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Rare Random Drop

"In conclusion, having rare drops on a variable ratio schedule keeps rats pressing the lever longer, keeps people spending money in the Casinos, and keeps World of Warcraft players staying in the game longer. It’s not about being fair, or really what gets you the rewards the fastest –- variable ratio reinforcement schedules is what what keeps you playing the longest."

In a game with Random Drops, the one that will refuse to appear. A Random Drop with a very low probability, something that frustrates the player that tries to get it.

The range in which a drop becomes a Rare Random Drop can vary widely. Depending on the game, the common drop may have a 70% chance and the "rare" a 30% chance; in others the rare drop may be a 1 in 1000 chance, or even worse. In any case it usually means that you'll spend hours killing monsters until you get it, which can be bad if you just want the object, but it's worse if you need the object to continue with the game.

Sometimes a Rare Random Drop applies to a boss and you have to endure the same fifteen minute battle (and accompanying cutscenes) over and over again until you get lucky. Bonus if the boss in question is That One Boss, and you barely survived the first time you killed it. Fortunately game designers usually don't make the dropped object an absolute necessity in such cases, so unless you really want the object there will be no need to go through the fight again.

If you're lucky, there'll be an item or special method that increases your chances of getting these drops, but there's the chance, if it is an item, that that item is a Rare Random Drop too. Have fun getting 100% Completion if there is no way to improve your chances.

While it's called Rare Random Drop, the trope also applies to objects found in chests, treasure and other random things where the chances are very low, but those cases aren't as prominent as the Random Drop implementation.

Related to Luck-Based Mission. In MMORPGs, if players fight among themselves to get one of these it becomes Loot Drama, with the rare drop serving as an Apple of Discord. If you need lots of dedicated item-hunting to get anything remotely fun, see Earn Your Fun.


Examples:

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     Fighting Game  

  • In Super Smash Bros.. Melee, there is a 1 in 151 chance of getting Mew from a Poké Ball, and a 1 in 251 chance of getting Celebi. Disappointingly, they only appear and fly away, but reward you with a lot of points, and an alert after the match is done telling that you met them for the first time.
    • This also happens in Super Smash Bros.. Brawl, but with severely decreased chances of getting any legendary Pokémon at all. This being the case, however, most legendary Pokémon are much more lethal; Mew drops CDs, Celebi drops trophies, and Jirachi (who wasn't in Melee) drops a ton of stickers.
    • For all those die-hard completionists, Brawl's Subspace Emissary will be HELL. To get all the trophies in Brawl, you have to play Subspace Emissary, and have a trophy stand randomly drop during all the Boss Battles. When it comes to Meta-Ridley, it's incredibly frustrating - not only is there a time limit on the battle, but unless you have ABSOLUTELY PERFECT timing, the trophy will most likely drop into a bottomless pit if you're not fast enough. Luckily, trophy stands appear much faster in this battle.
      • They also appear more frequently on higher difficulties.

     First Person Shooter  

  • Borderlands is the FPS equivalent of this (its initial pitch: "Halo meets Diablo"). It, too, has a list of super-rare (DLC-exclusive) weapons known as "Pearlescents". These super-strong firearms drop at a rate of 1 for every 60 orange (the previous highest-level category) items. Of course, they're a little more prevalent than you might think, thanks to a multiplayer glitch that allows for easy item duplication.
    • In addition to that, due to the weapon generation system that the game uses, there's always a tiny chance of an enemy coughing up a Disc One Nuke independently of the rarity system. It rare, but not impossible, that you could blow up a skag in Fyrestone and get a gun that does twice as much damage as anything else you've seen up to that point.
  • The folks at Valve have decided to throw the unlockable weapons of Team Fortress 2 into this category with rates based on time played, and made the achievements "useless." The first day had absolutely horrendous drop rates, and most of the time it was weapons you already had, so you can imagine how fun that was.
    • Also realize that two of the nine classes had just been provided with unlockable weapons, meaning players had six new toys to earn (three each) and zero ways in which to earn them. The system was so hopelessly broken that Valve has since brought back the achievements. Currently both the broken drop rate and achievement systems are active. Currently, the drop rate is about one an hour, so not so bad.
    • You also can get purely cosmetic hats for the classes. There are 9 classes. Your odds of getting a hat (any hat) is .5%, or 1/200. Your odds of getting a particular hat of 1/1800. To have a 50% chance of getting a particular hat, statistically you need to log 1250 hours. That's 52 days of play. That's more play time than all but ten of the official maps have.
      • The players back lashed by using Steamstats to "simulate idling without actually having the game running." Valve turned around and took away the ill-gotten hats, gave the non-cheaters halos, and then increased the drop rate. You can read all about it here[1]
    • And now with the Engineer Update, Valve has decided to gift 100 Golden Wrenches to the community, which you can find by chance for every time you use the crafting system. Given that well over 20,000 people are playing TF2 at any given time, and the fact that you need items to craft in order to craft, the chances of finding one of these Wrenches is exceptionally low. This hasn't stopped the community from complaining about it, of course.
      • The Golden Wrenches are an extreme sore-spot for the TF2 playerbase. Some of the Wrenches were intentionally destroyed by players for charity, but some were destroyed because some players enjoy the drama and rage that comes from destroying such an incredibly rare item.
    • Similarly, the Australium Weapons-the stock weapons and the Force A Nature, Black Box, Axtinguisher, Eyelander, Tomislav, Frontier Justice, Ambassador and Frying Pan in a beautiful golden skin. However, they are very, very rare and only the luckiest of players may get one during Mann Up. You're actually lucky if you get anything nice in Mann Up mode at all now-at the time of typing, drops were so bad that an increasing number of the fanbase are calling Mann Up a scam.

