants (which are unique, story-wise), yet the player can only loot 1 verdant sphere (of which he has 3 visible in-game).
- While the limited number of body parts might be HandWaved because turning in said body part usually results in a Bragging Rights Reward where the local Benevolent Boss praises you so loud that the whole city can hear, nothing prevents people from saving said body parts from previous kills or from different instance groups and turning them in after yours, resulting in multiple announcements.
- This extends beyond quest items, which are at least unique — you can possess multiple copies of the same weapon. For a few days after patch 3.3, players could dual-wield two copies of the supposedly unique sword Quel'Delar before it was made "unique-equipped" in a hotfix.
- In City of Heroes, a character can go through a whole story arc based around retrieving a MacGuffin, bring it to the mystic Azuria at the end, and be immediately followed by another character bringing the exact same unique MacGuffin.
- This, coupled with some of the storylines concerning Azura and stolen Plot Coupons, has led the community to the only logical conclusion/fanwank: Azuria is an idiot who shouldn't be trusted with combing her hair.
- Another popular theory is that she's the Diabolical Mastermind behind the Hellions gang, keeping them supplied with low-level magic artifacts that "went missing" from the MAGI vault. (Of course, all of these people fail to notice the fact that she isn't in charge of the vault.)
- Hard to get people to understand that since the game always send you to her and never the guy who actually runs it.
- Before the game added cooperative victory as an option, where multiple players with the same mission could complete it just by running one teammate's copy of it, you would frequently have issues where a team of players would not only recover the same item or rescue the same person several times in a row, but from a different location each time!
- In Final Fantasy XI, this is par for the course except for the "multiple heads" variation; fortunately, a lot of the "unique" objects are key items and thus invisible to other players. However, the quest to unlock the Dragoon job is an egregious example, as every single player is treated as though they are the first to revive the dead tradition of the Dragoon. Even several years after the job's addition to the game, with hundreds of level 75 Dragoons on each server. Huh?!
- Actually, they do have a "multiple heads" example in the form of Ultima and Omega who each can drop multiple heads... much to the chagrin of participants since the head pieces are the least awe-inspiring (for Omega at least).
- Is it an initiation ceremony where you have re-enact the founding of the order?
- In the Pirate Outfit quest in Tibia, every player is set the task of assassinating a rival pirate captain and frame the results by retrieving his favourite pillow and presenting it as evidence. You'd think the contractor of the assassination would catch on around the time he'd knee deep in pillows.
- Used and averted in Kingdom of Loathing. While everyone gets supposedly one-of-a-kind items (and in fact, due to ascension, you can have multiple unique items, like a belt made from the skull of the Bonerdagon and the skin of the Boss Bat), there are a few items, like the Rainbow Pearl and Strange Tiki Idol, of which only a few were implemented and which were obtained first-come first-serve.
- And there are now a few things which just become harder to acquire the more people have them (or possibly the more which have been found, which isn't the same thing), so that nobody's really sure if there's a hard cap or not.
- It's possible to carve two tongues out of a popo (read: Wooly Mammoth) in Monster Hunter Freedom Unite.
- Monster Hunter Tri takes it to absurd lengths. If you kill a smaller monster, its corpse disappears like normal when you carve an item(s) from it, but it remains on your partners' screens until they carve from it also. Somewhat justified with carving items from larger monsters, as their corpse doesn't disappear after you've carved all items from it... except that it raises the question of how your partners can carve more items while you can't when the corpse is still there.
- but, you know, taking the loot of a guy with a giant sword who either just helped, or completely, took down that giant monster, or didn't and is probably less tired than you are isn't a good idea. So it might be a bit of fridge brilliance. Still wouldn't explain single player.
- Happens with a few quests in zOMG!, such as rescuing Farmer Bill's prize cow. Personal experience includes seeing a half-dozen cows labeled "Stoocie" gathered around Bill after a crew had just turned in the quest. Other supposedly unique items exist only in text, such as Mark's ring and Klaus's "clocken".
