To specialize or generalize? That is the question. When your generalist can't stack up to the specialists, you've got a Master of None
. When the weaknesses of your specialist render it worthless, you've got Crippling Overspecialization
. Sometimes a generalist can retain its usefulness through sheer versatility, in which case you've got a Jack of All Stats
... but still not a master.
But what if you didn't have to choose?
What if you could be, not merely average, but world-class... at EVERYTHING?
The strength of a Mighty Glacier
, without the slowness. The speed of a Fragile Speedster
, without the fragility. The mojo of a Squishy Wizard
without the squish. The stopping power of a Glass Cannon
but Made Of Diamond
Master of None
, Jack of All Stats
, and Master of All
are related tropes. Each describes a generalist character type, bad/good/great at everything. While the Jack might be good enough at any skill, the Master of All is rarely outclassed, usually only by someone with a Crippling Overspecialization
Importantly, a character, weapon, or unit does NOT have to be overpowered,
a Game Breaker
, or unstoppable
to count as this. Nor does it have to be THE best in every area to qualify, just top-tier. To qualify, it must:
Be top-tier (not necessarily the absolute best, but in the ballpark) in every relevant stat, skill, or specialization in the setting.Note
, roughly equaling or outperforming even dedicated specialists.
Lack any major weaknesses or drawbacks that would make using a specialist preferable.
As a rule of thumb, if there's no reason to ever use anything else if you have the choice, it's probably a Master of All
. If there are situations in which a specialist is a better choice even though a generalist is more powerful overall, it's probably a Jack of All Stats
Likely to overlap with All Your Powers Combined
. Sometimes a result of rampant Power Copying
. In fighting games
, Ditto Fighters
are this unless they're given some compensating weakness. Where game balance is a concern, nearly always a Game Breaker
, unless it's a Guest Star Party Member
, A Taste of Power
, or otherwise Awesome but Temporary
. If the computer is this but the player cannot be, it's because The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard
. Often a Secret Character
or other Unlockable Content
. May only be available in a New Game+
. Most Infinity Plus One Swords
are this in settings where weapons have stats besides "Attack." Likely to be a Lightning Bruiser
, Genius Bruiser
, and/or One-Man Army
. Needless to say, always some flavor of Badass
Compare Game Breaker
and The Ace
, which are similarly powerful but may be specialized, and The Omnipotent
, which are often (but not always) this by default. Compare and contrast Jack of All Stats
, a generalist that is not top-tier in any given area. Overlaps with Lightning Bruiser
, which combines three specific specializations but not necessarily all available in the setting. Arguably a Super Trope
to God-Mode Sue
, which is a particularly overpowered Master of All
in a setting where everyone else is a Master of None
and The Load
by comparison. Contrast Master of None
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Beat Em Up
- Shiva in Streets of Rage 3. Despite being nerfed from his boss self in SOR2, hes faster AND stronger than the two all rounders and has better moves, one of which can be used to form an infinite combo.
Hack and Slash
- In the Dynasty Warriors series, Lu Bu is generally the most powerful character of the game with high stats all around as well as powerful attacks with great range.
- Oda Nobunaga is this in Sengoku Basara, especially in the third series. Honda Tadakatsu also has this going for him statistically as he is the top character in attack and defense and above-average in movement speed, but in practice his play-style of uncontrollable swinging around of his gigantic drill-spear without any special attacks makes him more of an Awesome but Impractical character.
- Minion, the Secret Character in the Twisted Metal games, is usually this, with top-class speed, handling, and armor plus a badass superweapon. His only (slight) drawback is his size, which makes him a larger-than-average target.
- The Golden Kart in Mario Kart: Double Dash!! has the best combined stats of all vehicles. Some are better in one stat but lower in the others (Bowser's has highest top speed, but takes a while to get there). The game compensates for this by taking The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard to ridiculous levels any time this cart is used.
- Super Sonic in Sonic R has perfect stats across the board.
- In the PAL version of Crash Team Racing, the cheat-only character Penta Penguin has perfect scores in all stats. When it comes to the race itself, though, he's often tiered lower than the high-speed-low-handling characters, due to how power-sliding works.