     Hack And Slash  
  • The Diablo games feature items that aren't just randomly dropped, but randomly generated from thousands of potential combinations of attributes, special abilities and base weapon types. Runes (items you can place into other items to make them better) are particularly glaring, with some high-level runes having such tiny chances to drop (1 in millions, and even that requires finding enemies even capable of dropping the runes in the first place) that most hard-core players have never seen a legitimate one (ones created by hacks, of course, are another matter entirely). In fact, one person apparently estimated that one has a better chance of getting hit by a falling plane that was struck by lightning than one does of finding the rarest rune. Nobody knows if that estimation is true, but you get the idea.
    • The rune example is fairly straightforward, but it can get much more complex: A base sword, for example, might have an inherent range of say 5 +/- damage and 10 +/- quality. So, just getting a "max" sword would take at least 15 rolls of that sword, of which, the top swords are also rare. Then, the top prefix is "Cruel," which varies between 200-300% added damage. The top suffix is "of Eviscration" which also varies by 20 points. It is estimated that maybe 1 sword has ever existed that was truly "perfect." You would need 10's of thousands of rolls to get a perfect roll, but you would probably need somewhere around 100 million of that sword to get 10k with that roll to even have a chance at the perfect stats. And then, there's the "Etheral" version, which is 1/3 as common as the regular version. Only 1 300% Cruel, Etheral, Elite class, 2 Socket sword has ever been found.
    • Diablo II includes many items that, when equipped, increase the odds of an item drop, notably socketing an item with perfect topaz gems. Some players traded for as much of this equipment as they could cram onto themselves, and went hunting; the Barbarian had an edge over any other character in this respect, because the optimum item-finding equipment package requires dual-wielding a pair of enchanted broadswords, which only the barbarian can do, and the barbarian had a skill that basically amounted to "trigger the random drop again".
  • Ninety-Nine Nights is a terrible offender in this category, with the final boss being almost unbeatable without an item which randomly drops (Or more likely does not drop) from one of the finite number of enemies within the last level, often forcing you to restart the mission hundreds of times over before it finally drops.

