Improbable Accessory Effect
aka: Horse Wiener
So you're writing an RPG
. You've already made the Balsa Wood Armor
, the Steel Armor
, the Gold Armor
, and the Unobtanium
Armor. You've made any number of things to hit enemies over the head with, from the Pointy Stick
to the BFS
to the Frozen Tuna
. Your adventurers are fully clothed and armed to the teeth. So...what are you going to fill the rest of those equipment slots with?
Well...anything you want to.
Let's face it, strapping on more and more identical metal bits is boring
, and anyway nobody really knows what a vambrace is. So when it comes time to flesh out the equipment in a game, just about anything will do. It doesn't matter what the item is, as long as it adds the right bonuses to stats to keep the game balanced (or otherwise
). This leads to random items giving stat bonuses that make no sense—but which no one seems to question
, because nobody wants to give up their precious items for the sake of mere logic.
There are items that have effects that can vaguely make sense, such as a stylish hat increasing your charisma, and there are explicitly magical items, such as a ring that increases your strength because it's specifically enchanted to do so. This trope is not about those; it is about the ones that, when you think about it
, make you go, "Huh?"
- Disgaea supplies the page image and the former Trope Namer, introducing the Horse Wiener, which you can in fact steal from the enemy zombie who has it equipped. Equipping the item in question grants 110 Attack, 30 Speed, and 30 Hit (before you enter it and level it up). Thankfully, the in-game picture is merely a large exclamation point.
- Lampshaded with the Accelerator: false teeth that vastly increase movement range. The item description reads: "Why teeth?"note
- Final Fantasy has a number of these, the most famous of which is the Ribbon, which for some reason makes you immune to status effects. In Final Fantasy IV, they're guarded by dinosaur zombies. Ribbons are serious business. Later installments attempt to explain this by stating that ribbons are made from Malboros, enemies which are infamous for inflicting most, if not all, status effects with their Bad Breath attack.
- The badges in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (and sequels) and Paper Mario. Why does a badge increase attack power, boost stats and make an Infinity Plus One Sword? God knows. It's probably just magic.
- Heck, all the way back in Super Mario Bros. 3 there was a leaf that gave you the tail and ears of a raccoon, allowing you to fly. (It's a reference to the tanuki— not a raccoon— which supposedly put a leaf on its head to transform into other creatures. They could also turn into statues, which the Tanuki Suit lets you do so in the game. Why tanuki-related effects allow you to fly, though, is a mystery for the ages.
- Don't forget mushrooms that make you grow giant and flowers that let you shoot fireballs. In fact, we should probably just put 'the Mario series' on the list and be done with it. (The mushrooms are in the vein of Alice in Wonderland, which had mushrooms that made Alice grow and shrink, and the flower is a pun on the Japanese word for fireworks, "hanabi", which literally means "fire flower".)
- Stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. And the Bunny Hood.
- Shadow Hearts loves these - the more bizarre the item, the better its effects. In all three games, the items that protect you from Instant Death are Leonardo's Bear - a teddy bear that makes a sad noise when you squeeze it. Its origin changes with each game.
- There is, however, one notable aversion. The item that cancels all status effects in all games is the Rosary. It's made explicit that the holy power contained within is responsible for your protection.
- The clothes system in The World Ends with You is built on this trope. Fashion in this game is Serious Business so designer clothes take the place of armor.
- Designer clothes; Cool Shades; headphones; potted plants; false teeth; giant, plastic, arm-mounted toys; et.c.
- Zelda II The Adventure Of Link has a glove that gives Link the ability to stab rocks.
- It also contains the line, "With boots I could walk on water."
- One of the sidequests in Cave Story parodies this. You're sent to find a curative mushroom. Upon finding the mushroom, it talks to you. After you insist several times that, yes, you really need him, he gives you the Mushroom Badge and sends you on your way. If you try to use it, or just check your inventory, you see the badge doesn't do anything. Which you need to do to call him out on it and to be able to fight him.
- The Tiger Woods games have accessories that improve your stats when equipped. It makes sense for golf clubs and balls, but most of them are something like the Shirt of +2 Putting.