- Spectre from Extreme G XG 2 has all of its stats maxed out
- Ash, the protagonist of Vandal Hearts, starts out as a very competent and useful Jack of All Stats and Magic Knight, and becomes this trope in spades if you manage to unlock his gamebreaking, Purposefully Overpowered Vandalier class, which is a Lightning Bruiser that can cast every spell in the game, can use any item effect an infinite number of times and has nearly impenetrable defense from the front and sides.
- The Majin class from the first Disgaea game. Very high stats all across the board, positive Aptitudes for all stats, very proficient with all weapons, and high mobility. There is no reason to use anything else when you have unlocked this class (though it requires a bit of a Guide Dang It). The subsequent games nerf this class severely, though. The second game reduces its mobility to the minimum, making it somewhat of a Mighty Glacier instead. The third and fourth games take it even further, giving it low aptitude above the low mobility, and no weapon proficiency, making the class require a lot of work to even be remotely playable.
- The Majins get a Shout-Out in Soul Nomad, another Nippon Ichi game, in the form of the similar-looking Gideon class. Gideons are fast, they fly, their attacks are all ranged and all multitarget (and if they're in the second or third rows, they hit the entire enemy unit) and they have stat growths better than any other unit. About their only drawback is their high cost to deploy. However, once you've unlocked them, there's pretty much no reason to use anything else.
- A sufficient amount of Level Grinding can yield this in most JRPGs with a Job System, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Dragon Quest IX, and Blue Dragon.
- Dragon Quest VI has a particularly spectacular example in that changing class affects only your stats, while spells and skils are determined by the class's rank, itself depending on the number of battles you've fought. However, spells and skills stay with the character once learned even after subsequent class changes, which can lead to situations like the Mighty Glacier throwing healing spells or the Squishy Wizard launching physical attacks, and doing quite well at both, not to mention the fact that there's a large number of skills that hit a group of enemies or all enemies for decent amounts of damage, aren't affected by stats and cost nothing to use. It's entirely possible to have a character max out every class in the game and just pick the one with the most favorable stats to equip permanently, though this would take an extreme amount of Level Grinding.
- In the Pokémon games, Mew and its "clones" Celebi, Jirachi, Manaphy, Shayminnote and Victini are this, with a solid 100 points in each stat and a typically diverse selection of moves. Mew in particular is compatible with every single TM and can be tutored nearly any move possible.
- Arceus takes this even further, having 120 base stats across the board, the capability of learning every teachable move (except moves that explicitly require hands due to being a Marvelous Deer) and an ability that allows it to change into any of the 18 types.
- Sora in the Kingdom Hearts franchise. A prodigy Keyblade wielder, nearly as good a mage as specialized mages, except he has a wider spell pool, being able to use several of the other character's character exclusive spells, and a Lightning Bruiser who can take more damage than the party tank. Was Unskilled, but Strong, except he matured out of that. The punchline being that he even stops to wonder for a moment if he even needs to get official training since he'd already saved the universe a few times when it's offered to him.
- And on the evil side Xehanort can use all the other Organization member's weapons, is extremely fast, has some instant kill attacks and is a great mage.
- Peter in Shining Force 2. Nearly as tough as a Mighty Glacier, only he's as fast as a Fragile Speedster, with the attack of a Glass Cannon, only lacking the glass jaw. Of course he is a legendary Phoenix....
- Ike in Fire Emblem Tellius starts somewhere between a Jack of All Stats and a Mighty Glacier and soon becomes a Lightning Bruiser who can attack from range and take a lot of damage. His promoted class has the strength of a Berserker, the skill and speed of a Swordmaster and tanking ability of a General. His Res might let him down a little, but you can "fix that" in the next game.
- The Black Knight also lacks a single bad stat, being unusually fast and magic resistant for a General variant.