     MMORP Gs  

  • Final Fantasy XI is such an offender that we won't bother to list any of these drops, there are just too many.
  • World of Warcraft is another major offender. No need to add examples, the list would be nearly infinite.
  • Played seriously straight in MMORPG MapleStory. Monsters have a very good chance (roughly 50~75%) of dropping some money (Mesos) and an "ETC" drop unique to the monster (or monster type). They have about a 1-in-10 chance of dropping potions or material ores, a very rare chance of dropping equippable items, and an extremely rare chance of dropping scrolls (which are used to upgrade equipment) or throwing stars. A coupon in the game's cash shop doubles the drop rate of monsters killed by the user. It doesn't help that sometimes only one particular enemy drops a particular item. Or that there's no indication that a miscellaneous drop is needed for a quest you don't have. Or quests that ask you to get an item, but don't say what enemy drops it. Then there's the major bosses Zakum and Horntail, who are guaranteed to drop at least one Zakum Helmet or Horntail Pendant each time they're killed, it's how many that drop that's random. All of their other drops are subject to Random Drops.
    • The Malaysia exclusive map (guess what it's called) has somewhat broken drop rates- i.e. something around twice or thrice that of the original maps. This stacks with the event bonuses.
    • This aspect is where some quests become truly, stupidly hard. For instance, there's one quest where you have to find a little fairy's lost glass slipper. The slipper was stolen by the fire boar enemies in the mountains around Perion. No one is quite sure of the drop rate, but you can stand there and kill - quite literally - thousands upon thousands of fire boars and never see the item.
      • Many of these were changed to be far more manageable. But they still exist; a more recent one to collect Lunar Dews can have people spend 5 hours of hunting, with 8x drop rate, to get 5. You need 20.
    • It doesn't help that they randomize the drop rate at least once a week so you can't even figure out what the drop rates are.
  • Phantasy Star Online's most powerful weapons often have drop rates ranging from 1-in-72 to 1-in-22000. Add that to the fact that the 1-in-22000 monsters usually only show up singly, and only in certain map variations...
    • And only for certain characters, as a character gets 1 of 12 possible dropcharts permanently assigned to it upon creation based on the character's names, class, and even gender, with some items having a 1 in 299594 chance from only 1 chart, from 1 monster, that can only be found in 1 area, with the monster being the rare form of an already rare monster.
  • In Anarchy Online the greatest example would be the Sparkling Scimitar of Spetses (a stupidly rare item dropping from a semi-boss from the 2nd hardest area in the known game) is so ridiculously rare that it is counted among the forums. The numbers are kept as to which dimension (of the 3 this game has) has dropped how many... at last count, it was STILL IN THE SINGLE DIGITS for dropping after at least 3-4 (maybe longer) years of play in the game that allowed the zone.
  • Everquest had some mean ones. One otherwise uninteresting newbie zone had a high-level halfling that spawned every few days in a random location, disappeared after two minutes whether anyone killed her or not, and had a one in eight chance of dropping a very expensive item.
  • In Everquest II, in most zones, monsters will drop an "exquisite chest" (a chest containing the best kind of treasure, Fabled) 0.0126% of the time. Of course, which Fabled treasure drops depends on random chance and which monster dropped the chest...
  • A staple of Ragnarok Online. Each enemy has a 1/10,000 chance of dropping a "card" (with rare exceptions like porings at 1/1000) which can be permanently placed into a "slotted" weapon or armor, which also have an extremely rare chance of dropping. The cards give bonuses to you when you wear armors with a card equipped. They range from completely useless in the case of most ordinary monster cards, to boss cards which have downright Game Breaking stats such as immunity to spells and abilities. The catch is, since bosses only respawn once per hour in one location, if you were to kill a boss every hour on the hour for a year you would only have a 58% chance to get their card...
    • Due to the way the RNG works in this game, it's actually 1 in 5000. (The RNG can actually hit 0, giving stuff a .01% higher chance to drop.) There's cash shop items to increase this further.
  • Kingdom of Loathing uses this extensively. Fortunately you'll be able to buy some of them, so you can choose to get a lot of money if you don't want to face the odds.
    • One of the more infamous ones was the Hot Egg, a familiar hatchling that dropped from a certain enemy during the Brushfires event. The drop rate was ridiculously low—about 1 in 1000—and none of the usual mechanisms for increasing drop rates worked on it, so all you could do was kill enemies all day (limited to ~300 per day because of the game's Anti-Poop Socking ) and hope you got lucky. This didn't stop people from inventing crazed theories about how to make it drop, though.
