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Injured Vulnerability
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, such as Heavily Armored Mook or Kung-Fu Proof Mook, 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 One attacks are much appreciated.

Compare and contrast Critical Status Buff and Desperation Attack, where being injured adds benefits instead. See also Untouchable Until Tagged.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Action Adventure 
  • In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, 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).
  • Many enemies in God of War can't be grabbed until they have been weakened.
  • If you're trying to capture a monster in Monster Hunter, you have to deal as much damage as you can without killing it, until it starts to limp or displays some other visual indicator that it's weak enough to trap and hit with tranquilizer.

    Fighting Game 
  • 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.
  • In BlazBlue, Astral Heats can only be used when the opponent has low HP (among other conditions).
  • Killer Instinct featured the Ultra Combo, a flashy battle-ending combo that could only be done when the opponent was close to death. The sequel introduced the No Mercy, a Finishing Move that could only be done in-match when the opponent was near death, and the Ultimate Combo, a more fatal Ultra Combo.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Certain Team Fortress 2 weapons do more damage if the player they hit has been "prepared". For example the Flare Gun and Axtinguisher both get guaranteed Critical Hits on opponents that are burning already, and certain Soldier weapons do more damage when in-flight or attacking flying players.
  • Zer0's Killing Bl0w ability in Borderlands 2 increases melee damage on enemies below 30% health; just one point double it, maxing it out with skill points multiplies it by six, and class upgrades can further increase this to a dozen times as much damage as normal. This can save a good amount of time on boss, minibosses, and Elite Mooks (especially in New Game+ where the latter are all over) but isn't much good elsewhere. Even against them, more than a few skill points may be a waste.

    MMORPG 
  • In World of Warcraft, the Execute skill only works against targets with less than 20% health left.
    • Since vanilla, many more classes have gained abilities that only work on low health enemies, to the point that the 20%-0% part of a boss fight is now referred to as the Execute Phase.
    • Several raid bosses have abilities which cause their target to either take additional damage from subsequent applications of the attack, or take increasingly severe damage over time. These are known as Tank Swap mechanics and are designed to force the players to switch off one tank for another, so that the afflicted player has time to heal and recover from their vulnerabilities.

    Roguelike 
  • 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.

    Role Playing Game 
  • 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.
    • Fighting type move Wake-Up-Slap does double damage if the opponent is asleep, and Normal type move Smellingsalt does double damage if the opponent is paralyzed. However, both of these moves also cure that Pokemon with it when used.
  • 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.
    • In all of the Final Fantasy Tactics games, attacks against sleeping, time frozen, or petrified opponents are guaranteed to hit. This is very useful if you want to steal from them or inflict a more MP-intensive status effect, like instant death.
  • 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.
  • Xenoblade 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).
  • A lot of the demons in Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga are easier to "Devour" once their Health's low enough, and there are actual devour skills/stat boosts that work better that way.

    Strategy Game 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
    • Warwick was inspired by Strygwyr the Bloodseeker from Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars, who has the exact same ability, and probably more broken: Bloodseeker gains utterly ridiculous speed based on the wounded to the point he can break speed limit with specific items (making him take speed of a racing car), and his smell range is global, so basically he enables a satellite view if there's a hero wounded below the threshold... and yes, the hero can reach their fountain... Bloodseeker can still smell their injury and run like a racing car.
  • 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 so many attacks are one-hit KOs, it's a Useless Useful Spell.
  • 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.

    Third Person Shooter 
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Turned Based Tactics 
  • In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, injured soldiers suffer from the "Battle Fatigue" debuff, reducing their Will stat. If using the Second Wave option "Red Fog", the "Battle Fatigue" debuff also carries move and aim penalties. Also, enemies low on health are more vulnerable to the "Arc Thrower".

    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.
    • The 'bloodied' condition (having lost half or more of one's hit points) in 4th edition in general. Sometimes it enables special attacks or abilities, but on the other hand it may also result in abilities that the character or creature previously had switching off...and there are also quite a few attacks that hit bloodied targets harder than others by default.


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