- Fire Emblem Awakening gives us the Avatar and their offspring, Morgan. Both can reclass into any of the game's numerous classes (except for the Lord classes and classes restricted to the opposite gender) AND have a unique class for themselves (the Tactician/Grandmaster class). This gives them access to pretty much any skillset they want, as well as the weapon(s) of their choice. Toss into this some of the best stats and stat growths in the game and, in the Avatar's case, the ability to support (and gain stat boosts from) every other character in the party, and both characters are generally considered to be the best in the game.
- This is one of the main reasons Thunder God Cid Orlandeau in Final Fantasy Tactics is considered to be such a Game Breaker: since his Holy Swordsman class is essentially three classes' worth of attacks rolled into one, he can easily exploit enemy weaknesses regardless of situation and has the stats to back it up. If you put even the slightest effort into leveling him up, he can solo most maps.
- Serenade from the PS3 Updated Re-release of Eternal Sonata is easily one of the most powerful characters in the game, beating out Allegretto and Jazz in terms of damage output, and beating Salsa, March, and Claves in speed. Though she's only playable in two parts of the game, the first one temporarily, but the second time she joins, you're definitely going to want to use her.
- The Secret Character in the remake of Star Ocean 1 is a master of all in terms of magical abilities. On paper, she was supposed to be balanced compared to the other two offensive mages by having much more restricted elemental coverage, only having access to Fire and Light spells, and she was supposed to be balanced compared to the other healer by not having access to StatusBuffs or Standard Status Effects. In practice, Fire and Light spells cover such a wide variety of enemies that she'll almost never have to worry about an enemy resisting her attacks, and status spells are widely considered superfluous in the first game. The end result is that she is generally considered the only mage the player should ever need.
First Person Shooter
- In Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, by the end of New Game+ the player should be able to max out all three skill trees and become a master of all three combat disciplines. This creates some weird synergies that allow you to do things like performing six or more consecutive headshots on distant enemies in the span of a few seconds while using a sawed-off shotgun that only has two shells in it. It really helps to emphasize the Unreliable Narrator nature of the story.
- The RCP-90 in Goldeneye 1997 was incredibly powerful (its power was only matched by cheat weapons and explosives), had one of (if not the) highest firing rate in the game, and had the largest ammo capacity to boot. To top it off, it used the single most common ammo in the game.
- In PlanetSide 2, Nanite Systems primary weaponry combines some of the best features of the three empire's weapons - they have 5 extra bullets per magazine (compared to the Terran Republic's ten), have a small cone-of-fire like New Conglomerate's Magnetic Weapons, and has the tiny recoil typical of Vanu Sovereignty's plasma weaponry. When combined with NS weapons firing noises blending in with the enemy's NS weaponry, and NS weaponry unlocking across all characters when bought with Station Cash, they are often the best overall weaponry, being able to be used at both short and long ranged, and only outclassed by dedicated close-quarters or long-ranged weaponry which are awkward outside of their range brackets.
- Werewolves in the World of Darkness, especially the Old World of Darkness. They have top-tier physical combat abilities, regeneration, superhuman speed, shape-changing at will, an ability to maintain The Masquerade simply by existing, an at-will spirit-travel ability, magical items, and magical abilities which rival or exceed those of anyone except Mages and Elder Vampires. Werewolves can also learn any skill any normal human can and have less restrictions on their abilities than any other supernatural being. They have no significant weaknesses other than silver.
- Caine, the original vampire in the Vampire: The Masquerade fluff, is scarcely described but one indication of his power is that, thanks to his immense age, he has mastered all of the Vampiric Disciplines (other vampires get three, tops) on the highest levels (double what a playable character can hope to achieve) and can actually invent new Discplines whenever he damn well pleases.
- In 1st and 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons, a human character with sufficiently high stats could dual class, at which point they surrendered most of their abilities and began to progress in another class. Once they exceeded their old class' level, they could use all of the abilities of both classes. This was still insanely difficult to do. The 1st Edition Bard was similar.
- In 3rd edition, the Cleric and Druid classes could enter this territory out of sheer versatility. Even without any kind of crazy character optimization or external sourcebooks, they have full spell casting, good equipment options and decent fighting capabilities. As soon as the game reaches mid-level, however, they truly step into their own as masters of all. They can buff themselves to be better at fighting than dedicated fighting classes and their spells are just as potent as any other full spellcaster, not to mention the versatility granted by feats that let Clerics spontaneously alter their spells by expending their otherwise-highly-specialized Turn Undead ability, or the ludicrous amount of sheer options granted by a Druid's natural shapeshifting powers.