    • Another equally or more infamous ones are Warbear Black Boxes during the Crimbo 2013 event. To get even a chance of obtaining once, first you had to find a warbear badge from a warbear officer, which is also a random drop. The badge unlocks access to the third floor, where you can fight warbear high officers, who drops Black Boxes, once per badge. It's very hard and costly to farm officers for drops because not only do the officers get increasingly stronger, you had to equip an item that limited your base stats, which requires you to charge with a limited item for it to work, plus only a limited selection of items improved item drop rates from warbears. The Black Box was assumed to have less than 1% chance of even dropping, didn't even do anything until Crimbo was over, and sold for billions in the market. Players eventually found out what the Black Box did: It allows you to craft warbear items using whosits, and the only exclusive items you can craft from it were fairly average equipment.
  • Warhammer: Age of Reckoning averts this to a degree. Although there are still random drops, when you get a quest to get, let's say, 10 wolf eyes, at least the game have the decency to give two eyes to most wolves, and no quest has a <1 drop ratio. You also get fairly good items from influence and even better ones for cheap if you have renown, so the rare-drop ones aren't all that needed.
    • Also, many items will drop as broken versions that can be repaired into an item your class can use. Unfortunately this is not true of some of the higher-level set items.
  • City of Heroes has Purple Recipes. These only drop from enemies around 50 (the cap), getting one your character has any use for is another thing entirely, and getting the one you actually want quite the exercise in patience. Thankfully with so many players and a Market, the one you want is usually for sale, and although it'll likely be pretty expensive, the Purple that was trash to you might be a treasure to another.
  • Ace Online has the Boss Armors. The items needed to craft them come from bosses that spawn only three times a day in places where you can fight the opposing faction (so you'll probably have to fight them too) with insanely low chances to get them. Not only that, but when you try to combine them there's a 50% chance of failure and you lose the items if that happens. There are more examples, but no one is as insane as this one.
    • The Episode 3 Part 1 however, makes it somewhat easier; there're three bosses in Pandea Maps that can drop any one of the unfinished boss armor. The corresponding item has the same quirk. There's only one slight problem; the entire Pandea maps are Scrappy Levels made of aggro, aggro, and... more aggro. And more aggro.
  • Runescape has too much of this to count; the Draconic Visage from almost all dragons, the godswords from the God Wars Dungeon, various high level armor from boss monsters, the sigils... At least It's one of the best moneymakers in the game. It can get frustrating in that many of the bosses are hard to kill solo and you need a team to effectively farm them. This by itself isn't so bad, but you have three options for dividing the loot: Player who deals most damage gets drop, (not very fair) all players get the value in coins divided amongst the group, (Witch can lead to some small payouts) and 1 player gets the drop, while the other players get an increased chance of getting a drop. (This does not always go as planned.)
    • Although this is sort of justified as every drop affects the economy (slightly) each drop. Considering those bosses are killed thousands of times a day (bar the boss that drops the sigils), one of the items being adjusted to drop a little too much would make them a lot cheaper.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has its fair share of rare item drops, but especially notable among these is the Czerka Crate-o-Matic, an item so rare that the vast majority of players don't even know that it exists. Its drop rate can be estimated at 1 in 1 billion, though at least it has the possibility of dropping from just about any level 50 encounter. It gives its user the ability to disguise themselves as a random inanimate object for 30 seconds.
  • Spiral Knights has an event called the Kataclysm where Black Kats randomly spawn in place of normal Spookats and (usually) drop Ancient Pages, which are required for some neat and powerful Kat Hoods. A player needs fifty tokens for one hood. Black Kats at the most drop three pages and their chances of spawning are incredibly low. Rarer still, on Tier 3 they can drop a book that can be turned in for a special black hood.
    • The worst part: Tier 3 is where knights can pick up three pages per dead Kat and it contains the most powerful enemies. Spookats are notorious for their bite attack, and can fire three shadow projectiles. They're also annoyingly fast and have a short idle time between attacks.
    • And if that wasn't enough, Black Kats in Tier 3 can inflict Curse (where merely swinging your weapon can hurt you) and will summon Carnavons: black skeletons that can also inflict curse. Have fun.