- Averted in Mabinogi. When new storylines are added that result in whole new regions (towns, dungeons etc...) they are initially covered by Seal stones that have specific requirements to break. They can only be broken once ever giving the breaker a unique title. And a little signpost appears announcing who broke the stone.
- Additionally, when a party completes a quest that requires running a specific dungeon to get one specific item, the item will only drop once. Due to some glitches, it behooves the players to know who needs to pick up the item and if it can be traded or not.
- In a variant, each player in Billy Vs SNAKEMAN has a separate instance of most NPCs, and most of those are a fresh instance each Season.
- In MapleStory, quest items only exist for those who need them. Those players can see and obtain the items but for everyone else the items are nowhere in the gameworld.
- In RuneScape, you can see multiple people walking around with one-of-a-kind weapons that are the rewards from different quest. Plus, any item you need in a quest that is given to you can be destroyed and reobtained, usually at no cost. For instance if you're given the only existing copy of an important diary, you can destroy it somewhere in the middle of nowhere or on an entirely separate plane of reality. When you go back to the person who gave you the item, they claim to have either had another copy all along, or even more improbably, claim that somebody else saw you drop it (In a deserted alternate universe?) and returned it to them. Perhaps this is just because they are Clingy MacGuffins.
- Star Trek Online averts this in quest pickups by using Event Flags instead of inventory items for most things mission-critical. It then plays it entirely straight with certain items tagged as "Unique" — meaning every player gets to own exactly one of each.
- Spiral Knights: crowns, heat, and tokens are duplicated for every party member when picked up. Recovery hearts are instanced for each player, so your teammates can't steal your health. After the introduction of missions, everybody plays a vital part in "discovering" the nature of the Clockworks and learning the fate of Alpha Squad. Crafting materials are given to a random party member when picked up.
- In multiplayer Pokémon play, while a given Pokémon may be unique within the game world, it's easy for two players to stage a battle using the "same" unique Pokémon. Through trading, one player can even acquire multiple members of the one-per-game species.
- On a more meta level, I Vs were created to give each Pokemon a unique "personality", then Abilities and Natures were added for even more diversity. However, once players figured out how to pass on these traits through breeding, most competitive Pokemon of the same species will have the same I Vs, moves, Nature, and Ability. So any two of a given Pokemon in the competitive scene will be practically identical.
- There were exactly five of the ring thingies that protected one from the radiation of the big bad in Phantasy Star IV. Thus conveniently explaining why only one of your previous party members could rejoin the main group for the final battle.
- This was rendered somewhat moot because even though there were only five Rings of the Stars, none of the party members could equip the fifth one! Your fifth party member had to go without regardless.
- This may have been a Gameplay and Story Segregation thing, where it's just sorta implied that the fifth person is "wearing" the ring even if it's not equipped. This may be to prevent accidentally equipping the ring to one of the fifth party members, and then switching to another one, which would mess up the story a bit.
- Realmz, an old Macintosh shareware RPG, had an especially evil version of this. While the game was single-player, it still had some exceptionally powerful items tagged as "Unique." Multiple copies of these items were present across various scenarios, but if you tried to pick another up when you were already carrying one, the game would note that you already have it, causing the item to retroactively vanish.
- The first Knights of the Old Republic avoided this, mostly. Unless you exploited a few of the Good Bad Bugs, items like the Cassus Fett armor or the Circlet of Saresh were one of a kind. In the sequel, Obsidian took over and randomized the loot, which could lead to some accidental Crowning Moments Of Funny as you'd end up with a few dozen copies of something like Jolee's robes.
- The first Noob novel has this happen with a Quest Giver. A quest consists in part of following a Non-Player Character to a certain location, but everyone is doing it a the same time. As a consequence, each Player Party quite visibly has its own copy of the same guy (and if someone who has been so far working alone joins a group, the two copies fuse into one).