- 4th Edition averts this completely, to the relief/chagrin of players (delete to taste.)
- Deliberately averted in most incarnations of the Fate system (Spirit Of The Century, The Dresden Files et al.). The skill pyramid/column scheme built into these games only allows a character to have as many skills at peak level as the lower-ranked ones can "support", making it literally impossible to be good at everything.
- The main exception is the "quick-start" Fate Accelerated Edition, which only uses six "approaches" in place of skills and thus doesn't bother with such a scheme post character creation — in theory, an FAE character played long enough could eventually become equally good at all of them, assuming he or she was played for long enough without any change in system. Of course, this particular incarnation is mainly a lightweight "intro-level" product not so much intended for running campaigns that long with in the first place (though one can in principle do that, too)...
- The Queen in Chess, which can imitate the move set of almost every other piece. Specifically, the Queen combines the horizontal and vertical movement of the Rook with the diagonal movement of the Bishop. The only thing the Queen can't do is "jump over" other pieces like the Knight.
- In Battletech, the Clans design their Omnimechs to be this, a good example is the Timber Wolf / Mad Cat; A heavy mech which possess the speed of a Inner Sphere light mech, with the fire power and durability of an assault mech. The Inner Sphere can't quite compete due to a technology gap, but famous mechs like WHR-6R Warhammer and CN 9-A Centurion are dangerous at any range bracket and have good armor and speed for their class leading them to become mainstays among the Successor State armies.
- Warhammer40000 has the Space Marines. In lore they are, pound for pound, better than everyone at everything. They are genetically engineered supermen who are super strong, fast, accurate, tough, with bodies that heal near-instantly from all but the direst wounds, equipped with the best weapons and armour the Imperium has, and completely beyond any sense of fear or cowardice. This sort of carries over in-game as well, as an individual Space Marine is, man for man, better than the basic troops of any other army. However, they are also more expensive, point-wise, and the Space Marine army as a whole falls more into the Jack of All Stats / Master of None category overall.
- In all the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games you can turn the skater of your choice (or all of them) into a maxed-out skating monster if you just spend the time either earning the cash to buy more stats or doing the specific tasks to level them up.
Turn Based Strategy
- Tactics Ogre: Before the remake, said class was the AI-only Templar Knight.
- The Persian Army in Civilization. About as good or nearly as good as specialist armies, with no real drawbacks. Unsurprisingly, it's top-tier. In Civilization 5 the DLC civ Poland becomes this, because their special ability is that they get free upgrades to spend however they want, making them one of the only civs that can run with each victory style: Militaristic, Cultural, Scientific, or Diplomatic.
- This is Kanbei's hat in Advance Wars (particularly the first one) since all his units get a cruel boost to attack and defense (even more than specialized characters) but only if you put him in pre-deployed maps: his weakness is all his units are much more expensive to produce.
- The player in the Fable games is almost certain to be this. While you CAN choose to specialize, the way the cost of upgrades scales means there's no reason to: the cost of going outside your specialty quickly becomes negligible meaning that there's no down side to ultimately becoming equally proficient in Strength, Skill, and Will.
- It's possible to turn the player character into this in most Bethesda games, such as Fallout3 and The Elder Scrolls, but it usually takes an insane amount of Level Grinding (or some clever Min-Maxing bordering on Loophole Abuse).
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim you could originally do this in spirit, since level was raised by raising skills and the effective level cap was reached by maxing out all available skills, making you very good at everything. You were still not perfectly balanced, however, due to the (finite) number of available perks not being enough to truly max out every possible specialty. In a later patch, Bethesda added the ability to "prestige" in a skill after it was maxed out, resetting it to zero for the ability to grind it back up, gaining more levels and unlocking more perks. This effectively raised the level cap and gave truly insane level grinders the ability to max out absolutely EVERYTHING and make their character a true Master of All.