     Roguelike 

  • In Nethack this trope is primarily averted: every enemy will drop everything it carries upon death, and maybe something else that it wasn’t carrying too.
  • Ancient Domains of Mystery. Many items that are important for various quests (notably the amulet of life saving) are random drop items. Where the Creator really extracts the urine is when you are required to find a boar skull as part of the Ultra ending quest. Said boar is only encountered infrequently, is in the highly-dangerous overworld and even then rarely leaves a skull. Low-to-mid-level players frequently starve to death or spend 60-320 game days trying. Higher-level players resort to dooming themselves to increase the encounter rate, or hunting for an item that grants one wish (also only available by random drop, and extremely rare).

     Role Playing Game 

  • Final Fantasy IV. Two words: Pink Tails. They are held by one enemy, found in one room, with approximately a 1-in-64 chance of encountering it and a 1-in-64 chance of dropping the proper loot once defeated — and that's the only way to get the best armor in the game. For those of you who didn't study math, that's a whopping 1-in-4096 chance per encounter. Alarm clocks trigger an encounter with them 100% of the time though, but you can only carry 99 of them.
    • Additional...fun in relation to pink tails. The only way to find the monsters that drop it in the DS remake is to use an Alarm item. Otherwise the room is completely clear of random encounters. So, at least now you have a 100% chance of encountering the enemy, right? Well, you now have a 1/64 chance of the Princess Flan dropping any item AT ALL, and a 1/64 chance of it being a Pink Tail. So the odds are the same (1/4096). And since you can only carry 99 of them you’ll have to travel a lot to the shop in order to replenish.
    • In the DS version Rainbow Puddings are quite difficult to get too.
  • FFIV's sequel, The After Years averts this thanks to an item that changes the rare drop to the next item on the rarity list. Due to how the Random Drop system works you’ll probably get more rare items than normal ones.
    • Played straight in the PSP collection, where the random drops are actually random again, but averted slightly in that it's more likely you get rare items from the Challenge Dungeon boss chests that are randomized. The worst item you can get is an X-Potion: however, you can't get any extra copies of any of the items, including Adamantines that're used to trade them for parts of Armor of Invincibility at the end of the game.
  • Final Fantasy V, like the other Final Fantasy games, has several rare drops. The Tinklebell is the most annoying, and belongs to Twintania. It's technically a 1/16 drop ratio, but Twintania's drops change based on whether it's in Normal form, or if it's in its Gigaflare form. The Normal form is the harder to kill of the two, and is the form that drops the Tinklebell.
  • Final Fantasy VI gave you a consolation prize in the form of common drops being guaranteed if you didn’t get the rare one.
  • Final Fantasy X had Dark Matter, which was not only a very rare drop from bosses you had to pay to fight, but also needed in obscene amounts to craft armour with Ribbon.
  • Final Fantasy XII took things to somewhat ridiculous length: not only does every monster have common, uncommon, rare and ultra-rare random drops (and a fifth class of drop that requires you to purchase a 'monograph' describing that class of monster), but also (different!) lists of random steals and 'poaches'. Crafting Tournesol, the game's Infinity+1 Sword, requires multiples of the rarest loots from the rarest monsters.
    • Let us not forget that the vast majority of treasure boxes in Final Fantasy XII were random drops; sometimes, the chest wouldn't be there, and most of the time, all the treasure you'd get from most boxes was a paltry sum of Gil. Worse, there were 4 chests that were fixed to cause the Infinity Plus One Spear to become ONLY a random drop, with a chance of 1-in-1000, instead of a sure get from a chest in a Bonus Dungeon.
      • However, a method has been found to trick the game's "pseudo"-RNG into getting a guaranteed Zodiac Spear from the chest in the Henne Mines, so if you know it you can easily get more.
    • There is a loot item called Split Armor that is required to get a specific item in the bazaar. It can only be obtained by poaching one specific monster. Not only can poaching only be done when a monster is on critical health, this item is also the monster's rare poach, meaning that you are more likely to get a different item. Worse, this monster is immune to status effects like disable and stop, which would be fine if it didn't have a nasty habit of using suicide attacks at low health.
  • Final Fantasy XIII adds the notoriously uncommon Trapezohedron to this growing list of epic loot. The Traps are extremely rare items that only drop once in a blue moon from an Adamantoise, which is basically a Bonus Boss for all intents and purposes - and one that requires extensive planning, preparation, and Level Grinding to defeat. (Or Death spamming, if you're willing to put up with the antics of the Random Number God.) Many players have killed several dozen of these absurdly tough enemies without getting a single Trap, which is needed to upgrade your Infinity–1 Sword to an Infinity+1 Sword.
  • In the Rune Factory game series Item Crafting is a major part of the game. To create the vast majority of powerful equipment and potions requires many battles with the various monsters, to get the Randomly Drops components you need.
  • Persona 3 has Elizabeth's requests, in which she usually asks you to kill a specific enemy and bring back a number of parts from it. The trick is that if you don't kill the enemies with the protagonist, the item drop rate is extremely low.
    • FES corrected this: if you kill at least one monster of the required type in a battle, you'll always get at least one item of the required type, guaranteed, though at the expense of other possible drops.