- Similarly Alfa Romeo Racing Italiano tagged on RPG elements to racing with given helmets increasing your car's speed, or making you harder to spook.
- The Pokémon series lets you make your team carry everything from claws to tails to rocks to ashes to scarves to bows to ribbons to berries to herbs to sweat and drool and even breath of other Pokémon to get stat boosts or other effects. You can make a Pokémon hold anything, but a large set of them actually grant a tangible benefit like +10% damage with a certain move type, a small stat boost, always going first, etc. There are also consumable items that the Pokémon will use automatically when hurt or affected with a status ailment.
- Notably, the later games have items that are actually harmful to the user, causing damage, causing status effects, and lowering stats. These are generally useful for either forcing the opponent to switch items with the holder, or for triggering an ability that only works while under a status effect or when damaged.
- Kingdom of Loathing, being a parody of computer RPGs, embraces this trope with all of its being. Some things make perfect sense, like the ordinary metal pail you can use as a helmet to absorb damage. Some things make a certain degree of sense, like the duct tape sword that increases your odds of looting items when you defeat monsters. Some things only make sense due to convoluted pop culture associations, like the arrrgyle socks (they have extra R's because they're dropped by pirates) which boost your mysticality as an offhand reference to The Pattern from The Chronicles of Amber. However, there are also tiny plastic figurines you can carry, which inexplicably do anything from doubling your spell damage to raising the odds of monsters dropping candy.
- Team Fortress 2 has the Equalizer and Escape Plan, pickaxe that, respectively, do more damage and let you run faster when you're low on HP.
- It's gotten much, much crazier with each update. Here's a short list: jars of piss that make people take more damage, jars of milk (or something white) that recover health for damaging people covered in it, steaks that let you move faster and punch harder but disallows using your gun and makes you take more damage as well, a club with a nail through it that lets you capture points faster, a kunai and katana that restore health with a kill, a fan that makes one person you hit with it at a time take more damage, a syringe launcher that lets you run faster as you charge you Medigun, and a rake that increase health restores from health packs but slows down recovery rate from mediguns and dispensers to 1/4.
- The Black Box: a rocket launcher that heals you whenever you shoot someone with it. At least the Blutsauger involves needles and blood.
- Sailor Moon: Another Story, has the Sailor Senshi equip jewelery to increase their stats rather then any actual equipment. Earrings, Tiaras, and even a wrist watch. The best ones for each senshi use their particular thematic gemstone and for some reason, doesn't work on anyone else if they equip it. They are bought in regular stores run by muggles, (Though the character specific ones have to be found) so they can't even be magical.
- These things are everywhere in Phantasy Star Online. Weapons can be anything from a frying pan or wok to a game magazine. Bunny ears, cat ears, and wedding dresses show up as types of armor. And, if you play your cards right, you can turn your MAG into most (if not all) of Sega's game consoles.
- Planescape: Torment, being in large part a deconstruction of RPGs, has no armor or shields, and precisely one sword somewhere late in the game (and one other that its user cannot let go of since it is actually shapeless matter formed by his force of will). What it does have is tattoo slots, earrings, equippable intestines, replaceable teeth, and an eyeball item slot. On the other hand... nothing would actually fall into this trope by virtue of the entire world being flat-out made out of magic and nothing else to begin with.
- Suikoden III has sets of armor and accessories that are divided up into things that particular characters can use based on their relative size/class; characters that can wear lightweight things generally can't wear heavyweight things, and so on. In particular there is the "Girl" class of items which generally can only be worn by women, which includes jewelry pieces— but the first Squishy Wizard you can get in your party can equip Girl-class accessories despite being a man. The strategy guide advises buying him a pearl necklace (and taking him out to dinner).
- Secret of Evermore. Every accessory in the entire game. Chocobo Egg gives you and your dog more HP? A ring gives you a run button? Some... jewelry-type things... increase your dodge ability? Okay!
- The MUNCHKIN series is overflowing with examples of this. For example, a Magnificent Hat blocks the effect of curses, and a Bow With Ribbons gives elves a combat bonus even though the ribbons look like they'd get in the way.