- Jake Armitage, the protagonist of the Shadowrun game for the SNES. While most runners in the game specialise in either shooting, spellcasting or decking (hacking computers), Jake can become highly skilled with all three, and unlike other spellcasters in the Shadowrun-verse, he averts Cybernetics Eat Your Soul since his magic isn't penalised by having cyberware fitted. By the end of the game he'll be able to blow opponents away with a BFG (firing at double speed thanks to boosted reflexes), endure hits with a suit of full body armor and sub-dermal plate, use a selection of spells to attack, heal, or enhance his defence, and hack any computer system he can find.
- You need to be max-level to attempt this in Kingdoms Of Amalur Reckoning, but it can be done. At maximum level, the Jack of All Stats becomes the "Universalist" who gets tons of bonuses to all his non-combat skills and weapon proficiencies. He still won't be as good at certain things as a specialist, but he's the only class that can totally max out all non-combat skills.
- The Sentinel class in Mass Effect was meant to be the Jack of All Stats class, but that balance was only achieved in the second game. In the first game, they were borderline Master of None. The third game went the opposite direction and got this trope largely due to the nature of the Power Combo System. By using their native Overload, Warp, and Throw abilities in that order, Sentinels are capable of stunning and severely damaging many enemies very quickly even on the highest difficulty level. They also have two crowd control abilities and the Tech Armor power boosts their defense with a miniscule cost to recharge times when properly equipped. Normally, they still lag in weapon damage, but that is solved by taking the Warp Ammo power.
- In Fallout2, a high Intelligence character can become this due to massive amount of skill points and the presence of skill books. Negociator, Mr. Fixit, hacker, doctor, survivalist and weapon specialist.
- This is starting to happen in EVE Online. Unlike most MMO, you level your skills in real time in eve regardless of what you are doing or even if you are logged in. What normally prevents players from mastering them all is that there are over 14 years worth of sills in the game (without boosting implants). Eve is however 12 years old, and the skill speeding up implants do exist, so there are characters who have just about every skill in the game mastered.
- Several of the ships in the game are also like this:
- Strategic cruisers can have their hulls fit to almost any role. These ships require five subsystems to be installed when assembling the ship, these subsystems then grant bonuses in that area. The subsystems can be mixed and matched to make almost any ship the pilot desires, more often than not greatly exceeding normal ships in the chosen area of specialization.
- Carriers are often known as the Swiss Army Knife of the game, with good reason. These ships can deal devastating damage with their fighters to much smaller ships than them, while at the same time provide logistics support to other ships. They can be specialized into triage carriers that can heal at a much greater rate at the expense of being able to deploy drones at the same time. They can carry and deploy fully outfitted ships in battle, which pilots who have lost there ships but haven't been podded can then use as reinforcements. They are also half as expensive as dreadnoughts and often cheaper to outfit, making them both somewhat disposable and easy to field in large numbers.
- Super carries can theoretically do anything that the regular carrier can, but can also deploy ten fighter bombers that can each do as much damage as all of carriers drones combined (though only to other capital ships). They also have much greater health, one more high slot, two more low or mid slots (depends on the exact model), can fit ECM burst modules, and are immune to most types of warp scrambling.
- Command battle cruisers are designed to do equal or greater damage than standard battle cruisers while carrying warfare links that boosts their squads effectiveness. They player has the option to carry more warfare links at the expense of weapons or vise verse if they choose.
Anime & Manga
- Every fighter in Dragon Ball Z either is this or aspires to this. The one attempt to specialize (when Trunks accidentally made himself a Mighty Glacier during the Cell Saga) results in Crippling Overspecialization. Other than that, speed, strength, invulnerability, and ki control all seem to increase proportionally with power level. Some less-powerful characters are said to be greater strategists, but this is inconsistent and tends to be a bit of an Informed Ability in any case.