  • EarthBound. Its 1-in-128 items have become the focal point of several fan quests.
    • The most infamous example, the Starman Super dropping the Sword of Kings, was parodied in a ROM Hack: the "Starman Super Duper", when defeated, would "laugh, roll a virtual d128, and warp away".note 
    • Mother 3 is a bit nicer, with a 3% to 5% chance of getting good weapons from certain enemies.
  • The Breath of Fire series. Numerous examples of this.
  • Pokémon has the unique problem in that the frustration-causing random drop is more often than not the Pokémon themselves. Some appear very rarely in the wild, with 1-in-20 odds or worse. The frustration is compounded by the fact that you have to weaken these monsters without defeating them, as well as hoping they've got the right gender, nature, etc. Chansey (and the Lucky Egg it may carry), Feebas (which only appears in 6 or 4 fishing tiles depending on the game, out of 212 or 50) and Munchlax (0.3% chance of appearing in 4 specific Honey Trees) are the most famous ones .
    • Shiny Pokémon only have a one in 8192 chance. Legendary Pokémon and starters can be Shiny as well, so start breaking in (or outright breaking) your soft reset fingers! Luckily, like the item example above, Generation IV and V introduced ways to boost this probability, and Generation VI doubled the basic chance of finding a shiny Pokemon, meaning that under ideal circumstances, you now have around a 1 in 338 chance of getting one, which while still low, is far more reasonable.
    • Don't forget the Pokérus! Each encounter has a 1 in 21,845 chance of giving it to you (in Gold and Silver). Luckily you don't have to catch it for it to spread, just battle, and it can spread to the rest of your team after getting it. It will double the amount of Effort points you get in each battle.
    • The enigmatic Mirage Island of Ruby/Sapphire/Emerald! Every day a number between 0 and 65535 is generated. In order to access the island, you have to have a Pokémon in your party with a personality value that matches the number of the day. Did we mention that the Personality Value of a Pokémon can be anywhere from 0 to 4,294,967,295? The only thing worthwhile about Mirage Island is a particularly rare berry tree.
    • Pickup is an ability that gives you an object 10% of the time after a battle. It’s charts can give you tons of different useful objects depending on your level, but their chances range from 50% of the common ones to 1% of the rare ones, which include Rare Candies and TMs.
  • In Wizardry 8 enemy drops and chest contents are determined when loading an area. So after a 15-minute fight, if the monster doesn't drop Excalibur, you can't just reload and fight again. You have to reload from before you entered the area, then make it all the way back to the monster, then fight it again.
  • Golden Sun series can either work this way or the opposite, thanks to how easily you can manipulate the RNG.
  • The World Ends with You seems to be initially guilty of this, but one of the things you actually learn about in the game is to manipulate the drop rates (which are shown in the bestiary) to the point that even the rarest ones (there’s one that is only dropped 0,03% of the time) become guaranteed drops. The drawback is that you’ll have to drop down your level and chain multiple battles, sometimes with bosses included, in order to do that. And the only way to get rid of the drawback is… you guessed it: get a lot of those rare drops, so it can be useless after you get 100% Completion.
  • Monster Hunter has tons and tons of drops, but the most rare ones will inevitably be those that the most difficult bosses have. Lao-Shan Ruby and the Big Elder Dragon Jewels are famous ones.
    • Carried over for the Cross Over in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. Rathalos drops plans for the Taneshigama, one of the most useful weapons in the game, and Tigrex and Gear Rex drop parts of the most powerful Co-op weapon in the game. With a 1% chance. Enjoy your grind.
  • In Kingdom Hearts Coded this can happen, but you can unlock a special cheat that allows you to multiply the drop rate of the various command chips dropped by enemies in exchange for lowering your maximum HP, up to 16 times its normal rate. The difficulty level of the game also affects enemy drops. A few of the game's strongest enemies will drop stat-boosting chips on Critical mode, the highest difficulty.
  • Suikoden II has this with the upgraded forms of Fire (Rage) and Lightning (Thunder) Runes. If you wanted more than one you could freely attach (and you did, as they were useful in many ways), you had to hope for a drop from specific enemies near the endgame.
    • Suidoken did it before, but much worse, as the best armor and accessories are Rare Random Drops too.
  • The Seeker of the Deep Expansion Pack of Lost Odyssey included some ridiculously good, ridiculously hard to get randomly dropped accessories.
  • This happens in Live A Live, with the Cola Bottle, a powerful accessory and attack item. It is a rare drop from a Guide Dang It Bonus Boss, which means that it is quite possible for the player to not realize that the aforementioned boss can even DROP a different item to its normal drop.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon features Ukemochi liver, a useless item that's necessary for exactly one sidequest, which in turn is necessary for 100% Completion. The only way you can get it is by donating money to a shrine, at 300 yen a pop, for a roughly 1/256 chance of getting it. Cue an hour and a half of standing there throwing money at the shrine hoping to get it.
  • In the Etrian Odyssey series, you get raw materials from the enemy corpses, which you can then sell back to the local shops both for cash and to help create even better weapons, armor and other supplies. However, monsters don't always leave things behind, and many monsters also have Conditional Drops, which require you to meet certain conditions to trigger, like defeating it in a single turn or finishing it off with a certain element/status effect. Even if you meet the conditions, they still don't always drop, unless it's a boss... and many times, getting a boss to drop their special item also blocks the regular drop.
    • The third game, The Drowned City, has an NPC who frequents the local bar called Scavenger Toma. His whole purpose is to tell players how to meet most of these conditions, all for the low-low price of a drink or two.
    • In another hint of kindness, the third game also introduced a new item that guarantees all item drops, including rare, conditional, and mutually exclusive drops, if used on the same turn you kill the enemy. Very useful for those difficult conditional drops, but whatever you do, don't waste them on easy drops or screw up while using it: in all games in which they appear, you only receive half a dozen or less given to you in total. If you want to buy your own, you have to...yes, farm other enemies for their drops (specifically, a tough F.O.E. available only in the post-game stratum - good luck).
  • Mega Man X: Command Mission wasn't too bad about random drops, but one standout instance was if you were going for X's X Buster Mk-III or Zero's Z-Rapier+, both of which only had a 1% drop rate from one enemy in the final dungeon. You could boost those odds with Good Luck Force Metal, which increased item drops by 3% for each one equipped, but getting more than one of those required finding a specific enemy and beating it for the items to make it.
  • Although not an item, recruiting a Metal Slime or its family members in Dragon Quest V is hard. For the first one you recruit, you have a 1/256 chance of recruiting it and a 1/1054 chance of recruiting a second and third. Considering how tough they are once they reach their cap, that's fair. However, keep in mind that they are hard to find. The ordinary Metal Slime isn't too hard to find (they appear commonly in Whealbrook Cavern), but the Liquid Metal Slimes are very rare and typically appear with a bunch of Metal Slimes or other recruitable monsters, meaning if you get a crit on another recruitable monster after you killed the Liquid Metal Slime, you won't be able to recruit a Liquid Metal Slime for that battle. Fortunately, they aren't required, but they are very helpful against the bonus boss.
  • Enemies in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale randomly drop ingredients needed to fuse the best items to sell in your store (or equip on your hired adventurers). Each enemy also has a rare drop, which is needed for better fusions or, in one irritating sidequest, to recruit Caillou as an adventurer.
  • Xenogears has the Trader's Card, an item that greatly increases the chance of getting rare drops. It is very easy to miss forever and there are some items that will only drop if you have the Trader's Card.
  • In Valhalla Knights 3, after the player has obtained all the "Job Cards" which can be found in several treasure chests within dungeons, on the field or which can be received as a gift from the respective cast for achieving the maximum affection, further "Job Cards" can only be found inside normal or sometimes golden treasure chests after defeating a specific enemy clan and even then do they have a rather low probability to drop. Apart from that, there are certain classes which can only be obtained by an utterly challenging enemy in an 99-Floor post-game dungeon in the same manner. Furthermore, certain "Job Cards" can be bought on the PSN-Store for 150 Yen to allow the player to save some hours of desperate hunting.
  • In The Denpa Men, almost all monsters have a secret piece of clothing they can possibly drop (including the Bonus Boss, who can be thankfully fought as often as the player likes). Some clothing can be purchased in the store, but some of it is monster-exclusive. There is a skill that can force monsters to drop items (and it's fairly easy to abuse in the Playable Epilogue, where AP-resorting items become purchasable), but it only causes their most "common" drop to appear. And collecting all the items in the game is considered part of 100% Completion and even unlocks rare goodies in the second game. Happy hunting!
    • The Denpa Men 2 classifies all enemy drops into either the Normal, Rare, or Very Rare categories. There are equipments (which tend to be rare and rather expensive themselves) which will increase the drop rate for items of the different categories, and a few skills (such as Gimmie Gimmie and Keep It Rare) that increase drop rates for items or rarer items specifically. Like the first game, collecting all the items gives you 100% Completion, but the sequel thankfully keeps track of which monsters drop what items for you, and also whether those drops happen to be normal, rare, or very rare. However, there's a limit on how much a drop rate can be increased, and for most Ultra Rare drops, their maxed-out drop rate is still something like 0.5 percent.
  • Opoona features many rare random drops, including, from the White Monk, the best defensive equipment in the game. Normally, you're only supposed to get one of them, and by completing a fairly lengthy Collection Sidequest too, but if you're willing to fight multiples of one of the strongest non-boss enemies in the game, you can indeed get as many as you have the wherewithal for. Similarly, another fairly strong enemy, the Old Pipes, can drop the Sonic Attack—an extremely powerful equipment that you can buy, but which costs nearly 100,000 matia.
    • Certain enemy types also carry equipment, exclusive to their "species", which grant you powers related to that species. Among the best is the Jet Ring, which is one of exactly three pieces of equipment in the game to increase speed, and by a much larger amount than the one you can purchase. The enemy type the drops it is also notorious for running away, especially when the player is at high levels. On a similar note, the local brand of Metal Slime also has its own extremely rare random drop, the Point Chip. Befitting for a Metal Slime, it grants you free experience.