- Captain Tsubasa, despite him specializing and preferring an attack midfielder position, he can play every other position (beside goal keeper) and turns out as good as, if not better than, other players.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, Sieglinde Jeremiah is not just called the strongest teenager in all dimensions because she won the Inter-Middle Championship more than once. She is superior to anyone in close range, long range and zero range combat. Her attacks are all powerful, her defense is much more than solid, and her speed is higher than anyone's.
- In Hunter × Hunter, Nen-users are usually only able to fully master one type of Nen. Kurapika is able to defy this limitation with "Emperor Time". As long as "Emperor Time" is active, Kurapika is a master of all Nen types. The trade-off is that after "Emperor Time" wears off, Kurapika is left extremely exhausted.
- In Claymore, Teresa was #1 in the ranking, but as far as anyone knew, she was simply a powerful Jack of All Stats, to the point where she received the byname "Teresa of the Faint Smile" because she had no Signature Move and no particularly outstanding strengths. However, in her final battle and after her resurrection, it becomes clear that she has no equal in any area. She is faster than "Flash Sword" Ilene, more agile than "Stormwind" Noel, and stronger than "Muscular" Sophia. After her return, she is capable of using any of the special abilities of the Seven Ghosts, and is usually better with them than they are.
- The Martian Manhunter. Has many of the powers of Superman, plus Telepathy, Intangibility, and Voluntary Shapeshifting. He does have a Weaksauce Weakness, but he has been known to overcome it.
- Within works centered around him, especially those without superpowers (such as the movies), Batman tends to be this. He's the World's Greatest Detective, skilled in every scientific field, a Master of Disguise, a capable leader, one of the top martial artists in the world, has a ton of high-tech gadgets thanks to being high in the Fiction 500, has trained his body to Charles Atlas Superpower level, and often displays random skills such as being a capable actor just in case he might have need of that skill. In works where he teams up with superpowered or magical characters, not so much.
- Lethal Joke Character / Memetic Badass example: Marvel Comics gives their characters "stats" much like a Video Game. Squirrel Girl's official ratings have every stat maxed out. Yes, she has maxed out "Energy Projection" rating too, despite having no energy-based abilities. It's a Running Gag that she keeps defeating Marvel's most powerful villains including (effectively) gods off-camera with squirrels.note
- The titular character in The Tales of Alvin Maker is this. He can duplicate the specialized "knack" abilities of almost every other character of European descent in the series, and the generalist greensong powers of the Native Americans as well. A character Lampshades this when a phrenological examination of his head reveals that all of his traits and talents are perfectly balanced.
- Rand in The Wheel of Time definitely counts, combining world-class swordsmanship, ta'veren status, dreamwalking, and THE most powerful magical ability in the world.
- Doc Savage: His band of sidekicks are all explicitly stated to be world-class in their specialties, and Doc is explicitly stated to be better at their specialty than each of them. He's a better chemist than Monk, a better geologist than Johnny, a better electrical engineer than Long Tom, a better construction engineer (and stronger physically) than Renny, and a better diplomat than Ham.
- In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, the E-Wing fighter is developed to replace the X-Wing, surpassing it in all areas: ordinance, speed, shields, and hyperdrive. Its expense meant that it never saw as wide deployment as the cheaper X-Wing, being largely reserved for elite squadrons.
- In Babylon 5, Minbari warships are this among the Younger Races. Listing the best known, Earth Alliance and Narn warships are well armed but rather slow, Drazi and Centauri warships have high speed and disproportionately high firepower (especially the Centauri, matched by only one other race among the Younger Races) but fragile hulls, and the Abbai have fast warships with tough armor and actual DeflectorShields (a unique technology among the Younger Races) but relatively ineffective weapons. Minbari warships, on the other hand, rival the Centauri's for firepower, are as fast as they come, and are as tough as those of Earth Alliance, and are hellishly difficult to hit or even detect in the first place thanks to their stealth technology. There's a reason the Centauri at the apex of their might never dared to provoke the Minbari and Earth couldn't hope to win in their war against them....
- The Nightmare Knight in Cucumber Quest has ludicrously high stats in all categories that won't even completely fit in his bio. It helps that he's also immortal and can only be sealed away for as long as nobody gathers all of the Disaster Stones ( which has already happened over 100 times).