     Turn Based Strategy  

  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2 murders you thanks to this trope. What you can buy is determined by what pieces of loot you bring to the Bazaar, which is determined solely by how much of a lucky bastard you are. This means that it's almost impossible to tune your team to your liking until much, much further into the game, since most classes require that you have enough abilities in others to unlock them... and abilities are granted by these same items you depend on luck for finding. So you end up having to get by with whatever you have available.
  • Eternal Eyes has many different items available as drops, but one of the most valuable is Magical Puppets; they're the raw material for your mons, and each one you get equals a new unit. All monsters can drop them, but the chance is very low, and if you don't waste a turn opening the treasure chest it's in (no way to tell until you open it, of course), it stands a good chance of being destroyed by one of its former allies. A few chapter ends will simply give you a new puppet, so you will gain new units if you progress through the story normally, but if you want to expand your army further? Get to grindin'!

     Wide-Open Sandbox 

  • Terraria has the Plumber's Hat, Robot Hat, and Whoopee Cushion, all of which having a 1/500 (.2%) chance to drop. All of the mobs they drop from (Fire Imps in the Underground, Piranhas in the Jungle, and Giant Worms beneath the surface) are common enough, but you're going to need to be either incredibly lucky or persistent to get even one of these. It's slightly better knowing that the three are vanity items and not required to beat the game.
    • 1.2 introduced dozens of incredibly rare drops, such as the Monster Banners, which each have a 0.5% chance of dropping from the corresponding enemy. The banners, however, pale in comparison to the biome-specific Dungeon Keys, which have a 1 in 4,000 (0.025%) chance of dropping from a monster killed in the corresponding biome. Unsurprisingly, the weapons obtained from said chests are all insanely powerful. And that's not even the rarest drop; that honor goes to the Slime Staff, which has a 1 in 10,000 chance of dropping from slimes.

Non-video game examples:

     Web Comics  

     Web Original  

  • Neopets:
    • Random Events can occur whenever you load a page. However, there exists a wide variety of these Random Events, which have many more effects than just giving you a rare item. For example, one event can turn your active pet invisible, or into a baby version of itself, unless you have a rare unconverted pet.
    • There are certain avatars that can only have a chance of being given when you perform a certain event. Some of these events can only happen once every 24 real-time hours. Coupled that these avatars are infrequent in distribution, it makes avatar-getters frustrated in collecting them all.
    • In addition to Random Events and Avatars, there are also Random Faerie quests that can occur, which ask for a semi-random item, and lock your access to the shop wizard. While most simply raise your active pet's stats, one, the Fountain Faerie, allows you to paint your pet almost any color, including rare, lab ray only colors.

     Real Life  

  • Sweepstakes where prizes are won by collecting a specific set of game pieces—for example, McDonald's Monopoly or Subway's Scrabble games. One of the pieces in each set is rare: the amount of those pieces are equal to the amount of prizes available for that set. The other pieces are common, so you are enticed to keep playing the game to find the rare piece. The rules usually list the odds of winning the prize, which is also the odds of a given game piece being the rare piece for that set.
    • It's easy figuring out which letter is the rare to win which prize - just look for a letter that occurs ONCE in a given prize's name and doesn't occur in any other prize names. If you live in French Canada where the contests runs in English and French, then the SAME rare letter much fulfill both conditions in TWO languages. Fun time being the guy who has to figure how to prevent the game from being Unwinnable by Mistake while simultaneously avoiding to give out half a million cars.
  • Dropped money. It's not uncommon to find coins like pennies, nickels, or even quarters lying around your home or even in the street, but if you find something like a $5 bill or higher, count yourself lucky.
    • Same for money you left in your pockets or wallet/pocketbook.

Random DropVideo Game Items and InventoryRandomly Generated Loot

alternative title(s): Rare Drop
random
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